Put Mother Nature to Work Feeding Your Family

Leslie Garrett by Leslie Garrett | February 19th, 2010 | 5 Comments
topic: Healthy Eating

My grandfather, not one given to understatement, frequently declared many modern-day foods to be “poison” and dismissed them with a wave of his hand. Among the offenders? Margarine (“anything that doesn’t freeze at freezing temperatures isn’t right…”). Pam cooking spray (“work of the devil!”). Whipped cream in an aerosol (“Unnatural!”).

I can only imagine his response to today’s offerings.

My grandfather died in 1988, having survived into his 90th year … and with only one lung. He’d been shot fighting in the trenches of WWI,  rendering his lung useless. But he always stood tall. Stayed slim. Worked his garden. And ate real food.

There’s a powerful movement taking place right now that would delight my grandfather.

Powerful, because food isn’t just about personal health. It’s emblematic of the health of our society, our values, our economic systems and our class systems. It’s tied inextricably to the health of our planet, our soil, our lakes and oceans, and our air.

In other words, a meal isn’t just a meal, it’s an act.

But the magnitude of that is belied by the simplicity of making that act a worthy one.

I hear repeatedly about how busy people are. Too busy, it seems, to prepare a good meal. Instead, we rely on huge corporations to do it for us.
Which they happily will. Of course, they’ll add enormous amounts of sodium, because it’s a cheap, easy way to boost “flavor”. They’ll process the food to within an inch of its life (if it ever had life) because that gives it shelf life… not to be confused with real life. Then they’ll package it in enough materials to make Egyptian mummies look under dressed.

And then, of course, they’ll charge us for the privilege of eating their “food”. But we’re paying with more than our debit card for this particular convenience…

I don’t doubt that you’re busy. The siren call of a drive-thru and “heat-and-serve” is tempting indeed.

But, like most things fast and easy, giving in is unsatisfying in the long run.

And the alternatives are deceptively simple, though, admittedly, not as simple as fast-food. But satisfaction, in the food itself and the further reaching act, can’t be understated.

So start by picking one of these changes and give it a try:

Let Mother Nature do the packaging.

If it’s wrapped in plastic, polystyrene or has more than one layer of packaging (ie. individually wrapped inside a larger package), give it a pass.

Let Mother Nature do the weeding.

There’s been much ado about organic food and whether it is/isn’t better for you. However, increasingly studies show that organic produce is more nutrient-rich in large part because Mother Nature boosts certain nutrients to deter pests. In other words, plants that are sprayed with chemical pesticides rely less on a plant’s self-produced pesticides, which include trace minerals and nutrients that benefit us, thereby rendering such production of these nutrients less necessary.

Let Mother Nature do the feeding.

Though becoming vegetarian isn’t as daunting or dull as you might think, at least consider reducing your meat intake, as most conventional meat production dances on Mother Nature’s grave (and produces more greenhouse gas emissions than all worldwide forms of transport combined!). Consider grassfed, pasture-raised meat, eggs and dairy, which are better for you (lower in fat, lower in calories and higher in Omega-3s), better for the animal and for the planet. Ha! Got your attention with the lower in calories bit, didn’t I? Well, it’s true!

There! You haven’t just created a meal. You’ve contributed to a political movement that will extend far beyond your dinner table. And it was that easy.


  1. And if you don’t have space for a garden or need some help – try yard sharing! We can help you find partners! We share seeds, tools, know how, space, time, strength and the harvest!

    Liz McLellan | February 19th, 2010 | Comment Permalink
  2. I would also recommend Earth Boxes! I have a couple on the deck of my condo and grow all kinds of vegetables during Chicago summers. They don’t take up very much space and things grow wonderfully in them. :)

    Nichole Lovett | February 23rd, 2010 | Comment Permalink
  3. Your grandfather was a wise man!

    I love the statement you made, “A meal isn’t just a meal, it’s an act.”

    Karen Shackles | March 6th, 2010 | Comment Permalink
  4. Awesome post, thanks so much. Dead-on.

    Carol | March 6th, 2010 | Comment Permalink
  5. I would add to Nichole’s comment by saying you can also use simple hydroponic systems with organic nutrients and put these on your patio or balcony as well. You can see a review of the Autopot system at my blog under “container systems”

    PlanterTomato | March 7th, 2010 | Comment Permalink

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