Rethinking our Idea of Abundance in the Kitchen

A few weeks ago, one of the amazing women in my Online Raw Foods Boot Camp took this picture featuring produce she purchased using one of my menu plans. The picture did not include nuts, seeds, oils, or spices, but the rest was there.

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I was so honored that she would take the time to create such a beautiful picture and even compare it to the USDA recommendations for food costs. I shared the picture on Facebook…and it was a HIT! However, what surprised me was that many people commented on the picture saying that this WAS NOT ENOUGH FOOD FOR ONE WEEK (for one person).

Of course this made me giggle…mostly because it reminded me of something I say in all of my workshops and programs.

“Stop trying to have the American Dream in the kitchen!”

In our culture where more is better, we have been taught that it is perfectly normal to have fully stocked kitchens…pantries filled with food, a refrigerator filled with food, and even a second refrigerator or freezer filled with food.

…if having abundance in our kitchen generates this much waste, then we need to rethink our idea of abundance.

I can remember visiting someone’s house for a potluck many moons ago and trying to find space in their freezer to put a fabulous container of raw gooseberry and apricot sorbet…and there was no room. Their refrigerator looked like two brick walls filled with food. And I thought to myself…who are these people feeding? An army?

In our culture, it seems perfectly acceptable to havea hoard-like mentally when it comes to food…even though most of us are not facing war times or poverty. While it is good to plan for uncertain times…most folks are not doing that. Rather, they are going to the grocery store every week and buying food regardless of what they already have at home….even though it is costing them money and time.

And it is not like raw foodists or conscious eating folks are immune to this hoard-like behavior. I can’t tell you how many times I have seen images circulating on Facebook of refrigerators filled with fresh raw produce. And when I see these pictures, I wonder how much of this food will be eaten and how much will be wasted? Was the food purchased based on the common assumption that if you are raw, you need a lot of food? Or did the owner really plan things out so that the food will actually be eaten…and not wasted? Or was it purchased simply to create a FEELING of abundance?

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Their refrigerator looked like two brick walls filled with food. And I thought to myself…who are these people feeding? An army?

Raw Foods has been in my life for the past 13 years…and one thing that I practiced for the first half of it (and got really got at) was believing that because I was raw, I needed a lot of food. Even when my roommates thought I was insane and told me that I had too much food…I believed that I needed a lot. And I denied how much food I wasted. I figured, well I am composting it…so there…it’s not wasted. However, in truth, I was not only wasting food, I was also wasting the time it took to earn the money I used to buy that food. I also assumed that raw foods had to be more expensive. Well, with time, I learned that NO…I don’t need as much food as I thought and it doesn’t have to be expensive.

In all of my workshops and Boot Camps, the first thing I teach people is how to buy what they need. Most people have no idea how much food they need. Rather, food is always entering the house, food is being eaten, food is being thrown away, and some food remains around for years. As a result, people only know how to fill their refrigerator or pantry…not how much food they need to fill their body.

In our culture where more is better, we have been taught that it is perfectly normal to have fully stocked kitchens…pantries filled with food, a refrigerator filled with food, and even a second refrigerator or freezer filled with food. 

So, to teach people how much food they need…I give a challenge.  I ask them not to go grocery shopping again until they have eaten all of the food currently in their kitchen. Now, of course this does not include spices, oils, or that 20lb bag of cashews…but it does include the rest. When most people do this challenge, they learn very quickly to see their food and that they have WAY MORE food than they thought.

When most people are looking for a snack in their refrigerator, they ONLY see if they have what they want….they don’t actually see what they have. For example, my sister and I were spending the night at my mother’s house. In the morning, my sister complained that mom didn’t have any food and that she was going to go home and eat instead of staying. My response was to look at her like she was a crazy person. My mom had a refrigerator, 2 freezers, and cupboards stocked with food. There were tons of options…HOWEVER, the only thing my sister saw was that our mom did not have what she wanted. She didn’t see all that our mom had.

This challenge forces you to see all of your food.

For most people, this challenge will take at least a month!

…after folks do the challenge, they buy less food the next time they shop…they feel confident, empowered, and more in control.
And here’s the funny thing, after folks do the challenge, they buy less food the next time they shop…and they even begin taking pride in an empty fridge. So rather than freaking out that their refrigerator is empty, they feel confident, empowered, and more in control.

If having abundance in our kitchen generates waste, then we need to rethink our idea of abundance. For me, having abundance means knowing that there will always be enough….that I will be provided for. It is stressful to try to maintain the American Dream in the kitchen…it costs a lot of time and money. I would rather buy less and have confidence in knowing that I only need a fraction of this Dream to live a marvelous life.

This is why I am so proud to be a part of Raw Foods on a Budget. It is more than just about eating raw foods…it is about reclaiming your life.

Brandi-looking-up

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-Brandi

Creator and author of the award-winning Raw Foods on a Budget

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