Last night, I dreamt that I was late. As usual. Only this time, I had left one of my children at a library camp, which had ended half an hour earlier, and I was still an hour away and attempting to pick up the second child from… somewhere weird. But the main thing is that I was stressed and panicked and really, really angry with myself for not being where I was supposed to be.

I also dreamed that Harper Lee tried out for several academic clubs and was devastated to learn that she did not make the math team but was accepted as a member of the vegetarian meal planning team.

School starts tomorrow. Can you tell?

I’m just a little bit anxious. Thankfully, I went back to work three weeks ago, which really ticked me off at the time. I mean, my kids had nearly a month of extra summer. Now, however, I’m happy that I settled back into a routine before we started getting them settled back into theirs.

Harper Lee begins middle school this year. And Isaac is entering third grade. If you live in NC, you know what that means. It’s going to be a time of big transitions– my favorite thing in the whole world. (That sound you hear is Rob laughing hysterically.)

I’m trying really hard to go with the flow. (I realize that trying really hard is sort of the antithesis of going with the flow, but we do what we can.) And I think I’m doing pretty well—nightmares aside. It’s a new phase for us, particularly for me. I feel a little weepy that we are moving from little kid phase into–scary Psycho music in the background–MIDDLE SCHOOL. For me, middle school was sort of like… well, let’s just say it—hell. I hated every bloody moment of middle school. If I don’t make it to heaven, I’m pretty sure I will end up roaming the halls of A.C. Reynolds Middle School. If I’m really bad—like I end up being a psycho killer or something—I’ll probably be at that same school, except on a Friday night at a middle school dance.

It will be different for Harper Lee. She is an entirely different kid. And I admire her immensely. I even helped her streak her hair blue the other day. She was worried that her teachers might get a bad first impression and think she is a “rebellious street kid,” but I assured her that they would probably not think that. I like that she is comfortable being exactly who she is. I hope that she stays that way. Let’s face it—school isn’t always the place where being who you are is OK.

So it is with more than a little trepidation that I send my children off to school each year.

But I’m going with the flow here…

And it’s all good.

As our last week of summer wrapped up, Harper Lee and I volunteered on Saturday at the Continental Divide Trail Race that our friends, Jason and Alison, put on every year. We always look forward to running the finish line and handing out the awards. This year Harper Lee got to take photographs of the runners as they raced up crazy, mountain goat trails, and she helped with first aid. There was a bit of excitement this year when a nest of yellow jackets wreaked havoc at one point along the course, but everyone came out of it, in the end, just fine. Plus, Alison made quesadillas post-race, and I met some new and interesting friends.

CDTR startThat’s one thing that trail racing is sure to offer—new, and VERY interesting, friends, one of the many reasons I love it.

So, now the house is quiet. Everyone is tucked in early. The backpacks are packed. The lunchboxes are lined up and waiting on the kitchen counter. The multiple information forms are filled out and signed. The coffee is in the maker and ready to brew.

And I am finally sitting down and taking it in– this new phase that is about to begin.

What if tomorrow is the beginning of something wonderful?

 Harper- CDTR







baby isaac

My dearest little baby boy,

Words cannot express how deep is my love for you. To put it down would be impossible. It would come out all clichés. Even when I whisper to you at night as you breathe your heavy sleepy breaths, the words are not enough. Inadequate. Not quite right. Maybe there isn’t a word or a sound or even an image that can capture the feeling I have in my chest, my stomach, behind my eyes every time I think about you. Maybe the feeling isn’t meant to be caught or labeled or contained. Perhaps, instead, it is meant to fill us up and spill out in eternal waves of the inexplicable.

Perhaps, instead, I can only let it wash over us—this unnameable thing and feel its presence when we are curled up in bed, reading Hardy Boys mysteries by lamplight or when we are pulling tomatoes from a vine in the garden and our hands touch as we drop them, juicy and gold, into the bowl. Maybe it is in this moment only. And in this one. And this one.

