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June 29, 2015
It Takes a Village
A Note from the Farmer's Wife
If you live alone, hang out by yourself most of the time, or feel lonely even when people are around, your risk of kicking the bucket in the next seven years increases to about 30%. This startling statement in a Wall Street Journal article this weekend caught my eye. According to Susan Pinker, author of "The Village Effect" (is she married to the guy who wrote the Dorito Effect?) our social habits more accurately predict how long we will live than our eating and exercise habits.
For many of us this news makes us think of aging parents or other elders we know who no lack the gumption to get out and connect with friends or even family. Is it possible that the sky-rocketing rate of dementia in this country connects to a growing isolation of our elders? Is a nursing home the answer? Even residents of retirement facilities can feel very alone, perhaps even more so if they grieve the loss their familiar turf.
"Isolation is the beginning of disease." So stated Malidoma Some, West African shaman and author or several books. Indigenous cultures have known since ancient times the value of a supportive community.
How does this connect to the CSA? First to my mind springs the satisfaction of a shared meal. Does your family sit together and begin the meal together? An article in the Washington Post highlights a myriad of benefits for families that sit down to a meal together. Young children learn more vocabulary at family dinners than they do from being read to, teens are more likely to get good grades in school and suffer less obesity once they are on their own. Families that eat together tend to eat more fruits and vegetables - have you ever subbed a bowl of cereal for a meal as a loner? Even medical conditions such as asthma were improved by eating together.
The article stresses that the atmosphere is essential. No TV while eating together and parents should be "warm and engaged" versus stern and controlling. I suppose this research has finally put to rest the old adage, "Children are to be seen and not heard."
One of the most interesting and frequent comments on our 2014 survey highlighted the social connection our members get from picking up their box at a communal location. This may vary from site to site, but I was surprised and pleased to see how much people value connecting with other dedicated vegetable eaters. In the flurry of business that seems to be part of everyone's lives these days, it is interesting to note that this small community building activity of the weekly box pick up seems to be worth the extra effort. Perhaps getting a box of food in the mail is easier, but only lends to the nuclear isolation that is plaguing our culture.
So remember that the acronym "CSA" stands for Community Supported Agriculture. Take a moment to connect with your fellow CSA members, and build the community around you. If you prepare your meal together and sit down together, after socializing at your pick up site, maybe you will live a little longer! Especially if you eat your vegetables!
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June 21, 2015
The Farmer's Daughter - a reprise
A Note from the Farmer's Wife
This is a re-post from last year...lots of new things about these too to write about, but I am enjoying the sweetness of revisiting this post...plus life is a little crazy right now!
Only recently did the Farmer's Daughter identify herself as a "Farm Girl." Since her 5th birthday names have captivated her attention. In addition to Farm Girl, she prefers names like Pinky, Snowflake, Rosie Rose and Flower over her own. She tells me she is going to change her name, and I say okay.
I think Daddies and daughters often have their own special pet names for each other. Punkin Bug, Little Bean, Girl Bugs (after Earl Scruggs banjo player) are some of her favorites. Only he can use these names, along with a special sing-song whistle to announce that he is home.
I love to watch the farming part of this special relationship. Together they harvest beets, wash squash, weed carrots, water the greenhouse. Sometimes she is intimately involved in the chore, eager to learn, and other times she absorbs herself watching a trail of ants on the hill near him, or sitting amongst the fennel, munching fronds. Truly, he is the one who has taught her the best way to eat vegetables, straight from the ground. While she may turn her nose up at a dinner plate of vegetables, she will sit in a row of the very same items and eat platefuls.
At home, their relationship is perhaps more typical, and as sweet as anything I have ever witnessed. One of their favorite past times is to "jam." He on his banjo or guitar and she singing and dancing. In honor of Father's Day am posting a link to an original song that they came up with called "Birdies Fly." May all the Dads and Daughters love each other this much.
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June 4, 2015
The CSA Effect
A Note from the Farmer's Wife
An interview of Mark Schatzker, author of The Dorito Effect on Underground Wellness thoroughly captured my attention. He presents a new angle on the obesity epidemic. He claims that flavor drives food consumption (makes sense) and that the overuse of synthetic flavoringsin our current provisions, combined with the bland taste of whole foods has provoked the rise in poor food choices.
For years now the Farmer and I consider ourselves Vegetable Snobs. Out at a restaurant we might pick through our salad, turn our noses at the sliced tomatoes, and generally order dishes that are unique from our typical diet at home. Let me be more honest. The Farmer never turns his nose up at food, unless hes had a really bad day. Still, he does critique all produce that comes across his plate.
This winter I took particular notice of the flavors, or lack there-of, when forced to shop a the local grocery store. Where was the nutty bitter sweet complex flavors of young spinach, or spring mix? Or the crisp lemon snap in cucumbers? Potatoes tasted like paper and carrots like the cooler they were stored in. And tomatoes? Wait, actually I was pretty impressed with the winter tomatoes - still on the vine, grown in Vermont, in February? Wow! Even though they didnt taste like summer toms, they were at least red and a little bit juicy.
Previously I thought that drying procedures and cold storage had robbed these organic veggies of their familiar taste. Schatzker points out however that varieties have changed in the past 100 years. Vegetables have been bred to improve storage and durability as well as size. Actual flavor has had to take a back seat to these more lucrative qualities because the very things that make a vegetable sweet and juicy also make it spoil faster.
A low diversity of varieties available to us impacts the broad range of nutrients that might otherwise be available to us. Starving both for specific nutrients drives us to seek flavor-packed foods that signal the brain that the missing nutrient is present. Often, as in the case of Doritos, that signal is false, resulting in increased cravings.
Walking the farm fields with the Farmer, I browsed. Like deer browse. Browsing in the eating sense of the word means to take a little from here and then a little over there, as opposed to grazing which is kind of like mowing. My daughter browses with me. Lamb's quarters, purslane, plantain. Unfamiliar to most Americans, these plants are considered weeds. Yet they are packed with flavor and nutrition and utterly satisfying. Kale, peas, lettuces, while cultivated, these too hold intense satisfaction for the flavor-starved palate when taken right from the field into the mouth. Truly I am sorry you have to wait a day to taste your vegetables, since even in that short amount of time the flavor diminishes. Fortunately, though, there is plenty left to satisfy and nourish. Eat lots of fresh vegetables from the farm and watch and see if you don't end up craving them instead of Doritos.
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