Monday, November 11, 2013

A life without oil

Desperate times call for desperate measures. This must be what my father says to himself every time he sits down to eat. How else could he stick to a diet of food without any oil?

Two years ago he had a minor heart attack. He came home from the hospital with instructions to exercise more and eat better. I was hopeful at first when I saw him sitting at his computer researching diets for people with heart disease and saying things like, 'I have to stop eating sugar. It is my heart's enemy.' And then reality set in and he became stubborn and hopeless. He continued to eat crap food and decided if he was going to die anyway he may as well enjoy himself. Then he had a stroke. Argh.

So things had to change. And through some amazing change of heart my father decided to try a diet created by Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn. Dr. Esselstyn discovered through patient research that the western diet of eating meat, oil, and other animal products actually causes cardiovascualr disease. And if we eliminated these foods from our diets we could eliminate cardiovascular disease and other related diseases like diabetes and hypertension.

I went with my parents to hear Dr. Esselstyn speak about his research and I was blown away. He approaches the conversation from a scientific place, explaining the effects specific foods have on the human body. The most shocking piece of information the Dr. presented is that everyone raised on a western diet has the beginning of cardiovascular disease by the time they graduate from high school. Scary! I left feeling like I needed to seriously rethink the way I eat if I want to be sure I do not have a heart-related disease when I am older.

I know it sounds crazy and extreme but I am becoming a believer more and more each day my father's health is improving. When I saw him five months ago he moved as though he were 90-years-old. His hands shook and he had barely enough strength to walk. Now he is doing yard work and playing his drums again and looks more like a 59-year-old. His blood pressure has dropped significantly and he is very close to getting off of his blood pressure medicine all together. And he has lost a lot of weight. All because he stopped eating processed foods, animal products, sugar, and oil.

The coolest part of this whole transformation is that my father has remembered why he had such an appreciation for wholesome foods when he was my age. He is tasting the memories of baking his own bread and eating foods grown in the garden in his backyard. I never thought I would see my dad get so excited over a good bowl of soup. And we are making delicious food! It is incredible what can be created without oil; BBQ mushroom sandwiches and roasted potatoes, bean burritos, nicoise salad, marinara sauce with pasta, and so much more. It turns out life does not end if you can't eat meat and oil. It just becomes more interesting :)

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Ch-ch-ch-changes

Alright, its time to choose a new name for the blog because I am no longer a resident of Oakland, CA. James and I moved our dog and all of our stuff we couldn't live without across the country and are trying to make our way in to jobs in Louisville, KY. Why Kentucky? My parents live right across the river in New Albany, Indiana and I am at the point in my life where I just need to be near them. Can't really explain it other than it is where I need to be right now. And so far it has been an awesome two weeks.



Already my mom has helped me realize that I need to share more of what I know on this blog. I'm constantly learning new stuff that I think is really interesting and complaining about how hard it is for people to find a good source for information they can trust. So I am going to be a source of info for all of you out there that are interested in what is happening in my world. I know, its all you ever wanted in life. But don't look away yet because I am pretty sure you will find something worth reading and I promise to throw in a pretty photo here and there to keep things colorful.

First stop on the education train is Louisville, KY. Now most of you that know me know that I have a serious soft spot in my heart for farmers. I'm positive that in my last life I spent my days riding a horse out to my fields and growing vegetables to feed the masses. So much so that I am hoping to make it a reality sometime in the near future. In the meantime, I like to meet farmers and people that are working to help farmers. Enter Grasshoppers Distribution company.

I found out about Grasshoppers last year when I was searching for a happy turkey to purchase for our Thanksgiving meal in Louisville. James and I decided we were going to show off our culinary skills and cook dinner for the family and that required the best products Kentuckiana (yes that is a word) had to offer. Since I was doing research from California, the internet was my best tool and lucky for me, Grasshoppers is an online marketplace for locally grown food in the Kentuckiana area. I wanted to get produce from them as well but at the time they could not guarantee produce that had not been sprayed with pesticides so I decided to pass and hit up the farmer's market when I got to town. Easier said then done when all of the markets end in October because winter exists in Kentuckiana. Whoops, lesson learned.

So anyways, I was impressed with Grasshoppers, especially their staff, but wasn't totally on board since I didn't know much about their philosophy and the fact that they would supplement with sprayed veggies if they couldn't source the product from a farmer that didn't spray. Then everything changed last night.

I attended an event at the Grasshoppers office with James and my mom. It was a monthly social for the Kentucky chapter members of the U.S. Green Building Council. I met some really interesting folks, ate some delicious food, and better yet, learned a lot about Grasshoppers. They are rockstars and a great asset to this areas farmers and consumers.

Some really interesting facts about their operation:
Grasshoppers is so dedicated to helping small farmers succeed they are planning to host workshops to train farmers on; 1) inexpensive ways to build refrigeration systems at the farm so more of their goods can be sold through Grasshoppers and 2) demystifying the organic certification process. It turns out farmers in the area can get certified on the cheap because of a number of benefits offered by the state.
Grasshoppers has also created markets for farmers to grow new crops such as beans and created new revenue streams for access produce by producing items like frozen fruit and tomato sauce.

They have a personal relationship with each farm and hold their farmers to a very high standard which only aids the farmers in producing an excellent product that they define as sustainable and I define as delicious!

If only more food distribution companies were as dedicated to supporting their local farmers and providing their customers with the best food...

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

It only took 2 years

Until I saw this!
Now I just have to figure out how long I let it grow until I can eat it.
You might not know this but asparagus takes 3 seasons after it is planted to be ready for harvest. The stalks start out being very thin and each year they become thicker. Looks like this is my lucky year!