America has the finest high-tech medical care in the world. If a person is in an accident, the emergency care is exemplary. We also have dedicated, energetic scientists working hard to develop new treatments every day.
I think one area we have not fully accessed is nature and indigenous knowledge. There is still a place for science within this realm, working in harmony with the natural world and people who live in close communion with it to learn from them how we too can do so more gracefully. Preventative health care begins with focusing on sustainable agriculture. This will also help stabilize the climate and prevent war, as hungry people are more belligerent. If you think I am joking, try fasting and working at the same time, and see how long you last.
Traditional crossbreeding of plants is safer and wiser than genetic engineering. Researching and testing the most reliable healing plants and fruits in each region of the earth provides a fertile field for academic and commercial institutions. If we try to leave nature behind, we will not get far, as evidenced by our current state of crisis.
For example, blackberries are incredibly healthy. They grow wild all over the Pacific Northwest of the United States. There is a wonderful blackberry breeding program at Oregon State University that has developed a number of delicious (thornless even!) blackberry varieties. If everyone in this region had a blackberry bush or free blackberries available, many health concerns could be assuaged. Daily berries (in season) really do make a difference in health. Blueberries could be cultivated freely throughout the Northeast. Mangos, avocados, and peaches can be grown in the warmer regions of the country. People’s health is in part determined by the quality of their food and drink. Organic farming will restore the land.
Before you protest and say this will never happen—asserting that we have public space set aside for nature and parks, but only planted with ornamentals—get a load of what the city of Seattle is doing!
In the neighborhood of Beacon Hill a seven acre plot is being planted with grapes, apples, raspberries, blueberries, pears, plums, pineapple, guava, persimmons, and other fruit trees, as well as herbs, chestnuts, and walnuts! It is called the Beacon Food Forest, and was designed in 2009 by students in a permaculture class. beaconfoodforest.weebly.com
The trial plot of two acres is being planted this summer, with the remaining five acres to be completed at a later date. This will be a true, sustainable food bank! Here is a video showing the first plantings:
The founding members of the project hope to educate the community of the benefits of permaculture through the site. Margarett Harrison, lead landscape architect, states, “This is totally innovative, and has never been done before in a public park!”
Jenny Pell, permaculturist, explains, “People worried, ‘What if someone comes and takes all the blueberries?’ That could very well happen, but maybe someone needed those blueberries. We look at it this way—if we have none at the end of blueberry season then it means we’re successful.”
Local residents have been enthusiastically pitching in and signing up with comments like, “Put me to work – I can’t wait to get my hands dirty,” and, “Let me know when I can show up with my wheelbarrow.” Help with propagating, mulching, and pruning is welcomed. “People will come in and for example help cut the raspberries back and then be able to take home five or ten raspberry plants to put in their own backyard!” proclaims Pell.
“When we met with all the different people from the community, what they wanted actually was fruits and berries and big nut trees- that was their biggest request. So, we’re looking at paths with berry bushes on both sides, and we’re going to have mixed fruit orchards, and big nut orchards. It will be the largest food forest on public lands in the United States.”
A couple of other folks worldwide have been at the forefront of this movement to get free produce to everyone while reforesting the earth. Kenya’s Queen of the Trees Professor Wangari Maathai inspired the planting of 47 million trees in Kenya and was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2004 for her contribution to “sustainable development, democracy and peace.” Her vision of environmental stewardship rather than plunder of natural resources (which has been the accepted norm) has inspired many people. She especially encouraged women to plant trees, beginning the www.Greenbeltmovement.org in 1977.
When she started her work, Professor Maathai saw that “behind the everyday hardships of the poor—environmental degradation, deforestation, and food insecurity—were deeper issues of disempowerment, disenfranchisement, and a loss of the traditional values that had previously enabled communities to protect their environment, work together for mutual benefit, and to do both selflessly and honestly.”
Simply put, Professor Maathai said, “If you destroy the forest then the river will stop flowing, the rains will become irregular, the crops will fail and you will die of hunger and starvation… We cannot tire or give up. We owe it to the present and future generations of all species to rise up and walk.”
