Farm to Table. Table to Soul.

15 years ago, I traded in my fixation with food & food rules and obsessive body comparing for something else.

 

What did I trade it in for? 

 

A life-giving relationship with food and my body. Mindful cooking and a lingering dining experience. 

 

It was one of the most freeing things I've ever done for myself and it was also one of the hardest things I've ever done! And it was WORTH it.

  

No counting calories, fat grams, punishing or rewarding myself when I did or did not exercise, regardless of what the scale said. In fact, I threw out my scale. {Side note: If you rely on a scale to dictate what you eat and how you exercise every day, you'll never arrive at true freedom with food and your body. I stand by that statement wholeheartedly. Here's an experiment for you. Ditch the scale! And begin to look inward for connection with yourself instead of outward.}

 

It's not that I just woke up one day & stopped counting calories and fat grams. After obsessing about them for years and having manic control over food, who can really just do that? Not me. So instead of trying to "stop" doing something (i.e. counting, weighing, comparing), I decided to "add in" nourishing practices trusting they would eventually crowd out the not-so-nourishing habits and mindset.

 

One of the things I "added in" completely transformed my relationship to food. At the time, I had no idea it was going to be such a monumental experience for me. My husband and I, newly married, created a vegetable garden in our backyard. We tilled the soil. Planted seeds. Watered them and day after day, we waited.

 

Oh my goodness, have you ever observed a garden grow from start to finish? I marveled at the process.

 

Growing a garden, for me, was like marveling at the miracle of a life from conception to birth and beyond.  From this itty bitty seed into something so beautiful? Not only did it taste amazing but it nourished me from the inside out. It brought new meaning to the term Mother Nature to me. Just as an expectant mom nurtures that life inside, I found myself nurturing this garden as an expectant mother. My hands in the dirt, watering, weeding, watching the small tiny vegetables and fruits growing to completion, fiercely protecting them from predators, talking to them, lovingly harvesting that food and getting as close to the source as one can was a very spiritual experience for me. There's something that happened the day I walked outside, picked a basket of Roma tomatoes, a serano pepper, cilantro and an onion and walked inside my house and made a delicious bowl of salsa and ate it for dinner. 

 

BOOM! Something shifted inside. It's the truest meaning of FARM TO TABLE. TABLE TO SOUL. 

 

What happened for me that first summer with my new garden was nothing short of transformational in my relationship with food and my body. No amount of therapy in an office or dietician recording my intake or weighing me on a scale helped my healing journey with food and body as did my first gardening experience.  

 

Spending more time in my garden, big shifts started taking place. Food was not a burden. Food wasn't the enemy or a stressor or a problem. Food was not confusing. Food lost it's caloric value and was replaced with a different kind of value.  Food took on the role of nourishment far beyond what you calculate on the plate. 

 

Food became bigger than something I could measure. The earth, the sun, the seasons and the farmers. The way real food requires harmony with earth, sun, water and farmer to allow seeds to germinate to flourish and be harvested to give its life to nourish ours. Amazing, right? Completely transformed the whole story for me. 

 

 

(Here's my itty bitty watermelon - take note of the amazing lush basil plant by its side!) 

 

Gardening became my place of healing and of meditation. Ever so slowly, I began moving away from a distorted relationship with food and discovered something new. I began pausing and listening to my body and trusting her more - asking her what she desired and letting her be more my guide than the should's in my head. She's intuitive and smart just as your guide inside is smart and intuitive for you.

 

A lot of people assume that I eat healthy because it's the "right" thing to do to "be healthy".  Or to manage weight, have better energy and manage symptoms. A lot of people assume that my work is about helping people move away from snacking on tortilla chips and instead grab the kale chips because I'm just passionate about eating healthier. 

 

But what I'm really passionate about? 

 

Teaching women how food is a spiritual experience and invites us into something so much bigger. 

 

Do I love quality? Absolutely! Am I an advocate for real food? Of course! Do I care about you eating healthy food! I do. 

 

But I also deeply care about holding space for you to realize that eating, cooking, buying local fresh organic veggies isn't a fad or a measure of good parenting and whether or not you're doing "good" or "bad". 

 

It's simply an invitation. 

