Because of the pervasiveness of harmful ingredients in food and household products, living a toxin-free lifestyle requires swimming upstream! We have to be intentional about sourcing our food well, reading labels carefully, and monitoring what we allow into our homes. However, there may be certain compromises we must make along the way, and those compromises will look different for everyone. Amy Fewell has been living this homesteading lifestyle for years, and she started on this path in search of healing for her son. I knew Amy would be perfect to discuss this topic with because she brings balance to the conversation. While we can’t do it all when it comes to taking care of our families’ health, we can prioritize the things that make the biggest impact for us. We also chat about herbalism and the importance of learning our bodies and how to support them!
In this episode, we cover:
- The health challenge that led Amy’s family to herbalism and homesteading
- Why it’s important to take an individualized approach to health
- One major ingredient that Amy keeps out of her family’s diet
- How organic food can save you money in the long run
- What food standards we adhere to when we are traveling
- The few foods to prioritize in your diet when you are away from your normal routine
- Why you need fewer cleaning products than you think
- Recognizing marketing that makes you think you need to do or have more
- Our real-world approaches to the topic of EMF exposure
- Embracing slow medicine through herbalism
- The importance of learning about the human body and how to support it yourself
- What it looks like to take your family’s health into your own hands
Amy is a wife, mother, author, blogger, podcaster, photographer, and head dish washer and chicken wrangler of The Fewell Homestead. Nestled in the foothills of the Blue Ridge mountains, Amy and her family love living a natural homesteading lifestyle—raising livestock, planting a kitchen garden, cooking from scratch, and living as holistically as possible. Amy is also the Founder of the organization Homesteaders of America, an educational resource of homestead support, education, and events.
Medical Herbalism by David Hoffmann
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Lisa Bass [00:00:00] Welcome back to the Simple Farmhouse Life podcast. Today I am super excited to have on Amy Fewell. She is the founder of the Homesteaders of America conference. She has books on chickens and herbalism. She knows a lot about gardening and homesteading. Great to follow along on Instagram, YouTube. I’ve learned a lot from her, and I know that you will, too. So let’s dive into the conversation.
Lisa Bass [00:00:24] My name is Lisa, mother of seven and creator of the blog and YouTube channel Farmhouse on Boone. Join me as I share with you my love for creating a handmade home, from-scratch cooking, and a little mom and entrepreneur life along the way.
Lisa Bass [00:00:38] Well. Hey, Amy, thanks for joining me.
Amy Fewell [00:00:47] Hey, Lisa. Thanks for having me.
Lisa Bass [00:00:49] Have you been on the podcast yet?
Amy Fewell [00:00:51] Okay. I was trying to figure that out. I cannot honestly remember. I know you’ve been on mine, and I think that’s what I keep thinking about, but I don’t think I’ve been on yours yet.
Lisa Bass [00:01:00] Yeah, I couldn’t remember if I— I know that I’ve been on yours, but I couldn’t remember if that’s what I was thinking of. But anyways, glad to finally have you on. Thanks for agreeing to come on even though you just had a brand new baby. So let’s start with introductions. For those who don’t know you— I’m sure most in this niche do. But for those who don’t know you, tell us a bit about you, how old your baby is, your conferences, whatever else you want to share.
Amy Fewell [00:01:23] Yeah. So we welcomed our third child, Abigail, into the world July 1st. So at the recording of this, she’s only three weeks old. I looked at my husband the other day, I’m like, “What was I thinking?” But she’s actually been a really good baby. And so I was concerned. Like my other babies were— they cried all the time. And so I was thinking, “Oh my goodness, I’m going to have to cancel this podcast interview.” But thankfully she’s been so good. So that worked out great. So I’m Amy Fewell. I am the founder of Homesteaders of America, which is an organization where we teach basically people how to homestead— anything from butchering chickens to growing a garden to herbalism, and just encouragement to live this lifestyle. We have a conference every year. The main conference is every October here in Virginia. This year we actually dabbled with a few other smaller events that we did in Tennessee. We’re going to pull back a little bit on that next year, but we’ll still do probably a couple of events just in a different way. But our big event has about 5,000 people. That’s what we max out at at the fairgrounds here, so we’re looking for a new location. And it’s just a really fun time. It’s a fun time of fellowship. It’s like a big family reunion with a bunch of other homesteaders who enjoy living this lifestyle. And then we also have an online membership where people who can’t attend the conference can actually go watch every video of every conference, or at least the Virginia conference. So that’s been a huge blessing to a lot of people to be able to kind of be there without not being there. And of course, there’s other stuff in that membership as well. It’s pretty affordable, too. We have it set at $75 for the whole year, so we wanted something that was pretty affordable for people who couldn’t come. And then I also have my own business, just the Fewell Homestead, which was my original business. And that morphed from homesteading related things into more of herbalism. Now that over the last few years I’ve been diving into herbalism and have been doing clinical herbalism and various different things, which I’m sure we’ll talk about in this podcast. But I also have a membership. I launched that last year and that has grown crazy amazing. So many people are trying to get into natural living, and so that’s grown a lot. And then I just blog over there and have a YouTube channel like every other homesteader nowadays.
Lisa Bass [00:03:46] Yeah.
Amy Fewell [00:03:47] So that’s the basic gist of it.
Lisa Bass [00:03:50] Yeah. Yeah. So if you are thinking about starting homesteading or you’re already a homesteader and you’re just looking for more information, there’s just a wealth of information coming from your blog, your membership, your Instagram. And then obviously if you can attend the conference in person— which I would love to do sometime. Last year was totally out of the question because I had a baby in October, and then two years before that I had a baby in October. So I guess I just have babies in October. There won’t be one this October.
Amy Fewell [00:04:20] You should totally come. Just let me know when you want to go.
