Wednesday, April 21, 2010

A Call to Action: Midwifery is Threatened in Tennessee!!!

Here in Tennessee, Certified Professional Midwives practice legally and with an impressive amount of autonomy.  
That will change if we do not fight.  
Our midwifery council is governed by the board of osteopaths, and it appears that they may be seeking greater regulations concerning practice guidelines, so prosecution of midwives is more clear cut.  As it stands, CPM's must have a "collaborative" relationship with a doctor, but the doctor has no liability, or say in who can see a midwife.  These new regulations, among other things, will demand that midwives have ob/gyn backup, which will not happen as long as ACOG speaks out against homebirth.  Without backup, a CPM will be practicing illegally.  If that wasn't enough to suppress homebirth, it is also left up to doctors to decide who is considered a low-risk candidate for midwifery care.  As you can imagine, that is never going to happen.

To fight this, we are forming the Tennessee Birth Coalition, a non-profit lobbying group for birthing rights.  We need volunteers, exposure, and donations.  We are in the organizing phase, so it is a bit hectic and there are a few women/families, doing A LOT of work.  We need help.

First of all, join the Tennessee Birth Coalition Yahoo Group.  This is a good way to keep up and get involved.

Second, if you know someone on any level of government that may lend us support, contact me with their information and I will get it to the appropriate people.

Share this on Facebook and forward it to anyone and everyone on your email list.

If you are outside of Chattanooga, help us get a group started in your area.  If you have received or are receiving midwifery care outside of Chattanooga, make sure your midwife is aware and involved.  Let her know you are concerned. 

I am the head of the fund-raising committee.  If you have any ideas for fundraisers, would like to offer something at your business, etc., or would like to make a donation (however small, we need it all!), PLEASE contact me.

Or if you would just like to make me a batch of oatstraw infusion, lol!  I know the nutritive herbs are going to be my greatest allies right now.

My contact info:

If you are a homebirther or a friend of midwifery, THIS IS THE TIME FOR ACTION!  We can not let politics force midwifery underground! 
Mothers and babies have a RIGHT to safe birth!

These are pictures of my most recent homebirth (tipi-birth, actually), August 2008

Thankful am I, for the loving care of midwives!

Friday, April 16, 2010

Beef Heart: It's what's for dinner

That's what I said, beef heart.

Yes, I am fearless when it comes to animal foods.  I take my relationship with them seriously, not only the value of their nutrition, but what I percieve as their spiritual value as well.  There are a few rules...

Rule #1  If you are going to eat meat, you should be able to kill an animal.  Reconnect with the food chain.

Rule #2  Though shalt not discard the bones!  I think we have covered that before.

Rule #3  Though shalt not discard/refuse the organ meats...and here we are.

Why did we let dietary recommendation steer us away from organ meats?  Prized in every culture but that of modern N. America, we find them disgusting, repulsive, exotic at best.  These are the organs of an animal, what gave it life.  So, after liver, I was drawn to heart.

I have been brought to tears just discussing the importance of eating the heart of an animal.  There was hesitation before slicing into the raw heart.  Not repulsion, but a feeling of unworthiness.  Yep, lot's of issues come up from consciously eating an animal.  Did I deserve this heart?  What had I done to earn it?  I paid for it with money, a tainted and perverse institution of trade.  Did I earn that money in an honorable way?  I did not kill THIS animal.  We never even met.  These are the complications with omnivery in an industrial society.  At least for me.

All of these feelings took only a moment to process.  I shed the feelings of shame, took a moment for thanks, and sliced right in.  I am a human animal.  I need nourishment.  Besides raising the cow myself, I took every step I could to insure that it led a healthy and natural life before it's death.  I know that it's death was humane. I am worthy of a heart.  It was difficult to process all of symbolism and cultural connections to the heart, but then...

 My children and I had one of the most delicious and nourishing meals of our lives.  I am still shedding a tear or two of thankfulness as I write this post.  I feel stronger and more grounded.  Consider the energy, the character, of a cow.  I can not think of a more grounded animal.  I need that desperately.  My heart holds grief, clings to pain, and I too often refer to it's "cracking open".  Can it not just sustain me, physiologically and energetically, by beating steadily ?  I need a little more cow energy :)

I feel I have shown the animal the greatest respect by cherishing and consuming it's heart, and it has given me it's most precious gift. 

  "I value you."   "I thank you."   "I deserve you."  "You are delicious."

