To Eat Gluten or not to Eat Gluten…is that the Question?

The decision to give up gluten continues to be present for so many of us. In my work with people who are trying to improve their health and well being it is perhaps the most frequently asked question. So let’s try to break it down here. We can look at this question in a couple ways. First, there are people who truly can’t eat gluten products, such as those with Celiac Disease. Then there are people who are opting to reduce or eliminate gluten from their diet.

Let’s explore what gluten free means . For people wondering if they should consider eliminating gluten from their diet the messages in the public’s eye are often confusing leaving us unsure.

Image result for gluten free grains
http://www.glutenisthedevil.com/gluten-free-grains/

Fortunately, there is a lot of information now about the pros/cons of a gluten free diet. The availability of real, whole foods that we can eat and not feel deprived is very encouraging. I emphasize real whole foods because there is an abundance of processed gluten free foods out there that are not healthy and in fact in some instances actually contain gluten…so buyer beware. It is much better to avoid those processed products as it is challenging to truly know whether they contain gluten or not and in many cases they offer little to no nutritional value. Below you can find some suggestions. This list is by no means complete but it is a good start.

Gluten Containing Grains             Gluten Free Grains

  • Wheat                                              Amaranth           
  • Barley                                              Arrowroot
  • Rye – All                                           Buckwheat
  • Wheat varieties: bulger,             Corn (maize) Polenta
  • couscous, dinkle, einkorn,         Dasheen flour
  • emmer, farro, farina, fu,            Kasha, Kudzu, Millet
  • glladin, glutenin, graham           Oats, Rice, Sorghum,
  • flour, kamut, matza, seitan,       Soy, Tapioca,  
  • spelt, wheat berry,                       Taro and Teff  
  • wheat grass, wheat germ                                                                                                                                

The question about who should consider removing gluten from their diet is not one that can be easily answered without knowing where people are on the spectrum of gluten sensitivity/intolerance. This requires a visit to your medical provider. There is a difference between wanting to eliminate gluten for improved energy/attention and being gluten intolerant or having Celiac Disease. The spectrum regarding gluten goes something like this: wheat allergy, non-celiac gluten intolerance, dermatitis herpetiformis, gluten ataxia and finally celiac disease. The visual below can help to show gluten related issues.

Image result for gluten related diseases
https://www.nutritionbycarrie.com/2013/05/gluten-related-disorders-celiac-sensitivity.html

For people electing to eliminate gluten they often find that they have better energy, their thinking is clearer as is their attention. They also find the added benefit of weight loss if they are looking to shed pounds. These folks have the option of “choosing” to eliminate gluten. For others who suffer from the health risks related to consuming gluten it is not a choice. For people on the higher end of the scale, who are allergic or intolerant it is not an option. These individuals often can develop the most severe gluten issues such as Celiac Disease. Now recognized as a major health issue, people with Celiac Disease struggle with diet and health related issues exacerbated by gluten.

Celiac Disease is an immune system reaction to gluten which affects about 1 in 140 people in the United States alone. It is a digestive disease that damages the lining of the small intestines (the villi) where much of our nutrients are absorbed into the body causing one to not be able to absorb needed nutrients. Celiac is a complicated disease as it not only a digestive disorder it is also an autoimmune disorder. It is genetic and so the likelihood you will have it increases dramatically if a family member is diagnosed with it or if there is a family history of autoimmune disease. For people in this situation it is important to know whether you have the disease and to take action to eliminate all gluten from your diet immediately. I advise people with symptoms related to gluten sensitivity to ask their doctor about how to get tested make sure, and to eliminate gluten as a precaution while they await test results. A typical course of testing may involve an endoscopy but there are many screening blood tests for celiac disease as well. The most sensitive and commonly used, whether symptoms are present or not, is the tTG-IgA test. Tissue Transglutaminase Antibodies (tTG-IgA) – The tTG-IgA test will be positive in about 98% of patients with celiac disease who are on a gluten- containing diet.

