Thank you for your participation in this return to our roots.
This workbook was created to serve as a guide for holistic nutrition professionals to serve their communities, to fulfill our mission, and to transform society by teaching people to eat well and to be well. Since the first printing of this book, ten years ago, the rich have gotten richer, the poor have gotten poorer, and the sick have gotten sicker; a tragic report card for our communities and culture. I have witnessed first hand that people from every socio-economic stratum and ethnic background love homemade whole foods. Nowadays, as many as 2/3rds of our population either don’t know how to cook or prefers to purchase prepackaged convenience food with significant dollar and health costs (Hyman, 2018, Food Revolution Summit).
The pivot toward wellness is for us to offer community programs that encourage folks to make traditional foods that connect them to their past and that they can share with their children and family with rich stories and pride. I love it when our daughter calls us and asks my wife or me, how can I make that yummy pumpkin pie, without dairy or sugar, and with that tasty gluten-free crust? Which herbs and spices will give my soup the taste that dad creates when he makes a mushroom soup, not from the can, but from scratch?
Some years ago, I taught the Bauman College Nutrition Consultant Training program in San Francisco wherein Spanish was the primary teaching language. I taught with a Chilean naturopathic doctor. He lectured in Spanish off-notes I created for Latino students. I taught in English, and he translated my words and concepts into Spanish. The most memorable part of the training was when the students brought traditional foods to share for snack or pot luck lunches from their country of origin. I asked that they share the story of how they learned to make these dishes and whether they were staples or celebratory foods. The students learned to replace any unhealthy ingredients, such as refined sugar, white flour, GMO corn, soy or canola oil, trans fats, hormone enriched meat, and artificial ingredients, preservatives, etc. with S.O.U.L. (seasonal, organic, unprocessed, and local) ingredients. The pride and joy they expressed when sharing native recipes were returned in kind by our class when we ate the naturally flavorful and lovingly prepared food. As part of their learning process, students reported on the cost per dish, length of preparation time, and sourcing of ingredients.
Food for People, Not for Profit
When digging into the progressive food, health, and transformation movement, some 50 years ago, we chanted slogans such as the power to the people, food for people, not for profit and give peace a chance. I protested for a while and then took action to create the change I wished to see. The first step was to rent and later purchase with four others, an organic farm outside of Amherst, Massachusetts. There, I learned to grow organic food, raise free-range chickens, bake whole grain bread, and prepare nourishing meals on a wood-burning stove. I quickly learned the skills of canning, freezing, fermenting and dehydrating to ‘put up’ the bounty of food that we grew. The next step was to organize a community food buying club, wherein people from diverse backgrounds would place orders for produce and dry goods, and distribute these to our members at 10-20% above the wholesale price. This service brought folks together, who volunteered on distribution day and came together to discuss other ways we could have affordable food and community services. This was a citizen initiative, not one started by or dependent on local, state or federal agencies. We decided to open one of the first organic restaurants in the country, Home Comfort, where I served as a chef and program coordinator. In addition to providing incredible food at very reasonable prices, we also hosted music at meals, meditation classes, poetry, art and family activities. Just as the hearth is the center of a warm home, our restaurant became the center of our rural community. I loved offering a ‘hands-on’ Soup to Nuts cooking class to teach folks how to make the dishes we served at the restaurant, and how to procure and prepare healthy food on a budget of limited time and money.
Are Times Changing?
While the times have changed in the past 50 years, the problems we are facing with food scarcity, safety and cost have escalated. It is no coincidence that as our naturally fertile soils have been depleted, seeds have been genetically modified, and chemicals saturated our air, water, and food supply that our national health has significantly worsened. Drugs, both pharmaceutical and recreational, are not a solution to what ails our population. People are starving for quality food and commercial-free, non-dogmatic education. To address this problem, head-on, Bauman College is launching an Anti-Poverty campaign to bring Affordable Nutrition programs to communities to teach people who want to eat well to be well how to achieve that outcome.
Poverty is more than a state of low income; it is also poor mental and physical health, with limited access to healthy food, community gardens, farmers’ markets, backyard gardens, and a caring, resourceful community. Now is the time for us to share our knowledge of healing foods, culinary herbs, and family meals with one another, and with those around us. I advocate for and envision a return to local, down-home culture as folk’s power down and lively up. This is a very achievable path to peace, health, and recovery whose time has come.