What happened to the time when we could eat food from the ground without questioning its authenticity? I was recently at a trade show and came across this booth were two ladies were representing their organic farm to passers-by. Personally I love farms and I love farmers. They are some of the hardest working people who work day in and day out to produce some of the finest foods, working sunup to sundown. As I looked through the portfolio of photos that sat on the table I noticed the many vibrant colours of their fresh vegetables and happily grazing animals, but I realized that there was one problem. This farmer could not present a license to prove their organic farming practices, because they did not have one. The lady explained that although they did follow the practices of organic farming, the cost involved in providing proof to the public was too substantial to contend with and therefore they would be forced to have to sell as "non-organic" in this legal world of terms and labels.
This really got me thinking about the total backwards way we have started to go about our food business. Why on earth would a farmer who produces his product, in an "organic" way have to have a license to prove that it is in fact “organic?” Shouldn’t you need a permit instead to tell the public if you weren’t giving them the finest quality foods, and furthermore shouldn’t you be required to pay a penalty if the food you were providing was not up to par with what nature intended. This is just my backwards way of thinking, and yes I do realise why we have to prove authenticity when it comes to food or at least the reasons we are lead to believe. Pesticide seepage, chemical sprays, unethical practices and I’m sure the list goes on. To me these seem like fear-mongering tactics designed to make us afraid of eating uncertified foods, because in reality how much money can a carrot and all the carrots after it generate if they don’t have their licenses, certification and documentation papers?
I guess the thing I’m trying to say is that maybe we need to stop looking at everything as all or nothing. If a farmer tells you that they follow organic practices even if they can’t prove it, maybe just trust what they are telling you, because even if it’s not the full truth it’s still a far step ahead of packaged, processed foods that are able to sit on shelves for months or years. I don’t think we’ve become completely unable to identify real food and we certainly have the capacity as humans to see through someone who is really trying to pull the wool over us. The least of our worries is the humble farmer who is not trying to win a campaign or change the course of nature, but is rather just trying to grow some good food to make a living for themselves and their family.
Why do we stand up so harshly against the farmer who tells you with all certainty that the food they are growing is organic-without proof? We would better invest our time and energy in fighting against GMOs and the unethical practices of major corporations who are legitimately destroying our food supply.
Nothing is absolute; nothing is perfect, so why are we so conditioned to seek perfection in everything. If we change our mentality towards focusing on the major issues that really do affect us, maybe we won’t be in the constant state of driving ourselves crazy. We don’t have to be the best, we just need to do better.
This is not a piece against organic farming or organic foods, so please don’t misinterpret my writing. I am here to support the good people, like I, who do not believe that you should have to prove the authenticity of the humble farmer’s carrot. So please, next time a farmer tells you that their food is the product of “organic” practice but are unable to produce documentation, don’t scowl or scoff at them. Take it for what it is, because there are actually good people in the world who do things the right way and maybe just don’t feel they need to have a renewable license to prove it.
We are all in this together.
and THAT is, value. When purchasing food, if it’s value that you seek…DON’T. What I mean by that is, when it comes to food, value doesn’t come in a box. Yes it may seem cheaper, but that’s not to say that you can’t get some bang for your buck when it comes to buying "real food." Most of the time food packed in colorful box packaging contain a variety of unhealthy things like additives, chemicals, artificial colours and flavours to name a few. I always hear people say that it costs so much more to eat healthy…NOT TRUE. Ya sure, those pretty boneless, skinless chicken breast will cost you a whopping $7 or $8 for 2, but did you know that most of that price is going towards paying someone else to cut and de-bone them. If you were to purchase a whole chicken for $2-3 more, you’d be getting over twice the meat for nearly the same price plus you get to keep the bones which are great for making your own stock.
Three food staples you should always have in your kitchen are; whole carrots (not baby carrots), whole bunches of celery and onions. Each of these items can be purchased in quantities of 3-5 lbs and all for under $2 each. These three items alone can add so much flavour, colour and nutrients to almost any of your meals. Plus all the trimmings can be added along with those chicken bones to make that flavourful stock, great for soups, stews and sauces.
To get back to “value,” what might seem like a “good deal” now on a packaged item, really isn’t because in the long run when it comes to you and your family’s health, value now, will cost you value in your health down the road.
