The Aesop Fable of the Ant and Grasshopper has been on my mind a lot the last few weeks as the Federal Furlough of over 800,000 individuals like my husband goes on. I reflected on this story:
“In a field one summer’s day, a Grasshopper was hopping about, chirping and singing to its heart’s content. An Ant passed by, bearing along with great toil an ear of corn he was taking to the nest. “Why not come and chat with me,” said the Grasshopper, “instead of toiling and moiling in that way?”
“I am helping to lay up food for the winter,” said the Ant, “and recommend you to do the same.”
“Why bother about winter?” said the Grasshopper; “We have got plenty of food at present.” But the Ant went on its way and continued its toil.
When the winter came, the Grasshopper had no food and found itself dying of hunger – while it saw the ants distributing every day corn and grain from the stores they had collected in the summer.
Then the Grasshopper knew: It is best to prepare for days of need”.
First, let me say I am not one of the modern “Preppers,” If you must pace a label on me – the closest most days would be that of a “Traditionalist” who sees the value of wise counsel and wisdom from the past. This Aesop’s fable while short holds true wisdom, especially for members of the modern American world.
When I reflect on the young federal employees I know with babies and blossoming lives; I see the two veterans who served their country in the Marines, I see the Postal worker or crew foreman decorated for his or her service to our country. Granted many of the federal employees are not veterans, they may be single parents, or people just like you with responsibilities and dependents.
The fable of the ant and grasshopper and the lesson it shares, I can only hope has been taken to heart by not just those on furlough but also by you the readers of this column. We need more than money in the bank to get us through the storms and winters of life, and those who plan for the short payday, seasonal lay off or rock slide benefit from lower incidence of stress-induced illnesses.
Hypertension, type 2 diabetes, migraines, anxiety, insomnia, and cancer are all chronic illnesses that increase with stress. Food insecurity for the elderly and low-income members of our communities compounds stress and anxiety. Now I like many of you think stress gets a bad rap in today’s world to often the word “stress” is used as an excuse. Stress is a fact of life and necessary – the difference is how we cope and teach our youth to prepare for its inevitability. My Grandmother, Aunt, and Mother-in-Law all, by example, shared the importance of having a full pantry, and store of paper products – No one wants to be without toilet paper, trust me!
Taking advantage of local produce when it is in season is an excellent place to start. Canning fruit was one of the first things I learned. Glass jars are reusable, safe and easy to use for food storage. It was years before my parents were able to afford a freezer; canning allowed venison, fish, vegetables, and fruit to be available year around. Home canned foods fill the gaps for when fresh produce is unavailable, poor quality or as to frequently the case today – recalled for contamination.
Dehydrating of fruit and nuts, at first was done with screen racks over the floor furnace vent or in the sun in the yard. Today we can purchase efficient food dryer/dehydrators for home use that can be used to make far more than apple slices. Dried foods are lightweight and easy to transport. Additionally, even if you live in a tiny house, apartment, dorm room or RV, a food dryer can be found to fit the space you have.
A small 7 cu. Ft freezer may be all you have room for, but it provides storage for extra meat, vegetables or fruit available from local farms, ranches or seasonal grocery sales.
Just like the ant of Aesops fable the effort we spend on storing food for the winter, yields security and peace of mind during those times of high stress and uncertainty. While money may come and go in our lives, I know the pantry is full, and we can make it to summer.
To Traditional Food and Wisdom of Old
by Tammera J. Karr, PhD
Fats are hydrophobic. In other words, fats repel water. Even oil-based emulsions like mayonnaise rely on a third party to hold each tiny droplet of oil in suspension—egg yolk, mustard, or certain starches are common choices. Despite what some folks tell you, food fried at higher temperatures actually absorb more oil than those fried at cooler temperatures. Natural oils and fats are traditional cooking mediums. Today’s best options are cold pressed, extra virgin oils, and organic humanely raised animal fats. The more filtered an oil, the lower the mineral and polyphenol content. Always buy oils that are solvent-free.
Fats conduct heat and can do so at higher temperatures than water. When you baste a roast in fatty pan drippings, that coating functions as a temperature buffer, allowing your food to heat evenly and preventing the exterior from drying out before the interior is fully cooked. Under normal conditions, water cannot be heated past its boiling point of 212° F at sea level, whereas fats can reach temperatures of 400-500° F.
