Showing posts with label health. Show all posts
Showing posts with label health. Show all posts

Wednesday, July 16, 2014


Roxana Bashyrova/Shutterstock

No one has anything bad to say about the almond. It's high in protein, vitamins, and the fats that are good for you.  I probably have some in my mouth right now. Almonds are good = eat almonds. Unfortunately, as someone who lives in California, almonds also happen to be sucking my state dry of water, and this at a time when California is in drought. 

I've always appreciated people who can see life on a grander scale, people who can plan and execute a seven book series*, people who can read the patterns in the earth. I suffer from nutrition myopia where food is concerned, that is to say, I cannot see beyond eating based on my own health. And that's pretty much it. 

However, I remember coming across an article from 2012 (don't ask) featuring James Beard Award-winning Chef Dan Barber, owner of the Blue Hill Restaurant in New York, and a resident locavore. If you are looking for someone able to see food on a grander scale, he may be one to follow. 

Now, here's Barber in own words. Note, he's not a punch-puller:
"I'd like some to explain the phenomenon of the self-righteous vegetarian to me. I'm not here to say I don't eat vegetables—I do, a lot of them—but, from a soil perspective, they're actually more costly than a cow grazing on grass. Vegetables deplete soil. They're extractive. If soil has a bank account, vegetables make the largest withdrawals. So without animal manure, where are you going to get your soil fertility for all those vegetables in an organic system? You are, by some measures, forcing crops into a kind of imbalance. 

Butchering and eating animals may not be called kindness, but eating soy burgers that rely on pesticides and fertilizers precipitates destruction too. You don't have to eat meat, but you should have the good judgment to relinquish the high horse. There is no such thing as guilt-free eating.  

What's the definition of a healthy diet, the kind you can actually feel a little smug about? There isn't one answer, of course, because it depends on where you live and what time of year it is. 

Good diets, like great cuisines, are filled with diversity—grains, vegetables and a smattering of meat (not big 12-ounce sirloins, but utilizing every part of the animal). The proportions vary depending on the region and the climate. But modern agriculture separates animals and vegetables and grains; we've broken apart the system, which means we've broken the nutrient cycle. So now you need to import your nutrients in cheap chemical form rather than using manure. We've allowed dinner to become less diverse, less nutritious and a lot less flavorful." 

"True sustainability is about more than just deciding to cook with local ingredients or not allowing your child to have corn syrup. It's about cuisine that's evolved out of what the land is telling you it wants to grow. As one farmer said to me, Food systems don't last; cuisine does."
From the Wall Street Journal.

*Cheers to you, Game of Thrones author George RR Martin, and please don't die before completing the series.

Friday, June 6, 2014


Recently Updated1

It's Friday, and I have a subscription to US Weekly. It was a gift. From a friend. 

Because I kept reading her copies. Oh well, secret's out. You won't see a copy of James Joyce's Ulysses hanging around in my bathroom. Of course, you won't see US Weekly either, because that's gross. 

Most of it is exactly what you would expect, but sometimes, in the The Body Issue of all things, certain celebrities have some interesting things to say. 

"I really love myself. I'm comfortable in my own skin."
- Charlize Theron
"My Grandmother wore daisy dukes until she was 70! She loved her legs. And my mom wore plunging necklines. They were good examples for me."
- Jessica Alba
"I'm pretty healthy so I think that helps a lot. I've been that way for a long time - 20 solid years of eating vegetarian, vegan and taking care of myself."
- Jared Leto
I know. It's right there, on the tip of your tongue - if I looked like that, I'd love and take care of myself too. Thanks, genetics!

But what about just caring deeply about yourself? And then drawing nourishment from the well of love you have for yourself? How would you behave? 

Differently or the same?

Monday, December 16, 2013


Broken tree

There is something eloquent about a broken tree. It looks almost human, bent over and hunched, with all its branches stripped away.

I went traipsing up Mount Diablo recently, before it became completely unbearable and you risked windburn rather than sunburn. The good weather has gone away, and it is now goodbye nature and hello gym treadmill, with all its sweaty friends. Disgusting.

For the time that remains, I have scuttled together some pics taken from up high, after dragging myself up rough terrain and down loose gravel (it's named Mount Diablo for very good reason). The sky was feeling accommodating that day, and it was sunny the entire time. I should have brought a bigger hat.

