6 Foods from China Filled with Fake and Toxic Ingredients

6 foods from China filled with fake and toxic ingredients that nobody talks about : The Hearty Soul

Many parts of China are actually known for their fine cuisine, but its food industry has taken a lot of heat lately for its troubling lack of standards (and for good reason).

People everywhere are avoiding food imports from China, and it’s easy to understand why.

For years, China has been inventive in creating outrageously-toxic fake products and food items. While there is no evidence that the vast majority of these products is being sold in the United States, sites such as eBay and some vendors on Amazon.com have been seen selling food that sometimes openly, sometimes discreetly are being made and often shipped straight from the country.

The list below is just ten examples of illegal counterfeit food product from China, that may make you think twice about purchasing food from online sources that ship from across the ocean.

1. Imitation Eggs


Some Chinese websites have come out with instructional videos on how to make $70 a day by producing and selling fake eggs. The chemicals that are required are “Alginic Acid, Potassium Alum, Gelatin, Calcium Chloride, water and artificial color.” The eggshells are made from Calcium Carbonate. Eating these eggs may causememory-loss and dementia.

Source: InventorSpot.com

2. Walnuts stuffed with cement


In 2012 a man purchased shelled walnuts in Zhengzhou city, China only to find broken concrete pieces inside. The concrete was wrapped in paper to prevent it from making a suspicious noise when the nut was shaken. The vendor who sold the walnuts was trying to gain more profit by selling these fake nuts that were much heavier than the real thing. More photos are shown at this Chinese news site.

Source: news.163.com

3. Making beef out of pork


Because pork is less expensive in China, some restaurants have sold it instead of beef – but not before they performed some chemistry on it. What they use are a beef extract and a glazing agent to “marinate” the meat in for 90 minutes. Doctors have advised people to stay away from this fake product as its long-term use may cause “slow poisoning, deformity, and even cancer.”

Source: ChinaSmack.com


4. Baby formula

In 2004, 47 people were accused of producing fake instant baby formula that led to dozens of children dying in Fuyang, China, reported CBS News. The formula contained very few nutrients, was likely made of chalk, and made the children develop a “big head disease,” which made their heads swell and the rest of their bodies slowly deteriorate.



5.  Fake Sweet Potato Noodles

A facility in Zhongshan city, China made at least 5.5 tons of fake noodles. In 2011, people started complaining that what were supposed to be sweet potato noodles tasted strange. Further investigation led to a revelation that the noodles were composed of corn with an industrial ink used to give them a purple color, and paraffin wax.

6. Fake Ginseng


Ginseng root is a popular medicinal plant, used as a tonic in China for over 3,000 years. According to BON TV, prices for ginseng have increased rapidly, pushing many ginseng retailers to figure out a way to keep making profit. Their solution was to boil the roots in sugar, which makes them much heavier and therefore more profitable.

Chinese medicine expert from the National Institute for Food and Drug Control Wei Feng said this is problematic, not only because the retailers are ripping-off the customers, but also because boiling ginseng in sugar might strip it from most of its medicinal values. The test showed that while natural ginseng has 20% content of sugar, this fake one is up to 70% sugar. “It can do little to improve people’s health,” Wei Feng said … read more at: The Hearty Soul

Original Article Source: 6 foods from China filled with fake and toxic ingredients that nobody talks about

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Healthy Eating – A Passion to Educate

A passion to educate about healthy eating


eating healthy food
Public Domain from pixabay

Dr. Robin Williams raised her two sons to be healthy eaters in a household where the daily mantra was “no fast food,” “no soda,” and “not too much sugar, salt or fat.”

So when her eldest son Austin turned 16, learned to drive, and came home with fast food packaging strewn about the car, Williams was aghast.

“My eyes were huge,” she said. “I was totally floored, like I discovered he was on drugs or something.”

Four year later, she laughs about her over-reaction – but only a little. An outspoken advocate for healthy eating, Williams is using her passion for proper nutrition to help educate the African-American community in Dover, Delaware, including students at Delaware State University.

As the wife of the school’s president, Dr. Harry Williams, she’s the “first lady” of DSU, a historically black public university with nearly 4,000 students. She’s also a volunteer for Go Red For Women, an American Heart Association initiative designed to empower women to take charge of their heart health.

