Saturday, October 21, 2017

What's a healthy diet

What constitutes a healthy diet? Paleo, high fat/low carb, low GI.......

I follow a basic, probably traditional Aussie style diet, with a multicultural influence! Probably the closest "diet" to what I eat is the Weston A Price dietary guidelines. They focus on high quality (grassfed etc) meat, raw milk, bone broth, fermented foods and traditional foods. Grains are okay as long as they are properly prepared. Basically a balanced diet, low in sugary foods, high in good quality fats, especially meat and dairy fats. It suits me!

The recent conference we went to with Dr Arden Anderson challenged my idea of a good, healthy diet. I fully agreed and endorsed everything he said about farming and grazing in a biological way, but when it came to his recommendation for a healthy diet I'm not so sure. I'll list what these recommendations were and my thoughts on them below.

1.  80% plant based diet. This includes 1-2 dozen different varieties of fruit or vegetable - staying away from any GMO foods. It means eating meat about once per week. He didn't think that grain fed meat was any worse than grassfed (with regards to beef or lamb), we just need to eat less.

My thoughts - I agree that most Australians eat too much meat, I don't agree with the idea that grain fed is okay. Grain feeding animals, especially in a feedlot is just not good on any level - ethically or to create a healthy food product. I also find it hard to consider the idea of one meat meal a week. I thought I'd try to do one a day, but so far that isn't working either. For me and my family personally, we work a physical job and we need meat for energy. We also produce our own high quality meat. I think if I had to buy meat, I would drastically reduce the amount we eat, but probably not to the advised level. I probably should try it, but I think I'd get too hungry. With regards to 12-24 different plants per day, some days that would be easy, but other days quite tricky! We often have salads for lunch and stir fry veg for dinner, so there's a good variety in those things. I think that is the take home message - just try and get as much variety as possible. Different coloured fruits and vegetables have different nutrients, so that makes a lot of sense. We will continue to increase our vegetable intake, while reducing our meat - mostly by portion control.

2.  Supplementation essential. On the whole we have poor quality food, due to depleted soils and top of that we have too many stressors in life.

My thoughts - Soil health does determine the health of the food grown in or on that soil. Choosing good quality organic or biologically farmed produce will help to ensure the food is not of poor quality. Growing your own or buying from local farmers or farmers that you can trust, is the main thing, along with staying away from any processed food. I know that our soils are deficient in some things - especially iodine and selenium, so that would be a good thing to remember. Iodine is easy - use good quality sea salts and eat seafood and seaweed. I have been told in the past that selenium is one thing we should be supplementing with as it's hard to find a food source of it.  At the end of the conference he suggested us taking a super duper multi nutrient daily tablet, which we could order on line from a particular website. This website has close links to him and his wife, so I'm not completely sure how impartial that recommendation is.

3.  Water is essential - 1/2 your weight in ounces. Which for me works out about 2-3 litres/day. I fully agree with this one.

4.  Exercise is essential - not necessary to be high intensive - walking for 20-30 minutes is good. I agree with this one too. Exercise is so good for general health and well being, but especially for mental health.

5. Sleep - 7-9 hours per night. Couldn't agree more!! I definitely suffer if I have less than this on a regular basis.

These were the main things he mentioned. So now I have this dilemma - when you hear a respected doctor tell you that you should follow a certain diet that you don't really agree with, what do you do? I think that's what's so confusing about health. We get bombarded with differing viewpoints and it's really hard to know what's best. I was listening to Cyndi Omeara on a podcast the other day. She's another person who I think has a lot of good stuff to say about diet and health. She made the comment that it's not old foods that are making us sick, it's new foods. If we go back a couple of generations and look at the diets, they were pretty basic, but all included real food, grown in/on healthy soils. No processed junk! No glysophate! Just quality meats (and meat fats) and vegetables and a little bit of fruit and whole grains! So I think I'll just stick to that kind of a diet, which is what I'm doing anyway.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Biological Farming

There is a disconnect between people that eat food and people that grow food. And even those that grow food have a disconnect between the food that is grown and the soil that it is grown in. Food just happens to be one of the most important things for life, along with air and water. Agriculture supplies food, so therefore Agriculture should be important. Unfortunately we as a society put very little importance on food, so how can we expect society to put any importance on Agriculture.

