You don’t need expensive food to eat healthy

Part of maintaining a healthy lifestyle involves doing several things. Things like diet (the things you eat), exercise or daily activity (depending on what type of job you have) and lastly, mental health, keeping your mind healthy is just as important as eating good healthy foods to keep your body functioning properly.

A few years ago I assumed that if you shopped at those expensive health food stores then the food has to be automatically healthy, and no way food from a place like Walmart could be good for you, after all aren’t we told by the experts that cheap food is not good for us. Most of the time I never would read the label as long as the packaging was blasted with the latest buzz words like non-GMO, or gluten free, or organic, and I assumed you can pretty much eat all of that stuff because it has to be healthy for you if it has all those neat and exciting words on the packaging.

I often would talk to people about the food they eat and many times I heard the same thing, well I can’t afford to eat healthy because it is so much more expensive to shop at those health stores. As a young father with 6 kids I felt the same way, sure wish I could afford to buy all that healthy stuff, but since it’s expensive I will continue to buy all this convenient processed food because it saves me time and money.

When I got sick I had to learn how to eat better and make better choices. With the help of a nutritional practitioner I started to dial in what types of food I needed to eat to repair my body and also to start maintaining a healthy lifestyle. For me the best diet plan involved eating meats, fats, and green vegetables. These were the foods that my body responds well to. Not each person is the same, my body has a hard time processing sugar where as other people have no problem processing sugary food or high carb meals, and so a diet consisting of mostly meats, fats and greens may not be the best option for them.

So basically I worked with my nutritional practitioner to come up with a plan where I focus on whole foods, almost like a modified paleo diet. This meant I started buying foods that had minimal processing, basically was this something I can grow or raise in my backyard. What I learned next was I could still shop at Walmart for my food, I didn’t need to buy beef from a health store at an inflated price, and I was able to buy beef and vegetables at a price I could afford from Walmart. Every now and then I like to venture over to the expensive stores to get some ingredients I cannot get at Walmart, but I find that I typically go there just to get those few items.

If you are a person that is needing or wanting to make changes to a healthier diet don’t feel you can’t do it because you are under the impression that only the expensive food is healthy, that is a false narrative that has been created by the health food industry to lure you into their stores to purchase their products. I am a prime example you can still eat clean and healthy and still buy your food at a regular grocery store.

If you want to learn more about nutrition make sure to check out Jason Medows and his Ag State of Mind podcast, this month Jason is focusing on the role nutrition plays in our lifestyles. You can find him at

Also if you are interested in what a nutritional practitioner does head over to and check out her website, she has done so many wonderful things for my health and nutrition.

Cattle Terminology

If you did not grow up around the beef industry but you are interested in learning about beef you will quickly learn there is a lot of terminology you have to understand to be able to follow along with what cattle people are talking about. I have attempted to compile and explain in layman’s terms some of the more common terms used in the beef industry

Bull is an intact adult male meaning it is still capable or producing off-spring

Bull that has been castrated is a steer

The female counterpart to a bull is a cow

An adult female that has had a calf  is a cow.

Sire – a male parent

Dam – a female parent

A young female before she has had a calf of her own is called a heifer

Young cattle of both sexes are called calves until they are weaned

Weaned – an offspring that is removed from the care of it’s dam (mother)

Most beef animals are castrated as calves to reduce aggressive behavior and prevent unwanted mating

The vast majority of male cattle are castrated and slaughtered for meat before the age of three years

Cattle raised for human consumption are called beef cattle

Cattle bred specifically for milk production are called milking or dairy cattle

Purebred – A beef animal whose parents are of the same breed and are recorded with the registry association

Registered – An animal whose name, along with the name and number of its sire (father) and dam (mother), has been recorded in  the  record  books  of  its  breed  association.  The  association gives the animal a number, known as a registration number. The association gives the animal a certificate known as a registration certificate showing that the animal has been registered

Breed – a stock of animals within a species having a distinctive appearance and typically having been developed by deliberate selection

Herd – a group of a single species of animal

Artificial insemination (A.I.) – The technique of placing semen from the male in the reproductive tract of the female by means other than natural service.

