We’ve been having a record-breaking cold and rainy spring so far but it’s still time to start with gardening prep, both ornamental and vegetable. It might seem strange to those not from Maine to think of people flocking to the plant nurseries in wet and blustery cold weather to buy annuals that will only live for a short season. It makes complete sense, however! Summer in Maine is a Very Special Occasion deserving of festive flowers and the planting beautiful life forms. It’s still too early to plant, but never too soon to buy as long as you can keep the plants warm.
My book-in-progress, formerly The New England Diet, is now titled The Retro American Diet™. While Wayne and I live on a traditional New England diet, the principles and practices also draw from national sources. My first vintage diet book, American Women Didn’t Get Fat in the 1950s, was an in-depth look at the marketing of obesity to American women, the complicity of the medical profession and softening of metrics used to determine healthy weight. The Retro American Diet is going to be a “how to” for both men and women with clear guidelines and meal planning suggestions. It’s not just a book about eating, but about living! Eating retro is a lifestyle filled with gratitude, simplicity and accountability.
But there will be something big missing from the book. Also, who am I, anyway, to write such a book?!
I’ve previously mentioned on my blog that I once lived down the road from a lovely (now defunct) small family-owned dairy with very happy-looking cows. I enjoyed gazing out at them as they grazed on grass. Sometimes when they were close to the fence by the road I would talk to them. (No one else was around.) This image of dairy cows stuck with me and was a model of everything that industrial factory farming is not. However, it wasn’t until a local news story came out about Peace Ridge Sanctuary that provides a forever home and care for formerly abused and neglected farm animals that I learned that veal production is the “byproduct” of dairy farming. Cows give birth to both bull calves and heifers, but only the female calves will go on to produce milk. So what happens to the baby bull calves, and does buying organic or from a small farm make a difference in their fate?
During coffee hour after church a few weeks ago I was speaking with Kate Chappell about her daughter, Sarah’s horse therapy farm in Lyman, Maine. Kate mentioned that one of the things the farm offers are programs for people with PTSD! I have often dreamed of one day operating a little animal therapy farm for traumatized youth so I was immediately fascinated. The offerings are extensive and include organizational/leadership development, team retreats, hippotherapy for people ages two and up with a diagnosed emotional, physical or cognitive disability and riding lessons to the general public.
Kate was so kind to arrange with Sarah (pictured above) an opportunity for me to visit the academy and share it with you here on my blog. My post is focused on the equine enrichment groups and working farmscape education tailored for at-risk youth and young adults, senior citizens, veterans and people in early recovery from addictions.
Buster was out early this morning before the rain and feasted on a slice of Mandarin orange and sunflower seeds. We went to church, enjoyed a lovely service and coffee hour before we came home to a simple Easter luncheon, the menu for which is now a tradition since we enjoyed it so much last year.
I’m naughty, according to many “experts”. I eat a lot of potatoes! Potatoes have an unscientific and undeserved bad reputation among many who recoil at consuming carbohydrates. When I wrote my first vintage diet book I received some feedback from people stating that the wholesome foods I mentioned in the book, like potatoes, make people fat! They will give you diabetes! (Fact: the American Diabetes Association states you CAN have potatoes even when you have diabetes!)
The humble potato, instead of being branded as bad for you or any weight loss program, should have rock star food status. It’s subversive yet secretly healthy! Potatoes in raw form are inexpensive, simple to prepare, delicious and readily available at most grocery stores. They are also a Maine diet staple. Let’s take a look at the numbers:
When I first started “eating retro” and lost weight over ten years ago I was leaving behind the tyranny of an insatiable appetite which seemingly stemmed from two issues: my relationship to food and eating junk. Underlying the usual analysis of overeating and weight loss was that I was feeling sorry for myself. Why? Because I couldn’t eat as much as I wanted when I wanted without consequences. I was also attached to the illusion that a lifestyle of eating too much, especially sugar and refined carbs was somehow good for my soul. I mistook edible artifice for nourishment. I was always “hungry” but was feeding the wrong appetite. I was focused on eating all the things instead of seeing all the gifts from a healthy relationship to and with food. Why would I, right? Shouldn’t I be entitled to unlimited access to what was mine? Did God put food on my table? No! I worked hard to put that food on the table, and why even talk about God when all I wanted was an Oreo Blizzard from Dairy Queen.
Spring is here! Today is Maine Maple Sunday which means there are about ninety sugar houses throughout Maine that are open to the public. We went to Merrifield Farm in Gorham which is like a maple syrup paradise where we sampled maple syrup over vanilla ice cream and watched maple syrup being processed.
Two years ago in the early spring I blogged about buying beautiful pullet eggs (shown above) from a local organic farm in my town. Off-season we’ve been buying “Certified Humane” Nellie’s “Free Range” eggs. I decided to Google Nellie’s just now and am so disheartened to see this report about the cruel conditions of the chickens. I will never purchase Nellie’s eggs or trust the “Certified Humane” label on eggs again! (Update: check out this link “American Humane Scam” featuring Bob Barker!) It can be so hard to make informed food choices when we can’t even trust the “certification” labels! All the more reason to buy from trustworthy sources when the trustworthiness can be verified by you. Of course if you can realistically, affordably and humanely raise your own, that is ideal!