 

Inviting you to be a part of something so much bigger.  To feel connected to a source of provision. To a creative act. To the larger story. To feel connected more deeply to nature: to the sun, clouds, rain, seasons, soil, people, earth. Something so much bigger than just yourself and how food is not just a number or a bottom line necessity. It's also nourishment on a whole new level. 

 

And quality and real food choices naturally follow.

 

Bottom line, why do I do this whole thing? It's a spiritual experience. 

 

Every time,  I let it be.

  

Calories and fat grams are just one way to look at food but if you're honest, that's a really boring, one-dimensional way to look at food and no amount calorie counting is going to provide you with the freedom you are truly looking for. So I invite you into a whole new way to look at food. The much larger, more complex, life-giving story.

 

Here's my invitation to you this week. Visit your local farmers market. This is the BEST time of the year to visit. Pick up some veggies from local farmers and make a meal. Give thanks for all the hands that prepared the soil and grew and raised that food. Imagine the people that harvested that head of lettuce. With their own hands, they picked that head of lettuce or pulled those snap peas or gently removed those raspberries from the earth just for you. Be mindful of the sun, the rain, the soil that gave life to those plants and feel the difference in your body when you take time to sit down and take notice of all that went into giving you nourishment from that one meal. And you are invited to do this three times a day! Every day. It's pretty spectacular. 



 

"I dislike the thought that some animal has been made miserable to feed me.  If I am going to eat meat, I want it to be from an animal that has lived a pleasant, uncrowded life outdoors, on bountiful pasture, with good water nearby and trees for shade."- Wendell Berry, What are People for?

 

To further this conversation about food, I really struggled with eating meat for years. I was a vegan for several years and I didn't eat red meat for almost 10 years. I learned about the inhumane practices of animals - stories of downer cows being beaten, chickens with extra body parts and butchers cutting around cancer tumors and still selling the meat. It didn't feel right to be "mindless" about knowing where my meat came from. So I stopped eating meat altogether. The problem was, as a vegan, I didn't feel great. Over a few years time, I realized that my body felt better eating animal protein. So I went searching for farmers who had a reverence for animals and honored their lives to nourish ours. I encourage you to search where you live to find these thoughtful farmers who practice farming this way. These farmers exist and they need our support in order to continue!

 

Jill & Mary of Crane Dance Farm are two of these farmers for my family. Before meeting them, I did not eat pork. Ever. After I met them, my family visited their farm and met their heirloom pigs, listened to their farming practices and have declared their pork the most wonderful cleanest pork from animals who lived a happy life outdoors roaming freely. Now they visit our Holland Farmers' Market every Saturday.
 

I love their bacon and breakfast sausage as well as their brats (their jalapeno brats are amazing), dirk's tuscan sausage for soups and sweet italian sausage for pizzas & spaghetti squash marinara as well as italian sausage for the sausage skillet (recipe below). They are also well-stocked with a variety of 100% grass-fed beef cuts.
 

Did I mention I was a vegan 13 years ago??!!   lol


When I think about how difficult it is to run a small organic local farm, I feel compelled to make sure you are aware they exist. Together, we can support them to continue to grow and to thrive. 
 

This serves my family of 5. Feel free to adjust to fit the needs of your family. 

2 pounds, (Crane Dance Farm) Italian Sausage links
2 onions, sliced
4 potatoes, sliced thinly
2 packages shiitake or mini bella mushrooms, sliced thin

1 small zucchini, sliced

1 small yellow squash, sliced
Assortment of green, red, orange and yellow peppers, sliced thin
3 large handfuls baby spinach
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried parsley
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
freshly cracked pepper

Sear the italian sausage links on medium high heat, turning occasionally until fully cooked. Remove from skillet. When cool enough, slice into 1/4-1/2" slices.

Keep the sausage bits in the skillet and add 2 TBS water to deglaze the pan and begin sautéing the onions in its juices. Saute until glossy and translucent. Stir occasionally.

Add potatoes. Cook until softened. Stir often. Add mushrooms and peppers and zucchini squash and cook until softened. Meanwhile, add garlic, basil, oregano, parsley, salt and pepper together in a small bowl and stir to make a paste. Add to dish and combine thoroughly. Lastly, add spinach until wilted. Return sausage to the pan and heat through and serve.

*This recipe is great to use at the end of the week when you can use whatever produce is left in your fridge. Other veggies that are worth experimenting in this dish: leeks, kale, swiss chard, sweet potatoes, shredded brussels sprouts.