Saturday, November 26, 2011

To Heal is to Juice Fast...

There is such scientific condescension when it comes to pearls of wisdom such as “starve a cold, feed a fever.” “It’s one of the most well-known medical bromides around: starve a cold, feed a fever, or is it feed a cold, starve a fever? Either way,” writes, Anahad O’Connor in a NYT article, "it may not matter." Scientists have found little evidence for either one.” The Chief of Clinical Services with Duke University’s Division of Medical Services dots the “i” when asked of the origin of this famous bromide: "I’m sure you could look through some old medical books and someone has mentioned it there, just like blood letting…" I don’t readily fall into the anti-science school, but I take anything said with such bravado with a pound of salt. If the shoe fits you personally and it feels good, go ahead and wear it. Whenever I get a cold, I am not hungry. My body gets into healing mode, I think. And I think that there is something to the idea of fasting and healing.

In the documentary by Joe Cross, “Fat, Sick, & Nearly Dead,” the overweight protagonist crosses the United States on a road trip from New York to California proselytizing the good news. No, he is not trying to win over folks to Christianity at a truck stop. He has in the back of his rental car a juicer and generator to juice the juicer. How refreshing it is to watch him hand over a glass of vegetable juice to an overweight trucker! By the time he was 40 years old Joe Cross was 100 lbs. overweight, and was suffering a debilitating autoimmune disease that he cared for with a pharmaceutical pantry full of pills. The documentary chronicles his quest to reverse this deadly lifestyle and see if the human body, void of processed foods and animal products, can actually heal itself. He would do this by drinking juice, just juice, every day, for 60 days. The transformation we see and even don’t see (his personality changes as much as his body) is truly remarkable.

That Joe Cross hits the road and travels on a road to freedom by heading West is mythic: think of Kerouac, Chris McCandless made famous or infamous from the book and movie, “Into the Wild”, or the last scene of “Goodwill Hunting.” As Gabriel Cousens writes of the juice-fasting journey: "the appetite fades after the first few days and the mind becomes freer." Why? It is not easy when the stomach rumbles not to reach for solid food. But if you let that stomach rumble and not try to quell it with solid food, it is a notch in the realm of success. Along with the health benefits of a juice fast, which are considerable, one truly overcomes a food addiction and by overcoming, the result is a tremendous amount of freedom and joy. Juice fasting is not about deprivation as it is about treating your body like the holy temple it is. Try the juice fast even for a day and look in the mirror at your face. Ponce de Leon may have been right that there truly is a fountain of youth…

Monday, November 21, 2011

Couch Potato-So Appropriate!

In 1976 the term couch potato was born. Tom Iacino of Pasadena, California and a member of a Southern California group humorously opposed exercise and diet fads. He said we prefer watching television, the boob tube, and eating potato chips. Brilliance comes in sparks. Iacino substituted tube for the synonym of potato—“tuber.” Hence, a boob tuber to the lay folks is simply a couch potato. So, why don’t we sit down on our couches and eat a bag of beet chips? Some of us do, but to eat a beet is different that eating a potato and for two reasons. Beets are perfect roots, whereas potatoes are imperfect roots, tubers. For that reason, potatoes and potato chips remain lodged in the digestive regions and stay away from our heads. Beets go straight to our heads. They are, according to Rudolf Steiner, “the thinking man’s vegetable.” Beets also suppress our appetite because they go straight to our heads. Potatoes leave us wanting for more.

Rudolf Steiner goes so far as to say that Europe mentally changed as soon as the Spaniards brought back the potato from the Andes in the 16th century. From that point on and especially relevant to those countries where the potato became a major staple, “they neglected their brains.” Chips and dip anyone?

Thanksgiving Garden Meditation

Let us give thanks for a bounty of people.

For children who are our second planting, and though they
grow like weeds and the wind too soon blows them away, may
they forgive us our cultivation and fondly remember where
their roots are.

