In Dominique Crenn’s book, Rebel Chef In Search of What Mattered Most, I was drawn deeply to her chapter on “The Ethical Kitchen.” It is impressive how this honored chef who sees food as poetry makes vegetables the center of her elegant dishes. While she is not a vegetarian, she understands that “too many people eat a meat-centered diet, when for the health and for environmental reasons, meat should be a secondary ingredient.” I love her message: think before you eat, and consider where the food comes from. It is well-documented that industrial farming is not only inhumane to the animals, it is also harmful to the environment and ourselves.
An OPL Recommended Book — Rebel Chef, In Search of What Matters.
Author: Dominque Crenn
You can read our brief synopsis of this book here.
As a French chef living for decades in the United States, Dominique sees how we “like to buy cheaply and discard, creating unneeded waste.” All of this comes into play in her amazing vegetable-forward meals, where she makes vegetables shine in new, creative ways and works to avoid food waste.
Dominique Crenn’s book inspired me. While I will never come close to being able to create the dishes (out of my league), it motivates me to think about the ingredients in my vegetarian dishes and how to make them shine. The more vegetarian dishes I eat, the more I crave them. Here are two of my go-to vegetarian recipes. Additionally, we have two more from our home chefs. Enjoy!
As I was writing the book summary for The Miracle of Mindfulness by Thich Nhat Hanh, an all time favorite, I was inspired to share my experience with mindfulness and meditation. In these extremely challenging times, it is even more important to be able to find your place of stillness. Your place of total rest. Thich Nhat Hanh shares that each of us needs total rest and most of us do not get enough. In his words, “Even a night of sleep doesn’t provide total rest. Twisting and turning, the facial muscles tense, all the while dreaming – hardly rest.” Mindfulness and meditation are gifts for yourself. It goes beyond relaxation and is the path to your center of joy, peace, and a clear mind.
Reading The Miracle of Mindfulness by Thich Nhat Hanh is like receiving letters from a wise friend about how to introduce mindfulness into your busy, stressful life. The book evolved from letters that Nhat Hanh wrote to Brother Quang to encourage workers during a dark time in Vietnam. Read our summary here.
The Miracle of Mindfulness
By Thich Nhat Nanh
My meditation practice gives me comfort and joy, and opens my heart to opportunities.
While I am not an expert, my meditation practice gives me comfort and joy, and opens my heart to opportunities. I started exploring meditation over 20 years ago when a friend of mine introduced me to Deepak Chopra’s books. By nature, I like to understand both the approach and the science behind it. Deepak does a great job of bringing years of meditation learning and science to the layperson. It has been a slow journey for me to get some routine to my practice. Today, I meditate most mornings for about 30 minutes. During my meditation, I take time to remember my aspirations for the future and to focus on what I am grateful for right now. Then, I get ready for the day with a deep sense of joy. Throughout the day, I try to take time to be present. I use simple exercises to bring me back to the now. For example, in the afternoon, I take a cappuccino break. When drinking the cappuccino, I focus on the smell, the taste, and the warmth — and enjoy. It may sound crazy, but it gets me out of my head and back to the here and now.
When I get way out of balance, I take a day of mindfulness. I choose a weekend day when I can make sure I have no other commitments. It is almost like an at-home spa day. I start with my morning meditation, then my cup of tea, followed by a warm bath. With each activity, I am focused on just being in the moment. Experts recommend that you try to maintain a spirit of silence all day. I am only partially able to keep silent, but I keep talking to a minimum throughout the day. At lunch, I have a small, healthy lunch that I prepare for myself. I spend the rest of the day looking out the window, reading, or taking a walk. Then a light dinner and off to bed. This quiet, peaceful day gives me strength and joy. While I only take a few mindfulness days a year, each time I gain a sense of renewal.
One thing for sure, mindfulness and meditation make my life more joyful.
By nature, I am not a structured person, so my practice has its ups and downs. One thing for sure, mindfulness and meditation make my life more joyful.
In these trying times, self-care is essential and if you have not tried meditation, why not give it a try? I started in my early days with the guided meditations by Deepak Chopra. You can find them on the Chopra app.
My sincerest hope is that this glimpse into my mindfulness experience and sources are helpful. I would love to hear about your meditation practice.
I am an avid reader of books on climate change and nature. I enjoy turning to a children’s book for insights. Written in 1971, The Lorax by Dr. Seuss is a whimsical gem. The Lorax is desperately trying to stop the senseless cutting down of trees. As the story unfolds we learn about our magical connections with all living things and how we unknowingly harm them. This book is a gentle reminder to open our eyes to the impact of our actions and to make caring changes.
I asked my niece, Joanna Henry – artist, musician, teacher, and all-around wonderful person, to read this story aloud for the OPL audience.
I invite you to enjoy this video and reading of The Lorax by Dr. Seuss. Please share it with all of the children and adults in your life.
I was surprised to learn that planting trees is among the most effective strategies for climate change mitigation. We know that trees renew our air by absorbing carbide dioxide and producing oxygen. The amount of oxygen produced by an acre of trees per year equals the amount consumed by 18 people annually. But how many trees do we have on the planet and how many do we need?
Thomas Crowther and his team (crowtherlab.com) started asking these questions and used big data and machine learning to understand the world better and explore ways to restore the planet.
Thomas and his team used a unique approach to determine how many trees are on the planet. Instead of relying solely on satellite pictures, which do not tell you what is going on the ground, they leveraged tree counts by thousands of people that had been done on the ground for other projects. By leveraging big data computing they were able to combine the counts and satellite data to find repeatable correlations. This led them to creating a global model and the “Tree Density of Three Trillion Trees” which was published in 2015. This was astounding as from just satellite pictures the number of trees was thought to be 8 times less!
Armed with this information the United Nations realized that they had not sized their tree campaign properly. So they changed their Billion Tree Campaign to the Trillion Tree Campaign (trilliontreecampaign.org). So far, 13.6 billion trees have been planted and more are planned. I invite you to go to their site and you can explore around the world the number of trees planted, current forests, and restoration opportunities.
While trees are effective at absorbing carbon dioxide and producing oxygen, is there sufficient, suitable land to plant enough trees to make a significant difference?
According to the data analytics results from Thomas Crowther and team, “Excluding existing trees and agriculture and urban areas, we found that there is room for an extra 0.9 billion hectors of canopy cover, which would store 205 gigatonnes of carbon in an area that would naturally support woodlands and forests.”
Translation: It makes a huge difference and we should all conserve forests, plant trees, and support others who are planting trees. With the continued urbanization of the world, we have the opportunity to increase our forests in rural areas as the population reduces and to increase the greening of our cities around the world.
Armed with a better understanding of our world, what actions can you take?
Join up with people who are working to protect existing forests around the world, find out about tree planting in your community, and support organizations that plant trees. To get started, look for a local organization such as treesatlanta.org and also global organizations such as 8billiontrees.com which are both doing great work.
Let us know about your tree efforts; no progress is too small. We would love to hear from you!