Raised in a farming family in North Carolina, the 48-year-old Williams grew up eating fresh fruits and vegetables every day. But her family also had a long history of heart disease. After her father died of a heart attack, she was inspired by Michelle Obama to encourage healthy eating among children.

Williams pushed Delaware State to offer healthier menu options and even set up her own section in a cafeteria where she served everything from grilled pesto chicken to sushi. We need a ‘Healthy Eating Strategy’ she said

“At first, people looked at me like I was crazy when I was serving sushi, but then they tasted it and now they love it,” Williams said. “I really want to see more baked food and alternative choices to the generic, not-very-healthy options you see in a lot of cafeterias. I don’t want to see just a bunch of fried brown food.”

She’s sometimes joined in campus cafeteria by her husband, who has learned a lot about nutrition from his wife.

“Robin is tough when it comes to her family’s health and a proper diet. We don’t eat at fast food places and we think about what we are putting into our bodies and the consequences of poor decisions,” he said. “Robin loves to take care of people … she is a nurturer.”

The only first lady in the 125-year history of Delaware State to earn a doctorate, Williams wrote a dissertation about effective leadership as part of her doctorate in education from North Carolina State University. But she admits that leading people toward a good diet is an uphill battle – especially in the African American community.

“It’s not a secret that our diet isn’t always the healthiest of diets. We know we have to move toward fresh vegetables and preparing meals ourselves, but it’s hard,” she said.

“When you’re working and raising a family and you’re stressed and you need to eat fast, it’s easier not to change. It’s easier to go back to your old habits.”

It’s also difficult to find healthy food when you’re traveling, she says, pointing out that her sons, who are both student athletes, first started eating fast food on their teams’ road trips.

“If the coach pulls up to a Taco Bell and you haven’t eaten in hours, what are you supposed to do?” she says. “If the coach pulled up to a Fresh Market, my kids would go get a salad and a baked potato and eat the stuff you’re supposed to eat.”

The key, Williams says, is to teach kids the concept of “preventative maintenance” early on, before they turn into junk-food junkies.

“Part of it is finding the right students to talk to other students, because kids listen to their peers,” she said.

“However we do it, we’ve got to start earlier to get kids to think before they put food in their mouths. If we put pressure on them at an early age, they’ll understand the choices they make now will have consequences later on when they’re adults.”


Original Article Source: A passion to educate about healthy eating – News on Heart.org

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Product Review: Inliven your health with Organic Probiotic Superfood

“Death begins in the colon” – Ilya Mechnikov – Nobel Laureate

Everyday we are exposed to numerous pollutants in our lives: Lead, mercury, cadmium (plus over 4500 toxic heavy metal by-products), drugs, vaccines and a host of other dangers inflict destruction in our bodies. As our toxin levels rise, our immune system and other critical processes in our body become dangerously compromised and begin to fail. In order to protect ourselves we need to ensure our optimum health.

Medical researchers world-wide reveal that up to 90% of all known human illness and disease can be traced back to an unhealthy colon!

The secret to good health lies within – in the friendly bacteria in the intestinal tract…

Lactobacillus bacteria form a significant part of the natural intestinal flora. Large populations of this and other lactic acid producing bacteria:

A. Regulate the levels of friendly bacteria

B. Reduce the levels of toxic pathogens that cause ill health.

Lactic acid producing lactobacilli bacteria alter the pH of the large intestine, making it inhospitable to undesirable bacteria, moulds, mould spores and yeast, particularly Candida. Putrefactive bacteria which are potentially detrimental to good health and increase foul wind production are inhibited by acidic conditions in the colon. The presence of active bacteria in the gut can aid the digestive process by helping to break down foods. To attain the health benefits attributed to Lactobacilli fermented foods, live active bacteria need to be consumed on a regular basis. It is believed the life span in the human body of these cells is 3 to 10 days. Only the active forms have the ability to tolerate the acidity of the stomach and the alkalinity of the intestine to produce health benefits.

Bacteria live and work in colonies

There is a lot of confusion in the marketplace in relation to the abundance or “count” of bacteria in various probiotic products. Many companies are claiming that their products have “billions” more bacteria than other products to gain a marketing edge. This is very misleading and, in reality, is little more than sales hype. Bacteria live and work in colonies. In scientific terms these colonies are called, Colony-Forming Units (CFU’s). Some companies intentionally shake the colonies apart, separating the CFU’s, to increase the bacteria count of their products, which is misleading to consumers.

