The Politics of Food..What is at Risk?

In this very politically charged world we are living in it is hard for me, as a Certified Holistic Health and Nutrition Educator/Counselor to ignore the politics of food. The access to good food is critical for all people in reaching their optimal health and well-being. Without good food we know that we are less likely to be successful in what we endeavor to do in life.

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I am very fortunate in that I have access to good food, grown often very close to where I live. Food that is grown organically or with great care to avoid a multitude of pesticides. I also have jobs that I love at Vermont School for Girls and Southern Vermont College. I work with thoughtful people who seem to enjoy and support the work I do. And I have my private practice as a Holistic Health and Nutrition Educator/Counselor which every day teaches me something new. Enjoying my work adds to my overall health as much as the quality and choices of food do. I spend a great deal of time working and so made a committment to myself to only do what I consider to be good work. I am aware that not all people have these same blessings and so I remain active in the political arena making an effort to increase access to good food for everyone.

Recently, I had the great privilege of being one of the workshop presenters at the Northeast Organic Farmers Association’s (NOFA) Winter Conference in Burlington, VT. http://nofavt.org/events/35th-annual-winter-conference. While there I offered a workshop on the positive impact food has on not only our physical health but also mental health. I was as you might guess singing to the choir. Talking with the people who attended my workshop feed my desire to continue to seek ways to increase access to goof food for more people. The keynote speakers are both people I respect and I admit I’m a big fan of both due to the amazingly transformative work they have and continue to do in the area of accessibility to real food grown in a sustainable manner.

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The first keynote was Dr, Fernando Funes Monzote, who is a founding member of the Cuban Organic Farmers Association and the developer of the Agroecolocial Project outside of Havana, http://nofavt.org/events/winter-conference/keynote-speakers. I encourage you to read about he and his families work to provide better access to food in Cuba on small parcels of land. I was struck by the intelligent approach he took to reducing the food crisis Cuba experiences as a small island country. I thought if he could create such a successful farm under such challenging conditions then we here in America could learn from his example and figure out how to better feed our nation.

The second speaker Dr. Vandana Shiva, who is truly one of my heroes in the world of food accessibility and for her work to protect biodiversity and water rights. She was so approachable meeting with vendors and farmers who gathered for the conference as if she had known us forever. I am such a fan that I found myself following her around the conference for every minute I had to listen to her wisdom and experience her kindness. Here is a Bill Moyers film to introduce her to those of you who are not familiar with her and the work she does: https://youtu.be/fG17oEsQiEw. She has written widely some of the most powerful books include Monocultures of the Mind , Water Wars and her most recent book Making Peace with the Earth. These books will change the way you think about food and water and the very health of this beautiful planet we live on. I truly believe that if we can create food sources that are closer to people and grown with the care connected to organic and sustainable farms we can not only feed more people but we can create a culture that allows peace. And we can do it in a way that makes food not only more accessible but also more nutrient dense improving health of planet and it’s people.

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As for the risks if we continue on the model of large-scale industrial style agribusiness, it has become evident that we will continue to see a rise in health conditions in our country related to the food we eat and the chemicals that are used in the growning process. We will continue to see the decline in the health of this planet which by the way can do without our presence. It is in our best interest to learn about, teach, explore and act to protect the health of our neighbors and this Earth by developing better growing practices such as were presented at the NOFA Conference. Make it your job to get informed and buy or grow your food locally.

