Learning about healing foods is not the domain of special people; it's knowledge that can be gleaned by anyone. All that's required is desire and genuine curiosity. "People are hungry for this tradition," Gladstar says, "because these foods represent the best of humanity. These foods bring health and beauty to people's lives, and they tie us to our ancestors."
So, next stop: my grandmother's borscht. I now know that beets are loaded with vitamins, antioxidants, and fiber, but to me, they are also soul satisfying.The astonishing, jewel-like magenta of the soup is nothing short of a miracle. I'll serve it as my grandma did, with a dollop of sour cream, which is loaded with calcium and active cultures good for the gut. Finally, I'll eat it with joy, knowing that 50 years ago, my grandmother ate the very same thing, because it was delicious and because she knew it was good for her—even though she'd never heard of phytochemicals.
Dayna Macy, a writer and musician who can be found at www.daynamacy.com, is the communications director of Yoga Journal.