Lisa Bass [00:04:22] So tell us a little bit about your health journey. So did you start on this path whenever you first got married? Did you grow up this way? Did it start with kids? What did that look like for you?
Amy Fewell [00:04:34] I didn’t grow up this way at all. I grew up in the normal American family where we ate boxed frozen food and both parents worked most of the time. And my grandparents were farmers. They did farm. But even then, it was mostly beef cattle. They weren’t necessarily a product of natural living, per se. I didn’t get on this journey until we had our first son. And when he was a year old, he was diagnosed with childhood asthma. They started putting him on all of these inhalers and medications. And childhood asthma actually ran in my husband’s family, and oftentimes people would outgrow it. And so I just didn’t want to have his body go through all of those chemical medications. So I started researching various different things. We started looking at raw milk and how raw milk can heal the lung lining, which we did. We started getting goat’s milk and raw cow’s milk from a local dairy. And then that kind of led into essential oils and herbalism, which really is actually what set us on our homesteading journey. It started with herbs, not with growing our own food. My dad would have a big garden every year. My great aunt had a garden. My grandmother had a garden. So they definitely did the farming gardening thing. But when it came to good health, there was that disconnect for some reason. And so herbalism set us on the path to homesteading. We got chickens, we got all the other animals, and we’re living that lifestyle now. And so what happened was we watched our son live a healthier lifestyle, and he actually did outgrow childhood asthma. And then we just were into this homesteading. I saw my husband’s health get better. I saw my health get better to some extent. But then we kind of hit a wall. We tried to have more children, and unfortunately, we dealt with secondary infertility, and we weren’t quite sure which side was that? Was it him? Was it me? Was it both of us? And so we just decided we’ll leave it in God’s hands and just figure out— if we have more children, great. If not, that’s fine, too. It wasn’t until 2018 when I decided to go on a keto diet. By that point, I was an herbalist. I had studied herbalism. I had tried all the herbs to get pregnant. I tried everything, and nothing was working. And so I just came to that conclusion: I’m never going to have more kids. Why not be healthy and skinny as I go through my late thirties and just live a great life. And so everyone was talking about this ketogenic diet and how they lost weight so fast. And I thought, okay, I’m going to go on the keto diet. I’m going to lose weight. This is going to be it. And unbeknownst to me—I hadn’t really done a lot of research—the keto diet actually helps with insulin resistance, so women who have PCOS or insulin issues or hormonal issues— scientifically proven that when they go on keto, most of them get pregnant and fertility kind of heals itself. And so my nutritionist friend was telling me this the first month I was on it. She’s like, “You’re going to get pregnant.” And I thought to myself, “No.” Number one, I didn’t really want to get pregnant because we had a nine-year-old and I didn’t feel like starting all over again. But lo and behold, two months after being on keto, we got pregnant with our second child. And then same story with Abigail. Actually went on the keto diet about two months before I got pregnant with her. Not trying to get pregnant, just trying to lose weight and got pregnant with her as well. Not expecting to get pregnant that quickly. So that’s where I realized— I knew nutrition played a huge role in our household, but I didn’t realize it was such a major thing with certain people. You know, I ate healthy. I ate organic. I did all the things that everyone tells you to do. I was still overweight. So there was no rhyme or reason until I did this special diet. And so that’s kind of our journey to where we are now and how it’s changed. You know, it’s kind of changed our homesteading lifestyle over the years because now we’re looking at not just growing our own food, but how can we eat differently and how can we live differently that’s actually healthier than just eating organically?
Lisa Bass [00:09:01] Right? Yeah. What I find so tricky—and I’m sure that neither of us are going to have all the answers to this—is how individualized everything is. So like for you, clearly the keto diet was something that really enhanced your health, obviously, because you go from not being able to have more children to getting pregnant which is definitely a sign of health. How do you recommend people—or maybe you don’t have an answer for this; I’m not sure—go about figuring that out? Because like for example, right now— are you familiar with like the pro-metabolic community and the influencers in that space? It’s brand new to me.
Amy Fewell [00:09:38] Yeah, I haven’t dove into it really much. I haven’t seen a whole lot of it yet, but I have heard about it.
Lisa Bass [00:09:44] Okay. Well, it would probably be anti keto, but clearly for you, keto has been very beneficial. And so this is not at all what this discussion is about. I just find it interesting that it’s so different for each person and how to figure that out without just saying, “Forget it all. I’ll just eat whatever I want because there’s so much contradictory information.”
Amy Fewell [00:10:07] Well, I had people who were like, “You’re going to kill yourself. You’re just going to kill yourself. You know, you’re going to wither away to nothing. And this is not a good diet.” And I can’t tell you if I had a dollar for every time somebody told me I didn’t know what I was doing. That was great. And metabolism and different things. And it’s true. Every person— we all have something that’s wrong with us, whether we like to admit it or not. Everybody has some issue because we are generations removed from the generation that didn’t have big pharmaceuticals and didn’t have all these chemicals. So we’re all so healing from that and, in return, we’re passing that good healing on to our kids so they’ll have less healing to do. But I would say knowing what your issues are really helps a lot for you to learn what diet you should be on, if you should be on a special diet at all. And I think it’s really important to understand that—especially in America—we eat way more food than most other countries do, and we eat way more food than our ancestors did. I mean, our portions are bigger now when we go to restaurants. There’s just a lot of different factors in that. So I’m a big fan of integrative medicine. I think it’s great for people to do— every few years, do a blood screening to see what’s wrong. You can order your own blood screening and have a natural herbalist or nutritionist go through it with you and find out what the issues are. And from there, I feel like you can tailor your diet or your herbal plan or whatnot. That’s what we do. That’s what I do with my clients is I always order a blood panel and then go through it with them because there are people who would not benefit from a keto diet. You know, it’s not for everyone. There are people who would not benefit from going vegetarian or going vegan, but then there are some people who would. And I know people—especially in the homesteading community—they’re like, “Oh, did you just say that? Did you just say some people should not eat meat?”
