Sunday, January 30, 2011

Chronic Users

Some fun facts about chronic usage from nutrition class: Chronic consumers of potato chips (160 g/day) significantly increase their chance of atherosclerosis when all other factors are accounted for. Chronic bean consumption (20 g/day, at least 4x a week) with all other factors accounted for reduce their mortality rates by 7-8% from all causes. Further, for each 20 grams of daily bean intake, you can decrease your mortality by an additional 7-8%. So, ditch your processed, likely un-local chips and embrace your local bean farmer. I heart beans!

Local Carbs

The great thing about local carbs is that they are getting easier to come by. You can buy Stone Buhr white flour and trace it to the farm which usually comes from Eastern Oregon/Washington area. Not the most local, but close. The Grain and Bean project (see the blog from A2R farms) is promoting food-based seed crops to old grass seed farms. Two perhaps 'unhealthy' carbs are a regular part of my local diet. Honey and potatoes. I know what you're thinking, you should just use sweet potatoes. And I ate a lot of sweets and yams back in Philly to be sure. But they just have too long of a growing season here. I did buy some from California to satisfy a big craving, but I didn't feel good about it. Potatoes can be redeemed by the way you cook them. The worst forms of potatoes are the heavily processed ones like chips, fries, hashbrowns. The best thing about a local diet? Processed foods are easily eliminated. If you want to make your own french fries or hashbrowns it's labor intensive, so you just usually don't do it. Honey is a special thing. I gift from bees that pollinate most of our other food. It is tasty and delicious. The best thing about local honey is this: it can reduce your susceptibility to seasonal allergies. You get a small dose of that pollen regularly, so the sudden blast in the spring isn't such a shock to your system. You can usually find some local honey by a roadside sign just outside your town in a slightly rural area. It will likely be on the honor system, ditto for local eggs. We went and picked up a 1 gallon container for $40 just yesterday. There are a wealth of other reasons to get local honey that include your health, the environment, and human welfare. If you are interested in learning more about honey, bees, and the pollination machine I highly recommend the book Fruitless Fall by R. Jacobsen. BTW-we got our honey from Wessels Family Honey in Forest Grove, OR. We made the trip doubly good by visiting a great biodynamic winery in the area too.

Egg-timer Yoga

I have been struggling with holding a strong practice schedule since I started chiropractic school. At first I got done at 4:30, which afforded me the time to take the bus to the Mysore studio for a slightly late 5:30 practice time; this in turn put me to a 8:00 getting home time. Then we got a puppy that needed walking and my days grew to a more regular 7:30 AM-5:30 PM schedule at school. Thus, my travels to the studio have fizzled. I can still make it on days off and plan to really reinvigorate my practice during my two-week breaks at the studio. Despite my best efforts to keep a good home practice, I have failed to practice more than 3 times a week for a long time. I miss my Philly life with Wake-Up Yoga a quick walk from my apartment and a flexible work schedule that allowed me to practice 6 times a week most weeks; many of those at the studio.
I believe I have found a way to get a more solid practice schedule going now; however non-ideal it is.
On Mondays and Tuesdays I am blessed with an 8:30 start and a boyfriend willing to drive me to school on his way to work. This used to mean sleeping in. But this week (and hopefully many more to come) it meant waking up at 5. Lots of inspiration including Corina's mass e-mail about tapas and Jill's facebook post about waking at 3:15 AM in Mysore lead me to the conclusion that I must get up and face my mat.
When the alarm goes off I brush my teeth, wash my face, and put on the yoga clothes. The dog doesn't even want to get up yet, so I have the downstairs to myself. I light some candles and roll out my mat and set the timer. I know that if I get up at 5 I have an hour and a half to practice, if I hit snooze, I have to cut that many minutes from the timer I set. I set it for 1 hour 20 minutes if I get up on time. I start my practice. When I glance at the timer and see 10 minutes left, that means time to start the finishing poses, where ever I might be. (Usually this happens as soon as I find myself seated in Dandasana because I hit snooze too much.) When the timer sounds I must stop and put in the toast and turn on the tea kettle. Then I take Savasana until he toast dings and the kettle sings. Usually my boyfriend wakes up when I'm in shoulderstand and sleepily will call out, 'Sweetie, are you practicing?'. The floor is carpeted. This is not a complete practice. I'm lucky to get any of the primary series in at all.
On 7:30 mornings, this is not happening; I catch a 6:30 bus. Those nights I will practice some yin yoga with my dog snuggling up to me and Dan watching TV. Friday afternoons I get home around 1:30 and hope to start practice, but this week I was too tired. Maybe next week will be more successful.
This is not ideal, and it's no Philly practice schedule, but at least it IS a regular practice.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Local Fat

