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I have some great heroes, but I’ve found another living, breathing one right in my own neighborhood. She is a spit fire of a woman, in her 70s and still going very strong. She has made it her life’s work to work with and improve soil, and is still growing an extensive garden and test gardens. I was running errands on Saturday and passed her out working on her farm. I thought it would be a good chance to ask her a few questions, so I stopped to chat.
I asked about her garden boxes, her greenhouse, what the big rows were destined to grow, and why she was holding on to the land. She owns four acres of very desirable property. A subdivision backs her farm, and they dead ended a road right at her property line. It’s obvious they think she will sell, but as I talked with her, I learned something different. She has ten children, and none of them are interested in farming or working the soil. As she told me this, she got a sparkle in her eye and said, “they aren’t interested…yet.” She is saving the land for a family homestead, and she feels the need for the land is coming soon.
She looked passionately at me and said, “We are in a famine right now! We are in a famine, because the food in our grocery stores is so lacking in nutrients, we are actually starving. Starving and getting obese at the same time!” Now that was a statement you don’t hear every day! She went on to explain that her soil was the most valuable asset she owned, and that one day her family would use that soil to save themselves.
Let me fill you in a little bit on this woman. She is an older woman, but I think she looks a bit older then she is. It’s from years of working in the sun – lines, perpetually tanned skin, not a stitch of makeup. She wears the same clothes for days on end, and could care less about the way she looks. To use a common phrase, she is in the world, but not of the world. She stands completely apart from the trends of the day, including the trends in thinking about food. That’s why I really listened to what she had to say. I believe she sees things that I am too immersed in to recognize.
Perhaps I’m getting crazy (my husband would be nodding his head here), but I think she has a good point. I’m scared when I go to a grocery store and realize that 90% of what they are selling is far from real food anymore. It’s more convenient, it is easier, it even tastes good, but what is it doing for our bodies? I don’t think it’s feeding them. The other day I was at a party and enjoyed a yummy taco salad. The problem was the very small bowl of lettuce! I wanted to take it all, but knew if I did there wouldn’t be any left for anyone else. I topped my salad with the token 3-4 pieces of lettuce, and started eating. And eating, and eating. After my second helping, I hit the dessert table. For anyone who knows me, that is highly unusual. I don’t even like dessert. I ate three of them. And I was still hungry…
Why? This is one of my favorite things I’ve ever learned. We have something called our “Apistat”. It’s basically a thermostat for our appetite. It tells us when we are hungry and when we are full. When we are hungry, our bodies are lacking something, so our apistat tells us it’s time to eat. If we eat the things our body is missing, the apistat tells us we can be done – we are full. This works beautifully when our foods contain the nutrients our body needs…
But this all backfires when we eat empty foods. Have you even eaten a cookie, only to then eat two or three more? Why didn’t you get full? Your body didn’t get what it needed, so your apistat stayed on. Your apistat is there to keep your body running smoothly. It’s like filling your car’s gas tank up with air. The fuel gage would still read empty because the car didn’t get what it needed to run. So those cookies did nothing to fuel your body. No nutrients = empty foods. Your apistat says to keep eating. And we do. Unfortunately, we usually keep eating more empty foods. This is how you can starve and be obese at the same time.
The taco salad didn’t meet my body’s needs, (I should have taken all of the lettuce!), so I added the empty desserts. I felt hungrier than I had in days, and a felt terrible at the same time. It’s crazy, but this is what is happening with every empty bite we take.
So I’m taking this as a personal challenge – to learn all I can about real food, and how I can fight the famine all around me. I’ve been going down this path for awhile, and love to share what I am learning. I will be writing more about this, and also writing in a second blog to be announced soon! To start the ball rolling, I have had multiple requests for the granola recipe I mentioned last week! I’m thrilled to share. It’s delicious, and it is real food! My ravenous teenagers eat this at night, and they are full. One word of warning. Don’t throw this away when you realize it can take up to three days to make it!! It’s not hard and each step is simple. Just plan ahead and you will be happy you did.
Thank you for letting me share. Together we can help our bodies, our families and our communities eat better, feel better and be better. To health!
Dr. Michelle Jorgensen
Dr. J’s Feed Your Body Granola
Makes about 1 gallon zip lock bag worth.
This information is not meant as medical advice. It is provided solely for education. Our practice would be pleased to discuss your unique circumstances and needs as they relate to these topics.