Lisa Bass [00:12:06] That’s not allowed, Amy.
Amy Fewell [00:12:07] I know, right? It’s not allowed, but there are some people with inflammation issues that would benefit from a vegetarian or vegan diet. And so knowing your issues and getting to the root cause of them first is where you start with herbalism or with going on a diet or anything. That would be my recommendation.
Lisa Bass [00:12:27] Yeah, that makes sense. So the first question on the two different topics I want to cover for this episode— really, this leads kind of into it. The first question is: what do you not let into your home health-related, and where do you compromise like food and chemicals, and what are the priorities? So let’s start with that. Let’s start with food. So what are some of the non-negotiables that you have set out for you and your family when it comes to food and the kitchen?
Amy Fewell [00:12:53] Yeah. So we do not do— I would say 98% of the time, we don’t eat food that is heavy in dyes. That’s one of the biggest things, so like really colorful cereal and things like that. We do have it as— like for a birthday. If one of our kids has a birthday and they’re like, “I really want Lucky Charms. I really want this cereal that has a lot of dye in it.” Then I’m like, “Okay, it’s going to be gone in a day, anyhow. Just eat it.” You know, so we do have those instances where we allow it. But foods that are really heavy in dyes or foods that have been linked to having chemicals in them—which, again, is a lot of cereals—we strive to always look for the non-GMO symbol on food products that we purchase. We always try to go to the outer edges of the grocery store for things that we don’t grow ourselves, because typically those are things that don’t have a lot of chemicals or haven’t been known to have— be overly processed. I would say we don’t really buy candy. I know I’m such a party pooper on that. But our older son— a lot of the health issues that he had with asthma were gut related. And so when he would get candy, he would just go after it. I mean, it would literally be gone in a day even if I hid it. And I always notice behavioral issues and eczema flare-ups and just various different things. And when you see those things in your kids or in yourself, it is a non-negotiable. It’s no, we can’t do this anymore. We can’t deteriorate your body anymore. So things that are super high in sugar, super high in dyes, we’re very strict on. Minus those few special occasions that our kids are allowed to have it. I’m not saying that I don’t buy Oreos sometimes because I do. I do buy Oreos, and we do eat Oreos, and the knockoff Oreos don’t work. They just don’t.
Lisa Bass [00:14:52] They got to be the regular ones.
Amy Fewell [00:14:56] Right. But we buy organic as much as possible. And I hear all the time, “Well, organic is really expensive.” And it is, but so is bad health. Bad health is really expensive. And so you just have to choose your expensive. You’re either going to pay at the grocery store if you’re not growing most of it yourself, or you’re going to pay in doctor’s bills or in prescriptions to heal that eczema on your skin or to have that asthma or have issues with your body. And so we have found a way with our growing family to eat less and buy better food that way, buy organic as much as possible and grow what we can. So I would say that’s probably our non-negotiables. I mean, pretty much everything we buy is organic now.
Lisa Bass [00:15:49] Yeah. And it depends on what foods you buy. So if you’re buying organic Oreos, then that’s expensive. But if you’re sticking to the staples and you’re buying the bulk of your food in staples, just ingredients, then it really isn’t pricier if you’re conscious about that. So does your other children— have they struggled? I know your baby is just a baby, but has your other son struggled with asthma and things like that?
Amy Fewell [00:16:17] Our second son— he is three, and he has had asthmatic tendencies, but he is not an asthmatic. I have a theory on that because we raised our oldest son quite differently—when he was born—than we did our youngest. With asthma being genetic in my husband’s family, there are certain things that your children can have or you can give your children in the medical world that can make that worse. And so with the first oldest child, we did— I don’t know how you feel about talking about vaccinations or not. Do you do that here?
Lisa Bass [00:16:53] I mean, honestly, I think we all know what you’re talking about. And to an extent, I’m fine with it.
Amy Fewell [00:16:59] Okay. Yeah. Our first son got everything. I mean, he got all of the vaccinations from day one, from the time he was born. And our second son did not. He doesn’t have any vaccinations. And it’s interesting because there are genetic markers that if your family member has genetic markers for asthma, then there are certain issues within vaccines that can cause that to flare up. And so I truly believe that’s what happened with my oldest son. With my second son, I believe that even more because we didn’t do vaccines with him. He had asthmatic tendencies, but he has never had asthma and he’s since gotten over that and he’s only three. And so he’s never had to go through what our oldest son did. Now, obviously, Abigail, she is little. She’s only three weeks. And so I’m not sure. Now gender plays a huge role in that, too. Boys are more susceptible to having asthma than girls are. So that can play a role with her in the long run as well. So I thought it was kind of interesting to see the difference between them because a lot of boys in my husband’s family— they have asthma whether they’re siblings or not. And so with Everett, it was interesting to see that he did not have it. He would just kind of cough when he got sick or he would wheeze during allergy season, and we were able to combat that with herbalism.
Lisa Bass [00:18:18] Yeah. Without going too much into the weeds on this topic— I hint around with it, but you know what I mean. I think if you are curious about that, talk to lots of families who have lots of kids and ask them the differences—if they have older ones and younger ones—in their health. Just start exploring into that and—
Amy Fewell [00:18:38] Right.
Lisa Bass [00:18:38] Yeah. It’s very, very, very compelling.
Amy Fewell [00:18:44] Yeah. It’s a very interesting topic.
Lisa Bass [00:18:46] It for sure is. It’s funny because I stayed fully away from it for a long time, but then in the last couple of years, I feel like it’s more socially acceptable.
Amy Fewell [00:19:00] Right. Well, yeah, especially after 2020, right?