Photo Credit: Jonas Koel

The trucking industry: It needs our support

Every day in the United States of America truck drivers move over $700.4 billion worth of goods. The trucking industry is a very critical component to keep the U.S. economy moving. There are over 55,000 pharmacies in the United States, within just a few days, those pharmacies would quickly run out of medicine if there were no more truck drivers. Truck drivers are essential workers, when a natural disaster strikes the United States, it’s the truck driver that is one of the first groups to leap into action to begin providing resources to the emergency rescue and relief efforts.

Truck drivers are 5th on the list of highest risk for work related suicide. The stress factors for a truck driver are extremely high, for many, their paycheck depends on them getting a load delivered on time.  If the truck driver experiences a mechanical breakdown, a flat tire, or bad weather conditions, these types of events can upset the schedule of the delivery. If you are an owner operator and you blow an engine that can easily be over $20,000 you have to come up with to get back on the road, if the wheels aren’t spinning you aren’t earning. Sometimes a trucker can get a rental truck to move some loads while his / her truck is in the shop, but again that is another expense. Also some truck drivers live in their truck, if your truck is down for a week due to an engine replacement, where are you going to live? Do you have a way to get home, do you have to live in a motel for a week, which again would be another expense on top of the truck repairs, and these are all stress factors truck drivers face each and every day.

When it comes to maintaining mental and physical health the truck driver is at a rather large disadvantage. Due to truck drivers always being on the move finding and accessing quality healthcare is a real challenge for most. Another disadvantage for the truck driver is the lack of a good support system, many truck drivers can spend days on the road away from family and friends, they work and sleep irregular hours, and all of these factors play into the difficulty of trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle while trying to earn a dollar.

I found some interesting numbers from a study done in 2012 – here is a link to the article that I read:

Data was collected from a random sample of 316 male truckers between the ages of 23 and 76 at a large truck stop located within a 100-mile radius of Greensboro, North Carolina. They used a self-administered 82-item questionnaire. Surveyed truckers were found to have significant issues affecting their mental health: Loneliness (27.9%), Depression (26.9%), Chronic sleep disturbances (20.6%), Anxiety (14.5%), other emotional problems (13%).

Another article I found about a different study conducted on the trucking industry summarized the following results.

Respondents were mainly full-time, long-haul drivers with over 5 years of experience, and who spent over 17 days on the road per month. While almost 75% described their health as good, 83.4% were overweight/obese, 57.9% had sleeping disturbances, 56.3% fatigue, 42.3% musculoskeletal disorders, and about 40% cardiovascular disease concerns. About 33% had no health insurance, 70% had no regular healthcare visits, 24.4% could not afford insurance, and 42.1% took over-the-counter drugs when sick, while 20.1% waited to reach home for medical care. The conclusion of the study determined the trucking occupation places drivers at high risk for poor health outcomes. Prospective studies are needed to delve into how continued exposure to trucking influences the progression of disease burden.

Below are some snippets from an article I read about how fleets can support the drivers mental health awareness. The article can be read for further detail at this link:

The article states that medical professionals are seeing the depression rate among truckers is nearly double the national average. “That alone is alarming because depression is correlated to suicide, and suicide is a leading cause of death.” said Kirleen Neely, psychotherapist and CEO at San Antonio-based Logistics Mental Health. “Suicide is especially a concern for male-dominated industries such as trucking because nearly 70% of people who die by suicide are male”, Neely said. “Suicide rarely occurs because of one issue, but mental health conditions are a factor, CDC reports. Depression and anxiety are top issues among truckers, closely followed by post-traumatic stress disorder.”

Sadly the trucking industry is not getting enough attention when it comes to a driver’s safety and overall health, there is a lot of work to be done to advocate for the trucking industry to make sure the truck drivers are taking care of their physical and mental health. Truck drivers are just like all of us, they are someone’s father or mother, someone’s son or daughter, they have feelings too, they feel pain, they grieve the loss of a loved one no different than we do. So the next time you see a truck driver maybe lean over and offer a kind word to them, let them know you appreciate what they do for all of us. A smile and a kind word has never hurt anyone, but I bet it’s saved a life, or has offered a sliver of hope more times than we know.

