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Discovering Your Inner Chef

As I was tidying up my website this morning, I happened upon these musings in a past VEGWORLD Magazine Editor's Note. It seems particularly relevant now.

In this unique COVID moment social media abounds with our food photos. Now, many with a plot of land or merely a window sill are planting herbs and veggies this spring. Recipe-sharing is surging and we delight in one another's efforts.

With meat and dairy supply lines disrupted, out of necessity plant-based foods are taking center stage on our tables. One day, we'll look back to find that because of all these changes, chronic disease rates will have dropped too. Let's hope that whenever we finally emerge from this pandemic's grasp, we hold onto this one good thing we're rediscovering ~ home-cooking.

Apart from our propensity to tell stories, cooking and sharing food may be our next most uniquely human behaviors. We are drawn to a common table, not just from hunger but also to satisfy our needs for conversation, companionship and connection. Food links us so powerfully to family, time and place, memories and nostalgia that a taste, even an aroma, can transport us instantly back to childhood.

Communal meals are tied to our religious rituals, marking the seasons and giving thanks for life and the Earth’s rich bounties. Who can imagine any rite of passage ~ a birth, reaching puberty, a wedding, even a death ~ that doesn’t revolve around a shared table? Feeding one another is a fundamental way we humans express love for one another, celebrate life’s major events, pass on cultural traditions, and give meaning to our lives.

How we choose to nourish ourselves, however, has changed dramatically over the past half-century. Convenience rules and in recent years, we've spent less time in the kitchen, relying increasingly on processed convenience foods, take-out and dining outside the home.

Many boomers have hung up their aprons in favor of other pursuits in retirement. A wide swath of millennials admit that they are cooking illiterate. Sadly, our abandonment of the kitchen comes at a cost to our health, to our pocketbook, and to the social cohesion and sense of belonging that comes with preparing and sharing meals.


My deepest wish for all of us pursuing a healthier, kinder plant-based life is that we rediscover the joys of cooking. Let’s unsheathe our chef knives and together rebirth a food culture that celebrates vibrant, local produce and the delightful alchemy that happens in the kitchen.

Cooking need not (perhaps should not) be solitary, incidentally: The happiest food adventures occur when we share our cutting boards with friends and make a party of it. Perhaps this evokes some deep, primeval memory when we gathered around the fire pit to share our daily spread.

We are so lucky to live now with access to dishes from foreign shores, all with their own unique rich local flavors and traditions. Such culinary cross-pollination, together with the resurgence of local farming, foraging, fermenting, baking and brewing, promises to spawn a vegetative renaissance - not just in the professional culinary world and for the well-heeled - but within grasp of each and every one of us.

Cooking ties us to the natural world and invites us to be endlessly inventive. It celebrates life and living. So let’s make the most of it!

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