True health must begin with Agriculture. Even if you eat package food, it did originally start as a living thing, well parts of it did. So much has happened on the way from living plant or animal to being consumed that it is easy not to realise how it began.

I've recently attended a conference where the speaker was Dr Arden Anderson. He is an American GP, currently owns a medical practice, but he also consults and lectures about sustainable agriculture. There is some interesting youtube clips here. Basically he got sick of treating sick and dying people in his practice, that were sick and dying due to our current food system. Our modern agricultural practices are killing us via the over use of pesticides, herbicides and salt based fertilisers, along with the introduction of genetic modification (GM). These things all destroy the soil food web (soil biome) that convert the trace elements and minerals in the soil into a form that the plant can take up through their roots.

Just like we need a healthy biome in our gut, and on our skin, so does soil and plants. It's the same for the plants that we eat and those that animals eat. According to Dr Anderson there are two factors in our modern agricultural system that are the worst - glysophate (roundup) and genetic modification of plants. It is almost impossible to remove all traces of glysophate out of our food systems. If it has been used on or near any food plants, it will be in that food. In the US, they have even found traces of it in rain water. We don't grow many GM crops in Australia, only canola and cotton seed, so if you eat deep fried food, you will certainly be ingesting GM material as these are the two oils used. Packaged food if it contains American grown corn or soy (and many other gm products) will also contain GM materials.  All farming in Australia that is not organic will use glysophate as a regular weed control application.

I could go on forever about glysophate, but if you want to read more, Don Huber is a good place to start.

We don't necessarily have to eat organic to be healthy, we just need to make sure that it hasn't been grown any where near where glysophate was used.

When I was a kid we ate a lot of baked goods - home baked, and yes we used white sugar and white flour.  We didn't eat a lot of veggies and certainly not many different ones. We ate deserts every night and we were healthy and skinny. Now a days, to be considered a healthy diet,  we use unrefined sugars, wholemeal flours and whole grains (if any grains at all), nuts and seeds, many different vegetables (with as many different colours as possible) and certainly stay away from all those carbs in cakes and bickies. The difference was that those foods were grown without herbicides and pesticides, or certainly without the constant applications that modern crops get today. The soil would have been a lot healthier because of this, so therefore the plants would be healthier. And we were certainly a lot healthier.

He actually doesn't lecture on organic farming. His main thing is that we need to get the minerals back into the soil, in a balanced form, stop using glysophate and start feeding the soil so that the biology return and can thrive. Unfortunately organic farming can be too restrictive and doesn't allow some things that are perfectly safe, just haven't been organic certified. The only thing that organic certification assures you of, is that it won't have had glysophate in the system. It's called Biological Farming. Farmers should be getting paid more for growing food that is high in nutrition. Another reason to ask your farmers about their farming methods - but you need to know your farmer to ask those questions.

My next post will be the way Dr Anderson suggest we should eat, which has a few challenges for me!

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Home and Garden catchup

Well we've been home for a week (feels like months!). It was nice to get home and very pleasing to see that my veggie garden was not only still alive, but it had been cleaned up and mulched. We had two backpackers here helping Maitland while we were away and they'd been busy. The house was cleaned (I can see through my windows again!), the lawn mowed and the garden was lovely and tidy. I had lost a few plants and they had failed to water the lawn, so while it was mowed, it was nearly dead! My tomatoes, which had really only just started producing and were absolutely loaded before I left, had been decimated by chickens - they managed to get under the bird netting, and so I don't have too many of them left. I'm hoping if I keep the water up they may improve.

