Thursday, June 14, 2012

What is Healthy

The Farm House at Kings Valley
This post could also be called a slice of humble pie. I am really proud of how healthy I eat. Last year my roommate regularly commented that my partner and I were the healthiest people he knew, which I definitely enjoyed hearing. I also feel like I generally do a lot to live sustainably. To me how I eat and the impact on the environment are very much linked. 

I mentioned previously that Shaun and I have been WWOOFing at Kings Valley Gardens. The experience has lead me to question how healthy my diet is. Since being here I have realized that I cannot sit on my laurels and say that I am eating healthy enough and doing enough to reduce my environmental impact. John and Andrea, who own Kings Valley gardens, are inspirational in terms of eating healthy food, but also living simply and sustainably, being joyous, and just generally living a life in line with their values.

Homemade AND homegrown canned goods
They grow a huge percentage of the food they eat at Kings Valley which is amazingly awesome. The diet is predominantly vegan. We do eat eggs that come from a neighbor's chickens. I think the food choices come from a limit on space and time on the farm and a desire to be able to leave for a weekend occasionally (apparently animals make it much harder to take a vacation). Though I have eaten vegan meals on occasion for a long time, going an entire day without dairy products is new to me.

At home we eat a lot of cheese and I drink a lot of milk. We bought local milk for a little bit, but if got relatively expensive. Dairy is something that thus far we have not prioritized in terms of buying a more sustainable version of and yet consume a lot of. This is something that I have felt bad about in the past, but feel particularly guilty about now. We also got lazy last winter when it got difficult to purchase local produce and organic produce seemed to get more expensive, probably because it was being shipped further. We slipped into purchasing mostly conventional produce and more exotic items such as bananas.

In addition to being vegan there is very little refined sugar, no caffein and no alcohol. I don't eat a lot of sugar, but do consume more alcohol and caffein than I probably should. It's not that we can't have these things it's that they are not provided as part of the work trade for WWOOFinh and we are trying to save money so we can't purchase them regularly. From a public health standpoint it is a great illustration of how the environment shapes decision. From a different type public health standpoint I also feel more understanding of smokers who resent smoking bans in public places as I hide coffee in my room so that I can enjoy my vice in peace.

All of the WWOOFers learning how to transplant things
Both of these things, the change in diet and the restriction of vice, have been frustrating at times. But I am also grateful for the opportunity to remove myself from day to day pressures and focus on living simply, joyfully, sustainably, and I would say healthily. I don't thing I want to become a farmer but I do want to bring some aspects of this life back with me to the "real world". I am still trying to figure out which aspects those will be. How I can recommit myself to being healthy in all ways. Hopefully this will provide some fodder for this blog throughout the next couple of months.

How do you live sustainably in an urban or rural environment? What is your definition of healthy?

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