“Yes, said Mum.
“I’ll eat my peas if you eat your Brussels,” said Daisy.
Mum looked down at her own plate and her bottom lip began to wobble.
“But I don’t like Brussels,” said Mum.
from Eat Your Peas
written by Ken Gray
illustrated by Nick Sharratt
Henry N. Abrams, 2006
Even though my grandson’s favorite color in the whole wide world is green, when he was young he did not like green food. One day when he was five or six, he stared at the small broccoli crown sitting, perfectly cooked, at the center of his dinner plate. No amount of cajoling could convince him to eat that fabulous floret.
Then I caught the twinkle in his bright eyes.
“I’ll eat a bite of broccoli if you eat a bite of banana.” He was not teasing. He knew how much I dislike those smelly, squashy, sickening, things, even though my favorite color is yellow. It’s a contradiction we shared.
I looked at him, a little incredulous. “OK.” I was sure I could pull this off. After all, he was just a little kid.
He ate his microscopic bite of broccoli and smiled. He waited. He walked over to the fruit bowl and peeled a banana. He handed it to me.
I brought it up to my lips, the stubby nub teasing me.
Yuck! I couldn’t do it. I got it as close as I could, but just couldn’t go all the way.
“That’s okay, Baugie.” He used his name for me. “I’ll finish it.”
“Great! I’ll finish your broccoli!”
These days we are encouraged to eat a wide variety of food. Grocery shelves, refrigerated cases, and the frozen food aisles are filled with more choices than could be imagined even a few years ago.
When I was a young mom, the cost of a strawberry in February was prohibitive. Who even heard of Brussels sprouts in summer? or melons in March. Produce was seasonal. I depended on packaged frozen veggies when fresh wasn’t available. Same with fruit.
Ever since my second grade teacher told me what conservation meant, I was intrigued. “It’s not saving,” she told our 8-year-old selves. “It’s using what we have wisely.”
So maybe I’ve always been a little more aware of my immediate environment than some. Using something, but not using it up made sense. It still does. Now I know that idea is called “coming from a place of abundance.” But that’s something to explore another time.
The other day, I heard a story about Blue Zones, geographic areas where people live longer than anywhere else and have low rates of chronic disease. The name was coined by Dan Buettner, a National Geographic Explorer and Fellow and journalist. In 2004, he discovered many people in Okinawa, Japan, lived very long and happy lives. He explored the world looking for other areas with great longevity, vitality, and happiness. He circled those places he found on a map in blue ink. According to their website: Blue Zones(R) is now dedicated to creating healthy communities across the United States.”
Even though people who live in Blue Zones live in very different parts of the world, they share nine life-style priorities.
Have a sense of purpose
Incorporate a routine to shed stress
Stop eating when they’re 80% full
Eat a plant-based diet
Drink moderately (no more than 2 drinks/day, preferably wine)
Belong to a faith-based community
Family comes first
Choose to be around happy people
You can find this list, each item with an explanatory paragraph, here.
Seventh-day Adventists living in Loma Linda, California, make up the only Blue Zone community in the United States. Their Blue Zone Secrets of longevity include
Find a sanctuary in time.
Maintain a healthy body mass index (BMI)
Get regular, moderate exercise
Spend time with like-minded friends.
Snack on nuts.
Give something back, volunteer.
Eat in moderation.
Eat an early, light dinner.
Put more plants in your diet.
Drink plenty of water (5-6 glasses).
which, when you think about it is just a simpler version of the same list.
I was vacationing in Naples, Florida, when I first noticed Blue Zones. The city is proud of its distinction of being on top of the list for people who eat well. That’s all I knew about Blue Zones, the eating, until I started looking deeper.
Maybe eating well, if you are lucky enough not to live in a food desert and have enough resources to buy nutritious food and have the ability to prepare it in healthy ways, is easy to talk about. Moving, (exercise) too.
But having a sense of purpose, surrounding yourself with upbeat, encouraging, loving people, finding your spiritual path, not so easy.
Blue Zones(R) is ready to help. They offer a certification course for organizations on their website. It includes a cooking course, a speaker’s bureau, and a meal planner.
Individuals can shop for healthy products right on their site (and buy some merch), too. Find lots (and lots) of recipes that follow their guidelines for healthy eating. Read articles by experts and thought leaders who share their insights about longevity, well-being, and better health by design.
So it’s about more than broccoli (or Brussels sprouts, or bananas).
Blue Zones are kinda like living a well-balanced life.
Everything old is new again!
No book this week. I’m reading a manuscript for a friend. More about that when it’s published!
-—Be curious! (and take good care of
yourself, and each other.)