Tuesday, February 26, 2013

"Get a border collie!"

From the comment section following today's NYTimes article about the benefits of a Mediterranean diet for reducing risk of heart attacks is this precious sentence from a woman named Carole who is in her 80's: 

"I have my own remedy for avoiding the "grim reaper" as long as possible. It's called "get a Border Collie", and make sure he or she gets enough exercise!! Be sure you keep up with the dog!"

I gave that comment a 'thumbs-up' rating! 

Phoebe, half Aussie and half Border Collie, keeps us on the run, being both faster than we are and also smarter than we are. 

Garlic, kale, mostly locally grown foods (no olives grown in Michigan), cooking, no (minimal) junk and processed foods to eat, our farm, family and friends, and our dog are our 'secret' to happiness and hopefully will also contribute to our longevity and a rich quality of life. (big smile here.........)

Ok, Phoebe, let's get outside and run, even with the rain, sleet, and the snow on its way today!

Cultivate your life - you are what you grow - inch by inch, row by row,

Diana Dyer, MS, RD 

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Junk 'food' is just junk!

‎"What I found, over four years of research and reporting, was a conscious effort — taking place in labs and marketing meetings and grocery-store aisles — to get people hooked on foods that are convenient and inexpensive. "

From the New York Times article The Extraordinary Science of Junk Food, written by Michael Moss. 

This is a lengthy article, with many thoughtful comments. It is worth taking the time to read it, but it will not contain much new information for anyone who has read my blog for a couple of years. 

However, it will very likely help you understand who is laughing all the way to the bank and has been for decades at the expense of the public's health. I hope reading it will help my readers be even more committed to growing, buying, cooking, and eating healthy foods.

I don't feel like I have anything new to add here. I wrote similar thoughts recently in two posts about 'drudgery', i.e. cooking (here and here) and back in 2010 (Junk "Food" from the Term Junk Food). I don't have a 'tag' that says 'junk food rant' ( - smile - ), but if I did, I could probably easily find a few more posts going back several years on my blog. 

Here's a question for all of my readers, including all my dietitian friends and dietetic students and interns. How do you define the term 'food'? Can we agree to stop using the term 'junk food' ??!!

Cultivate your life - you are what you grow - inch by inch, row by row,

Diana Dyer, MS, RD

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Drudgery follow up

I haven't heard from anyone (yet) who is thinking that I sounded like an 'old fuddy duddy' in yesterday's post, stuck in out-dated ideas and feelings. In fact, I have heard just the opposite.

I often include food blessings, words of gratitude, when I post up a recipe. I am grateful beyond the words used.

Maybe I feel things differently because I have had entire months of my life when I was too ill to eat food, to chew food, to lift up a fork, to cut my food, to swallow food, let alone actually stand up in the kitchen to prepare food to feed myself or my family.

Maybe I see things differently because of my education and love for biology, the environment, food and nutrition, having a glimpse of understanding of the connectedness of all these parts of our world, and the necessity of keeping those parts in balance for full functioning.

Maybe I appreciate the hands and hearts of all who have helped bring me the food that nourishes my body and soul because I understand the work and love required to grow good food.

So even without posting a recipe today (one is in the draft box, just waiting for me to download photos), I will leave you with two of my favorite food blessings that capture my thoughts expressed above and expand upon my thoughts in yesterday's post about 'drudgery in the kitchen'. Most likely I have already used them in a past blog post somewhere during the past several years, but I have enjoyed re-reading them this morning (indeed, savoring the words and images) and hope you will also.

As our bodies are sustained with this food
May our hearts be nourished
With true friendship
And our souls fed with the truth.

From the book A Grateful Heart

The food which we are about to eat
Is Earth, Water, and Sun, compounded
Through the alchemy of many plants.
Therefore Earth, Water, and Sun will 
become part of us.
This food is also the fruit of the labor of
many beings and creatures.
We are grateful for it.
May it give us strength, health, joy.
And may it increase our love.

~~ Unitarian Grace

Agree or disagree, I hope I have given my readers some 'food for thought'.

Cultivate your life - you are what you grow, inch by inch, row by row,  

Diana Dyer, MS, RD

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Drudgery?? Really??