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/gluten-free-diet

Common symptoms related to Celiac Disease are unexplained iron-deficiency anemia, fatigue, bone or joint pain, arthritis, bone loss or osteoporosis, depression or anxiety, tingling numbness in the hands and feet, seizures, missed menstrual periods, infertility or recurrent miscarriage, canker sores inside the mouth, an itchy skin rash called dermatitis herpetiformis to name a few. Symptoms vary with each case making it challenging to identify. If you experience these symptoms and are not sure why speak with you doctor about whether you should be screened.

For those people in the optional low risk category who like to bake there are some good alternatives to regular flours on the market now so fear not. I love to bake and have found several good quality ingredients that are consistently certified GF.

This is a favorite recipe of mine https://www.cookingclassy.com/gluten-free-white-bread/#jump-to-recipe. I have also added some good resources to determine if you want to seek medical support to address your gluten related issues.

http://www.celiac.nih.gov

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/celiac-disease/symptoms-causes/syc-20352220

http://www.cureceliacdisease.org

http://www.gluten.net offers information and recipes

Books:

Real Life with Celiac Disease by Melinda Dennis – http://www.deletethewheat.com

Hope you found this helpful. If it is sunny outside where you live get out in it for at least 30 minutes to absorb some that that vitamin D we all need for our immune systems function.

Be Well

Leanne M.Yinger, M.Ed. HHNC
Holistic Health and Nutrition Coachhttps://kirasgoodeatskitchen.wordpress.com
https://www.facebook.com/Kiraskitchen5/
413-464-1462


“Let food be thy medicine, and let medicine be thy food.”

Big Ideas or Big Trees?

I have always been a person who does things the hard way without asking for much help from those I love. I’m not sure why that is my reality but I have become a pretty fearless person living this way. I have learned to take great comfort in nature because it is authentic no matter it’s state. Nature provides an abundance of beauty, life sustaining foods and peace when the business of life overwhelms us.

Let’s consider the mighty Sequoia tree. This gigantic tree comes from a relatively small cone which must be exposed to extreme heat in order to open and germinate.

Image

This small tightly packaged cone if exposed to the proper conditions will grow into one of the largest and most majestic trees in our world. So large, it is hard to capture it’s size on a camera without falling over backward from looking up into the sky so high!

Image

Perhaps a photo with my daughters standing at the base of this mighty beauty will give some perspective.

Image

So what is my point here? Well I liken the process of this tree germinating and growing to maturation to the process of starting something new. We must find our resources and expose them to the best circumstances in order to achieve what we desire.

Seven years ago I launched a new Holistic Health & Nutrition Coaching practice focusing on health and wellness through nutrition. It was and continues to be one of the best choices I have made in my life…along with giving birth the my three talented, beautiful children all now in their 30s.

I studied with people who are leading authorities in the alternative approach to the science of nutrition. The Kushi Institute, The Institute of Integrative Nutrition and tons of personal research provided me with unlimited information to share with people as we explored together what made sense for them. I started this blog and developed my website (I let the website go as I much prefer to meet directly with people when possible). I took the proverbial “leap of faith” that this adventure called me to do.

So far indications are that this was a good call on my part. Feedback has mostly been gratitude as people learn simple, doable strategies for improving their lives through nutrition and self care. I continue to offer information and classes in various settings such as in home classes, farmer’s markets, health food stores and in my cooking classes or grocery store adventures. My hope is that we continue to come together to eat well and when needed demand that the foods we have available to us is grown in the most healthful ways possible. It is a truly exciting time in the field of nutrition!

So the Sequoia trees are representative to me launching and growing my health and wellness practice. They stand together as I have and will continue to do with others looking for positive change in overall health. It is my desire to provide the coaching people need to become mighty in their own way!

Image

I close with a dandy fall soup recipe that I think you will enjoy and guess what…it is oh so good for you!

Roasted Kabocha Squash Soup

1 medium kabocha squash

1 yam

1 sweet onion

4 cloves garlic

2-3 carrots

salt/pepper to taste

cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger (optional)

6 cups water

Cut the squash into quarters and scoop out seeds. Place on roasting dish and bake at 400 for 45 minutes or until tender. Prepare yam to be roasted at same time making sure to poke holes in it before placing in over.

