The Silver Lining to the Omnivore's Dilemma

In 2006, a book was published that sought to give the reader a better understanding of where their food comes from. The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan followed three major tracks, or sourcing, of food. The public reaction to this book was significant and varied, and it evoked discussion from vegetarians and meat-lovers alike. The main premise of the title is discussed in chapter 17 of the book (among other places) and presents the idea that we have a particular dilemma facing us (humans): we have a choice (perhaps even moral and ethical in front of us) because we can eat anything. So what do we choose to eat? I appreciate Michael Pollan’s exposure of the true nature of the environments in which most of the food that we purchase is raised. I also agree with him (and many others) that there is a weightiness to our position as meat-eaters. It is this weight that I want to talk about today.   I believe it’s important to realize the weight of death. I think it helps us.   I don’t think the act of eating meat is immoral or unethical. But I do think that eating without a thought of responsibility is wrong. Except for the last hundred years, humans have been completely connected to the food (animal or plant) that they ate. They either had to raise, hunt, gather or cultivate their food. They took responsibility for caring for the plants and animals that were to become their food because they understood that these things were connected to their own life and health. Now, with mass production and commercialization, we have become removed from this natural responsibility and awareness. That being said, we can still make conscious choices about the food we purchase: we can make sure we know where it comes from and how it was treated. But I think we have the potential to lose something if we are that removed from food. Something big and underlying. When I say “we” I am talking about the collective “we” of our modern culture. And I know there are many discussions we could have in relation to food about toxins, hormones, antibiotics, nutrient density, and animal treatment. And although these are important, that's not what I would like to discuss today. Today I want to discuss what I think are some of the  moral and ethical implications of being removed from raising and killing our own food. As I said earlier, I think that being exposed to and understanding the weight of death is important. I think it strengthens our idea of responsibility, and gives us an attitude of soberness about death, which causes us to put a value on life.  

Let me explain with some examples:

  When I was growing up I learned the responsibility of caring for animals on our “hobby farm.” My parents taught me the importance of putting the needs of the animals in our care before my own. As these animals were domesticated and confined, they were unable to provide for themselves. They depended on us to give them what they needed to live. I understood (and experienced) that a lack of care or attention on my part could lead to an unintended death.

Lesson: Growing up in this environment taught me that it’s my responsibility to care for things that are weaker. When we believe that it is our responsibility to care for those who, in that moment at least, are not able to do what we can, we will not bully and abuse them. This is true not only for how we treat animals, but also for how we treat people.

    As an adult, I have had some opportunity to keep the chickens, ducks, geese, and pigs. The lives of these animals were then fully in my hands, and even unintentional mistakes or omissions could and did have life or death consequences. Awareness of that responsibility would get me out of bed in the middle the night, or cause me to carry water down a steep hill in freezing temperatures so my animals could drink.

Lesson:Increased responsibility taught me that I could be depended on, and that there are consequences for my actions. Learning how to shoulder responsibility, be dependable, and take responsibility for actions are all admirable and desirable character qualities that will help any person succeed in their life.

    When the time came for these animals to be in the freezer, I did not send them to a processing plant, but did the slaughtering and butchering myself. In this way I allowed my animals to die the same way that they lived, happy and without fear. While it cost me emotionally to do the killing myself, it was something I was glad to do. I had accepted responsibility for these animals, and I wanted to fulfill that responsibility to the end of their life.

Lesson: Processing my own animals for meat helped me to put others before myself. When we think of others first, we learn to treat people with kindness, and we can develop good, lasting relationships.

    The last few years I have attempted (with some success) to obtain my meat through hunting—true wild-caught, grass feed meat! In case you've never been hunting before I'll let you in on a little secret... the animals have a HUGE advantage. Their natural instincts give them the ability to hear or smell us and leave the area often without us even being aware of their presence. When I am successful in my hunt (which doesn't happen every year—including this one), I am excited and sobered. Excited at the prospect of good quality, delicious meat (I love elk!). But sobered because there is a weight to death—all death—even that of a wild animal.

