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Celebration & Transformation: A Long-Ass, Entertaining Essay On Why to Cook

I call it “Mission Possible”: my Deep Obsession With Helping People, primarily to eat well, have FUN feeding themselves (and hopefully others) and to raise awareness about food issues regarding nutrition, politics, economics, environment, ETC. Sounds dry, I know, but, I mean, let’s face it; Humanity is having a tough time in lots of ways as we struggle to transcend what seems (for waaay too many) like an uphill battle to get [enough] good-quality food and to be Healthy, Happy, at Peace in this crazy world of ours. (do not get me started on the why right now, this thing's long enough) We need all the info we can get to stay informed about our food sources and policies and How to COOK! That's where I come in... ;)

Suffice it to say, I AM HERE TO HELP. Seriously. In a real, meaningful way in which I am thrilled to be able to help. You could say I’m part of the “Food SEAL Squadron”, coming to the rescue with my "Eating Education" Agenda!! I'm here as an Eating Ambassador, of sorts, teaching Ways to Be Comfortable in the Kitchen.

My disclaimer is this: as my friends and family will attest, I am so not into food fads, at least not intentionally (too busy setting a few myself, eh? ;) and I don’t know a lot of famous chefs or give a Ratatouille about posh, ego-driven, over-priced hotspots. I respect the folks who are making a difference, not just futzing with foam, y'know? I dig Art but give me more...

While all of that can be fun and serves well for entertainment purposes, as far as having bigger “mission-driven” societal impact, at this point I believe in seeking balance, doing and teaching What Makes Sense, really; not just for me, not because it’s popular and not because of celebrity endorsements or any trendy, campy, overplayed bullshit; Eating has to be what works for YOU and your body, based on genetics, blood type, lifestyle, ETC. Yes, it’s undeniably true: we All need to know A Few Basics of Good Eating in order to feed ourselves well.

Now, I know that I’m not alone in the observation that Real Food Knowledge, perhaps through its institutionalized education, could be, well, y’know, “improved”, despite the rather ironic popularity of sassy cooking shows and niche magazines. (How 'bout "Quinoa & Kale: A Culinary Guide to Hipster Culture"?) The proliferation of prepared foods and restaurants shows exactly who’s walkin’ the talk, eh? Right, at least not in their own kitchens. Honestly, if I had a dime for everyone who wanted to skip anything DIY/educational, preferring someone to just “cook a few weekly meals for us…” That’s not The Point here, Folks; I just want to help You to slow down and “chew your food”, so to speak. Just for a moment, consider with me: the Siesta Culture. Basically, it's about taking the flippin’ time to include the Celebration of Food & Community in Your Quality-of-Life scenario. Just imagine how it might feel for You and Your Whole World, large and small: “Yesss...”

For The Record, I truly enjoy showing people how easy it can be to really feed themselves beyond grab 'n go fill and I freaking love it when I see the spark of inspiration/excitement as we intuitively collaborate and create something cool, considering endless possibilities…

I’m here to tell you: “It need not be a Daunting Task to cook for Yourself & Others, I promise.”

The Food Cause is obviously a passion of mine and I’ve been immersed in the industry for a loooong time so I sometimes take certain things for granted as many of us “experts” do, like, for instance, my time, knowledge and experience; how to place a value on these intangibles? The truth is that these things are, in fact, quite tangible; it is part of Who I Am, the effects of which I live and teach, wanting to share and pass on these gifts, allowing others to benefit from my knowledge and USE it themselves…or, rather, YOURself, Dear Reader.

I am here for YOU. For reals.

SO, here is My Gospel: Food is a Gift, the Original, L'Essentiel, you dig? Simply put, Eating is a Celebration of this glorious Gift, is it not? This must be why most, if not all, Human Celebrations include this most intimate of activities. Well, the second most, perhaps…

But think about it: food used to be the actual Fruits of Our Labor, back in The Day. This Day, however, Our Fruits are now communication and technology. No small wonder for our Epic Nature Disconnect, right?? I'd say that the results of this Grand Experiment have been "mixed", eh? :/ But as it is with experiments, we can correct and adapt before imploding. (whew!)

