Friday, June 27, 2014

Nutrient Dense Food

Sometimes I tune out when a new buzz word becomes overused. Of course, tuning out can be a convenient way to simply one's life. However, one then misses the message which is often so critical to negotiating a happy, healthy life full of abundance. MuRefuge and her inhabitants often have a way of reminding me of what I miss by tuning out. Our two, going on 8, YES! eight, year old fawn and white Indian Runner ducks have provided me with a great demonstration. 
Duck eggs gathered over three days.
The green colored eggs are from the one blue and the one chocolate
Indian Runner ducks; the white ones from the two fawn and white ducks.

In the past our older female ducks laid soft shelled eggs, laying them in the pond, the vegetable garden, well just about anywhere. Now that we have changed the brand and ingredients of the organic laying pellets the ducks eat, the older ducks are laying, not as frequently mind you, not only hard shelled eggs but also in the nesting boxesl. This change of their food from adequately designed food to nutrient dense food is a wonder to behold.

Grazing, aka eating small "meals" through out the day, is a prevalent admonition these days. Focusing on nutrient dense options, rather than convenience is not only healthy but healing, as well as balancing the needed "building blocks" for the body's maintenance through homeostasis. Shasta loves her nutrient dense snacks: no empty calorie snacks for this awesome BEing.

Shasta has enjoyed chewing on deer antlers ever since she arrived at MuRefuge.
They help to keep "her pearly whites" not only white
 but in top form as well, providing need minerals for canines.

When we humans take in food, calories, pleasure through our mouths, we often look for convenience or are just plain swayed by the what the food industry, which is backed by big money agribusiness, wants us to believe. We seem to lose sight of our own "knowing" or what has made sense to eat for generations and forget that processed food often is primarily empty calories at best and disease creating at worst.

Not only are humans eating food that is convenient but
humans have affected how other creatures eat who share the
planet with us. This flock of cedar waxwings during this
past Winter were sighted nearby taking turns cleaning the
large pyracantha bush of its berries. Drunk though
they get from the ingestion of these berries in
abundance here in Sonoma County, eat them they do.

Thank goodness some creatures still maintain their habit of eating what is beneficial to them, not swayed by the abundance of food their ancestors did not eat.

The West Coast Lady caterpillar dines on the mallow family whether native or not.
Here in Northern California Pipevine Swallowtails lay their eggs
only on the California Pipe Vine in order for the caterpillar to thrive on that food.

The Anise Swallowtail caterpillar gobbling up nutritious fennel.
And of course, most all of us know that the Monarch butterfly lays her eggs on milkweed plants so her babies, aka caterpillers, will have just the right food to eat.

Perhaps when we read articles, whether in the newspaper, or in a magazine held in our hand, or in an online newsletter about food and its benefits, we could be more present in our bodies, minds and spirits.

Here is a smattering of what I have recently read:

From Dr. Ben Kim's Newsletter on line in which he lists the following conditions that well equip the body to heal itself:
  • Adequate nourishment with nutrient-dense foods.
  • Optimal vitamin D status.
  • Emotional well-being (tied to what we are doing with our lives and the quality of our closest relationships).
  • Healthy physical activity (activities that we can do to promote strength, balance and perspiration while avoiding injury.)
  • Enough rest.
From the recent AARP Bulletin, *Dean Ornish's 7 Tips for Healthy Living" in which he says, "Our bodies have this remarkable capacity to begin healing if we simply stop doing what's causing the problem - making poor lifestyle choices":
  • There are no good foods or bad foods.
  • A little exercise goes a long way.
  • It's not all or nothing.
  • How you eat is as important as what you eat.
  • Meditation makes your fuse longer.
  • Family and friends are critically important.
  • Volunteering saves lives.
*I am always interested in reading about Dean Ornish and what he's up to these days since I was one of his staff for his research study done in Texas that preceded his first book. All of the participants had previously been diagnosed with coronary artery disease by their own physicians. From his evaluation of all the then most advanced medical tests gathered on the participants in the study, he concluded that a diet with 7% fat decreased the coronary artery plaque. Another physician, Sandra A. McLanahan, who worked with Dean on this study has written a very helpful book for anyone faced with surgery: Surgery and Its Alternatives: how to make the right choices for your health. This tome is highly recommended by Andrew Weil, M.D. with a preface by Bernie S. Siegel, M.D.

