Food For Victory!

Borrowed from flikeflu.com

I received an exceptionally terrific gift this weekend: my great-grandmother’s canning book from 1942.  I knew that my aunt would be sending it to me and I was so excited to forge a relationship with the great-grandmother I never knew by following the same recipes that she had used so many years ago.  What is even more wonderful about this gift is that each generation since the original purchase has followed this book.  I have a direct line to the women who came before me through this book.  For me, that is powerful.

I made even more connections as I perused this book.  Although I didn’t realize it when my aunt was describing the book to me, when I had it in my hands I realized that this book was designed as war-time promotional material (I don’t want to use the term “propaganda” because it conjures up images of Nazi Germany when I hear it.).  The very first page reads as follows:

Borrowed from worthpoint.com

Food For Victory

The Need of the Hour

In the recent NATIONAL NUTRITION CONFERENCE, a challenge was given to every one of the 28 million homemakers of America in the following recommendation:

“It is VITAL for the UNITED STATES to make IMMEDIATE USE of the newer knowledge of NUTRITION in the present NATIONAL EMERGENCY.  To neglect this would be as hazardous as to neglect military preparedness.”

What YOU Can Do

It is the sacred duty of every AMERICAN woman to see that her family is properly fed – to make Americans the strongest, healthiest people in the world…

Those are some powerful words!  Although this particular page can lead us down the road of debating about the experience of women throughout history, I want to focus on the main message of nutrition.  In ALL my life I have never come across such a powerful message about the need for the primary caregiver to assure the health of the family.  This book frames good nutrition akin to NATIONAL SECURITY.  Essentially, “if you don’t feed your family well, they will be weak and the commies will take over.”  There is some truth in that completely outlandish statement, but it is mostly inaccurate.  However, I am especially interested in the idea that personal good nutrition is a benefit to the entire nation.  That’s a BIG idea.

Today, we hear a wide variety of messages in regard to nutrition that speak almost completely to the individual: Don’t over-eat because you will be fat and drastically shorten your lifespan.  That is an oversimplification, but you get my drift.  I can honestly say that I have not heard one PSA that focuses on your individual nutrition effecting the well-being of the broader nation.  Although I tend not to be as alarmist as all of that, I do believe there is some truth there.  For instance, if I have good nutrition that results in good health, I am able to care for my family well and have energy and vigor left over to volunteer in my community, thus caring for my nation at large.  The message is different from during WWII, but the IDEA is still the same.

So, is the proper nutrition of my family my “sacred duty as an American woman”?

Borrowed from ideasforcash.co.uk

Perhaps.  At this point in history, I would say that this is the sacred duty of any person who has a family to care for.  Though the words are different, you can find this message in the movements of urban farmers, survivalists, homesteaders, community gardeners, and those just learning to garden and to preserve food.  There is something incredible about being part of your food from seed to table.  This is the HEART of good nutrition.  We all lose when there is no connection to nature that fuels our bodies, minds, and spirits.

We might be seven decades removed from this message, but we still can “Dig for Victory.”  Maybe our digging won’t help to end a war, but it will help to provide a healthy future for our children and ourselves.

Lastly, I leave you with an entry from page 51:

Today our government is stressing Food Production and Food Conservation as the patriotic duty of every American citizen. “Plant a Garden” has become a nation-wide slogan, and with it is associated a larger HOME CANNING program. Protect your family’s health with filled shelves of home-canned fruits, vegetables, and meats – – – your assurance for healthful, nourishing, year ’round meals. YOU CAN HELP in this vast Victory program – – – plant, can and eat – – – this is your part!

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‘Tis the Season to Share Nutrition!

Borrowed from http://www.bu.edu

One of the main inspirations for my work is the belief that food brings people together, builds communities, and that sharing food with others is one of the most powerful ways to give of yourself.  I derive a great sense of satisfaction and self-worth from being able to provide a delicious and nourishing meal to my family and friends.  Sharing food with others goes beyond simply providing for someone’s basic needs, but provides the fuel that is required to continue the circle of life and to expand the human spirit.

