Monday, March 04, 2013

Cooking Matters

One of my favorite quotes comes from an episode of the TV show, Brothers and Sisters.
One of the daughters, Sarah (Rachel Griffiths), tells the mom, Nora (Sally Field), to stop chopping carrots for the family dinner as if everything is OK, and to instead focus on all of the bad things that are happening to their family.

Sarah says, "Carrots are not important right now."

Nora replies, "Sarah, you're wrong. You have to care about the carrots. It's the carrots and the onions and the celery that ground us. Nothing is more basic than that. When the whole world is shifting and changing, you've got to hold onto your carrots."

In a world that does feel a bit out of control (a Pope retiring, an asteroid falling, Congressmen who are unable to act like adults, mass shootings of little children, super storms), cooking is a simple and grounding pleasure for me.

Upwell lunch made from the office CSA box.
I've been wondering lately about the healing power of cooking, and if it can heal not just individuals' health, but also the health of communities, big and small.

I wonder what would happen if Congress had to cook and eat lunch together each day. I bet they would work better together.

They would have to negotiate what to make, purchase groceries (and see how much they cost and where they came from), figure out who would make what, work around dietary restrictions, and try each others' favorite regional dishes. And if they didn't do all of that, they would go hungry. No lunch for them! I bet that would motivate them to be more tolerant and to work together.

Just the other day at Upwell we were discussing, over a yummy lunch made by Upwell's Director, Rachel Weidinger, that we feel like we know each other better than some of the other teams we've worked with because we often cook and eat lunch together. Upwell's office has a full kitchen, and we receive a weekly CSA box. Rachel does most of the cooking, but team members take turns on occasion helping her to prep vegetables and stir beans while simultaneously discussing the day's work.

Cooking and sharing our cooking can connect us. In an Edible East Bay review of Michael Pollan's new book, Cooked, Kristina Sepetys writes (emphasis added),
"Using a wealth of historical detail, literary examples, artisan profiles, scientific study, personal anecdote, and references ranging from Homer to Claude Levi-Strauss, Pollan explains how cooking knits us up in a web of social and ecological relationships."
If as a country we worked together so that all people would have the time, skills, and access to the ingredients needed to cook real food (not processed), and to share it, we could transform our "health" on all levels.


If you want to jump start your VegCooking, join the VegCookbook Club as we cook through Vegan Brunch together in March. You can learn more about the VegCookbook Club on its about page, and in my recent interview on the Tranquility du Jour Podcast.


  1. This is lovely and inspiring. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Thank *you* for reading, Michael.

  3. Love this! So smart, practical and nourishing. So true. Food is medicine and cooking solo or with others is relationship. I love my carrots...and give thanks for the grounding gift and utter beauty and nourishment of whole foods and whole communities...united together.

  4. Great post, Britt!

  5. Thanks Wendy and Gabriela (:

    And thanks for sharing my post on Twitter, Gabriela.

  6. Stacy Colwell8:13 PM

    Love this! Funny, I don't watch Brothers and Sisters too often, but I saw that episode and really liked that quote about the carrots.Happy cooking and connecting :-)

    1. Hi Stacy ~

      How funny that you saw that episode. I just love that quote, and always think of it when I'm chopping veggies. I'm looking forward to having some of your cooking soon (:

  7. Britt,

    What a thoughtful post, filled with good thoughts for our communities and families. I am sending it on to friends.

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