Eat Well, Be Well, Live Well

Blessings,

tomatoes

Leanne Yinger, M.Ed. HNC

Certified Holistic Health Coach @ Kira’s Kitchen

Blog: http://kirasgoodeatskitchen.com

Phone: 413-464-1462

 

 

Herbs for the Spring or Autumn Soul

http://www.today.com/money/tag/fall-foliage

Fall weather brings out the cook in me along with some scrumptious ingredients for one pot meals. I love to play around with the different combinations of herbs, spices, vegetables and legumes to create new dishes. Between my little backyard garden and my CSA (community supported agriculture) there is quite a variety of fresh produce at this time of the year.IMG_0697

http://www.care2.com/greenliving/preserving-the-color-of-fall-foliage.html

This week I was reacquainted with an old favorite herb, sorrel. A member of the oxalis family, sorrel is used widely in European dishes. I was first introduced to sorrel when working with two wonderful herbalists in Branford Connecticut. I’ve mentioned these women in a previous blog post and it occurs to me each time I am reminded of them how much they positively impacted my life. One of my jobs was to run the day to day operations of their herb gardens and shop. I loved getting paid to be in the cutting and formal herb gardens. Sorrel was a favorite herb of mine at the time and so I learned how to prepare it. Since then I have learned more about it’s health benefits and potential risks for certain people.

Sorrel is a good source of iron, potassium, vitamin A and C. Health benefits of sorrel include aiding good eyesight, strengthen the immune system, stimulate the liver, aid digestion and it can increase circulation and energy level. However, due to it’s oxalic acid content people with kidney stones, gallstones or with rheumatic conditions should use it moderately if at all.

I made a lovely sorrel soup this weekend. It is a very simple recipe for such a yummy soup that can be served either warm or cold. While sorrel is considered a spring herb it can also be added into fall recipes as can other leafy greens. Sorrel is one of the first leafy greens to appear in gardens in the spring and it’s tart flavor reawakens our winter palate. In the fall sorrel is equally delicious when started late in the growing season. If it is an older plant it will contain higher levels of oxalic acid which not only effects the taste but is less beneficial in terms of health benefits. Make sure late season sorrel is from a late season crop. Here’s all the ingredients you need…so simple
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I adjusted this recipe from Mother Earth News http://www.motherearthnews.com/real-food/sorrel-soup-recipe-zmrz1301zmat.aspx#axzz3FHXPZbNK, I swapped out butter for Earth Balance.

onionsSautee onions

sorrel potato prep1Cut sorrel into ribbons and chop potato into small chunks

ss cookingAdd sorrel and potatoes to onions

sorrel soupBlend together and top with plain Greek yogurt

I served this hot as a first course with ginger glazed salmon and wild rice to follow. I was lucky to have fresh tender sorrel greens available through my CSA, but you can keep this recipe tucked away for spring if you’d like when the new tender growth is readily available.

Happy cooking and eating!

website: http://leanne-yinger.healthcoach.integrativenutrition.com

 

Herb Woman

Roots and herbs she gathers, morning, night and noon, by raising dog star underneath the moon.

In her fragrant kitchen while the lost world sleeps, Gentle midnight priestess, she mixes and steeps.

Shakes the leafy brethren, sorts and scraps with skill, on her vibrant fingers wood and field and hill-

Poppy leaves and wormwood, Peony petals split, dreamy hop flowers added for a headache quilt.

Hands only made for healing, nostrils made for smell, forehead wide and yearning, eyes fixed in a spell.

With the loose prescriptions floating through her head, Such are prayers she mutters ere she goes to bed.

By Eleanor C. Koenig

 

 

 

 

Kira the Wonder Dog’s Greatest Adventure

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On September 8th, Kira the Wonder Dog left this planet for her greatest adventure ever leaving a large hole in my heart. I trust that with time (and apparently a lot of cooking) my heart will mend. Kira brought a smile to so many over the years with her ridiculous antics, sweet smile and her loving loyalty. Her pal Poohger continues to look around the house and yard for her. and when we take our familiar walks through the neighborhood Poohgar stops at all the Kira spots looking around as if she expects her to jump out from the bushes. I must admit I haven’t quite adjusted to the routine of our lives without her. And so this blog post is in honor of our dear friend Kira who brought us all great joy and who is running those grand figure 8s in puppy heaven now.

