Sow Good Seeds: Foodcraft as Self-Care

Sow Good Seeds

Sow Good Seeds is a column devoted to environmental issues, gardening, cooking, and anything else connected to the natural world that has so graciously hosted us on this earth. It is the author’s hope that it will encourage you to see the world around you in a different way, to make incremental changes in your daily living, and to treat our planetary home such that we honor the generations of life that will follow.

It’s been a heavy time. Our nation is having hard conversations (and fist fights, and gun fights) with itself. I see many friends working tirelessly on the journey toward justice and peace — amidst a pandemic, no less.

One friend recently iterated the need for self-care, which they had been neglecting. If we’re not caring for our own bodies and minds, we’re not fully able to care for the bodies and minds of others. 

Food can certainly serve as an avenue of care: preparing a romantic dinner for a partner, bringing a dish to a homebound neighbor, buying a meal for a homeless individual. In pandemic times, sharing food has become more complicated, but can still be done

Preparing food, to me, is one way that I care for myself: I love the creativity of transforming fresh produce into a delicious meal, as if I were creating a mixed-media art piece. It’s a way of accomplishing one small thing that nourishes and re-energizes me. It’s a way of absorbing and honoring the energy that farmers, farm workers, and gardeners (including myself) have put into growing the food I’m putting into my body.

It can be hard to set aside the time and energy — both physical and mental — to eat healthy food when a myriad of forces work to take that time and energy away. It’s easier to order take-out and eat half of it in the car than to puzzle together the vegetables that need to be eaten and the cupboard items that could accompany them into a cohesive meal. But the artist has to make space in the studio, prepare the tools, and do the work in order to create the art that gives voice to and re-energizes their intention.

Self-care advocates emphasize the importance of treating yourself as you would a good friend. Would you hand your friend a granola bar when she realizes at 2 p.m. that she hasn’t eaten anything that day? Would you buy her lunch after a long morning with difficult coworkers? Would you cook your partner a hearty meal after she mows the lawn? Would you sit with her as she stress-bakes and vents about a tense conversation with her mom?

Of course you would. So, do the same for yourself.

Deborah Haak-Frost is grateful for every ray of sunshine that reaches her skin. She is the Caretaker for Community Engagement at GilChrist Retreat Center in Three Rivers, and volunteers with *culture is not optional, a Three Rivers-based community development organization.