Keeping current in wellness, in and out of the water
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I am extremely happy to see the popularity and creativity devoted each week to #MeatlessMonday. This idea is catching on fast with all kinds of people. I am not sure why this trend has caught the attention of everyone. Do they notice because they want better health, the end to the suffering of the animals, or because they want a better outcome for the planet? Whatever it is, the world is starting to understand the benefits of plant based diets. When I gave up eating animals in North Carolina in 1969 I was viewed as subversive at the very least. I have eaten some fish and a few bites of a chili dog (circa 1970) since my decision on Easter of 1969 to become a vegetarian. Since that time the regular diet of my fellow Americans has steadily slid down a very unhealthy slope of factory farming and addiction to foods and drinks devoid of nutrients and full of chemicals.
I credit my good health to my dietary regime, although it has not been perfect. Too much strict avoidance of anything sets up a magnetic attraction to the forbidden. Meat is not forbidden for me, but I would never want to eat a dead animal. I still eat dairy, honey and eggs although I do see the vegan alternatives as better and worth trying. I do make more vegan cuisine than ever before, and may someday embrace it fully. For now, Monday will suffice for inspiration and dedication to the vegan cause. What I love about this trend is the ease with which anyone can find information, recipes, and guidance. I love the website TryVeg.com, full of helpful tips for anyone interested in the subject.
I have never found that bugging people to follow my diet was an effective way to approach this. I am a great cook, and would rather seduce them with gourmet succulence than beat them over the head with the cruelty issue. I encourage you to find a recipe today, or any day, under the hashtag #MeatlessMonday. See why the vegans are all the rage. Bon Appetit, gentle reader.
Today we enjoyed the beautiful weather for family fun at the Tucson Village Farm Harvest Festival. This wonderful working and teaching farm regularly hosts kids on field trips and in special camps. Kids as young as toddlers come with parents to learn about gardening through educational programs designed for them. Food to eat from the site is always included and is often a hands on part of the kids’ experience. I have been to the garden when kids were in a class. The reaction of the students was unanimously delighted. The environment is perfectly created to make the educational impact young students need to improve diets and maybe even the health practices of the entire family. Today many families came out to be part of the festivities which were delightfully focused on farming fun.
University of Arizona students on the farm staff were on hand today selling produce, directing traffic, and being helpful and informative. They were clearly enjoying this day of celebration with the public. The ratio of very young children to adults was high, and the youngsters were all having a real blast. Special activities such as popcorn shucking were ongoing during the day to give families a chance to do some farming/playing with the kids. I believe the farm always does a good job of fulfilling the important educational mission they undertake. This party went above and beyond the everyday excellence. Staff and volunteers did an excellent job of planning and executing a wonderful public event.
Planting by the moon is a simple way to increase your luck at growing anything. By planting annuals bearing fruit above the ground during the waxing phase of the moon ( new to full), and sewing plants that bear under the ground during the waning moon ( full to new) we follow ancient traditions of horticulture. To easily determine in what phase of the moon you find yourself, remember this rule: Crescent moon makes the shape of the letter C when the moon is on the wane. The moon has the shape of a capital D when it is on the rise. Think DOC–first D– then full moon–then C to remember the sequence.
Medicine was tightly constrained by local botany in history, limited to plants available and known. The natures of the plants were studied and knowledge of remedies was shared. However, before transport of goods became easy people used local plants as medicine because they had both access and some empirical evidence of the medicinal qualities. Astrology was part of pharmacology and medicine. Gardens and buildings were designed with healing and astrology in mind. Today there are ways to incorporate the heavens into garden design. The medicine wheel is one way to express the seasons and the heavenly connections. At Plimouth Plantation in Plymouth, MA a humoural garden is planted to display the relationship the Pilgrims had with plants and healing. They considered the relationship of the plants to the humors of the body. They had to rely on the plants they brought with them and those that the native people showed them.
Some gardens are designed to feature the four directions, or the elements. If you had unlimited time and money to create a symbolic garden what would you plant in it? What kind of medicine would you practice? I am fond of all the aromatic plants, so I have a vast array of herbs and flowers that can be used in tea, baths, cooking, and now in bitters. The creativity you invest in a garden returns to you many times.