As the crisp fall air, perfectly blue sky and shorter days become the daily experience I have been gathering the foods I planted this summer to store so the fresh tastes of summer are available during the winter months. This week I have made pesto and pickles…guess it has been a “P” week. There is nothing quite as nice as making a pesto dish in January to remind us that spring will come again before long. In fact I’m not waiting until January to eat some pesto. I found these delightful recipes in Eating Well Magazine and I’ll be making the arugula pesto tonight. http://www.eatingwell.com/recipes_menus/recipe_slideshows/healthy_pesto_recipes

pesto

I also put up about 16 pints of dill pickles, some the refrigerator variety and some the old fashioned canned variety. I like the uncooked version because the healthy bacteria don’t get cooked out of the pickles when you refrigerate them. This weekend I will be putting up several pints of red and green cabbage sauerkraut also without cooking out the healthful bacteria. This is an easy to follow recipe for homemade sauerkraut that I found to be very good: http://www.freshpreserving.com/recipes/homemade-sauerkraut. There are many health benefits to eating traditional fermented foods which I have shared in previous blog posts. If you would like more information check out Dr. David Williams http://www.drdavidwilliams.com/traditional-fermented-foods-benefits/ and Dr Oz http://blog.doctoroz.com/oz-experts/fermented-foods-for-powerful-immunity. Starting with sauerkraut is easy but there are many wonderful quick pickle recipes out there as well. I’m adding a broccoli stem quick pickle I make and eat weekly:

Broccoli Stem Pickles

2 cups broccoli stems

2 tsps rice vinegar

2 cloves garlic minced

½ tsp fresh grated ginger

½ tsp coriander seeds crushed

½ tsp cumin seeds crushed

½ tsp sea salt

Using a sharp knife peel away the fibrous skin of the broccoli and then cut the pale inside trunk into matchsticks.

Blanch broccoli matchsticks for 1 minute in boiling water, rinse immediately with cold water. Then place in glass bowl.

Whisk together remaining ingredients and pour over broccoli matchsticks in glass bowl.

Refrigerate for 2 hours, serve.

Benefits of Broccoli from The New Whole Foods Encyclopedia by Rebecca Wood

           Broccoli supports the liver, spleen, stomach and bladder and helps to regulate circulation. It treats the eyes and helps to reduce eye inflammation. Broccoli is slightly diuretic. It’s anti-cancer, anti-fungal, anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties are due in part to its immune boosting glusinolates (specifically indole-3-carbinol and sulforaphane). Broccoli contains twice as much vitamin C as an orange and is a superior source of vitamin A and K. It has almost as much calcium as whole milk and its calcium is better absorbed. Broccoli contains selenium, is a modest source of alpha tocopherol vitamin E and has value as an antioxidant.

cherubs & pups 004kira snowKira Christmas Dog

So here’s to you Kira girl…we love you and hold you close in our hearts forever.

Take a moment this weekend to tell the people and pets in your life how much they matter to you. Share a meal together without the distraction of phones, TV or computers. Relish these simple times together sharing attention and love and you will be spreading the ripple of that love and appreciation into a world that can at times seem unkind.

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I send prayers of gratitude to all that has given of itself on this day.

The strong beans, and the hardy grains, the beautiful leafy green plants and the sweet juicy fruits.

I thank the sun that warmed and vitalized them, just as it does me,

And the Earth that held and nourished them, as it does me,

And the waters that bathed and refreshed them, as they do for me.

I thank the fire that transformed them, just as I wish to be transformed by the fire of Spirit.

I thank the hands that grew and prepared this food,

Just as I thank all those that have touched me in so many ways.

Sedonia Cahill

Blessed Be

Leanne Yinger, M.Ed.
Certified Holistic Health Coach @ Kira’s Kitchen

Berries, Berries Everywhere

If you’re like me you love picking berries. There is something meditative about the process of gently pulling ripe berries from the vine while leaving those not yet ready to be picked. This weekend the berry focus was blueberries. I went to my CSA, Bradley Farms right here in Lanesborough and the blueberry bushes were heavy with berries. 24 pints later my freezer is well stocked for the mid winter lack of fresh local berry blues. I even picked again today with my daughter. And since I gave a talk this morning I decided to make a blueberry buckle for the occasion that was a hit…recipe to follow.