Lisa Bass [00:19:03] Exactly. I’m just saying, like now I think it’s— even people who before would have been like, “Don’t talk about that,” are now like, “All right, we got to talk about this.”.
Amy Fewell [00:19:09] Right.
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Lisa Bass [00:21:13] Okay. Do you have any tips— or do you worry about if you’re on vacation, you’re traveling— I get asked this question a lot: what’s your protocol on that? Like for food?
Amy Fewell [00:21:25] So we are probably horrible on that for food, except we do a lot of salads. So if we’re on the road, we will get snacks. We’ll take snacks with us. There’s only so many snacks we can fit. Normally, we have to rent a rental vehicle. And so there’s not always a lot of room when we’re traveling. And we don’t travel that often; normally it’s just for conference or the random vacation every few years. But we will take food with us. But we do eat out a lot. But we’ll try to go for like the sandwich wraps or the salads. There’s a lot of good options now that used to not be even ten years ago. And so we’ll do that. And then we do an Airbnb wherever we go. And so there’s a grocery store nearby. So a lot of times what we’ll do is just go to the grocery store when we get there and shop rather than taking food with us, unless it’s something that I’ve made that I want to take with us. So that’s generally what we do. We do compromise during those times just because sometimes convenience is sanity.
Lisa Bass [00:22:27] Yeah. Oh, yeah.
Amy Fewell [00:22:27] But when we do that, we obviously choose a healthier option. So even our kids are used to that. And then there’s— again, we do have compromises. Like if the toddler is in the back screaming he wants chicken nuggets, then we’ll choose the healthiest chicken nuggets we can have, you know? So we’re normal people. We do not eat junk food every day, but we do have those instances. And traveling is one of those instances sometimes where we compromise.
Lisa Bass [00:22:55] Yeah, I’m totally an 80/20 type of person where when we’re on vacation, I am not going to get too worked up and too upset because I can get— like I’ve been there in the past, and preparing for a vacation whenever you are that worried about it turns into an absolute nightmare because instead of just packing and gathering all the things you need for the trip, you’re also spending an entire week creating meals and plans, and it just takes all the fun completely out of it.
Amy Fewell [00:23:22] It’s not a vacation. It’s like, why go on vacation?
Lisa Bass [00:23:24] Yeah, exactly. There’s already too much to arrange to worry about that. That is me, too. I’m way more laid back on that than I ever was. One thing I try to do—if at all possible—to bring raw milk or bring something with probiotics if we’re not flying. Like if we can bring kefir, that really does help to have good bacteria competing with whatever bad stuff I’m eating does tend to help.
Amy Fewell [00:23:50] Yeah, that’s what I was actually about to say. So the one thing that my husband always wants us to take is raw milk because he literally will go through raw milk withdrawals when we are out places. And it’s funny because when we go do our Tennessee events, normally there’s somebody at these events that has raw milk if we haven’t brought our raw milk, and that is where he is. He is at that booth drinking their raw milk the whole time. And I’m just like, “Babe, you have to save the raw milk for other people.” But yeah, raw milk is a big one for us when we’re traveling or something like that, something to that extent. Your body really gets used to it when you’re used to drinking raw milk or having the kefir or having those probiotics. And so when you withdraw that from your body and then you put all of this other stuff you’re not used to eating on top of it, it can make you sick. And actually, the last two years that we’ve traveled, our second son has gotten sick both times. And I’m certain that’s probably why, because he’s overtired and he hasn’t been drinking as much raw milk and he hasn’t been doing all the things that we do at home. And so I either look—before we leave—for the closest health food store that has elderberry syrup. That’s one thing I will look for or I’ll take our own elderberry syrup with us. And he just takes that the whole time now, which normally helps his immune system stay boosted during the time we’re gone.
Lisa Bass [00:25:19] Yeah. So it’s more about what you add on versus what you don’t have in those situations. It’s adding in elderberry syrup, adding in the raw milk or probiotics really does seem to make a big difference. I’ve noticed the exact same thing. So what are some non-negotiables when it comes to cleaning, laundry, personal care? What are some of the things that you absolutely will not allow into your home?
Amy Fewell [00:25:46] So it’s amazing how many people think they need a lot of cleaning products. I literally just clean with vinegar and water most of the time for everything. I mean, absolutely everything. And so we’ve just seen no need to really buy cleaning products over the last few years. And so I know for me, any kind of cleaning product, even the natural ones that are on the market, the scents that they use— I mean, I know that they’re natural, but man, there’s still something in them that just sets my family off. And so we just don’t use them. We don’t really bring them into the house at all. When we bought this house that we’re in right now just a few months ago, we had family members come in and clean, and they used the natural cleaning products, and it about killed me to come in and just smell it. It was awful. So we don’t do that. We don’t do any kind of really cleaning products, even if they’re natural. We just use water and vinegar or some kind of natural soap to clean for everything whether it’s the countertop or the refrigerator or the toilet, everything. As far as laundry, we do choose a natural laundry detergent, and that varies. It varies as to what we can find when we go to the grocery store or wherever we get it from. And the one thing that really surprised me when I was researching laundry products is the amount of laundry products that have chemicals in them that are linked to things like Alzheimer’s. And we have family members that have dementia or Alzheimer’s. And so that was a big deal for me just thinking about my own husband. Like if I’m using this and he’s going to be in his seventies and have Alzheimer’s, and I could have prevented that just by using a natural laundry soap, why not do that? And yeah, it’s a little more expensive if you don’t make it yourself. But to me, again, I choose my expensive. It’s either expensive now or it’s losing my husband when he’s in his seventies. So those are the types of things that I think about when it comes to laundry and cleaning supplies in the household. And then we don’t use a lot of things. We really don’t use a lot of perfumes or colognes or anything like that either. It’s just a family decision we’ve decided to make over the years.