Each year I have a go at growing brassica's and garlic. It's always a bit tricky as we don't always have enough cool weather and this winter was a very warm one, so they haven't amounted to much. I planted broccoli and several types of cabbage, and some of them have hearted up, but nothing bigger than my fist! The broccoli hasn't formed any heads at all. So my plan for this weekend is to pick most of them and make some sauerkraut and kimchi. The garlic I'll leave in and see how it goes. I could pick it now and use it as spring garlic, but am still undecided. The kale and silverbeet have done really well.

Kale and cabbages

Warrigal Greens - these self sow every year

more Kale, Cabbages and the uneventful broccoli

Garlic, with a row of newly planted beans.

The garden was all ready for me to plant some more seedlings into, so lucky I brought some with me.  I've planted out two types of beans (dwarf and snake), rainbow chard because it's pretty and good for you, black Russian tomatoes because they did well last year and seemed to repel the bugs. And I also planted a punnet of lettuce seedlings, which will probably go to seed, but I will hopefully get some lunches out of them. The lettuce went really well over winter, which is a buggar, because we don't tend to eat much lettuce in winter!

The asparagus bed, which I cut and mulched this year (just in time) has been producing, but not as prolifically as I would like. Maybe I need to cut it back and mulch it earlier. I usually wait until it dies off, but there's not enough time between then and when it starts warming up again. Doesn't help when winter doesn't start until mid June and then is finished by July! Also, the asparagus bed is not protected by the chooks so it's been getting scratched up a bit. I did have most of my chooks under control until we went away and the pet pigs busted the death row chickens out! So now there's about 10 chooks and roosters getting their revenge for me locking them away!

My little rainbow chard seedlings

I've had a couple of eggplants for the last couple of years. They died off, but this one has started re-shooting, so I thought I'd see if it comes back.

The other thing I brought back from my holiday was seaweed and sea water. I only brought a small amount of seaweed. Half I put into my worm/compost bin and the other half went into a 200L drum for a batch of liquid manure. Added to this was: the sea water (10L), wheelbarrow load of cow manure, some human urine, and topped up with fresh water. If my comfrey hadn't also been decimated by the chooks, I would've added some of that, and as I write this I remembered aloe vera, so I'll chop up some of that to add to it. I'll stir this brew every day for about a month - it's ready when it smells better than it does right now! I'll then dilute it about 10 to 1 and water my plants.

I did have a full wheelbarrow of manure, but only thought to take a photo halfway through.

Seaweed - I did give it a quick hose off before adding it to the compost and 200L drum.

All you people in the southern states will be getting excited about Spring planting,  but for us up here the growing just gets harder from now on. We have a very short spring. As it'll be hot as very soon,  the challenge is to get plants in now and get them well established before it gets too hot. Once it's hot,  planting seedlings is like burning money! 

Now all we need is some rain.............

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Fast Fashion

There are so many ways that we can do our bit to create a smaller footprint on this earth. I bang on about regenerative farming ALOT as you know, but this is another thing we need to be aware of - Fast Fashion and the damage it can cause.

When I was a kid, Christmas was pretty special, because we would just about always get a new outfit. One outfit a year! In between times we wore hand me downs or second hand clothes. I can remember being so excited when Mum would bring a bag of clothes for us to go through and find what we liked. Then as I got older I learnt to sew and that was amazing. My sister and I would make our own clothes, trying to be a little bit trendy. And then when we went to boarding school, life really opened up and we would borrow clothes off our friends.

So naturally as I got older and got a job, one thing I spent money on was clothes! I do remember though that I often chose expensive labels as I knew they would last longer (not because I could afford it!). Now, I see my daughter and her friends and they are always buying new clothes. Online shopping just makes it so much easier!

There are so many problems with fashion today. There’s a lot in the media about fast fashion and the ethics of fashion. Basically slave labour is used in a lot of cases, even with (or especially with) well know fashion brands. This site, Ethical Clothing Australia lists some brands that you may want to check out. I noticed that Nobody Jeans is on the list and I absolutely love my nobody’s – in fact I don’t know that I would buy any other jeans again!