It will just go on forever.

drooly baby


giraffe head

sand pit

isaac- mud pies



Happy Birthday 

sweet july

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA An early morning visitor

One evening last week, we came home to a visitor helping himself to our apple tree.  I had been under the misguided assumption that a fence would keep animals out of my garden, but I was obviously wrong.  Once he saw us, he hopped quite nimbly right over the fence as if it weren’t even there.  A few mornings later, I took my coffee out onto the back porch, and he was back.  Apparently, fences and Freckles are not deterrents for apple thieves.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA“This is the best dough I’ve ever made.”

True to our plan, we are baking and canning our own food like crazy.  Personally, I’m getting pretty sick of canning and freezing tomatoes.  Every year I swear I will NOT plant as many next summer, and every spring I plant more.  So far, I’ve made several quarts of pickles and cucumber relish, frozen bags of shredded zucchini for bread and soups, canned and frozen tomatoes for sauces and stews, and made several batches of peach pie filling.  The rest we’ve eaten fresh from the garden.

Harper Lee never tires of kitchen experiments so we’ve had good bread, homemade pretzels and lots of delicious fruity desserts.  The apron she’s wearing was a gift from Grammy.  Rob’s grandmother made it, and it’s a new favorite thing.

I also promised a list of meal ideas and resources for those of you joining us in the real food revolution, and obviously the best way to keep from doing something is to tell you I’m going to.  But better late than never…

Here are some very simple– because that’s how I roll– meal ideas for you and family.

Summer Salad

Friday Night Pizza

Veggie Frittata

These are the ones we’ve tried from Barbara Kingsolver’s website, but there are dozens of others.

Some other really simple ideas that we love:

Roasted grape tomatoes with a sprinkle of olive oil and parmesan cheese

Fresh cucumbers, green or red peppers, tomatoes and onions mixed

Frozen or fresh raspberries blended with lemonade

Any kind of fresh bread and good cheese

Hummus and raw veggies

Grilled fish– my kids LOVE salmon

Grilled kabobs of chicken, button mushrooms and fresh pineapple


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe’re ready for our close-up, Mr. DeMille.

The highlight of our summer, besides much-needed family time, was the Foothills Arts Council’s production of Little Shop of Horrors.  We spent most of June and July in rehearsals, and wrapped up with three shows last weekend.  Both Harper Lee and I have been bitten by the acting bug, and this is something we will do again and again.  Even Isaac got in on the act by running the spotlight at one of the dress rehearsals.  He loves the behind the scenes work.  It just goes to show what good things can come from stepping outside your comfort zone once in a while.  Besides, we got to wear lots of eyeliner and red lipstick.  Aren’t we glam?

And then…

Isaac turned 9! 


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA We, naturally, had a science party on Monday with lots of chaos.  I planned several experiments for the boys, which fairly quickly degenerated into a messy tangle of eight and nine year old boys covered in shaving cream, corn starch and food coloring.  Sometimes I feel as though our party invitation should come with a disclaimer and waiver form. 

They had a blast! 

Want to try your own?

Elephant Toothpaste

Food Coloring and Cream

Mentos and Diet Coke

Homemade Moon Sand

After everyone had been thoroughly washed down with the garden hose and were barefoot and shirtless, we released helium balloons with our names and address, so we might be able to track the distance traveled.  The word’s still out on that one. 

There were great science gifts (plus some fake dog doo, which was extremely popular) and a “lab experiment” cake that I was quite pleased with.  It was a super easy ice-cream sandwich cake if you’re ever looking for a kid-pleasing dessert idea.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAnd then, like the flash of a lightning bug in the summer darkness, July was gone.  Another beautiful memory to tuck into our growing collection.

jumping in…



1-2-3… Go!


We spent a couple of days with friends at Lake Norman two weeks ago.  We only see them maybe twice a year, but they are the sort of friends who, even when several months have passed, fall in step with us like we’d seen each other only the day before.  Their love of adventure and wildness and water is part of what draws the children together.  The adults have known each other since college– perhaps our love of adventure, wildness and beer is what continues to draw us together.  Every time we see one another, we say, “We have to get together more often,” and every year, life gets in the way.  But it’s nice to know that there are those friends who fit in seamlessly to the times in between and who are there even when they’re not.