Wisdom comes with living life to the fullest and with presence. As I review Dean's list I am reminded of Thich Nhat Hanh's writings of mindfulness: "A few years ago, I asked some children, 'What is the purpose of eating breakfast?' One boy replied, 'To get energy for the day.' Another said, 'The purpose of eating breakfast is to eat breakfast.' I think the second child is more correct. The purpose of eating is to eat." And in his Washing Dishes in Peace is Every Step: the path of mindfulness in everyday life he says "I enjoy taking my time with each dish, being fully aware of the dish, the water, and each movement of my hands." This perhaps could be a metaphor for food shopping. No matter where one shops for food, whether the local farm market or farm stand, or the grocery store, one, in a mindful state perhaps would choose food more in tune with one's self, thus providing nutrition for every cell. 

And by food shopping with mindfulness, preferably for local and in season produce, each of us honor the "good work" of the farmer as well as forging meaningful communities, which in my humble opinion is as "critically important" as our relationships with family and friends. In the grocery store shopping with mindfulness draws our attention to the labels which, again, supports intent to choose nutrient dense food rather than empty calories of processed foodstuffs. Enjoy taking time with each item of food chosen to be prepared to eat.

And then the May/June 2014 issue of Well Being Journal adapted an article from Holistic Pain Relief by Heather Tick, M.D.: "Diet is more powerful in preventing the common diseases than either drugs or medical care.":
  • Try enjoying your food by using some adventurous approaches.
  • Make a rainbow of your plate using the natural colors of food.
  • Focus on the taste of your food by eating slowly. Savor each flavor, and stop before you are full.
  • Avoid doing other things while you eat; focus only on eating.
  • Have family-time meals. Make conversation and tell stories about what each family member learned that day or feels grateful for.
  • Listen to your favorite music while you eat.
  • Be a daredevil - take a risk and try a new food. Try a small amount of that new food on five separate occasions before you decide whether you like it. 
    In our garden we have a plethora of lettuces, many different varieties
    as well as many edible flowers,
     so for dinner we often have a large salad fresh from the garden so the qi is maximized.

From Jennifer McGruther's recent book, The Nourished Kitchen: Farm-to-Table

Recipes for the Traditional Foods Lifestyle: "Balanced - There's a deeply pervasive disconnect in the collective relationship with food that persists in American culture. We often view healthy eating as synonymous with restrictive eating, and we likewise view joyful eating as guilty pleasure, something that begs for strict limits. I believe that real foods allows us both the gift of nourishment, and the gift of pleasure, without unnecessary restrictions. Eating a diet of traditional foods helps us to develop a positive relationship with our food, not one born out of guilt and denial; rather the traditional food movement teaches us to purchase, prepare, and enjoy our food with intention."

This Pale Swallowtail nectaring on native Globe Gilia flowers
offers a meaningful reminder that nutrient dense sugar is beneficial.
This author's approach to food seems so sensible to me. How have we lost our rudder in the sea of food? Perhaps, in addition to globally fusing our food, it has been related to the massive brainwashing by the food industry in cahoots with the federal government to set up dietary guidelines to sell their processed foods. The intimate sharing of multigenerational family and community knowledge of traditional foods has been replaced by the government's food pyramid. There is an enlightening article in the June 23, 2014 TimeEat Butter. Scientists labeled fat the enemy. Why they were wrong, by Bryan Walsh, which clearly outlines the bogus bill of goods, so to speak, about food that Americans have been sold. The article encompasses a review of American eating habits and what has affected the change from farm to table, nutrient dense food to highly processed food lacking nutrients and packed with empty calories. Seems to me that a grass roots change is occurring as our younger generations take back not only healthy eating but healthy for the planet farming. Joel Salatin, family farmer and "Virginia's most multifaceted agrarian since Thomas Jefferson", is a potent spokesperson. I suggest reading his book, to add hilarity to a sad state of affairs, Folks, This Ain't Normal: a farmer's advice for happier hens, healthier people, and a better world. While reading his book, or not,


  1. An email I received: "AWESOME!!! Remarkable and stunning pics with very nourishing and thoughtful updates!!
    Thank you sooo much for sharing all the magical abundance and knowledge..its always so appreciated!!
    Jason & Vickie xoxoxo"

  2. Another email I received: "hi cathie ..gotta get to work or i'd probably be praising this post for pages and pages..u r so amazing! thank you for putting out so much very valuable info in such inspiring form..your happy means of expression will surely get the message out to others who might have tuned it out with more dry or strident deliveries..many people know most of this stuff but what u did here was put it all together simply, elegantly and beautifully in a way to help us all keep it fresh and available in our heads to use at an appropriate time...the photos r so inspiring i'm taking them 2 work with me on my mp3 to look at when i get stressed!! u r truly cherished and a genius as far as i'm concerned..
    many thanx yet again

  3. Another thoughtful and thought provoking post. Thanks beautiful BE-Ing!