Universe in a grain of rice

When it comes to cooking and creating simple food, I think a lot about a whole host of complex things.
– the ethics of producer and provenance of the ingredients. 
– the diligence of economics between both the supply and it’s chain.
– the level of care and welfare in both husbandry and employment rights. 
– the materials and the impact of the packaging. 
– the nutrition and the holistic nuance of the menu.

And, being a mindful chef, I also make sure to dollop a huge spoonful of that most special ingredient – love – into everything that I create. 

Some might believe that all of this is overthinking. But in truth, these thoughts and actions come naturally to me; they are a firm part of who I am. Every aspect of what happens to every ingredient that comes together into a meal is important to me.

But the one thing that I find easiest to forget or neglect is perhaps the most important: my conscious connection to the food as I eat it.

If every ingredient in every meal contains an ethical and geographical footprint, then eating represents the coming together of that footprint and myself. The moment of eating connects the whole of life – represented in that grain of rice – as it merges with me. The whole of existence has come together to bring that food to my lips – the sun, the rain, the turning of the seasons, the labour of the farmer – and nourish me well beyond nutritional content alone.

 Reading this little Thich Naht Hanh book – brimming with the practices that I sometimes do, and sometimes don’t – is a gentle and timely reminder to be more attentive and consistent with eating as a way to experience myself as part – but not apart – from the entire universe.