Friday, March 25, 2011

Our Family's "Food Manifesto"

Since the joining together of our two lives as one, Jonathan and I have found ourselves increasingly burdened to deepen our understanding of food and its impact on human health. To some degree, we had each been interested in health before, but in the last 19 months as we have wrestled through health challenges that our family faces and as we have sought to better determine the values that direct the way we farm, Jonathan has come to the point where he believes that a large part of the dominion work God has given him is not just to grow food, but to help others pursue wise stewardship of the health that God has given them. Of course, any time you get involved in reformation work, it must begin at home. As a result, we sat down and wrote out a basic guideline explaining our understanding of food and it's impact on the body based on the study we have done. My next goal is to start mapping out the baby steps we plan on taking to help us reach our goal.

I wanted to share with you what we've written. A lot of these principles are based on the work of Weston A. Price, Mary Enig, and Sally Fallon.

As Christians we are called to be wise stewards of the bodies and resources God has given us.
In respect to diet this means seeking to nourish our family's health using foods in their most nutrious and natural state, as directed by wisdom.

Basic Standards and Guidelines
  • Dairy - Enjoy raw (milk, butter, cheese, etc) and fermented (yogurt, kefir, cream, etc). Avoid pasturized, homoginized and low-fat. Pasturization kills beneficial bacteria; homoginization exposes fats to rancidity and oxidation. Low-fat usually contains powdered milk as a thickener; powdered milk is processed using high heat and high pressure, conditions leading the the development of free radicals which damage DNA/RNA.
  • Animal Protein - Grassfed, free-range, pastured (some grain feed is fine). Avoid heavily grainfed, confined animals as these often have E.coli issues, Omega 6/3 imbalances and transfats. Use fats from pastured animals (duck, goose, chicken, lard and beef tallow) for high temperature cooking as they are saturated fats which remain stable at high temperatures.
  • Grains - Whole form and properly soaked (to help break down phytic acid). Avoid refined grains as these have been stripped of their nutrients and "fortified" with synthetics whose safety has not been proven.
  • Oils - Use expeller-pressed, unrefined oils (such as olive and coconut) as this method of extraction protects them from rancidity. Avoid oils processed at hight temperatures and pressures (i.e. canola oil, etc). Avoid dhydrogenated fats (shortening and margarine).
  • Sweets - Enjoy fruits in moderation. Stick to minimally processed/refined sugars (such a raw honey, rapidura/sucanant, maple syrup). Consume only minimal amounts of fruit juice. Avoid refined sugars (white and brown, corn syrup).
  • Preservatives/Preservation - Use preservation methods that protect the food's nutrients (such as lacto-fermentation, some canning, freezing, dehydrating and cold storage). Avoid foods preserved with nitrites and nitrates (such as commercial lunch meat) as they have been linked to cancer of the esophagus, stomach, large intestine, bladder and lungs.
As in everything there are/will be some inconsistencies and practical restraints in application (such as budget!).

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The 2011 Season has begun!

(Rows of Garlic Plants at the Field; photo curtesy of my Man)

It's hard to believe the new farming season has begun! The garlic planted last fall is coming up beautifully and yesterday Jonathan planted 3.5lbs of onion sets. Friday is scheduled for getting the potatoes in the ground, all 600 lbs of them! We've spent the last week cutting the potatoes, so far we've made it through half of them. Jonathan hired his siblings to do about 250 lbs and we will finish the last 50 ourselves.

The CSA checks have been coming in and we've nearly reached our goal of 45-50 shares for this year! It's always exciting to see which of our members are returning and who our new members will be. We have our steadys - faithful members who've stuck with us for the three years that we've been operating a CSA. It's usually pretty easy to tell when we've received one of our steadys' applications in the mail, because which ever of us comes in, bearing the mail is typically grinnng ear-to-ear, "Guess what? Kathy's back!" :-)
I really enjoy returning members because as the seasons come and go you get to know a little more of the person behind the share. One member whose been with us for 3 years now always brings us a morale boost, she's so enthusiastic about our produce and the hard work that Jon puts into growing it. We've also come to realize that she can't stand beets! Because of this, we try to find ways to give her options of getting other produce in place of her beets (carrots, for example). Another member, who originally organized the CSA and asked Jonathan to provide the produce for it, has been an amazing souce of wisdom and know-how when it comes to marketing and thankfully she and her husband have been very gracious to freely share their time and the knowledge they have as an effort to help support us.