Lisa Bass [00:28:08] Yeah, it’s really funny how much marketing is behind all of that, because like you said, you can tackle pretty much any job in your house—except maybe like a few very rough areas, maybe like once a year—with vinegar and water. But we all grew up with a cleaning caddy. I don’t know about you, but I think it’s definitely moving in a different direction, but when we were kids, cleaning the house smelled a certain way. You had your ammonia and bleach, and there was like rubber gloves and products for absolutely every little surface. There was shower cleaner and all purpose. What’s the difference between that? How would all purpose and a shower? What would be the difference? But I definitely grew up—you know, kind of like when I first got married—confused as to what products do I need? I need floor cleaner, I need wood floor cleaner, I need toilet bowl cleaner. And I’m thinking now, okay, that was all just marketing that made me think that.
Amy Fewell [00:29:04] It’s literally just marketing. There is no difference other than some of them might have different chemicals than others and it doesn’t do anything different. It still does the same job. I think a lot of us can still fall into that especially with the YouTube homemaking community. A lot of people still don’t use natural products. And so we see the caddy with all of the name brand cleaning products. And we think, oh, we have to have those, whether it’s because it’s the fall scent or the summer scent or various different things that— you know what I mean? Little things things like that. And it is. It’s all marketing. And I know that because my whole career has been in marketing.
Lisa Bass [00:29:44] Yeah, exactly. I feel like I’m seeing behind the veil, behind the curtain on that one.
Amy Fewell [00:29:49] Right. Yeah. So you don’t need those things. And it’s like that with everything I’m discovering. When it comes to just living a simple lifestyle, you don’t need a whole lot. You don’t need all the cleaners, you don’t need to eat five times a day. My family— we rarely eat breakfast. And most people would say, “Oh, that’s horrible.” But there’s something behind that, too, where we eat a good lunch. We eat great snacks in between. We eat a great dinner. And we kind of do intermittent fasting in the morning until a certain time. And so that’s something that I did while on keto, too. And it just helps heal your body. Now, again, you have to do it every day. You don’t have to do it at all. But I always think it’s really interesting how in the Bible it talks about fasting, and it wasn’t just for prayer time. It was for healing, too. Healing the body and cleansing the body. And so there’s just stigmas and different ideas that we have from growing up or that society has told us or that a commercial has told us that life should look a certain way. And I think for our family, we’re realizing that life doesn’t have to look that way at all. And in fact, if it doesn’t look the way that society is currently saying it should or the marketing team is saying it should, and it’s generally healthier than what they’re saying.
Lisa Bass [00:31:09] Yeah, yeah. It’s interesting. Sometimes you don’t even realize that you have these certain biases and these thoughts that have been so ingrained. You don’t even notice they’re there until you start thinking, “Oh, wait, why do I think I need 15 glass jars labeled with something when all I ever needed was vinegar?” I’m so unorganized that I like the idea of making homemade cleaners. I’ve done it. I make a lot of them. And then I forget to label them. And then I write with like a dry erase marker before it’s wiped off. And I’m like, “What’s this random bottle again?” I’m too much of a minimalist, I think, for that.
Amy Fewell [00:31:44] Yeah. We’re the same way. I mean, if I can just have one thing that does all the things, I’m good.
Lisa Bass [00:31:52] Yeah. I remember in my old house— somebody asked me, “How do you clean the floors?” And there it was an all wood floor house, so there was no carpet. And I was like, “You know what? I don’t.” And I spot clean. So, like, when I see something, I wipe it. But there was never a time whenever I— or maybe like once in like the whole time we lived there where I like got a mop out and cleaned all the floors, and somehow we completely made it through it, and we were healthy and fine. And so I’m like, “Is that optional? Is that one of those optional things?” The house looked good. I spot cleaned all the time. Every time I saw a spot, have my rug in my hand. Just a little bit of warm water. And so I’m like, “Oh, wait, maybe mopping your floor from top to bottom is an optional thing.” Am I gross?
Amy Fewell [00:32:36] No, I don’t think so. I mean, so we lived in a really small house before this, and I felt like I had to clean all the time because everything was always muddy. Everything was muddy. Every part of the floor was muddy. And so I had to mop all the time.
Lisa Bass [00:32:51] Yeah, if there was mud, I wiped it up. Like the floors looked good. I’m just saying I never got the steam mop down and, like, did the thing, you know?
Amy Fewell [00:32:57] Yeah, well, in this house, it’s different. Like, I can’t tell you— I’ve only mopped the living room, I think, and maybe the kitchen. And that was just because something had spilled or the dog had gotten something everywhere. But every other room in this house— I mean, this house is like three times bigger than our old house. I’ve never mopped these floors. Why should I? Like, they’re not horribly dirty. Like you said, I’ll spot clean. And every homemaker in the world is gasping, you know, like, “Oh, horrible. That’s horrible.”
Lisa Bass [00:33:26] I know. I’m like, “Am I allowed to say this?”
Amy Fewell [00:33:29] This is horrible, Lisa.
Lisa Bass [00:33:29] Well, I’m thinking like, what’s behind it? Like, if it’s very bad that I didn’t do that, what should have been the consequence? Because I didn’t realize any consequences for it. So I think that it was probably fine.