Fats lubricate food preventing sticking to cookware surfaces.
Fats add or enhance flavor and enhance textural nuances of foods. This is vital for “mouth feel.” Many of the flavor compounds that make herbs and aromatics such compelling seasonings are what we call fat-soluble, meaning they will actually spread and coat your tongue better when they are immersed in lipids. Using fat in anything from marinades to braises helps coax out, layer, and evenly distribute flavors.
Monounsaturated oils, specifically olive oil increase the nutrients available through digestion. The tradition of tomatoes and olive oil is well supported by research; the antioxidant content of the tomatoes increases when combined with olive oil.
Traditionally, oils are extracted from nuts and seeds through mechanical crushing and pressing. If bottled immediately, the oil is a cold-pressed “raw” or “virgin” oil, which tends to retain its natural flavor and color. Virgin in the case of olive oil also signifies only the perfect fruits were used. Unrefined oils have higher levels of minerals, enzymes, and other compounds highly sensitive to heat and tend to be susceptible to rancidity; these are the oils best-suited to drizzling, dressings, and lower temperature cooking.
To produce oil with a high smoke point, manufacturers use industrial-level refinement; bleaching, filtering, and high-temperature heating to extract and eliminate extraneous compounds. This produces a neutral-flavored oil with a long shelf life and a higher smoke point.
Clarified butter and ghee follow the same basic concept: a process designed to extract more heat-sensitive components; milk solids—from fat to raise its smoke point. When heated past its smoke point, fat starts to break down, releasing free radicals.
Health Benefits of Traditional Fats
Fats speak to the integral health of our whole body. Without healthy fats, we would not exist. 
Olive Oil is not only one of the oldest oils still in use for cooking, but it also has some impressive science to support its use for health. The unrefined olive oil contains minerals, vitamins and compounds that serve as anti-inflammatories. This is especially important when it comes to brain health. , ,  The antioxidants in olive oil are essential for aiding the digestive system in absorbing nutrients found in vegetables. Especially those high in carotenoids; winter squash, carrots, tomatoes, lycopene: tomatoes, peppers, broccoli, kale and xanthine; dark greens, cruciferous vegetables, chard.
For a maximum flavor reach for extra virgin olive oil, you may want several types on hand providing a delicate fruity or strong peppery flavor. For times when you don’t want a lot a pronounced flavor, you can use “Classic” olive oil or “Pure.”
How you plan to use each type of olive oil matters because the flavor is affected by cooking. Olive oils, especially extra-virgin, have a varying range of smoke points, this depends on the type of olive, where it was grown, and how it was produced.
The International Olive Council (IOC) in Madrid, Spain, sets the grades and standards for world olive oil trade, which members of the North American Olive Oil Association agree to follow. 
To Traditional Foods made with Care and Intention, Flavored with Love.
 Extra-virgin olive oil preserves memory, protects brain against Alzheimer’s; June 21, 2017, Temple University Health System: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/06/170621103123.htm
 Extra‐virgin olive oil ameliorates cognition and neuropathology of the 3xTg mice: role of autophagy; https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5553230/
 Mediterranean-type diet and brain structural change from 73 to 76 years in a Scottish cohort; http://n.neurology.org/content/early/2017/01/04/WNL.0000000000003559.short?sid=f6a60041-6b89-41fe-827d-49a0f92359fa
by Tammera J. Karr, PhD
We all know the feeling of temptation when it comes to food, especially in this day and age when we are all trying to lose weight, get fit, regain energy and health. Then you are at a family, church or community event and one salty crunch turns into 100, and suddenly you’re licking the cheese dust or salt off your fingers, looking for more and wondering: What just happened to my self-control?
It’s normal to feel like you can’t stop overeating chips and 90% of manufactured food products. Today’s hyper-palatable food is creating a modern-day food crisis — one that’s leaving us feeling sick, out of control, and always craving more.
Manufactured foods are scientifically engineered to be irresistible and easy to eat in large quantities. We all have been challenged – You show up to a potluck with quinoa salad goals and find yourself inhaling a plate of chips, cookies, some chocolate-peanut-butter-marshmallow thing that some devil, um friend, made.
If you’ve felt this, you’re not alone (and you’re not broken). Understand millions of dollars have been spent on marketing research and product development to achieve the goal – of uncontrollable consumption by consumers. If you’re overeating, it’s not because there’s something wrong with you or your willpower.