Lesson: Soberness is a correct and helpful emotion to have in regard to death. It's an important experience for everyone to have (in one way or another) because it helps us remember the value of life. It's vital to regard life as precious, and something to be guarded and cared for, not thrown away carelessly.

    To summarize, I believe that having a correct understanding of the soberness of death has significant implications. It will cause us to treat all living things with care and love (preventing bullying and animal cruelty). It is a way we can learn and practice responsibility and accept consequences. It teaches us to put others first. It motivates us to spend quality time with those we love (because we remember that they won't be there forever). And it causes us to reflect on our own mortality (which is a good thing to think about sometimes).   Now I’m not saying that you have to live on a farm for you and your kids to learn responsibility and soberness about death! There are multiple ways to teach responsibility and soberness that don't include raising and killing your own animals. You can teach your child the responsibility of care with a pet, or even through simple chores. You can take responsibility in knowing where your food comes from, and invite your children to be part of your decisions. You can tell them that you expect them to treat every living creature with gentleness and care, and give consequences if they don’t obey. You can explain to them your convictions about animal treatment and talk about food quality on a regular basis. There are many opportunities for you to show your child the precious gift that is life, and teach them about responsibility and kindness. My point is that it’s maybe just a little bit harder, and takes a little more effort to pass on these things in our modern world. But that doesn’t mean that it’s not worth doing. The good things are always worth fighting for. That’s why I believe that it’s a blessing to be an omnivore. There is a loss of life so we can eat, but that creates opportunities to experience deep life lessons when we face the weightiness of death. So there you have it, the silver lining to being an omnivore!  


  This post contains affiliate links. Your trust is important to me, and I only recommend products that I trust.

Immunity: The Best Defense is a Good Offense {Part Two}

Last time we talked about the first two ways to support your body's immunesystem. In review, there are four ways or areas we can strengthen our immune system.

  • Eat a diet rich in nourishing foods

  • Support the good microbes in your body and environment

  • Detoxify to give the inflammatory arm of the immune system a break

  • Use essential oils and herbs to support your body's natural defenses

To read about the first two on the above list, check out the previous blog HERE. Today we are going to discuss the other ways you can prepare your body to be ready for environmental attacks. This is a longer post. Hang in there, and bookmark this so you can come back to it for reference.

Detoxify Your Body

Detoxification may not automatically come to mind when you think about supporting your body's immune system, but a high toxin level in your body can lead to an overwork of your immune system. How?

Toxins that are loose in the body cause damage to tissues, interfere with hormones and neurotransmitters, and in other ways increase the overall inflammation in the body. This is not a problem when it is happening on a small scale—in fact, our body was designed to handle this very thing—but when the toxins increase, so does the damage. This means that inflammation (a branch of the immune system) has to become more and more active to address the increase of damage from toxins. The more active it becomes, the more resources it needs. The "resources" of the immune system are nutrients (like cholesterol, calcium, vitamin D, vitamin C, zinc, etc.), energy from metabolic production, and different (specific) immune cells. Many of the same resources are needed both to fight infection and to deal with inflammation. So if toxin damage is high, causing increasing inflammation, then the resources will be directed to the inflammatory branch with the purpose of reducing inflammation. This is good, until a pathogenic microbe decides to invade the body. Then the infection branch of the immune system finds itself understaffed and under-resourced. Without enough resources to fight off the invaders quickly and efficiently, the immune system does the best it can, but it often takes a longer time to restore the body to health and balance. Sometimes the immune system cannot remove the invading threat, and that microbe finds a "corner" to take up residence in. If this happens, these microbes stay in the body and put a constant, low-level drain on the immune system that is constantly fighting to keep them in check. And when the immune system is weakened, these microbes may surface, causing more obvious and acute symptoms.

You can help your immune system out by detoxing.

A simple way to support your immune system is by reducing the amount of toxins, which then reduces the amount of inflammation in the body. There are some simple ways to detoxify your body. Walk in the sunshine!

Sunshine (on unprotected skin) initiates detox through one of your body's normal pathways for detox. Getting enough sun can be challenging in the colder months, but try to expose as much skin as possible, depending on the weather. And you will be able to stay outside longer if you are moving! And movement is not just about staying warm: when your muscles are worked your lymphatic system pumps stronger, as does your heart, which also help your body to remove the toxins.

