Humane Cuisine

Does it matter to you where your food comes from? Do you prefer local produce over food that has to be shipped from a distance?  Does the quality of life of the animal you eat matter?

Farmers markets are again popular selling produce that is organic in nature.  Grocery stores give the choice of grass-fed beef and cage free eggs.  People no longer want animals that are pumped full of antibiotics or hormones, yet many people are still unaware of the effects of veal farming.

Having grown up in the Midwest, I have witnessed the impact on baby calves.  Immediately upon birth, they calf is taken away from its mother and placed in a tiny confined shelter where it has no space to move. it suffers a daily life of confinement beyond what any living being should experience.  I struggle to understand how ethically as a nation we can continue to allow inhumane farming practices to continue.  As a caring person who respects and values all living beings, I struggle to understand why anyone would choose to eat an animal that suffered to end up on their plate.  I also question why inhumane animal practices have not been banned in the United States.

I’m not against people eating meat, but I believe that all animals deserve to live the best life possible, to have space to roam, fresh air to breathe and clean natural foods to eat.

I spent 12 years living in England where Mad Cows Disease developed due to cattle and young calves being fed meat and bone meal that contained the remains of other cattle.  I remember watching the news reporting people dying in hospitals and thousands of cows being burned in large bonfires.  The results of tampering with what should have been a cow’s natural diet was catastrophic ending in death of both people and animals.

As a health-conscious person who cares about what you eat, where your food comes from, and what goes in it, please think about the animals and what kind of life they lived when you purchase your meat whether it’s from a grocery store or fast food chain.  Confinement, poor nutrition and trauma result in bad energy, and then the meat is consumed, possibly ending with poor health.

We are what we eat…

 

 

 

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Costa Rican Raw

Cocoa has commonly been known as the “Drink of the Gods”, and has been around for more than one thousand years.  Most people have a passion for chocolate or cocoa but have not had the experience of seeing this exotic bean in its raw and natural form.

On a previous trip to a Costa Rican Organic Echo Farm, I had the opportunity to walk the grounds of the plantation, which consisted of over 300 trees that were over 30 years old.

The process begins with roasting and grinding the fermented cocoa beans.  The grinding process uses an ancient stone, “metate” which has been carved by indigenous people out of volcanic rock from a nearby volcano.  Once grinding is completed, a variety of New World ingredients such as Vanilla, Jamaica or Allspice, Spicy Chile, and Achiote or Annatto are selected or you can stick to your more basic European milk and sugar drink or chocolate bar.

Finca Luna Nueva offers a variety of organic and experiential experiences for those who are seeking a raw and natural experience.

For more information:

http://fincalunanuevalodge.com

The Art of Detachment

I recently had the experience of watching Tibetan Monks create a beautiful mandala out of colored sand.  The Mandala is a symbol of the universe, created in a circular shape to represent universal connection.

After creating the mandala for several days or weeks, the monks mindfully and meticulously wipe the sand away, representing detachment as the lesson.

In life, we are continually faced with letting go, whether it be to a job, a relationship, or an unresolved issue or problem.  By holding on, the Tibetan concept is that we suffer, and suffering causes pain.

Unless practiced, detachment can be a difficult thing to do.  Think of something in your life that you can say goodbye to, let go of, or detach from.  What are you holding onto that is causing you pain, creating suffering or preventing you from truly being happy?

The art of detachment begins with acknowledgment of what is causing suffering, then making the conscious choice to release and let go.  Impermanence is a fact of life.  Today embrace what brings you joy and happiness, as no one is guaranteed tomorrow.  Through the art of detachment, we can free ourselves from unhealthy suffering and be in the present moment, a beautiful lesson from Tibetan teachings.

Super 8 Hotels, Chinese Food and Cat Smuggling

There are adventures and then there are adventures…

I recently took a long road trip across the southwest with a good friend of mine.  The trip was not planned out, but more of a quick spontaneous trip that allowed us the freedom to stop anywhere we wanted along the way, which included dive hotels, the world of junk food and other unexpected finds along the way, including Pie Town, New Mexico.

With no itinerary, we drove as far as we could each day, traveling approximately 10 hours or more until we were too tired to continue, stopping at Super 8 Hotels and eating Chinese food along the way. The first night in Texas was fine, the hotel was good, the Chinese food mediocre.  The second night in Kansas the hotel was filthy, and the Chinese food was superb. The 3rd night was uneventful and unmarkable.

We were hoping to reach our destination of 1700 miles on the third day, but due to a snowstorm, we were forced to stay in a hotel another night.  This time, we just pulled off the freeway and found a relatively new hotel to stay in.

