Local, sustainable organic food: It's the latest trend in healthy eating. It has gained supporters in the media, pop culture and even the White House. And one local woman has made a career out of her interest in better eating.
Reston resident Kimberly Hartke, creator of the hartkeisonline.com blog, has gained a reputation across the globe for her writing on the subject. Hartke, who also works as the publicist for the Weston A. Price Foundation in Washington, D.C., proclaims the values of eating wholesome, unprocessed foods. She also touches on issues such as local, sustainable farming; food politics; and natural health and home remedies.
That's a big agenda for one person, especially someone whose health was less than optimal a few years ago.
At the time, Hartke was struggling with a degenerative knee condition, arthritis and inflammation, which were making everyday activities difficult.
"The doctor told me to lose weight and to strengthen my quads," she says, noting that she subsequently lost 20 pounds. "At the time, I was in so much pain, I had trouble walking upstairs in our house, and we live in a four-level home."
Her husband also was having health problems. His blood pressure was elevated, and he had been diagnosed as prediabetic.
In a quest for wellness, Hartke said, "My husband and I lost weight following a low glycemic diet, popularized by Dr. Arthur Agatston, author of ‘The South Beach Diet.'"
They also decided to fight for better health.
"So I started looking on the Internet," she says. "I borrowed a book from a chiropractor which mentioned the vital importance of animal fats. I had heard about the Weston A. Price Foundation, and that they taught this, also. So I googled the Price Foundation; within 10 minutes of browsing on their website, I joined."
After embracing the healthy-lifestyle message, Hartke and her husband saw their lives change dramatically. Her husband lowered his blood pressure and shed 30 pounds. "My husband is also off all medications and he is in the gym five times a week," she said. "He is no longer prediabetic, and he looks like Jack Lalanne did."
As for her knee problems, Hartke said she is moving almost as well as she did before developing the condition.
As she began this regimen, she learned that raw milk is anti-inflammatory and drinking it helped reduce knee joint inflammation; that vegetables in the nightshade family — including potatoes and tomatoes — aggravate arthritic joints; and that regular exercise, weight loss and healthful eating lead to improved health, she said.
Hartke's typical daily diet might include the following: a farmer's breakfast of two eggs, two slices of bacon or homemade lamb sausage and buttered whole grain sourdough bread; for lunch, she eats leftovers from dinner the night before, which might include wild-caught salmon, crispy kale and mashed butternut squash; and dinner of grass-fed steak and vegetables served with butter.
And as the couple's health has improved, Hartke not only began volunteering for the Weston A. Price Foundation, but also started blogging about the connection between food and health. She started small, but soon she joined the Real Food Media Network (realfoodmedia.com), got her own URL, and now Hartke has almost 20,000 readers monthly from 174 countries. "We now have sponsors, like health food companies, even a seed catalog, advertising with us," she said. "It's all very exciting. One of our bloggers went full time making a living blogging."