I'm suggesting that we could use a "re-boot" on the whole Food Thing. Enter: Michael Pollan, Jamie Oliver, the Lappe ladies,, our inspiring Food Re-Boot Team of which I am proud to be a member. Well, we have the same mission, it's not like I'm having lunch with these folks...yet. ;)

A big, fat, boiled-down Food Fact: our food gives us the nourishment, ideally, which generates the energy which we need in order to operate smoothly, particularly for the long haul. Period. I think we can All agree on this point, yes? Just ask any well-oiled machine.

Let's pull out the ol’ Car Metaphor, shall we? I explain this to kids and try to remind adults of the all-too-sensible image:

High-quality fuel + well-maintained machine = good, clean energy = high performance

Needless to say, I’m more than a bit concerned about the quality of the fuel that’s been going into too many people’s pieholes for quite some time now, so much so that I am compelled to fight for Food Freedom and feel that I must be a part of the reverse trend, a Food Revolution, if you will, arming the Masses with information; a long-term, wide-spread, paradigm-changing process which, mercifully, has begun! One doesn't have to look very far for signs of it; it's all over my Twitter feed...

Hey, I don't want to bring you down, but, We are, in fact, terribly sick and suffering, longer-lived notwithstanding, as individuals, as a nation, as a global community, why, as a bloody species, for Gods' sake, some due to a dreadful absence of decent Real Food, some due to an over-abundance of crap, some don’t even have any crap to fill an achingly empty belly. It's mind-boggling to me that this is the case, at this point in Human History. I dunno, maybe not when you look at who's controlling the majority of our food systems. Kinda' bleak...sigh.

But We must take heart when We hear some of the voices of the Revolution, fighting The Good Fight, thank goodness!! There are fantastic things happening out on the Food Front Lines and battles being valiantly fought in government, some crucial gains being gradually and thoughtfully made in the hard-sought struggle to eat the foods that we ALL need and want and to not be viewed merely as Cows at the Industrial Trough. (Dang. Harsh.)

And then, beyond the whole Honor Thy Temple Thing, there's the Community Thing. (I just wonder how often this over- and misused “C word” turns someone off upon seeing it, fleeing from the threat of a sudden swell of “Kumbayaa", as it lurks in the darkness, waiting, hoping...I think I heard strains of it in the wind the other day at a local farm, sweet but faint... ;)

Drum beating aside, I think we all know that it is a Basic Human Drive to want to be loved, wanted, to belong; who is Your Community? Who do You identify with? What is it that You (want to) share? I find these questions intriguing and can’t help but believe that, more often than not, Food is there, somewhere: Sports? Hot dogs, beer and nachos. Yoga? Tea and salads. Pool party? Sub sandwiches. Birthday or anniversary? Let’s go out to dinner! College gathering? Pizza and wings. Music festival? Food trucks!! Picnic, luau, pig roast, Thanksgiving turkey, Christmas ham, Chanukkah latkes, I mean, any Significant Events where there are People & Celebration, there is FOOD. And there is Community: eating, singing, dancing, talking, watching, sharing

Cooking, especially with gratitude, generates generosity, interestingly. Even when people have very little to eat, we are compelled to share with those who have none or to demonstrate good will to a stranger. We see this in almost every world culture; Food As Social and Spiritual Lubricant, Cohesive Element and Vehicle for What a Body Needs (and Wants). When we gratefully receive the Gift of Food it is ours to give, in turn. It's really a pretty good arrangement, your basic win-win. ;)

When food is scarce and/or devoid of nutrients, we just feel empty, on so many levels, right? On the other hand, when we have abundance, we have a sense of security and a deeper level of fulfillment from our food.

