Buy Local, Eat Fresh

Dr. Sparks is committed to helping people live a healthier life.

9 Round


Typically when we hear “Buy Local, Eat Fresh” we think of farmer’s markets and little health food stores.  But today I want to talk about something that is changing the way I look at exercise.  Recently, due to a tragic life event, I gained weight, a lot of weight.  I have been feeling uncomfortable in my own clothes and skin.  I have been out of breath trying to climb hills and stairs.  I realized that something had to change.

My biggest issue is time.  I always try to find the obstacle to better health for my patients so I figured this was the place to start with me.  My extremely busy schedule makes it difficult for me to attend exercise classes and I am not a fan of working on machines.  So this left me with hiking and walking around the lake but that just wasn’t enough.  Don’t get me wrong, walking 30-60mins 3 times a week is great for overall health, but I needed to build muscle and lose weight.  9 Round snuck into my life because my sister and I walked by and tried the free first workout.  It kicked my butt  but this was the first time in my life that I actually looked forward to “working out.”   I am also so happy to get the bonus of ENDORPHINS with only 30mins of exercise!

One of the best things about 9 Round is how accessible it is for beginners and people who are out of shape, like me.  🙁  Scot Worley is the owner of the 9 Round in Clyde. He’s completed 8 marathons, a full Ironman and countless other athletic events. He’s a NAASFP Certified Marathon Coach and has held certifications in Group Fitness Exercise and Spin Cycling.  He told me,” I have always enjoyed the physical benefits and achievements from physical exercise and have come to the realization that the human body is capable of incredible feats.”  He opened 9 Round in July of 2016 and since then he says, “I’ve seen so many people gain strength in ways they didn’t think was possible. And the great thing is that so much of the workout is simply using your own body weight to achieve the results.”

I think the greatest part is Scot opened 9 Round for some of the same reasons I LOVE 9 Round, including timing and training.  But something I hadn’t thought about was the workout itself.  Scot explained, “It’s a full body workout. With 9 stations (rounds) that are done in 3-minute increments, every station works a different muscle group. In 30 minutes, members get cardiovascular exercise, strength training and core (abdominal) exercise.”

So really there is no excuse not to do 9 Round: too busy, a beginner, overweight, uncoordinated, out of shape. . .

Wild Market Update-Got Milk?


I had to write another post about Wild Market as I just had the MOST delicious milk that I have ever had in my entire life! They get it from a farm called Maple Hill Creamery.  I cannot rave about this milk enough.  My sister and I got a half gallon and literally toasted each other with small glasses of milk because it was so amazing.  I remember feeling this way about my first experience with organic farmer’s market strawberries as an adult.  I was like, “OMG, is this how they are supposed to taste? I have been missing out!”  I told my sister that if milk tasted like this growing up, I would have liked it and not argued with my mom about drinking milk.

That brings up a good point.  I don’t advocate lots of cow dairy.  Let’s be honest, the milk from a cow is made for a baby calf to turn from 50 lbs to 500 lbs and is a highly intolerant food for many people.  But we all know it tastes good. The dairy industry has done a great job of advertising to the point that people believe that milk is our only form of calcium, which it is not.  But if you are going to eat dairy then eat the best dairy you can get your hands on and this company is it!

Maple Hill has GRASSFED cows.  This means that you are going to get the beneficial fatty acids from it.  You remember Omega 3’s right?  This is the great fat in wild salmon and is in grassfed meat and dairy.  It has CLA which has been shown to fight cancer.  Plus it is free of steroids and antibiotics and lets be real, cows that pasture all day really are happy cows.  Don’t let those commercials trick you into believing that the normal milk at the grocery is from grassfed happy cows.   Maple Hill also low heat pasteurizes the milk.  This means they are killing enough microbes for the FDA to let them sell nationally but they are not hurting the good fats in the milk.  Don’t you just wonder why this isn’t a common practice with the big dairy industry?

I hope every runs to buy this milk for a bunch of reasons.

