What Real Health Means to Me

June 2018 Paul R. Taylor, BS, BA

Our founder Dr. Hugh D. Riordan defined health as, “having the reserves to do what you want and need with energy and enthusiasm.”  In reflecting on that, I remember growing up on a small farm, usually getting up in the morning was easy. Maybe it was the free range rooster crowing or one of the free range peacocks or peahens calling from the roof peak as the train blew its whistle around 5 am, as it crossed the crossing a half mile from our house.  It certainly wasn’t from my always getting 8 hours of sleep every night.  However, despite that, I always had the energy and enthusiasm to get up and take care of my chores, have fun with friends at the local pool, play baseball, go to my favorite fishing hole, or bike to the park to meet friends.

I think the sustained energy I had was most likely from the good quality beef, pork, chicken, and the fresh produce we ate all spring and summer. Most of it was also canned for the cold winters on the same day it was picked fresh from the garden.

We didn’t believe much in feeding the cattle grains, just hay baled from our own pasture in the winter and plenty of fresh green pasture all spring, summer, and fall.  The chickens and peafowl got some mixed crushed grains all year round if they wanted it, but spent most of their time from early spring through early winter foraging around the farm.  The chicken coup was rarely closed, allowing them year round access to the outdoors. It’s surprising just how many insects they managed to find under leaves along the fences all year long.  In fact, about the only time you found either the chickens or the peafowl roosting inside was a few days in late December through mid-February during the cold snaps when temperatures dipped below 0 ͒ F.

The garden was not quite organic. Some pesticides were used, but sparingly (chickens and peafowl are great natural pesticides and completely non-toxic).  Certainly the chickens and the peafowl took care of most bugs, cutworms, and other pests and Grandma believed in hoeing and pulling weeds rather than most herbicides.  Occasionally they were used when something was just too stubborn to dig out or pull out.  However, one of the neighbors loaned us a few free range hogs to root out some of the more stubborn things.  The hogs got fed a healthy free range diet and the weeds got removed with essentially no effort from us (just don’t let them loose in the garden if you want anything for yourself or let them root it up at the end of the season).

Funny how the bacon was more meat than fat and the beef was much the same.  I remember my dad grumbling about having to pay to add lard to the hamburger to make it stick together when it was cooked.  Some people think that the marbling was more important for making the steak tender, but it’s more about the curing and aging process than the fat content; our beef certainly had some but not excessive fat.  We used the same process for our beef as we would venison.  In fact, our beef did not taste much different than venison or bison because they ate the same thing.  In the 20 or so years we had cows and chickens, I only recall one cow ever needing an antibiotic. It had a severe cut on its hind quarter, and we used a topical powder rather than an oral delivery that would affect the gut flora.

To conclude, I was never in want of energy or enthusiasm to pursue the chores and have fun

after the work was done or to spend a few hours reading my favorite novel at the end of a full day, and be ready to go early the next morning.  So eat your fresh veggies and fruits especially from a local organic grower. Anything local and picked when it’s naturally ripe will be better than produce sourced far from home.  Similarly, locally sourced beef, chicken, fish, or pork from a farmers’ market or grower will go a long way to enhancing real health. If you have the space and resources try a garden. Start small and grow the things you like.