We are a group of friends centered around Portland, Oregon, but extending wherever email will reach. We share an interest in eating with the Earth in mind and have an ongoing email conversation about our favorite recipes and food ideas. We gather for potlucks occasionally to tell our food stories, talk about food issues, show & tell our favorite cookbooks and kitchen gadgets, and share the joy of good food together. Our website is a place to store our ever-growing recipe collection, making it easier to browse through the possibilities and find an idea right when we need it.
Our project was inspired by a talk given by Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh at a meditation retreat in 2007. He reminded us of the urgency of doing what we can to stop global warming, for the sake of all children, all species, and civilization itself.
Several of us were listening when he invited us to look with full awareness at the food on our plate and understand the true cost of animal products. Quoting statistics from the United Nations Report, "Livestock's Long Shadow", he told of the huge impact of factory farming on Earth's resources. Livestock operations take up 70 % of all agricultural land and are responsible for the destruction of millions of acres of forest worldwide to create pasture. The animals and the crops that feed them use 50% of the water in the United States. At the same time, they create enormous quantities of waste which pollute rivers and ground water. Further, the livestock industry is responsible for 18% of global greenhouse gas emissions, nearly one-fifth of the problem. Given the consequences, to continue to eat as we have been is, in effect, to eat our own children.
Looking again at the food on our plates, we can see what a relief it would be to the Earth if the portion of animal products would shrink or disappear. But ---oops!---what if the plate looks bare? Food habits have deep roots and supper time does roll around.
Our project, the Joy of Mindful Cooking, addresses the practical problem: what else is there to eat? The key to any change of diet is replacing old favorites with new favorites, and that means trying new recipes, one at a time. Setting no expectation for sudden or total change, we share our culinary explorations, knowing that each small step toward sustainability makes a difference. We all benefit from each other's experiments, knowing that all the recipes we pass around have been friend-tested and found worthy.
Aware of the threat to our future, we are able to respond with many joys: the joy of delicious new food discoveries, the joy of being part of the new consciousness that is arising, and the joy of doing it together.
"If our human race continues to live in ignorance and in the bottomless pit of greed as at present, then the destruction of this civilization is not very far away. We have to accept this truth, just like we accept our own death. Once we accept it, we will not react with anger, denial, and despair any more. We will have peace. Once we have peace, we will know how to live so that the Earth has a future, so that we can come together in the spirit of brotherhood and sisterhood...in order to save our beloved green planet. If not, we will die from mental anguish before our civilization actually terminates."
---Thich Nhat Hanh