Drink plenty of water!

I am not a huge fan of the "8 glasses of water every day" rule, because each individual body is going to have different water needs at different times, and this will likely change several times a day. Sometimes 8 glasses are too many, and sometimes it is not enough! Listen to your body to know what "enough water" means. To get you started, enough water means that your urine is pale yellow and does not have an odor, your lips are not dry, and you are not thirsty. When detoxing, it's very important to drink enough water to allow the body to flush the toxins from the body.

Get enough sleep!

Did you know that your body does most of its detoxing and repairing while you are sleeping? And this is not just sleeping whenever... actually your body heals the body more before midnight than after. In the words of Joseph Antell, a Clinical Nutritionalist and a Certified Herbalist, "Every hour [of sleep] before midnight is worth two hours after midnight in terms of healing..." So get to bed! Your body needs to rest. If you have problems sleeping, which is common in many health conditions, doing things like detoxing, eating nutrient-dense foods, turning off WiFi and leaving electronic devices out of the bedroom, and using natural sleep remedies like essential oils, herbs, or even a warm bath or warm milk can help your body get into a pattern of sleeping.

Support the Body's Natural Defenses

Sometimes our body needs some extra help. Maybe you just started eating nutrient-dense foods. Maybe your body's defenses were weakened by a stressful day, or not enough sleep. Maybe the microbe that is trying to invade is especially strong, or one your body hasn't seen before. Or maybe your body is doing a fine job fighting off the invaders, but it will appreciate any outside help you can give it. When you feel sick, do all the things we have talked about so far. Drink lots of meat stock. Avoid sugar, even from fruit. Double up on your fermented cod liver oil dose. Get lots of sleep and drink plenty of water. You can go out in the sun if it is sunny, not too cold or windy, and you are well wrapped (including your head and neck). In addition to all these, there are things provided in nature that support our bodies through the natural course of being sick. This is a large topic in itself, and today I will just introduce some of these to you.  


  • Candied Onion: Cook in lots of butter, ghee or lard, then topped with a fried egg boosts the immune system and soothes a sore throat

  • Fermented Garlic (or raw): Raw or fermented garlic boost the immune system and can kill some pathogenic microbes

  • Honey: Raw, unfiltered honey has immune-supporting properties and is effective as a cough suppressant

  • Unpasteurized milk: Raw milk contains the active form of calcium (calcium lactate), which kills pathogens. Will help reduce a fever

This is not an exhaustive list of food!

Essential Oils:

  • Lavender: This is an antihistamine, so it will help calm inflammation from allergies or invading microbes

  • Oregano: This is a powerful antibacterial. It is a very hot oil, and should always be diluted with a carrier oil if applied to the skin

  • Protective blend: This is a blend of essential oils with antimicrobial properties, like clove, eucalyptus, and rosemary. It also supports the body's natural immune system

  • Respiratory blend: This blend contains things like eucalyptus, peppermint and lemon, which help to open up the airways and sinuses

  • Tea Tree: This has antiviral and anti-fungal properties, and can be helpful to support the body in fighting these types of infections

  • Many other essential oils support the body in a particular circumstances, but they are too specific to write about here

Important Note: I only recommend therapeutic grade essential oils. Essential oils bought at a health food store, or Walmart, are likely synthetic, diluted, and/or manipulated. To find out about the essential oils I recommend, and how to purchase them, click HERE.  

Other Options:

  • Flower essences (work with a practitioner or look in reference books)

  • Food-based supplements (like Acerola Cherry Powder, Indian Gooseberry, Calcium Lactate, etc.)

  • Herbs and tinctures (including Elderberry syrup, Echinacea, etc)

  • Homeopathic remedies (work with a homeopath or look in reference books)

As you can see, there are many specific ways you can support your body's immune system, both before an infection, and during one. Every body responds a little differently, so try different tools to see what works best for you and the members of your family. But don't forget to start with the basics!

