goingplaceslivinglife

Travel, Food, and Slices of Life


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Playing with Food

It’s so much fun trying a new recipe. Of course, that statement first starts with the understanding that I enjoy most foods. There are very few I dislike. (Liver will NEVER cross the threshold of this house.) And being a fairly decent cook and baker I can read a recipe and imagine how the flavors will mix, thereby getting intrigued to try something new.cookbooks

Many people are not like that, though.  Years ago I worked in an office with 17 men. I was already 50-years-old so it was no big deal; I could handle them. All except the boss, who I generally refer to as a challenged individual.  Because of the way he tyrannized the work environment, I went out of my way to make things nice. For example, when it was someone’s birthday I asked them what kind of cake they would like and baked one for all to enjoy during the day.

DSC_0010One of the older men had had a heart attack, so I made everything low fat and no one complained. But one time when that man ask me if he could eat the cake, another guy overheard me tell him it had eggbeaters and margarine. (Yikes, have I come a long way with food since then!!)  The second guy, when he requested a cheese cake for his birthday said I better not make it low fat. Of course I did and of course he loved it.

But it was the request for a chocolate cake that was the best. It was end of the summer and the zucchini had been growing well. So, to make something fun, I made a chocolate zucchini cake. The guys chowed down quickly, stuffing it in. Until one guy said, “Hey! What’s the green stuff?”

Funny how people are. Once they know that something different is in the yummy dish they were enjoying, they suddenly have second thoughts. Do you?

Zucchini Fudge Bundt Cake with Chocolate Glaze

Ingredients

For the cake:
1 pound zucchini
2 tablespoons sugar
2 (1-ounce) squares unsweetened chocolate
2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 eggs, at room temperature
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1/2 cup applesauce
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup sour cream
1 cup mini semisweet chocolate chips
1 tablespoon flour

For the glaze:
3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
3 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon light corn syrup (I use liquid tapioca)
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Directions

For the cake:
Adjust rack to center position of oven and preheat to 350°F. Generously coat a 9- to 10-inch (12 cup) Bundt pan with baking spray (the kind that includes flour).
Using a box grater or food processor, grate the zucchini (you should end up with approximately 3 cups). Stir in 2 tablespoons sugar and place in a large colander set over a bowl. As you prepare the rest of the batter ingredients, the sugar will draw the moisture out of the zucchini. Occasionally press down on it to squeeze more water into the bowl.
Finely chop unsweetened chocolate, place in a bowl, and heat in the microwave for 30 seconds; stir. Heat in additional 15-second increments, stirring after each one, until chocolate is completely melted and smooth. Allow to cool.
In a medium bowl, whisk together whole wheat pastry flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. In a large bowl, use an electric mixer to blend together eggs, sugar, melted chocolate, melted butter, applesauce, and vanilla until smooth. Mix in drained zucchini. Turn mixer down to low and stir in half of the flour mixture, followed by all of the sour cream and then the remaining flour mixture. In a small bowl, toss mini chocolate chips with tablespoon of flour. Add to batter and mix until just incorporated, taking care not to overbeat.
Evenly pour/spread batter into prepared pan, place in preheated oven, and bake for 1 hour, or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Remove cake from the oven and allow it to rest on a cooling rack for 10 minutes before turning it out onto the rack to finish cooling.
For the glaze:
In a small pot, melt butter over low heat. Remove pot from heat and add chocolate chips, stirring until they are melted and combined with butter. Stir in corn syrup and vanilla until smooth. Immediately pour glaze over warm cake, gently spreading it so that it trickles down sides. Allow cake and glaze to cool completely before slicing.Zucchini-Fudge-Bundt-Cake-with-Chocolate-Glaze-or-Chocolate-Zucchini-Bread-by-Five-Heart-Home_700pxZoom

 

Recipe from FiveHEARThome

http://www.fivehearthome.com/2014/07/12/zucchini-fudge-bundt-cake-chocolate-glaze-or-chocolate-zucchini-bread/


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Find Balance With Abundance Through Exploration

How much is too much? Well, this time of year if you are growing zucchini, live near someone who grows zucchini, or belong to a CSA (Consumer Supported Agriculture), the abundance of zucchini is borderline glut. There is a joke about never leaving your car unlocked this time of year or you will return to find the back seat loaded with zucchini.DSC_0011

So, knowing this inundation was coming I have been searching the web for interesting ways to preserve the vegetable. My best one, I think, has been zucchini ice cream. Before you scoff, other than the green you never would know. It was vanilla with cinnamon and nutmeg and I said it WAS because it is long gone and so is the second batch. Yum.