Additional Reference and Resources for this article:

Moving to Assisted Living? These Tips Can Help With Major Home Decisions

Moving to Assisted Living? These Tips Can Help With Major Home Decisions

When you need to leave your home to move into an assisted living facility, it’s easy to let emotions get the best of you. After all, this is a huge transition that signifies the closing of one chapter and the beginning of another in your life. Before the emotions of this major move overwhelm you, though, you need to spend some time making more practical choices. One of those choices is how to handle your home before the move. It’s a major decision that can have a big impact on your move into assisted living, but these steps can make it a little easier:

Start By Figuring Out Your Assisted Living Needs

Your home is one of your most valuable financial assets. So before you decide what to do with it, you need to figure out how much your new life in assisted living will cost. Comparing and touring facilities is important because each community may offer different amenities that can create totally different living environments. As you finalize your new budget, you should also factor in other ways you plan on covering assisted living expenses

Decide Whether You Should Rent, Sell, or Gift Your Home

Now that you know how much assisted living and long-term care will cost you in the future, you can make a better decision for how to handle your home. If you need to pay for assisted living with your home, selling it can be a smart choice so long as you have enough equity. If your mortgage is paid off or down, or if your home has gained a lot of value, you may have the needed equity to make your home profitable. To get a more accurate idea of the profits you can expect, you also need to factor in other fees like agent commissions and any taxes. Paying additional taxes can be a burden when you sell or gift your home, especially if your transaction is subject to capital gains tax. Avoiding capital gains tax, whether you sell or gift your home, can be tricky, but it can help you and your relatives save a small fortune. Another way you can use your home to earn extra money for assisted living costs is to turn it into a profitable rental home.

Find Professionals to Help Handle Your Property Transition

Whether you decide to sell, rent, or gift your home, it’s nearly impossible to handle any of these real estate transactions on your own. So if you want to sell your home, contact a realtor ASAP who will be able to help with the tiny details that can help your home sell faster? You may need to interview several agents before you find the right one to list your house, but that extra time and effort will be well worth any added profits or reduced stresses. Does renting your home make more sense? Then consider looking for a property management service to take the headache out of transitioning from homeowner to landlord. Property managers can take care of all of the details needed to ensure maximum profits on your new rental. Finally, if you want to gift your home to relatives, you may need a real estate attorney to help with the paperwork and to help you and your family members avoid penalties and unnecessary costs.

The move to assisted living can be an emotional one. What’s important, though, is to keep those emotions from clouding your judgment when making other important choices, like selling, renting, or gifting your home. That way, you can make decisions that will help you thrive after your move.

Article written by: Rhonda Underhill with

For information about mental health awareness and agriculture advocacy, check out the HankWade blog.

Photo Credit: Rawpixel

NIMH Answers Questions about Suicide

Q: How common is suicide in children and teens?

A: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that in 2014, suicide was the second leading cause of death for young people ages 10–24. Although these numbers may make suicide seem common, it is still a rare event. Suicidal thoughts or behaviors are more common than suicide deaths and are signs of extreme distress. Suicidal thoughts and behaviors are not harmless bids for attention and should not be ignored.

Q: What are some of the risks factors for suicide?

A: Risk factors vary with age, gender, or ethnic group and may change over time. Some factors that increase an individual’s risk for suicidal thoughts and behaviors are:

  • Depression, anxiety, and other mental disorders
  • Substance abuse disorder
  • Chronic pain
  • Prior suicide attempt
  • Family history of suicide
  • Family violence, including physical or sexual abuse
  • Firearms in the home
  • Having recently been released from jail or prison
  • Exposure to suicidal behavior of others, such as family members or peers

It is important to note that many people who have these risk factors are not suicidal.

Q: What are the warning signs?

A: The following are some of the signs you might notice in yourself or a friend that may be reason for concern:

  • Talking about wanting to die or wanting to kill oneself
  • Making a plan or looking for a way to kill oneself, such as searching online
  • Buying a gun, or stockpiling pills
  • Feeling empty, hopeless, or feeling like there is no reason to live
  • Feeling trapped or in unbearable pain
  • Talking about being a burden to others
  • Increasing the use of alcohol or drugs
  • Acting anxious or agitated; behaving recklessly
  • Sleeping too little or too much
  • Withdrawing from family or friends or feeling isolated
  • Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge
  • Displaying extreme mood swings
  • Saying good-bye to loved ones, putting affairs in order.

