Sow Abundance
Help your family grow a love for organics

Autumn has always been a favorite season for me, pleasing my senses and ideals with the colors and abundance of the harvest. These associations hearken back to my childhood in Vermont, where I grew up surrounded by lush, fertile farmland, and an accompanying set of homegrown values to both honor and responsibly steward the land.

Farmer Jack was among the characters who taught me these values when he came into our local natural foods co-op with his fresh produce. A memorable person, both visionary and pragmatic, Jack liked to say, "I'm raising crops and consciousness."

Don't panic when you can't buy organic. Instead, focus on avoiding foods that retain the most pesticide residues: strawberries, green beans, spinach, cherries, peaches, pears, grapes and winter squash. He certainly helped raise my consciousness. At the Brattleboro farmers' market I felt inspired by the beautiful produce-laden tables, and by this celebration of the collective creative effort. As far as I was concerned, the overalls-clad vendors were artists displaying their crafts. A sense of sustainable, common purpose filled the air; I think we appreciated our good fortune in those moments.

Today, living in a way that supports organic farmers and their foods remains both a blessing and a responsibility that we can choose to embrace. "Going organic" is a necessity for our bodies and for our planet. Research continues to reveal its benefits. Studies have found that conventionally grown fruits and vegetables are nutrient-poor compared to organic produce. The United States Organic Association has stated that children may receive up to 35 percent of their lifetime "allowable dose" of potentially disease-causing pesticide residues by the age of 5.

Sometimes it feels challenging to incorporate healthy practices into our home routine. In raising two daughters and through working in my clinic, where I often help families adopt healthier lifestyles, I have learned that children are wonderfully suggestible and open. Change occurs more easily and more completely when a family works together. Get everyone involved with at least one night of dinner-making. Shop together. Delegate preparation tasks such as washing and chopping. If you offer a blessing before your meal, bless all who brought the food to your table.

Even the small nonsustainable choices we make set a dubious example for our children, who will eventually bear the effects. We can do a number of simple things to encourage our kids' body and whole-planet awareness. For instance, by visiting local organic farms together—where children can see, smell, touch and taste locally grown foods—we can help create a lifelong connection with fresh, healthful eating, and empower curiosity about how to do more to support the earth. If farm visits aren't an option where you live, start a window garden of organic culinary herbs. Hardy rosemary and oregano are both rich with antioxidants that help support the body.

No matter where, or how, you live, it's time to plant new seeds. Sustainability has long been the missing ingredient in the current movement toward optimum wellness. People and planet are interconnected. Everyone is served when we choose to live in a way that honors both. Actively supporting sustainability and organic agriculture is a powerful way to grow "universal health care" for our bodies, our spirits, and the earth itself.

"Be Well" is written by James Rouse, ND. For information or questions for Dr. James, E-mail him at