Eric: Intentional Gardening
I’m off to a slow start to my 40/40/40 commitment because of some traveling. This past weekend was my actually my first chance to have some quality time in the garden. I was able to be in a good spiritual place when I entered and exited, feeling gratitude and hope. And, most of the time that I was digging, weeding and planting I felt “present”. In the couple days since then the seedlings have needed some care to avoid frost, and that felt spiritually nurturing. On the down-side, I’ve got some of the typical aches and pains that come from gardening and I’m trying to understand them in spiritual context. So, its just the beginning for me, but it feels like I’m off to a good start.
Rob: Fair Trade Coffee
Since none of the coffee shops closest to the office brew fair trade, I found myself asking: how far would I have to go? The good news is: not far. With help from the locator tool from Transfair, I discovered that the national chain Caribou Coffee (with a location two blocks away) will brew cups of fair trade. The somewhat significant catch is that it’s french press style (taking 8 minutes) and costs $3 for a large cup. Thus the award for the closest, cheapest cup of fair trade coffee goes to Bruegger’s Bagels, who offer fair trade (in French Roast and Peach varieties) as part of their regular line up. I’ve never heard of peach coffee, but sometime soon I’ll go have a cup on principle.
Meg: Eliminating Processed Refined Sugars
Halfway through and I’m learning a lot about myself. I had thought I might suffer physical withdrawal from sugar but in fact I’ve seen that it’s much more likely that I want sugar for emotional support, not because it’s a physical addiction. I have learned that alternative sugars (I don’t do the sorbitol route) like syrup or honey make products incredibly more expensive, and a lot of them don’t taste that good either. I’ve realized that making my own stuff is the best way to guarantee that I know what’s in them, so my old college-days health food cookbooks have been out a few times. It’s been fun to bake. Interesting to see the correlation between eating sugar and moving quickly and mindlessly, vs. cutting it out and being more conscious and slowing down.
The real question is: What about when the 40/40/40 challenge is over? Will I stay mindful? So far, I’m ambivalent! It really helps to know that so many other people are challenging themselves during these 40 days.
Orelia: Sustainably and Humanely Farmed Meats and Animal Products
As my venture into eating more sustainably and humanely farmed meats and animal products continues, I find myself often feeling ambivalent and opting to just eat vegetarian rather than expending the effort to get out to the farmers’ market. I really have no excuse. There are several markets throughout the week in the D.C. area, many of which are convenient for me to get to, but I still find it easier to eat and prepare vegetarian food. At the same time, if I’m around other people who are eating meat that doesn’t meet my criteria, I feel like I’m depriving myself and start craving it. I’ve only slipped once, at a communal meal that I was grateful I hadn’t needed to prepare anything for. I think I have a general apathy towards shopping and cooking lately. It doesn’t help that I injured my knee and ankle over the past couple of weeks, and it’s been hard just to get around on foot and bicycle like I usually do. I know I’ll feel better when I actively work to plan make meals that I’m excited about, and when I can get more exercise in general. I’m thinking a lot lately about how food, activity and mood are all connected for me and what really drives my inclinations to make sustainable and healthy choices, and how far I’m willing and able to go to support those choices. And this weekend will surely include one or more trips to a market somewhere in town.
Rowan: Saying Grace before Eating
Now that I’ve been doing this for three weeks, it has become much easier to remember to pause before I eat. I’m finding that the more that I think about where my food comes from and everything that it took to get it to me, I am appreciating my food so much more and eating more slowly. I find that when I’m in a rush and don’t think as much about it, I wolf down my food without the same gratitude.
As I’ve explored different topics for grace–the labor, the geographic source, and now the growing methods, I’m finding that like anything, the framing of my intentionality makes a huge difference. When I expressed gratitude for all the people involved, I enjoy my food so much more than when I spend my moment wondering where my food came from and how it was grown. The latter is pushing me to eat foods with simpler ingredients (less questions left unanswered!) and to go to the Farmers Market. The fresh produce is inspiring my cooking once again. I am reminded both of how little is easily known about most foods found in the grocery store–or a restaurant–and how much actually thinking about these questions regularly can help me align my behavior with my ideals, though it’s not always perfect.