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harvest

Here is this week’s Grant Farm’s CSA share. This is my abundant, small veggie share, plus my fruit share and a dozen pastured chicken eggs. I was at a loss for words, which is rare for me.

Luckily (or unfortunately for you), those occasional synapse lags never last long. Now it’s time to get to work figuring out what to do with all this produce, plus the lingering stuff from last week.

But first, I’m going to repeat something I wrote over a year ago. Josh, our witty CSA coordinator at Grant Farms, mentioned in his weekly newsletter how important fresh, wholesome, organic food is to our health. As a nutritionist, helping people make lasting and healthy lifestyle changes revolves around food. As an advocate for the return of old-fashioned food (real food), I’m on a mission to support the farmers who grow that food. Josh was right when he said that “many of our health issues are rooted in the food we eat and how it is grown or raised.”

Skip the overblown health claims for expensive supplements, don’t bother with the next dietary fad, avoid fast food and processed junk foods – eat the real thing – wholesome, traditional, real food.

Food Pyramid Remix (my take – late fall, 2008)

The government has made an effort to let us know what we should be eating on a daily basis by creating the Food Pyramid. Rather ironic, wouldn’t you say? Here we are at the top of the food chain and we’re the only animals in need of eating instructions.

I’m not picking sides, but in light of some of the decisions made by our elected officials, maybe we should educate ourselves and figure out what we should eat on our own.

Okay, having said that, I’m going to throw my two cent’s worth into the mix. More irony, you say? I suppose so, but at this point, there’s an overload of complex and confusing information from too many sources. It’s time to slow down and rethink things. We all have to eat, why is it so confusing to choose a healthy diet? Why are we so obsessed with food and yet so unhealthy as a culture? Part of the problem is too many choices in a world of food politics and an industry worth billions of dollars a year — in the United States alone. That can make eating complicated and even stressful.

It doesn’t have to be.

Here are a few of my tips for healthy eating:

1. Eat whole, fresh food (preferably organic).
2. Make whole plant sources, especially vegetables, legumes, and fruit your foundation. You can even eat veggies for breakfast — it’s okay, trust me. Choose whole grains such as brown rice, quinoa, and teff.
3. For the most part, choose foods you can hold in your hands and wash. Can you wash a box of Kraft mac and cheese or a package of ding dongs? You can wash a tomato, cabbage and you can rinse brown rice. See how easy that is?
4. Don’t eat food that never spoils. Remember my HFCS post? The pink snowballs and the chocolate hockey pucks? As I mentioned, I’ve had those on my closet shelf for over a year. If it doesn’t rot, it’s not food.
5. If animals, insects, and bacteria won’t eat it, maybe we shouldn’t. Food that has been sprayed with chemicals to repel critters is not a good choice for people either. Whoa, that doesn’t mean bugs are smarter than we are, does it? Yikes, maybe so.
6. You’ve all probably heard this one before — don’t eat foods from the middle of the grocery store. Stick to the periphery where the real food is located.
7. Make it yourself. Learn from your grandmother. Enjoy the cultural wisdom of food. My mother grew up in a very poor family in the south during the depression. I mean dirt-floor poor. They had few food choices, but somehow the family was fairly healthy. All they had was what they grew or traded someone else for – vegetables, beans, cornbread, dandelion greens, whatever fruit or nut tree was around, some oatmeal and an occasional pig, chicken, or fresh-caught game (birds, fish, rabbits). My grandmother also made them all take a dose of cod liver oil regularly. Hmmm? When you think about it, you’ve got some very healthy food choices there. They either grew or caught everything they ate. I know things are different now and you just don’t have time to go rabbit hunting on your lunch hour, but it doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive.
8. To sum it up: eat less, eat slower, use smaller plates, join a CSA, frequent farmer’s markets, choose fresh ingredients, eat more vegetables, choose humanely treated and pastured animal sources, skip the junk food, and savor your food. Part of healthy eating is enjoying what you eat, how you prepare it, the cultural variations, and sharing it with others.

Go forth and eat real food.
Melissa

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19 Responses to “Real food”

  1. Alta says:

    Amen. (I’m at a loss for words on this one too…I think you summed it up well!)

