November 12, 2015—Near Princeton Texas: Judy Li holds a Moringa Oleifera leaf. A few seconds after I took this photo, Judy shoved it in my mouth.
Be forewarned: This story as it is told here will be patchy and incomplete. I was only at her place for a scant 40 minutes yesterday and I had no paper for writing notes. I’m hoping to write Judy’s story in its full and complete richness over the coming year. Perhaps I’ll write monthly installments to post here as my knowledge of Judy and her story become more complete. Perhaps I’ll save it all up for a book and screenplay ☺.
Auspicious Beginning - Perhaps
Three Deity Mandala of the Auspicious Beginning – Tibetan Mandalas: The Ngor Collection
Yesterday may have been an auspicious beginning to a new chapter in my life unfolding on my way to Fay’s farm somewhere between Princeton and Farmersville to pick pecans on the halves for Loving Garland Green’s annual pecan fundraiser. The journey is seldom about what we think it is about.
Charlie had been out to Fay’s a few weeks before and he told me about this place on the country road to Fay’s where he saw a loofah tunnel that is three times longer and much wider than the one we have at the Garland Community Garden. Yesterday we stopped in and met Judy Li—possibly a life-changing experience.
Judy’s Cursory Biographical Footprint
Judy is Chinese, born in Taiwan in the late 1940’s, early 50’s.
Reading between the lines: [For those who may not know, this was a very bleak time period for the people in Taiwan. It may have been good for “business” but it was a very bad time for the Taiwanese people—the ordinary folk. Military outbreaks between the mainland and Taiwan were common in the 1950’s and 1960’s—the time of Judy’s childhood. I can imagine she has many stories to tell of that life. Chiang Kai-shek was quick to crush political dissent. If anyone spoke out against the government, they were either shipped to Green Island or executed on the spot. Taiwan was under marshal law from 1949 to 1987. This time period became known as the White Terror. It is estimated that 140,000 Taiwanese were imprisoned during this time and that 3,000 to 4,000 were executed. The KMT imprisoned mostly Taiwan's intellectual and social elite out of fear that they might resist KMT rule or sympathize with communism. ]
From Judy’s Childhood: Loofah Leaves and Chicken Livers
We talked with Judy about all the loofahs she grows (2,000 a year that she sells to grocery stores). In addition to mentioning their many medicinal and cosmetic values, she told us a story from her childhood.
When Judy was a little girl. Food was scarce in Taiwan as it is on most islands, even in the best of times. To help stave off hunger pangs, she ate clover. Clover is high in protein, has beta-carotene, vitamin C, most of the B vitamins, biotin, choline, inositol, and bioflavonoids. However as with many good things, even clover is devalued by excess.
Due to the concentration of coumarin found in the blossom it can thin the blood. As a result of a diet high in clover content, Judy had frequent nosebleeds. One of her Aunts prepared the following concoction of which one cup cured Judy of nosebleeds:
[Note: all and any recipes in this or any article I write about Judy Li are not to be considered as “medicine” or medical advice but rather as healthy food to eat, given certain circumstances.]
1. Place one Loofah leaf in a steamer with a cup of water in the pot.
2. Place one chicken liver on top of the loofah leaf.
3. Steam until the chicken liver is well cooked.
4. Pour the water into a cup and drink it.
According to Judy, you will have no more nosebleeds—ever. Judy pointed out the scientific basis of this. Warfarin, a pharmaceutical that is used to thin the blood, contains coumarin, which is found in clover. The chicken liver and the loofah leaf contain vitamin K, which is present in medications used to thicken the blood and help it to clot and thus stop bleeding.
Judy moved to Chicago in 1978.
Reading between the lines: [Judy must have been in her early to mid thirties when she moved to the USA. I will need to learn why Judy decided to come to the USA in 1978 but I suspect her motivations may have been politically founded. The late 1970’s saw increasing political dissent in Taiwan. One of the most noteworthy uprisings of the late martial law period happened in December of 1979. Also it was in 1979 that the USA switched official recognition of the Republic of China to the People’s Republic of China and Beijing was recognized as the official capital of China.]
Judy is a registered pharmacist who currently works in a VA hospital.
Reading between the lines: [Judy is especially unique in that she is trained in traditional western pharmacology and also has extensive knowledge at least of the Chinese folk medicine (and has likely formally studied this branch of medicine as well). She is a great bridge between Eastern and Western medicine. She has the education and the skill to explain Chinese medicine using Western medicine vocabulary.]
Judy Li moved to the Princeton, Texas area in 2009.
When I look at all Judy has accomplished on this property in only six years, I’m amazed—especially considering she also has a full-time job as a medical professional elsewhere.
I’ll finish this beginning piece with some photographs I took yesterday November 12, 2015 at Judy Li’s place. It is here on a few acres beside a County Road near Princeton that Judy Li is well on her way to achieving her dream of establishing a place of health in a country setting where people can come for healing and peace.
November 12, 2015 – Pile of Jujubes at Judy Li’s place. We can grow jujube trees in our area and I hope to plant some this spring at the Garland Community Garden. I ate several fresh ones while at Judy’s and she also served Charlie and me some delicious hot Jujube tea. Jujubes are sometimes called red dates or Chinese dates. They are great!
November 12, 2015 – Judy Li is slicing a loofah. Yesterday I learned many things about loofah. 1. They can be sliced and rubbed on your face as a wrinkle treatment. 2. You can grow Loofahs in soil that is no more than six inches deep. (I’m going to learn more from Judy regarding what she puts in that soil, if anything special.) 3. There are many varieties of loofah and according to the type of loofah, its uses vary.
November 12, 2015 –Judy Li inside her loofah tunnel cutting a loofah for Charlie and me.
November 12, 2015 –Moringa Oleifera trees growing at Judy Li’s place. [I’ve written about this miraculous plant in previous articles here on Eat Green DFW. My friends Paul and Zach Ragsdale also grow this plant at Ragsdale Farms in Caddo Mills. The Moringa is tropical plant said to have over 46 antioxidants and 92 nutrients. It also contains 36 anti-inflammatory and over 20 amino acids. Moringa leaves also contain vitamins A, B1, B2, B3, B6, B7, C, D, E and K. Moringa has many medicinal uses and has been used to treat conditions such arthritis, rheumatism, anemia, cancer, diabetes, epilepsy and stomach complications such as spasms, ulcers, stomach pain and constipation. It is said that Moringa can also help to boost the immune system.]
November 12, 2015 – One of two huge hoop houses at Judy Li’s place. All the produce grown at Judy Li’s is organically grown. She must sell these vegetables to grocers. We didn’t get around to talking about this.
November 12, 2015 – Perhaps a Future Retreat? - Next to Judy’s own home is a large structure she is building that she calls her “bed and breakfast to be.” Personally I think it needs to be marketed as a healing retreat where people can come to rest and recuperate from their fast paced urban living. Judy Li could teach Chinese medicine and also cooking. She told us that she is a great cook, and if her cooking is anything like the jujube tea she served us, it is delicious! The foreground features one of Judy’s two beautiful white German Shepherds.