Each year, as the applications roll in we find ourselves feeling very burdened and determined to be worthy of the trust and partnership of our members. This year is certainly no different in that regard, we spend our time discussing areas where we need to improve, tossing ideas back and forth as to how we can make and implement such improvements. We wonder what the season will be like, what challenges the weather will hold, in what size force the bugs will show up, if we'll be able to get the irrigation up and working (something we've had problems with for the last 3 years, hopefully it will work better this year as we've moved to a new location with a better water source!), how to keep on top of the weeds, etc.

May the Lord's blessing be on the labor of our hands!

And let the beauty of the LORD our God be upon us: and establish thou the work of our hands upon us; yea, the work of our hands establish thou it.

Psalm 90:17

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Sabbath Musings, Part 2

"And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had made; and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had made. And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it He had rested from all His work which God created and made." Genesis 2:2-3

I had always been under the impression that the command to honor the Sabbath had passed away under the Old Covenant, and that since the church was under the New Covenant we were on to "bigger and better things". I confess, I am no theologian. God-fearing men, much wiser than myself disagree passionately as to how we are to interpret and apply the scriptures of the Old Testament in the New Testament era; however, God has made clear to us that all of His word is inspired and profitable for doctrine (2 Tim. 3:16-17) meaning that the OT couldn't have just been for Israel with no application for the church whatsoever or else why did the Lord stir Paul to declare it profitable for the use of the Church?

Looking Back
As a basic foundation for this study we need to understand that Jesus Himself declared that the law would not pass away until all had been fulfilled, for He had not come to destroy the law, but to fulfill it (Matt. 5:17-19). Texts such as the book of Hebrews make clear to us Christ's fulfillment of the Levitcal priesthood and the sacrificial or ceremonial laws and passages such as 1 Timothy 1: 8-11 declare that the judicial and moral law still maintains it's authority over law-breakers. I'm afraid that to go into much more detail on that is beyond the scope of this study. But the question ought to be asked, where does the Lord's day fall into in the midst of all this? I used to believe that all the law had "passed away" and certainly without a doubt the ceremonial; at that time, I thought that the sabbath was part of the ceremonial law and therefore had most certainly been fulfilled; somehow, I was under the impression that 9 of the ten commandments still applied execpt the 1 almost smack-dab in the middle.

The ceremonial law consisted of types and foreshadows of things to come, particularily of atoning work of Christ as well as illustrative of man's utter depravity and is inability to appease the righteousness of God by his own merits. Did the keeping of the sabbath have anything to do with the above? What is it's purpose, what is it's foundation? Let's look at the passage in Exodus:

"Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: but the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God . . . for in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: where fore the Lord blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it." Ex. 20:8-11

Interestingly enough, the foundation on which God based the sabbath day was His own example of work and rest during the creation week. Looking back to that time we read,
"and God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it: because that in it He had rested from all His work which God created and made." Gen. 2:3
Prior to the giving of the Mosiac law, God had determined a day of rest (and I think the argument can be made that He also established it as a day of worship at that time), which means that even if all the mosiac law had passed away/been fulfilled the sabbath would remain, as its foundation was established before Israel was instructed at Mt. Sinai.

Context Clarifies
Consider also the position of the fourth commandment; in the first four commandments God gives specific details regarding worship: the 1st commandment fixes the object of worship ("I am the Lord thy God. . . thou shalt have no other gods before me"); the 2nd gives the means ("Thou shalt not make any graven image. . . thou shalt not bow down thyself to them nor serve them"); the 3rd explains the manner ("thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain" i.e. worship is to be given with reverence and fear); and the 4th establishes the time ("Six days shalt thou labor . . . but the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God.")
Why would the object, means and manner of worship still be in place and observed by the Church and yet the time somehow done away with?