I don’t know about You, but I surely feel true joy when I see plentiful food around me and available to me, like a basket full of beautiful, delicious fruit and know that this is what my body craves and is literally made of: fresh, flavorful, enjoyable! It is indeed Art, it is Love, by any other name, is it not? It's a Way of Being and taking pride in making good choices, not just for Yourself but for others, too, as You do the Right Thing which, happily, we can do all the time as we shop and consume! We can create “edible abundance” in our lives.*

*And did I mention: if thoughts of cooking make you anxious and you feel like you don’t know a lick about food shopping or making tasty, (generally) healthy food for yourself or others, I can show You How to Do It. :)

Take heart, my Friend: real, profound confidence comes with knowledge and eating well can be a part of that reality, if you’re ready to Step-Up to it and embrace and have some faith in the, well, Primal Power that it is. Sounds cheesy but just consider the real impact of taking responsibility for Your Own Well-Being for this moment and your Future Self? It begins with a deep hunger, obviously, curiosity, some basic skills and not some small part of courage powered by motivation and demanding action, recognizing that, ultimately, no one can make good, healthy choices for You for Your entire Life so you’d better figure it out, ay?! Meaning, it is essential to determine what eating patterns are right for You, as in Your body and Your lifestyle. Take control and "Belly-Up"! (sorry, I couldn't resist. ;)

Basically, if you want a high-quality Life, I personally believe that it begins with the Oh-So-Ancient Wisdom: We ARE without a doubt what We EAT, like, on molecular and emotional levels. What can I say? Life is often times cliché, but, in any event, we find the same, redundant yet inspiring results: healthy body, happy mind, peaceful and prosperous life. They really do go together, but we All must start at The Beginning and more growing humans need to (re-)learn this missing piece. After all, we see the results of life out of balance all around us, don’t We? Is yours?? (what’s that? “epidemics” of preventable malnutrition-related diseases?) Most of Us have been touched by that reality, at least indirectly. What are You made of?

What do You need to find it, that not-so-mysterious “Balance” thing? “What the HELL is that”, You ask? Well, here’s the Rub: It’s different for everyone. Seriously, don’t be afraid; it ain’t Rocket Science but the Goodies ain’t in no book, dat’s fo’ sho'! They’re in You. (and Your children, if you’ve got any.) And I know you’re feelin’ that.

Well, here’s a Final Nugget for You: Small, simple shifts are the sweet seeds that I can help You to plant so as to eventually harvest what I like to call “Edible Enlightenment”. “Whaa’??” Ok, a little too “fortune-cookie-woo-woo”, maybe, but You get me; all the Heavy Shit aside, I’m interested in having fun, too, with You, maybe? Who knows: I can only reach out to You, hoping that if You want/need it, I can show you a Great Time in the Kitchen, at the very least ;) and possibly make a ‘uge difference in Your Life if You can take at least one useful tidbit away from all of this. Do You hear something speaking to You (such as Me, for instance) or have any questions? I’d be so curious to know and I may even have some answers for You! :o You can even go Old School and call me, you know; no obligations, just happy to “talk food” with You. I've told my friends, family, clients: consider me your Food Hotline. No joke, just sayin’…it’s My Thing.

That and small amounts of high-quality chocolate, administered regularly… ;p

In an effort to articulate my Real Motivation here, just F.Y.I. since you've come this far: as I blip briefly across the Cosmic Radar, I have come to learn that it is my Grand Purpose to create Beauty all around me, in many different ways and Teaching with the amazing tools that the World has given me, already, and which I continue to learn. Bonus: You are a lovely, dare I say “Sacred” Part of that Wonderful Process, risking the “woo-woo”-ness of that statement. (Tho’, I’ve gotta say, how awesome is it that we’ve connected at all, ay?! Totally. There are no coincidences, like it or not.) So, "Mazel tov!"*


May You recognize that you are making something beautiful happen by learning How To Really Cook: an honest-to-goodness Celebration of You, babe! Might not be perfect every time but it’s really just a matter of Patience & Priorities. What are Yours? How does Food figure into that? However that may be, TALK to me 'cuz I’m here for You if You ever need me. (Just call me “The ‘Nanny MacPhee’ of Food”. ;) Time for Transformation, y’all!

Intuitively and Gratefully Yours,

Marissa J.

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