New year, new way to eat

Posted: Thursday, January 22, 2015 12:00 am
By Tessa Edick
For Columbia-Greene Media


The idea of feasting for future fortune has always had a ring to it as cause for celebration in the New Year. This year more than ever I am on a mission to make you responsible for your food choices and sources while celebrating honestly made premium quality food and re-establishing our food ways from farm to your table. I am changing the way we eat for the very good fortune (and future) of saving family farms and improving our health and the health of our children too.


We are all so busy, so stressed out and so disconnected from seed and soil, we actually think abundance in supermarkets, supplements and prescriptions represent healthy eating — or worse — we believe what these advertising savvy packages are saying to make us “feel good” instead of eating well and feeling great while offering very little transparency regarding the truth in food.


If you are like me, you start to wonder why as a first world nation we are overfed and starving? Why there are so many illnesses today among so many people? And why we eat 120lbs of sugar every year from packaged sources that deceptively convinces us otherwise?


Since when is it normal for everyone to have cancer, Alzheimer’s, gluten-intolerance and mood disorders? Why is two thirds of our population overweight and one-third of our population obese including children under the age of 10?


I say processed food and chemical dependency is the culprit. And the people in the big business of food and agriculture are poisoning us for profits without disclosing the truth about nutrition and sources (and treatment!) of our food supply — at the expense of our health.


What do corporations really care about the future of farming, the survival of family farms or maintaining good health? They just want us to keep eating so they profit — celebrating their own wealth and depleting a nation of health and resources. It’s time for a real resolution.


We are left with one choice — a collective conscious choice about how we spend our money on food. Instead of asking why good food is expensive start asking why bad food is cheap?


We must opt out of processed food; avoid Gylphosphate used on crops, reject rBST hormones and any petro chemical lifestyle as often as possible.


Instead make the farm your food destination or ask questions of your butcher, baker, grocer, chef, farmer, and fishmonger or cheese maker to make healthier food choices and invest in your health.


Simply by visiting a farm, you re-establish a conversation and trust farmers. You will buy and eat real food from people that work hard to feed us quality, fresh, nutritious food everyday. Food that packs nutrition we need to look and feel amazing. And if you still think it’s expensive or inconvenient — evaluate the cost of being sick.


It’s a return to our agrarian roots and we must start today. It’s our only choice if we want to live long lives both happy and healthy. I believe most of our weight and health problems can be solved by food choices that not only make you emotionally, mentally and physically fit — but reunite communities by capitalizing on commerce while promoting that consumption of nutrient dense foods is sustainable and positively impacts our environment while revitalizing local economies.


Why wouldn’t you want to know the truth about the food you eat and get involved?


What’s the alternative?


Since January represents a grand opportunity to forget the past and pivot — we can all make a clean start. Instead of leaving it all in the hands of mass food production and packaging with meaningless claims why not start with a good luck gathering and a meal that increases the good fortune of you, your family, your community and reconnects you to foodways and terroir — the cornerstone of agriculture? And the bonus? The food tastes better too.


There are a variety of foods that other cultures believe are consumed to improve the odds that next year will be healthy, wealthy and prosperous. Traditions vary from culture to culture but all are based around ingredients from the farm and guarantee happy eating and an auspicious new year!


In Spain, 12 grapes consumed at midnight on Jan. 1 represent one grape for each stroke of the clock. This dates back to early 20th Century when grape growers in the Alicante region initiated the practice to take care of a grape surplus and connect the community to buy the bumper crop. The idea stuck. Each grape represented a month, so if for instance the third grape was a bit sour — March might be a bit rocky. For most, the goal is to swallow all the grapes before the last stroke of midnight!


Cabbage, collards, chard and kale are cooked and consumed in many different countries on New Years for one simple reason — they look like folded money and are symbolic of economic fortune. It’s widely believed the more you eat the larger one’s success in the coming year!


Fish, but especially Cod has been a popular food to feast on during holidays since the middle ages. It was easily preserved and transported allowing it to reach far away lands where it could be boiled, dried and salted! Folklore says the Germans have been known to save a few carp fish scales in their wallets for good luck! Japanese consume herring roe for fertility, shrimp for long life and dried sardines for good harvest.


Pigs are the symbol of progress. They push forward and root in the ground. Unlike lobster which move backwards and fowl that could fly away with your good luck you don’t want regret or to dwell in the past. Often roast suckling pig is a new year’s custom at the celebratory meal as its rich fat content also signifies wealth and prosperity.


A common belief is that eating beans, black-eyed peas and lentils in the New Year will bring money. Their small seed-like appearance resembles coins that swell when cooked so they are consumed with money in mind. In the south black-eyed peas reign in the tradition and a dish called Hoppin’John gives you the opportunity to indulge in one bean for every day of the New Year to symbolize abundance.


Baked goods in the shape of a ring are believed by to be fortuitous when consumed in the New Year! Sometimes a coin or special treasure is baked inside and the eater will be rewarded with luck in the coming year. The tradition of candied fruit in a cake is made in this tradition that the coming year will be sweet, full of surprises and with great future to come for all — so maybe that fruit cake isn’t such a bad idea after all!


Another New Year fortune filled idea is to avoid cleaning your plate! Leaving a bit of each food on your plate at midnight guarantees you will never run out of food next year.


So do yourself a favor starting in the first month of the new year and make a resolution not only to indulge and enjoy food at a table with family and friends — but make sure you know who made the food you eat and where it came from.


You will get a bigger bang for your buck by bringing nutrition and wellness to your New Year plan simply by eating local. Remember if you ate today — thank a farmer. They will thank you too! May 2015 be healthy, happy and bright for us all. FarmOn! tessa@ Twitter: @FarmOnFarmOn


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