Seeking help is a sign of strength; if you are concerned, go with your instincts and seek professional help.

Reaching out to a friend you are concerned about is also a sign of strength.

What can I do for myself or someone else?

A: Immediate action is very important. Here are a few resources:

Thania Damaris Avelar

I had the distinct pleasure of being able to interview a young woman by the name of Thania who is the Greenhouse manager for the Arbor Day Foundation. Thania is a woman who works in the agriculture industry, but like many women, she has to work extra hard to prove herself in a space that is typically a male dominated world. Check out what Thania has to say about where she came from and listen to her views about being a woman in the agriculture industry… oh and don’t let her fool you, she may only be a whopping 5 foot tall, but this gal is into Crossfit and she can definitely take care of herself…..

Tell us about yourself, a little background on there you grew up, did you go to a college or any kind of trade school? 

My name is Thania Damaris Avelar, born and raised in the smoggy city of Los Angeles, California. The City of Angels is a lovely mega city where there is little Agriculture and many of us are influenced by the larger than life ideas. I was no different than many of the kids I grew up around except for one thing, I was privileged enough to have had parents who were educated as immigrants to the states. Both of my parents are Agronomists and had obtained their degrees in El Salvador located in Central America. As a child I was fascinated by the outdoors and always recall planting large numbers of varying plant species with my mom. I had a large influence from my parents as to what I wanted to study not because they pressured me into doing so but, because of my fascination for plants. I attended the University of California, Santa Cruz where I received my degree in 2013. There, I was able to really focus on what I loved, plants and soils. I was able to work with a wonderful soil professor who reminded me that soil was such an undermined resource that sooner or later would be essential to its conservation and preservation. I was able to research soils for 3 years, I designed my graduating thesis on how conventional and organic farming depleted the amount of Nitrogen in the soil. My first job after graduating from college was as a Naturalist in the Angeles National Forest, there I learned how the natural world is largely affected by humans and what we do in our regular lives. 

What is it that you do for a living and how is it connected to agriculture? 

Now, I am the Greenhouse Manager for Arbor Day Foundation whose mission is to inspire people to plant, nurture, and celebrate trees. Here my main focus in cultivation and procurement of trees. My job now plays a role in agriculture because many of the trees that are cultivated in our space require the same growth and expertise. Meaning, that although they are not directly used for the consumption of food or textiles that are still grown in vast quantities to be distributed throughout the United States. Our main consumers of the trees themselves are farmers who are looking to have larger trees on their properties. 

As a woman in the agriculture world what are some of the struggles you have faced? 

My biggest struggle being a woman in the agricultural world is complex and sometimes difficult to pinpoint but the biggest struggle I come across is not being valued with the knowledge I have. I still have to learn and understand how crops are grown in mass quantities and knowing that I am able to bring knowledge without making the counterpart feel belittled, the same is not always reciprocated. Another struggle is that they see me as a physically weak individual, I do stand a whopping 5′ feet  tall, where they think I am not capable of lifting, moving or working out in the field. Coming from California also poses a big struggle, here in the Midwest farmers believe that they have a better understanding of what is going on and that I am unfamiliar with processes that they have done for many years. I know that not everything is learned through books but having the knowledge and will power will never stop an individual from reaching their goals.

What would you like to see change towards women in Agriculture? 

Changes are always hard to make but never impossible. One of the changes I would like to see change for women in Agriculture is to see more of them. Our society has created a stigma that only men should be in this field and understand it. This is not at all the case as we learn more about our planet and how we are depleting our sources we need to have a larger diversity in this field. Allowing women to feel more empowered in the work space, knowing that they are more than capable of using machinery and giving them the trust that they will complete a task. The biggest changes for women in agriculture will come from acceptance that a female can take the lead in production. 

If you or someone you know would like to share their story please send them my way, I am looking for people in the agriculture and mental health industries that I can showcase here and help share their great stories for others to read about and hopefully learn from.

