A personal look back at the year that was 2012

As I tentatively begin to step into the pristine landscape of 2013 and leave my footsteps behind me, it seems inevitable that I would look back at the past 12 months and contemplate the year that was 2012.

What a whirlwind year it was, after pulling myself out of a personal year-long hell in 2011. I’m healthy. I’m happy. And even my blogs have gotten better over a year’s time. I’ve started a Facebook page. I’ve even begun my education at a second school. I’ve tried strange things, such as cactus pads in my salad, and making raw foods. I even made kale chips in my new dehydrator. I have vastly improved my personal yoga practice. The other day, I found myself actually giving sound nutrition suggestions to people “coming down with something.” It surprised me that I had it in me!

Thanksgiving got strange at our house. It was a "Wok"-y holiday, and cooked lots of stuff I'd never heard of before.
Me cooking this year, something I did a LOT of in 2012. One thing I love about nutrition, is applying it in the kitchen. Thanksgiving got strange at our house. It was a “Wok”-y holiday, and I cooked lots of stuff I’d never heard of before. And it was all healthy and good for you.

______________________________~*~______________________________

It’s amazing what a year can do for you.

For instance, this year has been a year of learning new things. As a health and nutrition nut, here is a list of personal buzz words I’ve welcomed into my vocabulary in 2012:

– Community Supported Agriculture (CSA)
– Organic
– Processed foods
– Omegas (3s, and 6s)
– Farmer’s market
– Fad Diets
– Paleo
– Plant-based diets (Raw, Vegan, Vegetarian)
– “Eat the rainbow!”
– GMOs
– Pesticides/herbicides
– Documentaries
– Allopathic/Holistic
– Supplements
– (Essential) Nutrients
– Legumes
– Diet-related illnesses (Diabetes, cancer, hypertension/high blood pressure, stroke, heart disease)
– Obesity epidemic
– Lactose intolerance
– Deficiencies/Toxicity (vitamins, minerals, water)
– Empty calories
– Nutrient dense foods
– Sustainability
– Grow gardens, not lawns
– Heirloom seeds
– Free radicals/antioxidants
– “Let food be thy medicine”
– Hippocrates, the father of medicine
– Functional foods
– Protein, lipids, and carbs
– Soy
– Macro/micro nutrients
– Artificial sweeteners
– Folate
– BMI
– ATP
– HDL/LDL
– Phytochemicals
– RDA
– TCA Cycle
– Contaminants

I am pretty sure there are hundreds more, too. But these are just those off of the top of my head. Any of them sound familiar to you?

It’s amazing to me that I’ve discovered that much over just 12 months. And 2013 looks just as promising. Recently, I closed my eyes and jumped into nominating myself as a student delegate for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ Student Advisory Council. Now, let me clarify: I have NEVER been on a committee in my entire life. I haven’t felt passionate about anything in my 30 years of life to want to join a committee related to it. But this year, I gave it a whirl. I am getting tired of all the books and online tests, and no real-world application or interacting with others who share my passions. Besides these blogs (which I’ve fallen behind on writing of late), I don’t feel like I am reaching enough people to make an impact with all of this amazing knowledge I continue to acquire. I can’t WAIT to start making a difference.

For now, though, I await the long, arduous process in store for me before I know whether I am chosen to serve on the council starting in June. Phew! Wish me luck, guys.

A friend of mine told me that 2013 was “going to be my year.” We’ll see what happens. The journey of 2013 so far looks pretty tame. I will be finishing my holistic nutrition program in June. I’ll peck through a few more required courses for my traditional dietician technician program, and maybe start making cards and practice some holistic nutrition counseling by the end of the year. I even kicked around the idea of starting a really basic online magazine. This time next year, though, I think I will start yoga instructor training. I want to get my that Western herbalism program under my belt, but – ah, one thing at a time.

So this year, I want to take a tai chi class. I want to travel. I want to cook and try foods I’ve never heard of before. I want to blog about topics that intrigue me, with touching prose. I want to take beautiful pictures. I want to dig out my three-year-old raised beds out of my garage, and finally start my little garden. I want to meditate. I’d love to learn how to crochet. I’d like to finish at least one cross stitch project. I want to have fun. I want to enjoy this year’s journey.

Viva la 2013!!!

Advertisements

A locavore’s holiday: National Farmer’s Market Week

In case you didn’t know, this coming week August 5 – 11 is National Farmer’s Market Week. All hail the mighty American farmer! Locavores, unite!

Believe me when I tell you, farmers don’t do what they do for the money. Well, they try to. But for smaller farms, it’s becoming harder and harder to break even these days. It’s almost the American dream to be able to make an honest day’s work simply tilling the land, and reaping the fruits of your labor as they ripen. It may seem easy – throw a few seeds in the ground, watch them grow, sell the results.

But it’s the overhead: Cost of land, paying workers, buying equipment, cost of water, and your yields being at the mercy of the elements that makes farming a tough trade to make a living. Many ranchers and farmers have to take second jobs just to make ends meet.

That’s where we, the consumers, come in! With health and wellness concerns taking hold of our modern-day culture, it makes sense that “locavore” is making its way into the community vocabulary. Especially in a dwindling national economy, buying locally grown produce has put Arizona “you-pick” or CSA-certified farms on the map of modern-day shoppers, urban and rural alike.

Why? There are several fantastic reasons.

First of all, according to the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), “Food that is locally grown spends less time in the back of a truck; causing less damage to the food. When food is stored for long periods of time, the cells in the fruit begin to break down, causing wilting or bruising and the loss of nutrients. The sugars in the food also turn to starch, which makes the food tougher, and not as flavorful” (Sue Baic, British Dietetic Association, 2007).

So, that means two things: Despite the healthier aspect, when farmers sell directly to consumers, they cut out “the middleman,” so to speak, and get the full value for their produce upfront, which also weighs a little lighter on the consumer’s coin purse, as well. Secondly, it cuts down on emissions from fewer trucks taking produce to long-distance locales. So you’re paying the farmer directly, from the vine to your hand, instead of the high dollar signs at the market due to costs of transportation and related constantly fluctuating gas prices. Consequently without much effort, you’re doing your part in living a little ‘greener.’

Thirdly, paying the local farmer helps keep that money circulating at the community level. It helps support local jobs on the farm, or other related, regional costs the farmer needs to pay.

Wow, right? Why haven’t we always been doing this?

Don’t know where there are any local farmer’s markets? No problem! (And no excuses 😉 ). The Arizona Farm Bureau and the USDA have a wealth of information about the schedule and locations of markets in the state of Arizona, as well as a great graph on the USDA site about growing seasons and what produce is harvested when.

In this modern world, we’ve become so removed from where real food comes from. So this week, do yourself (and food growers!) a favor: Shop local, fresher, healthier, greener, and cheaper, all in one place – at the food source. Win-win for everybody, and is a great big thank you to the hard work our farmers go through to get that food on our tables.

Happy Farmer’s Market Week, everyone!

Don’t always have time to make it out to an area farmer’s market? Do the next best thing! Buy produce at the stores grown locally. Every time I’m at the market, for example, I pick up these sprouts, grown and shipped from only the next town over. Shop local this week! Show your support for food growers in your area.