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Health & Wellness

Eating What Comes Naturally…For Better Health

by Joan McDaniel

Before And After


This is a picture of me going to nursing school in 1996. I was in my 50s. I was working at night in a nursing home as a nurse’s aide. I was young and strong. I needed the strength for the job required some heavy lifting. One of my tasks was to lift people. People who were too confused, ill, old and weak to stand-up and walk on their own. I was happy and felt good I could use my abilities to help others.


This is a picture of me in 2006. I remember this time. This is more than just aging, I was sick. I did not feel well and I looked it. I was unhappy with myself because I could not stand-up straight. I seemed to be just dragging. I didn’t have any energy. I was just as tired when I started work and when I finished. Even in the picture, I was leaning. I was always leaning on things. We had hired a group of new nurses and they would joke that about how my first impression scared them. I look at this picture in 2006 and it scares me!


Here I am today. I have lost over 40 pounds, I am standing up straight and even my hair color is coming back. I am just turning 70 years old and am now looking forward to a less stressful and healthier life.

Two years ago I was very sick.  I barely had the strength to stand up and it was getting harder and harder to catch my breath.  After hospitalization, I knew my illness was centered on my diet. My diet had been the traditional fat-free diet.  I knew I had to start eating fresh food – food I would grow in a garden but my green thumb wasn’t any stronger than the rest of me.  I started with grocery store produce then on to the health food store and finally, I found the local Farmer’s Market.

When I talk about a Farmers’ Market I don’t mean a store front with a sign that says “Farmer’s Market.” I mean a place where there are real farmers with real food grown from the real earth. A market that has real eggs, meat and milk from real animals that the farmers have raised from birth.

So Why Would You Go To a Real Farmers Market?

The local farmers who are left need our support to survive, and we need their food to stay healthy. Since the late 1950’s, the family farm and the farmer have become a dying breed. America is losing its generations of local farmer’s, the number of small farms is decreasing every day.

We pride ourselves on our networks and world distribution systems, but we have lost touch with our food. Modern factory farming and shipping methods involve thousands of miles of separation between our food and our refrigerator. As larger industrialized food producers prosper the industrial food giants grow and our rural farmland disappear, all the freshness, friendliness, fun and flavonoids are going with it. Not to mention the word REAL. Massive food production is more concerned with shelf life than your life.

What is Seasonal Food?

If you are eating food fresh from the farmers market or from your garden it will be seasonal. Today, because of larger distribution, produce is available all year long. But just how good are these vegetables? It seems good to get vegetables all year long, but where were they grown? The answer is, thousands and thousands of miles away. Seasonal food means it’s fresh to the area where you live and the particular season it is meant to grow and be harvested. There are summer, autumn and winter fruits and vegetables for all regions of the country and world. Where you live, and what grows during the seasons where you live, are called seasonal.

What Is In Our Food?

We no longer know how our food is grown.  We don’t know if it contains toxic chemicals and ingredients, GMO’s, “genetically modified organism.” We hear stories of livestock loaded with antibiotics being raised in inhumane closed-quarters all of their lives

What is Fresh Food?

You may not know it but “fresh” means the food is still alive. I don’t mean alive in like it will carry on a conversation with you or even know what’s going on in the world outside. I mean it is still breathing and converting the sun’s rays to energy. The longer your food sits on a ship, truck, loading dock or store shelf or your refrigerator it loses more and more of its antioxidants, carotenoids and flavonoids or nutrition and vitamins.

Once the food is harvested it slowly stops breathing. When anything stops breathing it loses oxygen. Oxygen is necessary for life. Without oxygen you have death. Some fruits and vegetables have low respiration rates and can last longer others can’t last very long.

Why Does Your Body Need Fresh Food?

Note I did not  say food. I said fresh food. You need food for energy but you need fresh food for the antioxidants they contain. You may call these antioxidants nutrition and vitamins. Fresh food helps give your body’s immune system the ammunition it needs to fight disease and keep you healthy. And you are more likely to get fresh food at a Farmers’ Market.

Inflammation and Illness

When you talk about inflammation the following terms come into the discussion. Antioxidants, disease, free-radicals, illness, immune system, and oxidation.

In Nyack, The Farmers’ Market is Year Round

Starting on Thurs, Dec. 4, the Nyack Farmers’ Market begins their third indoor season. Farm fresh fruits and vegetables, locally produced prepared foods, entertainment and art will be available at the Nyack Center every Thursday from 8a-2p until March 26.

How the human body works is complex and is still being studied. Not to over simply, but basically all illness starts with inflammation. Damage from free-radicals over time causes a chain reaction which causes serious illness. Free-radical damage to the cells happens when we take in more toxins then nutrition. These toxins are found in the environment and in incomplete nutrition. Processed food, including foods high in sugar are incomplete and they cause free-radical damage.  Your immune system needs the ammunition of antioxidants (carotenoids and flavonoids) from fresh food to fight disease, free-radicals and toxins.

I got well by what I ate including the food from the Farmers Market.

Joan McDaniel is a LPN Nurse, an amateur historian and a blogger who has researched holistic and naturopathic approaches to boost the immune system naturally. To learn more about Joan’s journey and this topic visit

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