Mishnah Berurah Tiferet

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By: Alyssa Elbogen

Schools serve as microcosms of culture, for the minimum 12-year window between infancy and legal adulthood. In those years, members of society gain their understandings of the world. It is an undeniably crucial time which crystallizes one’s views or at the very least creates a strong foundation for them.

Though we initially assume that ‘school’ will last only until the end of our academic studies, in actuality we continue to learn throughout our lives. Even after we graduate from academia, we make a study of relationships, responsibility, decision-making, civil duty, and so on.

Sadly, in the midst of all of this, the study of self-care gets overlooked. For developmental reasons, it’s crucial that healthy habits begin to form as early as possible. By not focusing on the subject of health in school, we inadvertently teach our kids that these things are not critically important. But they are!Our own bodies’ long-term health is one of the most significant things we will ever have control over.

So how dowe learn about food these days? Rarely do we city folks learn how to plant seeds or tend gardens. We remain unfamiliar with the medicinal and culinary uses of the wild plants in our midst. We fear nature and ultimately pride ourselves in what we perceive as our dominion over it. Instead of learning from our natural resources, we learn about food from advertisements. We’re influenced by what the people around us are purchasing and eating. We take note of what is made convenient and visible to us.

Outlooks are changing, but it’s up to us to help the shift along. We mustbegin educating ourselves and our loved ones about preventative medicine, herbal medicine, organic food, and ecological sustainability.

I won’t say it’s convenient, being a conscious consumer. No longer can we simply pick up the brightest packaging we see and relish obliviously in the delicious smells cradled within. We must look at the ingredients and at the nutritional value. We must look at the company and at the product’s country of origin. We must check for seals like ‘Sustainably Sourced,’ ‘Non-GMO,’ ‘Organic’ and ‘Not Tested on Animals.’ It’s a new era. We’re suddenly remembering that all products have sources in nature, no matter how far they may have fallen from their respective trees. Even more significantly, we’re remembering that nature itself is not our enemy, but our ally. This is especially true on the path towards health and healing.

We need to blur the lines between the ‘school of life’ and the school of academia. The study of health – healthy eating, healthy habits, healthy mindsets, and healthy methods of expression – is one that is no less important than reading, writing, and arithmetic.

Of course, education begins at home:

My herbal medicine teacher taught that most children grow up avoiding bitter-tasting
food; when they’re little and they try something bitter, they automatically make a face. Instantly, their parent apologetically says, “Oh, you don’t like it? Okay, never mind that; no problem!” What we shouldbe doing is greeting this experience with great enthusiasm: “Oh, is it bitter? Did you know that bitters aregreatfor the digestive system?” From an early age, we need to get out children used to different palates. Equipped with this sort of flexibility, no food will be off-limits to them later in life – not even the healthy kind.

Alyssa Elbogen is a certified Holistic Health Practitioner specializing in Detoxification
and Herbalism with a degree in Jewish Thought and English from the University of Haifa.
Ms. Elbogen works for Organic Circle in NYC and runs a private practice, Holistic Health Wisdom.