farm fresh

How to navigate food (and life) transitions

How to navigate food (and life) transitions

“How do you get your family to accept a real food diet when all they want are chicken nuggets?” “My kid is a picky eater. He eats cereal three times a day. What do I do?” “I want to eat ‘healthy’ but I crave a sugary snack every afternoon (and evening, if I’m honest)!”

The struggle is real! You are now convinced of the basics: that eating a healthy diet means eating more real, whole foods, and less of the food-like processed stuff that comes in packages! Bravo! But how do you go from the head to the heart (or should I say to the mouth)? 

Surprises at the Wise Traditions conference (a/k/a you won't believe what happens next!)

I couldn’t resist using this clichéd click-bait subtitle because my experience at the conference was indeed just. like. that. It was one unexpected moment after another. You can watch an online health summit, the next wellness webinar or cooking tutorial on YouTube, but none of it compares to the actual experience of connecting LIVE with health experts and fellow foodies. The speakers get you thinking as you attend their presentations, and then you turn around and they join you for lunch! Between sessions, a fellow attendee points out a website that helps you find the dehydrator you were looking for. Your roommate tells you about her latest health hack. Each day you are empowered, encouraged, and energized. I hail from Washington, DC, a town better known for its political leanings than its alternative health tendencies. I was like a plant thirsty for some rain. I didn’t have to wait long before I was soaking it all in. Shortly after I arrived, I ran into speaker and gardener Celeste Longacre. (Don’t you just love her name?!) She invited me to her hotel room to demonstrate how to make beet kvaas. I drink it regularly but had never made it before. We hardly entered the room before she had started chopping up that beet like a Samurai swordsman! It was something to behold. My mind was blown. And then my heart was touched when she gave me garlic that she had grown from her very own garden. The conference was just kicking off and I’d already gotten a private kvaas demo and some swag!

img_0246
img_0246

On day two, I connected with Hannah Crum, the Kombucha Mama. She told me that earlier that morning, she had gone for a walk down by the river. From a distance, she spotted some random guy who was barefoot and bare-chested (a rare sight in the month of November); he was walking along playing some flute-like instrument. Curious, she walked closer…and then it dawned on her. This was not just some random guy. It was fitness guru Ben Greenfield, a fellow speaker at the Wise Traditions conference!

We laughed, partially because it was so unexpected for her to encounter Ben like that, but also because the conference was just overflowing with these kinds of surprising moments. The Weston A. Price Foundation brings together all sorts of creative, intelligent, interesting people—each committed to finding good health through natural and alternative means. There was genuine connection and joy at every turn. And there was also as much to be gleaned from the one-on-one connections as there was from the seminars.

img_0464
img_0464

Hollywood producer Del Bigtree, of the movie “Vaxxed,” screened his movie at the conference and gave a post-screening presentation. He talked about how he got involved in the project and had been moved by the importance of the subject (the CDC's manipulation of study results) and its implications for our health and the health of our children. He had hitherto not quite realized the influence of the pharmaceutical companies on the media and consequently the public's access to critical health information. He is passionate about getting the movie wider distribution, not because he is particularly “anti-vax” but because he believes the public has the right to make informed decisions when it comes to vaccinations. Though he had been traveling around the country, he had never been among a group quite like ours. We were receptive, curious, and supportive. And we also challenged him to think about the role good nutrition could play in preserving our health.

That’s another thing I love about “Wise Traditions foodies” (as I like to call the WAPF-ers). They don’t just take in information—they process it; they ask tough questions. Many have taken their health into their own hands and are naturally skeptical of any medical theory. They take everything with a grain of (sea) salt.

IMG_0338.JPG
IMG_0338.JPG

So, to me, this is what the Wise Traditions conference is about: learning, growing, laughter, food, questioning, and, yes, surprises. Count me in for next year. Actually, scratch that. Count me in for the rest of my life!

