Category Archives: slow food

Weed It and Reap: What Should I Eat? Arthritis, Autoimmune Disease, and Diet

Best Berry Smoothie


Magic ingredient: Coconut Water.It contains easily digested carbohydrates in the form of sugar and electrolytes. Low in calories, naturally free of fat and cholesterol, more potassium than four bananas, and super hydrating.  Best Coconut Water?  According to Portland Food & Drink it’s  Coco Community 

Use fresh organic fruit when possible. Clean, cut and freeze fruit for future use.

Put in blender: what you have available in a mixture of frozen and fresh banana, blueberries, strawberries, dark cherries, raspberries, blackberries, pineapple, papaya, mango, acai berry, stone fruits, apple, lemon, orange, etc

Add coconut water and other organic pure fruit juice for consistency. Blend.

Learning to Make the Best Food Choices

I was recently interviewed by an investigative reporter working on a piece about the pesticide Glyphosate (aka RoundUp, manufactured by Monsanto). Glyphosate has been in wide-spread use not only in agriculture, but also in and around homes, schools, hospitals, parks, roadsides, and other public spaces since the ’70’s.  It’s been in the news lately because extensive research has shown it to be a potent carcinogen as well as being linked to ADHD, Alzheimer’s Disease, Autism, Birth Defects, Celiac Disease, Colitis, Heart Disease, Inflammatory Bowel Syndrome, Kidney Disease, Liver Disease, and Parkinson’s Disease.

People in countries all over the world have been demanding that the poison be banned. The Obama era EPA announced a decision to take Glyphosate off the market. However, Trump’s EPA headed by Pruitt bowed to Monsanto’s pressure to keep RoundUp on the market in the US. Similar pressure from Monsanto has resulted in a failure to ban the poison in the EU.

It became clear to the journalist, after a short time listening to me describe my experiences teaching in a school surrounded by pesticide-intensive ag fields, that glyphosate is just the “tip of the iceberg” when it comes to pesticide exposure and human health.

The reporter asked me several times if I had contracted any illness as a result of that long-term pesticide exposure. She proded because, of course, that would make a great story. Unfortunately I had to tell her that it’s virtually impossible to attribute definitive cause and effect between long-term pesticide exposure twenty years earlier and whatever ails me now in my “old age”. I was sorry to disappoint her. But it’s complicated. Researchers can look at studies of large population samples over time and may find significant statistical correlation between exposure to certain substances and disease. But in an individual person’s life, there are usually just too many variables to claim with certainty that one event caused a particular condition.

However, with all that said, during my time teaching amidst the Pajaro Valley strawberry fields – breathing the immune system disrupters, respiratory system disruptors, estrogen system disruptors, and neurotoxins, I did get hit hard with asthma,  with a major auto-immune condition, extremely early-onset menopause, fibromyalgia, Rheumatoid Arthritis and osteo-arthritis. I was pretty healthy until I went to work near the strawberry fields. Now I deal with inflammation and severe chronic pain, 24-7.

What to do? Not wanting to become yet another opioid addict statistic, I manage pain through regulated diet, healthy sleep habits, regular exercise, and mindfulness training. Food choices seem to be a big piece of what it takes to feel better. It’s taken years of buying into food fads and willful denial of my own inner wisdom to finally come to some conclusions about what I should and shouldn’t be eating.

My Top Worst Food Choices:

  • Sugar. Processed white sugar (“white death”), any cane sugar, any other processed sugar: brown sugar, rice sugars, corn syrup, all artificial sugar substitutes such as Nutrasweet (aspartame)
    – even xylitol, stevia and agave aggravate my inflammation and pain
    – Sad. I love sweets. 
    I find I can tolerate small amounts of local raw honey, real maple syrup, coconut sugar, and date sugar 
  • All fast food, fried and processed foods!
  • Processed wheat and grains, including pasta 
  • Nightsades: eggplant, tomato, potato (sweet potato okay), peppers
  • Dairy 
  • animal fat

Best Choice:  whole food, organic, primarily plant-based, alkaline-forming diet

  • drink water
  • Fresh organic fruit
    banana, blueberries, strawberries, dark cherries, raspberries, blackberries, pinapple, papaya, mango, acai berry, stone fruits, apple, lemon, orange, pomegranate, fig, guava and passion fruit, . . .
  • Fresh veggies – variety of all colors, especially dark leafy greens
    broccoli & califlower, beets, cabbage, celery, collards, arugula, mustard greens, squashes, carrot, chive & leek, asparagus, peas and green beansbrussell sprouts, artichokes
  • avocado
  • organic, cold-pressed olive oil
  • fish high in omega 3 – sardine, herring, cod, salmon (much better than fish-oil supplement!)
  • happy Americana hen fresh eggs
  • whole organic nuts (I don’t have the habit yet of sprouting my seeds and nuts, tho some say this is a good idea)
  • whole beans in moderation
  • fresh garlic, ginger, turmeric, bee pollen
  • fresh mint, basil, parsley, watercress, and other herbs
  • seaweed, mushrooms
  • probiotic rich fermented foods – miso, sauerkraut, . . .

