Fresh Start

Written by Lydia Benedict.

Three years ago, my family and I left the hustle and bustle of the Northeast for the slower-paced south. We traded in our half-acre lot a half mile from Long Island Sound for 20 acres amongst the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Since then, I have hired a builder and helped design a school house. I teach my four children full-time and have hired tutors to assist. I have created my own school curriculum and schedule for each child. I am the teacher, the principal, and the curriculum coordinator all in one.

I've also revamped my family's eating habits to a completely organic—hopefully, better than organic—and as local as possible diet. No longer do I purchase Purdue, Tyson, or any other conventionally raised animals. Instead, I buy my meat and poultry from a local farmer whom I know on a first-name basis. Imagine that: actually knowing the person who raised the animal you call dinner. And my eggs come from my own pastured chickens.

I visit the local farmer's market at least weekly not only for produce, but also for knowledge. I seek out farmers who don't use pesticides and don't feed their animals a corn diet. Indeed there are farmers who are growing food and raising livestock the way it was meant to be done.

Along that vein, I have an ever-expending garden of my own. What started as the basic tomatoes and cucumbers has expanded to more than fifty tomato plants of different varieties, carrots, acorn squash, butternut squash, pumpkins, watermelon, beets, onion, garlic, shallots, bell peppers, chili peppers and more.

As my garden expands, so has my knowledge and experience at freezing, canning, and otherwise preserving my excess of better-than-organic, ultra-green food. (It doesn't get much "greener" than your own backyard.) From making our own spaghetti sauce and salsa to strawberry jam and pickles, I learn as I go. And so do my kids. They play an active role in both gardening and canning. (Sometimes more active than they wished.) My goal upon leaving the Northeast was to slow down, but instead of slowing down I've joined the slow-food movement.

It couldn't be helped. In search of answers to my own health, I've become more of an expert on many women's health issues than I ever wanted to be. I have learned about thyroid disorders, adrenal fatigue, arthritis, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, and more. And all paths have lead me to one common place: nutrition. Additionally, a balanced endocrine system is vital to good health.

As I launch my new website, and my new blog, my goal is to share what I've learned. I invite you to check back regularly to learn more about women's health, the local food movement, food borne pathogens, and more Also, look for updated blog posts and feel free to send me your thoughts and queries. I look forward to hearing from you.