The next week, we loaded up and headed to Topsail Island.  But not before Harper Lee and I participated in the Trout Tattoo, a sort of trail run that involved way more river crossings, rock hopping, and “I think I’ll just give up and float” moments than it did last year.  Overall, we did pretty well though the morning did result in bruised and bloody shins for me and a wrong turn and extra mile for Harper Lee.  But there were fish necklaces, cookies and good friends at the finish line, so it was all good.  It was not a typical trail race, but I love the adventurous quality of a race like the Tattoo simply because you never know what the heck might happen.



There seems to be a “gather ye rosebuds while ye may” theme emerging this summer.  One of Rob’s  bucket list items was to own a surfboard and learn to surf.  Every year, he rents a board and piddles around a bit, but he’s never had quite enough time to master the skill.  This year, he found a used board in Wilmington and drove up to see it.  The guy had several for sale, and Rob got a good deal, so he brought it home.  He and the kids spent the rest of the week learning to surf.

He also met a couple of local guys who loaned him a smaller board for the kids to use during our week and who expounded on the joys of building your own boat.  Now our garage is a boat-building shop, much to Isaac’s delight.

This also delights me.  There’s nothing I love more than seeing Rob, or anyone for that matter, do something that really lights his fire.  That’s what life is all about, and it’s something I’m practicing more and more.  The best thing about this new project is that the only thing Rob likes more than having a boat is messing around with a boat (or a bike)– building, tinkering, tweaking.  It brings him joy.  I like to see people doing the things that bring them real joy.  It’s not as common as you might think.


As Charles Kingsley said, “All we need to make us really happy is something to be enthusiastic about.”  Passion– it’s all about excitement and enthusiasm.  Maybe that’s what I like about Harper Lee and Isaac so much.  They make excitement and enthusiasm a daily practice.

The photo below is Isaac on the USS North Carolina in Wilmington.  He’s standing in front of the pharmacy and medical lab on the ship.  This discovery opened up entirely new possibilities.  I could almost see the wheels turning in his mind.  Suddenly, the Navy had become a new and interesting career choice.


Children have such a wonderful way of making all things seems possible.  What do I want to be when I grow up?  Invariably, they choose the thing that makes them light up inside.  They choose passion over practicality every time.  For a while, Harper Lee wanted to be the person who mixed up the colored soap at the car wash.  She was three and has since changed her mind, but I have always loved that story.  It illustrates such a straight-forward answer to the question, What do you want?  She wanted sweet-smelling, brightly colored soap bubbles.  All day long.  And to get paid for it?  Well, even better.

It’s only as we get older, that we begin to question things.  Being practical becomes more important. More practical.



Kickin’ it old skool

During our stay, we also busted a move at a local landmark, the Topsail Island Skating Rink.  It was straight out of the 1960’s with fans in each window (no AC), huge wood planks on the floor, a disco ball, and 45’s on the record player.

It is run by Doris Jenkins who, along with her husband, built the place in the old Marine Recreational Building in 1964.  It sits on the second floor, above the post office, and Doris, in her shorts and white roller skates, still collects the money ($5 for all night skating), hands out the skates and cold Coca-Cola’s and changes the records on the turntable.

She learned to skate on her front porch when she was a little girl and hasn’t stopped since.  What makes a nearly 80 year-old woman lace up her skates every night (besides amazingly good health)?  Could it be a passion for what she does?


This has me thinking about all the things we say, “I would love to… (you can fill in the blank)” but that we so seldom get around to doing.  If we’re not careful, practical living and everyday life can lull us into a bit of a stupor.  We can become unaware of all the things that used to light us up, that we used to feel great enthusiasm for.  We can forget those things in the face of all the things we feel need to be done, that we should do, that we have to do.

Or we can wake up.  We can ask ourselves the question,”What do I WANT to do?”  You could apply this to career choices and vocations if you want, but I’m mostly thinking of the smaller things, the little things that make us come alive, and that, too often, get pushed further and further off the road until they’re completely obscured by weeds and left to sit unattended.