The latest new recipe came from one of the many cookbooks I have.  A vegetarian cookbook, it is superb for finding new ways to prepare veggies.  Try this and you, too, will enjoy zucchini, like my son Dan who popped in tonight in time for supper.

2014-08-21 17.51.01

Zucchini and Fresh Herb Fritters

From Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone by Deborah Madison, adapted by Beth Rankin
Reminded me of latkes, so you KNOW it’s going to be great!

Serves 4-6

2 pounds zucchini or yellow summer squash, coarsely grated
2 eggs, beaten
1 bunch scallions or equivalent amount of anything oniony
1 cup dried bread crumbs
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
½ cup chopped parsley
1 tablespoon chopped marjoram or basil
1 teaspoon chopped mint
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Olive oil

• Lightly salt the grated squash and set aside in a colander to drain for 30 minutes.
• Meanwhile, mix the other ingredients together except for the pepper and oil.
• Rinse the squash and squeeze out excess liquid, then stir into batter.
• Taste for salt (it had more than enough for me) and add pepper
• Heat a thin layer of olive oil in skillet.
• When hot drop in the batter. A ¼ cup makes a 3-3.5 inch fritter.
• Cook until golden brown, then flip and cook the other side
• Serve hot.

BE BRAVE….TRY A NEW RECIPE!!!

 


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A Good Kind of Tired

Just home from helping at the McMinnville Cooperative Ministries Saturday morning breakfast where we served about 300 people this morning. It feels good to sit down but this is a good kind of tired.2014-07-19 08.59.15

The hungry are are our neighbors, as I wrote yesterday for Yamhill Valley Grown after visiting Heart 2 Heart Farms where farmer Tyler Boggs distributes free produce to anyone who wants it.  Some of the produce is a bit tired and best fed to his animals, but Tyler realized much of the food was in great condition and several hundred people show up each Friday to gather what they want.

I went yesterday to see the activity and took advantage of the offering to bring 4 huge totes of fruit to the church. At 7:00am my first duty, assigned by this week’s head chef and pastor Mark Pederson, was to prepare a fruit salad.  IMG_3401

About 8 volunteers arrived at 7 to help with the prep. They chopped potatoes and onions, broke and beat the eggs, shredded the cheese, prepared the pancake mix, formed sausage patties and all the things that needed to be prepped for the meal.  IMG_3403

Others arrived around 7:30 to prepare the dining room and for some quick training to newbie volunteers.  Then it was 8:00a.m. and the doors were open and I joined the serving line.  Other volunteers arrived to help with the dish washing and others would arrive later to help with the overall cleanup.2014-07-26 08.26.42

At the Coop the people come in and sit at tables covered with cloth and chose their breakfast from the menu. The servers then bring the orders up to the window where several of us load the plates or take-out boxes.  As we dished up the plates the servers would bring them to the appropriate person for their eating pleasure.

The people who come to eat are treated with respect, no questions asked, no prayer service requirement.  Take-out boxes are offered for those at home who could not make it in for the meal.

bath towel storageToday we had a big bang for a start. It seemed, when I looked out at 8:00 that all the seats at all the tables were full, and sure enough the orders came in fast and furious and we soon fell behind. Dishing as quickly as we could, the last of those 8:00 a.m. eaters finally got their plates around 8:20. And the orders kept coming in pretty steadily but at a more manageable pace.2014-07-26 08.25.25

Things slowed down about 9:30, a half hour before the official end of serving at 10. By then the fruit salad was gone, the hash browns were all eaten, but there were plenty of scrambled eggs, sausages, pancakes and a delicious peach and blueberry cobbler Mark had prepared.2014-07-19 08.59.21

I know I enjoyed my breakfast very much!

Helping at the Coop or another soup kitchen is a way to return appreciation to the community. People who enjoy meals can also volunteer, as can people who are not even members of the church.  We get volunteers during the school year from Linfield College but during the vacation breaks everyone who shows up has to work a bit harder because we don’t have enough hands.  If you can help, you are very welcome to join in. Contact Lauri Muller at compassionfund@gmail.com or call 435-890-4214.