  1. It’s better for your health!
  2. It’s better tasting! Don’t worry if it is whole milk, that just means more Omega 3 fatty acids.
  3. It supports a farm that is doing the right thing
  4. It supports a local business, Wild Market, run by two amazing women.

Oh and by the way they now have Grassfed, grass finished beef to sell from a local farm called Happy Hollow Farms.  They are a wonderful farm in Clyde.  So if you can’t make it to the farmer’s market or you need a last minute cut of meat for the grill this weekend, check out Wild Market!

Haywood’s Historic Farmer’s Market


I am very excited about this post because I have this LOVE of farmer’s markets in general.  But I am even more excited because I am fortunate to be a vendor this year at this market.  Yes it is an early morning set up but it’s worth it.  I feel so inspired by all the famers and vendors who take pride in their products. There is such a great vibe and feeling when walking around looking at the magnificent foods and products.

I always tell my patients to shop local.  I can’t emphasize this enough.  Not only does it reduce your carbon foot print and support local business but it does even more for your health.  When you buy from a local farmer you are able to talk to them directly about their farming practices.  The biggest reason for me to recommend buying from these farms is minerals.

Today’s big agriculture business is in dire need of a revamp.  The U.S. is one of the most overfed and undernourished countries in the world and part of this is because of our large farming practices.  Of course more of the problem is processed foods but hear me out.  Say you are the perfect patient, you exercise, sleep well, drink plenty of water and buy all your foods organically from let’s say, Whole Foods.  You have lowered your pesticide burden of course but have you considered trace minerals?

Trace minerals are very important to help thousands of enzymatic reactions in the body.  What we don’t see when we pay $2.00 for an organic cucumber is that the large corporate grocery stores have made deals with these organic farmers to producer 1 or 2 crops.  This means they can no longer practice  crop rotation and have to supplement (fertilize) the crops with fertilizers that don’t typically include trace minerals. The smaller farmers here on our own county have more products per farm and there for able to practice age old farming practices that enrich the soil and help you resolve deficiencies by eating your way to better health!

So take the time and get out on Wednesday or Saturday mornings from 8am-12pm beginning April 15th and say hi!  We would love to see you.


Tea Time Emporium-Soap


What we put on our skin is vitally important.  It is said that the chemicals that touch our skin will be in our blood stream in 23 seconds.  This is why we need to take precautions when it comes to what types of beauty products we use.  One of the most common offenders is soap.

Let me start by saying that if you want to throw something out today, toss your anti-bacterial soaps filled with Triclosan.  The FDA is issuing warnings regarding Triclosan and has taken it out of hospitals.  If that isn’t enough, you should toss it because we need a certain amount of bacteria in our lives.  When we are exposed to bacteria and viruses our immune system get’s stronger.  This is important if we want to be effective at fighting off future illnesses.

Soaps can also contain the following.

Parabens: have an estrogen mimicking effect that is associated with increased risk of breast cancer.
Phthalates: They are found in personal care products. They are known to be endocrine disruptors and have been linked to increase breast cancer, early breast development in girls, and reproductive birth defects in males and females.
SLS/SLES (sodium lauryl sulfate/sodium laureth sulfate): They are found in personal care and cleaning products. They are known to causes skin, lung, and eye irritation. When combined with other toxic chemicals, they cause kidney and respiratory damage.

Well this all brings me to my favorite soap that is free of all the nasty things above.  I buy them from Nancy Powell at the Tea Time Emporium in Waynesville. The company is called the 23 Soap Company and is run by a local man in Asheville.  He creates them from scratch and hand crafts each one.  There is no pre-packaged glycerine or molds going on here.  They are vegan, handcrafted soap containing  oils such as coconut, palm, olive, argan, avocado and castor in various blends.  Then he adds essential oils to them.  Let’s just say that the lather is amazing and my skin has never felt so soft!  I have actually changed from a body wash to a bar of soap kind of girl because they are that amazing.  I buy them as gifts for friends and family and can’t get enough of them.