I’ve given this a lot of thought in regards to my own life.  Much of my tendency toward practicality and level-headedness is rooted in fear.  I’ve spent a large portion of my life listening to voices, either in my own head or from the outside, saying, “Don’t do that.  That’s dangerous.  That’s weird.  That’s a risky choice.  That doesn’t make sense.”  And that’s nothing but fear.  Yes, I know bad things happen– accidents and tragedies– but I don’t want to live my life (or NOT live my life) trying to hide from them.

Sometimes I cringe when I think about all the opportunities I let go out of fear– fear of “something bad happening” or fear that someone else might not approve or that they might give me a hard time about my decision.  That’s just no way to live.  Not if I want to live my own life in my own way.  And why wouldn’t I?  It’s the only one I’m going to get.

I say this as much (possibly more) to myself as anyone because this fear thing is a hard burden to carry, but it’s also super hard to put down once you’ve picked it up.  And once you’ve carried it around as long as I have.

But I’m doing it.  I’m putting it down.  A little more every day.  Bit by bit.


This one here is my main source of inspiration in the unloading.

For one thing, I don’t want to let her pick it up.  It’s too heavy.  It doubles you over eventually.  It obscures your view.  I don’t want that for her.  I want her to always stand up straight, flexing those muscles and saying, “What’s next?  What else ya got?”

And for another, I’m 42.  Time is doing what it does best.  Marching on.  It’s not waiting.  I don’t want to wait either.

If you know me at all, you know that I do not like deep water, even in a pool.  I especially do not like water that does not allow me to see the bottom or that is a habitat for a variety of animals, some of whom might bite me.  I run.  I bike.  I do not swim.  Triathlons have never appealed.  I CAN swim, but I’m pretty sure the heart attack is what would slow me down in open water.


I have always wanted to try stand-up paddle-boarding.  And I’ve really wanted to try it in conjunction with yoga.  Maybe I look at Title Nine catalogs too often, but it just seemed like something I had to try.  I booked a class with Ohana Paddle Sports in Surf City.

By that afternoon, I was considering backing out.  It was in the Intracoastal Waterway.  Enough said.

But I went anyway.  As Harper Lee chattered enthusiastically about how excited she was on the way to the surf shop, I tried to practice deep breathing.  I talked nervously (OK– manically) to the instructor and other class participant as we got our boards and paddles ready, and for the first 15 minutes, my legs shook so badly, I could barely get into Warrior I, something that, on land, is generally not that difficult.  Harper Lee, naturally, bounced around like a champ, completely unfazed by the school of fish jumping out of the water around her board.

First one person fell in and then another.  Finally, I was the only one who was still on the board.  My legs began to relax.  I laughed.  I got into Pigeon pose and Downward Dog.  I did a tripod headstand, and while I did not actually get my legs up into a full headstand, it was more than I’d ever done on land.  And it was fun.  The sun was setting over the water, and it was more beautiful than I’d ever seen it.  Maybe it was my vantage point.

Finally, I realized that the reason I was the only one left standing on the board was not my superior paddle-boarding skill; it was my fear.  I was so afraid of falling, I dared not try some of the more difficult poses.  I didn’t want to lose my balance.  If, however, I just got it over with and fell in.  Well, then… that part would be over, right?

I jumped in.

And I didn’t die.  Nothing ate me.  I didn’t get a sudden cramp and sink to the bottom like a stone.  I didn’t struggle to get back on the board.  I just came to the top, laughing and spitting out THE saltiest water I’ve ever had in my mouth, and popped back up on the board where I proceeded to try some harder poses.  Because once the fear of falling was gone, what did I have to lose?



It’s a practice, which means I still worry.  I still have that voice (or voices) that caution me at every turn, but each time I do something that I’m not entirely comfortable with (like singing a solo part in a play or signing up for a race I may or may not be able to complete all the way across the country), the voices get quieter.  And when they do, I can hear MYSELF think.  I can hear what it is that I want.

eleanor roosevelt quote

the lesson for the day… and JOURNEY camp

The lesson for today is—whatever it is that you have been saying you want to do, you should go ahead and do it. Today. Because no matter how hard you think it will be, it probably won’t be as bad as you imagined, and you’ll almost always be glad you did it in the end.