I am addressing the subject of sharing nutrition because we are entering the holiday season when the most people choose to give of their time, talent, and treasure.  Hunger and malnutrition is prevalent all year-long, but with Thanksgiving just around the corner, food is at the forefront of most people’s minds.  I want to touch on the subject, not as a way to help individuals improve their own health and wellness, but as a way to encourage sharing good nutrition with those that have a difficult time feeding their bodies well.

Like many other people, I often donate my unwanted items to local thrift shops to help fund social services in my community.  In doing so, I have a guideline, that “if it is not good enough for me, it is not good enough for those less fortunate.”  Before donating something I first take a look at why I need to get rid of it: Is it broken?  Do I no longer have a use for it?  Is it too small or big?  I never donate things that I am unwilling to use because they are broken, stained, hideous, or otherwise.  I believe that the same rubric should be applied when donating food.

I worked in homeless youth shelters for seven years and I have seen the foods that people donate.  Some food is terrific and other food is pretty unbelievable.  Sometimes it would seem that people would dig through their pantries to find all the food their families wouldn’t eat that is about to expire, throw it in a musty box from the garage and drop it off for the homeless kids.  Sure these people did share of their treasure (they did pay for it at some point), but it would always seem that these types of donations were really meant to clear off the shelves rather than to help others.  I met a lot of really brave and creative young people who could make a meal with cob-webbed boxes of instant potatoes and rusty cans of Spam, but I certainly would never eat anything like that.

This year, I would like to encourage people to pledge to donate the highest quality food they can afford to share.  Make “if I won’t buy it for my family, I won’t donate it” be your guide.  The needs of the homeless and impoverished can be difficult to meet when the local food bank only requests non-perishable items, but it is possible to find items that are not ramen noodles and deviled ham.  It is important to remember that those who struggle to afford to pay for their most basic of needs likely have fairly compromised immune systems due to their malnutrition.  This makes it all the more important to donate only high-quality, healthful foods.  Your food bank probably also accepts fresh and frozen foods.  You just need to call and ask about how to donate those items as they cannot be left in a collection barrel.

Another point to keep in mind is that just as someone in your family may have a food

Borrowed from tasterie.com

allergy, intolerance, or sensitivity, so too do those receiving food assistance.  Make an effort to donate at least one item that will meet the needs of someone with special dietary considerations.

When deciding what foods to purchase and donate keep the following points in mind:

  • Homeless individuals and families may not have access to a kitchen to prepare a meal.  There are healthy and organic versions of things like “Cup ‘o Soup” and “Rice-a-Roni.”
  • Those experiencing homelessness may not have access to clean drinking water.  Donations of bottled water are excellent.
  • People receiving food services may have had little exposure to preparing/using items such as quinoa, flax, and even lentils.  Include your favorite recipe.
  • Read the labels.  If you haven’t started doing this for yourself, now is a great time to start.
  • Call your local food bank and find out what they have too little of.  There will always be a surplus of certain items.
  • Don’t forget the herbs and spices!  These can be expensive, but are key in making any meal truly delicious.

Will you pledge to donate high-quality, healthful food this year?

Need some help finding where to donate?  Visit FoodPantries.org

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Two Months Down and 400 Pounds of Tuna To Go!

Canning.  A topic that is near and dear to my heart.  I am so very close to being done with this season’s round of canning: just 400 pounds of tuna and a few more pints of tomatoes to go.  I have been working on this for nearly two months now.  I love canning, but I am so looking forward to sitting back and enjoying my home-canned bounty.  Mmm. Mmm.