Let us give thanks;

For generous friends…with hearts…and smiles as bright
as their blossoms;

For feisty friends, as tart as apples;

For continuous friends, who, like scallions and cucumbers,
keep reminding us that we’ve had them;

For crotchety friends, sour as rhubarb and as indestructible;

For handsome friends, who are as gorgeous as eggplants and
as elegant as a row of corn, and the others, as plain as
potatoes and so good for you;

For funny friends, who are as silly as Brussels sprouts and
as amusing as Jerusalem artichokes;

And serious friends as unpretentious as cabbages, as subtle
as summer squash, as persistent as parsley, as delightful as
dill, as endless as zucchini and who, like parsnips, can be
counted on to see you through the winter;

For old friends, nodding like sunflowers in the evening-time,
and young friends coming on as fast as radishes;

For loving friends, who wind around us like tendrils and hold
us, despite our blights, wilts and witherings;

And finally, for those friends now gone, like gardens past
that have been harvested, but who fed us in their times that
we might have life thereafter.

For all these we give thanks...(Max Coots)

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Perfect Compost for your Garden!

When yeast compost is worked into garden soils, those soils change. Compost joins with molecules of clay (something we particularly enjoy here in Ohio!), and the compost-clay glue together. Stable and rich, and believe it or not with the fragrance of a deep pine forest after an afternoon rain, compost retains 90 percent of its moisture, making it extremely useful when we forget to water our gardens. Compost also helps build soil structure by allowing for quite a lot of air circulation and air is vital to keep not only us alive, but our precious soil as well. Now I am not one to usually go out to my garden with pH paper—I just look at the kinds of weeds that a growing—so the good news is that I really don’t have to—thanks to compost. This gold moderates the pH of garden soil, keeping it in balance between a 6.0-6.8 range that is ideal for most garden vegetables and beautiful flowers. For those of us who want to provide the healthiest vegetables for our children, compost has the ability to absorb toxins present in the soil! As it absorbs these toxins, it provides at the same time a welcoming environment for beneficial organisms.

Everything that is or was once alive will come apart of your compost pile and turn into this black gold. Kitchen scraps, lawn clippings, thick ropes of weeds, old potting soil, branches, leaves, left-over supper, dust, herbivore animal manure (not dog and cat, in other words), human hair, saw dust, Kleenex, old love letters, newspaper that is not glossy, even old wool sweaters. These ingredients will “live again” in our compost pile and nourish the microbes in our “live” garden soil.

The most important ingredient to add to a compost pile is air. Air allows our compost pile to decay aerobically, so that we don’t get that ammonia smell. When we smell that, precious nitrogen, which should remain in the compost, drifts into the atmosphere and is therefore not readily available in our compost and hence for our nitrogen-loving garden vegetables.

The next fundamental ingredient is water. Air, of course is the fuel for our garden, but water provides structure as well as a flowing passageway for nutrients and organisms. The old saying is that “good compost is as moist as a wrung-out sponge. Too much water is not good either. As my mentor in life, Michel de Montaigne would say, balance in everything is always something to strive for!

After air and water, the primary ingredients that make up or compost is what we call either carbon or nitrogen ingredients. Carbon—like ‘carbs’ for human nutrition—is where the energy comes from. When you feel the heat of a good compost pile, think of the fact that carbon is being digested by the billions of wonderful microorganisms in our pile. What are the carbon ingredients of our compost pile? Anything brown. Straw, shredded office documents, sawdust, woodchips, dry stems of old pea vines, flowers, sunflower stalks, peanut shells, etc.

Now the other side of the spectrum—nitrogen. If carbon is the energy, nitrogen is the protein. Nitrogen is of course responsible for the growth of healthy vegetable tissue. Nitrogen ingredients in the compost pile are wet and green—fresh seedless weeds, kitchen garbage, and here we add manure. Please compost manure rather than tossing it in your gardens or in your raised beds. While it looks brown, it really does fall under our green category, as the food the animals ate (cows, chickens, rabbits, goats, sheep, horses) were once mostly green.

What about the balance of brown and green? We know what happens to us if we eat too many beans? We are overwhelming our stomachs with nitrogen. We need that balance of carbon and nitrogen. I mentioned ammonia that we can smell. That is too much nitrogen (“compost farts”) being released into the air. I have read and still believe that the proper ratio in our diets and in our compost pile ideally should be 30 parts carbon (“carbs”) to 1 part nitrogen (“protein”). If you have a bunch of green kitchen waste and you want to toss it onto a compost pile, have next to your pile as black bag of old oaks leaves or a bale of straw. Add that on top of the green waste in what looks like 30 times more brown stuff than green stuff.