I have been saying FOREVER that I really wanted to move my blog from GoDaddy to WordPress. For one thing, I hate GoDaddy’s advertising. I am clearly NOT their target audience. And for another, posting has always been a colossal pain in the butt. It took so long to load photos, and the site was often uncooperative, often for hours at a time. Posting sometimes felt like a monumental task.

I complained and griped and cursed and said, more times that I can count, “I hate this site! We have to move the blog.”

To which Rob replied, “Yeah, I know. It will be a huge project, but I’m willing if you want me to.” Rob is my tech guy. Otherwise, I probably would not be blogging. I probably wouldn’t have a computer at all. If he thought it was going to be a gargantuan task, it was probably more than I wanted to get into.

Then, two weeks ago, Rob calls, as I’m heading out the door for VBS and says, “We have a big problem.” That’s always my favorite kind of phone call.

Turns out, GoDaddy’s quickblogcast was going down. That night. A mere few hours from the phone call. And ten years of blog posts was going with it. Of course, I had saved my posts in Word documents, but I freaked out.

I went to VBS, and Rob got to work on moving ALL of my blog posts. It took just a couple of hours, and was much simpler than he had imagined. All the hours of painstaking work we had imagined turned out not to exist (thanks to WordPress), and I now have an amazingly simple site that loads photos automatically, is fairly intuitive (something really important for a non-tech person such as myself), and it looks pretty. If only we had done it sooner.

I’m looking forward to adding some features that, up until now, had been too much of a pain to put up, and I’m looking forward to seeing how the blog continues to change and unfold. Ten years. Wow.

By the way, several folks have asked me about Backyard Adventure Camp. I have decided not to offer a summer camp this year simply because summer sort of got away from me. The kids got out of school late, we had two summer camps, VBS, and a beach trip, and Harper Lee and I are participating in the community theater production of Little Shop of Horrors. Plus, I go back to work THREE weeks earlier than my kids. Like I said, it sort of got away in terms of how many things I’m actually able to do.

So we are foregoing summer camp at our house. At least for this year. Last year was a blast, so I would love to do it again at some point.

However, there is a new camp experience that local folks should be sure to check out. Journey Camp is right here in Elkin and is offering one-week (or multiple week) sessions throughout July and August. I went out to the camp earlier in the summer to look around and meet with the camp founder, Jennifer Bracey. The amount of love, energy and hard work that has gone into this camp is amazing, and she has a real passion for what she’s doing. I’m excited that I got the chance to meet with her and talk about her vision for the camp and the children.


Here’s a quick peek at what it’s all about:

With positive sensory integration in the background—but at the heart—of all that we do, the goal of our inaugural year at JOURNEY Camp is to connect with the natural rhythm of your child’s nervous system. We will provide a safe, sensory-rich, and sacred space that will not only encourage them to explore the world around, but also empower their world within.

As we journey together, we hope to instill in your child a sense of adventure, the experience of wonder, and the courage to embrace diversity in themselves and in others. Whether your child will be with us for one week or many, we are excited about growing and learning together, and we are honored that you’ve chosen to spend this time with us!

For more information, you can find Jennifer and Journey Camp on Facebook or at Soul Compass Center.  I can tell you that there are goats, a garden, a labyrinth, a pool, an art shed, a meditation room, a workshop and LOTS of room to play outside.  It is totally my kind of place.

And, as promised, I’m putting together a few “real food” ideas and recipes for you guys to try. I’ll post those in a couple of days.

what are you waiting for?

I feel like I’ve been beaten with a 2×4—but I mean that in the best possible way. I raced the Challenge of Devil’s Garden on Saturday, a ten (or so) mile trail race at Stone Mountain that climbed the Mountains to Sea Trail toward the Devil’s Garden overlook on the Parkway. It was a pretty tough climb—18% grade for nearly a mile of it, which was hard enough going up and plain scary coming down—but it was a trail race, so it was awesome.


Plus, there was good food and good company afterwards along with these awesome finisher prizes– the evil carrot.  

Thanks to Jason and Alison for a great race!


