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Diet by addition: Healing, hope, breakfast by the fire

“There are two spiritual dangers in not owning a farm. One is the danger of supposing that breakfast comes from the grocery, and the other that heat comes from the furnace.” Aldo Leopold, “A Sand County Almanac”

I think about the above quote a lot, even though keeping our home fire burning in the winter does more for my soul than for frigid finger tips, as it’s not set up to really heat our home (although I certainly wish it was…). I have also been thinking a lot about adding things to my diet rather than subtracting them. I’ve been calling it “diet by addition,” and I’ve decided that I’m going to eat eggs, lamb or beef as the center of every meal. Sounds silly for a livestock farmer to say this, but I wasn’t doing this despite the food abundance in which I live. It’s been life-changing.

This morning’s breakfast, 5a. Reverence Farms’ eggs (2 whole, 1 extra yoke), spinach from Community Greens (get yours at the Saxapahaw General Store), Carolina Moon cheese from Chapel Hill Creamery, scallions from Dinner Bell Farm, mushrooms that I pre-cook weekly from my Haw River Mushrooms CSA (one of my favorite investments I make annually in my health), and butter that I made myself.

One of my most highly prized skills is that I can flip an omelet in a stainless steel pan. Get the butter adequate and the temperature just right, and a toxin-free nonstick pan is not only possible but preferable. I’ll always owe a debt of gratitude to my friend Andrew for teaching me to make a proper omelet. I eat an omelet every. single. day. Just ask my family what happens to my mental and emotional health when I don’t have one… Eggs are incredible.

What if we only ate food from people we knew? What does it meant to really support farms?

While by the fire last night I was watching a live video from Grass Grazed Farm and thought something they said was amazingly right on, and I’m glad someone is saying it: If we want to support farms, we have to eat farm food. This sounds simple, and it is, but they were very clearly articulating why that doesn’t mean going to the farmers market for “onesie-twosies,” a bunch of flowers, a piece of meat and a couple of vegetables. Is that all you are going to eat for a week, really? Where are the rest of your meals coming from? They spoke about when they are out of bacon, they don’t eat bacon. Radically simple concepts, but totally transformative.

How to talk to a farmer? Ask her what she needs to move and learn to cook it.

I remember reading something Joel Salatin wrote years ago in one of his books about how radically different our landscape would be if we bought most/all of the food that we eat from farmers. That means, just for my little family of three, that we buy carrots, celery, sweet potatoes, etc by the bushel full. It means we need an extra fridge in the basement just for produce. (I just picked one up another one on Craigslist last month for 50 bucks.)

It also means that for every single meal, I can share with Hue and Vivian every single ingredient and it’s source. It means we eat seasonally not because it’s trendy, but because it’s what our friends are harvesting right now. It means that when the peaches are coming off the tree, we better get preserving, because the harvest will last only a week or two. And when we have that peach jam later in the year, we are going to eat it in moderation. Why? Because it’s limited and we know what went into making it. When it’s out, it’s out.

Diet by addition makes life deeply satisfying

I have started to call it “diet by addition,” and what I mean is this: if I fill our plates and mugs (1-2 pints of bone stock per day is part of this) with nutrient-dense food three meals a day, and source 90+% of our diet locally, I can eat all the snacks and have my little cheats to my heart’s content and still stay in the same belt loop. Why? Because my body and soul are satisfied enough to not want much of those things. It’s not the discipline of saying no so much as the much easier discipline of saying yes to the right things.

Have you considered how being deeply satisfied with your food affects your health?

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