Originally this post was titled Thoughts, Observations, and Confessions, but everyone loves a little scandal so I thought I’d start with confessions. :) We’ll see what order this smodg-podge of information comes out in – it might be a bit random.

Confession #1 – I use salt. It is sea salt, bought from Natural Market Place a while back and it isn’t local. I can’t do it without salt. Our bodies need salt, and some more than others. I use sea salt in order to have a salt free of chemicals, additives, and processing. (Good info at this link)  Going from table salt to sea salt is the easiest switch to a more natural, healthy product I ever made. I also use a few spices to season meats and greens, although not a lot (usually garlic or ginger).

Observation #1: I’ve lost weight. Woohoo!  By day 7, I had lost 7-9 pounds, and by day 11, 10-12 pounds.  Granted, when I first decided to do local only eating in January, I gave myself permission to eat anything and everything and to not think about any consequences.  As a result, I put on a few pounds to my already too many pounds.  I do eat less, but I eat when and what I want as long as it is local.  I drink lots of water now (I was having some sodas before).  It is obvious that I would lose weight, but still it is a pleasant surprise.

Thought #1: I recently read a quote in The Seed Underground by Jannise Ray that said “Rural places have hemorrhaged their best and brightest children, their intellectuals, thinkers, organizers, leaders, and artists – those who would create change and who would parent another generation of thinkers.”  “We raise our most capable rural children from the beginning to expect that as soon as possible they will leave and that if they are at all successful, they will never return.”  I personally think that Jasper (and surrounding areas) is calling for a return.  And when the children born here can’t return, it is calling out amazing souls to come and place roots here.  You can talk about heros in a movement toward local/sustainable and name the names that are recognized around the U.S. - Salatin, Pollan, Allen.  I am here to tell you that we have great people doing great work here and for here.  Vered Kleinberger, Ben Jones, Lisa Schnellinger, Jamie Rosenthal, Jerylin Flowers, June & Craig McKenzie, Jenna Schrieber, Joesph Zarr, Corey Deyette, Christine N., Andy Kippenhan, Michael Blackwell, the late Kathy Bell, Clarcy Kirby, Kathe Hall, Darla Huffman, Angela Reinhardt, Jim Smith, Paul Peterson, and so many more.  These are innovative and persistent people with a passion.  I am glad to know each and every one of them.  For myself, Ben, Michael, Clarcy, and Paul, we get the pride of calling these mountains our childhood home.  For the others, well, they got here as soon as they could. :)

Confession #2: I drink some herbal teas that are not local on occasion.  I justify it because it comes out of my herbal medicine cabinet, and is therefore ‘medicinal’.  I haven’t taken any herbal tinctures yet, because I really wanted to feel the change that the food caused.  I do have local nettle, chamomile, and holy basil, which is my favorite tea combination, from Lane’s End Homestead in Brasstown, NC (66.6 miles from Jasper).  Note that these people make deliveries to Atlanta area by driving right through Jasper, so it’s easy to schedule a pick-up.

Observation #2: I think my detox has started, ugh.  I thought it was a cold, and I did have a sniffle and cough, but the icky feeling that I just can’t shake makes me think detox.  I was all prepared for it during the first 5 days, but when it didn’t come I thought I was lucky.  Ha – jokes on me!  It probably started about day 8 or so and is lingering.  I will start taking some herbs to help – dandelion, chickweed, spring things that are available.

Thought #2: If you don’t use it, you lose it. If I find something interesting, worthy, or enjoyable, I should support it on a regular basis. Otherwise, it might not be there for long. This applies to local farmers also. We should support them consistently if we want their products consistently. And we should be willing to pay a good price. The cost you pay at the grocery store is not the true cost of food. I don’t begrudge a person making a fair profit. We have stopped seeing the true value of items because we are blinded by the value-menu. I am shifting my focus from quantity to quality.

Confession #3: I can’t stop taking pictures of my tongue.  It has reached OCD levels I do believe.  In Traditional Chinese Medicine, the tongue is a roadmap to your body and it’s health.  Cracks, color, shape, dots can all indicate patterns and conditions.  I know just enough to get myself in trouble.  I’m going to consult with my mentor Patricia Kyristi Howell, of Botanologos School of Herbal Studies, to save myself from sleepless nights in the ‘good light’ of the kitchen while taking snapshots of my tongue with the front facing camera on my phone (ever tried to aim that for a close up of you tongue? not so easy…).

Observation #3: I have less inflammation, aka aches & pains.   My shoulders, joints, and back feel great!  I wasn’t surprised about this, maybe just surprised how fast it happened.  Last summer, me and my oldest daughter Jordan did a 40 day Gluten Free period to test if gluten was a problem for us.  Neither of us had symptoms that would have taken us to the doctor complaining of gluten intolerance, but after a herbal conference class on it and all the various issues that has roots in food allergies (gluten, soy, eggs, milk being the top ones) I thought it was worth a try.  It worked.  My joints is were I felt the biggest difference, and Jordan’s joints ‘pop&crackled’ less.  Our gluten-free time was highly processed though, and full of sugar.  I am thinking that the absence of sugar is the root of the rapid recovery this time around.  I had 2 sips of muscadine wine that David had made (& contains sugar) one night, and the next morning I had one spot on my back that was quite achy.  Coincidence? Possibly.  Interesting, though.  P.S. The first symptom of a food intolerance (after a 40 day absences of the suspected culprit) is irritability for many.

Thoughts #3: I’m grateful.  I am grateful for all the advice, support, encouragement, accountability  ideas, book loans, tolerance, and prayers offered by so many.  I am grateful for my husband David who is going on this journey with me, and for the fun and laughter that has increased between us.  I am grateful for my mother who does so much for me and my family, who has educated herself about nutrition for a few years now and shares that knowledge freely, and who gave me her frozen strawberries gotten last year in Bryson City.  I am grateful to my cousin Becky who gave me 1 (or 2, it’s debatable…) jars of sour kraut, and my Aunt JoAnn who gave me 1 jar (and who showed me how to can a few years ago).  I am grateful to Mother Nature for being so consistent in providing, and for increasing the chickweed population on my land by so much (you can’t walk without seeing or stepping on chickweed!).  I am grateful that I am allowing myself to fully embrace this journey.