In our family we like to call our life “a rainbow of chaos”. There’s a lot of paint splatters on the wall and glitter in the cracks of the floor boards. We travel. We make forts. In the mix of all that nutrition has taken a hit. But lately I’ve been trying to get fish sticks and pasta off the menu and go for a more plant-based diet.
The first thing I try with my daughter is quinoa. Now quinoa, as you probably know, has an incredible nutritional profile. It’s got protein and fiber. But it’s also beautiful. So I’m making quinoa with my daughter. And she asks to touch it. I put it in a bowl and she runs her hands through it, she pours it in and out of a cup. She likes the sound and explores the way it feels. And I chat to her while I cook. Turns out she also wants to know what it looks like as a plant. So we get out the computer and we do a quick Google Image search. We see it on the stalks. We see the woman who picks it. It’s got these gorgeous golden and purple colors. We talk about where it grows and what it’s like to pick it and turn it into the grain we’re cooking now.
All that is to say that for my daughter quinoa is not just food. It is a story. It is medicine. It is a beautiful object. And it’s delicious. Now I’m of an artistic bent and I always come back to art even in the most round-about ways. And that’s when it hits me. Art is beautiful and it taps into the basic human need for stories. But it’s sort of that incidentally. The first thing that quinoa is is medicine. It’s good for the body. It keeps you healthy and strong. But the deeper you pay attention to it the more it unfolds. It has a story, a texture, a sound. And art is like that too. The first thing it is is medicine. It keeps your mind, body, emotions, and soul strong. But the way it does that is so important. It does that with story, sound, texture, and beauty.
We humans obviously know this instinctively. As I said at the beginning I do not get a gold star for imparting nutritional information to my kids. But my daughter - whose been submitting on fish sticks and pasta since she could eat - knew straight away that this healthy thing was beautiful. She wanted to get to know it. And I believe that through getting to know its story, its sound, its beauty she became connected to it. She wanted to eat it because she and the quinoa were now in a relationship. So that’s art. It’s medicine and it’s relationship. It does that through story, sound, texture, and beauty. We know that as kids. But we forget.
And that’s what I was thinking about when I cooked dinner last night. What do you think about while you cook? Has your diet inspired similar side-ways ideas?