I’d love to hear from you. What do you eat?

 

 

 

 

 

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Rain

“What is the Northwest? Anywhere the salmon can get to.” Timothy Egan. A Year Without Rain

This year, there is so little water in the streams and rivers that the Coho Salmon had to be rescued by volunteers from the Monterey Bay Salmon and Trout Project.  San Lorenzo river cojo capture

In an area like California where water is in short supply, fracking is a terrible idea.

In an area like California where water is in short supply, fracking – an extremely water intensive fossil fuel extraction process – is a terrible idea.                                                                           Anti-Fracking demonstration in front of the Steinbeck Museum, Salinas, CA January, 2014.

Ground Hog Day. Today we had the first real rain all winter. Some say this may be our worst drought in the 155 years that records have been kept.  When people were raving about the beautiful, sunny weather in December and January, I wanted to participate in the joy and gratitude, but the weather has felt ominous to me. No rain during the rainy season, in a rainforest. I imagined I could hear the redwoods worrying. The land and plants have been looking so thirsty.

California needs water.

California needs water.

 

I remember our last drought in Central California – in the ’70’s. Everyone was aware of it, knew what it meant for our drinking water and our forests, and talked about conservation all the time. “Did you hear about our new local wine – P-no-poo-do?” No one flushed for number 1. People had buckets in their showers to catch the extra water. That awareness is strangely absent this time. But finally, the city of Santa Cruz, which is 100 percent dependent on local rainfall for its water supply, has created a drought-specific web page to build drought awareness and help city residents and businesses reduce water consumption during the ongoing drought. http://www.cityofsantacruz.com/index.aspx?page=2029

 

drought causes remarkable sunsets

Twin Lakes Beach, January, 2013.    This winter, the sunsets have been astonishingly beautiful, because of all the pollution that has accumulated in the air without winter rains to wash it away

Droughts, we’ve been told, are a cyclical occurrence in our area. But climate change is on people’s minds. Could this drought be evidence of climate change? Global weird-ing. What some scientists are now calling Climate Chaos, Climate Holocaust, Climate Armageddon. My novel, Fruit of the Devil, describes the great flood of 1999 on the Pajaro River.  It is predicted that climate change will bring unusually severe storms with increasing frequency, alternating with periods of drought. Are we ready for another “hundred year” flood?

Well, putting aside thoughts of doom, the rain this morning was beautiful. We celebrated the cozy feeling of being snug and warm in our little cottage, with the sound of rain on the skylights, by taking the time to prepare a real meal. It took us about 5 hours to go to market, prepare the food, eat, and wash up after the meal. Does real cooking take everyone that long? I guess that’s what the Slow Food movement is all about – reclaiming the personal time to nourish oneself and one’s family with real food – which requires a significant amount of time to prepare and to eat. The Straus Family Farm has a blog about the “True Time of Food Production” on their website.

We recently joined the Farm Fresh to You CSA.  (Community Supported Agriculture)  Our meal today grew out of the box of vibrant organic fruits and vegetables left at our doorstep a couple of mornings ago, plus our hens’ beautiful eggs. We had a frittata:

Organic Veggie Frittata: Preheat oven to 400. Saute in olive oil until soft and browned: onion, fresh garlic, thinly sliced baby butter creme potatoes, broccoli, leek, dinosaur kale, 1/4 fresh jalapeño, dash of sea salt, fresh spinach. Blend 8 fresh organic eggs, with 1/2 tsp sifted flour and a dollop of Straus sour creme or milk. Pour egg mixture over saute in pan. Lift from sides and slide liquid egg over until all egg is solid. Grate sharp Coastal Cheddar on top. Place pan in oven until egg has a golden brown crust, but is not dry. Serve with love, warmed salsa and jalapeños, Straus sour creme, avocado, and bacon or sausage. Take the time to fully savor the meal.

hand-made gnocchi

Foodie friends Jim and his daughter Mary take the time to prepare gnocchi by hand.

 

 

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Pregnant with Pears

PearPregnantDoes anyone have any pear recipes?  Our magical fairy pear tree exploded with pears this August. Raining down sweet perfect pears by the hundreds. I’ve been giving away as many as possible, and trying to make sure Joe and I eat at least one a day. Please, leave your pear recipes here.

My neighbor Beth’s pear salad: pears, chilled and sliced thin. mild red onion sliced very thin. blood oranges. toasted walnuts. gorganzola. arugula. a light dressing of olive oil and white peach balsalmic

This is the first year we’ve had good plums. Beautiful Santa Rosas. plumsSM

I waited nearly 20 years for the old plum tree to decide to bear fruit before cutting her down and putting in new plum trees. This tree bore in its third year. Next year, two more plum trees should begin to fruit.

Our gifted Orchardist, Mathew Sutton of Orchard Keepers, and his crew worked magic in our garden this spring.

 

squashLots of people complain about having too much summer squash, but I never seem to get enough.

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