*** Hilda Labrada Gore is a health coach and fitness professional. She is the DC chapter leader for the Weston A. Price Foundation and is the Wise Traditions podcast host. Wise Traditions can be found on YouTube, iTunes, Stitcher, iHeartRadio, Google Play Music and at westonaprice.org.

The Biggest Loser...but in real life!

On the t.v. show "The Biggest Loser," people lose drastic amounts of weight in dramatic fashion, only to gain it back when they are off the air and the cameras are gone. Dramatic is the right word for it. It is a t.v. show, made to entertain. Those who produce it are interested in ratings, certainly not in the health of the participants. They "help" them lose weight, all right, but in all the wrong ways for all of the wrong reasons. But contestants sign up to be on the show, nonetheless, grasping at the slim hope that they might become slim, in actuality. It's easy to understand their desperation. Richard Morris could certainly relate. For him, walking to work was akin to hiking Mount Everest. He would huff and puff and sweat up a storm and it was only a few blocks away from his place in New York City! He was in terrible shape. No surprise. The man weighed over 400 lbs. Dieting? Hed been there, done that....in his own words, "a million and one" times. The only thing they were good for was packing on the pounds (after some initial unsustainable weight loss).

Richpic4

Richard was pre-diabetic and struggling with asthma and high blood pressure. Every day he woke up asking himself, "Is today the day I die?"

chicken

This is Richard today. Yes, as you can ascertain, he has undergone a complete transformation! He is in excellent shape, as are his wife and two daughters. He works a job and runs a family farm. And in his spare time, he runs spartan races!

Be inspired by his story in this half-hour episode entitled A life unburdened.

What You’ll Learn

  • How Richard gained so much weight in the first place
  • The role his family's poverty played in their food choices when he was growing up
  • What diets he tried and why they failed him
  • Richard's a-ha moment that led him to leave dieting behind
  • What first steps he took to rid his home of processed foods
  • What foods they bought (and where they bought them) as they switched to eating real food
  • What happened when he flirted (briefly) with the idea of eating the old way
  • How the Weston A. Price Foundation resources played a part in his transformation
  • The role of cooking in his life
  • How his daughter's early puberty was reversed through real food
  •  How he got into obstacle course racing

Links & Resources

About Richard Morris

Richard Morris worked in IT, but now lives a life that is drastically different. Richard lives in Virginia, running his farm, running spartan races and running in the human race, in brave and new ways!

If you enjoy the podcast episode, please share it on FB or Twitter. And leave Wise Traditions a review on iTunes which gives important stories like Richard's a broader platform!

Raw milk is rawesome! (See if you agree, as I make my case!)

By now, you've heard of the growing interest in raw milk. Or maybe you haven’t. You may be perfectly happy with milk from the store. And when you hear a comment or report on the radio, you dismiss it out of hand. Turn the page. Turn off the radio. Who are the nut jobs who are into that stuff? Haven’t they heard of the outbreaks of sickness and deaths in the U.S. that led to the pasteurization of milk? Don't raw milk proponents know that raw milk is dangerous and full of bacteria? IMG_5835

On behalf of all the nut jobs out there, let me answer these questions. The answers are: yes and no. Yes, we know when and why pasteurization began, and no, we’re not worried. We know that raw milk is full of bacteria, but we believe that a lot of that bacteria is good for us, in the same way that bacteria in yogurt and other “super foods” is good for us. We don't believe raw milk is any more dangerous than other real foods.

Let me address this last concern first. In 2013, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicated that nearly half of foodborne illnesses in the U.S. from 1998 to 2008 were linked to fruits, nuts, leafy greens, and other vegetables. People are not steering clear of these foods today. My point? Any food can be mishandled and become a carrier of pathogens (bad bacteria). Rather than being afraid of food, we need to look to find ways to make sure we get it from the safest, cleanest source.

