Category Archives: Food

Fear

Teddy Roosevelt once said, “The only thing to fear is fear itself.” But, in these times, it seems reasonable to be fearful doesn’t it? Everyday brings news of another mass killing; men of all ethnicities going out and randomly killing off everyone in their vicinity. And then there is climate change. The world has been assailed by increasingly frequent and violent storms that kill off masses of people in the blink of an eye. If it isn’t quick death, then from Love Canal to Flint, it is a slow, debilitating process of death that is caused by the invisible poisoning of our Earth — air, water, soil, food. If that’s not enough, then there is the looming threat of financial collapse causing misery or death by poverty. It seems like everywhere we turn, Death is looking us in the eye. It is frightening! It’s a wonder we don’t all wake up in the morning and just run out of our houses screaming in terror!

Why would Roosevelt, a reasonable and intelligent human, say that fear is the only thing to fear? I was once face to face with a Rottweiler that lunged, completely unexpectedly, from the corner of a porch toward me. Because I had been a regular Yoga/meditation practitioner, I had cultivated a state of internal calm and centeredness. When I saw the dog out of the corner of my eye coming for me, fear did not arise in me. Because the gaping abyss of fear was not there, the dog stopped, almost in mid air, turned and went back to its corner.

It has to do with being whole inside. Fear eats you up. The state of constant, subliminal fear breaks down your inner integrity. Fear can save your life in emergencies, but, with a persistent presence, it can also be like a leprotic disease, creating holes in the fabric of your being. In Nature, healthy plants aren’t attacked by disease, only plants that are already sick — same with animals. Predators have mechanisms that tell them when something is weak or sick and they go for it. It’s a green light for annihilation!

When calm is your abiding state, when you are able to stand back from the melee and get quiet inside, a whole new world comes into play. Peace is an unassailable ‘defense’ system. It doesn’t allow fear to exist.

Mushroom Fantasia

Getting to know mushrooms can be as mind expanding as actually ingesting the legendary psilocybin mushroom. Mushrooms have a strange beauty; in some cultures they are sacred. They can inspire awe; they are mysterious, appearing silently and seemingly from nowhere. Paul Stamets, mycologist, comments, “. . . rains fell and mushrooms magically sprang forth, wilted in the sun, rotted, and vanished without a trace.” It is easy to believe that they originate in the land of the fairies, that they are creatures from Alice in Wonderland where nothing is as it seems to be. In ancient fables, fanciful toadstools, even though poisonous, have given a fairytale aura to mushrooms – they are home to elves, sprites and, of course, fairies.

Mushrooms come in strange and diverse shapes, sizes, and forms; and are usually found in delightful, dwarfish communities some spreading over acres of ground and some, such as turkey tails, will completely encircle and colonize tree trunks, becoming an exquisite form of living art. Some have dome shaped tops resembling church cupolas, others present flat tops large enough to spread a feast on. For instance, Noble Polypores can be almost 5’ across and weigh more than 300lbs. You can find mushrooms looking like they were made just for kids – red button tops covered with white polka dots with a stark white stem stretching into the ground (Fly Agaric which are poisonous) and mushrooms that sport white cascading spines that resemble wigs of hair (Hericium Erinaceus).

Do you know how important mushrooms are to the health of Nature? They are a keystone species on which many other aspects of the biosphere depend. These awesome entities are responsible for holding entire habitats together. Mycelium, which Stamets considers the Internet of Nature, is what mushrooms spring from. This intricate mycelium network forms a fibrous mat, just under the surface of the ground, which not only holds everything together, but also creates an astounding communication system that gives every plant access to every other plant within, sometimes, thousands of acres. Trees and plants use the mycelium internet system to, among other things, send nutrients and healing chemicals to other trees or plants that are in need.

According to Stamets, “The soil that fungi produce sustain, ultimately, all life,” and, according to some, mushroom compost is one of the best soil conditioners you can get for your garden. Amazingly, mushrooms, such funky creations, can remediate, or heal, entire poisoned areas of land – brownfields – land areas that are saturated with toxic chemicals. At the end of the remediation process, and of the growth and maturation of these mushrooms, neither the brownfield nor the mushroom are any longer toxic. They have both been purified — or transformed. Mushrooms are also used in water purification processes.

In addition to their essential role in Nature, mushrooms have multitudes of prized medicinal and culinary properties that offer multiple benefits for the health of humans. Grocery stores have picked up on this and are expanding their repertoire of edible mushrooms. Mushrooms are valued food products — some truffles sell for more than $500/lb. Toadstools themselves may have culinary and medicinal properties but most people don’t have sophisticated enough knowledge to know how to use them.

Mother Nature holds a fantasia of wealth in the kingdom of mushrooms that benefits all sentient beings. Expand your mind; explore the world of mushrooms. You might just find yourself in a startlingly unique and enchanted realm.