Amy Fewell [00:33:44] I think you’re fine. It’s just in our minds, too. Like, I know for me, I don’t know why— probably because my grandmother was an exceptional homemaker. Like everything was always clean. She cleaned all the time. And I so that, in my mind, it made me worry like, oh my gosh, if my house isn’t spotless when somebody comes over, then they’re going to think horrible of me. They’re just going to think horrible of me. And as I’ve gotten older— I had an older lady tell me one time that she has a rule: whenever she goes to a friend’s house or whenever a friend is supposed to come to her house, their rule is that they’re not allowed to clean that day. They are not allowed to clean before their friend comes because friends don’t judge, they don’t judge other friends’ houses. And so I’m not saying be sloppy. No, don’t be don’t be a sluggard. Don’t be sloppy. Sometimes I think we can make our homes this idol like it should be a certain way and it should look a certain way when really it should just look like a home. It should look clean, but it should also be a lived-in home. And and that gave me a lot of freedom when she told me that, especially an older lady. When older lady tells you that, there’s something special. Right?
Lisa Bass [00:34:57] Yeah. A lot of wisdom behind that. So let’s move on to another category, which I don’t even like talking about this because I feel like I have done nothing about it and I just am like, “La la la, I don’t wanna hear it.” Are you concerned with air quality, EMFs, all of that type of stuff in your house? Or do you do anything?
Amy Fewell [00:35:19] I mean, yeah, I’m concerned as much as everyone should be, I guess. But do we do anything about it? No.
Lisa Bass [00:35:27] Okay, that’s where I am.
Amy Fewell [00:35:29] We don’t. And I feel like it’s almost a losing battle. You know, there’s a lot of products out there that people say you can use. And I’ve seen a lot of reviews on those products that are supposed to take chemicals out of the air. They’re supposed to take radiowaves out of the air, they’re supposed to do all of these things. And they just don’t work. They don’t work very well. Anyone who has a cell phone— you know, you’re talking about specifically EMFs. You’re going to have EMFs in your house. You know, unless you put your cell phone in a Faraday cage, there’s— everything is running through your house. There’s a cell phone tower everywhere now. And so it’s almost like, why even try? Yeah, sure, if you put one of these little products beside your bed, it might work beside your bed, but it’s not going to cure the ailment—in other words—for your whole house. And so I have a lot of concerns. That’s a hot topic. I feel like that’s a whole other podcast episode are these things that we should be concerned about.
Lisa Bass [00:36:33] Yeah, I think you’re right.
Amy Fewell [00:36:33] But for us, we try to limit our exposure as much as possible. I know that I sleep better when my cell phone isn’t in my bedroom. And that’s something that really I found interesting when I started doing it. Whether it’s because of EMFs or whether it’s because of, oh, there’s a cell phone there, I should check and see what’s going on. I don’t know which one it is, but I think in order to make any real difference in our home with air quality and EMFs, we almost have to take it to a more local political level. With the amount of cell phone towers that are going up, with the amount of issues that there are, otherwise it’s— I feel like that’s just another marketing ploy. Sorry, I said it. I do. I feel like these products that people promise take EMFs out of your house or whatever— it really is just another marketing ploy. Again, unless you’re putting every electronic product in a Faraday cage, it’s really just not working at all.
Lisa Bass [00:37:35] Yeah. It probably makes you feel better, like thinking that it works, but I mean, this is me speaking from a I’ve done literally no research on this at all, so I guess take what I say very loosely. But yeah, it’s one of those things I’m like, okay, but no matter what, there is like service— the other day we had a guy come over to install new internet here, which I’m regretting. I’m now going to keep old services, clearly. Anyways, he put this little tester on to see where the nearest tower was, and we should have— with a hot spot for the tower nearby, we should have like 100—whatever the metric is: gigs? I don’t even know—of internet because it’s so close. And so I’m like, well then, I could do everything, and that’s still just like pulsing through our house.
Amy Fewell [00:38:21] Right. Well, that’s the same story here. Like, we moved here— at our old house, we had cable internet. It was great. It was fast. And then here, that’s not available at all because it’s out in the middle of nowhere even more. And so same thing. We have broadband, and there’s this little tiny satellite on top of our house that connects to a 5G cell phone tower literally right across the road from our house. And my husband and I started talking— I had avoided getting 5G on my phone for so long. And so like a month or so after we moved here, I was talking about how I needed to turn the 5G off my phone. He’s like, “Why?” He’s like, “It’s literally our internet. Like, that’s what we’re using for internet whether you have it on your phone or not.” And I’m like, “Oh wait.” You know, it was this aha moment. It happens even in this natural community. People are like, “Don’t turn the 5G on your phone.” Okay, well, there’s a 5G tower right by my house. Do you think that’s not going through my house? It doesn’t really matter if it’s on my phone or not.
Lisa Bass [00:39:22] So yeah, that’s one of those things I’m like, you know what? I think I’m just going to not think about it. It’s kind of like whenever your child has a certain symptom and you start Googling, and you’re like, wait a minute. Step back. Let’s just see how this plays out over the next— unless, of course, it’s an emergency. That’s totally different. But there are some times where you know nothing’s wrong, but you’re going to Google it. This actually happened to me last night. One of my kids woke up with growing pains, which has happened before to me. Another child had this. They grew out of them. But it’s so scary because if you Google it, pain in the legs can mean a lot of things. And I’m like, stop. You know it’s growing pains. Put it away. Don’t even think about this. Today he’s running around like crazy. He’s totally fine. It was definitely an overnight growing pain, but it’s kind of like that. Just don’t even go down that road because there’s—at some point—nothing you can do.
Amy Fewell [00:40:17] Right. Well and this is where living naturally comes into play. I mean, there are things that happen in the world that we cannot control. You know, that’s just how it is. But living a more natural lifestyle and knowing that there are herbs that can— there’s adaptogen herbs that you can take daily in a tea or just a capsule or whatever that helps your body adapt to these things more efficiently and helps get rid of that stress in your body that these things put on your body. I tend to focus more on that with my family than actually trying to think that I can get rid of these things because it is literally fighting a losing battle. There’s no way I’m going to do anything that gets rid of that cell phone tower. And quite honestly, do I want to? Because I have a business to run. And I kind of need that cell phone tower.
