Thursday, June 25, 2009
Imagine a long dusty road winding up and up a French-country mountainside scattered with cows and alternating steep and rolling pastures. The red-tiled roofs of the quaint country houses dot the valley below; resembling the roses and geraniums grown so profusely throughout the area. The farmhouse is nestled on a ledge overlooking the green undulating hills and valleys below. There is a warm, soft breeze that occasionally belies the presence of farm animals but in a pleasant, unobtrusive way. Above the farm the hills rise on three sides decorated with tall grass, wildflowers and large tumbled rocks. This is goat heaven here and we can't help but think of Heidi and her friends. We are fortunate enough to have stumbled upon a biodynamic farm up here in the French Vosges Mountains. They have about 100 goats, a dozen or so pigs, about 10 beehives, a crowd of chickens, a duck, a few roosters and a pony. There are lots of rocky paths leading up the surrounding hills, that provide even more spectacular views of the valleys below. These are the regular stomping grounds of the lovely brown and black goats.
The farmers settled this corner of the mountain about 30 years ago and have been tending their goats and creating their delicious chevre ever since. They have lodging quarters in the old barn, which is attached to the farmhouse. Dinner was simple. Alsatian Tarte Flambe topped with bacon and cheese with a fresh salad, roasted potatoes and, of course, 5 local raw cheeses. Our host, the daughter--in-law of the family is from the French side of the Swiss Alps but her mother is Irish so she speaks perfect English with a slight French accent. She cooked and served us dinner with her baby on her hip (I tried to hold the baby but she was a little shy). It was delicious! There were two of their goat cheeses, one fresh and one aged, one aged blue cheese and two other local cows-milk cheeses.
Our children loved this place. They ran from the rocky hills to the smelly pig barn to see the goats and to pet the donkey, and back again. Before we left we watched a little chevre-making and bought as much as we could fit into our cooler. The fresh Chevre is so sweet and soft and fluffy we can't help but stick our fingers in it and eat a small block on the ride down the mountain.
Thursday, June 18, 2009
I am staying on a farm. The building we are in was once a chicken coop but it was converted to a rental house. There are two farmhouses, one other building that was a mill (also converted to a rental house) and a horse stable on the property. The owners come from a long line of land-owners and their property goes on for acres, earning the master the title of "The Baron" in these parts. Don`t let the image of a "chicken coop converted to a rental house" fool you. It is a charming building with all the modern conveniences of a typical German home, large windows, solid doors, spacious bathrooms, high-speed internet, and the best light-blocking blinds I have ever seen. Coming from the city it is so calming to sit on the balcony and watch the endless gentle commotion of the lush countryside. Twice a day we see a stampede of horses running across the plateau on the hill we look out over and on clear moments we can see the Alps sparkling in the distance. In the nearby town colorful houses serve as the palette for the annual neighborly fight over who can produce the most prolific and healthy roses. Our landlords here may just win. They are both in their eighties and they are outdoors working on their land from early morning to late evening. They grow or raise almost all of the food they eat. Needless to say, they are extemely healthy.
I am not sure if it is the scenery or if it really is so, but the food here is just spectacular. Today we shopped at the local biodynamic store. No, that was not a typo, there is actually a store that sells only biodynamic food here. Until I really started focusing on eating local foods I was eating lots of swiss cheese, in particular I am a huge fan of emmenthaler. I bought some today, since it certainly can be considered local here (we are about 30 minutes from the Swiss border). And now I can say with confidence that there is something to be said for buying food near its source. I have never had Emmenthaler this good, despite my buying the fancy stuff at Whole Foods. The salami, the olives, the cheese, the raw milk and yogurt have been beyond words. And the cloudberries, currants, strawberries and cherries we have picked in the back yard have all been delightfully luscious and tasty.
