To Enjoy a Gorgeous Carrot

Our long weekend off due to Homecoming has come to a close and I am so, so thankful for having had those extra days without classes! While I suppose I could have joined in the festivities on campus, I decided instead to take advantage of 48 extra hours of unscheduled time and do some Mackie things.  

Don't worry! I did contribute to some Homecoming prep; we worked on beautifying the garden with more weeding and new mulch! Current students, if you'd like to stay up to date on garden happenings, check out the NUHS Botanical Garden Project on Facebook!

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After classes ended for the week on Wednesday (amid the cracking of a powerful thunderstorm, the lightening vivid in the grey sky), I joined some ND girlfriends at a nearby wine bar for a drink and some appetizers. The five of us each toasted to intelligent and loving company, the beauty of a steel-grey sky amid the storm, and our ND student friend Anayibe, who took this tri off to go on an adventure to the World Cup in Brazil, and to visit her family in her home country of Colombia. Ana is a vibrant friend, so positive, so present, so quietly loving and funny. She may be only 4'11-¾" tall, but her presence is huge; we feel her with us every day. It is a powerful thing to find a friend like this, and I speak for many when I say we miss her in a wild way.

Illustration by Rigel Stuhmiller - www.rigelstuhmiller.comIn the spirit of my friend Anayibe, I watched an episode of Anthony Bourdain's newest show, "Parts Unknown," (a food travel show), that takes place in Colombia. Now I can't wait to tell Ana about my hopes that she'll take me on a trip to her country and show me around! (Maybe we can even apply our ND training somehow; I guess we'll see when the time comes for adventure…)  The best line in the show came from a Colombian musician-turned-chef who tells Bourdain, "I believe more in a beautiful carrot than in a good recipe." 

Thank goodness for chefs like this!  To me (and in the context of this show), a beautiful carrot signifies the harmonious interaction between humans and nature, the ability for humans to enjoy a gorgeous carrot born of the earth and to glean both nutrition and pleasure from it. According to naturopathic philosophy, if one lives by nature's laws, health is "the innate and natural state of being" because humans evolved on this planet, selecting for traits that allow for survival in harmony with the environment here. We practice Earth Medicine because we do so on Earth.

When I lived in the mountains of Northern California I got a CSA (community sustained agriculture) box bursting with fresh produce once a week. When I moved to Chicago, I vowed that no student budget would keep me from living close to nature through my food. As Michael Pollan says in his book The Omnivore's Dilemma, "Eating's not a bad way to get to know a place." I shop at the farmer's market here in Oak Park every weekend.

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Last weekend a few NMSA members met at the farmer's market
to stock up on veggies, flowers, and yes, those irresistible donuts, too.

Supporting local farmers, especially those who use organic or hazard-free methods, ensures that I get the most nutrients through my food. It also allows me to participate in one important aspect of my community that supports the basic determinants of health (hydration, sleep, nutrition, breath, and rest & recreation aka Vitamin R) that lie at the core of naturopathic medicine. In the back corner of the market there are always musicians gathered for a bluegrass jam session, the local church sells irresistible donuts to support their work, and the high school athletics department sells baked goods to raise money for travel and equipment.

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The vegetable scene at the Oak Park farmer's market.

The weekly market cultivates community, good nutrition, rejuvenation and belonging. Some might say that life in the city is irreconcilably distant from the natural world, but I argue otherwise. I have found, through my friendships and through my community, many ways to live by nature's laws. To name a couple, I eat good food, and I take a wine break every now and then to stock up on some Vitamin R.