While the squash and yam are roasting chop onion and carrots into small pieces and add to stock pot with minced garlic and some olive oil to saute 3-5 minutes. Add water and simmer for 30 minutes covered.

Once the yam and squash are roasted remove skin from squash and yam and cut into small bite size pieces. Add to stock pot and bring to boil, then reduce to simmer and cook for 45 minutes covered.

Allow to cool or take great care placing hot mixture in blender. Blend to smooth consistency. I add cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger to taste this time of the year…simply delightful!

Image result for squash soup recipes
https://tiphero.com/roasted-butternut-squash-soup

Happy cooking and remember:

“No one who cooks, cooks alone. Even at her most solitary, a cook in the kitchen is surrounded by generations of cooks past, the advice and menus of cooks present, the wisdom of cookbook writers.”
Laurie Colwin

Be Well!

Leanne M.Yinger, M.Ed. HHNC
Holistic Health and Nutrition Coachhttps://kirasgoodeatskitchen.wordpress.com
https://www.facebook.com/Kiraskitchen5/
413-464-1462


“Let food be thy medicine, and let medicine be thy food.”

Health and Wellness Through Movement and Nutrition

I gave a talk at The Unitarian Universalist church of Pittsfield. It was part of a larger conversation about Health and Wellness Through Movement and Nutrition. It was fun to partner up with the church administrator, Kas Maroney who offers strength training and other exercise classes. I will add an excerpt from the service for your reading pleasure.

Image

Mike Adams, author, investigative journalist and educator is quoted as saying

…“Today, more than 95% of all chronic disease is caused by food choice, toxic food ingredients, nutritional deficiencies and lack of physical exercise.” –

So how does nutrition contribute to having energy to do the things we like to do? Seems like a silly question doesn’t it. After all food and water are our life source, we all understand on some level that we can’t live without them. But it’s surprising how many people, including medical practitioners truly don’t consider the impact nutrition has on our health. When was the last time your doctor said “go home make a cup of tea (without sugar please) and vegetable barley soup and then go to bed early to catch up on your rest?” Rather we tend to believe and trust that there is a magic pill or medical procedure that can address whatever health issue arises. Therefore we don’t have to give much thought to how we eat and live our lives. In essence, we don’t have to take much responsibility in assuring we have good health because that’s someone else’s job.

We live in a society where the idea of health is that you reach a certain age and your health begins to fail. We expect to become ill throughout our lives with common ailments such as flu or cold and many of us grow up believing that due to our genetics we will develop whatever ailment has plagued our family of origin. The science to support this thinking is sketchy at times and often funded by pharmaceutical companies who are making killing on our fears. It has become our cultural or societal norm to be bombarded by advertisements for the next wonder drug and then we find ourselves calling our doctors to ask if it is right for us, never mind the often times harmful side effects. The good news is there is a simpler, less dangerous solution that can in fact improve health and vitality at any age. The truth is nutrition and lifestyle have everything to do with how healthy we are regardless of our genetics.

Image

The student prepared feast at Kushi Institute’s Macrobiotic Leadership Program Level Ceremony!

The growing chatter out there about eating healthy whole foods or real foods for health can get a bit confusing, however. Go into any book store and you will find numerous books on the topic and some contradict the one you just read. That has more to do with competing interests than it does with good information. Many of these books offer good solid information that really needs to be considered if we are to reduce the growing health crisis we experience not only here in the United States with diabetes, obesity, cancer and heart disease, but now in many other regions of the world where diet has changed and moved away from the foods that were traditionally eaten.

Two of my favorite authors on the subject of healing through food include, Dr. Neal Barnard who I’ve eaten lunch with when he was visiting the Kushi Institute where I worked part time, and Dr. Anne Marie Colbin, who I’ve had the pleasure of hearing lecture at The Institute of Integrative Nutrition where I studied to become a Holistic Health and Nutrition Coach. These authors are among many authorities on gaining good health through diet. They have taken the time to learn and experience what a nutritious balanced diet can do for our overall good health.