And my liver-shunning kiddos gobbled it right up.  The texture is more firm, and the flavor less intense.  After a few bites they asked what kind of meat it was and where on the animal it came from (there is a lot of animal death talk over the dinner table these days...those kiddos are curious).  I saw a glimmer of surprise, of contemplation, when I told them it was heart.  And then they chewed their way through a heap of it.  I sliced it thin, dipped it in brown rice flour, and fried it in lard with plenty of garlic.  And it was SO good.

SALE!!! Serious overstock on tinctures!

Once upon a time, I thought my role as an herbalist was to be making and selling herbal medicines to the public.  The path has taken a turn, so now I have largish quantities of some herbs, all packaged up in 1 oz bottles and cute little labels.  I am offering them at what I think is a great price, as I sure can't find anything this affordable on the store shelves.  Some of them I have in large quantities, and others may have a bit of label damage, but the medicines are FINE.  I have used them all personally or with family/friends/clients.  

I am offering these extracts at $5 per 1 oz bottle plus shipping.  I estimate that to be around $2, but will charge exactly the cost, no more.

A lot of these are not "popular" herbs on store shelves, etc., but commonly used by grassroots herbalists for a variety of reasons.  I will give extremely brief descriptions of uses, and recommend you research their uses elsewhere if you are interested in one.  Matthew Wood's The Book of Herbal Wisdom, seems to me to be the most complete and useful profiles on these plants.  Susun Weed may also be another great resource. 

Dandelion Leaf-cooling, diuretic, urinary/kidney remedy
Cleavers-cooling, lymphatic
Woodland Nettle Leaf (laportea canandensis)- allergies, urinary, men's health
Violet-cooling, lungs, cysts, lymphatic
Red Clover-alterative, antineoplast, phytosterols, great for balancing hormones (both sexes),general good   health (I love red clover!  She will be making an appearance on the blog as soon as she is blooming!)
Wild Lettuce-  insomnia, pain (I love it for back pain), severe anxiety
Plantain - astringent, great for clearing wet lungs

If you are interested, contact me through FB or my email:

When they are gone, they're gone!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Wild and Weedy Meals!

I don't know about you, but we are busy stuffing our mouths full of Spring's goodness!  Get it while you can, as Spring fades fast here in southeast Tennessee.

We missed a whole week of chickweed as I discovered that it is aptly named.  Giving my chickens complete freedom left me with bare patches of dirt where chickweed once flourished!  Yesterday I discovered a wonderful patch across the fence and under some cedar trees, so chickweed is back on the menu!  I am thankful for its cooling energy helping us adjust to these intensely hot days. The chickweed based salads have always been fabulous, dressed only in fruity olive oil and salt, but they have a whole new life with the addition of mustard and red bud blossoms.  Who can resist pink and yellow flowers in your salad?!  Seriously!   Mustard adds a gently pungency, while red bud offers a hint of perfectly complementary.  We call it Faerie Salad.

The mustard is pulling double duty, as I am also harvesting the greens.  I simply saute in coconut oil w/garlic and there are never any left over.  There is a particular unkempt field near my house that I harvest from nearly daily.  Mustard season is short and I will miss it when gone, so we eat as much as we can now.  There are a handful of common wild mustards, all edible, so get yourself a field guide and some free food!

Here and there I still find some young yellow dock leaves to cook, but they are growing larger and the plant is preparing to bloom.  That means seeds (more on that later), but I will miss their lemony essence in my wild green mixtures.  Those mixtures are never complete without...

Nettle!  Our native species, Woodland Nettle (Laportea canandensis), is just coming up.  With only two or three sets of leaves, it is the perfect time for harvest.  I like to observe the "one mooncycle" rule.  Basically, do not harvest and eat nettles that have been above ground longer than a month.  Some people have kidney trouble or headaches from eating older nettles.  When I was pregnant with Stone I at them into early June, just before they flowered.  I did not suffer any ill effects, but I really feel the quality of the younger nettle is superb, especially for making medicine. 

This harvest, I collected enough to make a couple quarts of vinegar and supply some meals.  Vinegar is my favorite way to preserve the nutritive offerings of plants, which is most often what I am after.  Next time I will take my alcohol with me to tincture some nettle in the field.  No bringing home wilty plants to tincture!  I am excited to prepare some woodland nettle because I am not sure what kind of medicine she has to offer in a tincture.  Stinging nettle leaf tincture is somewhat adaptogenic (restorative to the adrenals/vital life essence) and I am hoping that woodland nettle is, too.