If the immune system doesn't have enough resources or immune cells, or if the body is overwhelmed by inflammation, or if you aren't drinking enough water for things to move quickly, additional support can only help you so much in your sickness. And don't get overwhelmed with how much you could do! Just pick one thing and start doing it. Then keep going, and keep learning. You are going to do great!


This post contains affiliate links. Your trust is important to me, and I only recommend products that I trust.

Thankful for Our Freedom

I am a patriot through and through. My favorite place in this entire country is Colonial Williamsburg in Virginia. It is a historic town, an exact replica of what it looked like in the 18th century. There you get to walk among the buildings and people that took a stand against tyranny. And if you pay attention, you will feel the profoundness of it all.

These were real people who decided they needed to take action against wrongs. They weighed the cost, asked challenging questions, and decided that they needed to stand for what was right. They did this knowing they may have to sacrifice wealth, families, even their own lives in order to do what is right. Invited in, you can hear their debate and experience what they were fighting against.

You can see what freedom meant to them. The rights of freedom—what we take for granted—that they believed in and fought for. They took a stand and said people should be treated differently than animals because they are made in the image of God. They rebelled against the tradition of title, land, money and power—believing instead that people should be given equal opportunity in a free market to work hard and keep what they work for. They believed in representation—that the people who's everyday lives are affected by the government's rules should have a say in what those rules are. They believed that every person has a right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. You may be yawning now. Because you have been living with these rights since the day you were born. But don't make the mistake of thinking that these "normal" rights are commonly accepted everywhere.

Because when you look at the rest of the world, you realize that our experience is unique.

In many other countries you are only protected by your money and power. Here, the poor and weak are protected equally by law.

In many other countries you are told how you can think and believe. Here you can think and believe however you want to.

In many other countries most women and children are abused and dominated over, and the attacker often goes unpunished. Here women's rights are being fought for, and we punish those who harm a woman or a child.

In many other countries, it could mean death to speak out in any way against the government. Here every person has the right to voice their non-violent opinion against anything or anyone.

Here we are safe. Here we are not afraid.

I am thankful to live in this country. Thankful to the men who founded it on Biblical principles, recognizing that humans have rights just by being born. Thankful to every person who sacrificed for my right to disagree... or agree... as I choose. Thankful for those who are still fighting for my freedom.

And Onward!

Real Food: More Than the Sum of Its Parts

Every time I learn more about the complex interactions between the human body and different nutrients, bacteria, and dozens of other factors, I am blown away! Not sure what I mean? As an example, this was mentioned in my latest post. A seed has enough intelligence to protect itself from being digested, but then is able to release those protections when the conditions are right to grow! All while it's still a seed! And that complicated process relates only to the seed. We haven’t even begun to explore the combining of that seed with some other food, or in a different form, or after the seed grows up. Not to mention the effect stomach acid levels, digestive enzyme activity, and different gut flora have on that seed. And the list goes on and on. Therefore we see that our bodies, and the processes that happen inside them, are incredibly intricate. And it begs the question:

Are vitamins, or carb/protein ratios really what it’s all about?

Eating real food is more than eating food-shaped packages of vitamins, proteins, and fibers. Real food is dynamic, and what you get from a particular food is conditional, and depends on several factors.

Growing Conditions: The actual nutritional value of that particular piece of food depends on the conditions it was grown in, including sun exposure, water quality, and the amount of vitamins, minerals and healthy bacteria in the soil or food the animal was eating.

Preparation Methods: After it is grown, different ways of preparing food will make it more or less digestible; helpful, stressful, or even harmful to the human body.

Individual Body Status: Even if it’s prepared properly, each individual body's environment has a role in determining the amount of benefit or harm that food will have.

In fact, a food's helpfulness to an individual body is dependent on the season, metabolic needs, current hormone state, and a myriad of other factors that are going on in the body at that moment. So what's helpful to your body in the summer may be harmful in winter. Or what's beneficial to eat at noon may weigh your body down at dinnertime. Every minute your metabolic needs may be different.

This is why "eating healthy" cannot be reduced to fortifying processed foods with vitamins, or taking the "perfect" supplement mix. It is so, so much more! Now that you know all this, eating healthy may sound like an unattainable goal. And in some ways it is. Even if we are extremely in tune with our bodies, it is unlikely that we will think “I need 5.78 mcg of calcium and 4.24 mg of vitamin D at 2:57pm”… and so on. And this is my first point.