I placed 4th overall in the women’s division, and while I’m still not as fit as I want to be, I’m making progress. I plan to race the Trout Tattoo with Harper Lee again this coming Saturday. And, then, in August, I’m training for the New River duathlon. After that, my goal is pretty much to get as strong and fit as possible. I’ll pick out some races here and there with my sights set on a 2-day stage race in Pisgah National Forest at the beginning of November. I had decided that the longer ultra distances did not particularly interest me anymore. It’s not the kind of training I enjoy most. However, I have always wanted to do a stage race, and I DO love the adventurous quality of a really long trail run, so I’m going to do it.


Rob’s been riding like crazy and is in super great shape (I’m trying to catch up), and the kids have been running with me too. Harper Lee doesn’t love running as much as I do (though I think she could be really good at it), but I don’t pressure her about it. I just let her go when she wants. She likes the weird stuff—like the Trout Tattoo—and having her go with me is something I really enjoy.


It’s nice when your kids get old enough to go with you on runs and bike rides. Two weekends ago, we went up to the Virginia Creeper Trail for a 17-mile bike ride down the mountain. (If we go again, we will NOT be getting a shuttle to carry us up. It sort of makes us sick on our stomachs that we did that, but oh well… live and learn.) The way to go is to ride up and back, but it would probably be best on a weekday when hordes of people aren’t riding toward you on the downhill. At any rate, the fact that all four of us can now easily go on excursions together (without all the baby backpacks and bike trailers and jog strollers) makes life so much easier.


It also makes having kids a really poor excuse for not exercising. Kids actually make great workout partners. My friend, Karen, recently wrote a blog post about her family and their first 5K. It just goes to show that taking that first step out the door is all it takes. It’s not nearly as complicated as most folks make it out to be, and the rewards are immeasurable.


I also came across an article at Simple Homeschool the other day about working out with teens. I know several moms who drive their children to practices and workout sessions and spend countless hours every week dedicating themselves to their child’s health and well being but who also spend that precious time sitting and waiting. That’s time that could be used for both mom and child. I recently had an acquaintance tell me that she was planning to start running once she lost weight. This is backward thinking.


I completely understand the frustration of beginning. It’s hard. It feels like it will never be easier, that you’re just “not a runner.” I get it. Believe it or not, I started off that way too. Eighteen years ago, I drove to the Elkin Park and ran half a lap. I walked the other half. I did another half lap and walked half. Then I drove home. It was hard. I’m pretty sure it sucked, actually. It was slow and awkward and didn’t feel very good. I didn’t leave with a runner’s high. I felt like a slug.


I went back the next night.


And that’s the key. Going back. Showing up. Consistency.


If you are looking for a way to get started, to lose weight, to take control of your health, it’s pretty straight-up simple. Put your shoes on and go out the door. Start off slower than you think you should. Run for half a lap—or less—walk. Then do it again. Come back tomorrow. And the next day.


Take your kid with you. Don’t use them as an excuse for not getting outside. All children belong outside.   It’s their natural habitat. Let them go there, and go with them. Run. Walk. Talk. Look at the trees. Listen to the birds. Listen to the sound of your breath (labored though it may be) and the sound of your heart beating.


And if running isn’t your thing, hike up a mountain. Take your bike out of the garage. Go for a walk around the neighborhood. Go to a yoga class.   Don’t punish your body by saying it can only move the way it was meant to move if it loses weight first. You wouldn’t tell your child that. Why would you treat yourself so differently?

what’s your food culture?


We kicked off our Vacation Bible School last night with a
Big Heart Farms theme.  It centers around
the fruits of the spirit.  Afterwards,
our storyteller for the evening came to me and said, “What do you talk to your
kids about at home?” 

I took the sharp intake of breath that I usually take when
someone approaches me with a comment like that—and, yes, it happens often—and
said, “What do you mean?”

“Well, in Isaac’s almanac, he wrote:  NO FACTORY FARMING.  ONLY FREE RANGE CHICKENS!”

I laughed, partly because I have NO idea what the heck that
has to do with love, joy and peace (except for maybe the chickens) but also
because I have been on a bit of a kick lately.
I just read Barbara Kingsolver’s book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, and so the subject of what we eat and
where it comes from has been the topic of many conversations. 

I’ve had it on my shelf for a while, and I skimmed it when I
first purchased it, but I didn’t actually sit down to read it until I was
hopped up on Prednisone for a sinus infection one night and couldn’t
sleep.  And I’m so glad I did.

