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Bret S. Beall

Seasoned Living
Winter-Spring 2008

by Bret S. Beall

Seasoned. Adj. 1: flavorful, zesty, interesting; 2: cured, tempered; 3: improved or enhanced via experience; 4: colloq: of or pertaining to the seasons.

. Noun. Maintaining life in a particular manner or style; vitality.

Your Personal Power Can Save the World

Every edition of this column is about living seasonally.  This time, I want to discuss how, by being mindful of the seasons, you have the personal power to change the world.  You have the personal power to impact the future.  You have the personal power to educate others how to use their personal power.  Here’s how, one seasonal vegetable at a time!

In the northern hemisphere, we are approaching the end of the growing season and therefore, the end of tomato season.  I eschew winter tomatoes for many reasons, but mostly because there is nothing like the glory of a mid- or late-summer tomato just hours or even minutes from the field … the long absence of these in-season delights enhances our pleasure.

Virtually every vegetable tastes inferior when it has been delivered to market out-of-season.  Sadly, poor taste is not the only consequence of ignoring the seasons.  In these days of "immediate gratification," we have sacrificed more than flavor.  Returning to those winter tomatoes:  have you ever really noticed their texture?  They're mealy, not juicy and succulent like farm-fresh seasonal tomatoes.  Texture is crucial to well-prepared food, but when the products are inferior, even the most talented chef cannot salvage a dish.

Another negative impact of ignoring seasonal consumption is the cost to the planet.  There is the cost in terms of transportation:  if a tomato is grown anywhere in the southern hemisphere, it has to be shipped thousands of miles to reach us here in North America.  With the ever-increasing price of fuel, is this cost really worth having such an inferior product?  Then there are less obvious costs:  in order to offset the price of fuel and still have a competitively-priced product, less-than-ideal farming methods are often employed.  By "less-than-ideal," I'm referring to excessive use of fertilizers, insecticides, herbicides and other chemicals.  I'm referring to laborers paid unfairly for their work.  I'm referring to unsafe and unhealthy working conditions.  I'm referring to possible child labor to keep costs down.  Do we want to support these sorts of activities?  I don’t, and I use my personal power to avoid the products that result from these activities.

In order to ship tomatoes halfway around the world, they had to be bred to be less "delicate."  That delicateness, which so typifies "tomato-ness," has been sacrificed for convenience; there is also a growing interest in genetically modifying tomatoes and other organisms to enhance certain characteristics ... do we really need those characteristics?  Will we lose much of the diversity of tomatoes?  I hope not, as the growing prevalence of delicious, beautiful heirloom tomatoes (and other delicious, beautiful heirloom vegetables) reminds us of what we could lose forever.

Those people who save seeds and thus heirloom tomatoes (and other species) are usually small, local farmers (contrasted with the huge agricultural conglomerates who value profit over all other variables like flavor, texture, earth-friendliness and health/nutrition).  These farmers are invaluable to local economies, but they need a steady market to compete with the agricultural giants.  Enter farmers markets and roadside stands!  Please support your local farmers by buying your produce at farmers markets and roadside stands.  Their product is seasonal, so their income is cyclical; they have no choice but to be mindful of the seasons, so help yourself, and them, and your local and regional economy by supporting farmers directly.

Above, I briefly mentioned the impact on health and nutrition by not paying attention to seasonality, but there’s more.  Specifically, it is a proven fact that the longer a fruit or vegetable has been harvested, the lower its nutritional value.  A tomato that has traveled halfway around the world will have less nutrition than one picked in the morning and sold at the local farmers market the same day.  Another health problem stems from the lack of flavor, aroma and texture of most out-of-season produce.  Our brains are designed to respond to sensory input as a stimulus to monitor nutrition and caloric intake.  Without those signals to trigger satiation, we continue to take in calories.  The net effect is ever-increasing waistlines traceable in part to eating out-of-season food!

