Dr. Maya Shetreat-Klein author of The Dirt Cure: Growing Healthy Kids with Food Straight from Soil.
Board certified in adult and child neurology as well as pediatrics, Dr. Maya has a medical degree from Albert Einstein College of Medicine. She completed the University of Arizona’s Fellowship in Integrative Medicine, and now serves on their faculty. She lectures on children’s health, education and the importance of time in nature, botanical medicine, biodiversity, and the relationship between health and the natural world. Dr. Maya has testified on topics including fracking, safe products for children, and the impact of chemical exposures on children’s health. She also founded the Terrain Institute, where she teaches and mentors parents, educators, healers and health care providers about Terrain Medicine. Dr. Shetreat-Klein practices, teaches and lives with her family in New York City, where she grows organic fruit and vegetables and keeps 8 chickens on her urban farm.
Are you in NYC? I grew up on Long Island.
I’m in NYC but in a greener part.
I’m excited to introduce my guest Dr. Maya Shetreat-Klein who wrote a book called The Dirt Cure: Growing Healthy Kids with Food Straight from Soil.
I am an intergrative pediatric neurologist in NYC. I treat both adults and kids who have chronic health issues. A lot of the time it means treating them for physical and looking at emotional and spiritual things too. That brought me on a journey to plants and nature can be are really important part of our health and our healing.
amazing connection to make
really very transformative for our patients.
I think I was telling you in the prechat, I am reading it over my summer vacation. It is so full of information. I am really interested in how much our kids sit and the lack of movement and then also I guess there’s this new movement for a program called breakfast after the bell so the kids are eating breakfast, my kids ate in my classroom in this year. Got me to introduce composting, we tried a worm bin, and I also ran the garden club this year with another teacher. So many things I’m pre-chat about and I love the way it’s full of real science an a lot of my guests talk about needing real science to back it up! And you’re such an amazing doctor I look at your credentials etc and feel totally humbled!
My first experience in my life, was when I was a child. I didn’t like tomatoes. My mother wanted me to like tomatoes. She thought if we together grew a garden and our own tomatoes, I couldn’t help but love fresh tomatoes.
Very traditional, very conventional. We tilled part of the backyard, planted the tomatoes and put the fertilizer in and planted other things too.
I was about 6-7 year old, maybe somewhere around there. We did the whole garden thing, we got the tomatoes and my mother cut them up and served them to me.
I said, “I like tomatoes, just not today!”
I did love everything from the garden. It took me until I spent a summer in Italy eating the tomatoes in the mediterranean till I loved tomatoes
But I loved passionate with the gardening experience
connected to the plants
most years until I was in high school
very productive gardens.
When I was a kid, I loved anything with cooked tomatoes but I wouldn’t eat a raw tomato for anything.
I like the smell of them
There’s nothing like the smell of a fresh tomato
smell a tomato plant
as a kid I was so sensitive to the texture, that soft mushy texture. I was having these particular beefsteak heirloom There’s and I realized they could be firm and not mushy and gushy. Then I could enjoy them.
I talk a lot in the dirt cure. I always tell people it can take up to 30 tries with a new food for a kid to start to like it.
just because they might
keep trying in different ways of the same ways
Just sort of getting used to it and feeling more comfortable whatever the taste texture might be.
I went to a workshop at a training after school got out. It was geared towards to pre-k but most teachers were older. They talked a lot about exposure doesn’t mean tasting it and they were sensitive about wasting food but they talked about different things. As an educator we talk about reading some kids have to hear something 700 times so 30 doesn’t sound like much at all!
might gives flowers to them and that really transforms how they feel!
We know when we give flowers these are very accessible ways we change how we feel through plants. Lots of ways kids can do that
These are all ways we are gaining benefit from plants natural world! Doesn’t have to be consuming the plant to have the benefit.
I LOVE THAT!
Actually I started to learn once I was a Dr. and a mother. I started to learn about the issues around pesticides. Both from a scientific and as an intuitive standpoint as a mother I didn’t want to eat food that had potentially toxic chemicals sprayed around it. And I didn’t like what we were doing to insects etc.
community of organisms that live in both our bodies
bacteria that we share and other organisms
live in the soil and around the plants
I didn’t want to impact that.
I decided I wanted to grow my own food and in NYC that was a challenge in whatever way I could
tried to grow tomato plants inside
started to grow
I had to convert into a healthy gardening space
in the beginnings it was so interesting
there were plants growing there
I remember specifically there were these beautiful vines growing every where
I started to see them wilt and it turned out I had squash bores which was very distressing and of course the first thing I wanted to do is kill off those bores because they were killing my plants but when I looked online everything talked about injecting things into the plant.
My instinct is yes I’m killing those off they’re ruining my plants!
the whole point was to be healthier!
Ultimately I saved most of those plants without using any pesticides!
It was such a good lesson because initially we’re at war, I don’t want anything to kill off my plants!
Have to remember we’re all in relationship together.
yeah I don’t want those bores to kill my squash plants but I’m not gonna take this slash and burn approach
That just cemented my commitment to working in natural ways to the plants to have them be as healthy as possible.
sometimes I lose plants because I’m not gonna use chemicals.
I’ve had a few guests talk about sacrificing one plant, if all the aphids are on one plant. I LOVE THAT ADVICE!
Do you want to talk more about diet and healthy food in your book? One of the big things I picked up and other people have suggested to me, and other people have mentioned, was if your craving sweets, making herbal tea. Allergies and diet…
When it comes to sweets there’s a lot of ways to transform. We’re in a sugar obsessed food culture right now.
think about things like candy or sweets
Lots of places we’re getting hidden sugar like
corporations looking at
scans of the brain
what areas light up our pleasure centers
the most active
that means a lot of sugar and salt
a lot of processed foods are filled with sugar
a whole sort of a need, because sugar is very inflammatory in the body.
those things will potentially worsen with a lot of sweet and sugar
migraines away from sugar can help with
recommend in terms of cutting
if I am having something sweet I always make sure it’s nutrient dense
these foods are nutrient dense and have antioxidant properties.
giving back at the same time
lots of sweet thing include cinnamon in the recipe becasue they taste good together but it so happens cinnamon is very good for keeping blood sugar levels more stable.
people think wow, I would hate that
coffee is actually a bitter tonic
a lot of people don’t want to have sweet desert without coffee…
it balances the flavors