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a couple weeks ago I made this little fruit tart with mixed berries and kiwi that was also pretty yummy.

fruit tart

AND…I made this delicious cherry cheesecake when my daughter Hannah came to visit from sun scorched California last weekend. It is a gluten free recipe with almond meal crust.

cherry cheesecake

I am continuously struck by nature’s generosity. This year in Massachusetts it seems that berries in particular have been very happy. Last month we picked cherries and red raspberries locally. All the rain has been a plus for the berry patches (well not strawberries) so I complain much less about a long string of rainy days. The blackberry patch I cultivate in my own yard that may look just wild to passersby has offered up over 5 pounds of fruit for me to pick along with much to share with the birds and chipmunks who favor fresh berries like me.

raspberry cherries 

A wise teacher once told me that if I eat what the animals eat I will have optimal health. I thought about that (being a baker it was hard to take in) and it has proven to be true. As much as I love fresh baked goods including breads and pastries, I know that sooner or later I don’t feel well when I over indulge. True confession time, I am at that point!

So for now the baking will cease as I reclaim my clarity and energy with more whole grains and fresh vegetables and less sweet treats. I will practice what I teach and have a sympathetic ear to those who also experience the sweet over load. It’s all good because my freezer if full of potential desserts for future days.

garden

I send prayers of gratitude to all that has given of itself on this day.

The strong beans, and the hardy grains, the beautiful leafy green plants and the sweet juicy fruits.

I thank the sun that warmed and vitalized them, just as it does me,

and the Earth that held and nourished them, as it does me,

and the waters that bathed and refreshed them, as they do for me,

I thank the fire that transformed them, just as I wish to be transformed by the fire of Spirit.

I thank the hands that grew and prepared this food, just as I thank all those that have touched me in so many ways. 

                                                                                    Sedonia Cahill

Leanne’s Blueberry Buckle

 Topping:

 ¼ cup whole oats

¼ cup garbanzo bean flour

¼ cup flax meal

¼ cup maple sugar

Nutmeg about ½ tsp

6 Tbsp Earth Balance butter

 Cake:

 ¾ cup brown rice flour

¾ cup garbanzo bean flour

¼ cup flax meal

1 tsp baking powder

½ tsp baking soda

Pinch sea salt

6 Tbsp Earth Balance butter

1/3 cup maple sugar

Lemon zest from half lemon

½ cup Greek yogurt

2 eggs (or if vegan use 1/3 cup applesauce)

2 – 3 cups fresh blueberries

 Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare a 9 inch square glass baking pan with Spectrum organic all vegetable shortening.

 To make topping place oats in magic bullet or food processor and pulse until ground. Add garbanzo bean flour, flax meal, maple sugar and nutmeg to the oats. Then add cold Earth Balance and blend until crumbly. Place in freezer until ready to use.

 For the cake sift together the flours, baking powder and soda and salt. In a large mixing bowl cream the Earth Balance, maple sugar, lemon zest until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time (or applesauce if vegan) and thoroughly blend.

 Alternate adding dry ingredients and yogurt and almond milk until all are blended well together. Once fully blended fold in half the blueberries. Transfer mixture to prepared cake pan. Top with remaining blueberries and then top with crumb mixture. Bake for approximately 50 minutes until brown and the center if firm when pressed down.

Enjoy and remember those leafy greens out in the garden too

http://leanne_yinger.healthcoach.integrativenutrition.com

Microbiome…What Did You Say?

The first time I heard the term microbiome during my training to become a Certified Health Coach I looked it up to see what it meant. Here is what Wikipedia has to say: A microbiome is “the ecological community of commensal, symbiotic, and pathogenic microorganisms that literally share our body space. The term comes from a Nobel Prize recipient, Joshua Lederberg (5/25/1925-2/2/2008), an American molecular biologist who among other things discovered that bacteria can mate and exchange genes. Pretty cool stuff huh!