In fact, this is why pasteurization was applied to milk in the first place. There was an interest in making our milk “safe” or "safer." People were becoming sick because they were drinking milk from cows kept in poor sanitary conditions. But rather than changing the conditions of the cows, the idea was to pasteurize (or heat up) the milk to eliminate the pathogens. Unbeknownst to us, pasteurization changed the milk drastically--from a living product to a dead one. Pasteurization killed the bad bacteria, indeed. But it also got rid of the good stuff at the same time. It resulted in a product with a good long shelf life, but that wasn't good for our lives. Despite ads to the contrary, this milk doesn't do a body good.

In contrast, raw milk, from healthy cows in good conditions, is an amazing healthy food, teaming with good bacteria (and pathogen-fighting bacteria that “kills” any bad guys that crop up). Even the Mayo clinic in the 1930s had a program for using milk to kill a variety of ills, called "the milk cure." Yes, doctors once considered raw milk good and healing, when produced in sanitary conditions.

I equate milk pasteurization with meat irradiation. In 2000, the USDA passed a regulation allowing for meat to be irradiated to avoid spoilage and to keep it "safer" for consumers. Why wasn't it safe from the get-go? Unsanitary slaughterhouse practices were causing feces (and bad bacteria) to splash onto the meat. Rather than correcting the problem at its root (the slaughterhouse), they opted to blast our beef and poultry with radiation.

IMG_5824

Personally, I trust whole, real foods, more than I trust what others tell me is best. And I also listen to others' experience. More and more people struggle with digesting "safe" pasteurized dairy products. While those drinking raw milk and eating raw cheeses are finding healing.

Listen to this week's podcast episode with Charlotte Smith for one example. (Click here or go to Stitcher or westonaprice.org.) As a young mom, she was looking for a cure for her children's eczema. She came upon raw milk and became so convinced of its beneficial impact that she started a micro dairy (three cows only). I have to say, hers is a very mooooving story! (I couldn't resist the pun!)

You may find yourself completely unswayed by the above. Rawesome. I urge you to keep your eyes and ears open. Apply your own skills of observation to the situation (and to your own body, should you decide to try it out). I am eager to hear what you conclude!

 

 

 

 

The inside scoop on wellness

Starting the Wise Traditions podcast has been an adventure. I knew I wanted to help spread the message of the benefits of whole, real, nutrient-dense foods. That, after all, is the mission of the Weston A. Price Foundation, the group sponsoring the podcast. Their goal is to educate the public about healthy traditions and the science behind the foods that have helped cultures survive and thrive through millennia. DSC_0006

What I didn’t bargain for was that I would be getting an education in the process, myself. I loved sitting down with the authors, doctors, scientists, farmers, etc., who came on the show. Each individual was well spoken, entertaining, and brilliant. I was getting something out of every single conversation.

And then it dawned on me—I wasn't just educating John Q. Public, out there “somewhere,” in the distance—I was, in fact, educating myself! Below are some of the truths I’ve gleaned, after months of sitting at the feet of top health and wellness experts. I consider these truths to be the “inside scoop” on wellness.

  1. Outset. I’m just at the outset; they are waaaay down the pike! Yup, I’ve learned that I still have a lot to learn. Oh, I studied to be a health coach, and I am a chapter leader for the Weston A. Price Foundation, all right. But these people have spent decades in their field (sometimes, yes, literally in a field!) so they have a really good idea of what’s best for our bodies, in theory and in practice.
  2. Opposing views. Even the experts say we shouldn’t trust the experts. Almost every guest on the show has urged me (and the listener) to keep seeking, keep reading, keep educating myself. (It was a farmer who gave me the longest list of recommended books!) I have taken their challenge seriously. In fact, I am purposely seeking out opposing views to those shared by my guests, to discover the truth, as best I can, for myself.
  3. Overwhelmed. Our bodies are overwhelmed. Incidences of cancer, chronic diseases, mental illness, and the like, are on the rise. (I didn’t need them to tell me this. I could see that for myself, just by reading the headlines.) What I did learn from them is that our world is increasingly toxic and that there are ways to help our bodies cope.
  4. Organic is best. Processed, artificial, man-made, imitation, preservative-laden foodstuffs (that pass for food in our supermarkets) are part of the toxic soup that our bodies cannot process. These foodstuffs are cheaper, but remember this: bargain foods are no bargain for our bodies. They mess with our physical and mental capabilities.

