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Farm to table has been a rageful movement in the last few years in North America. Restaurants have become more and more conscious about how they grow their plants and how they raise and process their livestock.

Environmental and Economical Reasons

There are many reasons for its popularity such as its environmental and economical benefits – farm to table offer a healthier source for nutritional and fresh produce, delivering delicious local foods that still contain the full sensory experience of taste and scent, and in addition, farmers markets contribute to our sustainable future where the carbon footprint is reduced because the produce is locally grown and raised which then supports local farmers who then support the community itself. It’s a win-win situation.

Jeong Kwan

Today we are thriving, “sustainable” and “local” have become the standard theme for many restaurants, who are committed to building sustainable practice and approach.

On the other side of the world, In South Korea, Buddhist nun Jeong Kwan approaches cooking as a spiritual practice. But her meals have left some of the world’s best chefs in awe.


Connection to Nature

Kwan is a firm believer that the intimate connection with fruits, vegetables, herbs, beans, mushrooms, and grains creates the ultimate cooking – cooking that is about being present and respecting the ingredients which then turns into a delicious experience.

‘Let nature take care of it’’ she says in a recent interview, she immerses herself into her cooking and becomes her ingredients herself.

Because Jeong Kwan grew her ingredients herself she knows just how much energy she has poured into them, she saw the rain, the sunshine, the soil, and the seeds, work together to produce the ingredients she then works within her kitchen.

By looking at Jeong Kwan’s garden located in Chunjinam hermitage of the Baekyangsa temple, 2 and a half hours away from Seoul, one may think it is not a garden at all but a messy zoo of vegetables growing wherever they like.

Jeong Kwan refers to her garden as her playground, she says, “It’s man’s greed that wants the plants to grow faster and grow bigger and prettier. This is why some resort to chemical substances. But I let the plants in my garden grow as they want”.


The Practice of Buddhism

Her words capture her philosophy perfectly, Jeong Kwan’s influence is more of her philosophy rather than the techniques. Her philosophy is a Buddhist practice. It’s about being in the present. It’s about respecting the ingredients, the planet, making people happy, being happy in the process, and most importantly, her approach is about how to put good energy into the food.

You may ask yourself, well where do I find her cooking? Sadly, Jeong Kwan has no restaurant. Most of her days are filled with her practicing being a monk and cooking for two other monks in the temple.

Although many chefs praised her cooking to be on the same level as the world’s best chefs, Jeong Kwan cooks simple Korean temple cuisine that is based on the principles of Buddhism.

Temple cuisine goes back to the Buddhist concept of nonattachment: You may stuff your face with joy but when you are done. You are done. You are left with the feeling of fullness and lightness. A meditation.

So next time you cook, consider your actions as a meditative approach of healing and fueling the mind because after all – you are not just feeding your hunger but you are also feeding your soul, mind, and body.