The single most important factor in Probiotic food is the reproduction ability of the bacteria

The bacteria must be in their natural state and alive so that once they arrive in the gut they can multiply and produce all the sub-strains necessary to maintain a healthy intestinal flora. To ensure that the bacteria are in a natural state and have not been tampered with or altered in any way it should be certified organic. In-Liven has been certified by the ACO Australian Certified Organic, Australia’s largest certifying body.

Common warning signs of bacterial imbalance:

  • Allergies and food sensitivities
  • Difficulty losing weight, sugar / carbohydrate craving
  • Frequent fatigue, poor concentration
  • Frequent constipation or diarrhoea
  • Faulty digestion, acid reflux and other gut disorders
  • Sleeping poorly, night sweats
  • Painful joint inflammation, stiffness
  • Bad breath, gum disease and dental problems
  • Frequent colds, flu or infections
  • Chronic yeast problems
  • Acne, eczema skin and foot fungus
  • Extreme menstrual or menopausal symptoms
  • Antibiotics
  • Birth control pills
  • Steroidal / hormonal drugs
  • Fluoride
  • Chlorine
  • Coffee / Tea
  • Carbonated drinks
  • Synthetic vitamins
  • Radiation
  • Stress
  • Preservatives
  • Additives
  • Pesticides
  • Fertilisers

Research has shown that Lactobacilli bacteria:

  • Reduce cholesterol in the blood
  • Increase nutrient assimilation, including calcium
  • Reduce high blood pressure
  • Assist in the elimination of ailments such as colon irritation, constipation, diarrhoea and acne
  • Retard yeast infections
  • Strengthen the immune system
  • Manufacture and assimilate B complex vitamins (which include niacin, biotin, folic acid, riboflavin and B12)
  • Help digest proteins, carbohydrates and fats
  • Produce natural anti-bacterial agents
  • Produce cancer or tumor suppressing compounds
  • Control the pH or acidity-alkaline levels in the intestines
  • Reduce unhealthy bacteria in the intestinal tract
  • Detoxify poisonous materials in the diet
  • Detoxify hazardous chemicals added to foods, such as nitrates

The Lactobacilli bacteria used in In-Liven are the result of 20 years of research.

The unique lactobacilli bacteria have been subjected to a large number of stressors including: Heat, cold, chlorine, salt, alcohol and many preservatives found in food. This results in a “Super Family” of very strong Lactobacilli unlike any others found in the world today. It is also important to note that all the bacteria in our formula are sourced from fruits, vegetables or grains.

An effective Probiotic product should contain Lactobacilli bacteria that can:

  • Maintain its high and active count through processing and storage until consumption
  • Tolerate the acid conditions of the stomach
  • Tolerate bile salts
  • Increase its own numbers in the bowel and decrease the numbers of competing bacteria.

The unique combination of whole foods and friendly bacteria in In-Liven is a breakthrough in the world of nutrition and will become the benchmark upon which all SUPER FOOD BLENDS will be measured. The unique formulation of In-Liven provides the complete Lactobacillus family of:

  • 13 strains combined with 26 whole foods for 3 weeks prior to bottling

During this three-week preparatory phase the formula is pre-digested by those lactobacilli in the same way it is in our own body. When consumed, the body is able to instantly assimilate the broad spectrum of nutrients.

What if I think I am allergic to the ingredients in In-Liven?

Allergic reactions to grains are generally caused by:

Compromised gut bacteria resulting in the body’s inability to break down the protein
(gluten) in the wheat.

A reaction to the synthetic chemicals used to grow the wheat.

The In-Liven formula has been pre-digested by the lactobacilli bacteria, so all the protein has already been broken down, and all the ingredients are certified organic, eliminating the use of synthetic chemicals. There is also a gluten free version of InLiven (but more on that in the next review).

In-Liven is a Super Food containing: 18 Amino Acids, including the 8 essentials; significant enzymes and a broad spectrum of essential nutrients.

The formula contains the complete Lactobacillus family: acidophilus, delbruekii, caseii, bulgaricus, causasicus, fermenti, plantarum, brevis, heleveticus, lactis, bifidus, leichmanni and sporogenes.