    DSC_0085

  5. Opt out. Opting out of the commercial, big-box, packaged food industry is a great place to start. Each guest has emphasized the importance of turning toward a more, natural, real food diet. Avoid the chains (supermarket, fast food, restaurants) that literally encumber us. While you are still free to move, take steps off the regular food grid. Look for real food whenever possible. Connect with farmers. Learn to grow or, at least, cook your own food. It's critical for your health and the health of your loved ones.

Oh, the things I’ve learned! Have you been learning, too? Comment below so we can educate each other! I look forward to more great conversations, both on and off the air.

I met a farmer!

I'm a city girl with a country heart. It's been a cool transformation over the past 7-10 years. Most of you know my story. I exercised a lot and gave very little thought to what I ate. Then I started to realize that rather than just throwing anything down the hatch, it might behoove me to fuel my body with real food. So I started a quest to find nourishing, nutrient-dense foods for me and my family. It led me to the Weston A. Price Foundation, whose focus on real, whole foods made a lot of sense to me. Things didn't change overnight in our household. But gradually, little by little, real foods made their way into our home. We started eating eggs and yogurt for breakfast instead of cereal. We chose real fruit over Del Monte Fruit Cups; quesadillas over cheese-flavored tortilla chips.

As we made these changes it slowly dawned on me that real food came from real people growing and raising it. And what's so fun is that in recent years,  I've had the wonderful opportunity to meet the people growing the food. When I'm with them,  I feel like a starry-eyed fan, and if I didn't have sufficient self-control, I would indeed pull out a sharpie and ask for an autograph. Unlike Hollywood stars, these guys don't entertain, they provide genuine sustenance for the masses! They are worthy of adulation, truly!

Me and Jesse

Last October, I connected with Jesse Straight, the lead farmer at Whiffletree Farms in Warrenton, Virginia. Jesse is a young farmer who graduated from UVA (where my daughter went to school.) He had no plans to become a farmer, but he picked up a book by Wendell Barry that changed the course of his life. He decided to farm and he never looked back.

In November, I had the privilege of meeting Will Winter, a farmer and advocate for holistic health for animals and people! He told me that he used to be a vegetarian because he saw a disconnect between caring for animals and going home and eating them. Now he is a consultant for Thousand Hills Cattle Company and he is the owner of Lucky Pig Farms!

And in just a couple of weeks, I am going to meet Joel Salatin, farmer extraordinaire of Polyface Farm and the author of "Folks, this ain't normal!" Joel challenges the way we look at  our food, animals, the government, and, of course, each other.

If I sound like I'm ga-ga over farmers and name-dropping  a bit, well...I am. I admire their hard work and the food I have the privilege of enjoying thanks to them and others like them. Are you intrigued by their lives? Do you want to learn more about the adventures of raising and growing food? Come meet Jesse at a get-together at my house, here in DC, on Saturday, Jan. 23. (Comment below and I can give you details.) Can't make that date? Get to know these gentlemen through my podcast! My talk with Will Winter just aired (and you can hear from Jesse and Joel in future episodes). Soon you'll be ga-ga, too, and boasting (or blogging) "I met a farmer!"

The two things you absolutely MUST have on your Thanksgiving menu

I do like pie, I'm not going to lie! But in all likelihood pie is already on your menu---maybe even several varieties! So, I'm going to suggest a couple of things that you may not have thought of just yet. How did I settle on the two items you should add to your table? As I trained to become a health coach, I studied 100 different diets. As a fitness professional, I have read countless periodicals, journals, and magazines, all of which feature studies and all kinds of information exploring the effects of various foods on our bodies. And just last week I attended the Wise Traditions conference in California, where I learned more about the most nutrient-dense and nourishing foods.