Lacee a Mental Health Advocate

When I was struggling to get better mentally after a life altering experience one of the things that helped to heal me was listening to other people talk about their past struggles and how they overcame their situation or what they learned from it. Often after hearing someone else’s story I was able to apply the same lessons that they learned to my own life. Sometimes just hearing that other people had experienced the same thing as I did was healing in itself and it helped create hope that things could get better for me.

I am going to start adding blogs posts about people who have a story that I feel others can benefit or learn from. This first story is a lady I met on Twitter by the name of Lacee. Read below to learn about what Lacee is doing for Mental Health advocacy, she can be found on Twitter at: @nyberglacee

Tell us about yourself, a little back ground on yourself.

I grew up in a small, conservative, farm town in Kansas from birth to 18. The only thing that put us on the map was the community college in our town. I graduated at semester (December 2015) and moved to Omaha/ Council Bluffs area at the end of January 2016. I went back home for me senior prom and to walk with my graduating class. I am married, have a 9 year old daughter and I’m going to school full time studying Psychology with an emphasis on mental health and trauma healing.

Tell us why you are interested in Mental Health. Was there something in your past that now makes you passionate about mental health?

I’m interested in mental health for a variety of reasons. Growing up and even now, my friends always come to me for advice because I am honest but still gentle. It wasn’t until I went through an emotionally, mentally and physically abusive relationship did I really realize what I wanted to do with my life. I always knew my purpose in life was to help others and help others feel good about themselves but it wasn’t until that relationship did I know how. I didn’t and still don’t want anyone to ever endure the pain I did, let alone bringing a child into that. My daughter gave me the strength to leave for the final time and not go back. I didn’t want her growing up thinking that we a normal relationship and that was how men treated women.

Catholic charities is a wonderful organization that helps women get back on their feet and provide support in a safe place. I can’t thank them enough for what they did to help me, for free during one of the worst times of my life. There’s also WCA (Women’s Center for Advancement). They help with domestic violence, security assault, stalking and human trafficking.

What are some goals you would like to accomplish in regards to mental health. This can be anything like you are going to school for mental health, what do you plan to do in the future.

One goal is to try to help break the silence domestic violence. Domestic violence is all around us and it starts with awareness as children. They teach about teen pregnancy, the effects of drugs and alcohol and bullying, but why not domestic violence?

My second goal is to break the stigma on mental health. Mental health is important to all of us even those “tough man’s man” guys that were taught that being emotional is weakness. It’s not. People need to feel these emotions and eventually be able to open up to someone whether it be a friend, spouse or professional.

I want to thank Lacee for taking the time to share her story with me. If you or someone you know would like to be featured on the blog email me at I would love to share more stories of hope.

Scare tactics won’t work

Social media is a very powerful tool. It can be used to sway people in a positive manner and it can be used to convey negative messages.

If you are someone trying to promote agriculture the number one thing you can do to turn away consumers is to bully them or to use scare tactics. Saying things like if the city folks don’t start respecting the agriculture community the city kids will end up starving to death because the farmers are going to disappear.

So this led me to think about some of the things the city folks use that the rural folks use as well. The biggest thing that came to my mind is grocery stores. I would bet you would be hard pressed to find one farmer who produces 100% of all the products they use or need in their day to day life.

Here are a few items I thought about off the top of my head. Toothpaste, toilet paper, clothes from cotton, fruits, veggies, meats, cereal, milk, cheese, yogurt, eggs, wheat flour, bread, peanut butter, jelly, beer, whiskey, wine, makeup, laundry soap, pillows, blankets, shoes and the list goes on.

These are all products that without the farmers none of us would have access too. Whether you are a vegan or a meat eater, or if you live in the city or you live on a farm a majority of us use a lot of these products every day.

Now of course some farmers do raise their own meat or dairy products just as some city folks grow many of their own vegetables or produce their own eggs. But the point is that if the city folks are to starve because all the farmers disappear it’s likely that many of the rural communities will also suffer along with the city folks.

So again instead of shaming the city folk, let’s work together as one, without consumers you don’t need producers, without producers you won’t have consumers. The two groups go hand in hand a lot more than some people like to give credit too, and yes I am talking about both sides of the aisle.

Maybe if you have a large social media following you can use your presence to help consumers and agriculture producers realize that both sides have a lot in common and help drive the understanding that we need each other and that not one group is more important than the other group. Using your large social media presence in a positive way will go so much further than shaming a particular group. Just like the old saying, you can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.

