A New Food History (the Garden Food Movement!)

20170917_154719Why is it so hard to eat healthy?  I often have wondered this.  I believe it is because as Americans we do not have our own food culture.  If we were from India we would crave curries and lentils and coconut.  If we were Japanese we would crave the tastes of sea weed and fresh vegetables.  We would crave the tastes of our genetic history, of fresh, local produce.  For someone like me, whose family has been in this country for over four hundred years (seriously, according to Ancestry.com no one in my family has come over since the 1700’s!) I have McDonalds and meatloaf to hold dear.  Monsanto lives here.  If it doesn’t have artificial flavors then it isn’t savory or sustaining enough.  It is just bland.  We crave the tastes of our youth!  American tacos, and steak, and canned vegetables!  Just kidding, I never crave canned vegetables.  But I can tell you that the folks that frequent the farmers markets have no clue what vegetables are local.

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Sure, we have regional specialties; fried chicken in the south, and clam chowder in the east, and we have adopted the cuisines of every other nation.  But we haven’t a clue about our own food history because a lot of times folks were just starving.  People of the world just started eating every animal in sight.  We have a genetic disposition for fear of starving or not having enough.

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People that come to America are always surprised at what our serving sizes look like.  One meal at a restaurant could feed a whole family!

That is why it is hard to eat healthy.  We don’t know what that looks like.

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We don’t have our own food history.  We have let big companies take over our food system.  But can we rewire our brains to crave certain foods?  Is it too late to simplify our palates?  I wonder.

It seems to me that a plate full of whole grains; farro, buckwheat, rice, barley, rye, topped with in-season vegetables of varying colors, and topped with a savory sauce of some sort; tomato based or smoked cashew or asian or red chile, would be amazing at every meal.  Inevitably we start craving restaurant food.  It is never as good as what we make at home yet there must be artificial ingredients and flavorings that our bodies crave.  Like it’s the taste of home, or something.

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The gardening season is coming up and I intend to retrain our taste buds!  We are now on a rather strict budget (time to practice what I preach) and we will not be gallivanting around restaurants anymore.  Eating whole grains, vegetables, fruit, seeds, legumes, and nuts help us to avoid the more expensive, processed, nutritionally deplete foods and save A LOT on the grocery bill.  Pastas (homemade or not), homemade sourdough, whole grains, fresh, sauteed, or roasted vegetables from the gardens or market, fresh fruits, roasted nuts as toppings for meals, or made into sauces, or eaten as snacks, seeds added to delicious, crisp salads, and beans and other legumes seasoned and added to meals.  We will create our own food history.  The Garden Food Movement!  Not a diet, but a lifestyle.  The new food history of America.  One household at a time…

All of the above dishes are plant based.  It’s time we take back our health and our food.

Victory Gardens (and beating Monsanto ourselves)

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I wonder if most people understand the dire consequences of a bill signed by our president last week.  A bill that protects Monsanto from all law suits, present and future, from any claims that their products causes serious health problems, even death.  Research shows it does and every other country in the world has banned them.  Why, I ask, would the president protect this company in particular?  Of course we know the answer, money, and the money from Monsanto haunts the halls of Congress and the White House.

That is sad that the American people, who are by and large against genetically modified crops, did not have a voice despite Marches against Monsanto across the country, and that our health, our children’s health, and definitely our grandchildren’s health is going to be sacrificed for a few bucks.  It feels overwhelming and devastating.

Is there anything we can do?  Is there any way to beat big business at its own game?  Not directly, but indirectly perhaps.  I think of all the convenience food my grown children eat daily, fast food, and supposedly healthy boxes of dinners.  The effect that will be having on them.  The effects on my granddaughter Maryjane’s new organs and system.  I cannot change the world, indeed I may not be able to change my children’s worlds, but I can work within my own boundaries and possibly inspire or help folks around me and maybe help my children start gardens when they get into their own houses, or at least let them come raid the root cellar and my gardens.  So what can we do?

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This is war.  Not war in the sense of World War II but war against the people all the same.  In the time of WWII, Victory Gardens were the answer.  Victory Gardens provided sustenance against insecurity and fear.  It provided healthy food, grown from seed, from back door to table.  Back yard chickens provided eggs and meat.  Grains stored so that fresh bread could be made.  Sugar and other items that were experiencing a shortage were creatively replaced.  The housewives of the 1930’s and 40’s fought for their families and protected them by ensuring food was in the back yard.  We can do the same.