And there is dandelion, wild lettuce, cleavers and more!  Spring is so generous!  The selection is changing nearly everyday, and it is hard to keep up!  We have been creating our meals around the offerings of the weedy wild things, being truly seasonal.  You know you are eating a well balanced diet if you live off of what is being offered right now.  There are no decisions to make, no labels to read, no dietary recommendations in the wild!  What you will find is an abundance of minerals and other nutrition in more concentrated amounts than cultivated foods.  I feel so satisfied with our meals, truly nourished throughout.  After ingesting such potent energy, I can tangibly feel the heightened vibrations in my body, almost as intensely as lying on the Earth and feeling her pulse, which I have been doing in times of frustration lately.  Talk about getting grounded!  I lie, near the yarrow and under the cedar tree, and peak through the branches at the blue sky.  You need to go out and lie down on the ground tomorrow!  You can feel the glorious energy rise up through your body, and nothing, nothing, can be wrong after that :)

Friday, April 2, 2010

Food For Life 2010

Food for Life is held and the Sequatchie Valley Institute the first weekend of June.  Check out their website for more info.  If you are anywhere in the area, it is NOT to be missed!

Food for Life 2010 — Schedule

(Schedule will evolve as we add workshops and presenters – please call if you want to be sure about a particular workshop)

Food for Life is run on Central Standard Time.


tour of sequatchie cove farm in the am?  lunch? 


4:00-6:00  *  WILD WINE, MEADS, AND HERBAL ELIXERS: an Exploration into Fermented Magic Medicine & Party Drinks (Patrick Ironwood and Marissa Percoco) - We will gather materials from the garden & the woods, then brew various wines, meads & brews for everyone to take home.  Please either bring your own honey (1qt/gallon of mead) or  local honey will be available for $5/#.  In addition, please bring 1(or more) gallon jugs (wide mouth with lid preferred), and any fruit or herbs to share; we will also harvest whatever is in season from the surrounding forest and farm.

6:15     DINNER - FERMENTATION POT LUCK - Please bring your favorite ferments to share with everyone during our first evening together.  Plan to share recipes and stories...

7:30    WELCOME CIRCLE and Vision Sharing – We’ll open Food for Life this year with a circle in which we will brainstorm about ways folks can reclaim food from corporate control. Bring ideas, visions, and fantasies of grassroots action to create better food choices. In our circle we will share our visions and inspire one another to action.  (or this can be changed - it’s up to whoever is facilitating the opening circle - this is what we did last year and it’s already up on the svi website for this year’s schedule as well...)

FRIDAY, June 4

8:00-9:00     BREAKFAST


9:30-12:30  *  FERMENTATION OVERVIEW (Sandor Katz) - Experience how simple it is to harness the transformational power of microorganisms to make foods and beverages more delicious, more nutritious, more digestible, and more stable. Learn about the healing qualities and nutritional importance of live-culture ferments, as well as their illustrious history and integral role in human cultural evolution. Empower yourself with simple techniques for fermenting these healthful foods in your home. Be part of the fermentation revival!  We will make sauerkraut, discuss kefir and yogurt, wild yeast alcoholic beverages and much more.

12:45-2:00     LUNCH



*  BREAD MAKING/BAKING W/ KIDS (Tricia Baehr) - Kids of all ages will learn how to measure, mix, knead and bake bread from scratch...we will explore the rising process, developing gluten with kneading, shaping and baking. 

*  HOW TO MAKE BUTTER (Tricia Baehr) - Start with cream and watch how butter is made in an old fashioned hand crank churn while our bread dough is rising. Rinsing and salting and shaping butter. Kids will learn how butter doesn’t come from a plastic tub in the supermarket and how great it tastes on freshley baked bread.


2:15-3:15  *  SLOW FOOD, FARM TO SCHOOL, PRESERVING FARMLAND (Trish King) - Discussion on the philosophy of Slow Food USA: promoting good, clean, and fair food.  How will a good, clean, and fair food system benefit communities?  What are the implications for institutional food systems such as school lunches?  What will happen to our local food economy as land use changes and farmland is threatened by sprawl?  From a global movement to the local food scene, we’ll discuss what it means to live Slow.

3:30-5:00  *  THE MEDICINAL PANTRY  (Rachel Fee-Prince) - Learn what common foods and culinary herbs/spices can also be part of the home apothecary.  As time allows we can cover everything from childhood issues, colds/flu to chronic illness.

