Healthy diet can be first step to building resiliency in life


“Resilience” is a buzz word in the planning community. It became especially important after New Orleans was devastated by Hurricane Katrina.

Per Merriam-Webster Dictionary, the second definition of resilience is “an ability to recover from or adjust easily to misfortune or change.”

Common change for families and individuals happen when, for example, a job is unexpectedly lost or a son or daughter, predictably, leaves their home for college or their first job. What can we do to help increase our resiliency, i.e. our “ability to recover from or adjust easily to misfortune or change?” Perhaps we understand what is crucial to living (need versus want) before change occurs. We need the following to live: food, water, shelter and clean air, and perhaps we need each other. Nourish, a local, Sheboygan nonprofit organization, is working to address food. To create a resilient food system for our community, we at Nourish, believe our community’s families and individuals should practice the following good-food habits:

» Shop local. Try purchasing and enjoying more local, seasonal food: fruit (apples and strawberries), vegetables (potatoes, onions, green beans, lettuce), meats, eggs and dairy (so many local cheese options).

» Cook! Everyone should know how to cook. Choose five homemade recipes (e.g. stir-fry with unique sauces, homemade pizza with fresh toppings, pasta and marinara sauce with a variety of vegetables, potato salad and egg scrambles) and master them. Once they are mastered, adapt them with produce and ingredients you have on hand.

» Teach our young people to cook. It amazes me how often I meet college students who do not know how to cook. Consider allowing a child to plan and prepare a Sunday evening meal. Take the opportunity to not only demonstrate good technique for peeling potatoes, but also teach about budgeting, time management and creating a balanced meal.

» Eat with the seasons. It goes together with shopping local (e.g. salads in the spring that feature peas, radishes, and asparagus; salsas in the summer that feature beautiful tomatoes and peppers; soups in the fall that feature winter squashes and even apples; and stews in the winter that feature local root vegetables like carrots and turnips that store well).

» Food preservation. Food is more affordable when purchased locally and in season. Often, five gallon buckets of tomatoes are available at the Farmers Markets when tomatoes are in season. Purchase a bucket and either can or freeze tomatoes.

» Grow food. Harvard Health Publications article “Backyard gardening: grow your own food, improve your health” states that growing food helps you eat more fruits and vegetables, too. Food knowledge is one component of creating a resilient person, family and community. Consider trying one or two (or all) of the suggestions and imagine if all our neighbors tried, too. We would be better prepared to handle unforeseen or foreseen circumstances.

Nourish offers garden workshops, farm-to-table tours and community dinners to engage and teach our community about good food. Visit our website, www.nourishfarms .org, for more information.

Heather Cleveland is the executive director of Nourish, a nonprofit organization in Sheboygan.