Sunday, June 1, 2008

Digging Deep - National Cancer Survivors' Day

You might have noticed that I have included a link to a blog called The Farmer's Marketer on my side bar of recommended web sites. Full disclosure - the writer for this blog, Kim Bayer, is a new friend that I have had the pleasure to get to know this year. Kim's writing enthusiastically conveys her passion for searching out local foods, appreciation for the farmer and the farming that produces this food, and the sense of community that develops from supporting our local growers and producers.

I urge you to read Kim's blog's entry from 5/31/08 Living Food: Tantré Season Begins. I saw Kim at the Farmer's Market yesterday just before she was off to help at the Tantré Farm's CSA tent. She was grinning from ear to ear, looking just like a kid being being told to pick out what she wanted to eat at the candy store, although I think a better analogy would be Kim being told to go pick out as much as she wanted from her favorite Farmers' Market booth!

Just to give you a hint at what Kim wrote about, here are the comments I posted on her blog:
I am a sap, too. First seeing the white canopy set up for Tantre's CSA distribution yesterday and then seeing Richard behind Tantre Farm's booth at the Farmers' Market for the first time this year brought joy to my heart and tears to my eyes. Yes, the circle of life has come around again for another year. How fortunate we all are to again have the opportunity to experience passively and/or actively the best that life in Ann Arbor and everywhere else has to offer. I also just love knowing my farmers. Thanks for showing us the beautiful photo of your friend Nano.

As a cancer survivor, I do feel fortunate to be here for another year, ready to delve in and participate in another growing season. I spent the better part of yesterday digging out the remaining thistles in our community garden plot yesterday, and marveling in a disparaging sort of way at how deep their roots went. Honestly, I love thistles because they are the symbol for Scotland, the country of my Grant ancestors, and the thistle down is used for nest linings and seeds for baby bird food of one of my favorite birds, the American goldfinch. However, they do not make gardening easy! Thus it caught my attention that, as I was easing my sore muscles from all this very hard work, my husband made a comment that gave me appreciation for these deep-rooted, tenacious, prickly weeds and the value that my work and the thistles themselves would add to our future gardens! He said he just loved having them mixed into our compost pile because they were adding minerals and other parts of the soil from deep below the typical root structures of the vegetables we plant. Thus our thistle-enriched compost was potentially replacing many aspects of the soil that were depleted by last year's growth.

As a cancer survivor who has tried to "give it her all" both during treatments and recovery, I appreciated the comparison between the work involved and the short and long term benefits from digging deep to remove those thistles with the work I have done to identify and remove obstacles from my life to enhance my odds for both long-term cancer survivorship and the highest quality of life possible for me.

I do believe that the most challenging digging I have done as part of my cancer recovery effort has been to give my body more and better nutrients by changing what I ate, first by changing where I shopped (I still remember my first trip to Whole Foods Market back in 1995) plus going back to cooking much more of my own food from scratch and no longer relying on the large food companies with their increasing number of nutrient-poor processed foods to have my best interests at heart. From there, we joined a CSA (community supported agriculture) many years ago to get even closer to what Kim calls "living food", and now my husband and I have gone back to growing and preserving as much of our food as possible with hopes to do even more than we currently are able to do in our community garden.

(Aside - in the middle of writing this blog entry, I had a lengthy discussion with a neighbor who is running for City Council about his "No" position for city chickens in Ann Arbor. He thoughtfully listened to my reasons why a "Yes" vote was good for individuals and also good for both Ann Arbor and Michigan.)

In addition to growing and preserving our own food, it has been important to my husband and me to remember to take the minute or two before eating to offer a blessing and some words of thanks for our food and all those people dedicated to growing living food in order to nourish us. It's hard to know who to thank for all of the processed food items people eat these days, mistaking them for food. However, I find it both easy and pleasurable to envision the farmers who grow the delicious foods we purchase at our Farmers' Market when giving thanks and saying our blessing.

Today is National Cancer Survivor's Day (always the 1st Sunday in June). My hat is off to all of the 11 million cancer survivors in the US (24+ million world-wide). I send my best wishes to all of you for years (even decades!) of good health, healing, and hope.

For those of you reading my thoughts who are cancer survivors, what are you digging deep to find to help nurture the best odds for extending your life and optimizing the quality of your life for another year? Please feel free to share your thoughts!

Great Spirit, who hast blessed the earth
that it should be fruitful and bring forth
whatsoever is needful for the life of
man, and hast commanded us to work
with quietness, and eat our own bread;
Bless the labors of those who till the
fields and grant such seasonable
weather that we many gather in the
fruits of the earth.

Adapted from The Book of Common Prayer

Diana Dyer, MS, RD


Anonymous said...

Hi Diana--
I found your blog from Kim's blog, and realized that I saw your name on our SFHV book group list. Looking forward to seeing you at the meeting!
Patti :)

Kim said...

Hi Diana

Thanks for your generous post about your neighborhood Farmer's Marketeer and for noticing my goofy smile on Saturday. You had a pretty big smile on yourself.

As you can tell, Nano is in my thoughts these gardening and market days. I know she would LOVE your blog as much as I do - she would be keeping us company and writing one herself I suspect.



mountaingirl said...

Enjoyed this entry! It inspires me to want to grow more of my own food and visit our farmer's market each Sat.