This quarter I am taking the first of a series of nutrition classes. I've been finding myself evaluating the health benefits, and limitations, of a local diet.
When it comes to fats and a local diet, it is super easy to avoid the worst fat-trans fat. It's just unnatural. It usually comes pre-packaged, and I don't mean the cardboard box my csa delivers in. The key beyond trans-avoidance is to limit your saturated intake and balance your omega 3s and 6s one to one. The average American diet has the 6s way out of control. A long chain omega-3 supplement (food or pill) is recommended.
My diet does not look like this ideal. My cooking fats (the local ones) are not oils, they are butter and leftover fats from meat. (When I do eat meat, I use the whole meat. It's out of reverence for the animal. Eat bacon, save the grease. Make a roast, skim the fat; ditto for gravy and broths. I save the fats and use them to saute.) Animal fat is saturated any way you spin it. Adding full-fat cream to coffee, scones, and pies is another way I'm just rampantly consuming these 'bad' fats.
Local sources of healthy fats in the diet are here: walnuts, hazelnuts, salmon, tuna, and oysters. But I don't like to consume the precious fish in the sea daily, even weekly. It is too much, more than my allotment in my opinion. Some would recommend a fish oil supplement, but then, that's coming from might as well just eat the fish whole instead.
I do use oils when cooking if I'm out of left-over fats. I always have some canola oil around. A note about that though, we are switching to organic only canola. Small farmers are being penalized by big gmo companies because the 'roundup-ready' gene is infiltrating their rapeseed crops. The big company just samples a small-timer's field and can prove that they 'stole' the gene. A lot of little farms get shut down or at least have to pay a settlement to the big guys this way. Organic farmers have a leg to stand on because they don't benefit from a 'round-up ready' rapeseed gene. I encourage you to support the organic canola industry as well.
Another fat that gets a lot of use around my house is olive oil; mostly just used for dressing salads. We buy it in bulk and keep a small bottle in the cupboard that is continuously refilled from the giant tin. Buying giant tins of olive oil is better than buying individual glass bottles because at least you are downsizing on the amount of packaging that is used and shipped. I also try to buy a California olive oil instead of one from Europe. It's the more local choice overall; but southern Cali isn't exactly local.
While I do get some omega-3s from the walnuts in my homemade granola, I could stand to add some more. We canned a whole tuna this summer and we consume those jars periodically. In addition, Dan caught two steel head trout, one or two fillets remain in the freezer. I do think that we could stand to have some more of these polyunsaturated fats in our diet though. Perhaps adding some flax seeds in our granola could be local?
After some Internet searching I found a local farm, A2R in Corvalis, that is going organic with flax seeds, oats, and wheat. Unfortunately I just missed their recent 'stock your pantry' sale. I am penciling it in for next year. A good thing I learned from this research is that Nature Bake has just come out with a bread with a lot of this farm's products called Oregon Grains Bread. I'll be sure to check it out!
Eating locally might not be the best answer for your body's health, but for your overall health as a human it can be the right choice for you. I will continue to eat local fats, despite the high amount of saturated fats that I'm consuming. Using some organic canola oil and California olive oil as supplements to my fat intake seem to be reasonable, as well as supplementing some flax seeds into my morning granola.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Locavore Lament

It has occured to me on many occasions that it has been ages since I've had a sweet potato. Since I was living in Philly to be precise. Today I inquired about this at the farmers market. I appears that the growing conditions in Oregon don't last quite long enough for this plant. You need at least a 100 days for one variety...much more for most others. Perhaps someone in the valley has figured this out somehow. If you know a farmer in the PDX area growing sweet potatoes, let me know.