About 15 years ago, I sat down to lunch with Alice Waters at her restaurant Chez Panisse on Shattuck Avenue in Berkeley.
Afterward, we took a short drive to a public school nearby that was the first home of her Edible Schoolyard project.
It would be years before the hue and cry against the fast and frozen food invasion of our nation’s schools would crescendo, but as usual, Alice was far ahead of the times.
The full story of how Vietnamese Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh survived two wars in Vietnam (the French occupation and the devastating North/South battle of the ‘60s and early ‘70s) lies in the first half of this beautiful small book.
For Nhat Hanh, it was an agonizingly trying time (“My parched eyes can shed no more tears”) but also one of great action, advocacy, and powerful writing.
A recent Food Research and Action Center (FRAC)study shows that more students this year than last are eating breakfast in schools.
Research has found that eating breakfast improves children’s overall nutrition and builds stronger learners.
While this type of inquiry is important, we don’t need new research to tell us that eating the right stuff at the right time increases our ability to learn and grow.
Achieving overall fitness and well-being is built choice by choice, one “smidgen” at a time. So are disease and infirmity.
In fact, the small choices—repeated often enough and over time—have the greatest impact.
The cumulative effect of actions and non-actions shape the person we are today and the person we are in the process of becoming as we age.
Once again we turn to nutrition and public health expert Marion Nestle, Ph.D., to help us make sense of the current blowup about the announced “relationship” between meat and cancer.
For example, we’ve now seen meat placed in the same category as cigarettes!
The idea seems simple, and it has been working: try to link local growers with public school food programs located nearby.
Eliminate storage times after harvest. Eliminate long-distance trucking.
Save money, energy, and—above all—deliver fresh, more-alive, nutritious food to the trays of schoolchildren.
As I sit down to a fine dinner at Rancho La Puerta’s organic farm kitchen, I’m about to enjoy several varieties of kale sautéed in olive oil by chef Denise Roa (above).
I appreciate that the leaves were attached only minutes ago to complete, healthy plants growing in the soil near the kitchen.
Actually, this has been the case for thousands of dinners I’ve eaten at the fitness resort I co-founded in Baja California, Mexico.
Natural, to me, means “nature:” from nature, a part of nature.
However, you want to put it, natural means that it just came out of the ground or was picked from the tree.
It means you found your food by going to your kitchen garden or farmers market, taking your selections into your kitchen (preferably within hours or less), and making a meal.
Ed.’s Note: With increasing interest in the roots of where our movement began we continue with profiles of pioneers of wisdom, healing, and wellbeing. Naturally, we turn next to the husband of our founder, Deborah Szekely: a man she married in 1939. A few months later they were living in a one-room adobe hut in Mexico awaiting their first guests.)
Edmond Szekely, Co-Founder (with Deborah) of Rancho La Puerta in Tecate, Baja California, was a prolific writer and lecturer.
Preparing K-12 school systems and their communities to educate coming generations for a sustainable future, as well as teaching “life skills” that engage students in how food is sought out, prepared, stored, presented, leads the wellness movement’s priorities.
But it doesn’t all have to focus on children: learning about the relationship between wellness and food is a lifelong creative pursuit.
Here are some of our favorite resources, whether you’re 8 or 88.