As an integrative dietitian for the past 25 years or so, I’ve had a front row seat to the rise of the toxic food environment and the physical and emotional damage it has wrought.
I often say to guests at Kripalu after the first part of a talk on detoxification, when we’ve waded through just  how toxic our food and our lives can be. The ramification are sinking in (horror-stricken is the dominant expression). At this moment of despair I remind myself to think of  the Kripalu volunteers. Every 6 months, we have a new flight of (usually) young, (often) optimistic volunteers who come to help keep the amazing place that is Kripalu operating.
Now I grew up in farm country – Western New York State. My grandfather was a farmer, and my father sold fertilizer (ugh) to farmers for a while. I picked apples and raspberries, planted Brussels sprouts off the back of a tracker (very dusty), and sorted tomatoes, again behind a tractor (can you say exhaust?) to earn spending money when I was in high school. But when I went off to Cornell, there was no way that I was going to move back to Lyndonville and the farm. But the young Kripalu volunteers all want to be organic farmers, or at least part of a local sustainable food movement. They get it, and are active about it. So when I feel overwhelmed I think of them – they are our future, and it helps me back away from the ledge and breathe.
I just got back from my first visit of the season to the farmer’s market in Great Barrington.  And who should I run into Maddie  Elling of Hosta Hill  – a former member of the young Kripalu community. But now she is making fermented foods. Beautiful fermented foods. So I don’t have to! Fermentation is a bacterial process used in many culinary traditions for millennia – think sauerkraut, temple, beer, and yogurt. Fermentation is a growing food trend due in part to better understanding – and a growing number of great research studies – on the benefit of probiotics. People like Maddie are the solution to the toxic food environment. The opposite, actually, of the toxic food environment. Maddie is making beautiful clean nutritious food by hand. And when you can have a chat with her about how cool fermentation is and have a taste of her delicious goods (I got a beautiful tangy jar of Crimson Kraut), then you get the full dose of what local food is all about – nutrition, clean and sustainability, community, fun.
Sometime the worst (Twinkles? Lean Cuisine? Diet Coke? BPA?) are the energetic impetus or precursor for the best (home made sauerkraut made with love by a sweet local gal). I wonder if it had to get this bad to make space for something this good. It’s like the best thing George Bush did was be so bad that Barak Obama could become President. It happens just like that. It’s energy. Opposites do attract.
T”is the season. Get to your local farmer’s market – it about more than fresh greens (though that’s reason enough too).
Find your local farmer’s market here
Check out the 2013 farmer’s markets in the Berkshires and CT where you can find Hosta Hill here.
I’ve been in recipe mode this spring, I have just a few posted, but you can keep track of my recipe collection progress. Comments, please!