When I began this blog 2 years ago, I quickly decided to set myself a challenge. Based on the Jewish concept of not wasting - bal tashchit - I put myself on a 3 month ban of shopping for anything except food. It completely changed my relationship with shopping and consuming more generally. So now it seems like time for a new challenge!
A large part of consumption is what we physically consume when we eat- a fairly regular occurrence for the vast majority of us! Judaism deeply values caring for the bodies (and souls) we have been entrusted with - shemirat ha nefesh v'ha guf. This comes from various statements in the Torah, the first of which is that we are created in the image of God - B'tzelem Elohim - (Gen. 1:28) and so should care for that creation. More specifically we need to physically protect people from harm to their bodies:
"When you build a new house, you are to make a [fence] for your [otherwise flat] roof, so that you do not bring bloodguilt on your house if anyone should fall from it." (Deuteronomy 22:8)
But Torah aside, it is surely just common sense that we need to look after our bodies, and increasingly today, we need to do this by considering what and how we eat.
More and more of what we eat seems to contain ingredients that look like they belong on a packet in a pharmacy than on food labeling. Even natural fruit juices will contain additives and preservatives that chances are won't do our bodies much good!
Ironically it is often these more fake and manufactured foods that we consider a 'treat'- and I am as guilty of this as anyone, loving a Diet Coke to pick me up, despite it being entirely artificial! In looking after my body, I am hoping to be more careful about what I give to it, so that I might fulfill the mitzvah of looking after it better!
So... The new challenge! Until the end of 2012, I am going to try to only consume that which is home made. No artificial drinks, no chocolate (even for baking which is a real challenge- though I may experiment with real raw chocolate if I get brave!) no frozen processed food, and no meals out unless for someone else's celebration (that means no restaurant for our anniversary G!)
As with my relationship to shopping, I hope this will re-form my relationship to food and to putting into my body things that will nourish it rather than things that perpetuate cravings and bad health. Food is also an important part of our relationships to each other, so in cooking I am caring for those around me too. And of course eating is an important part of socializing, so part of this experience will be measuring how this changes that element of my life too.
According to Jason Vale (known as the juice master) in the UK we buy more recipe books than any other European nation. We also buy twice as many take always. On average we make 4 recipes in each book owned- the majority make just 1! So from my shelf and a half of cook books (already whittled down when we moved home!) I hope I will also begin making the most of them!
As before I will be reflecting on the experience, and you will be helping me to stick to my resolve! Let's see where it takes us. Perhaps some of you might even join me on the journey!