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From Farm To Plate

As I’ve mentioned many times already, this is my first year signing up for a Community Shared Agriculture program. At the start of the summer, I paid into the program from a nearby farm, then every Wednesday I pick up a box of vegetables that’s brought into town from that farm. It’s the best way to get farm-fresh goods without going to a market or the farm itself. It has been a HUGE benefit to have throughout this whole chemotherapy experience. For one, it saves me from going to the crowded and germ-infested market. But most of all, the vegetable box has forced me to eat vegetables when I want to eat them the least, but need them the most.

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And on Sunday, my sister and I got to tour the farm!

In about half the time it took me to commute to work in Toronto, my sister and I arrived at Amarosia farm in the small French town of Grande-Digue, New Brunswick. I like that math.

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We arrived to 26 different kinds of tomatoes on display for those of us participating in the “open house.”

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I thought this was so cool! I tried tastes of all of them, my favourite being the black cherry tomatoes. Super sweet and the perfect size for popping in your mouth.

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Then we walked all over the farm learning about the crops, how they’re harvested, and the ins and outs of organic farming.

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A lot of people were surprised by how many weeds there were between the crops. Best quote of the day came from the farm owner who said “Weeds are only a problem if you make them a problem.” Touche.

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Carrot eaten straight from the ground – so good!

I’m actually not that interested in farming and gardening myself, but the whole thing fascinated me because I love food so much. I liked seeing first hand where the vegetables I’m eating are coming from and what they look like before they make it to my weekly vegetable box. It makes me feel that much better about putting them into my healing body.

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Apart from being interesting, it was just a gorgeous day to be outside in the countryside. Once the tour was over, I wanted to check out the water off in the distance!

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The Northumberland Straight, same body of water my cottage is on.

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Sister Sara!

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What is happening in this photo? I love ridiculous candid shots like this.

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Also a good example of how I still can’t straighten my broken left arm. I always look like a tool.

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Some extra goodies brought home from the farm! That giant german striped tomato is destined for toasted tomato sandwich glory.

Some other things I’ve been doing with the CSA goodies…

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Double Tomato Bruschetta using this recipe as a guide. What makes it special is there are sundried tomatoes added to the mix. It was killer.

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Toasted on multigrain baguette, topped with CSA green onions and goat’s milk feta cheese.

We’ve also been getting a ton of cabbage, which I love. Instead of making the same ole coleslaw, this week I cooked the red cabbage.

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My family has been eating at a lot of German restaurants lately (we are part German after all). So I wanted to go the cooked route when I saw it in this week’s box. I opted for this Martha Stewart recipe over a more traditional German recipe though. Just because I like the idea of apples in it too.

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Served with my dad’s bbq pork chops, mashed potatoes, and green beans.

Overall, I’m really happy my sister and I decided to go despite the chemo fatigue that day. If the farms outside your community host “open house” days, I highly suggest you check it out! I’m always so interested in the preparation process of food, it was neat to see just how important the growing process is too.

Food & Fitness

Remember when this was a food and exercise blog?

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Well I still do those things! Just on a much, much smaller scale.

Even though I whine about getting cancer despite all my healthy habits, I must say, it hasn’t all been for naught. My chemotherapy side effects haven’t been that bad. Not nearly as bad as some of the horror stories I’ve seen and heard. I credit my pre-cancer lifestyle for my ability to stay strong and withstand the powerful chemo poisons. I also hope my healthy body will be able to help the chemo work its magic faster!

Everyone told me to rest during treatment, but eventually my body started getting weak from lying around all day. I decided I wanted to try to stay active in order to keep my body strong. Then I read this New York Times article which says:

For those who can handle it, though, a light or moderate exercise regimen could help reduce some side effects of treatment, the new report stated. Studies have shown, for example, that arm extensions and other range-of-motion exercises can help relieve lymphedema, a painful swelling of the arm stemming from breast cancer surgery. It can also help patients who gained weight during treatment slim down and regain some physical function, and combat some of the exhaustion stemming from chemotherapy.

On top of that, the study showed that exercise could reduce a breast cancer patient’s risk of dying by 40 percent and 30 percent for a person with prostate cancer. They’re not kidding around!

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Honestly, when I first read that I realized that there really no longer exists any excuse not to do some kind of exercise. Then, I promptly hopped on my dad’s recumbent bike.

For over a week now I’ve been taking care to get 30-60 minutes of light to moderate exercise almost every day. The usual mix of cardio, strength, and stretching. Cardio has to be monitored because the most active part of the cancer is around my superior vena cava, the main vein that goes into my heart. So nothing more than 65% of my max heart rate. Strength on the other hand is difficult because I’m recovering from surgery on BOTH arms now. One side is my elbow, the other side from getting a lymph node removed (with mild lymphedema as mentioned in the excerpt above).

It may seem counter productive to exercise when my biggest side effect is extreme fatigue (think run over by a mack truck x1000). However, working up a little sweat helps me bust through the fatigue and provides a big boost of energy!

In terms of food, I’m finally making the switch to organic.

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I’ve always been too cheap to do this in the past. Especially when I couldn’t measure any concrete benefits from doing so.

Well it’s no longer a matter of preventing myself from getting cancer when I’m 64. It’s matter of getting rid of cancer today and making sure it neverever comes back. I now know I’m one of those people who are more susceptible to developing cancer. Suddenly the extra dollar for a can of garbanzo beans doesn’t seem so steep.

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On top of going organic, I’m attempting to cut back to one serving of dairy and one serving of meat a day. Experimenting with some new products for fun!

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Fresh fruits and veggies may sound like the easy go-to, but chemotherapy actually makes this the difficult part. I am a bacteria-free zone, and produce is crawling with it.

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I joined an organic CSA before I was diagnosed and without it, I probably wouldn’t feel the pressure to eat any vegetables. So for this, I’m thankful.

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I know a lot of people praise the benefits of raw vegetables, but I’m instructed to cook them down to kill any nasty stuff that may be lurking on them. And thanks to chemo deteriorating my stomach lining, green mush is a lot easier to digest.

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Stir-fry with a blackened chicken breast. Sauce made with goat yogurt. It’s what’s for dinner.

Suddenly food and exercise aren’t just for my general health anymore, they’re for my LIFE.

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