Thursday, April 7, 2016

Hot Topics-The New Dietary Guidelines in 5 Lines or Less

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans are developed every five years.  The newest ones, for 2015-2020 come in the form of a government issued document that is hundreds of pages, but there are actually just five simple guidelines. Here's my version of the guidelines, followed by the actual guidelines in parentheses:

1.  You will ALWAYS eat - figure out how to do it in a healthy way.
(Follow a healthy eating pattern across the lifespan.)

2.  Eat GREAT stuff, but not too much.
(Focus on variety, nutrient density, and amount.)

3.  Skip the sugar spoon, the butter pats, and the salt shaker.
(Limit calories from added sugars and saturated fats and reduce sodium intake.)

4.  SHIFT, as in small steps, to better choices.
(Shift to healthier food and beverage choices.)

5.  What you eat and drink, the choices you make, is YOUR pattern.  Own it.
(Support healthy eating patterns for all.)

It's not complicated, so don't make it that way. Patterns, shifts, choices.  That is good advice for many areas of life.

Monday, February 29, 2016

Hot Topics: Cooked!

Read the book, love the series.  Now that non-readers can view the world that Michael Pollen brings to us so well in his many books, we are ripe for a revolution.  A "re-evolution" where we might return to our roots, our traditions.  We might give more value to the process of acquiring, processing,  preparing, and presenting food as meals, with the traditions and meanings that meals had to our ancestors. We might get it back, so we can give it back to our children.

Netflix has brought us, in the convenience of our homes, on the convenience of our schedule, in a play and resume format, many cooking and food related shows.  Fed Up was wildly popular.

I think Cooked gives us a solution to all the things that Fed Up showed is wrong, very wrong with the food system.  We, as single consumers, individuals and families, can imperceptibly impact all that is wrong, confusing, or unjust - the food industry powerhouses, food lobbyists, conflicting research, labeling laws and meaningless terms, and the like.  But, we can cook.

Cooked is not at all a how to, it goes back, way back to the "birth of cuisine".  Broken down into 4 convenient segments or 4 logical sections, cooking is presented as: fire, water. air, earth. It is food history.  It is family history.  It is societal history.  Just like the inspiration for this blog, food is part of everyday life and hundreds if not thousands of decisions a day. Cooked weaves food, and the processes of transforming it, into our culture, old and new.  You'll get a kick out of the #TBT style retro food ads and commercials.

"Fire" explores the tribal, ritualistic, basic element required to make many foods edible.  It is inspiring.  "Water" starts out as "pot cooking" and for all of you who loved the Crock Pot gals on Facebook, that is NOT what he is talking about. "Air" is about bread, leavening and the harvesting of wheat.  You will want to at least go and dig out your bread machine.  Finally, "Earth" discusses fermentation - thoroughly.

If you are seeking inspiration to grow more of your own food, develop family rituals, learn new skills in the kitchen, understand the history of food, and if you are choosing to participate a little more in your food decisions, then this is the series for you.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

What's In My Garden Now? Labor of Love

11 beds down, 5 to go!  Waiting for slightly warm and mostly dry weather to begin prepping our raised beds for planting is a sure sign of spring.  That is one of the benefits of raised beds, is that they can be worked much earlier than in-ground gardens. It is also easier to loosen weeds or to turn cover crops when the roots are shallow, before they take off for spring.

Side benefit:  Prepping raised beds is a great way to work upper arm, shoulder, core and inner thigh muscles by hoeing, weeding, raking, bending, stretching and reaching.

Chicken benefit:  They get wheelbarrow loads of weeds, tender roots, and an occasional worm or two to scratch through and continue the cycle of creating compost that returns to the garden.

I've already planted sugar snap peas, directly sown, and have some spring greens in a "hoop house".  As winter approached, we made a simple structure of PVC tubes and plastic sheeting with plastic clamps over one of the raised beds.  I planted spinach, lettuce and mustard greens - envisioning some wonderful add ins to boring winter iceberg salads.  The hoop house wasn't quite tight enough for it to get warm enough for things to grow, but seeds did germinate and some lettuce plants survived. We will re-engineer it next year. Meanwhile, I'll roll the plastic back on warm days this spring, with the ability to cover the bed as needed for cold nights.

Collards and kale seem to have survived the winter and are bouncing back with some new growth.

I top dressed a few beds with compost that is full of nutrients that will work their way down into the soil with the spring rains or that will get turned in to the soil as I plant the beds.
Looking forward to getting more seeds sown and more things started in the potting shed.  Broccoli, beets and Brussels sprouts are on my wish list!