5:15  DINNER

6:45  *  THE WAY TO HEALTH THROUGH FOOD AND HOW NUTRITIONAL SCIENCE CAN HELP (joel kimmons) - Lets talk about nourishment- ecology and where we fit in- how can we live an inspired gastronomic experience while nourishing the earth and all her communities.  Local food, CSAs, farmers markets, community gardens, green spaces, school gardens, cooking, eating, and how to be more than just poop factories.  Bring  short questions (or don’t) and we will work towards the best answers in a real world and whole world perspective


8:00-9:00     BREAKFAST




* COMPOSTING 101 (Tricia Baehr) - One of the most important things we can learn these days is how to compost. With more and more people learning to grow their own food, nutrient rich fertile soil starts with home composting. Kids will learn what to compost and what not to compost. The science of how things break down and the importance of composting.


* SAFE AND HEALTHY WAYS TO SAVE YOUR EXTRA FOOD - PART ONE (Carol Kimmons) - Safe and Healthy Food Preservation.  This hands-on workshop will cover fun and easy methods of canning, pickling, freezing, and drying your surplus from the garden or market.  Materials and instruction booklets included. 

10:30-12:00  *  Fat, Fat, Fat: Making Ghee and Rendering Lard (Rachel and Daniel Fee-Prince) - We will make ghee and begin the process of making lard from local foraged hog fat.  All the while discussing the positive role these nourishing  and delicious fats can play in our lives.  Both products will be available to take home later that evening.

12:15-1:30     LUNCH
lunch discussion groups will include grass roots development in Cent Am/ 3rd world and down to earth opportunities to get involved (Sandy Hepler)

1:45-2:45  *  ICE CREAM AND INDUSTRIAL COLLAPSE: ARE THEY MUTUALLY EXCLUSIVE? (Patrick Ironwood and Marissa Percoco) - Learn the basic use of hand crank ice cream makers, through a variety of recipes, including exploration of goat & cow milk, and also risk going hi-tech with liquid nitrogen to do a large quantity for an ice cream and crumpet party... participants are encouraged to bring ice cream  makers of all types to use and share, milk & any of your favorite yummy add-ins  



GARDEN CRITTERS (Tricia Baehr) - Discover the creepy crawly garden helpers from worms to ladybugs and preying mantis.  Let’s talk about how they help in the garden and why they are important.  

CREATIVE PLANT MARKER MAKING (Tricia Baehr) - Garden art is fun and makes our gardens more colorful while we are waiting for plants to grow. Have fun painting markers to help distinguish plants for your garden, a friend’s garden or even a community garden.


* THE PHILOSOPHY OF EATING WILD (Alan Powell) - This workshop is about the value of wild foods in the context of human history as well as modern human life.  Alan will talk about plant identification as well as harvesting philosophy (understanding how much to take and why).  He will discuss why we stopped eating wild foods and the effect on human health and diversity in a healthy diet.  The format will be an herb walk with much commentary and discussion.

5:15-6:45  *  ARTISAN FARMSTEAD CHEESE TASTING AND THE STORY OF SEQUATCHIE COVER CREAMERY (Padgett Arnold) - Enjoy a tasting of cheeses made here in the Sequatchie Valley at Sequatchie Cove Creamery. Learn about the background of this new enterprise at Sequatchie Cove Farm, and how making this cheese fits in with the philosophy of the farm, and the local foods movement here in the southeast. A slide show of photos from the farm and its in-depth research into artisanal cheese-making will accompany the tasting. Bring your own wine or other beverage to share.

7:00  PIZZA AND WOOD FIRED COB OVEN DISCUSSION – we will disscus sourdough & wheat fermentation, wood oven use and tips on building your own… as we bake.

SUNDAY, June 6

8:30-10:00     BREAKFAST


10:30-12:15  *  TRADITIONAL FOODS (Didi Wildrover and Chad Ananda) - This workshop will explore the process of nourishing our future by reclaiming the endangered foods and foodways of the past.  We will start with an overview of nutritional practices utilized throughout human history that have relied on foods that are locally produced/gathered, nutrient-dense and more highly digestible, and minimally processed and stored without dependence on refrigeration or electricity. Given the extreme dependence of our modern societies on fossil fuels, high-tech food production methods, and pharmaceutical short-term health solutions, embracing traditional foodways is a movement toward greater community-based self reliance, and deeper foundations of health.  We will spend some time looking around the kitchen at the variety of traditional foods we have incorporated into the food scene at Moonshadow, and do some basic hands-on activities to illustrate traditional foodways: making farmers’ cheese from raw milk, mayonnaise out of eggs and olive oil, acorns into edible meal, and turning whole corn into nutritionally superior “masa” or “hominy,” all of which we will incorporate into our final meal together.

