Honestly, when I was first planning my trip to Cedar Rapids, Iowa I didn’t know what to expect (except for seeing hella cornfields). Let me say this, Iowa BLEW ME AWAY! The scenery was breathtaking, the food was absolutely delicious, and the place is filled with some of the nicest people I have ever met.
Being in South Florida I am accustomed to beaches, sand, palm trees, and flat-land, all of which I am super grateful for. However, I never get to experience mountainous terrain and autumn weather. My first impression, WOW!
I felt such an empowering, yet calming energy from being out in nature. With the busy lives that we all live, it is easy to get caught up in all the noise and distractions around us. Being present amongst the trees, animals, and rivers gave my parasympathetic nervous system the reset it needed. Everything seemed to slow down. I felt as if I was in a meditative state where my mind, heart, and body were all in sync, operating as one.
I moved as though I was seamlessly floating through the wilderness, letting Mother Nature take me by the hand and guide me through her beauty. The leaves contained a variety of greens, oranges, yellows, and reds, all of which don’t exist in South Florida. The cool wind blowing in my face as I walked along the river gave me the biggest smile from ear to ear. It was at this moment that I became one with nature and the moniker “Nature Boy D Flair” was born.
Anyone that knows me knows I have a deep passion for great quality, delicious food. The food in Iowa was FIRE! My boy Chris (IG: IowaOrganic) was nice enough to bless me with this entire Iowa experience. He grows his own vegetables and herbs in his backyard garden.
Every meal we prepared had some combination of freshly picked veggies and herbs from the garden. Let me tell you, this is a GAME CHANGER! The vibe I got from picking my own food took each meal to a new level. The taste, smell, and texture of the meals were like no other experience I have ever had. Utilizing fresh rosemary, lemon thyme, tarragon, sage, parsley, and oregano took the experience of each meal to different heights. Now I am going to make it a priority to utilize fresh herbs more often.
In addition to the fresh home cooked meals I enjoyed, the restaurants in Iowa were also unreal. There were so many choices of farm to table restaurants to choose from. Salt Fork Kitchen in Solon, Iowa was my favorite. Pastured eggs, pastured bacon, grits, mixed greens, poutine, and a grass-fed vanilla ice cream topped with peach compote did my body and soul right! Not to mention, all of this came out to $20. What a steal! A meal of this magnitude would easily cost at least $50-$60 at home. Being able to go out to a restaurant where the food is of the highest quality, fresh, delicious, and affordable is nonexistent in South Florida. To be able to bask in this experience was truly a delight.
I’ve always heard that the people in the Midwest are really friendly and my experience with Iowans reinforced that sentiment. My buddy Chris says that the people in his state are known for being “Iowa nice.” Every person I came across greeted me with a warm smile. The farmers, restaurant staff, and everyone else I came across during the trip made me feel like I was a part of their community. At the local farmers market, all of the vendors had positive vibes and were truly passionate about the work they were doing. Each one that I visited took the time to tell me their story and their purpose. All of them wanted to bring great quality food to their community and create an environment that can help people thrive. All of which aligns with my values of quality, community, and helping others.
I cannot thank Chris enough for opening up his home to me and allowing me to fully gain the Iowan experience. Here are the biggest takeaways I gained from this trip:
Connecting with nature
Being out in nature is a great way to relax, relieve stress, and gain a bigger appreciation for the smaller things in life. Next time you get the chance, go out to your nearest park, beach, or any area where you can be one with Mother Nature. Take in the fresh air, sounds, and different smells that we often take for granted. Watch how your stress and anxiety start to dissipate in the moment.
Incorporating fresh vegetables and herbs as often as possible
Words cannot adequately describe how much better tasting and fulfilling the food is when it is accompanied with fresh herbs and vegetables. Next time you go shopping, skip the regular grocery store and head over to your local farmers market. By doing this you will be absorbing more micronutrients and providing business to your local farmer.
Being nicer to strangers
With all of the craziness going on in today’s world, I think it is more important than ever to show love and be nice. Take it upon yourself to smile at people as you walk by them. While this seems small, it can have a tremendous impact on yourself and those around you.
-You Can 2