Ok rant over.  But seriously they are amazing.  I hear that they now have amazing deodorant too and I am going to pick some up as soon as I am finished with my current bottle.  I believe Nancy does sell small samples of soap  if you just want to check them out.  You can never go wrong with a visit to the store as Nancy makes every feel at home with a little tea, cookies and great conversation.  So buy local and give yourself a treat!


Shady Brook Farm

I finally found a local farm that has grass fed and grass finished beef!

This is a question, patients and people at my talks, ask me all the time.  I am always talking about the benefits of grass fed beef.  The media has told us for years to stay away from beef to avoid heart disease.  What they didn’t tell us was that there is a difference between grain fed and grass fed cows.  Grain fed cows are like cows eating McDonald’s.  It’s not what they are meant to eat and the  fat they produce in their body is saturated fat and they are extremely fatty.  Now grass fed cows are like humans who eat a balanced diet filled with whole foods.  They cows are leaner and are filled with anti-oxidants like Vitamin E and Omega Fatty acids including CLA (Conjugated Linoleic Acid)  which has been shown to help fight cancer and heart disease.  So eating moderate amounts of grassed beef is good for you!

I have found some national delivery services for grass fed beef but I am also a proponent of buying local.  I  did have a hard time trying to find it locally as many are grass fed but corn or grain finished. So I was coming up short, UNTIL NOW!

Shady Brook Farm is owned by Adam & Jada Henson and is located in Haywood County, North Carolina..  I actually met Adam at the Waynesville Historic Farmer’s Market.  This fall I had a booth there to sell teas and salves.  The great part was meeting all the wonderful farmers and vendors who also have a passion for natural health and sustainable living.

I am little bit skeptical of farmers who claim their beef is grass fed so I tread with caution and ask a lot of questions.  It was a very cold morning and Adam and his daughter were setting up next to me so I figured I would probe to see if this was a farm I could recommend.  He told me about his farming practices and I was sold!  He pastures his beef all year round. He also pasture raises chickens that help to turn over the area grazed on by the cows previously so they can return to that spot next year and it will be fertilized well.  Lastly, they found the best time to process the beef to increase nutrient density.  This farm gets my unbending stamp of approval!!! They  have new beef in stock now and of course they will be back at the markets come the spring.

You can connect with them at or

Wild Market-Nail Polish

5c774d0172728f426665a27e9f3f5221   unknown 13240572_10154512757009453_6834697762040838781_n

So this one goes out to Haywood County NC, but especially Maggie Valley folks.  If you don’t already know, there is a new health conscious store in Maggie Valley called Wild Market.  It is on the south side of Soco Road in the middle of a shopping strip.  Leslie Larsen and her daughter Samantha Stewart opened Wild Market this summer.  A friend of mine told me I needed to go there so I took the cue and stopped by.  Leslie welcomed me like I was one of the family.

She has been working in natural health for over 10 years and really knows her stuff. She has been doing her own research into health and natural products for over 16 years and you can really tell that this is a passion of hers.   While I was there, for an hour no less, I saw her help many customers find what would best  suit them.  She explained each item and gave tours of all the products they carry.  As she took the time to describe her products to me something she said stood out, she said “I’ve had this burning desire in my heart to set up a community resource store that focuses on education and quality products.  My passion is to reveal to the community how powerful, effective, simple and affordable natural solutions can be.”  I can totally stand behind this because it’s mine too!

She carries a full range of high quality supplements and homeopathy , which you would expect.  Plus they have  wonderful snacks ranging from Epic bars to gluten free and vegan items.  Oh and of course they have  some Waynesville Soda Jerks soda.  But they also carry a wide range of locally made artisan items.  They are passionate, not only about health, but also supporting local businesses and sustainability.  I love that they carry items that hikers may want on their way up the mountain; from hiking sticks to protein bars.

One of my favorite items is the nail polish, by a local woman named Tina, called “Faerie Made.”  It is non toxic and works like a charm.  Don’t tell anyone but I have now had the same polish on my toes for over a month.  It’s amazing!  And yes I have bought them as Christmas gifts.  Wild Market also carries other natural made products.  The reason this is so important to me is because I believe that what goes on our body is as important as what goes in our body.  It only takes 26 seconds for products we put on our skin to enter our blood stream.