As far as the location of your compost pile, it is best to stack it in a shady spot, not too far from your kitchen or a garden hose. Remember, air is important. That is why there are slats in wooden compost bin. My favorite compost material is hardware wire. The end result looks like a 5x3 foot high drum. I like this because I don’t have to toss and turn the compost so much, if any at all. Air gets through wires and into the compost. If you just throw the compost on the ground, you will have to turn the pile with a pitchfork once a week or so. When that layered drum is finished, leave it be. Water it on occasion, but make a new one right next to it. It is so enjoyable to watch our layer compost turn a deep brown color from the bottom up over time through the fenced drum! If we begin a compost drum in the spring, it is ready to be put into our soil in the fall, etc. If you want compost quickly, put it on the ground in a pile. You can make it a “hot, quick compost” by then tossing and turning it 2 or 3 times a week. I prefer not to use those plastic tumblers. I feel that sunlight is the essence of life. Compost needs to feel and be beholden to the light of day and the dark of night.

As we are a practicing biodynamic farm, we add healing herbs to our compost pile when our bins are full. These herbs—yarrow, stinging nettle, and more—add “vital forces” from the universe (moonlight, stars, our sun) to our compost pile. Regardless, you cannot go wrong with adding compost with our without biodynamic preparations to your garden and into our precious earth to heal Her. Your backyard compost seems small, but it is an enormous gesture and certainly the earth thanks you, but so will your body and soul.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Different manures for different plants…

Hog manure-root crops; horse manure-great for raised beds and grain and grass fields; cow manure-composts; rabbit manure-green, leafy vegetables; chicken manure-flowers and fruit trees; goat and sheep manure-herbs.

Rudolf Steiner: “What is manure? Food gave occasion for the development of dynamic forces and influences in the animal, but it was excreted. Nevertheless it has been INSIDE the animal, but it was excreted. Nevertheless it has been permeated with that animal’s forces, which in turn are responsible for carrying LIVE nitrogen and live oxygen to the soil.”

Interestingly, whatever part of plant upon which an animal characteristically feeds upon is best fertilized by that animal. A hog roots around in the soil—root crops!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Doomed! I am a left-handed farmer...

A teacher: -asked whether children should be broken of left-handedness.

Rudolf Steiner (the father of Biodynamic Farming/Gardening): As a rule, yes! The phenomenon of left-handedness is decidedly karmic, in fact a karmic weakness. (R.S. "Conferences with Teachers-Vol. 4, p. 29.)

Perhaps Steiner is correct. This from today’s article in Salon: “the version most commonly heard is that left-handers die an average of nine years sooner, and that by about the age of forty most have disappeared…”

Yet, it is common knowledge that Rudolf Steiner lauded the peasant culture for their intuitive approach to farming. “We go through the fields, and all of the sudden the knowledge is there in us. We know it absolutely. Afterwards we put it to the test and find it confirmed. In in my youth, at least, when I lived among the peasant folk, I witnessed this again and again. We must begin again from such things.” “Agricultural Course,” p. 53.

I wonder to myself, are there more left-handed or more right-handed farmers out there? Do farmers and gardeners rely more on the right side of their brains (creative, intuitive, and usually left handed) or more on the left side of their brains (logical, organized, and usually right handed).

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Think Twice before Eating Mushrooms!

The common scientific wisdom concurs that mushrooms are OK to eat. In fact, they contain the trace mineral germanium, which is noted for its antiviral and antitumor effects. Germanium also energizes the body. With so many healing abilities and such variety of flavors and textures, mushrooms just may help the body generate energy, offer protection against tumors and virus infection, and bring complete satiety to the mushroom aficionado.

From a Biodynamic Viewpoint, harmful parasites always consort with mushrooms. In fact, you should have a patch of mushrooms on your lawn or on your farm to “keep all sorts of pests away from your garden.” You might well imagine then what happens when you ingest this parasitic-loving food in your body! Dr. B. Toth (“Cancer induction in mice by feeding mushroom ‘Gyromitra esculenta.” “Cancer Research,” 1992; 52(8): 2279-84) found that mushrooms are associated with cancer in lungs, liver, thyroid, nasal cavity, stomach, colon, and gallbladder in mice.