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Green news

Green Muslims was recently mentioned in the American Public Health Association’s The Nation’s Health newspaper:

Faith groups bring new voices to climate change discussion: Social justice, health are key messages
by Kim Krisberg
May 2008

Prophetic Food for Thought

From the book jacket: “Food. There’s plenty of it around, and we all love to eat it. So why should anyone need to defend it? Because most of what we’re consuming today is not food, and how we’re consuming it – in the car, in front of the TV, and increasingly alone – is not really eating. Instead of food, we’re consuming ‘edible foodlike substances’ – no longer the products of nature but of food science.”

From the intro (page 1): “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants. That, more or less, is the short answer to the supposedly incredibly complicated and confusing question of what we humans should eat in order to be maximally healthy. I hate to give the game away right here at the beginning of a whole book devoted to the subject, and I’m tempted to complicate matters in the interest of keeping things going for a couple hundred more pages or so.”

…and he does (201 pages)! I haven’t read the whole book (In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto, by Michael Pollan), but I’m loving it so far. Nutritionally insightful and deliciously simple… or is it the other way around??? Read the book and you’ll see what I mean! It’s about much more than simply (complex) nutrition.

“Food,” writes Pollan, “is also about pleasure, about community, about family and spirituality, about our relationship to the natural world, and about expressing our identity” (8). All this, he explains, is basically culture – “which, when it comes to food, is really just a fancy word for your mother” (3). So that’s what I’d like to leave you with…

Pollan’s three big suggestions remind me of what I grew up learning (in part, from my mother… God bless her!) about how and what the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) ate. So here’s some prophetic food for thought:

  1. Eat food – it’s said that the Prophet’s favorite dish was the one with the most hands it (this relates to Pollan’s point on not eating alone).
  2. Not too much – the Prophet’s advice on portions = 1/3 food + 1/3 drink + 1/3 air (i.e. empty).
  3. Mostly plants – it’s also said that the Prophet went extended periods of time on simply dates and water, or the two blacks (al-aswadaan) as they were called.

Finally, if you see a theme in the last couple blog posts… great! Food will be our theme for this summer and into Ramadan, insha’Allah!

Mindfulness in cooking…

When I cook, I start at noon. To me, preparing meals for others is on of the most enjoyable and wonderful things a human being can do. Cooking is healing in its essence. I have one dish made of basmati rice with chopped pistachios, almonds, raisins, and tiny carrots slivered into peices the size and shape of toothpicks. I need about three dozen large carrots to make this dish for eight or ten people. I always sit down with a sharp knife and spend an hour or more at this task of slicing, until a huge pile of carrot slivers is sitting before me.

One day someone helping in the kitchen saw me doing this and informed me “I have a great idea. Here, put those carrots in the food processor, and the job will be done in less than a minute!” I thanked my assistant for the suggestion and then explained that the reason I preferred doing the job by hand was that with each slice I made a little prayer that the food be a healing influence for the person who eats it. So the thought of desiring wellness for people also needs to be added to the foods that you prepare for them.

We certainly can tell the difference between food eaten in a restaurant and food prepared properly in the home. Too often, the people who work in public eating establishments have no concern whatsoever for the food they serve (food which is almost always is prepared by machines). In fact, many people having jobs in restaurants are angry and disgusted that they have to work there in the first place. The mental vibrations of such people inevitably work their way into the food.

… Before eating, the Sufi says, “Bismi Llahi ir Rahman, ir Raheem- In the name of God the most merciful, the most compassionate. Oh My Lord! I will eat this food only to be a better servant of Yours. Use this food to uplift me and uplift all of your humanity. Ameen”.

-Shaykh Hakim Moinuddin Chishti
“The Book of Sufi Healing” chapter on Food and Health

(From Afeefa)