I give a talk called , “Detox Your Life Naturally” where I go over many different pollutants in our beauty products, cleaning products, foods, air and drink.  I am sure you can imagine that this talk is overwhelming with all this horrible information about what these toxins can potentially do to our bodies, including hormone issues, neurological issues and even cancer.  But what I try to stress to people and my patients is that they should pick the things that are important to them and begin changing one thing at a time.  I have been doing this myself and most of my skin and hair care is now natural.  It did take time to find the products I like the best.  I had never gone as far as nail polish.  Now I have the best nail polish in town and it’s guilt free!

Seriously, stop by and tell them Dr. Sparks sent ya.  You’ll be happy that you did.

13407151_814930105307399_2129315001456927235_n    13450227_814930188640724_6824102054104322150_n   13418800_814956911971385_7511494770201408497_n

Waynesville Soda Jerks



I remember reading and article about this company in the local newspaper and making a note that I had to find them.  I have not been a soda drinker for over 10 years. Okay, I may have 1 or 2 root beers a year but this girl is all about water and tea.  Back in the day when I gave up commercial soda I lost 5  pounds with that change alone.  I am sure if I drank diet soda I would have lost even more, as many of those chemicals actually keep people heavy.  I am telling you all this because I have finally found a treat without the guilt!  I say treat because any soda isn’t something you should consume everyday but once in a while Waynesville Soda Jerks soda  is an amazingly tasty and refreshing indulgence.

Yes it does have sugar but once in a while a sugary treat is fine!  Plus they use raw cane sugar, no refined sugar and they hope to take that one step further soon by using organic sugar. Naturopathic Physicians tend to say, “Live 80/20.”  80% of the time do your best to encourage health in your body and 20% of the time just have fun and enjoy yourself.  That 20% helps encourage health as well so long as we don’t judge ourselves for the things we do.  The 20% helps to keep our stress levels balanced and our lives happier which is a HUGE health boost!

Now back to the topic at hand. This is a small business and local company that was created by Chris Allen and Megan Brown by chance.  They had a soda maker at home and would experiment with sodas for their family and friends who loved them so much they told them to sell to the public.  So they decided to have a stand at the  Waynesville Heritage Farmer’s Market.  That went so well that people wanted to buy more any day of the week so the met the demand by bottling them and finding local businesses to carry them. If you read my post on Sunburst Market then you probably know they carry them there.

Not only are these sodas delicious but they are sourced mainly from local farms. It’s an interesting business to have to figure out what you will need in the coming year to be able to have the supplies on hand especially when it comes to making natural products from local farms.  Recently they started growing their own herbs for the sodas and eventually would like to grow some of the other ingredients as well. For now they go to local farms and buy as much of whatever they need that is season and freeze what they will use in the winter.  They do not use and chemicals or synthetic flavors.

Let’s just say that I went to our local movie theater, The Strand, where they also have ice cream and I opted for the Waynesville Soda Jerks Raspberry Cream instead.  That is saying a lot since anyone who really knows me would tell you that ice cream is my favorite treat.  Even when I was a child I wanted ice cream and no cake for my birthday.  So if you are craving one of these awesome soda’s now all you have to do is go to their website and click on “Find Bottles” to find one of the 45 Western North Carolina establishments ready to sell you one.  Enjoy!

Sunburst Market


Sunburst-Market1    db9ed9_0cd8afbb1b684335892918198a4fa4c0~mv2_d_2400_1602_s_2

About a month ago I was walking down the Waynesville Main Street as I was attending “Art after Dark.”  I love that this little town in western North Carolina has Friday nights like these. Balmy breezes and people bustling in and out of galleries sipping wine and enjoying art.  Now I had been up and down Main Street numerous times but somehow I walked right by this treasure!  I guess it’s because I didn’t need any market items and I had NO idea what was inside.  Needless to say if you haven’t been there, you’re missing out.