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Shopping for a Market

If you’ve been reading this or any of my blogs you know one of my passions is discovering and then sharing access to local food.  After the wonderful experience working with The Wild Ramp Market in Huntington, West Virginia, including writing blogs for it, we made our move west to Oregon and I began to make connections with the local food scene here. Graham was trying to get me more involved with the local wine scene, but that’s another story.

This winter I met a group of people in Forest Grove, a city of about 22,000 an hour west of Portland.  They wanted to have a year-round indoor local food market and, like most people who have never experienced a different model, they were conceptualizing a once a week move-the-outdoor-farmers-market-inside model.  It works pretty well and is used in many areas. Consumers have access to local food, even in the winter, and the farmer has a bit of income that may or may not substantiate sitting around for 6-8 hours.DSC_0012

When I offered to share some information about a different model of market twelve people showed up and we have been working diligently towards an indoor market based on the Wild Ramp  with wonderful nuances because of the location in the Willamette Valley.

mapFor example, with the Wild Ramp we at first thought we might have to go as far as 250 miles to be able to stock the market. We were very pleased once we mapped the farm locations and saw that most were within a 50 mile radius of Huntington. In comparison, though, Oregon’s Willamette Valley is so abundant that we have set a 15-mile radius for our initial contacts with local food producers! We know of a few food products, like seafood and flour, where the distance will be a bit more.

DSC_0261On our recent trip to California I spent the time on a busman’s holiday, visiting other markets.  While in San Francisco Graham and I visited Bi-Rite. Located in the Mission District, this 1800-square foot market is packed with high quality food sourced both locally and worldwide. They strive to find local growers who produce flavorful fruits and vegetables as cleanly as possible. Samples are offered gladly and the staff was amazingly friendly and helpful, and a lot of fun.DSC_0331

One of the produce staff suggested I check out the Monterey Market in Berkeley once he heard I was planning to head that way later in the week. It also offered a lot of produce, much of it local, but something felt missing. It was when editing the photos that I realized I had seen only two staff working in the aisles of the huge store, compared with a stronger and active friendly presence at Bi-Rite.  Customer service is a key component for providing a pleasant shopping experience.DSC_0549

I had long been hearing about Berkeley Bowl from my daughter Lisa who lives in that city.  The two-store supermarket opened as a small neighborhood market in 1977 and based on arrangements made with growers at and since that time, can offer an amazing array of produce, much of it local, at very low prices.  In fact, generally all the prices I saw throughout the store were amazingly low. Since I have a better understanding of what it actually costs to produce healthy food, it made me wonder how the local farmers could afford to wholesale their crops so inexpensively and still make a living in California.  Even organic produce was less expensive than what the conventional produce is priced in the supermarket where I shop.BB

2014-08-02 08.16.242014-08-02 08.16.49While on our trip I saw some great ideas for the Forest Grove Market at other places. For example, Gayle’s Bakery in Santa Cruz is where we ate breakfast one morning. It had an amazing array of prepared foods for breakfast, lunch and supper as well as baked goods and coffees.  The huge staff provided service quickly and efficiently, even to first-timers like us who were a bit overwhelmed with the luscious selection.  A large dining room provided plenty of space to sit and enjoy the selected feast.2014-08-02 08.17.42

After I got back home to Oregon three of us made a trip through the Cascades to the city of Bend where the Central Locavore Market is located. With a business model more like the Wild Ramp, the Locavore helped us see once again how fortunate it is that we live in an ecosystem with more abundant rainfall. The Market extends beyond their locality to offer a full array of shopping needs, including cleansers and paper products made with minimal impact to the environment.

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Finally, when in Bend we visited the Newport Market, an upscale specialty market with a lot of local ingredients. I was particularly impressed with their produce display and would love to copy it somehow!DSC_0142

We are narrowing down the possible locations for the market in Forest Grove and then will start the fun task of designing the layout and taking our imagination of the decor and using the elbow grease to make it a reality!


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Choosing Your Words

When I worked at the Vanderbilt Laser Sight Center in the 1990s we were told not to use the word “surgery” but to explain to patients that they would be having a “procedure.”  The word choice supposedly diminished the seriousness of the activity and people, eager for clear vision without glasses or contact lenses, lined up. (Me too. I was first in line in fact.)

