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Monday, September 21, 2009

Drop the Food Chatter

It has come to this. A need to rant to a public forum. My Zen community and Christie have already heard this rant a few times.

Have you noticed my total absence of posts? Yes, there was the whole Hawaii trip during which no blogs were updated. There's also the sewing of rakusu (which I should be doing right now, but I'm writing instead... I've missed my writing practice).

The real reason I've not been posting recipes, reviews, food porn comes down to a Zen mindfulness activity I'm trying (poorly) to do.

Zen Community of Oregon has an email if you can join want to receive a weekly "mindfulness task". Little things to help you return to the present moment, stop wandering off, etc. One week it was a heightened awareness of the color blue. Another week - stopping to take 3 breaths whenever one hears a bell or bell-like sound. Awareness of the hands was suggested.

For the past several weeks, starting the week of September 3, has been tasks building upon the concept of not talking about food. First week, stop talking about it and refrain from "idle chatter" about food. Next week, refrain from that same chatter about food that goes on inside the mind. This week we're continuing to drop the idle chatter outwardly & inwardly and move to just noticing the physical sensations in the body as we eat or as desire for food arises in our thoughts.

Go ahead. Try it. I dare you. Try to not talk about food, with other people or in your head. Even for a day.

No posts about amazing fruit in Hawaii or just how satisfying a simple bowl of aduki beans & quinoa was after a day hiking in a volcano. No food porn about the produce from the garden or farmers market. No discussing how great a potluck dish or new recipe is. Nada. Let it all go.

The basis for my practice is in the relationship I have with food.

That said. I am a foodie. There, I've said it. A healthy, fresh-grown, organic, hippie, vegan foodie, but a foodie nonetheless.

People quite often assume that being vegan means food will be boring and bland. If anything, veganism has made me appreciate so many more flavors and subtleties about food. It has made me more passionate about the way food is produced and I have become very sensitive to the enormously intimate act that eating food is. I am deeply passionate about just how wonderful food that's good for you can be!

I like to share this passion with people. I talk about food, I write about it, and I cook a lot of it. I'm a pretty damn good cook.

The past few weeks have made we aware of just how much food chatter there is in my life. It takes up a whole category by itself; next to "Planning Conversations with Other People" and "Worrying I've Screwed Up" (more enjoyable than either of those by far). How I think about it, how I plan around it, how food gets my creative juices flowing, and how sexy I find it (hell, I use the tag "FoodPorn" all the time). I am acutely aware of the ways in which I just feel like I can't resist talking about how wonderful some food is.

So although I'm dying to tell you all about the delicata I made tonight (stir-fried with white cabbage, sweet onion & garlic in a maple/miso glaze). I'm trying not to.

Go on try it. I'd like to get some input from others about this mindfulness task.

How much do you talk about food? How much do you think about it? How easy or difficult is it to try and stop?

Please post your comments about your experience in trying to drop the "food chatter" here.

Like my sideways way of talking about food without talking about it?


Gratuitous food shot...


  1. Nice article/rant! I'm chuckling just realizing I posted a ton of food porn pictures on Facebook this week. Guess, I missed that Mindfulness task when I was in China. Doh.

    There's a lot of chatter for me around food. What to eat when, where and why... What my ethical decisions around food are, and where my lines are drawn... When I'm in China it's nearly impossible to eat vegetarian, and I go with the flow. It's something I do to be a gracious guest, and also to give myself a break. Trying to eat vegetarian in Asia is exhausting when you don't speak the language. I also wonder about eating fish. I avoid the rest of the meats, but is it right to eat when the supply is dwindling and I may be filling my body with mercury? Right now I choose to eat it. I also give myself the right to change my mind if my heart guides me in a different direction.

    My relationship with food continues to change. I feel I've healed around it tremendously from my struggles with bulimia in high school and college. I've come to truly enjoy and appreciate eating. I've also become quite a proficient cook in the last several years. Food is such a fascinating subject with so many historical, cultural and ethical ramifications. I'm always fascinated in where food "comes" from literally and figuratively. I guess I don't want to drop the curiosity I have around food. Do you think that's a part of dropping the chatter?

    I guess I'll start working on dropping the chatter and report back!

  2. Food is a celebration of life. It would just seem unnatural and wrong to stifle my internal or external enthusiasm about it. Sounds like an interesting exercise but not something for me!