From the home page of the New York Times today:

New services are delivering ready-to-cook ingredients for recipes that can be made quickly, the latest innovation to promise Americans relief from kitchen drudgery.

Relief from kitchen drudgery? Really?

I didn't even read the rest of the article, or the comments. The photo and intro of the article appeared to be focusing on promoting every possible service and/or gadget for sale that people could use instead of doing any planning or cooking themselves, let alone enjoying the process of cooking, which does not need to be lengthy or difficult to be satisfying and delicious.

Don't get me wrong. I understand being tired, being time-challenged. After all, those reasons are the premise being marketed to us as the whole idea behind the creation and 'desired use' of processed, convenience, fast foods, and even eating in restaurants or doing take-out/drive-through for meals.

I just feel that something is lost in the bigger picture of the lifestyle that is part of this crazy, tired, busy life along with the creation and marketing of products and services to keep that treadmill going!  (Here is one post - Why don't people cook? - where I have shared some of these thoughts in the past.)  

Perhaps I was already on 'edge' because I already read earlier today another article in the New York Times that was the summary of yet another report extolling the need to change our research priorities regarding cancer, from treatment to prevention, and how little we are doing in that regard. (Here is one post where I have commented on the President's Cancer Panel of 2010 in the past, and the big yawn with which that report was greeted by the media.) 

It's as if our lives are all moving too fast to call a halt to the current treadmill to really look at our lives, the way we are spending our collective dollars, and the burden that cancer puts on individual families and society at large. (Maybe we're all too tired, have no time, plus actively even encourage and support the profits being made on gadgets and services rather than taking the time to cook simply.)

I know I am likely sounding like a broken record (and perhaps even an old fuddy-duddy). I have written on all these topics in the past, several times (see links above for two past posts), trying to tie together a world where fast, convenient, synthetic, processed, etc is the norm being marketed to us contrasted with my views that somehow I think "there is something rotten in Denmark". 

Yet I am not alone. My read of the landscape, i.e. my ear on the street, says cancer survivors are no longer buying (i.e. believing) that somehow this busy lifestyle, these chemicals, these products are not all connected to the misery that cancer leaves in its wake. I know this from my contacts across the country, even the world, with both cancer survivors and the research community. 

Changing our diet, exercising everyday, meditating to handle stress better, reducing stresses in our lives where possible, living life with purpose is not the whole story for cancer survivors and is certainly not the whole story for cancer prevention. Don't let the experts come to town to tell you that 'if only you will.................fill in the blank, you can prevent cancer.' I'm afraid that neither cancer prevention nor cancer survivorship is that simple, nor should the entire responsibility be on one individual's shoulders.  

And while the last sentence of the NYTimes article highlights the available vaccine to prevent cervical cancer, please, please, please do NOT believe that a vaccine is the answer to preventing breast cancer, which would only give permission to continue the current 'business as usual', the use of toxins on our food, in our soil, in our cosmetics, and on and on, which contributes to an almost unavoidable environmental exposure of a dizzying and complex array of synthetic molecules used in everyday things and processes that have had virtually no testing in meaningful ways (i.e. low levels in combinations) that relate to cancer development in real life (this might be my longest sentence, ever, sorry about that - arghhh!).

I repeat. I understand being tired, being 'time-challenged'. After all, I needed to hire someone to cook for us last summer during our busiest part of the growing, harvesting, and marketing season.  

However, I'll say it simply and plainly. I do not view any aspect of cooking as drudgery, and I find it deeply disheartening that the New York Times gives credence to that mind-set. What a missed opportunity. Words are powerful. I much prefer to think of cooking as love and nurturing, besides knowing the food will be delicious. :) 

I have used the following quote from the New York Times itself before, but I believe it so much that I will end with it again. 

When we put on the apron, we are nurturing. 
This is not work; it’s love. 

Carol Nicklaus - Danbury, Conn.
(from her Letter to the Editor, New York Times, Sept. 25, 2011)

Cultivate your life - you are what you grow (and cook), inch by inch, row by row,

Diana Dyer, MS, RD