The concept of word selection to entice people has long been a part of marketing. Getting people to accept a concept starts with overcoming emotional hurdles with words that reduce the concern.cat-woman

So, now a days surveys have indicated that over 96% of the American public approve of labeling on food packages to inform consumers about GMO content. The fight to label in California lost 49% to 51% and the loss last November in Washington was even narrower. This November the people of Oregon will have a chance to vote on a referendum for labeling.

You can vote in favor for labeling even if you personally do not think GMOs are of concern. There are many people who believe there is no reason to worry. Even so, most agree a label should be able to be provided so others, who are concerned, can have information to make choices for their own eating.choice_color_word

The industry fighting the labeling are those that believe labeling will raise a concern where none should exist. They believe that many people who really don’t know much about food being genetically modified for the past 20 years might think something is wrong. And not buy their food. And they will lose profits.

They use arguments like “it will cost to change the packaging and that cost will result in higher food costs to the consumer” which is bogus, since they change packaging all the time. They want to scare you about something that is meaningless so you don’t get scared by something important. That is keeping your right to know for you.

So we now have leadership joining in. The concept of choosing the words came up June 25 at a BIO international convention in San Diego. “….How do you create a different vocabulary to talk about GMOs……” Hillary Clinton mentioned in her talk and then suggested that explaining the technology would help plants improve drought resistance would convince more people that it was a great improvement over nature.

Yes, it can resist drought better. It also does not get affected when sprayed with heavy doses of weed killer. It also kills insects that bite into the plant. The technology works but sometimes not to the success hoped for. That is not the issue.

green sickOne issue is we are tired of people with power trying to dupe us.  The issue is that we, many of the people who have eaten genetically engineered foods, are uncomfortable with the potential effects that are unproven.  We don’t want to be a science experiment any more. We want to know through labeling.  We are intelligent enough to understand the issue and we want to be able to chose.

I wonder what Hillary chooses to eat.

 

 

 

 

 


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Eating with Thinking

When I was growing up my mother, a nurse, pretty much followed the then-accepted USDA guidelines for meals: a good size helping of protein, 2 vegetables, and a starch like rice or potato or pasta. We did not eat additional bread with dinner, but mom was a baker and we almost always had dessert.  One side benefit: I learned to cook from scratch.meat-and-three-veg1
Some time in my 20s I dated a guy who was going to medical school. He convinced me that I was not eating a well-balanced healthy diet and urged me to take vitamins. He thought one-a-days were not the way to go. Instead, I soon was taking multiple tablets, covering my vitamin and mineral needs.vitamin-list

My mother was appalled and equated my vitamin usage to my sisters’ smoking habit. Really Mom? I ignored her but over time, the daily regimen got tiresome and expensive and so, I stopped.

When kids entered the picture I once again went back to preparing meals more on my childhood model. I cooked from scratch almost all the time but enjoyed certain prepared items. For example, I purchased bobolis instead of making my own pizza dough in those days.fajita

Time passed. Kids grew up. I started visiting farms and learning how much our food system had changed.

sci amOne issue I read about was about the declining nutrient value of the fruits and vegetables we are eating today compared to those I ate as a kid. This article from the  April 27 2011 issue of Scientific America confirmed it.

  • Dear EarthTalk: What’s the nutritional difference between the carrot I ate in 1970 and one I eat today? I’ve heard that that there’s very little nutrition left. Is that true?—Esther G., Newark, N.J.
  • It would be overkill to say that the carrot you eat today has very little nutrition in it—especially compared to some of the other less healthy foods you likely also eat—but it is true that fruits and vegetables grown decades ago were much richer in vitamins and minerals than the varieties most of us get today. The main culprit in this disturbing nutritional trend is soil depletion: Modern intensive agricultural methods have stripped increasing amounts of nutrients from the soil in which the food we eat grows. Sadly, each successive generation of fast-growing, pest-resistant carrot is truly less good for you than the one before.

These farming methods used chemicals to try to enrich the soil. And then in the mid 1990s things changed even more with the beginning of genetically engineered seeds and genetically modified foods. All of a sudden the gastro-intestinal issues my  daughter had had since her teen years might have a simple solution. And similarly, so might some of my own health issues.

