GOING WITH THE FLOW
by Iris Chinook
[photo rootology via Wikimedia Commons]
[published: February 18, 2012 (10:00AM PST)]
Over the last couple of years I’ve been experiencing some health problems a little too gruesome to go into detail here. Suffice it to say that my guts haven’t been performing as well as I’d like, I’ve begun to experience some very real pain and weakness in my joints, my allergies have gotten so bad that the sense of suffocating has actually triggered a couple of panic attacks, my energy has fallen off a cliff and there’s other irritating issues that, up to now, I’ve attributed to aging. It amazes me what we can get used to when changes, even unpleasant ones, happen over a long time and we don’t know what to do about them anyway. But recently these symptoms have gotten so bad they’ve knocked me down and put me in bed for days at a stretch. Clearly time to do something; but what? I’ve tried everything through the years to no avail.
Last week I ran across someone who was talking about the same issues, particularly food allergies, and how she had discovered a powerful tool to overcome them and regain her full health. The more we talked and compared notes the more excited I got. She has adopted the Body Ecology Diet and swears that it’s transformed her life over the last year and a half. I ran right out, downloaded a copy of the book to my Kindle and was off and running. It’s been only a week but I already feel the difference and I haven’t even had time to incorporate the most important aspects of this new way of eating. Encouraged by this I’m charging full steam ahead and making a full commitment to this diet. This is not just a diet; it is a new way of eating, for life.
I mention all of this because revolutionizing the way I eat has accelerated one of my most important collapse goals for this year; deriving at least 90% of my diet from local, sustainable sources. I’ve wanted to make some of these changes in the way I eat for years but haven’t known where to start and focus my energy and so my efforts have been halfhearted and keep getting put on the back burner.
As part of my collapse preparations I’ve been stockpiling food for almost two years now and have built up quite a stash of grains, legumes, canned vegetables and soups, noodles, and things like coffee and canned peaches I thought might be good for trade. Well wouldn’t you know it, virtually none of these stockpiles are allowed on this diet. I’m so committed to this healing that I’ve decided to give everything that I’m not going to eat (for at least the first couple of years as I rebuild my immune and digestive systems) to the local food bank.
This gift represents in excess of $1700 worth of food which is a huge chunk of change for me. At first this freaked me out and I spent several days and sleepless nights doing the ‘should I/shouldn’t I’ shuffle but now I’m really looking forward to it. I had to let go of fear of the unknown, possible future, concentrate on the future I want to create and trust my ability to feed myself going into that future in spite of the uncertainty. I knew intellectually that stockpiling food couldn’t possibly last more than 6 months to a year (and besides, it could always be taken from me at gunpoint) but it felt like an ace in the hole to have that stash. Since it’s a lot more comfortable to focus on the ace up my sleeve than the hard cold fact of it running out I found myself dragging my feet on the more sustainable parts of my food prep.
The main thing that is out on this diet is sugar, period. No sugar. No maple sugar, no brown sugar, no honey. As I said, I’ve wanted to make some of these dietary changes for a long time, particularly the one eliminating sugar from my diet, and yet I just loaded a truly embarrassing amount of canned peaches, maple syrup, apple sauce, and every imaginable food containing large amounts of sugar into my car for the trip to town. And it seems that just about every prepared food product contains sugar.
What am I replacing all of these processed foods I’m giving away with? Food that is alive. I’m still learning to make Kim Chi and other fermented vegetables (see my previous post on my discovery of the book Wild Fermentation) and now will be adding kefir from raw goat milk via my neighbor. These cultured, live foods are the cornerstone of this new diet and will help me heal my besieged digestive tract which in turn helps me eliminate or at least diminish many of the more problematic symptoms such as the increasing allergies and joint pain.
Another important aspect of the diet is the predominant reliance on fresh vegetables and seed grains such as amaranth and millet, all things that I at least have a chance to grow in my garden. I was eating mostly rice and wheat, things that I have to buy.
Animal protein sources, I’m happy to say, I’ve already made headway on getting locally such as eggs and meat from my chickens, and lamb, beef, buffalo, trout and rabbit from people in the area who raise those animals. Viola! Combining this momentum with the new changes I’m making, all of a sudden I’ve replaced the bulk of foods I was purchasing from the grocery store with ones that I can trade for or buy from friends and locals. Yippie Skippie!
The thing that is astonishingly cool about this new direction my life has taken is that it kills many birds with one stone. I have more room in my tiny house, I am already regaining my health which will help me weather collapse better and make me more resilient, I’m strengthening my relationships with local food providers, I’m decreasing the amount of money I spend on food while circulating that money locally, and I’m putting more of my everyday food preparation and consumption into my hands which decreases my anxiety about where my next meal is coming from. All this is forcing me to cook and think ahead instead of opening a can of soup, slapping some tuna on a sandwich and calling it good. All are changes that I’ve been struggling to make.
I guess I’m just like the rest of the human species: I don’t make big, uncomfortable changes unless my back is against the wall. All of this is possible by letting go of something old (much of my food stash, fear of deprivation, worry about collapse and an entrenched resistance to cooking) and reaching out for something new (health and real sustainable food sources and feeling more secure about the future). Having really useful and healing things to trade and offer, like kefir grains, fermented foods and grains that can be produced locally, feels really proactive and positive.