My sister spent three months hiking the Arizona mountains with youth who would pay almost $400.00 per day for 42 days to learn something about themselves. The food they ate on the hike made a huge difference. It was the same thing each week for the six weeks. The list of 18 items included lentils, brown rice, whole wheat flour, oatmeal, sun dried tomatoes, sunflower seeds, raisins, bacon bits, powdered cheese, creamer, fruit drink mix, salt, soda, bullion, clove of garlic, potato, carrot, and one red apple. The whole program is designed to take children/youth out of their comfort zones into new situations to help inhibit old habits and renegotiate their social skills and way of looking at life. Most youth have some kind of drug problem, anxiety, depression, etc.. A common response the first night out when trying to build a fire and cook for the first time is "What is this? I have never seen lentils. What do I do with them?" By the end of the trail, creativity, individuality, and resourcefulness has entered at mealtimes and beyond that will carry through out their whole lives. Trail Walkers are spending hours tenderly guarding their "lasagna or enchiladas, or are simmering a perfect tomato sauce." Out of a few ingredients they have learned that they can not only sustain life but they can create a masterpiece. They are willing to take risks because they have been victorious at creating a meal out of "nothing." They feel empowered to surmount other obstacles. As they learn to cook, a new confidence rubs off into other areas of life. Skills that they may never again have to use like building a fire without matches, are a spring board for a life long perspective of any challenge. It is a attitude that "If I can make a fire with no matches, I can succeed at this challenge too." This builds psychological independence and responsibility.
Can we build that same fortitude in our homes and forgo the crisis and $400.00 a day? Living off basic food items builds character. It empowers. It gives a psychological strength not to mention the physical strength. One week my sister reports they changed the brown rice and gave them white rice instead. By 10:00am she was hungry and weak. The more refined product didn't have the staying power to give the walkers energy all day. Lacking physical energy, discouragement from mental and emotional fatigue are quick to follow. I wonder how often our children feel tired because we have handicapped them with foods that are convenient, sweet, and only require that we add and egg or water to the prepared mix.
I was amazed at what happened in our home this evening. After just closing the phone conversation with my sister we started cooking supper. The three year old was whining for a movie, they five and eight year old were running around and around the house. At my invitation to help me cook, they said "Okay" and pulled the chairs to the stove. They stirred the tomato sauce as the basil, brown sugar, green peppers and olives were added. They put the spaghetti noodles into the boiling water and carefully tended each pot. In a few minutes almost spontaneously all the lights on the ground floor were being turned out and they were eagerly tending their fires (unaided by me). They created their own "wilderness experience" and relished every minute of the challenge until the spaghetti was cooked to perfection and stuck to the wall "just right."
I need not report the meal was delicious. We added cabbage, walnut, raisin salad and fresh whole wheat bread.
Breakfast: Creamed Sausage Gravy over biscuits, grapefruit and fruit drink
Lunch: Soup broth from last evening with added green beans, black beans, and more beef
The heart of our nation is in our homes. Let us wisely build a firm foundation.