Using Nature As Our Muse

A few years ago I was lucky enough to travel with my documentary filmmaker friend, Maryella Hatfield, as she filmed a workshop on biomimicry. Biomimicry promotes the transfer of ideas inspired by nature to the design of our world, for a more sustainable, healthier planet. Maryella and I met up with Janine Benyus, a leader in this field of bio-inspired innovation, along with her training team, deep in the throbbing jungle heart of the Peruvian Amazon at the Tambopata Research Station. There we observed 24 designers from five continents using the Amazon rainforest to inspire solutions to their real design problems. The group included textile manufacturers from South Africa, architects from Syria and Boeing engineers from Seattle, amongst others. With no electricity, mobile phones, or wireless connections they used Nature as a muse and model.

One of the many unexpected delights of that journey to Peru was the food. We were fed mouth-wateringly delicious foods with natural packaging. Never did we have to throw away any containers, plastic or paper. Grown locally, organically, and cooked fresh daily, it was full of life and nourishment.

We travelled by bus and boat for two days coming and two days going. We stayed for a week at the remote research station. For lunch one day on the boat, beautiful green parcels the size of a sandwich were passed out. Inside were slices of potato-filled omelet sandwiched with cheese and tomato. The omelet sandwich was wrapped in bijao leaves, large green pliable leaves much like a banana leaf. The green square was then tied up with a bit of dried vine, a beautiful gift of food with no waste. On the bus we were presented with a snack: A freshly picked orange and two perfectly roasted Brazil nuts in a locally made, re-usable covered basket. This description does little to evoke the experience of eating this vibrant, soul-satisfying food. At the research station homemade meals made from locally grown food was set out three times a day, fruit and freshly baked sweets for morning and afternoon snacks and a cup of tea before bed. Simple food cooked beautifully. Back in Sydney, I began thinking about how to move towards more sustainable, conscious eating. I began buying organic food whenever possible and always looked for foods with minimal packaging. I started asking myself how the food was going to impact my body and the planet. There weren’t any rigid guidelines around these choices. They were naturally inspired based on my experience.

What is your current experience of your appetite, eating behaviors, food and weight? If you have dilemmas in these areas, how might Nature solve them? How might Nature help you innovate and design a new way of being? I am inspired whenever my clients truly let go of their food and weight rules and begin to connect with their natural appetites. Just as my experience in the jungle was joyful so is their experience in trying new foods and listening to their bodies.

This post is also published in the April 2017 Sibyl Magazine: For the Spirit and Soul of Women