It also includes: Organic Spirulina – one of the single richest and most complete sources of total organic nutrition
in the world. Organic Alfalfa Grass – a complete protein with vitamins A, B, C, D, E, F K and rich in calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, and trace elements. Organic Barley Grass that has an incredible concentration of minerals, vitamins, trace elements, protein and live enzymes. Organic Wheat Grass which is extremely high in chlorophyll and has a molecular structure very similar to the haemoglobin of human blood. Chlorophyll is the blood of the plant and is extremely rich in nutrients. Other organic ingredients include: Rolled Oats, Brown Rice, Wheat Grain, Pearl Barley, Linseed, Kidney Beans, Mung Beans, Adzuki Beans, Red Lentils, Chick Peas, Beetroot, Sweet Potato, String Beans, Zucchini, Cabbage, Silverbeet, Spinach, Chinese Cabbage, Asparagus, Broccoli, Malt Liquid and Molasses as well as Saccharomyces Cerevisiae and Saccharomyces Boulardii.

We thoroughly recommend InLiven for you and your family’s health.

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Every family needs an organic farm

organic-farm-image-300x200‘You, as a food buyer, have the distinct privilege of proactively participating in shaping the world your children will inherit’ [Joel Salatin]

Jase and I, along with another 20 green entreprenuers, are pioneering Australia’s first Organic Farm Share and I can’t express how exciting it is to be part of this project. It’s been the dream of our colleagues and peers Alf and Marina Orpen for the past 20 years. ‘The Most Beautiful Enterprise in the World’ Alf says of his vision for Organic Farm Share. Alf and Marina have carried the dream of creating a truly localised, organic food system – waiting for the right people, ideas and resources to come to them. And now they have it. Organic Farm Share is here.

What is an Organic Farm Share?

Put simply, owning a share in Organic Farm Share means people not only own the business, but secure the land in which their food is grown.

The land is owned outright by Organic Farm Share members. No encumbrance, no landlord. By buying a share of Organic Farm Share we are securing our local agricultural land for our use  – to make sure it’s farmed the way we want to farm it – to protect and regenerate our soil, our waterways, our wildlife and our bodies in a way we have never been able to before.

Organic Farm Share takes a whole new look at how we grow food. Rather than adopting the farming practice of planting row upon row of the same crop (monoculture) which over time depletes soil nutrition, Organic Farm Share adopts polyculture, meaning mixing plant species together on the same plot to maximise soil harmony. For instance, nitrogen drawn from the soil to grow juicy corn, is replaced by the neighbouring row of green beans.

The farm will also provide either fresh produce or food products prepared by our local artisanal co-producers. It will be distributed in recycled containers, reducing packaging and waste. And of course, each member of Organic Farm Share also benefits from the profits of the organic farm.

Why are we part of the Organic Farm Share?

For us it feels like the next step in our lives….

When I wrote my book Chemical Free Kids: Raising Healthy Children in a Toxic World’ a few years ago, I was emerging from a fairly tumultuous place after giving birth to my first daughter Adiva. The sense that I experienced (and still often do) was that from now on my life would be defined by overwhelming love – and therefore and overwhelming fear – for another. Also knowing that our babies are born pre-polluted with a host of chemicals didn’t help. Becoming a mother made me feel exposed, vulnerable, scared, out of control (and still often does).

At that time I was also surrounded by concrete, metal and high-rise buildings. I lived in the very heart-beat of Melbourne, which was once such an exciting place to live with Jason  –  eating linguine and gelati from Lygon St; browsing the catalogues at the State Library; and on the weekends dancing like crazy in dodgy warehouses filled with strobe lights and booming beats. But when Adiva came into this world, I began to long for the lush fruit and nut trees, paddocks, hills, and vege patches that I grew up with. I wanted to go home to where I was a child, running through paddocks, eating food straight from the trees, wading through dams. There was space, less pollution, less consumerism. A place that made me feel less exposed, vulnerable, out of control. A place where my children would be less exposed, vulnerable, out of control.

But this was not really possible. My writing and research (also a large component of my heart) is intimately connected to cities  – usually universities in cities. So over the years, as I have eased into motherhood, and amongst (and inbetween) these places of concrete, metal and high-rise buildings, I have been able to find some peace and tranquility and connectedness to the land again.