There is no magic pill or secret supplement!

Even if the advertised effects are real, it doesn’t mean that it will work for you! Your body may need something else entirely. If anyone tells you that they have the one product that will fix all your ills, run the other way! On the other hand, the innateintelligence inside our bodies does know what it needs, and how to get it. We can work on listening to what our bodies are telling us. I call this becoming an expert detective (for more, see chapter 7 of Notes From A GAPS Practitioner).

As we renew the partnership with our body, we will begin to understand its signals about what foods will best support our bodies at that moment. Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride talks about this in a wonderful article, One Man’s Meat is Another Man’s Poison. In it she shares how important it is to listen to your body telling you what food to eat at the moment, and how much of it to eat. Becoming an expert detective does not happen overnight. It is a commitment to observe, experiment, create theories, and modify them as needed. It will get easier with time and experience, and every time you learn something, your health will benefit. And you will have taken one more step in your journey toward better health.


Disclosure: Contains an affiliate link, which helps support my blogging. Your trust is important to me, and I only recommend resources I trust.

Why Soak Grains? {Video}

Ever wondered about recommendations like "soaking," "sprouting," "fermenting," or "properly preparing" your nuts or grains? Ever wondered what that meant, or why it's better? I did! In fact, when I first heard about "sprouted bread," I thought it was made-up. But there are real reasons why eating properly prepared seeds is better for your body. Check out the video below to find out why.

Did that make sense?

This is just one example of why food preparation matters. And while food preparation techniques used to be passed on from generation to generation, our modern western culture has largely lost that heritage. But some do remember. And some do research. And some teach. And some write it down for us. That is the entire reason behind the cookbook, Nourishing Traditions, by Sally Fallon. Traditional ways to prepare foods in traditional recipes are recorded in this helpful resource. If we want to return to health, we need to start understanding these principles. Our health depends on it! Still have questions? Have another food preparation question? Ask it in the comments below.

Disclosure: The link in this post is an affiliate link. Links like this help support my blogging. Your trust is important to me, and I only recommend resources I trust.

Sharing My Story... For Hope

"Rear-View Mirror, a GAPS Journey"

I was asked to write a guest blog post sharing my story of healing. It published today, and I wanted to share it with you all here.  

I had two main purposes for writing this story.

The first was to provide an honest view into what a typical up-and-down healing journey looks like, both physically and emotionally.

The second was to offer encouragement or hope for your own journey.

 You can read my post on the Living Well Nutrition blog, HERE.

And if my story gives you hope or inspires you to share something about your own journey, share it with us in a comment below!  


Action Against Fear

[et_pb_section admin_label="section"][et_pb_row admin_label="row"][et_pb_column type="4_4"][et_pb_text admin_label="Text" background_layout="light" text_orientation="left" use_border_color="off" border_color="#ffffff" border_style="solid"] Last week I shared some of my thoughts about an inspiring quote. You can read it here. Today, let’s talk about some practicals. How does fear really affect us? Can we really overcome it? What does it have to do with health, or GAPS, or healing?The principle of “action conquers fear” can be applied in every area of our lives.

Like in the things you putoff

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Why don't you try a new recipe? Why don't you take that next step in bettering your health? Why don't you stop something you hate, or start something you love. If you follow it to the root, you will probably find that some form of "Iam afraid" is somewhere in your reasoning.

[/et_pb_text][et_pb_text admin_label="Text" background_layout="light" text_orientation="left" use_border_color="off" border_color="#ffffff" border_style="solid"] You are notalone. The culture around us loves to manipulate us through fear. Insurance, vaccines, "a blizzard is coming," home security systems and more all play on our fear. Media is excellent at invoking a fearresponse in us. The next time you turn on the news, ask yourself what they want you to hear in this story? Then payattention to what you find yourself thinking.   [/et_pb_text][et_pb_divider admin_label="Divider" color="#2a4a97" show_divider="on" divider_style="solid" divider_position="top" divider_weight="4px" hide_on_mobile="on"] [/et_pb_divider][et_pb_text admin_label="Text" background_layout="light" text_orientation="left" use_border_color="off" border_color="#ffffff" border_style="solid" custom_padding="15px|||" custom_padding_last_edited="on|phone"]

You are not alone.

