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