Modern Marvel Manufactured foods.
Manufactured foods are foods that have been modified from their original, whole-food form in order to change their flavor, texture, or shelf-life. Often, they’re altered so that they hit as many pleasure centers as possible — from our brains to our mouths to our bellies.
Let’s take corn as an example. Boiled and eaten off the cob it’s pale yellow, kinda fibrous, but chewy and delicious. Corn that’s a bit processed — ground into a meal and shaped into a flat disk turns into a soft corn tortilla. A tortilla has a nice flavor and a soft, pliable texture that makes it easy to eat and digest.
However, what if you ultra-process that corn? You remove all the fiber, isolate the starch, and then use that starch to make little ring-shaped chips, which are fried and dusted with sweet and salty barbecue powder. They’re freaking delicious. That corn on the cob is yummy. However, those corn-derived ring chips? They’re… well, they’re gone because someone ate them all.
Processed foods come in packages with bright colors, cartoon characters, celebrity endorsements, and powerful words that trigger positive associations.
Take, for example, “health halo” foods. “Health halo” foods are processed foods that contain health buzzwords like organic, vegan, and gluten-free on their label to create an illusion, or halo, of health around them. You’ll see chips “prepared with avocado oil,” sugary cereal “made with flaxseeds,” or creamy chip dip with “real spinach.” The nutrient content of those foods isn’t particularly impressive, but the addition of nutrition buzzwords and trendy ingredients make us perceive them as healthier.
Marketers also choose words that relate more broadly to self-care. Health buzzwords and emotional appeals can make us perceive a food as “good for me.
People get mixed up about food and value. We’re taught to save money and not waste food. We’re taught to buy more for less.
What we don’t calculate into this equation is something I like to call the “health tax.” The “health tax” is the toll you pay for eating low-nutrient, highly processed foods. If you eat them consistently over time, eventually you’ll pay the price with your health.
Choice excites us. When we have lots of variety, we have lots of appetite. It’s hard to overeat tons of one thing, with one flavor, like apples.
Reduce the variety, and you also reduce distraction from your body’s built-in, self-regulating signals. When we’re not so giddy with choice and stimuli, we’re more likely to slow down, eat mindfully, and eat less.
If there’s a party in your mouth, you can guarantee that at least two out of three of the following guests will be there: Sugar, fake Fat, Salt
These three flavors — the sweetness of sugar, the luxurious mouthfeel of fat, and the sharp savory of salt — are favorites among those of us with mouths. When you combine these flavors, they become ultra-delicious and hard-to-resist. Stimuli stacking — combining two or more flavors to create a hyper-palatable food.
When processed food manufacturers evaluate a prospective food product, the “irresistibility” (the extent to which a person can’t stop eating a food) is more important even than taste.
Whole foods require about 25 chews per mouthful, which means that you have to slow down. When you slow down, your satiety signals keep pace with your eating and have a chance to tell you when you’ve had enough.
If you’re relying on willpower to resist these foods, you’re fighting an uphill battle. The solution isn’t more willpower. The remedy is educating yourself about these foods, examining your relationship with food, and employing strategies that put you in control.
To Health, Vitality, and Education
by Tammera J. Karr, PhD
An effective detoxification program will not ask you to make any dramatic lifestyle and dietary changes. Healthier food and lifestyle choices are generally made on a subconscious level. Once the body begins to eliminate toxins, it will naturally start craving foods that will nourish it at an optimum level. That said, there are undoubtedly many things you can do to maximize the benefits of the cleanse you’re on from day one, and certain foods will help maintain the benefits of the detox for much longer.
A detox diet is a short-term diet, often 3- to 21 days, focused on removing toxins from the body. Although detoxification is ongoing in the body, toxins and stress prevent us from doing it optimally, which eventually affects our health. A detox diet allows our bodies to focus on self-healing, with the goal being to raise energy levels, stimulate digestive health, clear headaches, remove bloating, improve concentration and mood, avoid getting allergies, regain our natural ability to ward off colds and flu and prevent premature aging and disease.
In natural health writings from the 1900’s, it was common to see articles on digestive cleansing with tonics, enemas, fasting, and herbs. Detoxification has been practiced for centuries by many cultures around the world — including Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine.
The sad but undeniable truth is many are living in an environment toxic to their bodies, take a look at the following information:
How does detoxification work?
