Growing Up In The South

I realized many of you might not know much about me yet! How I got to be where I am on my health journey. Well, here goes…

I’ve basically have always loved being outside. I grew up on a small farm in East Tennessee. It was a pleasure farm. Horses and a small garden. Other than the food we grew from our garden, my family didn’t eat organic. I don’t think it was something on many people’s radar in the 80’s. My mom cooked from scratch, and we ate typical southern meals such as casseroles. I drank soda and ate decent amounts of candy. I basically had a typical American diet and lived a typical American life. My senior year of college, I read a book on food and eating as close to as nature made it. It showed me how I was eating food that was very far from how it had been grown. It was extremely processed. I started milling my own grain, making my own bread, and eating a 100% organic diet. I lived in rural Georgia so that wasn’t an easy task. The next year I moved to northern California to go to a ministry school. Let’s just say, California is a much easier place to try to eat and learn about health. I love the south and always will, but 10 years ago it wasn’t an easy place to find out about health and food. I met my husband in California at the school, and we settled down here in northern California.

Marriage & California

When my husband and I got married 9 years ago, we ate a 100% organic diet on $40/week. We obviously didn’t make much money at the time, but eating organic was really important to us both so we made it happen. After we had our first child, we did all raw-vegan for about 4 months. We had started juicing each morning, and it just led to us going all raw (no food cooked over 105 degrees and no animal products such as dairy and meat). We felt amazing. We both look back on that time and remember how amazingly clean our bodies felt. There are a lot of opinions out there about raw diets. I honestly don’t know if it’s healthy to do long term or not. It might be, but I haven’t read enough to have an opinion one way or another. But I will say, both my husband and I have never felt so good. We couldn’t sustain it, because it was a bit high maintenance for prepping. I had to un-learn everything I’d learned about making meals and relearn how to do things raw which required sprouting, dehydrating, soaking, and the such.

Over time, we’ve tried different food ways. We never diet. Never. Health is a lifestyle for us. We might try eliminating gluten or dairy to see how our bodies react, but we always try things and see how our bodies feel not try things to lose weight. Right now, we eat a 100% organic diet. We make almost everything from scratch, and we eat seasonally. Dairy, meat, and gluten are very rare in our house. More like special treats than a normal part of our diet. We rarely eat out. If we do, we never eat non-organic meat or dairy, and we try to find a restaurant that offers organic options.

We’ve also tried to start providing ourselves with food from our land. My personal goal is to be completely self-sustaining one day. I want everything we eat to come from what we were able to grow and produce from our land. Right now we do our own eggs, and we have a 500 square foot garden where we are able to grow quite a bit of produce. We hope to purchase a large amount of land in the future, and we want to put in orchards and the such. It’s nice, because where we are in California we can grow nuts, fruits, olives (for oil), and all sorts of berries. I also have a draft horse and hope to do everything horse powered instead of tractor powered.

Horse Powered Farm

Horses is actually where my homesteading journey started. 10 years ago, a family I lived with in college, gave me a publication that they thought I might like. It’s called the Small Farmer’s Journal. It looks old-timey like it was printed over 100 years ago, but it’s a current publication made for people who still farm with horse or mule power today. I actually wept as I looked through it. Something in me just clicked, and I knew I had to do that. I have always loved animals, and I think it was the idea of working alongside with them for a purpose that really resonated with me. The idea of teamwork, and how much more peaceful it feels than a tractor really pulls on me. So, slowly, over the past 10 years I’ve been learning what it takes to farm with horses. I got my first draft horse, a small Norwegian Fjord, 2 years ago. She’s older and teaches me. I’ve ridden my whole life, but have never driven horses so it’s a new experience. My dream is to grow my own food with horses and to use them for farm chores. I don’t want a tractor.

The Rest

Aside from food and horses, I want to build a home that is completely non-toxic and is made from sustainable materials. It sounds and feels overwhelming just typing that, but it’s something I really want to go after. It might take years, and I know it will be frustrating. Finding materials to build a semi-normal looking home that are non-toxic and don’t hurt the earth is going to be a difficult task. But I’d love everything from the wood used for framing to the metal used in the nails to have been sustainably harvested and to use non-toxic recycled materials where possible.

As a sidenote, another huge part of my life is my husband. He’s a children’s pastor, and we write a lot of curriculums together. We are in process of getting a book out on parenting, and I do a lot of the administration for his personal ministry. He travels the world speaking to children’s workers, teachers, and parents in church and in the public school realm about raising children, the value of them, and helping them grow. We have 2 children and another on the way. This is the last child I plan on having, but we’ve chatted about adopting some point in the future.

So that’s a little bit more about me. Thankfully, I have a husband who loves and embraces health, and he even likes the idea of a self-sustaining, zero-waste, horse powered farm. Farming isn’t his thing, but he loves living on land and has a high value and appreciation for what I do and love. My children seem to love it as well. I don’t know if they will end up doing what I do, but for now, they seem quite happy to have horses, dogs, chickens, lots of land, and vegetables that they can pick and eat anytime they want. I love my life, and I love my vision for where it is headed. I get excited to think about what’s ahead!

3 Responses to “More About Who I Am”

  1. Abigail

    Hello Lauren, I so enjoy reading your blog and especially getting to hear more about you in this post!
    I have a question; my husband and I are newly married as of 5 months ago and I’m still learning how to grocery shop for the both of us on a budget while buying nutricious and organic products, so when I read that you and your husband used to spend $40 a week on 100% organic food I was so curious and excited to learn more. I was wondering if you might consider writing a little about how you did this/do this now? That or I would be so grateful for some tips myself :)
    Have a lovely day! Thank you for everything you’re sharing with us!

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