Lisa Bass [00:41:08] I know. I also really need that internet, but if it all went away, I’m sure we’d figure out something. But as of right now, it’s great.
Lisa Bass [00:41:16] All right. I want to pause to tell you about another sponsor today, and that is Redmond Real Salt. So if you’re cooking from scratch like I am—making homemade bone broth, fermenting your own vegetables—you will find that you need a lot of salt. I know that every time I turn around, I’m refilling my little salt canister that sits above my stove. I’m sprinkling it all over our meat, into our homemade bone broth. Everything just tastes better with a good quality salt. And when you’re using that much of anything, you need to make sure that it is quality, that you aren’t introducing something into your food after all of this hard work that is going to have negative impacts on your health. That’s why I trust Redmond Real Salt. I actually purchased a huge bucket from them so that I don’t run out. I find that that is one thing I can’t do without. I can have staples on hand like eggs, like whole grains so that I can mill them and make flours and breads and milk from our cow. But if we don’t have salt, I really can’t pull a meal together. So head on over to bit.ly/RedmondFarmhouse and that is where you can get a discount on Redmond Real Salt. They’ve offered this for Simple Farmhouse Life podcast listeners, so make sure to stock up on a good quality salt for your kitchen. While you’re over there, check out their seasoning salts. You can find so many things to dress up those summer barbecue meals, any meal that you are cooking from scratch. Again, that’s bit.ly/RedmondFarmhouse to get a discount on clean quality salt to add to all of your homemade dishes.
Lisa Bass [00:43:01] Okay. So speaking of herbs—because you just brought up herbs—we were supposed to chat herbs. We’re going into the weeds on a lot of things, so let’s at least jump a little bit into herbs. I usually like to ask content creators what your frequently asked questions are because there’s probably certain things in regards to herbs that you get asked all the time. So let’s just get those out of the way because that’s obviously what people want to know. So what are people always asking you?
Amy Fewell [00:43:27] Yeah. So the one question I always get asked—and I’m sure people just love my answer—is what herbs should I start growing right now? What herbs should I keep on hand? Or what herbs can cure high blood pressure and a headache? And these are the questions I always get. People want this instant healing when it comes to herbalism. And so the questions are always, “Okay, tell me what herb to use for this.” Okay, well, there’s like 15 of them. And I need to know your medical history and why you have this issue and why your body is reacting this way. It’s like, I had a client who his back hurt and he had back issues, and he wanted herbs for his back issues. Well, the reality is that he may have had back issues, but really it was his thyroid that was the issue. And so these are— there’s no instant gratification in herbalism, and I always try to start with that because we’re used to the pharmaceutical industry. We’re used to Tylenol working in 30 minutes. We’re used to high blood pressure medicine working. Every day, we just pop a pill and it brings our blood pressure down. Herbalism is not that way at all, and I don’t say that to discourage people from herbalism, but herbalism really treats your whole body. You have to figure out what’s wrong with your body and kind of get to the bottom of it and then treat those underlying reasons, and then you’ll see kind of what— do all the other symptoms go away if you’re treating your thyroid and you have 15 pains in other places and that’s because of your thyroid and those pains go away. Well, that’s amazing. We didn’t have to use all these other herbs and products to get rid of those pains. So I always recommend that people start with, what do you want to learn about? Do you want to learn about headaches? But write down the herbs that you want to learn about and the ailments that you want to learn about, and then go from there. And learn about five herbs and learn all you can about them and then add five more herbs. And that tends to get people going on the herbalism track. And once you dive into herbalism and you really start learning about different herbs, you’ll see, oh my goodness, all of these herbs, they could do the same thing, but then they can do very different things. And how does that work? How do I know— you know, that’s another question I get is how do I know which herb to use for what? And, you know by taking the time to research what the differences are and what your issues are. And so I think that’s a really good place to start for people when diving into herbalism. Another question I get frequently is about boosting the immune system. And technically you can’t boost the immune system at all. Your immune system is what it is. You can support your immune system to be healthier. And that isn’t a— that’s not a one day thing either. You know, again, that goes into living a natural lifestyle and using supportive herbs and adaptogen herbs that can help support your immune system. But I think it’s really important that people learn how herbs work. But I think it’s even more important that people learn how the body works. Did you know you have two immune systems, not just one immune system? And various different things like that. You have an innate immune system and you have an adaptive immune system. And what do they do? What are their jobs? And a lot of people— these are things that I feel like our ancestors knew and they were able to navigate herbalism better. But we don’t know this about ourselves. We don’t know how our body works because decades ago, we handed our bodies over to scientists and doctors who made us believe— again, through marketing—that they were the only ones who knew how everything worked. And so I think it’s really important for anyone getting into herbalism to also kind of take a basic look at the human body. And I didn’t mention that before. I do have an herbal membership, but I also have an herbal course where we do talk about that. We specifically talk about viruses and the common cold and flu and other viruses and how the body works and how herbs work with the body. And so for your audience—I do this on every podcast I’m on. I always say there’s a book called Medical Herbalism by David Hoffman, and anyone who’s really interested in learning how the human body works and how herbs work with the body— that is a really good, thorough book to get. It’s a huge book. It’s an intimidating book, but it really lets you understand how your body works and how herbs actually work with the body. And it’s slow. We are all about slow food. We should also be all about slow medicine. And as we heal our bodies with slow food and we learn more about slow medicine— there are certainly herbs that work instantly, like Meadow Sweet for fever. But you also have to take it more frequently. You have to take it every 2 hours instead of taking it once every 8 hours like Tylenol. So those are the gist of the main bulk of questions I get having to do with instant healing and how does the body work and various different things like that.
