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.

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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.

 

 

 

 

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