Food is a basic necessity of life. I was lucky to have read Adelle Davis’s Let’s Eat Right to Keep Fit just before entering adulthood. Her premise in this book is that if you want to be healthy, you have to pay attention to what you eat. Wow! That made so much sense to me.
Our body constantly rebuilds and heals itself. We need to provide it with vitamins, minerals and other nutrients necessary to do so. Our awareness that many foods found in the supermarket are not able to properly nourish ourselves is growing. What to do?
One way is to find local organic farmers and support them. Small farms are on the increase. According to an October 2, 2012 article in the Washington Post by Brad Plummer, the United States farm count rose by four percent between 2002 and 2007. This increase was the very first time since 1940. Farmers’ markets are popping up all over the place, as well as CSAs (Community Supported Agriculture). Buying bulk in season is a way to not only support your local farmers, but save money, too. When the crops are coming in, buy. Many farm stands offer large bags of “keeper” potatoes or onions for a fraction of the cost in the winter. Carrots and beets are often available, too. Google “farmers’ markets” in your area for a complete list.
Another way is to grow some of your own vegetables. Fall is actually a perfect time to start a garden. Picking the right spot is key. Plants need six to eight hours of sun a day. Avoid places that are too close to trees or large plants that could steal their water. Nearby roads that might splash water onto it or downhill from plots that use heavy pesticides or herbicides are also a no-no. Make sure a water source is also close by. Part of a lawn could be ideal.
It’s time to get started. Remember that you want to be able to reach into the entire bed, so don’t make it too wide. Gather soy-based newspaper, rocks, cardboard, wood chips, dirt, and lots of compost. If you don’t make compost yourself, look for a local organic farm that raises animals. They will often let you fill buckets with old manure for very little money.
Soak six to eight layers of newspaper in water for several hours (no glossy pages or magazines). Place these in your spot, layering them so that grass or weeds will not be able to poke through. Put a few rocks on top so they won’t blow away. Next, place a good eight inches of compost on top. Paths can be covered with overlapping cardboard—building-supply stores and gardening centers often give plain, uncut cardboard away. Cover this with wood chips. Then leave it for the winter. In the spring, this patch will be ready to plant.
Another key piece missing from most diets is fermented foods. For tens of thousands of years our ancestors had only two ways to preserve their foods: drying and fermenting. All native cultures fermented at least some of their food. So our gut biome—the whole of our digestive insides—is accustomed to having these beneficial microorganisms to aid it in processing our food as well as fighting off any bad bacteria that we might encounter.
About four years ago, I started making fruit and vegetable kvass. This is a fermented beverage I mix with water. I put in just a splash so it’s still mostly water. In that time, I haven’t been sick once. I used to get colds and flus, but I believe that the probiotics I’m now consuming in the kvass fight any bad bacteria that comes my way. I’ve never had a flu shot. It’s so simple, too. I can put together a kvass in under three minutes and make it for pennies. I like to add homemade whey to the mix, so here’s how to make your own.
You need raw milk to be able to make whey. Leave a quart of milk on the counter loosely covered so that no dirt can fall into it. Depending upon the temperature in your kitchen, it will take three to seven days to separate. You can see it separating. Put a piece of cheesecloth in a strainer over a bowl and pour the mixture through. The curds will stay in the cheesecloth and the whey will pour through.
To make kvass, you will need a glass jar, some fruits or vegetables, salt, whey (optional) and pure water without chlorine or fluoride. In a half-gallon jar, place fruits or veggies. Big fruits like oranges should be cut into sections while tough-skinned ones like blueberries or grapes should be mashed a bit. Vegetables should be cut (not grated). It doesn’t matter how much or how little you use. To this add some whey—at least a tablespoon, but it could be as much as a cup (this is an optional step, not necessary, but the kvass will keep a lot longer in the refrigerator if it is added). Add a teaspoon of good salt (sea or Himalayan pink). Fill with water, leaving an inch of air or headspace at the top and cover tightly. Shake and cover with a towel. Shake several times a day. Let the gases out (loosen the cap briefly) at least once a day. After two days in a warm kitchen, strain out the fruit or veggies. Place in refrigerator. Add a splash to your water during the day. If you are not used to ferments, start slowly (one teaspoon a day). Also, if there is a mistake in making it and it looks bad, smells bad, or tastes bad, don’t drink it!
These and many other ideas on how to live sustainably and independently can be found in Celeste’s Garden Delights. Visit her web site at www.celestelongacre.com.