It started firstly with planting a Mandevilla (Brazilian Jasmine) climbing flower plant, which grew up the side of our one bedroom apartment. Then a little herb garden on our balcony, a row of orange Jessamine down the side of our house. Then came Miessence and promoting (and using) the most pure, potent, fresh certified organic products in the world, sourced from certified organic farmers.

We then moved to Brisbane, established a Children’s Garden at Northy St Organic City Farm and still tend to its needs with the children from our playgroup. Then came worm farms, composting, homebirthing, placenta planting, cloth nappies, health blogging, raw fooding….

And I write this I sit in our leafy suburb, under a canopy of trees in our secret garden sipping chai tea that Jase makes me with raw organic ingredients – chunks of ginger, cloves, cinnamon sticks, mint from our herb garden – which he gently serves to me in wide brim black mugs. I watch the girls eat rocket and basil from our small vege patch and the lorikeets munch on the winter azalea blossoms, the petals which fall on our heads. I am grateful for the box of organic fruit and vegetables delivered to our door every week.

I have begun to feel hope that we can make a difference in this world, first by living differently and showing others the way (or not). Change starts at home!

So the Organic Farm Share feels like a natural progression for us:

  • connecting us (and our children) to the land in which our food grows (learning from the farmers themselves, staying at times on our own organic farm);
  • pioneering a more sustainable, responsible way to grow our own organic food;
  • minimising the mileage our food travels from farm to plate (max 200km);
  • consuming the real nutrition of food – not frozen or warehoused;
  • sharing in profits (financial returns) as a shareholder, made though the sale of excess produce each year.

My friend and Organic Farm Share colleague Fillippa sums up the rest of my reasons for being a part of this project. She says:

‘I want to know the people who produce my food and the animals that participate in the food system. Most importantly, I want to leave this planet in a better condition than I found it and I believe that every small action we take makes a difference’.

Like Filippa, I want to do everything I possibly can to pass on a planet that is regenerating itself, a planet that will support my children and my children’s children in abundance and vitality. And I will raise my children to be true and responsible custodians of this beautiful earth.

Which leads us, of course, to YOU!. You are who will create Organic Farm Share with us. You and your family, your friends, your community. You and us. We. We, together, are taking back our land, our food, our health, our sovereignty to care for it and regenerate it for generations.

To find out more about Organic Farm Share and become involved, attend a presentation – we hold them regularly here in our home in Brisbane, others can attend presentations in the Gold Coast and in northern NSW. More details here.

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Planting Our Amazing Placenta

Christmas time, I asked my partner to buy me a ‘I Have a Placenta in My Freezer’ t-shirt, which I think is the best t-shirt ever, but he didn’t seem to find the humor in it that I did. I thought his lack of humour was strange given that we had Adiva’s placenta in our freezer for nearly three and a half years, moved it to three different states, five different freezers (one deep freeze) before planting it at the base of a native tree at my family’s beach house last year.

But this time we’ve been more efficient with Jedda’s placenta. It spent just four months in our freezer and we planted it this evening g. We decided that our beautiful home, and our front garden, was the perfect place to plant our placenta – for this was the home where we grew and birthed Jedda.
We all took part in preparing the space, digging the hole and planting the frangipani tree (its our family’s favorite tree). Adiva wore her fairy wings and blessed the sacred space with her wand. Jase dug the hole and tossed together the compost and top soil. We then all explored our placenta together before planting – stretched the meaty umbilical cord, opened up the membrane and peered inside at the arteries that sustained Jedda and I for nine months. We talked about the different colours, textures, shapes, and weight of our placenta; the medicinal properties (placentophagia, the eating of the placenta, which curbs postpartum depression and hemorrhage), and how many cultures plant a placenta tree as a ritual of life. Just as the placenta nourished Jedda, it can also now nourish the tree, and in turn, the tree fills the needs of humans and animals – a perfect example of the circle of life.
We then all gave blessings of gratitude: Jason gave thanks to me for growing and birthing our baby Jedda. I gave thanks to Jase, our friends, and in particular our homebirth midwife Andrea and then cried. Adiva thanked the placenta directly: ‘Thankyou la-centa’ she said patting the flesh, and then offered thanks to the butterflies and bees of the world. We then decorated the base of the tree with Adiva’s treasures that she had collected, creating a circle of stones, rocks, shells and pinecones around the tree, before she became distracted with a cane toad that turned up to enjoy the festivities. Jedda slept through the whole ritual.

