Is It Just About Food? A Day At the Just Food Conference
by Noni Vaughn-Pollard @darkchocolatepeanutbutter
On Sunday March 13th, the Just Food Conference at Columbia’s Teachers College brought together people with good food expertise—from high school students to urban farmers. The day provided information about nutrition education, urban agriculture, food policy and food business for anyone familiar with the good food movement. People were filled with enthusiasm to learn and discuss with others about our food system.
One of the seminars I attended focused on maintaining optimal liver health. Andrea Beaman, a holistic health coach, discussed how traditional Chinese medicine can help us to de-stress our liver and our overall physique. I’ve learned about the basic functions and significance of the liver in school, however I’m unfamiliar with Eastern medicine’s views on the human body. I thought it was fascinating that in Chinese medicine inflammation in the liver affects other parts of the body such as the eyes or the skin. For instance, she discussed how itchy and tired eyes are a sign that the liver is overworked. She emphasized, “A cup of warm water with lemon is a great way to help your liver to detoxify your body!” To help the liver, Beaman also suggested avoiding fried foods, eating small meals throughout the day, eating sour and astringent herbs and foods, and drinking dandelion and milk thistle tea. Since the liver is a magnet of stress, she suggested yoga, meditation, and engaging in creative activities like coloring. She even showed us how to build energy in our body by tapping our body with our fists. Overall I enjoyed the talk and learned to appreciate my liver for its daily hard work. For more information, you can visit Andrea Beaman’s website.
Learning what different cultures can teach us about our relationship with our bodies was a significant takeaway from the seminar. I think some people tend to stereotype Eastern medicine as a hippy phenomenon but I feel that keeping an open-mind about how different cultures treat their bodies can help us as well. It’s ironic since many of us are aware of the benefits of Eastern medicine. For instance, Indian cuisine uses turmeric in their cooking and the Japanese love miso, two foods that Americans are now raving about for their nutritional benefits. Eastern medicine has always been classified as “alternative medicine” however it feels like it is becoming the new normal in Western culture. I would like to know from others—who uses traditional Chinese medicine for healing, exercise and nutrition?
I’m glad that the Just Food Conference sponsored this event on liver health because it was a topic that interested a wide array of people. I enjoyed listening to Andrea Beaman—she had an extroverted personality and was happy to answer any questions from the audience. And I feel the conference had a strong focus on changing the image of the good food movement to a more diverse one—one that included female urban farmers of color. I’ve always had a concern over the image of good food, but I was definitely satisfied with the various speakers and audience members I saw at Just Food.