People buy cheap clothes and because they are cheap they don’t last – they either end up in land fill or second hand shops. This does extend the life of the clothes but more often than not they are only fit for rags, thus eventually ending up in landfill soon after. How were those cheap clothes produced? With cheap labour, slave labour.

Re-use and re-cycle. Don’t just throw things out, fix them. This is a bit tricky because a lot of things are poorly made, and we also don’t really have to skills today that our parents or grandparents may have had to fix clothes. My biggest problem is finding the time to do it! 

This is another reason to choose better quality, it may cost more initially but it will save money in the long term through better longevity. Shop at op shops, by buying second hand, at least you save things from going into land fill, for a while. I’ve heard of people that only choose natural fibres so that they can put their old clothes in the worm farms – you may need to pick out the buttons or zips! There are so many costs when it comes to clothes. The cost of the raw materials, the damage to communities through cheap labour, and of course how to dispose of them when there are so many clothes made each year.  

I’ve been trying to find clothes at op shops, but don’t always have much success. However, I will try to source any new clothes from ethical manufacturers or locally made clothes, and I’ll keep checking out the op shops as I can. This theory of buying better quality to last longer, to fix or re-use can be used for all our consumables. The idea of a throw away society has got to stop.

Monday, September 4, 2017

Real Food

Some people find it hard to eat real food when on holidays and if you aren't staying somewhere where you can cook for yourself, it is a real challenge. It can also be hard to find ethical or organic ingredients. Because our holiday spot is close to where we live and regularly shop, we are lucky this time around. We've brought our own meat, have been able to fruit and vegetable shop at our regular markets and we are also close to That Wholefood Place. I stocked up there on a few things, including spelt flour for bread and the ingredients for some cacao bliss balls and muesli (as we ate all the muesli I brought with me, so had to make more). These bliss balls are super easy to make (if you have a thermomix) and are better than chocolate for a chocolate fix. I couldn't be bothered making them into balls, it is far easier to press the mixture into a square shape and then cut into small squares when cool and set.

Lucky I enjoy cooking as I've been doing a bit while away. I haven't preserved my mackerel yet, but hope to get it done - maybe tomorrow. Can't do too much in a day! I did bring my sour dough starter down, but wasn't quite organised enough today and I wanted some fresh bread to have with our left over fish chowder that we had last night for dinner. I did go to the shops to see if I could buys some sourdough but they didn't have any that looked real. So I have baked a loaf - didn't have quite enough spelt flour for it, and couldn't get more from the local store but could get some organic amaranth flour, so I've put about a third of that in the mix. It gives it a nice nutty flavour.

Eating like this is not necessarily cheaper, because buying organic ingredients to cook can be more expensive than going to the local grocery store and buying "normal" packaged food. I know I've mentioned it before, but I just can't eat regular store bought food - I'm allergic to it!

Eating real food is one of the principles that I believe in, both for my own health and the health of the planet. I've been planning a few posts that I'm half way through writing, where I'm going to discuss may views on ways to have a smaller footprint on our planet. The environmental cost to the way we live is huge and there are many ways that we as individuals can have an impact, but it does mean some (maybe major) lifestyle changes. Not everyone is prepared or even aware of the changes necessary and we can't make people change anyway. So we can only do our bit and hopefully lead by example.

Thursday, August 31, 2017


We had a lovely day yesterday - my brother in law took us fishing. It was bit tough getting up for a 6am start, but well worth it. We headed off from Roslyn Bay, out past the Keppels and pulled up near Man & Wife (twin Islands). We started fishing and immediately caught some!

Man and Wife

This is my first one - a Hussar

Then  I got seasick!!! I was so excited to be going out on the ocean and then so disappointed that I all I wanted to do was die -well maybe just be violently ill! Then the whales came! There were 2 or maybe 3 groups playing. They were amazing.

At one stage, one of them started coming straight for us. We started to get a little scared, I could just see us being tipped into the ocean....