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https://www.broadinstitute.org/news/4199

The term I use as a Health Coach is “gut flora” which sounds just a little less scientific. The truth is our digestive system is important for us to understand if we wish to remain healthy. It often is not the first place we think to look when we’re not feeling well but it is the system that processes and absorbs nutrients so if it’s off we are not getting our nutritional needs met.

Microbiome comes up a lot in the work I do with people in my health coaching practice seeking to improve their health. What I have learned and pass along is that we can be healthy but if out gut flora is not balanced we run the risk of compromised immune or nervous systems and this can also create and imbalance in our hormones resulting in mood and in some cases more serious mental health issues. Let’s take a look at the digestive system to gain a little insight into what it does to keep us healthy.

 

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We actually start digesting food the minute we come into contact with it. In fact smelling food starts our salivary glands working even before the food enters our mouth. When we take the time to chew our food (chewing until food becomes fairly liquid is best) it enters the next leg of the journey pre-digested helping the process along. The food then travels to our stomach where it mixes with acids before going onto our small intestine where the nutrients are absorbed and then to our large intestine where water is absorbed. The health of our gut flora is most critical at this point as the villi in the small intestine absorb our nutrients. If the villi have been damaged by too much unhealthy fats, chemicals and sugars they are unable to gather nutrients from the food we eat.

 

Our liver works to process the toxins that travel with our foods. Some of these toxins are excess sugars and fats, pesticides, heavy metals and other foreign substances.

 

digestive system

My mother was always saying “chew your food” while my father would say “where’s the fire slow down”. As a rather hyper kid mealtime was one more thing that got in the way of being outside running around which helped me manage all that energy. I was fortunate to have had an abundance of fresh real foods available to me as a kid growing up in northern California, pre Silicon Valley Santa Clara County. There were small farms and ranches all around me so fresh produce, nuts and fruit was available at farm stands and in the grocery stores year round. We ate wild meats most often such as venison, wild fowl and fish so the possibility of hormones or antibiotics that are so commonly in meats we find in the store now was not there.

I grew up in a generation where healthier food options were the norm. I can remember when McDonalds opened in Gilroy and fast food became available. Children since the 1970s have increasingly been exposed to more fast foods, processed foods, chemicals and GMOs in their food supply. Food production standards claim to be higher but they are not taking into account the fact that so much of what most people eat is not live food. The most important thing I can teach the people who come to me seeking improved health is to eat real, fresh food free from chemicals and GMOs. Skip the processed, fast foods and beverages that provide nearly zero nutritional value and wreck havoc on our digestive systems.

bonsai

It’s in our control to begin to eat healthier and to treat our bodies well. If we assume our body will withstand the unhealthy foods and drinks we consume without adverse effects over time we will find ourselves with health issues at some point.

Visit a local farm or farmer’s market this week and find some real food.

Be Well

http://leanne_yinger.healthcoach.integrativenutrition.com

Social Media & Life

I woke early this morning to my dogs begging to go out for a walk. It’s one of those days where the air is heavy with rain but it has yet to start so I was a bit slow moving. I grabbed some tea and their leashes and off we went. During our hour long walk we passed fishermen in boats and on the shoreline and a tall stand of cattails growing along the edge of the lake. fishing (640x480) wind

beautiful wildflowers and manicured gardens of all sorts. peawildflower1

The scenery was breathtaking and I felt truly blessed. cottage

As we walked we passed a woman walking her black lab. She didn’t look up to greet us as everyone else we passed had done. She was walking and texting (a skillset I have not achieved) and I found it unsettling that we did not exchange even a hello. I thought how sad she is missing all this beauty and the joy of sharing it with others. We continued on our walk and came upon a bunny sitting pensively as my dogs approached. She was careful not to move hoping she wouldn’t be noticed…fully present and aware of her surrounding. For this pretty little rabbit it is a matter of life and death that she is paying attention to what goes on around her.

dfw-cottontail 

Being more fully present is something we may wish to consider as a healthier approach to living as well. I got to thinking about what I would have missed had I chosen to stay in bed and not taken this walk. If I had gotten up and gone straight to the computer to write my blog post and newsletter this morning. I remembered this youtube piece I’d seen recently by Gary Turk called “Look Up” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z7dLU6fk9QY and it solidified my resolve to walk away from my computer, iphone and other devices more often. To make a conscious effort to be fully present when I am with the people I love…and to seek out new people to love and new adventures.

sunset Pontoosac 001

 

After all, at the end of the day would like to see first hand a sight like this…or hear about it on social media?