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Lose something and you find something in return

Today I was sitting on a bench at Southbank watching Adiva splash around in the pool. She was playing with one of her imaginary friends named Torque, a sparkly unicorn that is friends with the mermaids at the bottom of the pool. Next to me sits an old woman who is humming. I don’t know the songs she hums but it makes me want to hum too. She reminds me of my time travelling across Greece where old Greek Mama’s stir big pots of eggplant rigatoni in their kitchens in the afternoons, the rich fragrance wafting onto the street – a time before I had kids.

Jedda is asleep, snuggled in the sling. She’s all soft and creamy.

The old woman stops humming. ‘Free spirit isn’t she’, she says through a toothless smile and points towards Adiva.

‘Yes’, I reply, ‘She’s really fun to be around and, to be honest, completely overwhelming at other times. Particularly since this one came along’, I say, gesturing downwards towards Jedda.

‘Yes, motherhood as a way of doing that doesn’t it’, she chuckles.

I nodded in agreement.

She starts humming again and then stops. ‘You see this?’ she said holding out her left hand. Her ring finger was missing, or part of it anyway – down to the second knuckle. ‘It was cut it off nearly 20 years ago now. How it happened doesn’t matter, that’s not important. You lose something and people think it’s tragic, the end of the world, something to turn into a drama. But it’s not. Every time you lose something you find something in return. Might not be what you’re expecting to find, that’s all’.

What did you find? I ask the old woman a few minutes later.

‘Courage’, the woman said with a grunt, ‘that’s not a bad exchange, eh?’

I nod in agreement. ‘Not bad at all’.

What have I lost and found in return?

I immediately think of motherhood. I have often felt a deep heaviness and dare I say it, loss, since becoming a mother. What have I lost? Independence. Freedom. Writing time. Meditation time. Sleep. Control. It often feels like I have a divided heart and an oscillating life. Excited to have a break from the girls, but then I can’t wait to get home to touch and hold them again. Thrilled to have a few moments to write, but spend my time writing about them. Resentment at being woken 2… 3….4 times during the night, but then wanting to etch their drenched luminescent faces in my mind forever as they slide back into sleep. Torn between doing things for them and getting out of their way so they can experience it for themselves.

Adiva calls me from the pool and Jedda wriggles and stirs. I am again summoned to feed, clothe, play, clean, care, love, and nurture them…again and again and again. And in the smalls spaces I have for myself while they are still little and need me lots, I have found ways to meditate in small spaces, write quickly and pragmatically, live without control (alot of the time, and find joy and wonder in a day without much sleep.

Not a bad exchange either, I reckon. And I’m still learning….

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I am woman…watch me make fire!

Another farm, another country, and another fire to light….

Lying in bed this morning I was hoping that our Tipi would magically get warm as the few early morning rays of light hit the canvas.  I was wrong. Over the last few days I have learnt to light the fire stove which is our main heating source and where we cook and make herb tea on. It’s a task I have usually leave for the men-folk, but as I have my two girls on my own at the moment as Jase attends a 10-day Vapassana silent meditation retreat, I have had to learn the skill myself. And it has most definitely a skill I have had to muster courage (and persistence) for.  And I have discovered that there is something deeply satisfying about lighting your own fire, feeling it heat the room, your bones and your sleeping babies.

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The Perfect Cup

the-perfect-cup-257x300And on this organic farm, Jase has perfected what he believes is the best cup of coffee. Consider yourself forewarned, once you begin brewing better coffee it becomes increasingly difficult to go back to enjoying crappy coffee.

This is how he does it:

  1. Buy good coffee – Fair trade, organic, whole beans.
  2. Grinding – Grind your own. Here on the farm we have an old fashioned coffee grinder mounted on the wall which Jase (or Adiva) hand grinds (See pic).
  3. Water – the more pure the water the better your coffee will taste. We have succulent spring water here that is fresh and clean (the way water is meant to taste).
  4. Method – I don’t think there is anything fancy about Jases’s coffee making method. He simply uses boiled water from the wooden stove and a plunger. Then lets it sit for a few minutes.
  5. Milk – Our milk comes straight from our dairy cow Saffron. It’s raw and its fresh and its creamy.
  6. Sweetner – Jase wasn’t a huge fan of maple syrup until we got the good stuff. A neighbouring farm taps the maple tree for its sweet sap and the result is sweet, heavenly, bliss (See pic).

