The First Wealth is Health

Let’s briefly explore our relationship with food and how it impacts one’s health.

Food connects us with other people. We gather together to plant, harvest and prepare food and then enjoy meals with our family and friends. Food inspires artists, such as gourmet chefs, painters, authors and poets, who bring visual and auditory beauty to it.

Dorothy Chan, a poet, put it nicely:

“Think about which dish sounds more enticing only based on the sound of the words: octopus ceviche in young coconut or rotisserie chicken with mashed potatoes? Your mouth simply has more fun when you say ‘ceviche’ and ‘coconut.’ I’d argue that poets, when looking at a menu, first fall in love with the sound of the dish; then the food comes out and we fall in love with the sight of the dish. And when we finally eat, we fall in love with the taste.”

Certain occasions and celebrations can be problematic if we make poor food choices. Food makes some people feel better when they are stressed out or depressed while the opposite can be true. Some cannot eat when they feel bad, and this can bring about health issues too. Always try to have healthy food options to choose from and focus on how it fuels your body in good and bad times.

(Photo by Gloria Weg)

Develop positive habits and monitor your portions. Be cognizant of what you are consuming and why. We are truly what we eat. Choosing nutrient-dense food is healthy and satisfies the appetite and keeps one from splurging on junk. It’s okay to enjoy treats and desserts, but we need to be mindful of how often we partake of them.

I used a lot of items from the farm and my garden, and they were very tasty and colorful.

I made a side dish of roasted asparagus and added the farm’s garlic, scallions and tarragon to it along with a good dash of sea salt and freshly cracked pepper and about ½ cup of extra virgin olive oil. Blend everything in a pan and roast for 20-25 min at 425 degrees, stirring once or twice.

(Photo by Gloria Weg)

I also made an earthy-tasting salad by using the Swiss chard, scallions and cucumbers. I had to use store-bought tomatoes and can’t wait for the real deal soon.

(Photo by Gloria Weg)

Probably my favorite vegetable is garlic. I throw it in everything except cereal. It is versatile, super healthy and adds immense flavor to any dish.

In “Bounty from the Box: The CSA Farm Cookbook,” which is available at a discounted price for CSA members, Mi Ae Lipe writes about garlic:

(Photo by Gloria Weg)

Few plants attract such polarizing opinions as garlic. Whether you consider it a delectable flavor or a rambunctious stink bomb, garlic is used almost universally in the world’s cuisines. Garlic is the most pungent member of the large Allium family, which gives us such kitchen favorites as onions, leeks, shallots, and chives.

Garlic, as most of us know, is actually the plant’s mature bulb, which consists of numerous cloves clustered around a central stem. The very young, tender shoots, stems, and flower buds that emerge from sprouting cloves in early spring are sold as “green garlic,” “scapes,” or “whistles.” They are a fleeting favorite in farmers markets in early spring.

Garlic is classified as either hardneck or softneck, and literally hundreds of heirloom varieties exist, with bulbs whose personalities range from soft and mellow to very spicy and pungent. Hardnecks produce flower spikes, tend to be mild in flavor, grow well in northern climates, contain 6 to 11 cloves per bulb, and can be stored for 3 to 6 months.

Softneck varieties (sometimes known as braiding garlic) usually lack flower spikes, have a spicier taste, thrive in warmer climates, contain 12 to 20 cloves per bulb, and can be stored up to a year. The papery white garlic bulbs you see at your grocery store are usually softnecks.

Garlic’s exact origin is unclear, although many sources list Asia as its homeland. References to the aromatic bulb exist in so many ancient cultures and cuisines that it is impossible to be certain where it was first enjoyed by humans. (Not helping is the fact that it may have been confused with its Allium sibling the leek.)

One thing is certain, however: Over the ages, garlic has been both adored and shunned, and whether you were a garlic lover or hater often depended on your socioeconomic standing and geographical location.

Southern Europeans, especially in Italy and France, practically lived on it, whereas northern Europeans found it quite distasteful. The Greeks treated it as an important vegetable in its own right, and Egyptian pyramid builders ate it as part of their food rations. Garlic was probably brought to America from the Old World by the Spaniards, but Native Americans likely had been consuming their own native wild garlic for centuries.

Garlic is legendary for its nutritional and medicinal benefits, which humans have been employing for hundreds of years. The sulfurous compounds that give garlic its characteristic odor also have healthful benefits especially allicin, which is released in greater amounts when the garlic is chopped or mashed rather than left whole. Regular garlic consumption may lower blood pressure and reduce the buildup of atherosclerotic plaques and the incidence of certain cancers. Both garlic and onions contain significant anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties, even against antibiotic-resistant strains.

Garlic is also a good source of manganese, vitamin B6, vitamin C, tryptophan, and selenium. A single teaspoon contains 4 calories.

Have a great week and try to make something new and remember what Ralph Waldo Emerson said: "The first wealth is health."

Let me know what you are cooking and send me pictures at:

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