This work is dedicated to all those who love this earth and want to give back to her as well as to receive her bounty.

Are You Average?

The problem of getting enough to eat and staying healthy is not as easy as society would have us believe. For most of us, food costs money. For most of us, our food choices are very limited. It is only in the cooking and preparing of this food that it seems like there are a lot of option. However, even in our "meat and potatoes" (and bread) society, there are ways to deal with the problems facing us in lang management, health, cost, and nutrition.

I'm going to begin these pages with some basic assumptions. First I'll begin with four assumptions about food and nutition and then I'll talk more about gardening and storing food. On the next pages, I will give you details about growing, storing and eating food. I urge you to read a little, but if you want to link to the subject page, go to the bottom of this page.

                                       Beginning: Looking at the Problems in a New Light

Runner Beans We all start in the same place as little babies who will try to eat anything. But even before that, our parents fed us and that is the beginning. Our parents continued to give us food or take food away, to monitor our eating as too much or too little, to supervise and direct our tastes toward what they preferred and what they could afford.

Assumption #1: Humans are Vegetarians or Omnivores or Carnivores, etc.

There are two ways of looking at the ideal human diet. One is to look at our stomachs, beginning with our saliva and teeth and going through our intestines. The other way to look at what humans need is to look at what happens when they don't get what they need. The USDA and other agencies like it came up with the Required Daily Allowances charts based on this kind of research.

However, there is one big problem here already. You are not the average person--no one is. Part of the Western philosopy is that we should need our needs by getting too much. This usually affects parents who worry contantly whether their children are getting enough protein or calcium or iron or other vitamins and minerals. Usually parents don't say, "is my child getting enough fat and sugar?" because our diets are over-abundant in fats and sugars. They are also over-abundant in protein and the first thing most people ask vegans is "where do you get your protein?" as if it's some scarce mineral.

Solution #1: Look at What Comes out of You (or Your Child)

Feed something to the baby, the baby barfs it up, it's not good for the baby. Breast-fed babies rarely barf like formula-fed babies. They also don't need to be burped. What is also not well known is that breast-fed baby poop does not smell bad. It doesn't smell much at all, leading some people to play pranks with diapers and mustard. But even among breast-fed infants, there is a wide variation. Some babies poop several times a day and some only every few days, but in huge quantites.

The first rule of eating is that what goes in comes back out. We are basically huge donuts. Our intestines are so that most of what we eat NEVER GOES INTO OUR BODIES. There is an assumption that, somehow, what we eat is made into us. But this is tiny, tiny amount of what we eat. Most of what we eat is digested, yes, but most of it passes back out again. If you are healthy this is what you should experience.

You must look at what you excrete. The texture of your poop can tell you much more than anything else. Doctors used to examine fecal matter. If you eat very dense food with a high fat content it will have a different effect on your digestive system than if you eat all fruit or food with a lot of fibre. People will tell you "eat enough fibre" and you may even run out and buy something with fibre such as bran or psyllium hulls in order to push the food through you. But people also say "eat enough fibre" if you have the runs all the time. The problem is that they don't usually look at your fecal matter! You are the only one who can do that.

Moms can tell right away when they switch foods on a baby. Sometimes the food goes right through the baby without digesting much at all. Sometimes the baby's poop really starts to stink. Whether a mom wants to know or not, as long as she's changing a diaper, she's going to know. Once we can make our poop and pee vanish down the toilet, we seem to think it's best not to know anything about it. I know it sounds gross, but it's the best way to know if you are healthy or not. Most of us are not.

Assumption #2: People Burn Calories and the More You Burn the More You Can Eat

Some people burn a lot of so-called calories. But what are calories? A calorie is the amount of energy it takes to raise the temperature of one gram of water (at one atmosphere of pressure) one degree centigrade. Well, how do people determine how many calories are in that hamburger? They burn it. Seriously. They take that hamburger, dry it out and burn what's left and see how much fuel it generates to raise that gram of water to what degree. Seriously, folks. It's a very, very clever idea, but there is not all that much proof that it has anything to do with health.

Yes, I know, everyone and I mean everyone talks about calories. You will even hear savvy gardeners talking about high-calorie foods to grow. The rule is that if you are sitting around, you burn less calories than if you are running around. Yes, that's true, but it's an odd way to say it. We do burn fule and the process is called ATP. The mitochrondia in our cells make ATP for us to live on. But this is such a miniscule amount of what we eat that the whole calorie myth gets more people in trouble than saves them. But there is a reason why it works. This is why.

Foods differ in the amounts of water that they have. If you light a dried stick it will burn more easily than if you try to light a soaked stick. If you light a nut it will burn better than trying to light a piece of lettuce. Lettuce has about 90 percent water and that nut has about 10 percent water. So, of course a handful of beans has more calories than a handful of lettuce or ever carrots--because the fresh veggies have way more water. The irony of this is that the water is a bigger part of it all than the calories.

If you run up the stairs, you will lose more weight sweating than you will burn in calories. Often super-jocks sweat so much that they have to drink quite a bit of water to compensate. People will weigh less in the morning because they are dehydrated. The problem with "calorie" dense foods is that often they are just dry. BUT, this is the best way to store food. The drier a food is, the less it tends to rot. So dried food plays a huge part in our diets because it can be stored. And the big part of cooking is re-hydrating dried foods.

Solution #2: Peeing and Sweating (in moderation) is Healthy for You

If you eat foods that are less dense, your stomach will fill up with water, that water will help you use the chemicals in the food better and that water will help eliminate wastes and make your poop easier to pass. Look at babies again. All they do is drink and it doesn't seem to hurt them. The reason that eating vegetables can be better for you (but see below) is that most of us eat very dense food and then drink drinks that dry out our bodies rather than re-hydrate them. But did you ever try to drink a half-gallon of plain water a day? Blech! Most people get their liquids through beer, coffee, tea, sodas and other beverages that are diuretics or chemicals that dehydrate the body.

One of the easiest ways to lose weight and to get detoxed is to eat food that naturally contains a lot of liquid, which is most fruits and veggies. By eating this food, you provide your body with what it most needs, way, way before calories or iron or protein: water. The average person is 10 gallons of water. All your cells operate in a wash of liquid. They will stop functioning if they do not get enough water. Rather than drink bottled water, eat a piece of fruit. I'm against juice myself, but some people do really well on juice. For others (like me) it acts like candy and sends them into blood sugar hell, but eating most fruit and veggies will rarely do this with a few exceptions.