To Be Continued in Part 3

Monday, February 7, 2011

Weekly Planning

Organization and time management, two elusive aspirations - or, at least, seemingly so. A couple months after Elise was born, I was so incredibly discouraged by my lack of ability to keep our home in perfect order, prepare meals, grocery shop, care for our little girl, help my husband with his business, nuture our marriage, and find time to rest my exhausted, nauseated, pregnant body. Jonathan  suggested I go and spend some time visiting with his mother and glean some wisdom in this area. I had a wonderful time talking with her, and Jonathan was right, having been a wife and mother for over thirty years, she had some pearls of wisdom for me. One of my favorite nuggets of counsel that she shared the value of using  a weekly schedule. She pointed me to the "Little House on the Prairie" book series and reminded me of how Ma Ingalls had a day for each of her tasks: Monday was laundry, Tuesday was ironing, Wednesday was Mending, Thursday was Churning, Friday was cleaning, Saturday was baking, Sunday was for rest. As my mother-in-law pointed out, when we don't have a set standard for our day and what we desire to accomplish, it's very easy to be overwhelmed by all the "needs" that are around us, staring us in the face. And once we find ourselves overwhelmed, it's hard to focus and get things done.

Purposeful Weekly Planning

Armed with counsel I set out to give each day a responsibility:
Monday is laundry
Tuesdy is kitchen (i.e. menu planning, food preparation and grocercy list making, organization)
Wednesday is Projects
Thursday is Shopping/Errands
Friday is Deep Cleaning (i.e. mopping, bathrooms, etc)
Saturday is Preparation for the Lord's day
Sunday is a day of rest!

One advantage with having my tasks divided by days is flexibility. For example, let's say that on Tuesday Jonathan is going out to run some errands and he wants me to come with him and do my shopping on the same day so that we can conserve gas. Not a problem, I can take a look at the rest of my week and figure out which day would be best to switch and turn into my kitchen day. However, I do try to get back onto my regular routine the next week.

Hindrances and Challenges

I have found that one of the quickest ways to get off track is to begin a new day with a disorderly home. One of my goals is to have the house picked up and straightened each night before I go to bed. Dishes need to be done, toys put away, clothes away, any projects I had out need to go to their homes, any straightening of couch pillows or throw blankets, etc. Believe it or not, this can be a lot more challenging than it seems, or at least, it can be for me. I find that I have one major pitfall in this area: The temptation to "take a break". While a break is good and needful, if I sit down, I tend to get distracted and/or I realize how tired I really am and lose all motivation to get back up and do any tidying. Some days it's a matter of "going to the ant, thou sluggard, consider her ways and be wise". I try to motivate myself by remembering that the virtuous woman, "looketh well to the ways of her household", and that in the end, giving just a little bit more of myself before my day is done will be a blessing when I wake the next day and face my tasks with a clean and orderly environment to work in.
Another challenge comes when I begin a new day with the previous day's projects incomplete. I try to fix this by paying attention to which days I am most likely to have an overabundance of work that will flow over into the next day. To illustrate: for me, it makes sense to have my project day follow my kitchen day. The projects that I have are ones that I can take my time with, such as putting together Elise's baby book, working on mending Jon's jeans, sewing projects . . . you get the idea. Because of this, I am able to handle other tasks, or even switch the focus of my day for that week, to pick up where I left off Tuesday. Also, Saturday, as preparation for the Lord's day tends to be a simpler day and therefore can handle any overflow from Friday.

Establishing God-Honoring Priorities

We do have to be careful not to overdo it and compromise our health or safety. I am constantly learning to decipher those days when I truly cannot, or better yet, should not push myself for the sake of my physical health. There are those days when the body has taken all the beatings it can safetly bear; on such days, it's best to do a quick tidy and go rest. By way of example, on such days I might just confine all the dishes to one counter, wipe down the others and not worry about anything else.

Other days, we may find ourselves going through seasons of sickness. We are just now working our way out of one such season right now. Elise had a fever, ear problems, and respiratory difficulties last weekend. Guess what? The dishes sat unattened, sweeping wasn't done, that's okay! I am working on catching up now, and I must add, that I am incredibly blessed with a husband who has been helping to restore order and get laundry under control as well!

The last point, which frankly, is probably most important is prioritizing my husband and his needs above having a tidy home. And to meet those needs, whatever they may be, with joy and without being distracted about the dirty dishes.

