we eat…real!

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we’ve been asked many times how we ever decided to leave our life in the city and become organic farmers. the truth is, it was by no means an impulse decision. the road to our eating real was somewhat long, and had a few twists and turns along the way. even though we are both “city kids,” denis and i were raised with a great love of the outdoors and our moms both cooked us meals from a lot of different types of foods. they didn’t feed us a lot of junk. but by the time we were young adults and caring for ourselves, we didn’t eat very well. we ate out. a lot. and not really at nicer restaurants that serve meals prepared from whole ingredients, but at cheap, fast franchise type places that served a glorified over processed microwaved meal. because it’s cheap! and easy! and…somewhat tasty when you don’t really have anything else to compare it to. we ate a lot of processed foods and a lot of junk in our teens and early twenties.

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when we moved to queens in 2001 to get married, denis joined johnny out in his tomato garden, and added some peppers and beans to the plot. the tiny little patch that had always existed between us and our neighbors backyard spread into raised bed satellite gardens all over the yard. in a few years we were growing fruits and vegetables that supplemented our summer diet in a delicious and welcome way. the organic “movement” was starting to get a lot of press back then, and we knew that we didn’t want any toxins on our plants or in our soil. denis had lost his produce manager at tops to a brain tumor, and connected it to the decades that he’d worked with pesticides and herbicides on the produce. it wasn’t difficult to keep our little raised beds organic.

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once we decided to begin planning for our family, we took a look at our overall health, including what we consumed. we both wanted to be in the best shape for this next important phase of our lives. we started making small changes, cooked more at home, often from recipes that we both had grown up with, from online food blogs, or ones we found in the Better Homes and Gardens cookbook given to us from my Aunt Vivian at our wedding. food really started tasting better! but as far as eating real is concerned, our first appointment with our OB changed our lives.

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when you go to the doctor for the first appointment of your pregnancy, you are handed a metric ton of papers and books and pamphlets to read to ensure a healthy pregnancy for yourself and good fetal development for your baby. one of the things that caught us off guard was the amount of information about what i, as the pregnant partner, should no longer eat, to keep myself and our abby healthy:   http://www.fda.gov/Food/FoodborneIllnessContaminants/PeopleAtRisk/ucm312704.htm

i remember saying to denis “if all these foods are risky to the baby, are they risky to us?” in the list of foods i could no longer safely consume were all types of meats and fish and cheeses, as well as lengthy instructions on how to wash your produce and thoroughly cook your meat and eggs to avoid food borne illnesses. yuck. i know now that cancer patients get similar instructions- http://www.cancer.net/navigating-cancer-care/prevention-and-healthy-living/diet-and-nutrition/food-safety-during-and-after-cancer-treatment to ensure their best health as well.

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that was the moment when we decided we needed to really address our eating habits in terms of not only what we ate, but how it was made- and what the health implications might mean for us, long term. so many people we knew and loved were being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, and heart disease runs in both of our families. and, even though we were “city kids” living in new york city, we both were raised within our faith to love nature and protect the environment, so the health of our ecosystems and overall planet were just as important. embracing the organic food movement was a natural way for us to do that. we did a lot of research. we went on local harvest and found an organic farm on long island to purchase a CSA Harvest Share from. through that connection at alley pond environmental center, we met other like minded people in queens to network with to find other sources of food that were grown and raised in a way that was environmentally sustainable. thus began our journey on the road to eating real.

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next weekend, on May 9th at 4pm, we are honored to be presenting a talk and tour of the farm as a part of the ROC Eats Real challenge. ROC Eats Real is a six week nutritional challenge that invites the entire greater rochester area to try to eat better to feel better. we will be give own own little story- from that first OB appointment to now owning a 65-acre, certified organic vegetable and chicken farm. it will focusing on the challenges of changing from eating a “normal” American processed and fast diet to a (primarily) organic, local, sustainable diet with three kids!

we would love for you to be a part of it! register here: http://www.roceatsreal.com/ and join us!


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