Saturday, March 5, 2011

"Thickets of cruciferous vegetables"

........ is such a lovely image and my favorite line from the following article The Billionaire who is Planning his 125th Birthday in The New York Times Magazine this weekend. I believe a description of what is planted in his greenhouse for personal consumption, which includes that great cruciferous thicket image, is on page 4 of the on-line edition.

It is always enlightening to read comments written by readers of articles in the New York Times. There is no perfectly written article (I saw something about vitamin D that I would have worded differently), and people always have widely varying opinions (and quibble) about foods, diets, aging, and rich people, all expressed in the comments I took the time to skim through. However, this most unusual man is choosing to spend a good deal of his money for research that will lead the future understanding of how foods (better studies would be evaluating whole diets, not just individual foods or molecules) affect the aging process and health promotion.

In a very small way dollar-wise, the endowment I have established at The American Institute for Cancer Research is doing the same thing by using proceeds I have donated from the sale of my book A Dietitian's Cancer Story to fund research focused on nutritional strategies that improve the odds for long-term cancer survivorship and/or increased quality of life for cancer survivors. I don't have the lofty goals of hoping that I or other cancer survivors reach the page of 125 through research funded by my endowment, but I do confess that I have humbly asked the universe to kindly consider giving me 40 more years since my husband and I have at least 40 years of projects we want to do on our new farm.

To tell you more, the first time I made this request (last year after purchasing our farm and getting a better handle of how much work was needed to turn this sadly neglected land (and home) into the productive organic farm we could envision), I asked the universe for 30 years, feeling that I was being too greedy to ask for 40 more years, and of course, by all conventional thinking, even asking for an additional 30 years of health good enough to keep working our farm would likely be considered a pretty outrageous request. After all, my husband and I had just turned 60 and you can do the math, 60 + 30 = 90 (outrageous) versus 60 + 40 = 100 (more outrageous!).

However, last summer I read where one of the vendors at Michigan's only all organic farmers' market had just turned 100. You can read about Jeannette Keiser here! Aha! I knew I was being too timid asking for only 30 years instead of the 40 years I really hoped for. And here was my inspiration to update my humble request to 40 years instead of only 30.Thanks, Jeannette. I hope to meet you someday.

I am very disappointed that the writer of this article did not probe to ask the billionaire's thoughts about the importance of organically raised foods to his overall plan of living to be 125. I have some speculation, but no info, so I won't make any comment.

However, our family plan is to continue to enjoy eating (please note that word 'enjoy'!) meals made with foods that are locally grown and organically grown (both as much as possible) while we wind our way along the pathway of our "encore careers" as organic farmers. I cannot begin to say we'll be given even one year, let alone 40 or more! However, we are committed to doing our little part in our local community for as long as we're able to connect the dots for everyone between healthy soil and healthy communities. Thus our 'tag line' for The Dyer Family Organic Farm is the following: "Shaping our future from the ground up", with the word "our" being very large to encompass all aspects of our community, not just our personal health or economic futures.

I'd like to end with a section of a poem by Wendell Berry that I recently read and copied. I think it is appropriate expression (and better than my own words) of what my husband and I are doing as we rebuild this land into our organic farm.

In Leavings: Poems by Wendell Berry 2010
from 2007, II, page 84

……….. With the land
again make common cause.
In loving it, be free.
Diminished as it is,
grant it your grief and care,
whole in heart, in mind
free, though you die or live.
So late, begin again.

Wendell Berry received the National Humanities Medal this week at The White House from President Obama, being given this high honor as a poet, novelist, Kentucky farmer, activist, conservationist, and author of more than 40 books, always exploring our relationship with the land and community. 

So yes, my husband and I are late starting our farm, but no matter, I am taking heart from the final line of this poem by Berry "So late, begin again." Nothing makes me happier, more 'whole in heart', no matter when I do die. :-)

"Where kale is more than decoration on my plate. It may even be in a thicket!"

Diana Dyer, MS, RD 

PS - These thoughts were very difficult to "tag" on my kale blog. Thus I will cross-post these thoughts on my dianadyer blog too, where I found myself tagging every other category.  So, apologies to those of you who regularly read both blogs.

5 comments:

jovaliquilts said...

Hi, Diana! I enjoyed reading the NYT article (still one of the most popular on the website), but I was a little disappointed in his goal. To me, the goal is quality of life -- more energy, fewer problems -- not extreme longevity. I wish the article would have emphasized that more.

Also, I just made an Ethiopian dish with frozen turnip greens last night, and it was great! I'm not sure I've cooked turnip greens before. Happy to share the recipe if you want it.

Elaine said...

Thank you, Diana, for this thoughtful, positive post!

I haven't read the entire NYT's article yet, but your commentary will guide my critical reading of it.

Kudos to you for creating your own generous, meaningful, health-enhancing endowment. I'm glad you updated your request for 40 years. You make me feel bold enough and more important, hopeful enough to request a similar time for myself :-).

I love Wendell Berry's writing & that's such an apt quote you've selected. I also thought of you yesterday (before I read your post) when I read this recent interview with Joan Dye Gussow:
http://houndsinthekitchen.com/2011/02/18/a-conversation-with-joan-dye-gussow/

I think you'll agree with (and have often echoed here on your blog)her closing words:

"All you can do, in my view, is your best. What you have to do is live, try to live, as if the way you life makes a difference. Try to promote the ideas that you think, if they were followed, would make it possible for us to survive on earth. That’s the best you can do."

Diana Dyer said...

Jovaliquilts - I would love to see the recipe for your Ethiopian dish with turnip greens. You may send it by email to me at cancervictorygarden (at) gmail.com

Elaine - thanks for those thoughtful comments. I will enjoy reading that new interview with Joan Dye Gussow, one of my sources of inspiration for years! Thanks for bringing it to my attention.

Diana

Your Health Planner said...

Diana,

I am so happy that I came across your blog -- what an inspiration you are! I look forward to coming back and trying out many of your recipes, and I hope you will allow me to recommend your blog to some of my clients.

I recently worked with a group at a local high school developing a kale chip recipe. We submitted it to a healthy national school lunch contest. Unfortunately, it did not win, but that did allow me to post the recipe: http://www.planithealthier.com, if you want to have a look.

All the best to you, and thanks for sharing your story, dreams and recipes.

Deirdre

Diana Dyer said...

Deirdra,
Thanks for stopping by and sharing your kale chip recipe. I'll be sure to take a look! You're welcome to share my blogs with your clients. I hope you'll all keep dropping in. Once we finally get fully moved to our farm, get our other house ready to list on the market, etc etc, I'll be posting on all my blogs much more often, but there oodles of posts to read and delicious recipes to try. Enjoy!
Diana