It’s springtime in Southern Indiana, a time when many of us are planning and planting our gardens. It’s also tax time, and many of us will be thinking of how best to spend our tax refunds. One woman, brand-new member Yvonne Mitchell, and her husband Sam decided to spend theirs on things that would allow them to eat better, using part of their refund on a Bloomingfoods membership. I had a chance to talk with her at length about how her family came to this decision, and about some other good things they are doing for themselves.
Yvonne told me, “We have purchased a 20-cubic foot freezer. The main motivation for it,” she said, “was to be able to stock up on healthier foods when they go on sale. Let’s face it, everyone is looking to save money right now and when I see sales, I can stock up. We are planning on buying half of a grass-fed steer from a local company. I also buy organic chickens and we are looking into buying a full pig to put in the freezer as well.”
“We also bought a new tiller this year in order to create a larger garden. We live in Seymour, in town, and have a smaller yard, but we have committed to taking at least three-fourths of the yard for a garden. We will be canning—I started last year with tomatoes and pickles—but this year, we’ll be adding quite a few more items and I also wanted to be able to freeze peas, corn and other veggies. The freezer gives us room to do that.”
Seymour is hardly just around the corner, but Yvonne feels it is important to her family that they buy their groceries at Bloomingfoods. She says she will do what is necessary to feed her family healthful food. “I love the variety of the store and that everyone has always been so nice. That goes a long way to bringing a customer so far.“ She added, “The deli and the deli-made packaged foods are probably my favorite parts of the store, next to the fresh vegetables.”
Yvonne mentioned she is studying to become a dietician. She has chosen this field in part because of a longstanding interest in foods and how we eat, but also as a result of some pretty serious health problems she and her family have suffered from. She says, “I have lived for almost 30 years with a diagnosed metabolic/hormonal disorder, Poly-Cystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS). The main side effect of this is obesity. For many years this was the only symptom I cared about, but as I aged, I realized there were other things that I should be concerned with in regards to this disorder.” Yvonne is forty percent more likely to die from heart disease, stroke and female cancers. Her daughter, Kassie Deckard, was diagnosed with the same disorder. “After having five doctors tell me I’d never lose weight, it became a personal challenge. I managed to lose 70 pounds so far and my health is actually pretty good.”
Additionally, Sam was diagnosed as having pre-diabetes (Type II) and high cholesterol. He comes from a family in which the men have some sort of heart event or disease by the time they are 50 years old. He has made it to 55 with no heart trouble at all. Just by changing his diet and adding some natural supplementation, he was able to come off of his statins and should never have to go on insulin.
Yvonne credits many of the improvements to her family’s health to not only eating more healthful food, but also to eating food closest to its original form, and this means cutting out processed foods as a whole. They are also very conscientious about eating organic (if they are available) and non-GMO foods.
She is happy to find these foods at the co-op, noting that nothing of this sort is available in Seymour. However, she has, with several friends, started a “co-op” of sorts for sharing the foods they grow. “I got this idea when we were planning our new freezer and garden,” she told me, “and realized that everyone who grows a garden always ends up having extra food. Noting that even the people who are canning and freezing food end up with excess, Yvonne thought, ‘why not get my friends and their friends together once or twice a month during the season?’ Anyone can come and take vegetables or even fruit if people want to bring that, and it costs nothing except that you have to bring something to exchange with others.”
So, once again, the co-op mission grows, and, as Yvonne Mitchell demonstrates, more people benefit in many wonderful ways.