Sunday, January 19, 2014

Pioneer Hippy and the American Diet

It's so easy, and down-right practical to open up a box of mac & cheese, pop a frozen pizza in the oven,
or program the microwave to deliver a Lean Cuisine in 3- 2- 1. Fast food, take-out, convenient,
processed, frozen - all with a generous sprinkling of GMOs, pesticides, added hormones,
antibiotics, preservatives, artificial dyes...

but hey, it gets dinner on the table faster than Samantha from Bewitched can wiggle her nose.
And you better believe it tastes good - down right addictive in some cases. All the while our
great-great grandparents are turning over in their graves. Not because they envy the diet of their
modern ancestors or anything.

We all know why canaries were sent into coal mines. When the bird, bright - beautiful - easy to see,
a small sacrifice to be made, was exposed to harmful toxins, the signs of distress or sudden death
were the warning: miners evacuate now.

Perhaps the average American is more yellow than he would like to believe.

I know this sounds a tad conspiracy theory-ish, but I think it is pretty darn near the truth.
With all the "change" in the air of the American food system, I'd rather not be a guinea pig.

Or a canary.

Recently I was sitting in a doctor's office. Not some hippy homeopath's office either. A main-stream,
functional medicine doctor that seriously butts heads with my nutritionist in real life.
My point: this doctor isn't some crunchy radical with an agenda.
He's the kind of doctor who says, "There's a pill for that!"

But he looked at me and said:
"Listen. Take your family as far away from the American diet as possible. I don't understand it entirely,
but it is breaking down the body, resulting in great disease and death for so many. Run, you fools!"

Ok, he really didn't say "run, you fools" - I imagined that part. But you better believe the Frodo Baggins
in me paused for a moment to reflect on such words coming from a doctor of functional medicine -
and then started running like hell... because Gandalf is always right, people!

I am in no way, shape, or form claiming that me and my family have the "perfect" diet - or saying
that we don't pour a bowl of processed, gluten-free cheerios every once in awhile. We've come SO far.
Like, "make our own potato chips" far. I never set out to be a "granola" or a "hippy", but I've been
called all sorts of "crunchy" things in the past couple of years and I'm beginning to identify with it all.

Pioneers are my heroes. I think it's rough making applesauce from scratch and distilling my own water,
but at least I have a washing machine and dryer! Oh goodness, and a T.V. to watch while I'm folding
my laundry! And central air. I always say I was born in the wrong time period, until it turns
95 degrees. I then fall to my knees, "Thank you, Lord, you know best!"

Gardening, harvesting, grocery shopping every 5-6 days to keep my fridge stocked with LIVING foods,
distilling and re-mineralizing our water, chopping, cutting, preparing,
preserving food from scratch day-in and day-out...

is time consuming. Or does it PRODUCE time for me to stop, breathe, work, eat
with those I love most? Giving me time to do what matters most in my heart?

I have a day planner too. It's usually full to the brim. I go to bed way too late - complaining that there
are not enough hours in the day. I can run with the best of Americans - do, do, doing all the things -
living the dream.

Why do we do it? To keep up with bloody Joneses?! (I've been watching a little too much BBC. Ha.)

There is something terribly sacred, healing, empowering - to slow down and "prepare" the food
that brings life to you and your family. I'd argue that a certain demon from the underworld is the
master planner behind the fast-paced American lifestyle that keeps us so busy, so stressed, so anxious
about the next thing that we can't BE, LIVE, THRIVE in the beauty of the moment given.
I can't prove that. Obviously. So forget I said that!? Or don't.

I have felt my own heart open, expand - even embrace that distiller, canner, crock-pot, juicer...
because they are some of the tools that allow me to bring LIFE to my own body - and the bodies that
have been entrusted to me. The work becomes a prayer, a meditation - rhythmically moving the blade of
my knife - up and down, up and down - as piles of fresh food spill forth onto our counter,
and into our bellies.

Nourishing. Knowing that so many of the foods we are eating now (as we run from the American diet)
have passed through the devoted hands of farmers - meat, eggs, produce that have soaked up the sweat
and tears of people who truly care about the land, the animals (I'm talking sustainable farming, folks) -
and now pass through our hands as we prepare feast after feast in this counter-cultural way of LIFE...

that brings death to the go-go-go mentality - the one that rarely produces MORE time, but snuffs out
all the seconds, minutes, hours of the day - making time to stop, to pray, to reflect, to confess, to prepare,
to rest, to recharge, to engage... a thing of generations past.

I don't want to be a canary. Don't go rolling over in your grave, grandma; I've got this.
I'll just be a pioneer hippy.

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  1. Nicely said and bravely done.

  2. Could you share how you go about distilling and re-mineralizing water?
    Thanks !

    1. Karolina! I hope you see this reply - we use a machine! I wrote a post on the whole process over a year ago. Here is the link: // does that help?!

    2. Yes, thank you!

  3. "There is something terribly sacred, healing, empowering - to slow down and "prepare" the food
    that brings life to you and your family." You are so right! I never expected it, either. My mom didn't cook so I never learned how, nor was I ever immersed in a home with cooking or regular food preparation. Now as a wife, I'm trying to learn, and unfortunately I missed some of those critical moments of learning how to make basic dishes from my culture, but even the generic stuff seems "scary" to me. As I am learning though, I have found pleasure in opening the refrigerator, looking inside, and trying to create something from nothing. It's almost a game - a fun one! I definitely look forward to learning more as the years go by.

    1. Yeeeea! So excited for you, Lauren!!! Best of luck in your journey - food, flavors, combinations, creations - it is all SO much fun!!! XO


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