And for the consumers, it’s okay to thank a farmer, most do work very hard to raise the food and products we all need to sustain our city lifestyle. And you can always ask a farmer questions about what it is they do and why, a majority of them will be thrilled to talk to you. You will find farmers are not all that different than us non farmers.

Farming and Anxiety from a Non Farmer perspective

With harvest in full swing for a lot of farmers I love seeing the deluge of videos and pictures on social media of farmers harvesting their crops. With everything I have learned over the past couple of years and now having some friends that are farmers I am sure I could be a farmer, and I am sure I would love it, driving the big equipment, working the land, producing a product, helping to feed the world, working for yourself, it all sounds so romantically wholesome and downright patriotic, right?

BUT what about that anxiety, all the unknowns, all of the things out of your control, the weather, the input costs, the market prices, the pure thought of the anxiety that can come along with so many unknowns is scary enough to make a person not want to farm…..let’s not even discuss the anxiety that obviously comes from being the poor soul who has to drive the grain cart, that’s entirely a whole different level of anxiety right there…..

Anxiety is something that affects many people, it truly is a mental health condition. Anxiety can come in many different shapes and sizes, I wanted to take a quick minute to list some of the signs and symptoms of anxiety and offer a few tips to help you, a loved one, or a friend deal with anxiety.

Common anxiety signs and symptoms include:
Feeling nervous, restless or tense
Having a sense of impending danger, panic or doom
Having an increased heart rate
Breathing rapidly (hyperventilation)
Feeling weak or tired
Trouble concentrating or thinking about anything other than the present worry
Having trouble sleeping
Experiencing gastrointestinal (GI) problems
Having difficulty controlling worry
Having the urge to avoid things that trigger anxiety

You should see your doctor if:
You feel like you’re worrying too much and it’s interfering with your work, relationships or other parts of your life
Your fear, worry or anxiety is upsetting to you and difficult to control
You feel depressed, have trouble with alcohol or drug use, or have other mental health concerns along with anxiety
You think your anxiety could be linked to a physical health problem
You have suicidal thoughts or behaviors — if this is the case, seek emergency treatment immediately.

Yes I know harvest season is extremely busy and it is not a good time to go see a doctor, but if the anxiety gets to be to much not getting help for anxiety issues can lead to:
Depression (which often occurs with an anxiety disorder) or other mental health disorders
Substance misuse
Trouble sleeping (insomnia)
Digestive or bowel problems
Headaches and chronic pain
Social isolation
Problems functioning at school or work
Poor quality of life

Remember you are the most valuable asset on your farm…your life matters, if you need take a break to refocus yourself, then take that break…you deserve it…and you have definitely earned it!

Source of reference used for this post:

If you experience a life threatening medical emergency or fear for your safety remember to call 911. But did you know that you can dial 211 to get help for non 911 types of crisis or emergencies?

211 is a service that can connect you to many different resources such as mental health, domestic abuse, and even human trafficking hotlines.

211 offers support for many other things such as gambling and addiction support, they can help you with local domestic abuse shelters and also finding you help for sexual assault victim services.

211 offers help and guidance if you need help with disaster assistance, or even if you are struggling to find help for just the everyday essential needs, 211 can help you.

You can find more information about the help they offer on their webpage at

Here are some numbers on how many times 211 helped people in 2019:
211s in the U.S. reported handling:
900,000 requests for help related to mental health and substance use including:
275,000 requests for help related to suicide or emotional distress
285,000 requests for help with substance use
140,000 calls for help with domestic violence or human trafficking

If you would rather call a hotline directly instead of using the 211 service here are a few numbers provided by the webpage.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255 to speak to someone if you or a loved one is considering harming themselves or experiencing emotional distress.

National Human Trafficking Hotline: 1-888-373-7888 if you or someone you care about has been brought to the United States against their will or is being held against their will.

National Sexual Assault Hotline: 1-800-656-4673 if you or someone you care about has experienced sexual assault or harassment and needs support, assistance, and advice.

National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-7233 if you or someone you care about has or is experiencing domestic or relationship-based violence and needs support, advice, and connections to a safe place.