So what can you do to exercise your own personal power to help yourself and the world?  When considering food, I freeze!  My “Magic Freezer” is always full of all kinds of frozen treats and ingredients purchased at their prime, and prepared for freezing properly according to their botanical properties and my anticipated need for them, which saves me lots of time and money.  My beloved seasonal tomatoes may have been roasted and frozen for use in salads or a special roasted ragout (along with roasted green/red peppers, roasted onions and roasted garlic … fabulous!), or they may have become my standard multipurpose ragout, which has hundreds of uses. Spinach and other greens are sautéed in olive oil or butter, sometimes with minced garlic, to offer the greatest flexibility for future applications.  Summer squash is either sautéed or roasted, perhaps with some tomatoes and onions, but kept simple for maximum range of use during the winter.  Corn on the cob can be frozen just as it is, or slightly parboiled for no more than 2 minutes, and then frozen on the cob, or cut off and frozen in a container for later use.  Berries can be frozen whole on a cookie or baking sheet, and then moved to sealed containers (I’ve served three year old frozen blueberries, and tasters thought they were fresh!).  While freezing may slightly reduce the quality of some of these ingredients, when weighed against the plethora of benefits, this practice is definitely worthwhile!  And practicing freezing helps the local economy, because you are helping the local farmers maximize their seasonal profits because you are buying more than you need to use right now, and thus helping your own economy and health.  [If you’d like to receive a free, practical guide to freezing produce send me an email at bret@god-dess.com, and I’ll email the two page Word document to you.]

Still dealing with food, but in a convivial mindset, during the autumn harvest season, the temperatures are cooler, so I do lots of cooking and baking with local seasonal ingredients, and share treats with others to educate them about the deliciousness of cooking seasonally.  Such sharing builds communities by enhancing relationships.  This is a worthy goal of your personal power.

In summary, what have we learned about exercising our personal power relative to eating seasonally?  By being aware of the seasons, and buying our fruits and vegetables in-season (and hopefully freezing them for future use), we have attained a win-win-win situation.  We can enjoy more flavor and aroma.  We can experience better texture.  We can reduce the impact on the planet's fuel resources.  We can cease support for factory farms employing unfair, unsafe and unhealthy practices.  We can increase our nutritional intake and health.  We can support our local farmers, which helps them and strengthens the local and regional economy.  We can purchase heirloom vegetables and fruits, thus protecting genetic diversity.  We can save time.  We can save money.  We can enhance friendship and conviviality in our lives.

Most importantly, by practicing positive seasonal behavior, we reject and avoid negative practices, using our personal power to “just say NO!” to those practices of which we disapprove.  Using your personal power to select and preserve local food has attained a name:  Locavore!  This powerful movement builds a strong foundation, and grows upward.  By exerting your power, there is no “trickle down”; no one can take it away, and you shouldn't give it away.  Vote with your grocery dollar to change the way the world eats.  Be affirmed that the effect of exerting this kind of individual personal power is cumulative in its effects.

Living in sync with the seasons is easy, if we just open our eyes and our minds.  I hope the examples I have shared regarding food will inspire you to live seasonally with regard to the other aspects of your life, of which there are many.  Try any of these tips.  You won't regret using your power to embrace seasonal living!

© Copyright 2008 Bret S. Beall.  All Rights Reserved.

Lifestyle Management and Seasoned Living

Read Past "Seasoned Living" Columns:

Spring-Summer 2007 - "Spring Forward and Connect"

Winter 2006-'07 - "The Awe of Autumn and the Wonder of Winter"

Summer-Fall 2006 - "Tis the Season to Be Courageous"

Jan-Apr 2006 - "Life is a Lesson in Every Season"

Oct-Dec 2005 - "Honk if You Love Silence"

July-Sept 2005 - "A Recipe for Balanced Living"

April-June 2005 - "Trash and Treasure"

Jan-Mar 2005 - "Life Reflection: Looking Into Mirrors"

Bret S. Beall
Bret S. Beall, MS, PhD (Cand). As the CEO of GOD-DESS, I help people live fantastic lives with minimal time, effort or money. I have used my rigorous scientific training to synthesize psychology, sensory input, and logic, with global cuisine, décor, lifestyle concepts, indoor gardening and travel for each individual in an easy-to-understand, easy-to-create and easy-to-maintain style. For more information, please visit my website, www.god-dess.com, or call me at 773.508.9208, or email me at bret@god-dess.com.

