I grew up in a family with parents who were both amazing old fashioned whole food cooks. My dad grew up on a farm in Kentucky, and brought the love fresh southern food, and of gardening to our suburban lifestyle here in the Arizona desert. While growing up, we moved around a bit, but I can’t recall a single backyard where the garden didn’t go in immediately. Dad took advantage of nearly year round growing seasons, so we had fresh fruits and vegetables year round. In her youth, Mom learned to cook by helping my grandmother in the kitchen, and then later on she spent many years as a restaurant cook. Even though both my parents worked full time jobs, we sat down together to a home cooked whole foods dinner every night. Frozen TV dinners were a rare “treat” for us kids. While nutrition was never a topic of discussion, our meals were always fresh (often from our own garden), whole, and delicious. Without even realizing it, they were setting a great example for us to take into our futures.
Fast forward to adulthood, and I have to admit that I am NOT the extraordinary cook my parents may have hoped for. As I look back, I am reminded at how, for large holiday meals, I was always tasked with a simple dish; fruit salad, jello salad, macaroni or potato salad. See where I’m going here? Later on I did become very adept at creating lovely and delicious mini desserts, so that became my new contribution to holiday meals.
In spite of my skill level, I did gain a valuable appreciation for growing our own food, and for creating nutritious, balanced, beautiful, and delicious food. Over the next several years I became proficient at recreating our traditional family recipes, however, sometime after that, I began to notice that there was something different about the way the dishes were turning out. One of the most memorable incidences was when my candied yams wouldn’t candy. I thought I was doing something wrong. It was about the same time that my parents started experiencing the same issues with their dishes. Our tried and true recipes were just not turning out the same. Something was different; something was off.
Just a few years after we began experiencing issues with our cooking, news outlets began reporting the addition of hormones, anti-biotics, and other “health-protective” ingredients to our food supply. I began connecting the dots, and realizing that there was something different about the ingredients we were using in our family recipes; something different that was changing the outcome. I hadn’t yet realized that, not only did the additives affect the outcome of our finished dishes, but the additives were also affecting human health outcomes.
For the purpose of brevity, and to get to the final point of this post, I’m going to skip the next few years of education, research, observation, & experimentation and just remind you of what you really probably already know. Everything we were taught about feeding ourselves, about our food supply, about nutrition, is suspect. What we can see all around us, in our own health, in the health of our children and loved ones is that there is something terribly wrong.
There has been a huge increase of serious health challenges in our unborn children, in our toddlers, in our teens and tweens, and in our young adults. And if we don’t personally suffer from some chronic ailment ourselves, we each know someone, or many someones who do. We know that stress accounts for some of this increase. Our modern lifestyle is wrought with stress. However, the environment, and the subject of this post, our food; food that, like water and oxygen is supposed to nourish our minds and our bodies is tainted, toxic, and is making us sick. But I don’t want to focus on the negative. In order to create change, we do have to acknowledge and accept what is happening.
That does not mean that we have to run screaming from our lives to live in secluded communes in order to protect our health and our children. We can, instead form our own communities of likeminded men and women. We can educate ourselves, and then act on that education. And….we can enjoy doing it. We can live right in the middle of urban and suburban communities, live active, healthy, and abundant lives.
Alis Living exists for this purpose; to bring together like minded men and women, to teach, to learn, to enjoy, and to collaborate.
Our organic cooking classes are part of our mission. Currently led by Chef Len Jefferson-Springer, with her passion for people and cooking. I invite you to check out our Garden of Eating Cooking Class Series going on this Fall. On Saturday, September 30th, you can learn how to prepare One Pot Wonder meals that will dazzle your family with color and flavor. In the coming months, we'll be focusing on soups and stews utilizing organic locally grown produce. You can register here.
In addition to our Garden of Eating Series, we'll be holding POP-UP Food Prep, featuring super easy super foods like Juices and Smoothies.
Register for one or commit to the series, and by the end of the year, you will be well on your way to transforming the way you and your family enjoy meals, and you will make some great new friends along the way.
I look forward to seeing you in class!
Click the photo to reserve your spot!