When Food Began To Matter

For most of my life, food wasn’t something I put much effort into. To my mother’s dismay, I became vegetarian at 11 years old, simply because I couldn’t imagine eating an animal. My Mom tried her best to feed me all the things a growing child needs, but I shunned her efforts, often spending my own allowance on Wonder Bread and Diet Coke since she refused to purchase such fare. Throughout my college career, I lived on beer and calzones, and only became interested in cooking several years after graduating.

It was around that time when a friend offered me their organic CSA share while they were on vacation. I fell in love with the farm, and I promptly signed up for the next season. I was slowly finding that I enjoyed working in the kitchen, and I worked diligently on learning how to preserve the bounty so that nothing would go to waste. My understanding of the importance of food had just begun to blossom, however the concept of food as medicine was still blurry.

Everyone’s awakening is different- for some, it’s a gradual journey that they take over time. For myself, I remember exactly when it clicked. My 5 day old daughter had undergone heart surgery, and the effects it had on her body still make me sad when I think about it. Not only was she full of painkillers, but she had developed a blood clot so she was receiving blood thinners. One morning, the doctors admitted that they had inadvertently given her an adult dosage of the blood thinning medication. “She would be fine,” they said, “but we believe in full disclosure so we had to let you know.”

All I could think of was how toxic her little body had become. As much as I understood the need for the lifesaving medication, I was concerned about the effects it would have over the long term. Feeling helpless and scared, I confided in the nurse during one of our late-night feeding sessions. As we discussed ways to help my baby detoxify, it was then that it struck me- my breastmilk. That was going to be her medicine. In order to help her body cleanse and restore, I had to eat foods that would provide the highest level of vitamins and nutrients. By nourishing myself, I would nourish her, and that is when I began to view food as having potent medicinal qualities.


My personal growth since that day has been a whirlwind. It is often difficult to navigate the food system our country has created, and I find comfort in buying local and knowing where my food comes from. Upon graduating from TIOSN, I have an even greater understanding of how integral clean food is to the human body, and I’m motivated and inspired to do the best I can for my family. After 30 years of being a vegetarian, I’ve learned through my classes how organic, pastured animals can provide vitamins and nutrients that cannot be replicated by any other food source. I still can’t eat it myself, but I will occasionally cook it for my family. As I reflect on the days since food began to matter, I’m grateful for the knowledge, empowerment, and understanding brought to me by TIOSN.





And The Awakening Begins

It was a beautiful late afternoon in July, and as I arrived at my weekly CSA pickup I noticed they’d set up a demo of some sort. I vaguely remembered seeing an email announcing a special guest, and as I had no further plans for the rest of the day, I grabbed a seat and figured I’d stay as long as my 3 year old would let me. The special guest that day was introduced as Joan Palmer, founder of The Institute of Sustainable Nutrition. She began chopping a lovely, organic cabbage, and explained that she would be making sauerkraut. As she continued prepping, she began discussing the benefits of fermented foods, and how integral they are in maintaining optimum health. Fermented foods weren’t something I was terribly familiar with, and I was intrigued. As a mom and small business owner, I had little time to do fun things in the kitchen, and here’s this engaging lady telling me that I could cut up some veggies, soak them in salty water for a week or two, and essentially create an amazingly healthy, medicinal food for my family? I was hooked, and made my first batch that very night.

Joan and her sauerkraut demonstration permeated my thoughts the rest of that week. By the weekend, I had finally looked up the TIOSN website to learn more about the certification program. Their philosophy and curriculum really resonated with my beliefs about the importance of the food we consume. The four components sounded really exciting- I’m one of those people who knows a little about a lot, so the thought of being formally coached by these experts was truly appealing. As I gazed upon the price tag, my heart did skip a beat. Ok (deep inhale), so this means I’m not going to attend just out of curiosity.  I will pursue the financial aid, and I will consider this an investment in my own future. I wasn’t quite certain what direction I would go with it, but I did know this- just the thought of attending this program made me feel intensely awake, inspired, and motivated. I’ve learned to follow the path that makes my heart sincerely happy, and I knew that by pursuing this education the path would open itself up to me. I just had to make the leap.

As I reflect upon my choice to enroll at TIOSN, I am grateful for that sunny day last July. I am grateful to my CSA farm for coordinating the event, and I am grateful that Joan chose purple cabbage to ferment. Purple is my daughter’s favorite color, and that is the only reason she agreed to sit with me through the lesson. Before I enrolled, I did my best to provide healthy sustenance for my family- we stayed active through biking and walking, and ate as “clean” as our budget would allow. As I near the end of the program, I now have a more thorough understanding of what it means to be healthy. I am better able to cook and meal plan, thereby stretching that budget for sourcing clean food. I now have a firm comprehension of how the body functions on an anatomical level, increasing my awareness of how important true health really is. There is so much more to the awakening that’s been brought about by the instructors, it’s too much to list in one paragraph. As I’ve learned about wild edibles, I now look at the roadside weeds and see a nutritious salad. It’s an amazing awareness, and a true sense of connection to our world that’s been brought to me by TIOSN. I feel I have a good sense of how I will share my education with other families in the community, and I look forward to continuing my journey on this path. It’s been an incredibly rewarding and life changing experience so far, and I know it’s only the beginning.