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Steps to Winning the War Against Monsanto and Protecting Your Family

1. Grow a garden.  Be it in pots, 5 gallon buckets, the front yard, the back yard, the side yard, or at a community garden.

If you cannot grow a garden where you are at, or do not have the energy to have one, support someone that does.  Small farms are dotting the landscape and more and more new farmers are coming on the scene, particularly women.  They are all around you.  Check the farmer’s markets or ask around.

Not all farms are the same.  The big farms at the farmers market ship in produce this early in the season.  Is it organic?  Where did it come from?  Particularly corn.  That will protect you from the GMO’s but the pesticide free is very important as well.  Pesticide use is at an all time high and the residual is in the structure of the food.  You can’t wash it off.  Find a pesticide free farmer.  Local.  Small.  Eat in season.

Go in with a friend.  Do you have a friend that gardens?  Can they plant a row for you in exchange for something you create?  Or can you buy excess produce from a friend?

If all else fails, buy from the health food store and make sure it is organic!

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2. Get back yard chickens.  If you are allowed, get them.  You will not regret this most amazing, local protein source and classic entertainment.  Eggs have a million uses and if one chose, the meat could be harvested every few years.

If  you cannot have back yard chickens, find someone that is allowed to.  It is actually very easy to find someone to raise your livestock for you.  Farmsteaders are happy to share what they know and to help out city folks.

If all else fails, buy organic meat from the health food store.

3. Get a Milk Share or A Goat. Nothing tastes better than a cold glass of chocolate milk after watering the garden.  Raw milk is better for you than pasteurized.  It contains valuable enzymes and nutrients that are destroyed in pasteurization.

4. Avoid boxes at all costs.  Inside them lurks, not only every genetically modified ingredient known to man, but they are basically nutrient deplete, and unrecognizable to the body.

If you must use a box of something, make sure it is organic.

5. Make your own food.  This may seem impossible to a lot of people.  It does take time to make everything homemade, but not that much more time.  Make time.  A television show less and you could have a day’s worth of food pre-made if you needed to.  The time it takes to eat out could be spent in the kitchen.  Fast food on a farmstead is salad, boiled corn (organic of course!), fried fish, I mean seriously folks,  it really doesn’t take that long to cook dinner.  Pre-make breakfasts and plan lunches and bake bread on Sundays.

6. It doesn’t cost more to be organic.  Trust me on this one.  Yes, the individual prices of the vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, meats, and grains are a smidge higher than at Walmart.  However, you are saving money by not eating out, by not buying prepackaged meals, by not buying boxes, soft drinks, etc.  The grocery bill may even look a little lighter!

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Do it yourself.  Support someone local to do it for you.  Only eat organically.  Store food for winter.  Watch many of your diseases fall away.  And protect yourself in the future.  We can have the last laugh.

 

Fast Food

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We awake before the sun and make the long drives to the farmers market of the day.  After many hours and hot pavement, we make the trek home.  Then we repeat it the next morning.  We are tired, dirty, and hungry!  I put off making dinner last night to spend time with Doug in the garden.  He was watering the thirsty plants while we caught up on the day and enjoyed ice cold beer.  But then it was inevitable, dinner had to be made!  The freezer and the root cellar to the rescue!  This is what we call fast food at our house.  There were a few fish in the freezer, a two year old jar of homemade sauerkraut in the root cellar along with a jar of apples I put up with a bit of honey added.

I informed Doug and Emily in my snootiest voice what dinner would be this evening.

Freshly caught Rainbow Trout (that Rich caught for us) stuffed with savory rosemary and sage (from the porch) then breaded in organic cornmeal, barley flour, salt, pepper, and chipotle powder.  Sautéed in goat’s milk butter and scallion oil.  Topped with salty sauerkraut and honeyed apples sautéed in the pan drippings from the fish and browned butter.
I told them I would send them each a bill for $30 a plate.  Dinner took all of ten minutes to make and then I got to put my feet up!  Do enjoy with deliciously cold beer or hard cider. (You don’t need a recipe, just wing it following the ingredients in order!)