For dinner last night we ate roasted peppers and sausage, potato salad, a lettuce that we cannot figure out the name of with ripe red tomatoes, sourdough bread with gobs of raw butter, raw sauerkraut, feta cheese with basil and olive oil and lots of cold raw milk. All of this stuff comes from our neighbors (except the olive oil but even that is not that far away) and all of it was delicious. Who needs desert when dinner knocks you off your feet (not to say I turned down the rich dark Swiss chocolate).
Another strange and wonderful thing we saw today was a German biodynamic dairy. It is part of the Waldorf school here in the nearby town. Of course we went there to get our supply of raw milk but our children were mesmerized by the brown cows munching on huge piles of fresh grass. I had never seen anything like it. The cows were fed fresh grass in the barn (I would have put an exclamation point at the end of this sentence but I can´t find it on this German keyboard). As far as I know cows are fed hay in the barn, not fresh grass. It made the barn so beautiful to see the floor covered in mounds of freshly cut green grass. The milk has a complex sweet and rich taste. It is out of this world and we are drinking a bit more than a gallon a day between the four of us.
OK, I suppose I have induced a little mouthwatering. I will stop here and maybe write more another day.
Monday, June 1, 2009
Right now I am focusing on the "Feed The Farm" section, which has a local-eating guide, a farm visit guide, and has specific information about local organic, sustainable and biodynamic farmers. In the course of researching all of this I have been surprised to find some very interesting locally grown foods and I have spoken to many articulate and intelligent farmers dedicated to nourishing their land and their neighbors.
I am also planning on including a clothing/gear exchange, community networking forums, and school and care-provider review forums, among other things.
Needless to say, this is taking all of my time so I'm not sure if I'll be writing much here in this blog. I am thoroughly enjoying this work for the website. I don't know where it will lead but I have such a passion for what I'm doing that I'm not too worried about that right now.
Sunday, May 24, 2009
So I joined a local organic CSA (Community Supported Agriculture). That right there will show me exactly what is in season. And it will force me to get more variety, as most farmers growing on a local and smaller scale will put more diversity in their crops. And many are reviving certain foods that were not able to keep up with the supermarket demand for durability above all else.
I am located in the mid-west, Chicago to be more specific, so I will be writing about only what is going on here of course. In New Jersey, where I used to live, the season seems to be about 2 weeks ahead of this area. I can't speak specifically for other areas but most of the food I'm getting here should be available in many regions of the U.S. at some point.
So I went to the large and lovely Green City Market yesterday and I saw a ton of asparagus, some mushrooms, some lettuce and spinach (grown in a hoophouse), some maple syrup, and lots of cheese, meat and eggs. Cheese, meat and eggs are easy to do local all year-round so that is already a large amount of food that we have no excuse for not buying local. As for the fruit and vegetables, I plan to eat a large portion of them fresh and, by hook or by crook, to preserve the rest of them to be eaten in the colder months.
The asparagus we have eaten lightly steamed with hollandaise sauce and roasted with mushrooms, olive oil, butter, garlic, salt and pepper. And I'm going to make soup next week. After next week I will buy a tidy amount and freeze it to be made into soup in the winter. Apparently asparagus is not the best (taste-wise) after being frozen and is then better suited to be eaten in soups.
Mushrooms can be eaten in an infinite number of ways so I don't think I have to go into that. As to how long they will be available locally, we shall have to see. I roasted some with my asparagus today and I will saute them with the spinach tomorrow. As the mushroom season draws to a close I will pickle them. My great-grandmother from southern Italy used to pickle them and that was probably one of the most divine condiments I ate as a child. I'll have to get the recipe.
I also bought some beef bratwurst at our local farm (biodynamic). The wife is from Germany so I figured she should know what she was doing. And she does! It was absolutely delicious! I cooked them in some filtered water in a covered frying pan for a bit and then took the top off and browned them. I also cooked some finely chopped shallots in white wine (2 tbsp) and beer (1/2 cup) until it was a syrupy consistency, I let it cool and then added it to some creamed butter (1 stick) with mustard powder (2 tsp), freshly crushed brown mustard seeds (1 tsp), prepared mustard (2 tbsp), and sea salt. We ate this mustard-butter with the bratwurst and it was wonderful.
