This week we are celebrating our desert terroir produce against the backdrop of Japan. I have been inspired for the last month with an amazing book by Nancy Singleton Hachisu. Alice Waters called the book ..”An Important work that shows the universality of an authentic food culture.” Nancy moved to Japan at an early age, married a Japanese farmer and became part of the fabric of a rural Japanese village, learning to cook and farm in cadence with the seasons. I took the techniques she described and some of the produce that correlates to our Texas Spring and created a menu that I think pays homage to Japan, it’s pantry of ingredients, seasoned with Pharm Table’s pantry of anti-inflammatory ingredients.
Another great reason to celebrate Japan this week is something many of you have heard me discuss, called the Blue Zones. One of the pieces of research that we find valuable is the research on centenarian cultures conducted by National Geographic. Not rocket science, but very compelling data taken from 5 geographically distinct cultures throughout the world where people grow old and have little instances of heart disease, diabetes, and other food related diseases. The team of NG researchers found a common thread amongst these cultures and they boiled it down to 9 principles (called The Power 9).
The nine lessons:
1. Move naturally.
Don't do marathons or pump iron; work around the house, garden,
walk, cycle, walk when talking on the phone.
2. Know your purpose.
Have a reason for waking up in the morning.
3. Kick back.
Find ways to shed stress, whether it's praying, napping or going to happy hour!
4. Eat less.
Stop eating when you are 80% full.
5. Eat less meat.
Beans are a cornerstone of most centenarians' diets.
6. Drink in moderation.
Only the Seventh-day Adventists in California didn't have one to two glasses a day.
7. Have faith.
Denomination doesn't seem to matter, but attending faith-based services (4 times a month) does.
8. Power of love.
Put families first, including committing to a partner and keeping aging parents and grandparents nearby.
9. Stay social.
Build a social network that supports healthy behaviors.
For the next 5 weeks we will be celebrating the foods of the five blue zones, starting this week with the foods of Okinawa, Japan, where the Blue Zones researchers found the following combination of ingredients to play an important role in the dietary pyramid of Okinawans:
- azuki beans
- sweet potatoes
- large portions of plants, especially leafy greens
- and moderate portions of pork as their primary animal protein.
- Miso, ginger, and garlic, plus the turmeric make up the holy trinity of the island’s seasoning.
Turmeric is a bit of an anomaly for the Japanese islands. The menu this week is a reflection of these ingredients from local sources.
Did you know the Okinawans also have a name for only eating until 80% full? Read more about this here and the benefits that may result from eating soy, plus the flavonoids here.
Also read this article published in NPR's The Salt, one of my favorite food blogs, about the blue zones research. It was fortuitously published last Sunday and outlines the 5 blue zones. It will provide a good road for you over the next 5 weeks!
Please take extra time time this week to reflect on these 9 blue zone principles as you eat your food and try to eat consciously to 80% full. If you have any additional comments or questions, I would love to read them in the comments below!