Combine these with care, patience (it does take a while for the water to boil on the wood stove) and excitement and Jase has the perfect cup of coffee. I’m jealous, I admit. It’s one of the only times in my life I have wanted to be a coffeee drinker.

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Hooked on Nature

It’s an apt place to do this thinking given we (our family) are snug in a cabin in the woods of the Teton Mountain ranges in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. 10,000 ft about sea level and surrounded by swirling snow, naked aspens, snow covered spruces, rolling rivers and the most incredible feast of nature.

Each morning the girls and I wake up to see what snow has brought us through the night. The irascible moose and her baby may have returned to our cabin for some relief from the snow or to eat the succulent green water grasses from the Fish Creek riverbed nearby. There is something about an irascible creature that I am drawn to. I·ras·ci·ble – unpredictable, prone to outbursts of temper; easily angered; known to charge if their calves are under threat. As a mama I appreciate some of these qualities and am known to charge too if my girls are under threat.

During the day the girls and I have taken to watching the elk on their migration routes; the mule deer forage for food anywhere they can find it; coyotes lingering on the margins of the forests; and the bald eagles flying overhead as the first field mice start to emerge from their burrows as the long winter ice starts to thaw. The girls build ice caves, make snow angels in the powder, and collect river rocks to paint. We drink lots of herbs in front of the fire to keep warm, and at nights when everything is silent – I write and watch the snow fall.

Yes… there is no doubt that this environment can also be extreme – dry cracked lips and stringy hair, muddy and cold and sometimes impractical – but its an environment that’s easy to think about nature in, because it becomes you; engulfs you. John Muir’s quote is apt here: ‘When one tugs at a single thing in nature, (s)he finds it attached to the rest of the world’.

So about kids and nature…

For years I have been speaking to groups about the importance of nutrition (raw and nutrient rich foods for kids and how to make these part of their everyday diets), adequate sleep, co-sleeping, touch, reducing (eliminating) toxic exposure to everyday consumer products. But importantly – kids also need contact with nature! The missing link (and heart) of my presentations.

There is a great book by Richard Louv called Last Child in the Woods. He writes about reducing what he calls the ‘nature-deficient disorder’ in children of the 21st century. Where more kids than ever before are disconnected from nature – have reduced amounts of leisure time; spend more time in front of the TV and computer; growing obesity rates, sedentary lifestyles and where nature activities are being criminalized. Researcher Jane Clark also calls these children ‘containerized children’ – they spend more time in car seats, high chairs, and even baby seats for watching TV. And when they do go outside they are often placed in containers – strollers.

Louv talks about the time he spends with teenagers: ‘I am reminded that while they are aware of the global threats to the environment – their physical contact, their intimacy with nature, is fading. It seems nature is something to watch, to consume, to wear’.

His primary argument (and core of his book) is to reduce the ‘nature deficit disorder’. Why? Because it is in our self-interest, not only because aesthetics or justice demands it, but also because our mental, physical, and spiritual health depends upon it.  Exposure to nature reduces diseases, improves cognitive abilities and resistance to stresses.

I would also add that the health of the earth depends upon it as well. How young people relate or connect with nature, and how they raise their own children, will shape the conditions of our cities, our homes, or parks and the conditions of our animals, plants and ecosystems.

Author Bill McKibben has called this time as ‘the end of nature’. But a mama of two small girls and connected to a community of conscious parents, I am far less pessimistic. I watch how children connect with nature with such ease if we give them the space to do so. It’s like breathing to them.

Svetla Stoikova, a clinical psychologist at Alexandrovska University Hospital in Bulgaria notes in her research, ‘…If you place a bunch of flowers and a telephone in front of a 8-month-old baby, she reaches for the flowers. If you give a 4-year-old girl the choice between sand and stones, or dough with milk to cook a meal for her doll with, he will choose the former. If you offer a 14-year-old teenager a hike to a mountain peak or to let her chat on the computer, they will choose the mountain’.

Of course they will.  We, as parents, have a brief opportunity to pass onto our children this earth.

* Photos of our cabin in the woods and hooked on nature adventures

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