Sunday, March 22

this is necessary (mana)

I had to celebrate passing my boards, so Rebecca and I went out to a new (for us) restaurant in Chicago, Mana.

Highly recommended. The dishes were delicious, and they offer small portions so you can order a bunch of stuff and share it.

I've been feeling the Spring, eating a lot more fresh vegetables, raw salads, etc. Also, the more I learn about food production and the animal industry, the less inclined I am to eat farmed meat. I've flirted with being a vegetarian before, and I'm flirting with it again. Just seems like these days, the higher up on the foodchain something is, the more contaminated it will be.

Also, what with the infiltration of big businesses imposing their own interests upon the USDA and FDA, food labeling barely means anything anymore. The definitions of such appealing terms as "natural," "free range," "cage free," and even "USDA Organic" are so loose that they've lost their original meanings.

It's a sad state of affairs when we don't even know what we're eating anymore.

The ethics of eating are complicated. As much as I would love to be driven by ahimsa, that philosophy would force me to define what is and isn't alive. The distinction between plants and animals can become very ambiguous; there are so many things that unite us. The fact is, though, that we have to eat something in order to survive. A favorite book of mine, Omori Sogen: The Art of a Zen Master contains a passage about this:

"But even a man of noble and god-like character cannot live a single day without depriving other forms of life of their life. This is the sad reality of human beings. Even the most honest and compassionate man must snatch water from the earth without paying for it, must breathe the air from the sky without authorization, and must steal energy from the sun. Without these acts, he could not sustain his existence even for an instant. This is the tragic fate of man. Because of this dilemma, everyone bears the original sin of dualism.

Consequently, even if a man really loves peace, he must kill the cow, kill the pig, kill the chicken, kill the fish, and kill the vegetables in order to strive toward this noble aim. To put it paradoxically, this man himself is part of the carnage caused by the survival of the fittest. Therefore, one can say that because there is no peace, he desires peace. Man's existence is subject to this dialectic structure. There can be no human life that does not participate in killing and death."

That's zen. So much matters that nothing matters. What I'm having a hard time with is the blatant disrespect that the food industry has for the things it is in charge of.

So I am alive, depriving other forms of life their existence, but I can at least take comfort in knowing that the plants I am eating can't possibly have been as mistreated as the animals would be.

Also, I've been sprouting mung beans, and adzuki beans. It's so easy, and so worthwhile. Hopefully I give them a good life, and a good death. I didn't take this photo:

Tool hinted at this dilemma in their album, Undertow. The very last track of the album contains a brief diatribe/sermon about the holocaust of the carrots:

And the angel of the lord came unto me, snatching me up from my place of slumber. And took me on high, and higher still until we moved to the spaces betwixt the air itself. And he brought me into a vast farmlands of our own midwest. And as we descended, cries of impending doom rose from the soil. One thousand, nay a million voices full of fear. And terror possesed me then. And I begged, "Angel of the Lord, what are these tortured screams?" And the angel said unto me, "These are the cries of the carrots, the cries of the carrots! You see, Reverend Maynard, tomorrow is harvest day and to them it is the holocaust." And I sprang from my slumber drenched in sweat like the tears of one million terrified brothers and roared, "Hear me now, I have seen the light! They have a consciousness, they have a life, they have a soul! Damn you! Let the rabbits wear glasses! Save our brothers!"

This epiphany is followed by a beautifully dark chant: "This is necessary. This is necessary. Life feeds on life, feeds on life, feeds on life."

This is necessary. I'm trying to feed on life of whole grains and vegetables. Quinoa, brown rice, broccoli, brussels sprouts, mushrooms, avocados, green beans, spring greens, kale, chard, spinach, squash, carrots, adzuki beans, beets, sweet potatoes, mung beans...

I still eat some dairy products, like cottage cheese and yogurt, but I try not to go crazy on those.

Nuts and seeds are good too, and I've been eating coconut butter on brown rice toast for breakfast lately.

And of course, chips and salsa have become symbiotically linked with me.

Eating really well seems to happen in cycles for me. Sometimes I find that I've been eating irregularly, usually a lot of sugar/snacky things. Sometimes I realize I've been eating well, making my own meals, etc.

It's a good sign when the cutting board is always dirty.


suzette said...

You make me smile. I like your haircut.

(jeremy) said...

that's an old photo. i'm still real grizzly.