Anthony Anderson of www.growparadise.com states, “When we realize that we can quite easily and quickly begin to grow paradise right where we live, our power returns to us! Growing paradise requires nothing but the spirit of love and growth within us. We invite you to become a part of this, whether directly or by spreading the ideas and growing paradise in your own backyard and local community. Grow paradise. It is ours if we really want it.” He has seeded food forests in Minnesota, California, Arizona, and Cape Town, South Africa.
David Wolfe started the Fruit Tree Planting Foundation www.ftpf.org, which is a nonprofit charity dedicated to planting 18 billion organic fruit trees to “benefit the environment and all its inhabitants!”
“We envision a place where one can have a summer picnic under the shade of a fruit tree, breathe the clean air it generates, and not have to bring anything other than an appetite for the healthy fruits growing overhead. A world where one can take a walk in the park during a lunch break, pick and eat a variety of delicious fruits, plant the seeds so others can eventually do the same and provide an alternative to buying environmentally-destructive, illness-causing, chemically-laden products.”
A pioneer in community agriculture, Farmer John of www.angelicorganics.com states, “Agriculture is an underpinning of our culture. The irrepressibility of life on a farm continually manifests in myriad splendid expressions of life. This glorious unfolding provides us with the sustenance of food, while endlessly nourishing the creative spirit.”
I am very grateful for the amazing hospitals and health care workers we have in this country. They are overburdened, however, because of a lack of preventative and conservational care. With a focus on collective, populist, sustainable agriculture to grow healthy food and medicine for all, chronic disease will diminish, as much chronic degenerative disease is caused by diet and stress related to survival. Food is our first primary need. A plant-based diet is advocated as a foundation for health by leading physicians like Dr. Oz, Dr. Weil, Dr. Chopra, and Dr. Mcdougall.
Combining the skills of doctors, nurses, herbalists, midwives, doulas, shamans, gardeners, farmers, artists and other healers in the community, medicine can evolve beyond a solely symptoms-oriented approach to exploring the source, the roots of imbalance and disease. To do this we must look for help toward our origin and our sustenance – the earth.
For those interested in getting closer to the earth in the LA area and visiting the local farms, go to www.pickyourown.org/CAla.htm.
By Ashley H.
1. Blazing a Trail for a Better Bounty of Oregon Berries. (2011, July 26). Retrieved from www.oregonlive.com.
2. Seattle Food Forest. (2012, March 9). Retrieved from www.loe.org.
3. Husted, K. (2012, March 1). Seattle’s First Urban Food Forest will be Open to Foragers. Retrieved from www.npr.org.
4. Leschin-Hoar, B. C. (1, February 2012). It’s Not a Fairytale: Seattle to Build Nation’s First Food Forest . Retrieved from www.takepart.com.
(image borrowed from ohsheglows.com)
1 ripe, frozen banana
2 bunches of fresh spinach
½ an avocado, chilled
1 tbsp chia seeds
½ cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
½ cup unsweetened coconut water
1 tbsp whole coconut milk
3-5 ice cubes
Optional (for added electrolytes): ½ tbsp lemon juice + ½ tsp sea salt
I’m on a smoothie kick at the moment… Here is a cooling and moisturizing smoothie that’s perfect if you’re feeling hot and dried out.
Freeze banana beforehand. Mix chia seeds with almond milk and set in the fridge for 30 minutes.
Start by blending the frozen ingredients, slowly adding the chia seed mixture. Add remaining ingredients and blend thoroughly.
Feel free to add additional greens if desired. Try some celery, cucumber, kale…
In recovery we often start taking better care of ourselves, trying to eat well and get enough rest. We may also begin cooking more for ourselves and our fellows out of a desire to eat and share healthy meals and have fellowship and community.
Olive oil is one popular cooking oil. Organic butter or Kerrygold Irish butter are other options. Or ghee!