It did come closer, but by that stage I was just fascinated and not interested in taking photos....okay I was trying to work out what to do if it tipped the boat over, but no it was just showing off to us! I really do think they were putting on a show for us. There was a Conversation Hour (Qld, with Richard Fidler) a while ago about the whales at Hervey Bay and the Scientists doing the research had the names of whales that kept coming back each year and they had personalties, so I do think they knew that we were watching and enjoying them and so they were showing off. Animals do have conscious thought! I've been around pigs, dogs, cats, cows and even chooks long enough to know that!

Anyway, I eventually got over my sea sickness - it helped being put onto land for a little while. We stopped on a lovely beach on Great Keppel Island and then on Humpy Island where we ate our lunch.
Our view while we ate lunch. Looking out towards Keppel Island.

So after a great success on the fishing front, we headed home to our Beach Shack where we cleaned and filleted and divided the fish. 
An esky full of fish!

6 coral trout - pretty as well as tasty!

Filleting the fish

Spanish Mackerel - a fish that is a great fish to catch, as well as one that has a good bone out percentage. I'm keeping some of this as large fillets to preserve in oil (aka tuna in oil). I'll do this next week!

Dinner last night was Baked Coral Trout. No lemon or limes here, so I picked some herbs (parsley, coriander and mint) from our Host's garden, added some chopped garlic and spring onion and then added a splash of soy sauce, fish sauce and sesame oil.

Then wrap in baking paper and baking in the oven.

It was delicious!

I'm looking forward to getting sick of eating fish!!! Although, I'm going to cryovac most of it and freeze and take home - after preserving some of the mackerel. Follow Lucy's Kitchen if you want to see that.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Holiday time at the Beach

Kim and I have just started a two week break away from the Farm. We didn’t go too far – only to Emu Park. We’ve got a great little Airbnb beach shack about 50m from the beach, so it’s perfect for beach walks throughout the day – too cold to go swimming though.

When we take a holiday we prefer to be somewhere that we can cook our own food and preferably do as little as possible. So far that’s what it’s been like. The first thing was to go to the Yeppoon markets to buy some fresh fruit and vegetables and of course we brought our own meat, milk, some feta, eggs and a few vegies from the farm. We will eat out occasionally, but honestly we never enjoy it! We enjoy the going out bit and the not having to clean up bit, but usually the food is so below the standard that we are used to that it literally leaves a bad taste in our mouths. And I do hate to spend money on inferior food, when I can spend the money on the raw ingredients and have the pleasure of cooking it too! (and Kim is quite happy to clean up for me!!)

Our Airbnb Host brought a gift of fresh lettuce, cucumber and zucchini yesterday, so that inspired my lunch. Salad with a zucchini frittata. She's also told me I can use the herbs and silverbeet out of her garden as I want it......that's pretty cool for someone like me! I've already started putting the vegetables scraps in her compost bin.

For me, it’s going to be a time to do some of the things I’ve been wanting to do for a while, which will include catching up on some blog posting and some food posting with Lucy's Kitchen facebook page, so if you haven’t already liked the page, do so now if you enjoy seeing photos of food! It’s also going to be some time spent on me! For a while now I’ve had various health problems that pop up every now and again and basically we eat very well, don’t drink too much and get plenty of fresh air and not exactly exercise, but physical activity. My main problem is stress and that is a killer so I’ve been searching for a way to stress less and to find more peace and calm in my life.

I’ve just read a book that my son gave me to read and while it was very interesting, I was wondering what he got out of it, as for a start I wandered what I got out of it. I just worked out that what I got out of it is that finding peace and fulfilment has to start with me. I don’t need to search for some cure or method, its’ already within me. I just have to accept it and practice it! Sounds a bit dumb, and I have read many self-help, positive thinking, you know the type of book….and finally the light bulb went off. I’m sure my son got something different out of it and I think I will get more on reflection. (I haven't really explained that very well, but I know what I mean!)

Anyway, it’s very easy to feel this way on holidays and when you are many miles away from what’s causing the stress! The next two weeks will be spent doing things for me and hopefully this will include writing more posts.