Sugar and Spice

For almost all of human existence, food variety has been a mark of a population's health. I would say that must be mental health as well as physical! Eating the same thing every day gets boring. Humanity the world over has loved to spice it up.

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Spices and sweeteners are amazing, and I am so glad that the CSA box comes with such a variety of sauces, dips, and culinary add-ons that keep things interesting: Hummus, jams and jellies. Fresh berries in season, olive oil—a staple for millennia—vinegars and sauces have been made in kitchens for time out of mind. We dwell in a cathedral of variety and flavor.

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Salt, too, used to be an important spice but now it is everywhere. We are surrounded by ways to twist and torque our tastebuds—but the king of this age is sugar. Honey used to be very costly, and it was replaced by cane sugar from India which continued to be refined and processed and then eventually beet sugar was discovered in the modern era.

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Now it is in everything, and consumption continues increasing year upon year in spite of the horrific health effects that are rocking through our nation. In our little corner of the world, I am thrilled to have the box where I can count on an extra layer of defense against the consumptive sickness that I walk past in gas stations and supermarkets and restaurants.

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It was unusual when we first signed up for the CSA, to have root-fibers to pull off, dirt to scrub away, and masses of greens to process instead of the ease of popping my food directly in the microwave. Now it is a way of life, and I can consider my cooking with a clean conscience, free of worry about the problems of inflammation, pre-diabetes, and all the nagging doubts that worry me: Am I being lied to about my food, and what is healthy?

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Ultimately, I know that the old, traditional ways of growing and preparing food that Paula and the others at Morning Harvest farm carry out with concern are not poisons, slow and clouding. I can enjoy this most basic part of life and have a sense of peace in my kitchen as I experiment and tinker.

What is your favorite “sugar or spice” that not only enhances your food, but also your health?

Tell us in the comments!