Basically, detoxification means cleaning the blood. It does this by removing impurities from the blood in the liver, where toxins are processed for elimination. The body also eliminates toxins through the kidneys, intestines, lungs, lymph, and skin. However, when this system is compromised, impurities aren’t properly filtered, and every cell in the body is adversely affected.
Many health ailments–headaches, exhaustion, and muscle cramps–are coming from toxicity. Toxins have been implicated in everything from increased risk of Alzheimer’s and cardiovascular disease to mental retardation and cancer.
A detox program can help the body’s natural cleaning process by:
10 ways to detoxify
Eliminate alcohol, coffee, cigarettes, refined and artificial sugars, fake fats found in margarine, and unfiltered tap water all of which act as toxins in the body and are obstacles to detoxifying. Also, minimize use of chemical-based household cleaners and personal health care products (cleansers, shampoos, deodorants, and toothpastes), and substitute natural alternatives.
Stress triggers your body to release stress hormones into your body affecting every metabolic pathway necessary for detoxification. While these hormones can provide the “adrenaline rush” to win a race or meet a deadline, in large amounts, they create toxins and slow down detoxification enzymes in the liver. Consider cutting out the news at dinner and bedtime add music that is around 60 beats per minute to calm the central nervous system throughout the day, all these are simple and effective ways to relieve stress.
People who are exhausted with low blood pressure may have adrenal weakness or fatigue. A detox diet is usually done after the adrenal glands have been replenished.
By Tammera J Karr, Ph.D., FAAIM, BCIH, BCHN ©2016
Many of you may have childhood stories like my husband and father of baldfaced hornet encounters. When these stories are being told, there is always someone who steps in the nest first who walked away relatively unscathed, while others are repeatedly stung and attacked.
Dealing with difficult family affairs, especially those involving the elderly can hold these moments as well. What is the old proverb – good intentions pave the way to hell. Those dealing with difficult, at best seniors, siblings, spouses, or even live-in care providers, will have moments they question their sanity for agreeing to be the “responsible one.” There are volumes of unknown laws, considerations, and medical pitfalls for the elder person to live with and for the designated family members to navigate – often under extream stress.
This is a perfect storm for migraines, high blood pressure, ulcers, IBS, insomnia, panic attacks, stroke, heart attacks and those are just the family members, not the elders. With seniors, it becomes easy for them to be over medicated, loss of appetite, outbursts of tears or anger, retreating into themselves, incontinence, or personal endangerment with erratic decision making.
The best-laid plans of mice and men, all of a sudden change, rapidly when you decide to bring mom or dad into your home. They actually go out the window if your elders are more than you can handle, and they must be placed in a memory care facility for medication and mental evaluation against their will. These are the times it is important for you to have documentation, be prepared for allegations of elder abuse, neglect or miss appropriations of resources; waged by other family members or even the elder in question.
Now, this certainly isn’t the case for everyone, but trust me there are those out there who have had their lives turned upside down by situations like these. Family caregivers begin reacting not responding to the crisis at hand, later regretting some of the decisions made in the heat of the moment. Relationships can be irreparably damaged. Some of this could be avoided with careful planning before saying yes to our loved one’s requests to care for them, or before asking someone to care for you.
Everyone reading this who has elder family members or spouses should begin with attending classes on planning for the senior years. Classes are often free and offered through churches, senior services, and the veterans administration. Learn how to set up medical information portals to review medical records including medication lists. Ask questions about credit scores and banking liabilities before agreeing to be involved with financial decisions. And if it is a married couple needing simultaneous care investigate conservatorships, powers of attorney, medical guardianship’s, and advanced directives; all carefully before a crisis happens.
Talking but not heard, may be the case for both the elder family member and for those caring for them. This was brought more fully to my attention by Therese Johnson, Gerontologist, and Senior Care Consultant. Therese stressed the importance of validation communication with older family members. She directed my attentions to the work of Naomi Feil and her book the Validation Breakthrough ; Validation is a way of communicating with older adults with Alzheimer’s-type dementia. This approach reduces stress, enhance dignity, and increase the happiness of the elder family member and those caring for them.
Since its inception in 1989, Validation has helped thousands improve their relationships with loved ones with dementia. Caregivers who use these techniques validate older adults’, rather than focusing on disorientation and confusion.
