This is a cute, concise infographic from Delicious Living about what things increase life expectancy and also what decreases life expectancy. You might recognize the style from a certain board game of your youth which is pretty darn clever. I think the most interesting part of this graphic is the part about most centenarians being mostly vegetarian with little meat included in their diets. I think the idea of aging well is often not included when people think about their diet and in particular ‘dieting’. Anyway~ can you guess the game?
This weekend I was kind of half-listening to NPR while I was prepping gluten-free bread for the week when what someone said about soil caught my attention. He brought up the fact that our ancestors actually ate a lot more soil than we do now, and that soil was also far more loaded with healthy microbes than it is now. That makes complete sense when you think about how much more people used to grow their own food (and therefore ate it right out of the ground) and how much healthier that dirt used to be before commercial fertilizers and pesticides became commonplace, and before the earth was as polluted as it is now. Our grandparents and our great-greats must have thought of dirt quite differently too, seeing it as a fundamental part of the food chain instead of something to be scrubbed off and sanitized away. I looked for the interview I heard this weekend so I could listen to it with my full attention, but unfortunately could not find it, though I did find this article on The Splendid Table about the importance of good soil and getting our bodies in it and it in our bodies. Of course, that is assuming the soil is healthy soil, not soil that has been polluted with “junk food” fertilizers as a Delicious Living article put it.
To keep soil healthy for future use and to make the plants grown in it healthier and therefore those that eat those plants healthier, it’s important to use natural fertilizers that actually build up the soil and plants instead of conventional fertilizers that provide quick fixes. The slow food movement would certainly concur with that. Let’s build up the soil, the plants, and our bodies as nutritionally as possible with the understanding that it all starts with the dirt.
It seems the longer gluten is publicly examined, experimented with, demonized and glorified, the more probiotics are studied for their possible help with gluten sensitivity as well as IBS and all other digestive issues, plus a myriad of other issues as diverse as schizophrenia and the common cold. It certainly seems a well-stocked, diverse microbiome is fundamental to a healthy body, which actually makes me think of gardening. Every gardener knows a healthy garden starts with healthy soil, and the microbial bits of that soil are what make the difference between ‘meh’ and “oolala!” Our bodies are the same, depending heavily on the microbial system for optimum health. Personally, I’m aiming for “oolala” as opposed to “meh.”
In the Delicious Living article, Getting to the Gut of Gluten Sensitivity, the fact that gluten intolerance can be helped by probiotics is discussed, along with the fact that which probiotics work best is still unknown and most likely varies from person to person. This is yet more evidence to support changing your probiotics in order to get the most variety and potency from your supplementation. After all, we all want the best results for our efforts, right? The article also makes the excellent point that it might not be the gluten in wheat (and other things) that some people are reacting to, but instead the FODMAPs as they are commonly known. To put it simply, it might be the carb in the wheat instead of the protein (gluten) that many people have a hard time digesting. For more information on the low-FODMAP diet, Delicious Living has a great One-Week Low-FODMAP Meal Plan which is a super way to try out the eating style because the lists of OK foods and off-limits foods can be daunting at first. Another great resource for all things low-FODMAP is FODMAP Life Blog which has all the lists you need and recipes so you know what to do with those lists.
Enjoy spring springing and all the changes that come about as you tend to your own personal biosphere. Everyone loves a beautiful garden.
This has been the hottest, driest summer I have ever seen in western Washington. We are in a drought, another first for as long as I’ve lived here, and the ‘evergreen state’ is starting to look like its cousin to the south, much further south, like southern California without the sandy beaches. In a region where A/C is not the norm it has made for a very difficult season to get excited about making dinner as that is when it is generally hottest and the sun streams into our large front windows from about 2-7:00 in the evenings just in case we forgot that it was shining, yet again, in the city known for cloud-cover and rain. It is truly strange to see so much straw-colored grass where there has always been green. It’s playing tricks on my eyes and I have to remind myself that this is indeed, the greater Seattle area. This displaced feeling comes over me most often when at the off-leash area of Marymoor park and I find myself pulling out my phone camera to document the change in climate because, Toto, we’re right where we’ve always been, it’s the earth that is changing. This chamomile is thriving though:
There were actually clouds this day, but not many people. The boys thought the park looked ‘desolate’.
One word~ dry.
I’m curious if this trend will continue, and if so what it means for our parks and botanical gardens. Apparently the big botanical gardens are already contending with global climate change and having to rethink their gardens. I’m not surprised.
The boys were excited to plant vegetables and herbs in the garden for Earth Day. I hope they are just as excited to eat them this summer. My older one will be for sure. If you are wondering which one is older, look for the blue stripes and boss-man brow. More and more people are asking me if they are twins, much to their chagrin. One thing about my younger son, though he be picky he is still growing like a weed. Or it might be better to say, growing like a misunderstood wild herb. Little dandy lions.
It is so fun to walk around town or on the trails and see the wild herbs growing. These little beauties are Burdock.