Our society is experimenting with self sustaining living. In recent decades focus has changed from local production of food and goods to a transportation heavy supply chain. We now pay little to produce our goods in countries with lax labor laws and spend fortunes shipping those goods around the globe. The skills of preserving food, and even growing food have been lost to a great extent, but there is new interest in reviving local farming and local cuisines. Popular classes and books are teaching:
These alternative practices offer students ways to save money and become more creative. Learning new skills can reap big benefits for society as well as individuals. The future will be shaped by the habits we develop now. Communities focused on improving local, self-sustaining economies are becoming more common. The trend is strong and, in my opinion, will grow in the future. Have you made any changes in your own life to create a more self sustenance?
We are fortunate to have a wonderful teaching farm in Tucson, and I am lucky it is very close to my home. I visited the Tucson Village Farm during the U Pick hours on Tuesday this week. It is much more than I thought it was. This campus is organized to teach kids how to grow, prepare, and eat organic produce. Much is said about slipping healthy ingredients into the kid’s meals, but this is teaching an appreciation for the real thing. I picked lovely greens and tasted a really good salad made from the garden while I was there. I was pleased to see that many of the customers picking while I was there were kids and parents. This is a natural way to teach the love of gardening and good health.
There is no better way to eat than farm to table. It is encouraging to find this worthy institution making a difference in our city. The food is tasty, too.
I was a born farmer, entitled to play with everything on my grandparent’s farm. While my parents pitched in to help, I was given free reign of the place. My grandparents, Olga and Ernest Morse lived and farmed in Lincoln, Arkansas at the end of their lives after careers in teaching (my grandmother had a masters in education) and oil well drilling ( my grandfather drilled for oil before the rotary bit was invented). I did not know them before they had the farm, so I always think of them as farmers.
Here is my look in 1960, on Christmas at my grandparents’ farm in Arkansas…very American Gothic in my opinion:
I met my cousin Mary in Tulsa a couple of years ago to trace the heritage of our mutual great grandmother. We did not remember that we had met in 1964 at her grandfather’s house in Iowa. Our grandfathers were brothers who followed different paths. They both did migrant labor as very young boys, traveling to work picking corn in Iowa and beyond.
Uncle Ed sent this postcard to his brother Ernie telling him about Emma.
Ed sealed the deal when he married the farmer’s daughter in Council Bluffs, Iowa
My grandfather returned to the Cherokee Strip to marry Olga Scott and drill oil wells, creating two different paths for the future.
What are the personal services you use in daily life? You may not be aware of all of them. If you buy prepared foods, that preparation has been done for you. You know if you hire a child care helper or manicurist that you are buying personal services. It is hard to find all the ways others contribute skill and time to our daily lives. Compared to primitive self reliance our modern lifestyle is comprised of paying more for labor and transportation than we pay for goods. Many have lost the skills needed to make anything from scratch. Farming in the US is a prime example. We are running out of people who know how to grow food as this profession declines rapidly in young people. If we don’t train or import some people to do the service of farming we will face serious problems.
My grandparents owned a farm when I knew them so I was exposed to the milk cow, the beef cows, the pigs, the gardens, and even to the butter churn. I lived in the city of Tulsa but considered the grandparents spread in Arkansas where was assistant farmer on the weekends to be extremely romantic. I rode a mule and shot a rifle. I thought of myself as very Annie Oakley when I was about 5. My parents had grown up without modern 1950’s conveniences and liked the idea of jet setting rather than farming. They enjoyed the country club and the University Club, and garden club, and host of other urban activities that Tulsa and Pittsburgh offered them. They did not seem lazy to me, but they certainly had a different style when it came to personal services than my grandparents had. There was no way they would ever own a mule or live next to a barn. They were over all of that. They were urban, upwardly mobile, and believed themselves to be super liberated. I suppose they were.
Every generation acquires some new skills and drops others that no longer serve the moment. It is a great idea to stay abreast of technology, move with the times, and accept the reality of now. In some phases of life, however, it is healthy, good, and indeed necessary to play a creative skillful part in carefully designing reality. If one chops no wood and carries no water the disconnection from source becomes disabling. The spirit has no dwelling in a world that offers only convenience. The soul requires art, and the spirit creates those artful moments that last in memory. One’s own self realization can’t be purchased, downloaded or installed. There is no service that can impart the satisfaction derived from self expression. Once practiced, polished and realized each one of us has a gift of powerful personal charism to offer to all the sentient beings. We can only hope that some young Americans find a vocation in farming.