When was the last time you thought of the food you ate as medicine to feed both your body but also your well being? I think we as Americans overeat both to fill the void of sadness in us but also due to “food” lacking full nutrition. We are overweight because we are malnourished.
Growing up, my mother believed that we shouldn’t eat any white food due to lack of nutrition, so we didn’t eat white flour, white sugar, cauliflower, and we even tried to stay away from the white pasta, instead opting to eat whole-grain pasta.
Our diets are high in whole grains, including oats and legumes such as black beans, while eating lots of greens. The nice thing about Tennessee and Alabama where I mostly grew up is that greens grow throughout the winter. In Illinois where I reside now, greens grow outside and lots of local farmers are getting hoop-house greenhouses to grow all winter more easily.
Although I grew up predominately vegetarian, a big part of that reasoning was that we did not have refrigeration for storage, and meat is very expensive compared to other proteins.
My family has always been very interested in the medical field with a few CNAs (certified nursing assistants), a couple of EMTs (emergency medical technicians), an RN (registered nurse), an herbalist, and an WFR (wilderness first responder) all part of our family.
Eating for Health
I think the hardest thing for me to do is to actually chew my food. I try to chew my food 10 times for each forkful. Eat a variety of vegetables, the more color the better.
Other than tomatoes, I understand that heat makes vegetables lose their nutrition, so the less you cook them, the better.
Eat locally both to help the local economy but also local food is exposed to the same soil and air bacteria that you are and have, therefore, developed a bacterial and nutrient profile to help you. I have read studies for honey that promote this idea, so why not follow the guideline for all food? I also find that when I eat locally, I tend to be more satisfied and eat less.
Knowing your farmer also tends to provide a mental satisfaction while you are eating their food.
Food as Preventative Medicine
Don’t sacrifice buying the better food. A $1 burger doesn’t include the later cost of the quadruple bypass surgery. I am willing to pay extra for good, local, ideally organic food so I don’t have to pay for hospital visits later.
Do you automatically pop an antacid or aspirin instead of figuring out what is causing your pain? Did you know that mint or ginger is great for upset stomach? I love my mint-ginger tea.
Did you know that the cancer-prevention power of turmeric is only unlocked if mixed with oil? I love making curried rice with local fresh ginger and turmeric toasted in coconut oil.
Herbs as Part of Food
My mother had the joy and luck to study under grandpa Amoneeta, a traditional medicine man. Anytime I want my mother to teach me, I point to a plant and call it a weed. I am then prepared for the multitude uses of that plant. She knows common names for plants and their uses but no official Latin names, nor does she look up studies on whether it works.
Why are some herbs considered spices and others considered medicine? Why can’t they be both?
Instead of the hassle of ingesting herbs as medicine, figure out how to add it to food. If you do make tea, try not to make it too hot as that kills the medicine of the herb. The best way to brew tea is to get a one-gallon old pickle jar or any gallon jug and let it sit out in the sun to slow-brew it. Otherwise slow-brew it on low heat like over the woodstove or put over the pilot light on a gas stove.
Since my mom doesn’t sell her herbal mixes, I have found someone that does similar herb mixes for my friends.
Using Modern Medicine
Although I have picked up and read the book Where There is no Dentist out of my medical interest, I believe getting an annual cleaning and checkup is very important. Never compromise on teeth or eyes as they are the only ones you have.
Modern medicine has recently started to focus on preventative care but historically has only been a way of last resort or once things have already gone bad. There needs to be a balance.
I have never shunned modern medicine but try not to use it. I have always liked sleeping outside or with my window open but when I was a kid I had my lungs damaged breathing polluted air from a nearby fertilizer plant that dumped at night. I got whooping cough and pneumonia in the middle of the summer and that damaged my lungs. Every couple of years, I have a re-occurence of whooping cough and need antibiotics. It is all about balance.
I look forward everyday to the interactions I have on my Living Off Grid, Really!?!? Facebook page and hope you will join the discussion there. Stay energized.
Aur Beck has lived completely off-grid for over 35 years. He has traveled with his family through 24 states and 14,000 recorded miles by horse-drawn wagon. Aur is a presenter at The Climate Project, a fellow addict at Oil Addicts Anonymous and a talk show co-host at WDBX Community Radio for Southern Illinois 91.1 FM. Find him on the Living Off Grid, Really!?!? Facebook page, and read all of Aur's MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.
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