Kingsolver and her family spent a year eating only what they
could grow or raise themselves or buy locally.
This meant a lot of seasonal eating (strawberries ONLY in May for
instance) and a lot of really hard work.
While I admire her efforts tremendously, I don’t have a desire to go
quite that far, but I have to tell you, reading the book really made me think
about what I’m buying and what each of those purchases entails.

I won’t bore you with too many details (though I have bored
my children to tears), but let’s just say that big business, and I mean BIG
business—the kind that is doing some pretty questionable, and I think
unethical, stuff to our food—is controlling what goes into our bodies.  That freaks me out.  Ever wonder why so many folks are gluten
intolerant now?  Why girls are going
through puberty earlier and earlier?  Why
cancer rates are sky-rocketing?  Why the
fruits and vegetables you buy in the store bear little resemblance to the
fruits and vegetables your grandpa grew in his garden in terms of color,
texture and flavor?  If so, you should
read this book.  And it’s not just fruits
and vegetables—animal based food production is even scarier.

Recently, my doctor gave some sound advice:  “If God made it, you can eat it.”  I agree with that philosophy
whole-heartedly.  She went on to say that
if it can sit on your shelf for more than two or three days, then you should
probably not eat it.  Makes sense.  And it’s advice I plan to follow.  The problem is it’s getting harder to tell
what God made and didn’t make exactly.
I’ve never been a fan of processed foods, and I’ve always advocated
eating whole, fresh foods that come in packaging made from nature, not plastic,
but with genetic modifications and overuse of antibiotics, the line is becoming
much less clear.  It’s enough to worry
someone to death if they let it. 

One of the most compelling arguments that Kingsolver makes
is that Americans lack what she refers to as a “food culture.”  Everyone talks about how the French eat
bread, cheese and wine and still manage to stay thin.  Well, part of that dynamic is that the bread,
cheese and wine are probably better quality (no Cheese-Whiz or Velveeta for
them), and when they eat, they do so at a table, surrounded by family and
friends and enjoying good conversation.
For them, eating is an experience, not something you do in the car
between scheduled events.   Other
cultures, like the Greeks or Italians, have rich foods too, but, again, there
is an art to the food.  Unlike a Big Mac.

It really got me thinking about our food culture—as a
family.  I grew up with a very strong
food culture.  It was not a Mediterranean
diet, by any means, but it was whole and fresh and, almost exclusively,
God-made.  We raised our own meat, our
own vegetables, and we hunted.  During
the summer, I ate food right off the tree or vine while it was still warm from
the sun.  Nothing from a grocery store
could touch that kind of flavor and goodness.
We took the time to cook, and meals were enjoyed together.

That’s what I want to take the time to create for my
children.  I don’t plan to eat quite the
same as my grandparents.  For instance, I
don’t fry a lot of fatback, but then, we don’t work in a tobacco field for ten
hours a day either, so some things are different.  But I can make sure that the food I prepare
is as close as I can get to local, fresh and God-made as possible.

For that reason, I grow and can and freeze a lot of my own
stuff.  I also try to buy from local
produce markets, paying special attention to where the food came
from—Wilkesboro, NC versus California.  And
I’ve reduced the amount of meat we consume, unless I know where it came
from.  I know that I can’t police every
little thing, and I’m not saying that I will never show my face in a McDonald’s
again, but I am making much more conscious choices about what I put on the
plate at each meal. 

You can drive yourself crazy if you worry about all the
toxins and poisons that are labeled “food” on our shelves, and in many
ways, some of it is really hard to avoid, but making educated decisions and
learning as much as you can about WHY making better choices is good for not
only your family but for the world in general is very important.

I, for one, have never liked having other people make choices
for me.  Knowing what’s really going on
with our food and making informed decisions about what I buy at the store is
one place I want control.  Check the
book out and find out more about eating REAL at Animal, Vegetable, Miracle.

I’ll be posting links to recipes and whole food ideas on my
Facebook page and here at the blog.  And
I encourage you to share yours as well.

As Isaac might say, “No factory farming—only free range