So, even though we had no known food allergies, we ran a 6 month experiment. Where ever we knew the farmers’ growing practices, we purchased that food. Where we needed another ingredient or food, we switched to organic. know your farmer

Our effort was to try to improve the nutritional value and cut out even more chemicals, either inside the food as an additive or inadvertently absorbed by the food because of the conventional growing practice.

Six months became a year and now several years have passed. Oh, I’m still eating sugar and whenever Graham and I make a good effort with a South Beach diet, cutting out and then re-introducing carbs at lower levels, I do much better. But overall, I have this to report:

BFBHLogoUnless I eat indiscriminately at any old place away from home, I feel much better. No more tummy troubles. Hardly any twinges from my arthritic joints, and what exists is at a level easily handled by an herbal compound.  I sleep better and wake up feeling high energy.

So, we will be on the road again soon for a trip. While I have researched a few restaurants for several dinners out, I suspect we will run into some eating compromises. heart-health-foods

Travel……eating well at home……travel…….eating well at home…..I LOVE to travel, so I will enjoy and cope and eat well again when we get home.

What about you? Ready to try a new experiment and see if changing your diet can help you feel healthier?


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Blueberry Bliss!

You ought to have seen what I saw on my way 
To the village, through Mortenson’s pasture to-day: 
Blueberries as big as the end of your thumb, 
Real sky-blue, and heavy, and ready to drum 
In the cavernous pail of the first one to come!
And all ripe together, not some of them green
And some of them ripe! You ought to have seen!
Robert Frost
BlueberriesDSC_0021

You know that much of “blueberries” that are in processed foods are not real???? There is no excuse to be eating some chemical wanna-be when the REAL DEAL is fresh and ripe and ready for you most places in the U.S. right now!!!

Luscious sweet juicy blueberries. Some of the early varieties are ripe. Earliblue bushes at the Beach Family Farm in Sherwood, Oregon are loaded!!!  So are the 3-year-old Duke bushes.

EarliBlue

If you’ve never picked blueberries before it is very very easy.  You pick the (ready for this?????) the BLUE berries.  In the photo above you can see some are light green (not ready), some are white (not ready), some are light purple (not ready) and some are blue (READY!!!)

It doesn’t take long to pick. At the Beach Family Farm you are given a bag lined bucket and a web belt to hook around your middle. It has a grommet which holds the bucket clip so you have both hands free for picking and the bucket is easy to reach. More berries in the bucket. None on the ground!! Maybe one or two in your mouth.  $2/pound is the same price they have charged for three years and less expensive that the other UPIck farms in the area.

Daily hours are 9:00-4:00, Wednesday through Sunday. The Beach Family Farm is located at 27626 SW 147th Avenue in Sherwood, Oregon about a half hour southwest from downtown Portland.  Anyone who lives in the southwestern suburbs are within a very very few minutes of yumminess.

Blueberries, by the way, are one of the easiest fruits to save. You can pick a bunch, eat some fresh and freeze the rest for later use. The people at the farm will be glad to give you instructions.DSC_0001

http://www.beachblueberry.com/                                                                                                  https://www.facebook.com/pages/Beach-Family-Farm
(503) 625-6314
9:00-4:00, Wednesday through Sunday                                                                                                                                                     27626 SW 147th Avenue in Sherwood


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Aiming for Decadence

My raspberries are slowing down a bit so I have begun to get more thoughtful of how I plan to preserve them. While my first batch of jam ended up too watery, it made an absolutely wonderful raspberry sauce so I decided to repeat that. I discovered, though, that I had tossed the recipe since it had “failed” its intended goal.  A bit of internet research later, I was busy simmering and, following my sister’s suggestion, filtered out the seeds.  But I got to thinking. (Rousing chorus of “uh oh” now)DSC_0001

I started preparing my tried and true hot fudge sauce recipe from my Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream recipe book. It takes almost 2 hours to prepare and is worth every second.

DSC_0002So then I had a finished batch of raspberry syrup and a finished batch of hot fudge sauce. Checking a few  recipes for proportions, I set up 5 bowls for Graham to taste test: 1:1, 1:2, 1:3, 1:4 and 1:5 with raspberry being the increasing proponent.DSC_0003

When I laughed at him going back for a second taste, he assured me scientists take second measurements. Boom

1:4 won and I have now canned 8 half-pints.

