I may live in the sixth largest city in the US, but in my insular little world, I shop at our neighborhood food co-op, get my milk, butter, cream and meat directly from an Amish farmer, my eggs from one friend and my organically-grown vegetable seedlings from another. It truly is alocavore’sdream.
Every Wednesday my friend Pat brings me a dozen eggs that she and her husband John collect from the chickens that live in poultry-paradise on theirbiodynamicfarm-ette, just inside the perimeter of Philadelphia. These eggs bear very little resemblance to their supermarket counterparts: Pat and John’s eggs have the biggest, brightest orange yolks and the most incredible flavor you can imagine. And every week Pat makes sure to include at least one blue-shelled egg from theAraucana variety chickensmade famous by Martha Stewart.
Also on Wednesday I get a delivery of raw (unpasteurized) dairy: A gallon of whole milk, a pound of butter, cream (every-other-week), buttermilk (every-other-week) and some meat.
For many years, we belonged to aCSA(Community Supported Agriculture) although this year, we have planted a good-sized vegetable garden and hope to yield our base level of produce for the summer with enough left over to preserve tomatoes, tomato sauce and pesto.
So what’s a gal with a standing pedicure appointment doing with such a granola lifestyle?
Anyone who knows me will vouch that I have been a foodie from the get-go. I was raised in an extended Italian family that featured incredible homemade food every night of the week. Even when I was single and living in Manhattan with a two-burner stove and a mini fridge, I was shopping at theUnion Square Farmer’s Market,Zabar’sandCitarellato find the freshest, tastiest ingredients available. I enjoy shopping for food more than for shoes--and that’s saying something.
But what got me to go back-to-the-land for my food starts with a story about vaccination.
With my first son, I had a conservative plan for an extended vaccination schedule that would start after he was two-years old and had a more developed immune system. I was busily inquiring about ordering single vaccines (rather than the combinations like MMR and DPT) from Canada as I had heard that they did not contain the same mercury-laden preservatives, and that a single shot would be less of an assault to the immune system…
But along comes child number two and as all busy moms know, the best-laid idealistic plans can lose their charm when you haven’t had a shower in a week.
So, under pressure from our new pediatrician, I allowed my second son to receive his first shot at 18 months on a day when he was already a little under the weather. Big mistake. Within 24 hours his arm swelled like a sausage and he lost its use for more than a month. He developed chronic diarrhea, eczema and his nose ran continuously. He became a different child.
Many readers may recognize that this reaction is consistent with that of many children who ultimately end up on the Autism spectrum. We now know what the doctors of Chinese medicine have known for millennia: there is a relationship between the skin the gut the lungs and the brain.
What I knew instinctively, as a homeopath and as a mother, was that I needed to reduce the toxic load on his body so that he could heal. And heal he did. In retrospect, I often think of the saying: “Genetics may load the gun but environment pulls the trigger” and am grateful that our groovy lifestyle may have helped us dodge a major bullet!
As the years went by and we did all we could to coddle this child’s struggling immune system, we found that certain things in particular aggravated his symptoms: dairy and foods with artificial colorings and/or preservatives. Even he recognized that if he ate a blue popsicle at a party he felt really, really bad.
Yet as long as he had a pretty consistent diet of whole foods, without any extra junk added in, he was fine. Except for the milk. He really loved milk. He really, really, really loved milk. Yet when he drank it his eczema flared, his nose ran and even his behavior seemed off. So I theorized that if he couldn’t handle preserved food, maybe the preservation of the milk (by pasteurizing and homogenizing) had a similar effect. Sure enough, we found a source for raw milk and he was able to drink it with no adverse reactions. Go figure.
Raw dairy is another one of those topics that gets people fired up. (And I’ll write more about it soon). But I think it is important to remember that one of the main reasons we began pasteurizing and homogenizing milk was to be able to ship it further away from the source without spoiling. Add to that the increasingly unsanitary conditions of industrialized farming and you can see how sterilization and preservation came to serve a their function in the supply chain.
Ultimately, our entire family has benefited tremendously from our choice to eat a fresh, local and holistic diet. And along the way, we have met an entire network of fellow foodies, fantastic cooks and stewards of the land—while eating a boatload of great meals!
So anyway, today being Wednesday, I am looking forward to my deliveries of eggs and assorted dairy products. And tomorrow morning for breakfast, I’m planning to make a “Puff Daddy” (my variation on the Dutch Baby Pancake)…
Preheat oven to 400
In a ten-inch skillet, sauté one thinly sliced pear (or apple) in a tablespoon of butter for about 2-3 minutes; when the fruit is softened and sizzling, sprinkle about 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon on top and about 1/4 cup of honey. Remove from heat.
Meanwhile, whisk together 3 eggs, 3/4 cup of flour and 3/4 cup of milk, 1/4 tsp. salt. Pour over sautéed fruit and bake for 20 minutes. (Be sure to leave a few inches of “puff room” above the rim of the pan).
Sprinkle with powdered sugar and enjoy!