Let’s start at the beginning, though. I was born in California’s San Francisco Bay area and lived there until I was seven. During this time, my family often took vacations to the seashore and to the redwood forests. There, I first felt the great interconnectedness of all life. At seven, I moved with my family to St. Louis, Missouri, where I continued my environmental interests (including growing houseplants). When I was twelve, we moved to the Ozarks of southern Missouri, where I lived on a farm and witnessed intimately the cycle of birth, life and death. We raised cattle, ducks, geese and rabbits, and I worked on our neighbor’s pig farm; we also grew a variety of produce and I first learned about preparing and preserving food. It was also at this time that I truly began acting on my interests in art, design and esthetics.

I did my undergraduate work in geology at the University of Missouri - Columbia, graduating with general honors and honors in geology; my coursework included a typical array of liberal arts courses (art, philosophy, history) along with the sciences (geology, physics, chemistry, biology, anthropology). By living in an off-campus efficiency, I learned the basics of simple cooking and living. After graduation, I went on to Masters and PhD work in evolutionary paleontology at The University of Michigan in Ann Arbor; my studies included geology, paleontology, biology, ecology and evolution, all presented within the framework of proper scientific methodology.

Ann Arbor has a terrific Farmer’s Market, which inspired me and helped me to act on my interest in ethnic cuisines and entertaining; this had to be done on a budget (given my graduate student salary) and efficiently (given my graduate student time requirements). I satisfied my artistic inclinations by doing extensive scientific illustration to accompany my original research. Teaching courses and speaking publicly at student seminars, at national and international meetings, and at various clubs and organizational meetings provided a level of excitement I had not experienced previously as I shared the information and data that I had collected. “Sharing” was the key, I realized, and this is when the seeds of GOD-DESS were planted.

I left Ann Arbor for Chicago’s Field Museum of Natural History to accept a position as Curatorial Coordinator of Mazon Creek Paleontology. My long hours working on both museum responsibilities and my own research required living both time-efficiently and cost-effectively. In a very short period of time, I realized I did not want to spend the rest of my life within the academic world. I had already experienced a high level of international success, praise and recognition, for which I am grateful (including making it into the Guinness Book of World Records, and having Johnny Carson make a joke about my research on The Tonight Show). I eventually left the rarefied world of paleontology. This is when the seeds of GOD-DESS began to sprout and grow.

I spent the next decade in the field of not-for-profit healthcare association management, honing my skills in efficiency maximization, streamlining, prioritization, customer service, budgeting, organization, communication and simplification, and applying the rigors of my scientific training to the needs of my clients. My clients experienced extraordinary growth and profitability.

Although my salary was better than it was in academia, I still practiced my cost-efficient living, including preparing meals at home to eat at work. The hours were often very long, so time-effectiveness and efficiency-management continued to be important, if not vital. I traveled extensively in my various roles (including organizational representative, event organizer, executive manager, and lecturer); often, I tacked on vacation time to cost-effectively explore the various cities and regions that I was fortunate to visit, which further enhanced my travel planning skills. On my own time during this decade, GOD-DESS grew into a fledgling company, relying on the empiricism of my own experiences and my research.

After more than a decade of helping my clients experience almost 900% budgetary growth, 900% membership growth, 400% meeting attendance growth, and enhanced visibility that cannot be quantified, I knew it was time to become my own boss and devote myself 100% to GOD-DESS.

I believe we are always in the right place at the right time. Because of that belief, everything that I do, whether paleontology, or executive healthcare management, or lifestyle counseling, I do well, to the absolute best of my abilities. A lifetime of experience and research has now created GOD-DESS and everything it can do for you. I am grateful.




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