Becoming More Aware of Food & Other Choices
I am thinking a lot about food at the moment, not because I am hungry as I write this post, but because I am in the midst of a 21-day cleanse. Under the guidance of Jen Nassi, my holistic health coach, my wife Renee and I are participating in an exhaustive eating exercise. During these three weeks, we are eliminating many foods that are common to our everyday diets and adding foods that will help our bodies remove toxins and work more efficiently.
For the first time in a long time (albeit collaterally) I am observing kashrut. No meat, so no worries about animals’ cud chewing proclivities or the cleft-ness of their hooves. No dairy, so there is no cheese to put on that waiting hamburger (that I cannot eat). The cleanse maintains no ideological connection to these emblematic rituals of the Jewish Dietary laws. However, I believe that my cleanse and the spirit of kashrut are profoundly connected. The traditional Jewish expression of eating properly has evolved into different sets of dishes of milk and meat and butchers who know how to kill and animal in a certain manner - there are other paths to follow from this original practice. Kashrut, or kosher, means "fit" or "proper." In that sense the command to keep kashrut can be understood as a charge to to produce and consume foods that are fit and proper - fit and proper for my body, for my spirit and for the world around me. Even though I have followed the traditional sense of kashrut before in my life, during these three weeks I think I may be keeping kosher - eating "properly" - in a way that I have never done before.
The idea of what is fit and proper for me (and the world) physically and spiritually contains a wide range of considerations. For example, I pay close attention to how my body reacts and works quite differently when think so differently about the food I ingest. I observe how often I associate a choice of what to eat and when to eat it by an emotion (a treat for a long run or because I have had a long day). I notice the resources (time, money, intellectual) needed to make these choices. I pay attention to how what I choose to eat connects me to (Renee, with whom I am sharing this exercise) or disconnects me from (spending time with family and friends over meals, drinks, etc.) the social interactions that sustain me. I reflect upon the way I contribute to justice, compassion or peace for my world around me because of the way my food is produced and distributed.
I invite you to take a day to keep "kosher," to simply pay attention to the 'fitness' of the food and drinks you choose to ingest for a day. Don’t even worry about changing anything you eat because of the attention you are paying to your food. Just consider what you put into your mouth for the day. Why are eating or drinking in that moment? What physical need does what you are choosing to eat or drink fulfill? (Hunger, exhaustion) What spiritual need does what you are choosing to eat or drinking fulfill? (Anxiety, loneliness, celebration). How will the nature of this particular food that you are ingesting affect your body and its function? How did the production of this kind of food affect other living things? (Animals, human beings, the environment).
There is great potential and even power in every single choice we make, from the obvious, life-changing choices to the mundane choice of everyday life that lose our attention and their meaning.