Dr. Barnard is the founder and president of The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine and is one of the leading advocates of health, nutrition and higher standards in research.

Image result for dr neal barnard

Dr. Anne Marie Colbin, was an award-winning leader in the field of natural health, and a highly sought-after lecturer and wellness consultant…. and she was incredibly funny. Colbin was Founder and CEO of the Natural Gourmet in New York City. They are both prolific writers and speak the truth as is supported by good research. I think one of the best outlines written explaining good food and how to approach it was written by Dr. Colbin. Sadly, Dr. Colbin passed away in April of 2015.

Image result for dr anne marie colbin

In her book, “Food and Healing” Anne Marie Colbin outlines seven criteria for food selection which I believe helps us really think about how to find the foods we need for good health and energy. I want to share an excerpt from the book that details these seven criteria. She starts with:

Whole: as nature provides them, with all their edible parts (grains with their bran and germ, apples with their skin – if not waxed) cooked raw vegetables and fruits rather than juices or vitamin pills. Whole foods Colbin says supply all of nature’s nutrients in a team, as well as providing us with the life energy of the food.

Fresh, natural, real, organically grown: meaning not canned, not frozen, certainly not irradiated or genetically engineered, free from chemical additives, colorings or preservatives. The foods we choose should be the real thing, full of their life energy, not imitations (such as margarine or artificial sweeteners) which invariably turn out to have some health damaging effect. Organically grown foods not only have been proven to have higher nutrients, but also taste far superior to the commercially grown kind.

Seasonal: To be in harmony with our environment, it is a very good idea to choose summery foods in the summer, wintery foods in the winter. Fruits and vegetables in season are cheaper and do not lose nutrients like foods that have been transported long distances. They also taste better. In addition seasonal eating means salads and fruit in the summer and soups and stews in the winter. On the whole, most people do eat this way instinctively. However, with the advent of refrigeration, freezer trucks, and worldwide transportation we can get raspberries in December and yams in July.  We also ignore this natural order when we go on restricted diets, such as raw food and juice regimes, which require us to eat lots of fruits and vegetables in the winter or cooked salty macrobiotic meals in the summer. With these diets we go out of sync with our environment, and we might feel cold in the winter, or cranky and depressed in the summer.

Local: Local produce is fresher, tastes better and is more nutritious because it is picked riper and does not lose nutrients in travel. The best restaurants in the country have discovered this and make an effort to obtain the freshest organically grown local foods, which they consider top quality.

In Harmony with Tradition: We should pay attention to what our ancestors ate and incorporate those foods into our diet where ever possible, maybe with some modifications (less salt, less fat, less sugar) For example, our staple grain will taste more appropriate if our ancestors ate it as well – barley and oats from the British Iles, Rye and wheat from Europe, Kasha from Eastern Europe and Russia, millet, teff and sorghum from Africa, millet and rice from Asia, corn and quinoa from the Americas.

Balanced: It’s important to make sure there is enough protein, carbohydrates, fat, and micronutrients in our diet as a whole, and to pay attention to the expansive/contractive, acid/alkaline and the five phase theory system. For aesthetics it is also important to include foods with a variety of flavors, colors and textures.

 Delicious: There is no point in eating “healthy” food if it doesn’t taste good. Besides, our taste buds can guide us, when encountering whole, real natural foods, to what we need and what we don’t need …and we’d do well to listen.

service2

The movement toward eating better is now thought to include a return to what our ancestors ate meaning eating foods grown closer to home in more natural circumstances. It also means getting rid of the sugary processed foods that are quite literally killing us. What we are learning in the nutrition field is that the closer the food we eat is to its natural form the better it is for us. My new food mantra is “if it contains more than a couple ingredients it’s probably not good for me.” I shop carefully and with a plan at the grocery store and try to source food at open air or farmer’s markets or directly from a farm when possible. I read labels incessantly and in reducing my sugar and processed food intake have greatly improved my health.

