By Ann Brand, Ph.D
With this year looking quite different due to the global pandemic, many of us are sticking closer to home than usual. What a great opportunity to get curious about finding joy in a local, Wisconsin summer. One benefit of where we live is the abundance of local produce available right here in the Chippewa Valley. Whether you harvest from your backyard garden, put on a mask and head down to the farmers market, or pick up a delivery from your local food co-op, Wisconsin summer is abundant with local food. Bringing mindful awareness to the local food available to us is one way to find new, interesting, and joyful things about summer.
Mindful eating is a simple way to enjoy what we eat and bring a sense of gratitude to the availability of fresh, local food. To mindfully eat, we tune into our senses, getting curious and interested our food. You can do this practice with any of the abundant local produce found this time of year.
Seeing: Before you take a bite, pause and notice the color, texture, size, and shape of your food. Be curious about the tiny seeds on the strawberry, the shades of orange of the carrots, the various sizes of the fingerling potatoes.
Feeling: The smoothness of an apple, the coolness of a turnip pulled from the ground, or the creaminess of ice cream. Notice the texture, temperature, and ridges of food in your hand or in your mouth as you eat.
Hearing: Food can make noise! The squeak of a fresh cheese curd, the crunch of a sugar snap pea, the squish of a fresh peach as you bite into it, the sizzle of vegetables on the grill. So often we miss this experience of our food. Pay attention to what you hear.
Smelling: Ah, the smell of ripe raspberries, the earthy smell of a beet, fresh cinnamon rolls at the farmers market. What memories, sensations, or reactions arise in your body as you appreciate the smell?
Tasting: Taste the bounty of summer in each bite. As you chew, notice the change in the texture and flavor of the food. Savor experience from the first bite all the way through the end of your swallow before you take the next bite.
Gratitude: As we slow down, we have the opportunity to imagine what took place to grow this food: the sunshine, water, soil, and all those responsible for cultivating, harvesting, and bringing the food to our table. When we eat local, we have the chance to know where our food comes from and fully appreciate all the time and care infused in each bite. We can even thank the farmer in person!
Next time you mindlessly pick up a raspberry to pop into your mouth, pause, and use your senses to get curious about the experience of eating. You may be surprised at what you find, and maybe even discover a simple joy that you would have otherwise missed.
Ann Brand, Ph.D is an instructor at UW-Stout and a mindfulness meditation teacher. For more information about mindfulness, see Ann’s website www.annbrandmindfulness.com.