  2. Marci says:

    Hi Melissa,
    No recipe this week? Hard to follow up on corn ice cream, I guess. :)
    I love that Pollan has the world abuzz with his editorial in NY times this week. Great information for difficult times (yours and his).
    Keep it coming, some need to hear things multiple times before it sinks in.
    Loving all the GF veggies!
    Marci

  3. Melissa says:

    Alta,

    Thanks — yes, it is a bit overwhelming if you don’t know what to do with all this wonderful produce. I’m figuring it out though! Happily!

  4. Melissa says:

    Marci,

    Yes, I’ll do a couple other posts this week. You’re right, with the Michael Pollan comments, etc. I just couldn’t resist. I appreciate your feedback. I’m freezing tomatoes right now. I’ll post a homemade spaghetti sauce recipe soon.

  5. Wow, I hope you are hungry! I’d love to come help you eat those carrots. I love fresh picked carrots. Nothing like them.

    I love your healthy eating tips. I need to get in step with a few I’ve let slip. More veggies and less meat. Thanks for the great info.

  6. Liz says:

    I am so jealous. I need to find a CSA. Great tips yet again Melissa.

  7. Mary says:

    Hi, Melissa, I got so excited when I saw the artichokes in your box, but alas, none for my family share today. I got a veg that is totally new to me and isn’t mentioned by Josh. It is mostly white, with some purple streaks, mostly round with what I can only describe as segments. Do you have any idea what this could be? Help, please. Thanks so much.

    Mary

    PS I have read both of Michael Pollan’s books and agree with him – and you – whole-heartedly. Thanks for saying it so eloquently/

  8. Right on, sister!! I love everything you’ve written, but especially these words: “but it doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive.” Yep, that’s right. I’m with Mary on the artichokes … how wonderful they are in your CSA box! While I am far from perfect (we’ve had discussions on that before), I so agree and your post re-energizes me to make better choices all the time and embrace all my veggies!

    Thanks, dear … I’ll be sharing this post!

    Shirley

  9. lo says:

    Ah — the beauty of the late season CSA! Makes eating whole, healthy foods SO EASY! Despite the lovely farmer’s markets and garden-fresh bounty at our house, you’ve got me wishing we’d subscribed this year!

    You’re right on, as always, with your tips — particularly when it comes to the mindfulness factor. Thoughtless food is… well… just calories!

  10. Ali says:

    Love it Melissa! Now if we could just figure out how to bake the occasional gf treat without xanthan gum! I still cringe everytime I use the stuff! :)

  11. Melissa says:

    Liz,

    Yes, you do need to find a good CSA. You love to cook too much not to! I absolutely loved catching up on your blog. Thanks for touching base!

  12. Melissa says:

    Mary,

    I’m not sure what you received. Hmmm? Purple streaks? Must be some heirloom thingy-ma-bob. How about some Asian squash? Maybe a beet and a zucchini got together. Does that help?

    :-)

    Let me know what you find out.

    Another good book is “Food Matters” by Mark Bittman. I’m addicted to books. Amazon.com is my financial downfall.

  13. Melissa says:

    Shirley,

    We are all “far from perfect.” That’s just the way it goes.

    Thanks for your support, I always appreciate your high energy and good vibes.

    Yes, go forth and embrace your veggies!

    xo

  14. Melissa says:

    Lo,

    Perfect comment. I love “thoughtless food is… well… just calories!”

    I’m going to use that. I’ll give you credit though. I promise!

  15. greedydave says:

    Melissa,

    Very sage advice. It seems fundamental but there’s so much of that stuff I forget/ignore. I’m going to print this post if big type and stick it to my fridge. I might have to redact the ‘small plates’ section, however. :) Great work!

    GDave

  16. Melissa says:

    Ali,

    I’m so glad to hear you say that. I agree about the xanthan gum. It’s rather gross when you really think about it. Disgusting slime in it’s original form. I have a friend who’s a baker and owns a chocolate company, everything is GF and she refuses to use it. So it can be done.

  17. Melissa says:

    Diane,

    Thanks and you’re welcome. As for meat, you always choose such good versions that I wouldn’t worry about it. Your photos of veggie shares look pretty good as well!

  18. Melissa says:

    GDave,

    Maybe you should join Cid, me and the rest of us girls on our “traveling plate odyssey.” You can use a serving plate. That could be the “boy” version.

    Thanks for the comments. I always appreciate your witty additions!

  19. Miles says:

    Melissa,
    Great advice, I can think of a few thousand families and teenagers in the UK who could do well to follow your mantra.
    You should run for the White House!

    Miles

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