If you just plan ahead and buy real foods in larger quantities instead of in convenient and expensive single portions, you can save a lot of money over the course of a year. Allow yourself to get more creative in the kitchen and allow your kids to get more involved in preparing healthy meals and soon you will find it to be so much easier. Plus you will be helping set your kids up for a healthier lifestyle based on good nutrition.
Think about this, if the food you are eating needs a commercial then you probably shouldn’t be eating it. People shouldn’t need to be convinced to buy food, because without it we wouldn’t be here, so buy the foods that nature offers. Whole foods! and don't feel bad if you can't always make a healthy homemade meal for you and your family every night of the week, just make sure that the choices you make are based on whole foods.
Think Whole. Think Health!
What another beautiful day folks and what a great day to eat some soup! I did just say that, and I'll give you a little history on why. The word "restaurant" comes from the french word restaurer, which means to restore. Beginning in the 16th century the word "restorative" was used to describe rich and highly flavoured soups or stews capable of restoring lost strength and vitality. In other words our modern day restaurant industry was born from sipping soup. Restoratives were the first items on restaurant menus since Boulanger's Restaurant in the 18th century. Broth (Pot-au-feu), bouillon and consume all began in 18th century restaurants, and it was classic French cuisine that generated many of the soups we love today. So in a way, you can think of every soup you sip today as sipping the founding part of our culinary history.
If you're not convinced yet about downing a bowl of soup on a hot summer day then here are a few more things to consider;
1) Soups are very easy to digest and aid in healing of the digestive tract. The ample amounts of nutrients found in soups, due to their usually larger varieties of vegetables, are readily absorbed and assimilated in the body.
2) Soups save you money. Unless you're eating lobster bisque on a regular basis, soups generally cost significantly less than other meals, and you can make so many different combinations. Soups are one of the best ways to utilize leftovers in the fridge or use your fresh seasonal garden vegetables. So take this into consideration; if you or your family plan on taking a vacation this summer, why not add soup regularly to your meal plan in advance and save yourself some money to go towards that sweet vacation.
3) Soups are convenient. If you make a large batch, it's so easy to portion and freeze so when those unexpected family members call you 30 minutes out of town to tell you they're coming over, you whip out the soup, toss in a pot and in less than ten minutes you impress your guests with your home cooking skills. Plus if your house is not smelling so fresh because you weren't expecting company, the aromas of the soup will cover that too.
4) Soups are an easy way of utilizing all those wonderful nutritional seasonal veggies. If you're like me, your garden sometimes produces more fresh veggies than can be eaten in a day. Usually I give some of them away, but you can easily use your over-abundance to make health hearty, whole food soups.
5) Soups help you feel cool. Sorry I don't mean that they will help you in your coolness level with your friends, but ever wonder why your mom told you to drink hot tea in the summer? Well, hot soup has the same effect. It helps your body feel cooler. If it's just way too hot out, don't worry, you can always have a chilled soup, like gazpacho, too.
So there you go, that is why I love to make and eat soup.
I was recently on the phone with a relative who was telling me about how they discovered a home remedy for water retention, swelling and inflammation, caused from arthritis, by boiling the leaves of parsley and drinking the tea it produced. This lead me to researching the health benefits of this common household herb.
I found that there was a great deal of information on parsley and its many healthful benefits and it got me to thinking, who hasn't used parsley to sprinkle or sprig over finished food? As a chef, I have found the use of parsley to be a very common one by chefs alike. It seems as though we may have been taking for granted this powerful green herb all this time. Here is a list of some of the benefits parsley has to offer;
Studies show that myristicin, an organic compound found in the essential oil of parsley, not only inhibits tumor formation (especially in the lungs), but also activates the enzyme glutathione-S-transferase, which helps the molecule glutathione attach to, and ﬁght against, oxidized molecules. Myristicin can also neutralize carcinogens like benzopyrene in cigarette smoke that can pass through the body, consequently ﬁghting against colon and prostate cancer.
Parsley is rich with an antioxidant arsenal that includes luteolin, a ﬂavonoid that searches out and eradicates free radicals in the body that cause oxidative stress in cells. Luteolin also promotes carbohydrate metabolism and serves the body as an anti-inﬂammatory agent. Furthermore, two tablespoons of parsley contain 16% of the RDA of vitamin C and over 12% of the RDA of vitamin A - two powerful antioxidants.
