While you may understand the importance of eating clean, healthy and well-balanced meals, your children, spouse and friends may not realize the same value. So how do you get your family to see the advantages of living a healthy lifestyle? Let’s start with the benefits that you need to be aware of, especially if your family needs some extra convincing! Want a healthy, happy family? Did your child have a rough day at school? Are they going through the inevitable high school drama? Taking a walk or hitting the gym is a great way to alleviate stress and better manage the events that are out of your child’s control. High school is also a time where self-confidence can be critical, especially in today’s media-focused environment. Regular exercise and physical activity not only improves our fitness levels but is also proven to improve overall brain performance and boost memory – which, of course, leads to improved performance in the classroom.
For that next study session, make sure you either provide or encourage your teen to put healthy snacks at the center of table so they can stayed full and fueled for the entire session. You may be familiar with the phrase, “you are what you eat” and the truth is, it couldn’t ring more true. You’ll notice that when you eat a healthy, well-balanced diet you will feel more energetic – especially when you compare it to pizza night. Dark chocolate – a treat and beauty benefit? Between extracurriculars, studying, the commute to and from school, and preparing for college, anyone is bound to feel the effects of a hectic schedule. Regular physical activity and eating healthy will help prevent illness and keep energy-levels up. Let’s face it, we’ve all experienced an energy drop from over-indulging or just being plain lazy – switching things up with a healthy lifestyle will give you and your family natural fuel all day long. Ready to get started? Start by being honest with yourself and analyzing your daily habits. Once you have your own habits down, your family will be more in-tune to the ease of healthy alternatives. Begin by incorporating nourishing, healthy options in the kitchen. Children especially tend to be phobic of new meals by nature, so introduce foods slowly and make each meal a fun experience. For example, invite your child or teenager to cook with you. Or if your family is on the go consistently throughout the day, pack almonds, carrots, ants on a log, etc. in colorful packaging or tupperware. Small tweaks such as these will help your family feel more open to the foods you’re introducing to them.
Almost 150 years after Brimeyer’s letter home, his great-great-great grandson, Jamie Richards, makes the same journey from New York to Dubuque—by plane and rental car—to meet and discuss his new venture, Jefferson Twp. My first stop with Jamie is Kalmes, a diner in St. Donatus, a tiny town near Dubuque, Iowa, settled more than a century ago by clans of Luxembourgers. As I sit across from Jamie and watch him order food, I see the burly, taciturn farmer he could have been. We both order the same thing, a deep-fried pork tenderloin stuffed with cheddar, served California-style with a side of coleslaw. I chew and listen as Jamie relates the tale of how he went from Loras College in Dubuque to international aid work in the Middle East, New York hedge funds, and now the meat business. Jamie left Dubuque for Minneapolis when he was 18. After graduating with a degree in urban affairs, he became staff to Catholic Charities and a community organizing project it launched called the St. Paul Ecumenical Alliance of Congregations (SPEAC). The work involved establishing revolving loan funds for low-income entrepreneurs, obtaining housing loans for people in the area, and addressing education issues and crime.
From St. Paul he hopped a flight to Jerusalem to work for the Pontifical Mission for Palestine just before the heady days of the Oslo process. 3.5 billion a decade later. He became a partner, married, and had twin boys. Jamie could have left it at that, but home—Dubuque and the farms of the Iowa Driftless—kept pulling at him. He started working on his family tree, took the 23andMe DNA test, and slowly pieced together the story of his Franco-German ancestors. Cousins helped him in his search—one the librarian at Loras College and head of the Dubuque Historical Society, another the head of social work at the University of Iowa. He found birth certificates online from the administration of the French region of Alsace, and entire branches of the family tree from a Jesuit priest and work his father and uncle had done. He found Brimeyer and the six letters back home.
There were no real surprises in his genome; any graveyard in Eastern Iowa can tell you the original settlers were Franco-Germans. But he did find the maps of the original homestead, Jefferson Township, and the plots of relatives like Mathias Brimeyer, Michael Gassmann, John Pancreates Klein, all farmers in Balltown and Sherrill, small farming towns now found in Jefferson Township. At the same time, the farm-to-table movement was trickling into his Brooklyn neighborhood, where Jamie and his wife started buying up local produce at tiny shops and farmer’s markets around the city. When he saw free range beef and milk for sale in New York, Jamie thought of his cousins and the farmers of Eastern Iowa, people he had grown up with who pastured their beef and produced organic milk by default. The hilly terrain of the Driftless precludes some large-scale farming techniques, so a lot of things are still done the old fashioned way. Jamie saw an opportunity to connect his small town family with big city markets. The foundation was there, but there was a lot of infrastructure still missing.
- Slight headache or trouble concentrating
- Take the stairs instead of the elevator
- Be a role model by eating healthy yourself
- Use lunchtimes to take a walk
“In New York every farm has a website, every farm has a phone number and email address for people to pick up stuff,” he tells me. Jamie’s cousin Ted Freiburger looks like he could have been a hero in a Hollywood drama. He’s 45 years old with bright blue eyes and silver hair on a youngish-looking face. It’s a look that contrasts sharply with his reserved, almost shy demeanor. I’m not surprised when his father Marv tells me Ted jumped up and cut the engine on a hay baler that had snagged his older sister’s hair when he was five years old, likely saving her life. Ted and his brother Andy grew up farming with their father, who grew up farming with his father and brothers. Marv Freiburger was born in 1942 on the farm Ted lives on today, the same farm homesteaded by Marv’s great-grandfather Adam Haberkorn and his wife Eva in the mid-1800s.
He watched the transition from horses to steel tractors and from family farms to industrial farms. Marv spent his early life working a farm with 20-25 milk cows, about 100 pigs, chickens, a big garden, and a few dozen acres of corn and beans. He told me the story as we watched his Gelbvieh cattle graze quietly on by a creek on his farm in Sherrill. He and his neighbors had been implanting their cattle with a hormone called Ralgo, administered through a pellet put under the skin of a steer’s ear, to bulk them up as quickly as possible. One day a group of Holsteins broke free. In the past, that meant a full day rounding up a bunch of cattle with tractors or horses. But with these drugged up Holsteins, Marv and his neighbor—both in their fifties—just ran them down. That got him thinking about the impact of steroids and chemically fortified feed regimens on the physiology of his cattle. When he spoke with the butchers at the packing plant, they said most of the cattle had toxic livers.