In my health coaching practice I begin by suggesting clients reduce or refrain from eating the following foods: sugar, white flour and other gluten products, animal proteins, processed foods, as well as alcohol and tobacco and in some cases soy products. This simple starting point has assisted many others in achieving their health goals. Though the recommendations are simple the practice is not always so simple. We are used to sweet and salty foods that don’t necessarily taste like the food they mimic. So it is important to be patient with yourself and have someone in it with you who can support you to reach optimal health.

I close today with this quote from Hippocrates:

Everyone has a doctor in him or her; we just have to help it in its work. The natural healing force within each one of us is the greatest force in getting well. Our food should be our medicine. Our medicine should be our food.

                                           Be Well!

Leanne

Kiraskitchen5@gmail.com

Food And Mood – The Gut Brain Connection Expanded

There is a lot of noise out there about the gut-brain connection as it relates to our health. We are learning so much more about how a healthy gut can greatly influence our health. Research in the fields of neuropharmacology & neuroscience are revealing just how important it is for us to maintain a healthy balance of gut bacteria in order to achieve homeostasis within our body (and our gut) thus experiencing optimal health. This bacteria is known as our microbiome. The human microbiome is the totality of microorganisms and their collective genetic material present in or around the human body.

Michael Spector, an American journalist and staff writer for New Yorker magazine wrote the following about the human microbiome. “We are inhabited by as many as ten thousand bacterial species, these cells outnumber those which we consider our own by ten to one, and weigh, all told, about three pounds-the same as our brain. Together, they are referred to as our microbiome-and they play such a crucial role in our lives that scientists have begun to reconsider what it means to be human.”

Michael Specter

Elaine Hsiao a postdoctoral fellow in chemistry & biology at Cal Tech spoke on Ted Talks in 2013 about the promise of micro based therapies and the potential to reduce more invasive types of therapy for various illness. She explained that our bodies contain 10 times more microbial cells than our own eukaryotic cells. These microbes which include bacteria as well as viruses and protozoa are part of the micro flora that make up our commensal microbiome. There are 100 trillion commensal microbes in our intestines which effect our behavior inclusive of anxiety, learning & memory, appetite and satiety. I guess it can get a little crowed in our gut…it may look something like this:

100 trillion

So how do these microbes in our gut contribute to brain health & help to control disease? According to Hsiao it occurs in several ways. The first is through the Vagus Nerve which contacts the gut lining and extends up to the brain stem. In this case the bacterium – Lacto Bacillus Rhamnosus effects depressive behavior in studies on mice and demonstrated that the mice treated with this bacterium exhibited less depressive symptoms.

The second way these microbes contribute to health is through activation of the immune system. Hsiao explains that 80% of our immune cells live in our gut. Immune abnormalities contribute to several neurological disorders. In this case the bacterium Bacteroides Fragillis was used to treat mice with the outcome being that these mice were more resistant to developing multiple sclerosis. This was also dependent upon a special subset of regulatory T-cells that express the marker td-25.

Another way in which microbes contribute to health is through the activation of the gut endocrine system. Gut endocrine cells are primary producers of neuropeptides and neurotransmitters. Gut microbes can also produce metabolites which impact brain function and have been shown to reduce communication deficits such as are present with autism in studies on mice.

In addition to understanding how the health of our gut influences our overall health, there are certain vitamins and minerals that when present in healthy amounts in our body produce improved mood. We can improve our gut flora depending on the foods we eat. This chart can help explain the spectrum of foods from acid to alkaline. A diet that is too acidic which is the case in many American homes increases our risk of becoming ill.

Acid-Alkaline-Chart

Adding in the daily amount of the following vitamins can also reduce your risk for symptoms related to depression.

Calcium is important in maintaining healthy bones and blood vessels. Some studies show that low levels of calcium in women (could not find similar studies for men) may increase symptoms related to PMS and depression.

Good food sources for calcium include: Broccoli, collard greens, kale, edamame, bok choy, figs, oranges, sardines, salmon, white beans, tofu, dairy, almonds and okra.

Chromium is a trace mineral needed to help the body metabolize food and regulate insulin. Chromium also plays an important role in increasing the levels of serotonin, norepinephrine, and melatonin in the brain which are all critical to regulating mood and emotions.

Food sources include: Broccoli, grapes, whole wheat products, potatoes and turkey.

