Being Vulnerable (In Life and Food)

Apr 02, 2018

Being vulnerable means trusting — in the timing, the universe, and the energy of all things, including the food we eat

By Chef Christine Moss, Chef, The Garden Café Woodstock


What comes to mind when you think about what it means to be vulnerable? Does it make you uncomfortable? How much of your control are you willing to give up?

What if you knew you were protected and safe in this very moment, that it was OK to let yourself be both vulnerable and soft in spirit? Can you allow that feeling in for a moment? This is the place where you can truly connect with the heartbeat of everything, all the energy around us.

Have you ever considered that the food you prepare is a conductor of your energy?

I like to think of one of my favorite movies, Like Water for Chocolate. Every emotion the character Tita experienced was transferred to the food she prepared — and was then felt by those who consumed it. Even if you never think about it, it’s so true, this invisible transference of feeling. How we feel when we are preparing, cooking, or reheating our food is part of the nutrient energy that feeds us and leaves us feeling satisfied, or not.

So, who are you giving that power to when you shop, when you order take-out, when you dine in restaurants? How many hands have touched your food, or was it just machines — from earth to metal, to boxes, to trucks and boats and planes, to our pantry shelves? I know the thought of that makes me feel vulnerable.

What can we do about it?

Since life isn’t always a perfectly prepared organic meal in a Zen setting, we have to get creative and expansive with our thinking and care; taking time to connect with our food and ourselves.

Shop at local farmer’s markets. Did you know that most, if not all, farmer’s markets now accept SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Programs, i.e. food stamps)? There is also this great program in New York State called Fresh Connect where for every five SNAP dollars you spend at the farmer’s market you get an additional two dollars for free. So, if you spend ten, you have fourteen dollars of buying power. This benefits not only your basket and your health, but the farmers who work hard to bring the produce directly to you without the ‘middleman’. Most produce is picked the morning of, or the day before. Have you ever wondered how long that asparagus in the supermarket has been sitting there in the produce aisle?

This initiative excites me as it makes healthy, organic food more accessible to all, offsetting cost and increasing health — momentum in the right direction.

What else can you do? Speak up! If your only access is the store down the block with limp iceberg and sad tomatoes — talk to the store owner or buyer and ask for better. We sometimes forget that our markets are in the service industry; they are providing for you, the customer. It is also cooperative — if they offer better quality, their sales can increase and your meals can improve. You deserve fresh real food, it is your life source.

And if you live in a food desert? The USDA (United States Department of Agriculture), defines a food desert as  “parts of the country vapid of fresh fruit, vegetables, and other healthful whole foods, usually found in impoverished areas. This is largely due to a lack of grocery stores, farmers' markets, and healthy food providers.” For more information and how to get involved, check out The Food Empowerment Project.

A few other ideas:

  • Join (or initiate) a community or school garden
  • Plant some herbs on your windowsill in a pot or flowerbox
  • Join a food Co-Op. Find a health food store. Research online options for fresh organic produce that can be shipped to you (much progress has been made in this arena and there are a handful of companies doing exciting things)
  • Research. Find ways to stay inspired

Eat foods that are in season where you live. It’s April and it is also a vulnerable time for the new life that is pushing its way forward through the earth and towards the sun. Asparagus, spring beets, artichokes, dandelion greens, chives, ramps, morels and fiddleheads are currently making their brief spring appearance.

What do all of these plants have in common? A bit of bitterness to get our winter digestion awakened and our livers and blood cleansed. Spring beets are amazing little jewels, they are the thinnings of later beet crops and are sweet and delicious from their green leafy tops to their purple roots.

*As per Wikipedia:

Crop thinnings are the selective removal of flowers, fruits, shoots, and seedlings or young plants to allow adequate space for the remaining organs/plants to grow efficiently. Beets, carrots, green onions and others can be planted densely, and then thinned to make room for continued growth of the plants left in the soil, and also as a harvest of baby vegetables (beet greens, baby carrots, baby onions).

Winter has held on tight this year. I saw on the news that here in the northeast we have just come through record high snowfall amounts for March dating back to the 1800's. Let’s welcome the warmth of spring into our bodies with a delicious and nourishing bowl of beet soup — your entrée into the freshness of a new season — welcome spring, welcome awakened you!

A good way to use the entire beet is in soup. Here is a recipe for a beautiful, chunky and satisfying borscht (beet soup).


*Author’s Note:

A word about sustainable foraging. Wild is a word on everyone's lips these days. We have been so far removed from our connection to the earth that there is a great desire to return to the ‘wild’. The ‘wild’ has never left us, but it has been ravaged by more than I can get into this blogpost. If you wish to forage, please research first. Join a local group and make sure you have 100% correctly identified anything you have gathered before you eat. At The Garden Cafe, we have relationship with a small group of local foragers who pick sustainably. Mother Earth News has a great article on the impact of this new trend.

And the Sierra Club has a great 6 point guideline on foraging sustainably on their website.


Get the Cafe Newsletter

Get the Garden Cafe's beautiful newsletter delivered to your inbox every month. It's chock full of musings, recipes, music, good reads and more — to nurture your mind, body and spirit. Simply enter your information below to join our free community!