There were two hang gliders out. First the one, and then a second joined the first. I watched as the second made his way on over to the first and then sort of hovered around the person. It must be faintly irritating, if you're out hang gliding and this other guy's hang gliding, and even though you both have the entire sky at your disposal, this other person has to glide next to you and steal your wind. 

Then I thought about it. Maybe this was aerial vocabulary at play? If you want to speak to someone in the sky, mayn't it be a tad difficult to make them hear you? Maybe you can only touch wings? Maybe you throw your shadow over the other person, and that's how gliders say hello.

For every activity, there's usually a new set of vocabulary that you have to learn. It's part of the reason why I like poking my nose into unfamiliar territory and sitting on buses. In rock climbing, if you climb a route for the first time and nail it, you flashed it. You can google the phrase "cashed" and see what you come up with. Over the weekend, I stupidly bricked my phone. So, I wonder if there was some glider speak going on in the sky?

Fall branches Hillside Hillside2 Handglider Walking

Monday, September 16, 2013


What did you do with your Labor Day weekend? For myself, I went backpacking in Big Sur, California and took a few pics along the way just to prove it. In case you're wondering, it's a physically grueling experience. I'm not going to even try to pass this off as anything other than what it is. You're a mule carrying about forty to fifty pounds and eventually you're going to have to go up a few hills. The first hill isn't very nice to you. The second hill, well that one is a fucker, and somewhere in the middle, you look up and realize it just gets steeper without getting any shorter. And you go on.

There really is no logical reason to do this, this backpacking thing, except you have to get something out of it or what would be the point? However, this elusive something is intangible. You cannot hold it in your hand, you cannot show it to other people, you can only show it to yourself and talk about it to other people, and hope that they try to understand. I don't know if hardship is conducive to creativity. I honestly can't answer that for you. But - and I can only speak for myself here - I believe that hardship is conducive to happiness. I believe that the best kind of happiness is the kind you have earned, and that if you settle for the other kind, you kind of just float on by on the surface of your life and never achieve any depth.

I was reading Diary by Chuck Palahniuk, the writer of Fight Club fame, and he's very good at describing everyday misery - maybe drudgery is the better term for it - the monotonous, never-ending daily grind  type of misery, the misery whose defining characteristic is that it will happen again and again in exactly the same way until the overall effect is the cumulative loss of your self: your dreams and your ambitions, until you settle for just getting by and you accept misery as a kind of toll you pay to just get through the hours of the day.

Now - spoiler alert here - the point of the inflicting this kind of misery on the protagonist was to guarantee that she would become a great artist. I'm not entirely sure about that, but I think that's a very common idea, to believe that you have to really suffer to create great art. I believe, to a less dramatic degree, that you should challenge yourself, which will lead to becoming a deeper person, a deeper thinker and observer, and that in turn will give you the tools to create something exceptional. Put another way, it's not misery itself that is important, but what you do in the face of it.

My second point: I think everyone has something that they're naturally drawn towards. If I say left or right, black or white, vanilla or chocolate, you have an instinctive preference. You may not feel like sharing, but you probably prefer one over the other. I know myself fairly well by now, and I like being around nature, even when I discover that citronella does not repel gnats (Did you know?) and I was walking around in an insect-filled haze of gnats that alternated between flying into my eyes, nose or ears for three days...and yet. I would do it again, probably with stronger repellant this time. And an inflatable pillow. I couldn't sleep very well while I was out there, but it didn't piss me off the way it would if I had been unable to sleep at home. There were sounds I could listen to. There was a lot of space for my mind to open up and play. There was a bird I wanted to hit with a rock. If you listen, and possibly explore a bit, there is something or some place you can find that calls to you, it will bring you peace, but also the kind of frustration you want. 

Wednesday, July 17, 2013


It's hump day.  I've mentally been congratulating myself on getting past 100 posts - pictures count, you know.  So I should be feeling fairly accomplished if nothing else, but instead there a slight nagging sensation.  A little pull of dissatisfaction.  It's not altogether unfamiliar.  Because there is always something more out there that needs to be done.  It could be something big, or a series of small responsibilities or dissatisfactions that, added together, create a larger burden.  And these things are always there, listed inside your head, ticking away the seconds like a bomb. 