Folate, or B9 supports the health and creation of cells in the body and regulates serotonin. Serotonin is the brain’s messenger, passing messages between nerve cells and assisting the brain in regulating mood among other things. Folate and B12 are often paired to treat depression. The recommended daily amount is 400 mcg (micrograms) per adult.

Foods rich in Folate include: Spinach, avocado, black eyed peas, Brussel sprouts and asparagus.

Iron transports oxygen through the bloodstream, supports muscle health and general energy. Low levels of iron leave us feeling tired and depressed. Iron deficiencies are more common in women.

Foods rich in Iron include: Soybeans, lentils, turkey (dark meat) beef or pork liver, clams, mussels, oysters, spinach and fresh ginger

ginger

Magnesium is responsible for more than 300 biochemical reactions in the body…it helps to break down glucose and transform it into energy.

Foods rich in magnesium include edamame. cashews, almonds or hazelnuts for snacks; add more whole grains such as millet, quinoa and brown rice and eat fish (halibut in particular).

Omega-3 fatty acid is not naturally produced by the body but it is critical to mood health. Deficiencies in omega-3 can contribute to mood swings, fatigue, depression or decline in memory.

Salmon, sardines, tuna and rainbow trout contain omega-3s. Chia seeds are also a good source. Vegetarians who rely on plant based sources may wish to consider supplements as plant and animal omega-3 differ.

B6 promotes the health of our neurotransmitters. A deficiency of B6 can lead to a weakened immune system, depression, confusion and short term anemia. B6 is known to relieve mood related symptoms of PMS. RDA is 1.3 mg daily for adults.

Foods containing healthy amounts of B6 include: Chickpeas, tuna, Atlantic salmon, chicken or turkey (white meat), sunflower seeds, pistachios, bananas, lean pork, dried prunes, avocado, spinach and lean beef.

B12 is critical to good brain health. Our mood depends largely on the signals from our brain making B12 one of the most important nutrients. B12 synthesizes a group of nutrients that are critical for neurological function. Low levels of B12 can contribute to increased fatigue, depression, lack of concentration, mania and paranoia.

B12 is found naturally in animal proteins such as eggs, beef, fatty fish and pork. It is also added to enriched cereals and breads. Taking a supplement is wise as the body can store what it does not use for a later time.

Vitamin D – Most of us are vitamin D deficient. It is recommended that we take a supplement to assure we take in enough vitamin D. Rates of depression increase with vitamin D deficiency.

Few foods contain vitamin D naturally but Salmon, eggs, chanterelle mushrooms and milk are good food sources.

salmon-category1

Zinc protects our digestive system as well as promoting a healthy immune system. Research has shown that healthy levels of zinc in the body reduce the risk of depression. Zinc has been known to enhance the effectiveness of antidepressants in some studies.

Foods rich in zinc include: pumpkin seeds, cashews, Swiss cheese, crab and pork loin.

Eating foods that balance blood sugar levels can also reduce the potential for fluctuation in mood and improve general health. You can do so by following these simple steps:

Increase whole grains. Whole grains release glucose into the bloodstream more slowly and evenly sustaining blood sugar levels and thus your energy. It is not so hear to do so. Eat power snacks that provide energy without weighing you down such as nuts, yogurt, fruit. Think of food in this way: carbs provide energy, protein helps to maintain that energy and healthy fats extend energy. So make the most of good carbs, fats and proteins in your diet?

Eat Well, Be Well

Leanne Yinger, M.Ed. HNC
Certified Holistic Health & Nutrition Educator @ Kira’s Kitchen
Email: Kiraskitchen5@gmail.com

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. Access to good food is critical for all people in reaching their optimal health and well-being. Without good food we are less likely to be successful in what we endeavor to do in life.

DSCN7603

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 commitment 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.

I have 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.

IMG_9679

The first keynote was Dr. Fernando Funes Monzote, See the source imagewho is a founding member of the Cuban Organic Farmers Association and the developer of the Agroecolocial Project outside of Havana, Cuba 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.

See the source image

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.

peace

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 growing 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