Lisa Bass [00:48:56] Yeah, there’s just so many ways that you can start going down the path of learning about how your body works. And I think the first step is definitely—like what you said—is actually believing that you can learn about it even if you don’t have any credentials or numbers behind your name. I 100% believe that. There have been so many things that I and people that I know personally—friends that I have, family member—who have taken something that they were told can only be fixed a certain way and completely reversed it with another way. And so I think people are primed up and ready to believe that finally, but it’s very hard convincing people that they are smart enough to actually start exploring into learning about their own body and how it works and not just handing that off. Obviously, you and I both agree with that when it comes to birth. You clearly took her birth into— not not into your own hands, but you learned about it and advocated for yourself. And you didn’t just say, “Here I am. Do what you want with me.” And that is very important.
Amy Fewell [00:50:04] Yeah, I think that is very important. I mean, we have been convinced— just this entire generation and the generation before us, our parents and grandparents really is what convinced us, too—that we don’t know anything. If we didn’t go to school for it and it isn’t our career, then we don’t know anything. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been told that I don’t know anything because I don’t have a Ph.D. or an M.D. behind my name. And the reality is that I have watched more people be healed from simple herbal medicine more quickly than the pharmaceuticals that they’re on because they’re doing the right thing. They’re changing their lifestyle, they’re taking something that’s whole and that knows how to work with their body. And it’s not creating worse symptoms for them. It’s taking away their symptoms because it’s taking away the root cause of their symptoms. It’s not just, “Here, take this Band-Aid and then have five other gash and holes that you need a Band-Aid for that we’ll have to fix with another medicine.” And so I think it’s just really important to remind ourselves that— you can parent your children, right? You know that you can parent your children, although we do have society telling us sometimes we can’t do that either. Then you can take simple health into your own hands. I mean, people look at me and say, “How have you not taken your kids to the doctor in the last eight years?” Well, I just haven’t, because I’ve learned how not to, but I have friends—bless their hearts—that run to the doctor as soon as there’s a 100 degree fever or as soon as there’s a cough or a sniffle. And I think that’s fear. I think fear drives us to do these things when, if we just sat down and realized how simple the human body is and how able we are to do these things on our own— and no one’s going to knock on our door and tell us that we can’t. You know, we have that fear, too. A lot of parents have that fear that, oh my gosh, if I do it wrong, then what’s going to happen? And I think that we just have to get rid of that fear. You know, it’s something that’s been there for generations that it’s really time for it to go because there are so many of us now that are doing it. You know, I’m doing it. You’re doing it. Your friends are doing it. Family members are doing it. And these kids are healthier because of it. You know, my three-year-old has never been to the doctor. He’s never been to the pediatrician. He was born at a birth center. He came home. That’s it. You know, this three-week-old has never been to the pediatrician, praise the Lord. You know, she’s never had to. And hopefully, we continue to do that. My oldest was constantly at the pediatrician because of all of the health issues that he had. And that is not better. I realize now, knowing what I know now— and it’s just a matter of prioritizing and taking the time to learn about it. If you’re truly interested in it, in living this lifestyle and having a natural health family, just learning about it and going with it and experimenting. You’re not going to kill your family. You know, I thought that, too. Oh my gosh, I’m going to kill my family with these herbs and essential oils. And you’re not. I mean, there’s a good, healthy dose of reality that you should have, which I talk about extensively every time I talk about herbs. But most of the time, our bodies know what to do with natural medicine. Where we hear all the time, Tylenol or all of these other things getting taken off the shelf because parents overdose their kids on it or their kids have a bad reaction to it. And that is far happening less with natural medicine than it is with modern medicine.
Lisa Bass [00:53:48] Yeah. And I mean, I know that if you haven’t branched into the world of believing that there are certain things you can learn about and take into your own hands— now, not everything. Obviously like if— you know, we’ve been to the doctor because we broke our arm. Two children have broken their arms, and I do not know how to do that. Although I’d like to learn. I feel like that would be good to know. I don’t currently know how to set a bone and put a cast on. So obviously, there are times when you need that expertise. And even with other issues as well. But there are also times when you think that you don’t understand and have knowledge about something that you actually can. And once you start, you gain more confidence in each area. And again, I encourage you to talk to somebody who’s an experienced mother, who has a lot of kids. You might discover that there’s more that you can learn about your children’s health than you originally thought you were allowed to without certain credentials.
Amy Fewell [00:54:56] Absolutely.
Lisa Bass [00:54:56] Okay. We could talk about this forever. I have like a whole list of things, like what do you do specifically during this and this? But I think that what we’re leaving it at is to just start exploring. And you’ve given us some good resources. Can you tell us again where they can start with you in learning about herbalism or just any of these things that we talked about? Like if it’s their very first step, where they can start to just like step out and learn.
Amy Fewell [00:55:24] Yeah. So you can go to my website TheFewellHomestead.com and there are lots of free resources and blog posts on there about herbalism, about individual herbs, even about certain ailments like allergies and various different things that you might be combating in your family. And then there’s also links to membership and the course that I mentioned on there. And of course, there’s YouTube as well. I have started talking more about herbalism on YouTube. And so people can find me there as well. It’s just Amy Fewell at The Fewell Homestead.
Lisa Bass [00:55:57] Awesome. Well, thank you so much for taking the time out of your busy mom and mom entrepreneur schedule to chat on the podcast. I’m so glad to finally have you on.
Amy Fewell [00:56:07] Sure. Well, thanks for having me. I’ve enjoyed it.
Lisa Bass [00:56:10] All right. Well, as always, thank you so much for listening to this episode of the Simple Farmhouse Life podcast. Make sure to check out the resources that Amy mentioned. I hope that you were able to learn a lot about some moms and what they do for certain health concerns, as well as what we keep in our homes and what we guard from coming in. So make sure to go check out all the resources that she linked. And I will see you in the next episode of the Simple Farmhouse Life podcast.