There were two note-worthy items in the newspaper the last two days, both related to us but in different ways …
First, perhaps people saw the news in the News-Register that Casey has filed to run for Yamhill County Commissioner. Big news, eh? We’re not planning to make this website a campaign stop, since we won’t assume people who like eating our vegetables will inherently want to vote for Casey for Commissioner! But if folks are interested in learning more about Casey’s campaign, I’ll direct you to the official website: Vote Casey Kulla for Yamhill County Commissioner. He’s also on Instagram and Facebook.
But, I imagine people are wondering why he’s running, and I think that story is an appropriate one for our blog since we tell our personal stories here as well as farm stories. (But after this, you’ll have to get other news from the other sources!) Over the last 12+ years, Casey and I have both grown keenly aware of exactly how the daily lives of individuals are affected by political decisions. As rural residents of Yamhill County, we’ve paid close attention to the land-use process that determines some Big Things about life out here: who are neighbors are, what they do, who gets access to what opportunities. But we’ve also paid attention to how elected officials set the tone for how communities interact — is there a model of integrity and respect for everyone to follow?
I have to admit that about eight years ago, we felt fairly jaded about much of the political process. At the time, it felt like these Big Things were so out of our hands. We could submit testimony at the capitol or the planning department, and we could vote, but it didn’t feel like those things added up to much. But more recently, we’ve realized that if we feel passionately about the community we live in — the place and the people who inhabit it — then, we have to persist with our efforts. We have to keep caring and keep communicating about the values we want to see in place.
Even more recently, we’ve realized that our country as a whole is at the beginning of what will be a profound generational shift as so-called Baby Boomers retire from the workplace and civic life over the next 5-20 years. If there is to be any kind of smooth continuity, we realized that we cannot wait to be more directly involved in the political process — it is time now for younger generations to start stepping up, to work with the older generations for the next two decades. The older generations have hugely shaped our country and its agenda; they have experience in how the processes work or don’t work. Meanwhile, the younger generations have different perspectives to bring into the political process. So called Gen-Xers and Millennials came of age in a different world and will be living in this world for many decades to come. They are raising children in our community and are searching for solutions that will carry their children into a truly unknowable future. It seems like bringing these older and younger generations together now is critical to finding our way. Which will require Gen-Xers and Millennials to step up in a major way.
Which they are. Casey is part of a wave of people running for office this year from those younger generations (including the other two challengers for Yamhill County Commissioner positions). It is exciting to feel like we are a part of a bigger movement to bring that fresh energy into the leadership of our country and our local community. Not all of the Gen-Xers and Millennials (and record number of women) who run for office this year will be elected; but some will. And, based on what I am reading and hearing, they are bringing with them a strong desire for integrity, for positivity, for fairness. It will be an interesting year for elections around the country and here at home!
(What would Casey’s election mean for the farm? Oh goodness, friends, we have ideas about this, but really feel like this one is best described by the old say, “We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.” Even though Casey feels like he has the experience, skills and positive connections to be elected, Yamhill County is still a big, diverse place. I think that any person running for elected office for the first time feels like they’re stretching toward Very Big Goals, and Casey is no exception.)
And, turning back toward the farm, another very interesting bit of news! I read in the The New York Times this morning about a fascinating new weight loss study (the article is here). They put study participants in two groups: low-carb and low-fat diets. But both groups were counseled to avoid refined sugars and grains, regardless of their carb or fat content (so no “fat free” brownies!). Instead, they were to seek out high quality, “nutrient-dense” foods (vegetables, pastured meats, etc.), cook and eat at home, and avoid junk food. Neither group was told to restrict calories at all, instead they were counseled to, again, pay attention to the quality of their food and eat to a comfortable feeling of fullness.
The results? Both groups lost weight! At about the same rate overall, although the results varied between individuals of course. The researchers were actually a bit disappointed about this, because they were hoping to finally answer the question of whether a low-carb or low-fat diet might be more effective, or at least more effective for certain categories of people (such as people who are insulin resistant). But, the results also demonstrated very clearly that the quality of food plays a significant role in weight loss. Here’s a great quote from the article:
“The bottom line: Diet quality is important for both weight control and long-term well-being,” he [Dr. Walter Willette] said.
Dr. Gardner said it is not that calories don’t matter. After all, both groups ultimately ended up consuming fewer calories on average by the end of the study, even though they were not conscious of it. The point is that they did this by focusing on nutritious whole foods that satisfied their hunger.
This feels like a big win for the local, whole foods movement! Clearly, for folks who make the lifestyle choice to eat quality whole foods, the “proof is in the pudding.” I don’t think many of us need to be convinced by a research study that our bodies feel better when we eat this way. But it’s always great to have scientific evidence to back up personal experience. And, I’m so excited to see the emphasis shifting away from counting calories or avoiding fat or carbs. One thing that study participants commented is that the experience transformed their relationships with food. To be told to eat dinner at home with their families (rather than to restrict calories) was a prescription that fundamentally improved their lives in infinite intangible ways beyond the weight loss.
The researchers remarked that most people regain the weight they lose from a “diet,” so the verdict is still out on whether participants will keep losing weight, maintain the weight loss, or gain it back. But it seems to me that the researchers have given the participants a very desirable, pleasurable option for eating — one that is sustainable in the long-run since it is focused on pleasure, quality, and satisfaction rather than restriction, avoidance, and hunger. I’m hopeful for those folks!
And, with that happy bit of science in mind, enjoy this week’s vegetables!
Your farmers, Katie & Casey Kulla
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Meet this week’s vegetables:
- Sauerkraut — Plain old cabbage sauerkraut this week … yum!
- Seasonal salad mix
- Spaghetti squash
- Marina di Chioggia squash
- Pie pumpkins
- Butternut squash — We’ve eaten a lot of roasted butternut this week. It’s unbelievably delicious — sweet, crispy outside, soft inside …