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And of course have a pint jar in the frig for immediate consumption. Have to be sure it’s tasty, you know. All part of the experiment!

Brownie sundae with homemade vanilla-blueberry-strawberry ice cream and chocolate raspberry sauce

Brownie sundae with homemade vanilla-blueberry-strawberry ice cream and chocolate raspberry sauce


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How to Be a Pin Cushion

I have no memory of the event but my mom said that when I was playing with my hula hoop, a popular craze in the late 1950s, she noticed I was having trouble breathing. Diagnosis: asthma. Protocol: allergy shots.   Family history has recorded me, at age 4, saying if they got rid of our boxer, I was leaving too, so the boxer stayed.Girl_twirling_Hula_Hoop,_1958

allergy-shot-doc-400x400So I started my first series of allergy shots then. I had a few years of reprieve but sometime in my teens I went through a shot series again. I had another series around age 30 after 2 pregnancies and then again around age 40 after a 3rd pregnancy. Finally, here I am again, in my graying years, enjoying being a pincushion again.

Part of the reason I have needed so many series is because I have moved and have been exposed to new regional allergens. Part of the reason is that, as a woman, my body chemistry has changed a bunch: puberty, childbirth, and menopause all do a number on hormones and other internal chemical interactions. One of the joys of being a woman.

Sitting the requisite half hour to make sure I don’t have a reaction (I never have and hopefully, never will other than minor itchiness at the shot site) I have had a chance to observe and interact with other patients. Most are adults, but there have been a few kids. One girl cried out once when she got her shot and I assured her that her arms will become numb after a while. Since then she has been more stoic even though I know it must still bother her.

allergy reactionAllergic reactions are caused by the body’s immune system recognizing an exposure to something as an attack. Sneezing, excess mucous flow and tissue swelling are all ways the body tries to expel or repel the offending allergen. Why I inherited this gift from my father and neither of my sisters did is one of the mysteries of hereditary influences.

indoor-allergensAnd environmentally I can reduce factors that can affect me. We sadly found new homes for our two young dogs several years ago. We kept the aging cat primarily because no one would take the little monster darling. She is now about 14 years old but I suspect she will live well into her 20s just to spite me. We bought an artificial Christmas tree. (My allergist was surprised I was having issues at age 50 with that. I told him I had recently married a nonJew and it was my first couple of years with a real Christmas tree that helped me correlate the issue with major sinus problems.) I had other family members do the lawn mowing and vacuuming.  Those were no-brainers.

food-allergies1_0A bigger step was to eliminate certain whole foods and all artificial foods from my diet. That meant no more packaged foods. This was about the time I started visiting farms in West Virginia, Kentucky and Ohio as part of marketing local foods.  I learned a lot about the food that is sold at the supermarket and how so much of it, even much of  the produce which looks so healthy, is full of chemicals. Those chemicals, dyes and the herbicide and pesticide residue that remains in the food and can not be washed off, can cause the body’s immune system to react. food al;lergies

If you are having allergy issues either as a continued lifelong event or as a new annoying event in your life, get to know your allergist to reduce your reaction to many of your allergens.  Read about the food-allergy connection and run a two-month trial, eliminating all chemicals from processed foods you eat. See how you feel after that amount of time. I hope you can feel better like I did.  Good luck!

 

 

 

 


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Where are We Going? Who Are We Becoming?

Is your inbox as full as mine? It seems that everyday there are more and more petitions to sign, new concerns to investigate, horrors to try to fix. It’s too much. There are too many things that are not right with this world. And it seems like everyone wants my attention and help.online-petitions-movement-010

Each of us has only so much energy. How do you select which concern gets your attention and effort?  I am assuming you are involved in some way to fix something in the world that you know is not fair, is not right. If you are not, if you are completely self absorbed without any thought to your world and the creatures that live on it, you are missing an opportunity to grow. Being a part of the society in which you lives gives you the chance to help make it better, and that makes what affects you better.

