Tag Archives: health

Taking (time to) care, part 1: Let’s all be yogis!

By: Hannah Harms

We all go through times of adjustment and change. We switch careers after years of planning. We learn that someone close to us is struggling with addiction. We are developing a relationship with someone we care about deeply. It can be challenging to take care of ourselves when dealing with stressful and overwhelming situations, but there are ways to combat the negative effects our minds and bodies experience.

Yoga always seemed intimidating to me – like some kind of not-quite-sport for people more bendy than me, twisting themselves into crazy positions just for the heck of it. I knew nothing about it, clearly. I finally took a chance and went to a class. I felt I was drowning in relationship and job issues, which took a real toll on my mental and emotional states, and, thus, my sleep and eating habits. Plus I was surrounded by the depressing dark depth of winter. I went to a class with a friend, and I can remember how totally soothed I felt as we settled into shavasana at the end.

Yoga allows the mind to center completely on the body and its needs. It says, “Breathe. Know you are okay. Steady yourself.” The poses move and stretch the body, releasing tensions and pressures that we collect all too easily. They challenge the ways that our bodies are accustomed to moving, gradually strengthening and focusing in order to accomplish something incredible. Standing tree pose. A headstand. Maybe just even not shaking quite so violently as we hold our warrior pose. The movement improves the flow of blood and oxygen and massages our internal organs.  Mental and physical both benefit as we slow down. As we push ourselves just a bit to learn how to simply be.

Check back in for the next posting in this little care-for-yourself series – aromatherapy!

Eating with the Seasons: Good Medicine

By Hannah Harms

Nothing can place you in time better than biting into a juicy Honeycrisp apple as the afternoon sun blinks at you through trees of brilliant oranges and reds. Or the sweet stickiness of watermelon running down your chin at a sweltering Fourth of July picnic.

Walking through the produce section at the grocery store today, it is our instinct to grab whatever sits on the shelves without questioning our choices. We have to be careful, though, because much of what we find there is out of place. If we pay attention to the fruits and vegetables that grow during certain times of theyear, we can benefit in so many ways. It may take some time to learn when each food is available, but shopping at farmers markets helps tremendously with this. Plus, you support local food producers!

I still remember eating my very first farm-fresh cucumber. I had only ever eaten the waxy-skinned, watery cucumbers from big chain grocery stores at various points in the year. I had no idea that what I thought to be an ever-accessible, unexciting food was actually grown naturally in the summer and had a sweet, smooth flavor that captured its season perfectly. Each tomato, carrot, or broccoli floret that I tried in turn produced this new image of what fresh could andshould taste like. The more time that passes between harvest and consumption, the more flavor and personality we lose. Farmers markets provide us with veggies collected within just the past couple of days, while many of our larger stores stock products that have been stored for weeks or traveled thousands of miles before reaching their final destination.

The vibrant flavors that we find in seasonal produce carry with them the nutrients that we need in order to stay healthy, physically and mentally. Our bodies get a wonderful diversity of vitamins and antioxidants throughout the year, which allow us to build up our immune systems. We can avoid getting the cold that is going around, but also be proactive in fighting the cancers that continue to become more common. Colorful foods are known to reduce inflammation, which is a root cause of many physical disorders. (However, let’s not forget about cauliflower, which lacks color but makes up for this by packing quite an anti-inflammatory punch.) Preservatives and other chemicals are necessary in order to keep our food looking fresh when it is out of season. Staying away from such substances can only help in preventing diseases. The natural, pure nutrients then work to provide us with energy, strong muscles, improved digestion, and the beneficial brain chemicals that keep us feeling happy and productive.

Preparing meals will be an easier, less expensive, more vivid experience, and your body will thank you for listening to the seasons.

 

Hannah has worked at Quincy Farm in Schaghticoke, New York and at The Fulton Farm in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania. She is committed to organic vegetables and discovering ways to introduce people to how delicious and exciting they can be.

You need agriculture, and agriculture needs you.

By Hannah Harms

It is a struggle at times to support our own emotional health. We, as people, all have this search for happiness in common. It is worth exploring how organic farming and eating well affects our very existence on this Earth as an answer to this struggle.

I never understood what it meant to speak of nourishing the soul until I was introduced to organic farming. Within a week – my very first as a farm intern – I was completely exhausted, my body was sore, and I found myself constantly covered with dirt, but I was exhilarated. I looked back at the greenhouse beds I had measured out and fertilized and raked myself, at the rows of arugula I had seeded, and I felt a connection to the earth. A new energy and purpose in dedicating myself to taking care of my home by growing vegetables in an entirely healthy way. Putting everything good – also important to note, nothing bad – into the soil and producing vibrant, tasty foods.

Having grown up in a suburban environment, I now realize how easy it is to lose our relationship with the land on which we depend when we live in places so far removed from its natural, undeveloped state.

Getting our hands dirty pulling a carrot from the ground where it has been buried for months, or digging a hole for a tiny and growing broccoli plant – that’s where we can find the answer. It sounds simple and, maybe, unremarkable. But just take one bite out of that carrot and think about what took place in order for you to be able to sink your teeth into it and taste its juicy sweetness. Look back at that whole bed of baby broccoli plants and imagine what they will be in two weeks, or in four. You have created something with your own hands. You can feel pride and satisfaction as you watch it go through its entire life cycle, providing the soil with diverse nutrients that feed the land around it. You and the complex systems of the soil working together to nurture the health of, not only your own body and those of others who partake, but that of the earth as well.

The term “deep ecology” is new to me, and likely to many others, but its mission is not. We have lost sight of where we stand in nature, making industrial, technological, and economic development the priority when we should be aware of how irresponsible we are being with our treatment of the Earth. We have to realize that what we need is to respect the necessary diversity of nature – the opposite of the industrialization on which we have become so focused – in order to preserve it.

A commitment to changing our way of thinking will change our behaviors. Doing something so basic as planting, caring for, or even eating such organic foods, we are ensuring our own well-being, which will allow us in turn to support that of the world around us.

 

Hannah has worked at Quincy Farm in Schaghticoke, New York and at The Fulton Farm in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania. She is committed to organic vegetables and discovering ways to introduce people to how delicious and exciting they can be.