Pressing On

I don't have everything "under my belt" in regards to carrying out my daily/weekly tasks. I am still learning how to best manage my time so that I am not frantically trying to make my grocery list Thursday morning before heading to the store (for me, I tend to draw serious mental blanks if I do this) :-)
While I am not perfect, while I can't offer years of wisdom and experience, I do hope that my feeble efforts can encourage and inspire others in the quest to be a wise manager of the limited time that God has given us.


"So teach us to number our days,
that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom."
Psalm 90:12

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Vintage Remedies Giveaway!

Interested in some tools to help you care for your family using
the natural means God has given us in creation?

Vintage Remedies is giving away 3 monetary gift certificates and five copies of their book,
"The Kitchen Herbal". I highly encourage you to go check it out and enter the giveaway!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Sabbath Musings, Part 1

I wasn't born into a Christian household and neither were either of my parents; both dad and mom came to salvation after my brother and I had joined the family. As new converts, we were starting with a completely blank slate: pretty much all of Christianity was foreign to us and we were like dry sponges: we soaked up every bit of knowledge and instruction we could get our hands on.

It seems to me that the majority of the Church in America is dispensational in theology, so it's no surprise that the first church we joined, and subsequently every church we've been in since, was dispensational and as such it was this thinking that shaped our understanding of scripture, it's application and interpretation. A good chunck of the Old Testament was thrown out the window, labled as "Applicable to Israel Only" and one precious truth/doctrine that was thus discarded as "fulfilled" was that precious teaching of scripture regarding the Sabbath. We based our belief on Romans 14:5,
                                "One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind"

We basically believed that Romans 14:5 taught that so long as we were "persuaded" we had no biblical obligation to observe the sabbath as a day of rest from our labors. Of course we were not to forsake the gathering together of ourselves (Heb. 10:25) and so we attended church on Sunday, but it wasn't uncommon for us to stop at the store and pickup goat feed or groceries, or even go out to eat on the way home. We also often used Sunday like any other day of the way to get chores done, specifically ones that required dad's help as he had the day off. So we had a 7 day work week of sorts.

And then, I met, fell in love with, and married Reformed Baptist, Pennsylvania farmer.

Jonathan, using his oft quoted principle for undertanding the scriptures, "the clear must interpret the unclear, not the other way around" helped me to understand that Paul was not speaking of the Lord's day in Romans 14:5.

In this series on "Sabbath Musings" I am hoping to show you what Paul was referring to in Romans 14:5 and why we are still to observe a day of rest and worship based on the scriptures. Will you join me?

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Communicating with our Children

Elise and I are home from the gathering of the Church this morning as neither of us are well. Jonathan and I thought it would be wisest not to expose Elise to any more germs than necessary during this time so that her body can focus on healing itself.

I've been listening to the Bradrick family's messages on "Raising Godly Children in an Ungodly World" this morning while my baby girl is napping and, wow! have I been so challenged and encouraged in my role as a mother! Specifically I've been listening to Susan Bradrick as she talks about the training of children from birth to 3 months, which while I missed that opportunity with Elise I plan to take advantage of it with this new little one that we are expecting in June :-) Although, the point needs to be made, that while Elise is past the ideal time for the training that Susan lays out, she still needs these basic truths to be structured into her life:
- Establishing Communication/Relationship
- Time for Mommy and Daddy to be wrestling in prayer for the wisdom to discern her personality, her strengths, weaknesses and her sin nature so that she can be trained rightly.

Susan shares how we build a relationship with such a tiny, helpless infant by communicating with them through talking, not at them, but with and to. For example, rather than just giving instructions, or talking for the sakes of hearing ourselves talk, speak things such as, "Oh, you woke from your nap! Mommy is so happy to see you awake and cheerful. Why don't we change your diaper?" etc. It is sharing our thoughts, ideas and desires with our children.
We communicate not only through words but through our tones and responses, our actions, the world we 'create' for them, family relationships, music, scheduling, etc.

Overall I was amazed at how much we communicate without even realizing it! I was inspired to really put forth the effort to redeem my time with my daughter and communicate to her in all of life the goodness of God.

I hope to come back and address a few more of her points in detail, they were just so good! However, right now, Elise is up and  in need of her mommy. . .