For those who are up for something a bit more tropical, coconut butter, which becomes oil when heated, can be a light and tasty choice. Barleans makes it. And they also do a nice flax oil which is an excellent supplement or salad dressing with lemon juice, but must never be heated! Coconut oil, in contrast, can be eaten raw or used for cooking, and has a milder taste. Other popular brands are Matyah’s, Artisana, and Nutiva. Delicious on popcorn!
A recipe you may wish to try for a refreshing dish is combining the coconut oil with quinoa, avocado, cherry tomatoes, and a little sea salt! It also makes a nice coleslaw with shredded cabbage, dash of stevia powder, dry mustard, celery seed, pepper, and vinegar.
Purported to be good for the lungs, thyroid, and hair, coconut oil is generally cooling and nourishing. As well it supports the immune system.
A promising article regarding the antiviral capacity of coconuts can be viewed here http://www.living-foods.com/articles/coconutbenefits.html
Coconut oil can be used topically as well as a natural moisturizer!
if you are at Trader Joes….
1) 100% blueberry juice- (not mixed with any other juices) great for eyes and memory
2) Larabars- made only of nuts, fruits, and spices like ginger and cinnamon- incredibly delicious treat
3) bag of ‘Southern Greens’- prewashed, prechopped collard, turnip, and mustard greens- easy to make and packed with nourishment
if you are at Costco….
4) large ‘Pomwonderful’ pomegranate juice- an almost 4 pound jug for 10 bucks! may be good for the heart, brain, prostate, and immune system- plus studies in Israel show that pomegranate juice destroys breast cancer cells while leaving healthy cells alone
5) dried sour montmorency cherries- a study was conducted at Michigan State University to find out whether traditional claims about these cherries relieving chronic aches and pains, arthritis and gout were true, and researchers discovered that indeed the anthocyanins, natural anti-inflammatory compounds in the pigment of the montmorency cherry, are 10 times more potent than aspirin
6) quinoa- (which is also in the bulk bin at the health food store with red and darker colored varieties) high in protein and minerals- serve with beans, avocado, cheese, veggies, or chicken- don’t overcook as it cooks really quickly (very convenient) and is best still a bit firm
if one is at the health food store….
7) chia seeds- chia is the Mayan word for ‘strength’- better known for their appearance as chia pets! tiny seeds which are powerhouses of energy and endurance
‘barleans’ flax oil- flax is purported to be good for hormonal balance, hair, skin, and nails- just a squirt a day chased with water!
9) dulse- contains high levels of natural iodine which can nourish the thyroid gland- chewy, salty snack
if one is online….
10) www.wholesalepinenuts.com American grown pinenuts in the shell! excellent source of fiber and nutrition
Ten years ago, Marguerite Alston was faced with a major health challenge that would change her life forever. A malignant melanoma diagnosis sent her stress levels off the scale. Her future was suddenly uncertain.
“I vowed at that point in time that I would do all that I can to look after my body, mind and spirit,” she says, now fully recovered. “I wanted to learn all that I could about nutrition and gain a deeper understanding of what I can do to make sure I live a long, vibrant and healthy life and I never wanted to deal with cancer ever again.”
I don’t wear sunscreen and never will.
I stopped using sunblock the moment I stopped being a beauty editor a few years ago. A combination of gut feeling and research told me what I was being told to “protect” my skin with was little more than a poison (and poisonous it is).
If you could bite down on a crispy, crunchy potato chip that was “natural”, tasted great and totally good for you, youd probably buy it, right?
My copy of Gandhi’s autobiography The Story of My Experiments with Truth arrived a few weeks ago and holy cow! I have a new found appreciation for Mahatma. I knew he was a vegetarian (oh, and that in his spare time he liberated India from British rule and single-handedly established the civil disobedience movement) but I had no idea he was the central figure in pioneering the animal rights crusade in India.
It’s time to have a word with your boss: looking after your employees through workplace wellness programs improves employee morale, reduces company healthcare costs, and increases productivity.
Nicole Richie (left), Amy Smart and Anna Getty teamed up in Hollywood recently to bring attention to a new project that is set to take students back to basics, by growing their own organic gardens.