I believe home canning to be an essential part of my nutritional lifestyle.  It keeps me connected to my homesteading background and connected to where my food comes from.  I can food I grow, food my family grows, and food from local farmers and fisherman.  There really is nothing more satisfying for me than to see my food go from the land to my table (especially when the whole process is by my own hand).  My child is too young now (although he does point to the stove and say “cook”), but this is a skill that I fully intend to pass on to all my children because I believe that this is an essential skill and brings a smile to so many faces; particularly when sharing.

I get very excited when people ask me questions about canning.  I think everyone should know how to do this.  It is truly not all that complicated, and once you do it, is no longer intimidating.  I know some people have a tremendous fear of pressure canning because of possible explosion (which is highly unlikely), but you can start off doing foods that require only boiling-water bath to cut back on the fear.  I tend to do very large batches of whatever I am canning to get me through to the next season, but a person can do small batches just to have a little fun.  Think pickled mixed veggies, mango salsa, and jams.  You can really do small batches of anything, but those would be the most fun.

Home canning can also be fairly inexpensive.  You can find supplies at the local Bi-Mart, on Craig’s List, and even re-sale shops.  There is really no need to buy brand new jars because they last FOREVER.  Just make sure you have no chips or cracks and you are good to go.

Right now is a pretty good time to try your hand at some home canning as the growing season is ending and you may find produce at lower prices.  I recommend getting your hands on Putting Food By.  This is my canning Bible.  I learned to can from my grandmother and mother, but I’m on my own now so I need a reference once in a while!  This book is chock full of information and great recipes.

By trying out new recipes, you are opening yourself up to a wider range of nutritious foods that you might not otherwise eat.  Having canned goods in the pantry inspires us to try new meals rather than stick with our regular weekly menu.  Canning is a great activity for kids, too and you can very easily turn it into a lesson in nutrition without them even knowing 🙂

Share your questions.  I have many lessons that I have learned the hard way and would be happy to share.  I love canning many different things, but have a very severe hatred of applesauce…8 hours of work for 7 pints of applesauce.  I may or may not have flung applesauce across the room that day.  Also, share your experiences.  I still have a lot of learning to do as well.

I hope this post has inspired someone to venture out into the wide world of home canning!  Here’s to summer’s goodness all winter long!

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Foods to Fight the Cold and Flu

Borrowed from scenicreflections.com

I did not sleep more than a couple of hours last night because I and my 16 month old son have come down with the common cold.  Poor little guy couldn’t breathe so he couldn’t sleep.  The humidifier is doing a great job now and he is napping.  In my downtime I decided to do a little refresher on foods that help out the immune system and fight infection.

The best advice (as with any health problem) is to prevent the illness.  Our immune systems function optimally when we have diets chock full of fruits and veggies.  However, especially for those of us with small children, we can’t prevent everything.  In that case, its time to ramp up the nutritional arsenal.  The first thing we need to do, as just about everyone knows, is increase our intake of clear fluids.  Water, tea, juice, and broth-based soups should do the trick.

Now, foods to eat a lot of:

  • Garlic
  • Citrus
  • Onions
  • Ginger
  • Yogurt
  • Apples
  • Broccoli
  • Coconut oil
  • Other herbs and spices such as turmeric, curry, cinnamon, cayenne, basil, and oregano

I wouldn’t suggest eating A LOT of coconut oil due to the saturated fat content, but do enjoy a little of it.  A person could make quite a delicious soup after sauteing some garlic and onion in coconut oil.  I would also suggest sticking to the greek-style yogurt while recovering from sickness to avoid high sugar intakes, but regular yogurt will still provide positive benefits.

Try an Indian-Style Raita for some immune boosting support:

2 cups greek-style yogurt

1 cucumber

1 apple

Dill (or other spice you enjoy)

Chili powder or cumin for a spicy garnish

Whisk the yogurt until smooth, add your choice of herb, mix in chopped cucumber and apple, dish out your serving and garnish as you desire.

Borrowed from talimpu.com

Here’s to rapid recovery from the cold bug!

References: http://www.nih.gov, http://www.livestrong.com

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