Local Food: Time to Order Your Holiday Turkey

Farmer with tablet computer

Do you eat local? Now is the time to plan ahead and order your holiday turkey from a local farmer. That juicy turkey is an essential ingredient in your 100-mile holiday dinner.

We talk with you a lot about how important it is to shop local. When you shop in your community, it keeps money flowing and multiplying in your local economy.

Behind just the money, though, it keeps you building local relationships. Whether you are buying a baby carrier, a pumpkin, or a turkey, if you have a relationship with the person who is selling a product to you, you are more confident and trusting in what you get. It’s easier to understand what is going on with your food when you shake the farmer’s hand and ask a few questions when you drop by to pick it up.

100-mile Diet

Since reading a few years ago about the adventures of a Canadian couple eating locally for a year, a story told in their book Plenty: Eating Locally on the 100-mile Diet, my family has made great efforts to replace far-away foods with great local foods. We are fortunate to have a lot of choices.

The very small town (now a ghost town) where my grandfather was born, is a now a collection of turkey farms. When my family eats turkey, we always have a variety of local options, even from the grocery store.

It’s especially important to us to use foods from the Americas, LOCAL foods in more ways than one, for our harvest and holiday celebrations. Acknowledging the food and where each ingredient came from is a big part of our family meal.

It isn’t always easy to get the foods you are used to locally, but you can almost always get local poultry. Whether you go all the way with a 100-mile meal or whether you just find that beautiful, big turkey locally, talk about it with your children. Your efforts and your reasons for buying local will make an impression on them.

Where to Buy Your Local Turkey

If you don’t already have a turkey farmer on speed dial, there are websites to help you find exactly what you are looking for.

In Canada, the turkey Farmers of Canada have links to local turkey producers throughout Canada. The local sites are all different, but most of them list local farmers. For example, when you click through to the Turkey Farmers of Ontario, you end up at Ontario Meat & Poultry, where you can search for exactly what you want—including your location, distance you are willing to go, type of meat, ethnic focus, and so on.

If you are in the U.S. and still looking for a turkey for Thanksgiving, It’s not too late. Local Harvest has a big selection of local farms with turkeys ready for local pick-up. While you are there, check out the fresh cranberries section. There are fewer options, but just think how tangy and fresh those cranberries will taste with your local turkey. To find a local farmer, just focus on your area on the map on Local Harvest, and you will find a listing of local food resources.

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Sugar: 7 Reasons to Break the Addiction

Baby eating a sugar lollipop

Several articles and studies in the past week give even more reason to consciously and relentlessly reduce sugar in your family’s diet, especially in the diet of your children as they grow and develop.

Sugar consumption is high, probably higher than you realize. Sugar isn’t just in cookies, ice cream, and sodas. Sugar sneaks into places you wouldn’t expect to find it: canned soup, mass-produced bread, processed meats, Kraft dinner, ketchup.

Statistics Canada reports that the average Canadian consumes 110 grams (or 26 teaspoons) of sugar a day. That’s over half a cup of sugar a day. Why not just wake up to a glass of water and pour in half a cup of sugar. Mmm. Sounds, well, terrible. Even if the number is half that, as the Canadian Sugar Institute claims, it seems high when you translate that into 44-88 lbs or 20-40 kg a year.

Just pause to visualize that much sugar. Not so appetizing all at once.

That fact is, the average North American is eating a lot of sugar.

This past week, National Geographic and TIME magazine published features on sugar, and a new study from the University of Utah suggests that the effects of sugar are far more than just weight gain.

What Is the Effect of Sugar?

1. Sugar leads to disease. Sugar overload can lead to high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and higher risk of heart attack. The process of metabolic disease is clear.

2. Sugar leaves you without enough energy to exercise away the extra calories it leaves. Double whammy.

3. Sugar’s effect on your body is addictive. Sure, the immediate effect is pleasurable, as is the effect of cocaine or heroin, but most of us know enough not to slide down that slippery slope.

4. Sugar is toxic to you. To quote TIME on a new study published this week, “even safe levels of sugar could have serious negative effects on people’s health.”

5. Sugar shortens your life, at least it may have subtle biological effects that lead to shorter lives. Research is ongoing in this area, but findings point to higher mortality.

One of the researchers on the Utah study released this week said in the Salt Lake Tribune,

“I think the big takeaway is the level of sugar we readily eat and think is safe causes major health declines in mice. . . . We’re not just talking about some minor metabolic thing. We’re taking about increased rates of death and [lower rates] of reproduction.”

6. Sugar or marry your cousin? A diet high in sugar has similar effects to inbreeding—at least in a recent study with mice. To quote my local paper on this local study: “Would you rather be on the American diet … or have parents be full cousins?’ said senior author Wayne Potts, a biology professor. ‘This data is telling us it’s a toss up.’”

7. Sugar can even make you stupid, or so it appears from a different rat study. National Geographic quoted the study researcher: “‘I was very shocked to see how strong an effect these diets could have on the brain—I have high concern that the foods people eat can really affect mood and cognition,’ Gomez-Pinilla said.”

How I’ve Handled Sugar with My Children

My solution when my children were very young was not to forbid sugar, since I didn’t want it to become the desired thing they binged on away from home, but to give them no refined sugar at home and allow some away from home. I had to have grandparents’ cooperation in this, since they were the sugar pushers.