All of this to say, I'm not just pulling these ideas out of thin air. I've boiled all of that info down to just two MUST-HAVEs to add to this year's Thanksgiving feast. Cranberry relish and stuffing! Just kidding. The two are listed below.

First, something FRESH! You are as alive as the food you eat. Think of the difference between being at a live concert and listening to a cd. Eating food from the supermarket is the cd--shiny and attractive but tasteless and difficult to digest. Eating food from a farm or your garden is the live concert--delighting and stimulating your tastebuds...and your whole body!

By the way, when I say fresh I don't mean something labeled "fresh" or a product with a cow drawn on the label or a cutesy illustration of a farm. I mean something that doesn't come in a package, food that you did not buy in a brick and mortar store. I'm not saying everything on your menu needs to be this fresh. But what if at least one menu item were that fresh?

You can get fresh food from your own garden if you have one or from a local farmers market. If you don't know of one, just google it or go to farmmatch.com. I bet there's one within a 10-minute drive or walk from your home!

Once you buy your one fresh item, get cooking, but keep it simple. There's no need to gussy up your ingredient by making it into a casserole or putting marshmallows on it. Farm fresh foods--like the sweet potatoes we had for dinner last night--don't need a lot of adornment. We just stuck them in the oven for an hour or so and slathered butter on them and they were absolutely delectable.

Note that this was only the initial butter I slathered on!

One of my daughters takes hers completely naked---the sweet potato, that is! The freshness is the condiment that takes them over the top. Of course if you want to get fancy, you may. You could make sweet potato gnocchi. Be my guest. Or better yet, invite me over and I'll be your guest.

The second must-have menu item is something FERMENTED. The Standard American Diet (also known as S.A.D.) doesn't often include fermented foods, but most all other diets around the world do! The bacteria and enzymes from fermented foods enhance your digestion, boost your immune system, and help you avoid chronic disease. At Thanksgiving, we're most interested in the first benefit on that list: aiding digestion. In other words, it'll be easier for your system to handle all the food coming its way, if you eat something fermented.

So what should it be? The choices are practically endless! Try pickled green beans, just plain pickles, krauts, kimchi, kalechi. Warning: you can't just buy something at your local grocery store and assume it's been fermented. (Even pickles aren't always pickled; they may just be cucumbers sitting in vinegar.) So be on the lookout for brands that indicate that they are fermented like Bubbie's pickles and sauerkraut. You can find brands like this one at Whole Foods, Trader Joe's, or Moms Organic Markets.

Serving suggestion for the pickled beets

Or go local with fermented foods (see point number one). Number 1 Sons has some amazing fermented foods that have made me fall in love with veggies in a whole new way---like okra and green beans. They sell their vast array of foods at many area farmers markets in the DC metro area.

So that's it: fresh and fermented foods. Were you surprised by these two suggestions? Did you already have these kinds of foods on your menu? If not, go for it! Yes, serve the usual suspects: turkey, stuffing, green beans, and mashies. But add a dash of life and spice by adding the fresh and fermented foods to the mix! Your family and friends will love you and thank you for it! And so will your body!

Local and fun "farm fresh food" seminar! Who's in?!

Are you interested in driving by fast food places, rather than hitting the "drive thru?" Do you want to learn about  foods that give you the most bang for your buck? If you live in the DC metro area, come to this local event that will highlight the joys of farm fresh foods and healthy eating! The speaker is a woman affiliated both with the Amish farm where I get many of my favorite foods, and the Weston A. Price Foundation (WAPF), which has taught me about traditional eating principles. I am beyond thrilled about this event! Hope you can join me, my friends, family, and local DC WAPF peeps at this gathering! See deets below! DC Event Flyer July 2015Make sure to register using the email link above and comment below to let me know if I will see you there!