12:30-1:45  LUNCH



MAD HATTER TEA PARTY (Tricia Baehr) - The annual FFL Mad Hatter Tea Party for kids of all ages! Wear a silly, fun or sophisticated hat while we explore the world of teas from history to healing properties of herbal teas. Learn how to brew tea while enjoying sipping and trying different varieties.


* SAFE AND HEALTHY WAYS TO SAVE YOUR EXTRA FOOD - PART TWO (Carol Kimmons) - Safe and Healthy Food Preservation.  This hands-on workshop will cover fun and easy methods of canning, pickling, freezing, and drying your surplus from the garden or market.  Materials and instruction booklets included. 

3:15-4:45  *  CHOCOLATE SURPRISE (Sandy Hepler) - Explore an all-time world favorite. Cacao itself is health food and can be made healthier.  Original Aztecs drank it as a hot, bitter, peppered drink (did they ever add honey?).  A really healthy, great-tasting chocolate is possible!  samples of delicious organic chocolate are guaranteed. These are handmade in northern Tennessee by Sandy Hepler himself, our Mad Kitchen Scientist.


Thursday, April 1, 2010

All In a Day

Spring has sprung indeed!  The abundance of wild green outside is definitely keeping us busy around here.  Lots of "doing" and not much time, or energy, for talking about it.   I have had the good sense of keeping up with my bedtime infusion ritual, so we have had plenty of nettle, lemonbalm, and red clover infusions to nourish us through our busy days.  The energy requirements are high, as is the need for hydration.  I don't know about you, but when spring introduces herself in 83 degree style, I can feel a bit wilted.

Thankfully there's still lots of cooling, lush chickweed around, making her appearance at our dinner table nightly, and sometimes breakfast or lunch as well.  A month from now we will all look at salad with a bit of disgust, but for now it is all yummmmmmmm.  Tomorrow I am going to make a chickweed vinegar so I can enjoy her all year long.

Sophie, Emma, and I also spent some time gathering cleavers (Galium aparine) and made an infusion of the fresh plant.  I have a tendency towards lymphatic stagnation, especially at the change of seasons, so cleavers is one of my favorites.  It will get the waters circulating and cool inflammation.  I make a tincture so I have it around all year long.  I love to combine it with violet, calendula, or chickweed tinctures to enhance the lymph clearing action.
Galium aparine is almost always found in large clumps in the shade.  Like chickweed, she is shy of the sun and water-loving, most often found in the shade of a large tree or bank.  Her common name, Cleavers, describes exactly what she does, cleave.  The underside of her leaves are very hairy and therefore, "sticky".  They remind me a bit of a cat's tongue.

Take advantage of Cleavers now, because her lifespan is even shorter than Chickweed!

And then it was on to the next herbal adventure...dandelion.  I spotted a field not too far from the house, so I gave each kid a container and we all went on our way picking blossoms.  We tore some of them up and added them to our evening salad (you could leave them whole, they are just beautiful, but my kids do not like the texture), and others went in a jar with olive oil.  Soon I will make a flower essence and hopefully some dandelion fritters!  Oh, and those leaves?  Right now they are great cooked or raw, help yourself :)

After I came in to prepare dinner, Sophie harvested some young yellow dock leaves and we added those to the kale braising on the stovetop.  Bitter raw, but slightly lemony cooked, they are not to be missed.  Your blood and liver will LOVE you!

So if that wasn't enough, I also had all the perennial herbs from our former yard and garden to transplant.  So, quite randomly, in the ground went blackberry canes, goji berry, a strawberry patch, nettles, sage, thyme, rosemary, lavendar, and well, those mints can wait!  Spearmint, peppermint, and chocolate mint will find a home somewhere around here, but not tonight.

And then it was inside to dye eggs, naturally.  But that is a post for another day :)
I hope you enjoyed at least one herbal adventure today.  Whether making an infusion or snacking on violets, take your time and really soak it in.  Allow the plants to do their work on your spirit.  I was having what I thought was an irreparable day of emotional oddness and frustration, but then I spent early evening among the plants... where I found peace for at least half and hour ;P