Research in the United States and Europe show trying to make older family members deal with the realities of what is happening, which can push them farther into disorientation and confusion, isn’t the best approach; it is better to talk to older folks in a different fashion, which allows them to come back to reality through validating their frustration, anger, fear and sense of loss. Many individuals in their seventies are then able to resume their lives with modest supervision.
Now I’m not known for my patience, which may mean my personality is not well suited as a caregiver. All the more reason to do homework before saying yes to that special older person.
When caregivers are under the hornets-nest-stress, they often look to foods to sooth, which in turn can create health problems for the care provider. Muddying ones ability to think clearly, support energy and healing ability of the body. Here is when others can be so invaluable to the struggling caregiver. Friends and family can provide nourishing food, and provide opportunities for caregivers to have safe conversations to detox from the problems of the day. Nothing can refuel the exhausted caregiver as efficiently as a nourishing meal with laughter .
Here is to transition without the sting.
by Tammera J. Karr, PhD
The familiar dyed Easter egg, which annually rolls along lawns and frustrates little children armed with colored wicker baskets, is a carryover from the pagan holiday which preceded the Christian holy day. Easter has a close association with food. The word comes from the Anglo-Saxon goddess of light and spring, Eostre, and special dishes were prepared in her honor so that the year would be endowed with fertility.
The egg figures into both Christian and Jewish springtime holidays. Egg-shaped confections are unique to Easter, and – until just over a century ago – found primarily in France.
People in central European have a long tradition of elaborately decorated eggs. Polish, Slavic, Russian and Ukrainian create intricate designs on the fragile eggs. Yugoslavian eggs bear the initials “XV” for “Christ is Risen,” a traditional Easter greeting. The Russians, during the reign of the tsars, celebrated Easter much more elaborately than Christmas, with Easter bread and special foods and decorated eggs given as gifts.
In Baltic Russia, the Easter cake kulich, made from a yeast dough of enormous proportions and lavishly decorated with crystallized citrus peel is a traditional food served during Easter. In traditional Baltic households, it is placed on a table decorated with painted eggs and the children of the family gather to share the eggs and bread.
The Pennsylvania Dutch imported the Easter Hare, who delivered colored eggs to good children. By the early nineteenth century; entire Pennsylvania Dutch villages would turn out with gaily decorated Easter eggs to play games, including egg-eating contests.
In Europe, there are traditions, not limited to Christian denominations, of eating the season’s new lamb, just coming onto the market. The roast lamb served on Easter Sunday began with the first Passover of the Jewish people.
Here are more healthy spring foods for you to enjoy.
Artichokes are a good source of protein, vitamin C, folate, potassium, and magnesium, and are a rich source of fiber. They also contain a compound called cynarin, extracts of which have been found to protect and regenerate the liver and regulate cholesterol levels.
Asparagus, a 100-gram portion of asparagus, contains three-quarters of the folate and a quarter of the vitamin C required each day. It is also a useful source of beta-carotene, vitamin E and potassium.
Broccoli is an excellent source of beta-carotene and vitamin C, and contains calcium, potassium, and folate – vital nutrients for immune health and strong bones. Broccoli is also rich in indole-3-carbinol (I3C). In preliminary research, I3C has been reported to affect oestrogen metabolism that protects against breast and other female cancers.
Cabbage is high in vitamin C and anti-cancer compounds; dithiolthiones, glucosinolates, indoles, isothiocyanates, coumarins and phenols, which work by enhancing the body’s ability to detoxify chemicals and by increasing antioxidant activity. Raw cabbage juice is documented for peptic ulcers. This is associated with a substance called S-methylmethionine, which promotes healing and relieves pain.
Leeks are surprisingly nutritious, providing a good source of many nutrients, including vitamins C and B6, folate, manganese, and iron.
Peas being legumes, are higher in calories than most vegetables due to high carbohydrate content, they also contain protein and fiber are an excellent source of folate and vitamins A and C.
Radishes can be red, black or white. They are an excellent source of vitamin C and are noted to have a positive effect on the symptoms of colds and coughs.
Watercresses is a “superfood”, brimming beta-carotene, vitamins B and C, calcium, and iron. Watercress is an excellent source of phytochemicals and is the richest source of phenethyl isothiocyanate, which provides the unique peppery flavor. In a number of studies, watercress has been shown to have potent anti-cancer properties.
Spring is a great time to try early greens available through the farmers markets, as well as a traditional spring lamb.
To your good health and Happy Spring.