Friday, May 29, 2009

Gotta love the Elders!


Our church calling here in Gillette has been as Ward Missionaries and consequently we get to have the Elders over pretty often. Sunday evening Elders Finn and Morrell decided to have a little fun with my sword and bow. Oh, and they threw in my birthday gag-gift sun glasses for good measure. Pretty awesome, eh?

Sunday, May 24, 2009

A Video For Rachelle

video

Since Rachelle was complaining that I don't put enough pictures of Ravenna on the blog, here is a video of Ravenna playing "fort" in our entertainment center. Right now it is her favorite game and she will do it in any small space that she can rip everything out of and crawl into. The other day I found her on the shelf of her changing table, and the day before that in the computer cupboard. I really should take more pictures!

An unfortunate side effect of this fort playing is that she likes to stash things in her "forts" for safe keeping. We still can't find our remote control. Oh, and try not to listen to the background noise of Andrew chatting on the phone with his sister, Lauren. He was upset because I discovered what my very excellent birthday gift was: an iPod Touch.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Why Eat Organic?

Lately I have had a number of people ask us why we think it is important to eat organic/whole food products versus conventionally grown/processed food, and I don't think that I was able to give them a satisfactory answer. Having recently read two amazing, well-researched books related to the subject, In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto, by Michael Pollan, and Animal, Vegetable Miracle: A Year in Food Life, by Barbara Kingsolver, I feel that I am better equipped to answer those questions.

We started eating organically grown produce when I was pregnant with Ravenna. There is something about creating life within you that makes you value what you put into your body so much more. Here are some of the reasons why we choose organic:

1) Organically grown produce is higher in nutrients than conventionally grown produce
"...USDA figures show a decline in the nutrient content of the forty-three crops it has tracked since the 1950's. In one recent analysis, vitamin C decline by 20 percent, iron by 15 percent, riboflavin by 38 percent, calcium by 16 percent. [...] To put this in more concrete terms, you now have to eat three apples to get the same amount of iron as you would have gotten from a single 1940 apple, and you'd have to eat several more slices of bread to get your recommended daily allowance of zinc than you would have a century ago." (Pollan, 118)
What this means is that the majority of calories that we eat are getting emptier year after year. Add to this the fact that the majority of American diets are composed of processed carbohydrates that are high in calories but little else, and it is little wonder that obesity, diabetes, coronary heart disease and cancer rates are rising.

Where does eating organic come in? Organic produce grows slower (because it is not genetically modified or bred to grow fast) allowing more nutrients to accumulate before harvest. Slower growing allows plants to produce deeper root systems enabling them to access more minerals. Additionally scientists have posited that the "biological activity in the soil [decomposition, earth worms and other insects, and even soil fungi] almost certainly plays a role as well [...]." (Pollan, 120).

Another plug for buying locally grown produce in season: Unless you live in California, most likely your produce is being shipped hundreds of miles to get to you and in the process, losing much of its freshness and nutrients.

2) Organic produce is grown without pesticides

Continuing with the nutritional discussion, "[...] organically grown crops have also been found to contain more phytochemicals [10-50% more than conventionally grown plants]--the various secondary compounds (including carotenoids and polyphenols) that plants produce in order to defend themselves from pests and diseases, many of which turn out to have important antioxidant, anti inflammatory, and other beneficial effects on humans." (Pollan, 120).

Additionally, children are especially susceptible to pesticide residue which as a mother makes me feel even more anxious about the food my child eats. While the amounts of pesticides used on conventionally grown food is regulated by government agencies, there have been far too many cases of unacceptable accumulations of pesticide residue found on food. For example: Potatoes.
"Potatoes in the United States commonly contain chlorinated hydrocarbon insecticides and sometimes even residues of DDT, dieldrin, and chlordane, extremely hazardous chemicals that have been banned since 1978 but linger in the soil. Conventionally grown potatoes are so contaminated, the Environmental Working Group warns parents not to feed them to infants and toddlers unless they're thoroughly peeled and boiled" (Kingsolver, 273).
So much for baked potatoes.

3) Organically grown produce is sustainable

Industrial/conventional farming practices whose goal is for bigger, faster growing commodity crops (i.e. soy and corn) also "promote soil erosion, salinization, desertification, and loss of soil fertility," with studies showing that "over 25 percent of arable land int he world is already compromised by one or more of these problems." Can you say, "Dust bowl"? However, many studies have demonstrated that organic farming practices can sustainably produce the same yields as conventionally run farms but without the problems. "By using cover crops or animal manures for fertilizer, these practices improve soil fertility and moisture-holding capacity over seasons, with cumulative benefits." (Kingsolver, 18) Not only that, but you don't need any special chemicals or equipment to grow sustainably, just ask the Amish.

One thing that I do have to mention here is that often when you buy packaged organically grown produce at your grocery store it is not necessarily grown sustainably. Large corporate farms only need to meet USDA requirements for organically grown produce which are that their products are not genetically modified, no pesticides or herbicides are used in the production, and for animals, no hormones or antibiotics. This is another reason to buy locally: Not only do you support your local economy, but you help keep small, sustainable, farms in business.

While it is nice to be able to know for sure that the food you are buying at your grocery store is safer to eat, especially if you live in place like Wyoming where you can't get much local produce, it is still better to buy local, or even better, grow it yourself!

I might go on forever with this post, but I think I have said my say. This year Andrew and I have bought a share in a Community Supported Agriculture program in Lancaster and will be enjoying the bounty throughout the growing season. I will blog about it weekly to let you know what I got and what I think of being involved in a CSA. Of course I would love to have my own garden, but I think this is a great idea to try while we wait. This is our CSA and we are anxiously awaiting for the first harvest which is scheduled for the first weekend in June!

Check out Local Harvest to find out where you closest farmers markets and CSA's are. If you missed it, last year I wrote a post about going organic which lists some of the foods that you absolutely should buy organic and some that are OK to eat conventionally grown.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Blessings


While reading Michael Pollan's In Defense of Food I came upon this quote that I think especially applies to us Latter-day Saints as we pray over our food.

To eat slowly, then, also means to eat deliberately, in the original sense of that word: 'from freedom' instead of compulsion. Many food cultures, particularly those at less of a remove from the land than ours, have rituals to encourage this sort of eating, such as offering a blessing over the food or saying grace before the meal. The point, it seems to me, is to make sure that we don't eat thoughtlessly or hurriedly, and that knowledge and gratitude will inflect our pleasure at the table.


How often do we forget the promised blessings that come from being fully obedient to the Word of Wisdom? How often do we forget to be grateful?

18 And all saints who remember to keep and do these sayings, walking in obedience to the commandments, shall receive health in their navel and marrow to their bones;

19 And shall find wisdom and great treasures of knowledge, even hidden treasures;

20 And shall run and not be weary, and shall walk and not faint.

21 And I, the Lord, give unto them a promise, that the destroying angel shall pass by them, as the children of Israel, and not slay them. Amen. Doctrine and Covenants 89: 18-21