First you need only look: Notice and honor the radiance of everything about you… Play in this universe. Tend all these shining things around you: The smallest plant, the creatures and objects in your care. Be gentle and nurture, Listen… As we experience and accept all that we really are… We grow in care. Anne Hillman

Be Well

http://leanne-yinger.healthcoach.integrativenutrition.com https://twitter.com/Kiraskitchen5

Didn’t Your Parents Tell You Not To Waste Food?

As you probably know by now I am a foodie. I love everything about food. I love thinking about it, growing it, teaching others about it, preparing it and definitely eating it. food is powerful in every way. We are emotionally and physically connected to food and we all know we can’t live without it. So I write this blog post today with reverence for and passion about food.

I have always known that there is a certain amount of waste that goes along with the food chain from farm to table, but did you know that one third of the food produced globally is wasted. In North America it is closer to half the food we grow that is wasted. In some cases it is to keep the cost of the product at what is considered fair market value. A phenomenal amount of food does not even make it onto grocery store shelves because it doesn’t meet the standards for sale. Up to 90% of food waste is due to expiration dates.

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http://www.onehundreddollarsamonth.com/food-waste-in-america-a-weeks-worth-of-produce-for-free/

So where does all this wasted food go you might ask? With all the people in our world who have no food, who are literally starving to death, we in North American alone, throw away nearly half of the food we grow. How does that make any sense? 

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Now imagine if we all decided that the food that was not initially perfect so would not be purchased could be given to a local food pantry. Imagine that all expired food stuff was quickly offered to people who can’t afford to buy it. Some markets have policies to do just that. At some Trader Joes you can find the expired food stuff at a greatly reduced rate in fact up to 75% off retail price. In addition, the Ex President of Trader Joes has created The Daily Table Project which essentially takes expired food stuff and makes low cost grab and go meals that can compete with fast food chain prices for people living in urban food deserts such as Dorchester, MA. Now that is good use of what would otherwise be wasted.

http://www.npr.org/player/v2/mediaPlayer.html?action=1&t=1&islist=false&id=222082247&m=224715908.

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There are many documentaries about our food supply and the little known secrets about the politics of food, but the one I find most disturbing currently is “Just Eat It A Food Waste Story.”  Catch the trailer @ http://foodwastemovie.com/ or follow the film makers on facebook https://www.facebook.com/Justeatitmovie. The film is making the film festival run so is not yet available for popular viewing. This film reveals just how much food is wasted in North America by following a couple who are vowing to eat only salvaged food stuff. What their experience uncovers will shock and I hope inspire you to do something about the waste!

To learn more about the politics of food I recommend reading one of the many books written by Marion Nestle, the most relevant to this topic being “Food Politics: How The Food Industry Influences Nutrition and Health. She is a Paulette Goddard Professor of Nutrition, Food Studies and Public Health at New York University. You can also follow her blog @ http://www.foodpolitics.com/.
My children just bought me a membership in a new local all organic CSA, https://www.facebook.com/bradleyfarmma for my birthday. It is the best gift I have ever received! I can see where the food is grown and I know the people tending the farm. I will share what I can’t eat with family and friends and should any of it go bad I will compost it to use in my gardens. This is my small contribution to reduce food waste and my carbon footprint on the planet. What will you do to spread the abundance that exists all around us with those who are not a fortunate as we are?

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“Change like healing takes time.” Veronica Roth

Blessed Be