Over this long weekend, I have spent a good deal of my time in the garden. I have been planting and transplanting. When we purchased our property four years ago, it was woefully neglected. Over 13 trees had to be removed just to shed some light. Clearing the back of the property meant clearing lots of red rope, also known as poison ivy. Yeah, lesson learned the hard way.
It has only been in the last decade or so that I even took an interest in gardening and landscaping. I now know enough to be dangerous when it comes to plants. Recently I’ve become an expert on plants that deer and rabbits won’t eat. We live in a pretty rural area, backing up to farmland owned by the same family since the 1750s.
My house was built in the 1850s and it too is getting a slow but purposeful makeover. I have always gravitated to older homes. I can feel the history. I can see the craftsmanship. Timbers pulled and hand carved to frame the house. Even my land feels old. What is now a sweep of grass backing up to the old farmland, was once tilled for growing the family’s vegetables. The people who once lived here were not farmers, but they did grow their own food. In an old photo of the property from the 1890s, the old barn is visible. It burned down in a fire at the turn of the century, which led to the town deciding they needed a firehouse. The bucket brigade couldn’t save it.
When I’m touching the soil, and taking the large old stones from the property to create a raised bed, I think about those who have come before me here. There is magic in the soil. It makes me wonder about the days of old. Back then, people relied on their land and the local farming industry to provide them sustenance. They did not get their vegetables from Chili. They did not buy their meat pre-packaged. They were much closer and much more intimate with the source of their food. Old homes and this old land remind me that not everything needs improvement. Sometimes the old ways are better.
Since October, I’ve thought a lot about where my food comes from. I’ve seen the documentaries about the meat industry and about how sugar and additives are creating tons of health issues around the globe. The big food industry produces greenhouse gases that rival car exhaust. I’ve personally experienced what processed foods and added sugar have done to my waistline and my immune system. Frankly, sometimes all that information is incredibly overwhelming. Feeding a family good whole food has become more of a challenge as the prices for non-subsidized produce skyrocket while a can of Pepsi gets cheaper. The middle aisles of the grocery store offer lots of calories for low cost and those with limited resources often feel they have no choice. And yet, the cost to treat the rising health issues is becoming insurmountable.
It’s hard to filter all of the information out there. This food is bad, that food is bad. This program works, this one is a fad. I felt very overwhelmed by it all when I woke up and began to take action. And now, I get emails from subscribers and posts from my A-Team that suggest I’m not the only one feeling overwhelmed about the best road to weight loss and healing. Some say go vegan, others say Paleo is the way, some swear by vegetarianism. So with all of the research, the quick fix promises and the endless bits of information I had to make it simple. When I came up with the plan, I wanted it to have the flexibility for the vegan, the vegetarian and the omnivore. There is lots of conflicting information and opinions out there. Keeping it simple and staying in the lines is the best way to go for me. I can’t have grey areas or it gets muddy and confusing. I eat animal protein, but much less of it and mostly organic. I do my best to buy locally grown produce from farms that actually do MORE than the USDA standard for organic. I eat out less, and aim to make my own food more often.
Making time to make a meal is now a luxury for most of us. We are tethered to many hours at work, kids to care for, and lots of other chores to do just to maintain our life and our home. But I’ve started drawing more lines around that. I need time to decompress, to hang in my garden, to cook more meals, and to learn new ways of eating that not only sustain me, but sustain the planet. Do my choices make a difference? They do. And so do yours. When you stop buying processed foods, you send a message to the food industry. When you support local farmers and hit the farmers’ market (even NYC has them!), you are voting with your dollars. And that’s where the revolution starts. When you buy organic and non-GMO foods, you are making a difference. Yes you. When you cook a meal, or teach your kids how to cook, you are training them to be self-sufficient and teaching them about the importance of eating the food that remembers where it came from. It matters.
I hope someday to make the time to create my own vegetable garden; right now it’s tough with working full time. When I do, it will need a high fence and have to go two feet below grade, because, hello groundhogs, rabbits and deer! But I do what I can, and I keep it simple. I’m learning new ways to cook, and I enjoy the simplicity of it. I don’t need to be tilling the soil to make these changes. One trip to the local farm or the locally grown organic produce section is all I need. Avoiding the middle aisles has transformed my body and mind. It’s the small changes made in the moment that transform. And it’s voting with your dollars that will fuel the revolution. Getting back to basics and sending the message that good whole food heals is already making a difference. One trip to the grocery store at a time, eating food that remembers where it came from–you can make a difference. Join the revolution!