During the short winter days, kids need food to lift their spirit. Everyone knows that eating fresh organic fruits and vegetables is the number one habit for healthy living. They are also the foods that most lift our spirits. However, healthy organic foods tend to be more expensive and people have found it is easier and more convenient to consume prepared processed foods. Studies have shown that trans fats, which are vegetable oils that have been transformed into solid fats, increase the risk of depression, cancer, and cardiovascular system problems. Trans fats are found in a vast array of processed foods, baked goods, French fries, candy, crackers, fried foods, and at fast food establishments, as they tend to have a longer shelf life and greater flavor stability. Fresh picked organic fruit and veggies are sweet and flavorful as well as an incredibly rich source of vitamins and minerals, dietary fiber, flavonoids, plant sterols, and antioxidants, making kids healthier and happier. Local organic foods, that have been harvested early in the day before coming to the Farmers Market, look and taste better, and are able to retain more nutrients than foods that have traveled half way around the world and take four to seven days to reach the supermarket shelves. Growing organic food in a school garden, backyard, or community garden, makes it convenient and economical to eat much more in season fruits, berries, and veggies. Researchers have told us over and over again that half of a typical meal should consist of fresh fruits and veggies, but most kids and adults don’t eat anywhere near that amount. Kids eat what they grow. Pointing kids to the joys of growing and cooking their own food instills positive eating habits, leadership skills, and better attitudes. Cooking and eating is about enjoying and taking time to eat healthy food and socialize around the family table. Local organic food lifts the spirit, with a variety of fresh, diverse ingredients, delicious flavors and delightful aromas that balances bodily systems and supports mental performance.
A food desert is an area that doesn’t have large grocery stores selling a variety of healthy foods. Instead, food desert areas have convenience stores and fast food places that sell foods high in empty calories and fat. With an abundant variety of available grants, people are turning empty lots into school and community gardens to grow organic fruits and veggies in food desert areas, an economical way to get the highest quality food. Growing food in a school or community garden, kids can put food on the table, improve their health, improve their environment and boost morale. Community gardening improves the quality of life, producing delicious organic food, regular exercise, and neighborly good will. Garden projects in outdoor class rooms help kids to learn where their food comes from and to develop healthy eating habits, especially when the fresh produce is used in cooking classes and school lunches. Outdoor classrooms at schools bring food studies into the curriculum and offer opportunities to taste, touch, and ingest lessons in virtually every academic subject on every grade level. A garden with cold frames and cloches can give kids a varied and changing diet with access to different antioxidants, vitamins, and nutrients throughout the year. Rejuvenating an empty lot in a food desert area into a lush edible garden inspires the neighborhood to plant containers of flowers on fire escapes and herbs in window boxes giving the whole area new life.
Whole organic food can heal the body, energizing and lengthening life, especially when the food is served close to the way Mother Nature made it. With Mother Nature’s diet kids can not only lose weight, but heal many diseases, and discover a new way of being. Having an organic fruit and veggie garden can heal the body, mind, and spirit. Mixed greens salad, fresh from the organic veggie garden, dressed with organic extra virgin olive oil and lemon juice, is a superfood filled with abundant healing properties. Leafy greens are loaded with nutrients and low in calories, each with different antioxidants, anti inflammatories, vitamins, and minerals. Kids can add a green salad to their lunch box, packing it with nuts, herbs, and pickled veggies with the dressing in a separate container for a school day with increased energy and brain power. Fill the thermos with herbal tea, which makes a refreshing drink, hot or cold, with medicinal properties. Kids can use mason jars to stock the pantry with organic whole grains, pasta, beans, seeds, nuts, and flour that look beautiful, are easy to find, and are kept air tight. Beans and lentils are the secret weapon for weight loss, adding protein, fiber, and a satisfied feeling, and can be blended into sandwich spreads or dips for veggies. Families cooking together, communicating, and eating together at the dining table definitely improves everyone’s health and relationships. Kids that eat from their organic raised bed food garden, the local Farmers Market, and their whole food pantry can balance their body functions and develop a healthy immune system. Mother Nature’s fruit and veggie garden is the outdoor pantry, where food grown to perfect ripeness delivers the highest nutrition, beauty, and flavor at the lowest cost. Home cooking from scratch can bring people together, laughing, feeling happy, and satisfied.
Kids can visit the Farmers Market once a week for fully ripe produce picked at the peak of perfection and a diversity that is constantly changing with the seasons. This variety of produce ignites creativity in the kitchen and provides a healthy nutrient balance. The closer a food is to having been harvested the more powerful its content of textures and nutrients, making it more delicious and more effective in combating disease and improving the health and wellbeing of the family. The taste difference between a fresh picked organic peach and its canned, jarred, packaged, or conventionally grown with poisons equivalent is two different things entirely, one filled with life and one not so much. Food is medicine. Eating fresh, local, seasonal, organic fruits and veggies saves time and money at the doctors office and on prescriptions. Eating food that grows where we live also helps with our allergies and immunities. Just picked local seasonal organic ingredients have surprisingly complex flavors and taste amazing using simple recipes, like roasting veggies with a sprinkle of organic extra virgin olive oil and sea salt in the oven.
Kids love to visit the Farmer’s Market, tasting the local organic fresh fruits, smelling the flavor within, and talking to the farmers that grow them. Buying organic produce from small local farmers helps to financially sustain their farms while bringing the best food available home to our families. Kids learn where their food comes from and of the adventures farmers have bringing the food to market. Buying from local farmers is economical and eco-friendly, saving the energy used to prepare food for shipping and the fuel used by trucks to transport it. The available produce changes with the season bringing a wide range of crop diversity, depending on the climate and soil conditions of the region, which brings a healthy variety to the table. A tip farmers give kids is not to wash the produce until you are ready to use it and don’t refrigerate it until it is fully ripe.