[/et_pb_text][et_pb_divider admin_label="Divider" color="#2a4a97" show_divider="on" divider_style="solid" divider_position="top" divider_weight="4px" hide_on_mobile="on"] [/et_pb_divider][et_pb_text admin_label="Text" background_layout="light" text_orientation="left" use_border_color="off" border_color="#ffffff" border_style="solid" custom_padding="20px|||" custom_padding_last_edited="on|phone"] So what is your action step? What can you do against the noise and pressure around you? Is there anythingyou can do? Start with this simple step... [/et_pb_text][et_pb_text admin_label="Text" background_layout="light" text_orientation="left" use_border_color="off" border_color="#ffffff" border_style="solid"]

Turn off the voices that feed your fears!

[/et_pb_text][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][et_pb_row admin_label="Row"][et_pb_column type="1_2"][et_pb_text admin_label="Text" background_layout="light" text_orientation="left" use_border_color="off" border_color="#ffffff" border_style="solid" custom_padding="20px|||" custom_padding_last_edited="on|desktop"] No one needs help being afraid--we do it pretty well by ourselves. So stop letting other people make you more afraid. Quiet their voices or limit your time around them. Get angry at them if you need to. But stop listening! Turn the news off. Steer your conversations (on-line and off-line) to encouraging topics. [/et_pb_text][/et_pb_column][et_pb_column type="1_2"][et_pb_image admin_label="Image" src="" show_in_lightbox="off" url_new_window="off" use_overlay="off" animation="off" sticky="off" align="left" force_fullwidth="off" always_center_on_mobile="on" use_border_color="off" border_color="#ffffff" border_style="solid"] [/et_pb_image][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][et_pb_row admin_label="Row"][et_pb_column type="1_2"][et_pb_image admin_label="Image" src="" show_in_lightbox="off" url_new_window="off" use_overlay="off" animation="off" sticky="off" align="left" force_fullwidth="off" always_center_on_mobile="on" use_border_color="off" border_color="#ffffff" border_style="solid" custom_margin="5px|||" custom_margin_last_edited="on|phone"] [/et_pb_image][/et_pb_column][et_pb_column type="1_2"][et_pb_text admin_label="Text" background_layout="light" text_orientation="left" use_border_color="off" border_color="#ffffff" border_style="solid"] And don’tforget the voices inside your head! When negative self-talk, or someone's disapproving words are etched in your memories, they affect you. Instead of the negative, make the goodthings others have said about you your primary voices. Our minds and bodies are both part of us, so taking care of our emotional and spiritual health are also important. I talk more about this in another post [/et_pb_text][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][et_pb_row admin_label="Row"][et_pb_column type="1_2"][et_pb_text admin_label="Text" background_layout="light" text_orientation="left" use_border_color="off" border_color="#ffffff" border_style="solid" custom_padding_last_edited="on|desktop"] On a physical note, many toxins and imbalances can enhance our fear, or inhibit our hopefulness. While it is possible to defeat our fears and choose hope, despite our bodies, things like sleeping enough, eating the right food, and managing our stress can make the fight easier. You can read more about it in thispost. [/et_pb_text][/et_pb_column][et_pb_column type="1_2"][et_pb_image admin_label="Image" src="" show_in_lightbox="off" url_new_window="off" use_overlay="off" animation="off" sticky="off" align="left" force_fullwidth="off" always_center_on_mobile="on" use_border_color="off" border_color="#ffffff" border_style="solid" custom_margin="10px|||" custom_margin_last_edited="on|phone"] [/et_pb_image][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][et_pb_row admin_label="Row"][et_pb_column type="4_4"][et_pb_text admin_label="Text" background_layout="light" text_orientation="left" use_border_color="off" border_color="#ffffff" border_style="solid"] So do it. Take action. And go,Onward! [/et_pb_text][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][/et_pb_section]