Here are things that bother me:

1. FOOD: The food we eat today in the United States is not the same as it was when I was a kid. Farming has become a booming industry during the past 40 years, and as such, efforts are made to produce more food faster to make more profits. That mean chemicals are used to keep bugs and weeds away, to help animals grow faster, to make all the tomatoes look pretty so you will buy them.  But what is that doing to our bodies? There has to be some correlation, no matter what the USDA tells us, between all those chemicals and the increasing obesity, diabetes, and other health issues we have. You are what you eat…and you can make a small change that can have a huge impact.veggies

The most recent farm census indicates that 91% of all farms are small. That means that not only does most of the food you find at the grocery store only come from a new farms,  most farms in the US earn less than $10,000 after all the hard work they do.  That means that your local farmer, the one who is passionate about raising healthy food to eat, has to work another job off the farm to provide enough money to the family to live. That means your local farmer is not being supported in what s/he does well. If each of us spent only $15 a week buying directly from a local farmer through a farmers market, CSA, or direct sales, the shift would be profound.  And the food will be healthy for you, better than what you find in the supermarket. And YOU will be healthier. There are local farms everywhere, even in major metropolitan areas. Go to Local Harvest to find available healthy food choices near you.

2. ANGER: “I want what I want when I want it and I don’t give a flipping care about you. You get in my way, and I am going to get you out of my way, whatever it takes. You say you believe in something different, you are so wrong, have no sense, I can’t even be bothered to speak to you calmly to discuss our differences. I don’t care. You’re just wrong. And an idiot.”  Sound familiar? I sure hope it’s not you with that attitude, but maybe it is. Why are people so angry? Why have we moved, as a society, to more polarization?  And how can that attitude mesh with people who believe they are good people, religious people with strong moral convictions?  I read something a year ago that anger and lack of self control have increased dramatically in the years that GMO foods have been on the market and consumed. That there is some chemical component (and it may be the absorption of the herbicides more that the GE itself, that is the cause) in our food that is causing this to happen. Back to #1 to change that in your diet.anger_management

Regardless of the cause, it has to stop. We have become a society where few assume responsibility for their actions. From the time the jury awarded a million dollars to the woman who put the hot McDonalds coffee cup without its top between her legs while she was driving , people have started to blame others for the choices they make. Each action you take is a decision, even if you spent zero time thinking about it. Each action you take has consequences. Own up.  Think about how your actions are going to affect your life path as well as other people. Be considerate. Back when I was in first grae my teacher, Mrs. Hibbard, rewarded us for self control with one of those little sugar hearts with sayings on them you find at Valentines Day. What little treat can you use to reward yourself when you are nice, when you control your temper?

3.  GUNS: This whole “Obama is going to take them away from you so you better buy a gun now while the buying is good” seems to me to be a great marketing strategy by gun manufacturers.  And lots of people who might never consider havign a gun have fallen for it. Seriously, for all of you who think you will need to protect yourself from a government running over your Constitutional rights, how many of you voted in this past primary?  How many of you participate even at a local level in your government?  If you don’t at least i.e.,vote or work locally to make your town or city better, you are not doing your part as a good citizen to make the government run the way you would like.  Sitting on your butt bitching is not participating. It goes back to that anger issue.feel safe

My concern is that it won’t be people versus a horrible government that gets into a gun battle. It will be angry people versus angry people.  It doesn’t take much imagination for me to see that if we get into a shortage (i.e.,water, food, electricity) that we are in for some bloodshed here as people with guns will be going to get stuff they want and people with guns will be barricaded protecting what they have.

4. EDUCATION: We have become a society which has definitely dumbed down. We have short attention spans. While we holler we are the best nation in the world, only 30% of our population reads. Oh, we have a higher literacy rate, but not a literacy lifestyle. When companies like Wal-Mart put up signs like this walamart-expressit signifies the problem on two levels—that selfishness I talked about above (see #2) as well as the fact that some people can’t read the word “fifteen”. Really? So we watch tv and listen to the talking heads telling us what to think and get angry. We know what the latest movie is and which movie star or singer has done whatever.  But do we know how to take care of ourselves? To better ourselves?  Most people can’t develop a plan of action. We know we don’t like our lifestyle and the fact that we don’t have enough money but we can’t come up with a budget or a way to improve it.

New curricula are developed which have major flaws.  New tests are designed to show that children are learning but those kids can’t read, can’t multiply, don’t know the story of our nation’s history.  Many of us would find it impossible to past the test that naturalized citizens have to take.  We say we are proud to be Americans but many of us have no idea what that really means. Yet our education system seems to be falling further and further behind while the costs are rising higher and higher.

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These are just a few things that are really bothering me.