One question I’m often asked is why we called our signature salad mix the Health Mix? Why not a Gourmet Salad Mix or a Petal Salad? This in all honesty would probably make more sense from a marketing perspective, as I imagine people would type salad mix or gourmet mix much more regularly than Health Mix into search engines. While I appreciate the general business need for appealing to the customer, creating an engaging marketing strategy and streamlining the entire business operations to be completely engaged in sales, I also appreciate the personal need for self expression, growing a product which engages the local community and allowing the produce to represent itself as a valuable source of dietary nutrition. However, we do live in a period of time where dietary nutrition is being fast put by the way side, one of the more intriguing trends I have noticed through the Health Mix, is how much more value people put into the aesthetic quality of produce and meals over the nutritional value and growing methods and conditions which put it on the plate; we now seem to eat with our eyes more than ever! It is as though the amount of social engagement produce or a meal gets meets a greater need than the need of a healthy diet with high nutritional value.
What is so Healthy about the Health Mix?
The Health Mix came about as part of our growing journey, in hindsight it almost feels that it created itself and I was just lucky enough to put the elements together. The basis for the mix actually started about 4 years ago while Jamie was pregnant with Eli, I remember Jamie being unable to eat for about 9 weeks and surviving on a diet of water, milk, and crackers and cheese. It ended up causing quite a lot of stress as at the same time Eli was struggling to grow in the womb and we were put on a regular check up list with the big possibility of going in for an early C-Section and Eli coming as a premature birth. At the time all of this was going on I was busily trying to figure out how to change our diets, food sources and jam pack nutrients into every possible meal. We had already come across the organic methods of production and had limited as much industrial produce as possible to mitigate the amounts of agricultural chemicals entering our diets but none of this is effective if you can’t actually eat the food that is available. While I was researching away I re-found a series of research papers which focuses on the extraordinary longevity and overall health of 5 geographic areas in the world, now termed as ‘The Blue Zones’ (1). These ideals and way of living struck a new found chord within me and I finally found a purpose and potentially a way to build a better lifestyle for both my family and my community. Dan Buettner, the author of The Blue Zones: 9 Lessons to Living Longer from the People who’ve Lived the Longest, provides a list of 9 similar traits and lessons that the 5 Blue Zones have in common through their lifestyle, these are
- Moderate, regular physical activity.
- Life purpose.
- Stress reduction.
- Moderate caloric intake.
- Plant-based diet.
- Moderate alcohol intake, especially wine.
- Engagement in spirituality or religion.
- Engagement in family life.
- Engagement in social life.
The plant-based diet (here we are talking about a diet where the majority of food consumed is sourced from plants) is the one that I will focus on as this is the basis of the Health Mix and is the most fundamental lesson and well studied section that can be given by these cultures as personal diet has large inferences to the health and lifestyle of aging individuals. One of the larger studies conducted on 72,113 nurses by Heidemann and colleagues showed that subjects who followed a predominantly Prudent Diet (high consumption of vegetables, fruit, legumes, fish, poultry, and whole grains) vs. a Western diet (high consumption of red meat, processed meat, refined grains, french fries, sweets, and desserts) had 17% lower risk of overall mortality, 28% lower risk of Cardio Vascular Disease and 30% lower mortality from non Cardio Vascular Disease, non cancer causes (2).
The other significant factor that links the populations of the Blue Zones is their high consumption of a variety of herbs, particularly Sage, Rosemary and Oregano (3). Herbs in particular are being linked to beneficial mental health later in age and are gaining recognition in their uses for treatments against mental diseases such as Alzheimer’s (4). This is actually why I consider the Health Mix to be healthy; it has a high content of mixed herbs mixed with an assortment of nutrient dense leaves.
What makes the Health Mix?
The Health Mix is made up of 4 parts, 1 part Sweet Lettuce, 1 part Bitter Greens and Mixed Leaves, 1 part Assorted Herb Mix and 1 part Edible Petals. To ensure diversity in the leaves we grow 7 varieties of lettuce throughout the various seasons for the sweet lettuce, the Bitter Greens and Mixed Leaves contains a rotating variety of Asian Greens, Spicy Greens, Chards, Kales, Nasturtium and any leaves that I want to grow but don’t have a market for, the Herb Mix contains a huge variety usually Sages, Oregano, Mints, Chives, Parsley, Dill, Coriander, Basils, Lemon Balm and Lemon Verbena, and the Edible Petals usually contains Carnations, Nasturtiums, Roses, Borage, Geranium, Calendula, Garland and Clover. So hopefully now you can begin to understand why it is the Health Mix, sure it is a gourmet mix and it does have petals but I am trying to ensure a rounded dose of high quality nutrition which is able to meet our physical and mental needs, by seasonally rotating a variety of crops through biologically active soils. This is what I think the prominent factor is when growing produce and eating food .
- Buettner, Dan (2012-11-06). The Blue Zones, Second Edition: 9 Lessons for Living Longer From the People Who’ve Lived the Longest. National Geographic Books. ISBN9781426209499.
- Heidemann C, Schulze MB, Franco OH, van Dam RM, Mantzoros CS, Hu FB. Dietary patterns and risk of mortality from cardiovascular disease, cancer, and all causes in a prospective cohort of women. Circulation. 2008;118;230 –237
- Dos Santos-Neto, L. L., de Vilhena Toledo, M. A., Medeiros-Souza, P., & de Souza, G. A. (2006). The Use of Herbal Medicine in Alzheimer’s Disease—A Systematic Review. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 3(4), 441–445. http://doi.org/10.1093/ecam/nel071