I had driven almost 13 hours that day and there were no other hotels nearby so I made the decision to sneak my cat into the hotel, thinking that if they did not accept pets that we would have to drive on ice covered roads in search of another hotel.  Normally I would never do this, but I was physically and emotionally exhausted so I put my cat into his carrier and quietly snuck him into my hotel room.

An hour later, I decided to order Chinese food and hungrily waited for the delivery person to arrive.  After about 30 minutes, I heard a knock on my door.  I quickly put my cat into the bathroom and shut the door.  I paid for my food, set my dinner down and tried to open the door to let my cat out, but the door wouldn’t open.  I realized it was locked!  I started to freak out. I continued to try to work on the lock but nothing worked.  I started to panic as I knew I had to call the woman at the front desk to open the door and she would know that I had snuck my cat into the hotel.

I dreaded making the call but told the woman that my bathroom door was locked.  She thought that was odd.  I thought what kind of crazy hotel would put a lock on the outside of a bathroom door!  The woman came to my room with a large keyring full of keys.  I knew I had to tell her before my cat came out of the bathroom that he was in there.  She tried six or seven different keys, none of them worked. I started panicking.  I eventually said, “My cat’s in there.”  I thought she heard me but she didn’t respond other than to say that none of the keys were working.

Eventually, the last key turned the lock and Lucky, my cat strolled out.  She looked down and said, “Oh, you have a cat.”  I said yes, this chain is pet-friendly right?  She said, “No, no it isn’t.” I swallowed deeply and was thinking about what to do or say, when she said, “It’s ok.  I only make $11.00 an hour.  You can keep your cat, but you will have to sneak him out in the morning because the manager will be here.”

Relieved, I calmed down, ate my Chinese food and fell asleep.  The next morning my friend called me to ask me if the manager had knocked on my door.  I said, “No why?” He said that the manager had just knocked on his door.  I panicked and hung up on my friend and put my cat into his carrier and got him out of the hotel as fast as I could.  My friend later told me that he had left his door open and the manager was only inquiring if he had checked out.  I laughed and wanted to strangle him at the same time.

After a trip of 1700 miles, 4 days of hotels and Chinese food and cat smuggling. I made the decision to never try to smuggle my cat again into a hotel again. I also developed a strong addiction to dive hotels and Chinese food.

The Spiritual Path

After a long transition, I felt the call to quiet contemplation and spiritual direction and found myself driving to St. Anthony’s Spiritual Sanctuary, a Franciscan retreat center in rural Wisconsin.

I had no plans, other than to spend a day in silent prayer and mindful walking but shortly after I arrived, I met with the Reverend and spent some time talking to him about life transitions and spiritual practice.  I then roamed the Sanctuary and was mesmerized by the long hallways that hundreds of young men had walked before me as they prepared for a lifetime devoted to spiritual practice.

Sometimes we feel we have to journey far to find a retreat or place of solitude, but the sanctuary is closer than we think.  The silence, the serenity, and tranquility that we seek is within each of us.  Our spiritual journey is visible when we clear the weeds from our minds and step intentionally onto the path that we were given.  Sometimes the road leads us in a different direction than where we intended to go, but that is when we need to trust that we are being guided and that the new path will be smoother, lighter and brighter than the path that we chose for ourselves.

In life, sometimes we choose a path, and sometimes the path is chosen for us.

 

Life in Transition

What do you do when life challenges you in unexpected ways?  You drive a U-haul across the country, leaving behind life as you know it.

Unexpectedly I found my life shift and change, forcing me to make decisions that I did not want to make.  I realized that life is unpredictable.

Driving a 20-foot U-haul and towing my car behind was completely out of my comfort zone. My friend and travel companion reminded me to breathe as I began the journey driving the wrong way into rural mountains with no place to turn around.  I white-knuckled the steering wheel as I drove further into the unfamiliar mountain range.

For four days, we were enchanted by the beauty of New Mexico, laughed across the state of Texas and wanted to kill each other in the cattle fields of Kansas, but we survived the journey recognizing that our adventure together was a test of strength, endurance, and patience.  We ate Chinese food every night in Super 8 Hotels along the way and saw Dorthy’s house from the Wizard of Oz.

We survived the journey together and I have surrendered to the fact that I will probably make more unexpected journeys in my lifetime, and that’s ok.  I no longer hold onto a false sense of security as life is truly an illusion.  What feels safe, isn’t, and what feels fearful is safe. Life is a paradox.

I could have stayed in one place my entire life, but then I think about all the people I would not have met and all the experiences I would not have had, both good and bad.  Not that I have chosen all of my life changes, on the contrary, most of them were forced upon me, but I no longer fight them, but accept that I am being guided to a new place, a new experience or back to a familiar place where I am to resolve the past.  Wherever life takes me, it will be a journey…