I'm posting this now as much for myself as for anyone else, as a reminder to acknowledge that nagging sensation, and to put it aside.  To calm down.  It's the middle of the week, there's still some time left to do what you need to do, and you've already checked a few things off the list. It's an ideal moment to take a little time to breathe.  I will repeat this every once in awhile - the need to cultivate calm - because I think I need the reminder every now and again.  Repetition leads to building habits, and I believe that this is a good habit to have. 

I took that pic above because it evokes a sense of calm.  Many pictures unintentionally (or intentionally) create dissatisfaction by creating wants - the desire to get away, the desire to buy things, the desire to lose weight, should I have kids (?), etc.  All of this leads away from appreciating what you have.  

There is nothing I want in that picture.  It's cozy.  It's neat.  It simply exists in a way that reminds me that there is another way to be.   

Wednesday, July 3, 2013


So, other things you can do during your July 4th.  Do each activity for 30 seconds.  Repeat for best results, for a total of 20 minutes (for ideal results).

This has been making the blog rounds, but I like to have it where I can access it easily.

Monday, July 1, 2013


I've been thinking about food a bit lately.  Why?  I don't know, sometimes ideas simmer for a while, putting themselves together in your mind, and then when they're ready, they pop into your consciousness, seeming to come out of nowhere. 

I have to eat every day (This should not be a surprise.  I assume this is universal, yes?), but cooking and shopping for food and planning for it is always such a burden.  Sometimes, I eat something (borderline healthy) just to get the hunger over with so I can move on to more important things, you know, like browsing the web.  I knew a single mom who made sure her daughter ate well, and then put a bunch of vegetables in a blender for herself because she was too tired.  It's a similar mentality - just get it over with - but it's something that I would like to change, for the simple reason that since this is something that has to be done daily (I am referring to cooking and eating) - as in - there is no reason why is has to be perceived as a burden. 

Whenever I hear the word "holistic," I think about thinking of the body as a whole organism, and not a series of individual symptoms.  Like a nagging pain in your foot may be caused by damaged nerve endings in your back, or it might be the result of psychological pain.  You do not just look at your foot when you have foot pain, you look at your entire body and psyche. 

How does this apply to food? have to stretch a little.  In relation to food, instead of seeing eating simply as a day to day activity, I can see it as an extension of a larger philosophy and build from there.  

What a philosophy can provide is structure to your thought process, a form of internal guidelines that you can use to order meals - it guides what cookbooks to buy, what recipes to try, what part of the grocery store to hang around, where you even want to buy your food.  The point is to narrow your focus instead of seeing your food options as an all you can eat buffet. I can't really speak to other people's philosophies - I am only one person, but here is some food for thought: 

  • Forks over Knives: a documentary that follows medical doctors that heal their patients by switching them to plant based diets. 
  • The China Study: an in depth study - that, yes, takes place in China because they have a large enough population to study - that makes a connection between what we eat and what afflicts us: namely heart disease, diabetes, cancer, etc..  I haven't read it.  It's a tad long.  I read this cheat sheet instead. 
  • My own thoughts: I'm not against flavor and food that tastes amaaaaazing, but I'd rather save that particular good time for a restaurant, not for everyday meals. It leads to less salt, less sugar intake.  I will be the first to admit, this is great in theory and sucks in practice, especially the sugar part.  I struggle with the sugar part.  Especially foods that start with twix.
Secondly, how to apply the philosophy? Putting theory into practice is always the hard part.  Again, it's hard to think holistically.  You have to plan.  You have to shop for the week.  You have to plan the weeks meals and then shop accordingly.  My own thoughts on the matter are basically to keep things simple whenever possible (Can you smell a theme here?).
  • Really, really simple: It's like decorating a room, or an episode of iron chef - pick a hearty seasonal core ingredient for the week and find recipes around it.  For example: avocado during summer, squash during winter, etc. 
  • Professional subscription simple: Try The Fresh 20, which provides weekly recipes based on buying 20 ingredients a week.  Time spent trolling the web for recipes is time wasted.
  • Alternate meal plan subscription: The veggiemealmaker.
  • You have to plan for the worst.  There will be days I fall off the wagon, and I've been watching infomercials, so I'm going to invest in a nutri-bullet.  You never know man, you never know.
  • There's also a China Study Cookbook.  I'll probably take a look at that as well. 

Thursday, April 11, 2013

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