Now that my children are older and more logical, we can talk through the consequences of lack of nutritional control. We even took a college class together on nutrition to keep our discussions science based. They know how they feel when they overeat junk food or super-sweet food, and they don’t like it. I don’t have to exert MY control as a parent because they are exercising their own self control.

This is not to say that we don’t still have trouble. Having read the recent articles in National Geographic and TIME magazines, I know we have to push our sugar consumption even lower. What we think of as moderation is not moderate. It’s exceedingly high consumption of sugar, and our bodies did not evolve to handle this onslaught.

Don’t just replace refined-sugar sweets with other sweets. Get past the sugar addiction yourself and don’t let it grow in your children. I know that just makes it sound easy, and I know that it isn’t actually easy if you are stuck on sugar. But, your health and your children’s health and normal development depend on it.

Even though it can be difficult, just do it.

Recent articles on the effects of sugar

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A Toast to Staying Healthy

Glass of red wine and grapes

You’ve probably heard that having a glass of wine a day is good for your health. Some of our customers mentioned that drinking wine among the ways they stay healthy.


What Does That Glass of Wine Do for You?

  • Slow aging
  • Reduce blood clots
  • Reduce cholesterol
  • Maintain blood pressure

Does that sound good? The realities of health benefits, or the developing realities as studies accumulate, aren’t always so clear as the boosters claim. Yes, there are health benefits to moderate alcohol consumption, particularly red wine, but there are cautions as well.

If a little is good, a lot is better, right? Wrong. You raise your risk of heart disease if you drink beyond moderation. Moderation is no more than 1-2 glasses per day for a man and 1 glass a day for a woman.

So, the news is all good on wine? Not necessarily. There was a very large study a few years ago showing an increased risk of some cancers, including breast cancer, for those who drink in moderation—yes, that’s moderation. Others say the risks of toxic compounds in wine and other alcohols outweigh the benefits. The scientific evidence in favor of wine for health is not overwhelming.

The anti-aging effects of resveratrol in dark red wines have seemed to melt away as more studies control for the factors thought to convey the benefits.

What about heart health? Those the benefits of moderate alcohol use hold up in studies, the American Heart Association has a whole different set of suggestions to prevent heart disease, and they don’t include alcohol. Focus on blood pressure, cholesterol, exercise, no smoking, and normal weight.

Do you have to drink wine to get these benefits? Not necessarily. Antioxidants in dark grape juice and whole red and purple grapes can give you many of the same benefits.

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What to Eat While Breastfeeding

Baby feeding her mother a banana

You might wonder whether you need to eat more, eat different foods, or drink more water during lactation. How much does your nutrition effect your baby? What should you eat while you are breastfeeding?

The short answer is very simple: your normal healthy diet is good already.

That’s the catch, though. Many of us don’t eat a consistently healthy diet. You probably watched what you ate during pregnancy, and you should continue to make the most healthy choices during breastfeeding. This is a good time to solidify eating habits that will serve you and your family well over time.

In recent years, research has confirmed that even if some nutrients are missing in a woman’s daily diet, she will still produce milk that will help her child grow. There is very little difference in the milk of healthy mothers and mothers who are severely malnourished.

Sheri Lyn Parpia Khan, “Maternal Nutrition during Breastfeeding,” NEW BEGINNINGS 21:2 (March-April 2004), 44.


A Good Diet

A good diet for breastfeeding women looks a lot like a good diet for the whole family. The National Academy of Sciences Institute of Medicine did a thorough analysis of Nutrition During Lactation. In their recommendations for clinical implementation of their guidelines, they offered the following “Special Recommendations for Lactating Women.”

  • Avoid diets and medications that promise rapid weight loss.
  • Eat a wide variety of breads and cereal grains, fruits, vegetables, milk products, and meats or meat alternates each day.
  • Take three or more servings of milk products daily.
  • Make a greater effort to eat vitamin-A-rich vegetables or fruit often. Examples of vitamin-A-rich foods include carrots, spinach or other cooked greens, sweet potatoes, and cantaloupe.
  • Be sure to drink when you are thirsty· You will need more fluid than usual.
  • If you drink coffee or other caffeinated beverages, such as cola, do so in moderation. Two servings daily are unlikely to harm the infant. Caffeine passes into the milk.

Nutrition During Pregnancy and Lactation: An Implementation Guide, Institute of Medicine, National Academy of Sciences, 1992.

Even this advice needs to be looked at carefully, since a vegetarian mother will likely get her calcium from almonds, spinach, or other calcium-rich foods rather than from animal milk. You don’t need to drink cow’s milk to make human milk.


Supplements

You aren’t likely to need vitamin supplements if you eat a nutrient-dense diet. Again, whether your usual diet is giving you the nutrition you need can be an issue. You may want to evaluate your overall food intake to see how it compares with daily recommendations and adjust to increase your intake of particular kinds of foods.

Lactating women who meet the RDA for energy are likely to meet the RDA for all nutrients except calcium and zinc if the nutrient density of their diets is close to the average for young U.S. women.

Nutrition During Lactation, Institute of Medicine, National Academy of Sciences, 1991.


Drink Water

The usual advice is to drink more water, but you don’t need to over-think (or over-drink) this. Your body will tell you when you need more water. Drink when you are thirsty. To be sure that you have water available when you are thirsty, keep water close by at your usual nursing stations. Keep a water bottle in your diaper bag. If the water is available, you can easily drink when you feel the need.

Does it have to be water? No. Your body will work with whatever fluids you drink, though you should avoid sweet and caffeinated drinks as you would when pregnant. That is just part of a healthy diet.

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