The closer we are to nature, the healthier we are. We can make lifestyle adjustments to prevent disease and optimize health, by growing an organic garden, eating the best tasting organic food, and letting go of habits that no longer serve us. In our peaceful organic fruit and veggie garden, health awaits us, breathing the air purified by the plants, absorbing the warmth and radiance of the sun, digging our hands into the soil rich with antidepressant microbes, and eating delicious produce picked fresh at the peak of nutritional value and prepared simply with love.
Every cubic inch of healthy soil is a miniature world of beneficial living organisms that feed all living things on our planet. The same laws of the universe apply from the macrocosm to the microcosm, as above so below. When humans follow Nature’s cues and we align ourselves with her rhythm and cycles, we are healed body, mind, heart, and spirit. Eating the different in season organic veggies from our own garden, instead of eating the same processed food week after week, brings a variety of beneficial nutrients into our system and creates a healthy gut. By replacing processed food with super food from the garden, we can turn the tide on the alarming rise in diabetes, obesity, and life threatening food allergies.
Following the natural rhythms of the sun and the seasons, we get to the garden early in the morning when the plants like to be watered. We get healthy exercise, breathing the aromatherapy of the various herbs, and start the day feeling peaceful, instead of stressed. By interplanting, rotating crops and planting year round, we can focus on the growing life in our garden, which helps us release painful past experiences and keeps us on a year long balanced path. In the garden, we find little miracles to inspire us every day.
By recognizing and following natural laws, we come to appreciate that our inner nature and body functions have come into alignment with outer Nature and the environment. Eating organic food that is fresh from the garden, heals our bodies of the toxins that cause disease. Communing with Nature in the herb filled air of our organic veggie garden is an invigorating mood booster, stress reliever, and energy enhancer that give us a peaceful feeling of well being.
In a world of unbridled rage, kids are facing bullying in the playground and in society. Families are searching for a kinder and more sustainable way of being. Organic gardening and cooking from the garden provides the most nutrient rich diet, and both gardening and cooking are stress reducers that bring feelings of accomplishment, responsibility, and happiness. Pointing kids to the joys of growing their own organic food instills positive eating habits, leadership skills, and better attitudes. Kindness begins at home by stocking the pantry with organic whole grains, organic dried beans, and organic dried fruits and nuts and removing processed foods.
Everything is connected, and the world reflects the consequences of our choices, including our eating habits. Chemical fertilizers on the food plants are harming the microorganisms in the soil. Every cubic inch of healthy organic soil is a miniature world of beneficial living organisms that feed all living things on our planet. This micro-universe takes the organic material in the soil and turns it into useable food and nutrients for the plant, which grows veggies rich with nutrients for kids. Herbicides are killing medicinal plants and reducing our food diversity. Pesticides are killing the bees and butterflies. There are atrocities that happen to millions of kind and gentle animals worldwide on a daily basis.
Many families today are rebuilding their health with nutritious food that is also good for the planet, by growing organic food right where they live in containers and raised bed gardens. Certain premade foods contain chemicals that cause addictive cravings that are quite similar to the cravings of drugs, alcohol, and tobacco. Processed foods, refined frozen meals, and fast foods stimulate dopamine, the brain’s pleasure neurotransmitter. One in four Americans eats fast food every day and 20% of American meals are eaten in the car. Much of the world’s economy depends on this addiction. As it causes health issues, the pharmaceutical companies and the healthcare industry benefit; meanwhile our doctors are attending educational seminars sponsored by the pharmaceutical companies. Some of these prescription drugs are addictive and cause aggressive and irrational behavior. If we eliminated foods that cause health problems, many powerful food corporations, agricultural conglomerates, and drug industries would collapse.
When kids grow an organic veggie garden, they want to eat what they grow. Packaged, processed foods lose their addictive hold after kids taste the fresh bold flavors of just picked organic berries. What food could be faster than picking fruit from the vine? Kids can learn kindness in the garden by caring for their plants, providing food and shelter plants for their garden partners (birds, bees, and butterflies), and harvesting healthy food for their whole family. A 10’ x 20’ plot at the Community Garden can feed a family of four. Cultivate your garden and live in daily expectation of wonder.
How we experience food in our homes and environment, changes our bodies and our metabolic process. Modern hectic lifestyle has eroded family meal traditions. Recent research shows that the family meal can uplift the mental and physical wellness of parents and kids. Families eat healthier, communicate better, and become closer. Healthy habits for a lifetime can be created for kids while enjoying a nutritious meal with loved ones. Family mealtime can be made special by including the kids in the family meal planning. Kids can help planning a menu, making a shopping list, and preparing a dish. Depending on their age, they can measure, pour, and stir ingredients for the meal. Kids that grow an organic veggie garden can pick their produce at the height of freshness and add it to the menu. Proud of their offering, they learn to wash their hands, clean the produce, set the table, and keep the kitchen cleaner than when they started. Parents can discover what is happening in their child’s life at school and play, as kids will want to communicate. Family mealtime can bring beauty, value, and meaning to everyday life for both parents and kids.
Table manners help create that special environment for parents and kids to show gratitude and respect for the meal. Kids can swallow their food before talking and use their napkin to wipe sticky hands or to cover their mouth when coughing. Kids can speak kindly at the table: “Please pass the bread,” “I’m sorry for bumping the table,” “Excuse me for spilling,” “Thank you for the mashed potatoes”. When parents set the example of using good manners to enjoy healthy homemade food, kids will too. The wonderful aromas of home cooking and the laughter around the dinner table are the making of happy kids and fond memories.