White Mulberry (Morus alba L.).
Mid-June, the tree at the end of my driveway becomes loaded with fat white berries. When ripe, they yield to the touch with a spongey plumpness, releasing from the branch without hesitation. The fruit has a milder flavor than the more common, darkly purple mulberries. When you eat them, close your eyes and taste them without distraction. They’re unlike anything else in their delicate, subtle sweetness. I gorge myself on them, directly from the branch to my mouth, but I think they would be lovely in recipes. In the mornings they still contain their cool from the night, and in the evening they are warm and soft on your tongue.
Mindful eating has been widely explored as a subset of mindful behavior, from the Buddhist tradition. For me, eating these understated berries epitomizes what mindfulness should be. I have a history of poor nutritional habits, which I’ve been trying to replace with healthier choices. Food that maximize what the body needs, celebrates that we function best as herbivores, and rejects the idea that creating suffering in other species for our benefit is a necessary evil. Mindful eating can enhance our relationship with food; it can teach us deep gratitude. There is a sensuous quality of food that escapes appreciation when we are distracted by television or a book, or if we eat while working.
Engage all of your senses when eating. Look closely at the color and take notice of both its beauty and its imperfection. Smell it, whether it is a piece of fruit or a complex dish in which you can detect different ingredients like cinnamon, lemon, and cardamon. Feel the variations in textures in your hand or in your mouth. Be aware as it passes around your tongue. Hear as you bite into it and as it releases between your teeth.
Mindfulness is never a passive state. It is an intention. Take your meals at a table, light a candle. Eat with people whose company you enjoy. Acknowledge and be thankful for the food before you. All of this will lead you to selecting food that is beautiful and that you feel good about welcoming into your body.