At least I’m about 95% sure they are Burdock…it’s been over 15 years since I harvested that particular herb so I’m not 100% sure, although I’ve dug up enough roots to be fairly certain. The roots are used for cleansing the liver and blood, which makes it a skin purifier too. If you have skin issues, you might think about looking into adding Burdock tea or tincture into your daily routines, although not every herb is right for every person even if the condition is a correct fit. For example, some herbs are warming while others are cooling, or drying rather than hydrating, and these things can affect the whole person and be exactly what the body needs, or exactly the opposite. It is definitely worth checking in with a naturopath, herbalist, or a doctor who knows about these things before jumping on an herbal supplement. Naturopaths and herbalists are also invaluable for suggesting brands that are what they say they are, and knowing which brands are the most pure, and/or organic, farm-grown or wild-harvested. It’s a shame that the cheaper brands are often adulterated or not even what they are supposed to be inside the bottle, but there are reputable companies out there, you just need to ask the right people which companies are the best. Of course, you could always grow your own, and people have been harvesting from the wild since the beginning of humankind.
I don’t recommend harvesting your own from public property such as trails though, because you never know what is in that soil and it may or may not be legal anyway, even though herbs are often considered weeds. But you certainly can harvest away on your own property, or on a friend’s. It’s sure nice to spot these wild lovelies growing in the middle of our urban world though. It reminds me of the resiliency of nature, and the fact that the earth is alive always creating, even in winter.
Did you know that flies actually live a lot longer than 24 hours? They can apparently live for about a month, which is closer to 720 hours. It must be true, I found this out on the internet. Sarcasm aside, it really must be a myth about the 24 hours because we’ve had the biggest, freakiest fly in our house for three days now, and it has made itself known all 72 hours it’s been visiting us. It’s so fat that my oldest can’t believe how fast it is, he thinks it should be like a Garfield Fly where it sleeps all the time and waits to be served lasagna. I told him maybe it is all muscle and some kind of super fly, a hero in the insect world. He said no, it just seems to want to be our pet. I have to agree, it follows us upstairs and downstairs, in and out of rooms, noisily adding a buzzing soundtrack to our home life and stealthily remaining just out of arms reach, or rolled up magazine reach to be more honest. We are trying to encourage it to go outside, I don’t want to kill it b/c it would make such a nasty mess I can’t even imagine, so we are leaving doors open and swatting it towards them, but that just never works and we end up feeling frustrated and foolish, Superfly laughing haughtily in the corner. Anyway, despite the new ever-present presence in the house, I did want to share a good news infographic from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, by way of the Edible Schoolyard Project. It shows improvement in kids’ lunches but I think the real news is that when kids actually have healthy choices they are more likely to eat healthy foods. It’s another myth that kids will always choose the pizza over the salad bar. Just like adults, kids want to make healthy choices, maybe not all the time, but if there is no healthy choice, then it will be none of the time. And that’s no myth.
I had a strange experience last week when I went to my youngest son’s music class presentation. It was beyond cute of course, with all the second graders sounding angelic although I know they are often quite a devilish group as I’ve seen them enough in other settings. But sitting in the metal folding chairs as they sat on the floor or walked around singing, something else struck me besides the sweetness of it all~ when I looked at them each individually, as in really looked at them, they mostly looked kind of…sickly. Granted it was the end of the day and also the end of the week so they had reason to be tired, and maybe the lighting is not the best in their brand new school, but it seemed odd to me that they could all look so sluggish and lacking vibrancy considering their youth. My own son’s cheeks were flared up with the pink that signifies something is bothering him allergy-wise, either the carpet or something he ate, or who knows what, but that is what made me start looking at the other kids. There was one girl who looked completely healthy, alert, and engaged and I happen to know that this girl always looks that way or at least she does at library time where I help out and also field trips and parties, before and after school. She is just that kind of girl who notices everything and is part of everything and probably questions her teachers and parents ad nauseam. She was seriously the only one. The other kids were a mixture of eyes with dark circles, half closed eyes, wandering eyes and hands, bad skin, rashes, confused and disengaged looks, and tired faces and bodies. It made me wonder about kids, schools, and health. Is the modern school a healthy place for our students? Do they get enough outdoor time? Are they eating good food? Are we doing our best to help them learn? I don’t know, it just bothered me to see a bunch of second graders that just didn’t look vibrant and vivacious. They are too young not to be! The edible schoolyard project is one place to look for answers though my kids’ school has put me off for two years now when I’ve brought up planting a garden there. The students would get so much out of it, not the least of which would be a bit more good health. One bright eyed bushy tailed student out of 21 is not enough.
This little girl explains why to eat organic in visual terms that anyone can understand.
What’s good for the earth is good for the human…
The other day my two sons and I were on a walk and as usual, my older son was talking while the younger one and I quietly listened. The truth is, I don’t always listen as well as I should because one can only take in so much information about video games, YouTube, and unfamiliar book characters, but on that day he said something that caught my attention. He asked, “Have you ever heard that saying: Give a man a fish and he eats for a day, teach him to fish and he eats for a…” “Lifetime” I filled in for him. Yes, I’d heard it of course, and was delighted we could have a real conversation talking about what that saying actually means. It got me thinking about school gardens, and how that’s exactly why they are so important~ not only do they teach kids about growing food. (Chances are they are not going to be in a situation that requires them to grow their own food or they’ll starve, but then again you never can be sure.) But more importantly, it teaches them where food comes from, what it should taste like, and to develop a positive relationship with food as it grows and helps them grow. Once you taste a homegrown tomato it’s really hard to eat something that tastes like what most grocery stores sell. So, I think we could actually modify the original saying a bit more to say: Give a person a tomato and he eats for a day, teach him to grow a tomato and he eats well for a lifetime. My favorite site on this subject is The Edible Schoolyard Project. Check it out when you are in the mood for a little inspiration.