Along with luteolin, the vitamin C found in parsley serves as an effective anti-inﬂammatory agent within the body. When consumed regularly, they combat the onset of inflammatory disorders, such as osteoarthritis (the degeneration of joint cartilage and the underlying bone) and rheumatoid arthritis (a disease causing inﬂammation in the joints).
Healthy Immune System
The vitamin C and vitamin A found in parsley serve to strengthen the body's immune system, though in different ways. Vitamin C is necessary for collagen, the main structural protein found in connective tissue. This essential nutrient will not only accelerate the body's ability to repair wounds, but also maintain healthy bones and teeth. Vitamin A, on the other hand, fortiﬁes the entry points into the human body, such as mucous membranes, the lining of the eyes, and respiratory, urinary and intestinal tracts. Moreover, lymphocytes, or white blood cells, rely on vitamin A to ﬁght infection in the body.
A Healthy Heart Homocysteine, an amino acid that occurs in the body, threatens the body's blood vessels when its levels become too high. Luckily, the folate (or vitamin B9) found in parsley helps convert homocysteine into harmless molecules. A regular garnish of parsley can help ward off cardiovascular diseases, such as heart attack, stroke, and atherosclerosis.
Two tablespoons of parsley have a whopping 153% of the RDA of vitamin K, which is necessary for the synthesis of osteocalcin, a protein that strengthens the composition of our bones. Vitamin K also prevents calcium build-up in our tissue that can lead to atherosclerosis, cardiovascular disease and stroke.
Finally, the vitamin K found in parsley is essential for synthesizing sphingolipid, the fat needed to maintain the myelin sheath around our nerves, and therefore our nervous system as a whole.
It should also be noted that parsley does have some un-favourable side effects such as; It should not be given to pregnant women as it may result in muscle contractions of the uterus as well as uterine bleeding. Also, people who have undiagnosed or untreated kidney problems should not consume large quantities of parsley as it may result in bleeding. One should also not consume essential parsley oil in isolation as it is known to be toxic and may result in nosebleeds, bloody stools and kidney shutdown. Skin exposure to the oils of parsley may cause skin to become more sensitive to sunlight. If you have any concerns over the use of parsley, it is always best to consult with your medical adviser.
Simple ways to add fresh parsley to your healthy diet can include; adding the leaves to your soups, salads and smoothies or try brewing a 1/4 cup of loosely packed leaves to 8 -10 oz of boiling water. Simply strain the leaves and drink the tea. When trying new things it is always best to start in moderation to allow your body to adjust and adapt to the changes.
Best of wishes in health and wholeness!
I've seen the pictures several times now circulating the internet, of "homemade" vitamin waters, so I thought I would give them a try. I wasn't sure on the combos I wanted to create so I went to the grocery store and filled up a basket of organic fruits and veggies. I decided to go all organic on this one to avoid any excess pesticide seepage into my soon to be drinking water. Once I got home I sorted through my loot and came up with 5 combos. I placed them in order of favorites;
1) Watermelon, raspberry, lime, cucumber and parsley
2) Blueberry, strawberry, kiwi, pineapple and lime
3) Carrot, ginger, blackberry, orange and maple
4) Cantaloupe, blueberry, grapefruit, parsley and lemon
5) Honeydew, pineapple, cucumber, raspberry and lime
I tried each one today after letting them infuse in the fridge overnight in pure water and I have to say...I love them!!! They are so refreshing and I feel healthier just looking at all the pretty natural colors I'm drinking. After I drank each one I was in sort of a dilemma of what to do with all the remaining fruit. Of course I could have just eaten them, but that would be way too easy, so what I did was...I added an organic green tea bag to each and topped each jar back up with boiled water and then put them all back in the fridge for iced tea. One of them I saved and drank as hot tea and boy it did not disappoint. This time though, after heating the fruits and veggies up they were much softer so I'm going to save them and add them to my smoothie tomorrow morning. I highly recommend this healthy and colorful addition to your plain water and who knows maybe you too will be able to get all 8 of your daily recommended glasses.
Best wishes in health and wholeness!
Tanya is a classically trained, Red Seal Chef, and former restauranteur and caterer, with additional studies in Holistic Nutrition and business. Having food as her foundation she continues to build on her interests and knowledge base in the study of the body, mind and brain connection. She now spends her time as a Mom of twins, researcher and writer, while continuing to participate digitally in the culinary world with her company, Artisan Food Co.