Sunburst Market is a small business in Haywood County owned and operated by Katie and Clay.  They offer things in town that you can’t find anywhere else.  It is a little gourmet and organic haven filled with some products sourced locally.  They have my favorite hummus from Asheville.  You have  try their local nut butters at the counter.  I am sure you will buy a couple of jars.

Sunburst Market fills a void here in Haywood County.  While there are local health food stores here they don’t specialize in the same type of products. What sets Sunburst apart is that they offer some unique specialty and gourmet products that are fun to have in your own pantry, but also can make a great gift for someone. All of their farms providing meat do their farming in an environmentally conscious and humane way.  They are a sister company to Sunburst Trout Farms. Their local produce and products may not be certified organic, due to the cost of certification, but they are grown that way.  Plus the great thing about local farms is you can ask to stop by and check out their practices!  I don’t think Whole Foods offers that option.

They have lots of artisan made products crafted right in this area. They sell candles and glassware that are made from recycled wine bottles.   They have a lounge in the back where you can enjoy some of your goods and a newspaper, basically because this stuff is too good to wait to eat at home. When you step off Main Street is it like you walked into a cute shop in Downtown Asheville.  You don’t want to miss this spot.

Eric’s Fresh Fish Market

eric                                      abstract-1238662_960_720

For those of you who would like to eat more fish but know that most of the fish you can find in our grocery stores is, well let’s say sub par, there is a wonderful resource you may be missing out on right here in WNC.  Eric’s Fresh Fish Market used to have a location in Waynesville but my guess is that people didn’t know what a catch it actually was.  They currently have locations in Sylva and Franklin.  I would dare say that it is worth the drive.

He has wonderful fish from local trout to amazing salmon. I always try to get my patients to stay away from conventionally farm raised fish, especially Tilapia and Salmon.  I tell them to instead stick to wild caught Alaskan Salmon like Coho, Sockeye and King.  But Eric has some sources that use sustainably raised fish in ocean farms.  He could tell you much more about how they are raised. I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to shop locally and to shop small businesses.  Buying from someone like Eric not only helps the local economy but you get many benefits as well.  You can talk to him or his sales people and find out where things are sourced from.  He has information he can send you and direct you to places where you can do your own research on what you are eating.

When it comes to fish things to consider are:

  • Where does the fish come from?
  • What is it’s living environment like?
  • What are the fish eating?
  • What is the Omega-3 content?
  • Does this fish have PCB’s?
  • Does this fish have a high mercury content?

The main thing here is to know your vendor.  That’s why I stand behind shopping from a small business like Eric’s in WNC.  Knowledge is power especially when it comes to your health and the health of your family!


Lettuce Be Local

28337_orig      LzX7Sy5_       lettuce_be_local-6

So this post is for the folks in Massachusetts.  I have to say that I am so impressed with this company.  Well it doesn’t hurt that is owned by my cousin and her husband.  But let me tell you that I know first hand how hard they work to get the people of central Massachusetts locally grown and amazing food.

A little history is that Lynn wanted a change of career and she knew she believed in sustainability and the “Green Initiative” but she didn’t know how to get into the field.  So rather than waiting for a green job to open up she created one.  Not only did she create it, she also filled a void in central Mass.

To dumb their business down, they deliver farm fresh produce from local small farms to restaurants, schools and other businesses in Massachusetts. She teaches young children about local food and sustainability and has won numerous awards for her work in the community. They also throw about 4 local farm dinners per year.  I think the most amazing thing is the winter farm dinner.  This dinner shows you that there is farm fresh goodness waiting to be eaten even in the deep deep snow.

The chef’s that work with her can see what is available and request certain items.  Let me tell you that what I have eaten from these chef’s and farms far surpasses the high end dining I experienced in Los Angeles where I lived for 11 years. The main reason for this is the freshness.  I don’t know how to explain it but you can just tell when a vegetable is full of vibrant health.  Let alone a meat that has been humanely raised.   I will post more about meat in a later blog since Lynn and Lee really deal more with produce.

To find out more and to see where you can enjoy this fresh and yummy food check out their website

« Older posts
Skip to toolbar