Eating Animals: Nature/Culture

There is a beautiful, not very large, completely white cat who lives here on the farm. She is very affectionate but never pushy. She is also a master hunter. I have seen her capture chipmunks and play with the terrified creatures for long periods of time before eating them. On a recent day I returned to the farm to find a surgically decapitated and completely filleted chipmunk lying on the porch. All that was left was the perfectly severed head, and separated from the head by an inch, the long line of the aorta connected with the internal organs – identifiable heart, liver — and one leg. Not a single bone or any fur left except on the severed skull. “Momma Kitty,” as she is known, had eaten, or very neatly disposed of, everything else.

Nate the farmer uses natural farming methods to raise chickens as kindly and holistically as possible. He has painstakingly arranged it so that each group of approximately 50 chickens has their own coop and a 50×100’ free-range pasture to roam as they please. Next year he plans to plant chicken gardens so the chickens will have a variety of fresh food. Presently, twice a day, all of the chickens are fed well on non-GMO corn and supplied with water. These chickens are raised for meat. At the end of eight weeks, Nate carefully lifts each of the chickens into a large cage and takes them to the ‘processor.’ The processed chickens are then sold to very appreciative customers who pay extra because of the care that was given the chickens and for their human health benefits. What comes up for you as you read these two stories?

All Our Relations

When any one part of our physical body is unhealthy, the entire body suffers whether we are immediately conscious of it or not. Physical and psychological neglect and abuse build up in our cells and at some point a dis-ease will manifest and we will be forced to take action. The same is true of Mother Earth. We are part of a continuous web of relations on this Earth. When any part of the web of the Earth organism becomes unhealthy or is abused, we all suffer: at some critical tipping point that becomes obvious and we are finally forced to take action to stem the tide of destruction. Better that we have healthy relationships with our physical being and with the Earth to begin with!

To understand our Earth relationships at a deeper level and to move your life in a more beneficial direction, check out http://gaianstudies.org/, and try some of Gaian Studies founder Stephen Harrod Buhner’s books. They are profound.

“It is the opinion of the organization’s founders that the survivability of the human species depends on human beings once more reconnecting to the Earth. Without this rekindling of our ability to care for the nonhuman world from which we emerged, our behavior as a species will continue to be care-less of the Earth and its preservation. This means that each one of us must learn to “reinhabit our interbeing with the world” as the rainforest activist John Seed puts it. This reinhabiting is essential, not an academic or rhetorical pursuit, and always a personal one.” http://gaianstudies.org/

Pay Dirt

PAY DIRT
“Of course you have terrible soil problems in your country. What do you expect when you call it dirt?”
(p.71. Gaia’s Garden: A Guide to Home-Scale Permaculture. 2nd ed. Toby Hemenway)

It’s too late! A huge amount of what we now have here in the US is actually ‘dirt’ because we have completely depleted, even destroyed the soil. In many places there isn’t any soil left at all. The difference between dirt and Soil is that soil is alive! Dirt is inorganic matter. Soil consists of inorganic matter plus millions of organisms — actinomycetes, microbes, protozoa, fungi, bacteria,viruses, algae, mites, worms, beetles, nematodes, worms, slugs, plant roots and more. Soil is a congregation of critters within a bed of organic waste and inorganic matter.

In healthy soil there is an ongoing drama and dance of life, creation and death occurring among all of those creatures and that is what creates soil. It is a complex and fascinating process involving many stages. When that process is intelligently cultivated through proper and natural soil management, we and all those other critters get food that is healthy nourishing and nutritious.

That’s the Pay Dirt! Author, farmer and Naturopath Penny Kelly says, “ . . . a major part of learning to heal yourself comes when you begin to understand the connection between the soil and the stomach . . . healthy soil equals healthy plants, healthy plants equal healthy people, and it is your re-connection to the soil of the earth that will provide the foundation for your healing.” (P.42. “Getting Well Again Naturally.” Penny Kelly, ND. 2010).

How can you transform dirt to soil for what you are growing or want to grow? One of the simpler and more accessible ways is vermiculture – composting with worms. Worms are masters of creating the beginnings of rich soil. Vermiculture is non-labor intensive and can even be done in an apartment. You can get a worm composter from Gardeners.com or at other places. Gardener’s says: “Worm compost has ten times the nutrient levels of regular compost.”

The source of all food

I once worked with a group of inner city kids in D.C. some of whom believed that the source of food was cans. Why would they believe otherwise having grown up in a completely concrete environment? There’s no evidence there that points to anything else. But how many people really think about or, better yet, know the source of their food? Soil is the source of all of our food, whether grown in city or country, and if food isn’t grown in well prepared, friable soil then we are not eating nutritious, nurturing food whether it is organic or not.