I had to take a moment to remind myself and my family how fortunate we are to be able to eat such fantastic food. And we don't have to feel guilty about eating butter and beef because we know it is some of the healthiest food you can eat. It's funny how the food we really want to eat can actually be healthy if done right (ie: meat and dairy from pastured animals).
Friday, May 22, 2009
I've been reading a lot about enzymes lately and have been reminded of their importance to our health. Since reading Nourishing Tradtions I've made it a habit to start each meal with an enzyme-rich food. For breakfast it's yogurt, for lunch it's home-made raw sauerkraut or pickles or a mayonnaise, ketchup or mustard condiment. For dinner I always have salad with raw vinegar, beet kvass and olive oil and often I add avocado.
All of those foods/condiments are rich in enzymes when prepared properly (raw yogurt, cold-pressed olive oil and avocado are full of enzymes naturally, the other foods I ferment with whey so they are enzyme super-foods).
Because the Western diet is pretty much all cooked-foods, it is basically devoid of enzymes. Our body produces enzymes but apparently we have a limited potential for the amount that can be produced. But everytime we eat these completely cooked meals we are relying on our body's enzymes to digest the food. This puts an undue burden on our pancreas (where enzymes are assembled). However, if we eat foods rich in enzymes then digestion can be initiated even before we put the food in our mouth. And after the food enters our bellies it sits there for awhile before it is passed to the lower part of our stomach. During this time the food could be getting broken down by food enzymes or it could just be sitting there, putrefying (ew). It has been said that life span is inversely proportionate to the amount of enzymes the body needs to produce. So, use those food enzymes, make them do the work and let your body rest a bit.
By the way, this I think was one of the wonderfully beneficial aspects of the raw milk diet. Raw milk is chock-full of enzymes so it is digested wonderfully efficiently by the body, allowing healing to occur.
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
I ended up buying a bunch of asparagus and some raw milk cheese. The asparagus was everywhere so it was hard to choose which farmer to buy from. In the end I bought from a friendly farmer who got into great detail about her planting methods. That's a good way for a farmer to establish differentiation. So I took that fresh asparagus home and I did like my sister did all last month (she lives in southern Germany). I steamed them very lightly and while they were still hot I poured some delicious Hollandaise sauce over them and tossed it together in the bowl. Out of this world fabulous!
To make the Hollandaise: I mixed 1 raw egg yolk (from pastured Illinois chickens) with about 4 tablespoons of melted homemade raw butter, 1/4 teaspoon of sea salt and 1 tablespoon of fresh lemon juice in my food processor (blender would be fine). Eat warm. It is so quick and really so tasty.
My children ate 3-4 pieces of asparagus each. This is a lot for them, lately they have been so picky about vegetables.
Monday, May 18, 2009
I do feel my desire to cook and bake has come back though (I'm sure my family is happy about that). This weekend I baked banana bread, rolls and almond cookies, I made sauerkraut, kvass, and crunchy nuts and I spent more time on dinner each night. It feels good to be in the kitchen again. I've also felt more inclined to do yoga again. My body was starting to feel a little tight.
Yoga is so amazing. I do believe food can cure but I think it needs a little outside help too. Exercise is great for our health. I know it sounds cliche, but for me yoga has made a huge difference in how I feel. I do want to add that over-doing it is not healthy and can be counter-productive. As a wise man once said, "I take an Ayurvedic approach to exercise; don't overdo it". I think I could take an Ayurvedic approach to everything in life.
Anyway, back to yoga, I think it is key to good health. I'm not down-talking other forms of exercise. Yoga can complement them but without it I think there will be something missing. Yoga is one of the few exercises that gets your blood going, improves flexibility and strength, massages your inner organs, and relaxes you all at the same time. It is unique in that it actually works out every part of your body (if done right). I feel a rush after my yoga unlike any other endorphin rush I get because it is coupled with such a deep sense of relaxation.
Here is my dream tropical vacation day:
1. Get up and eat a wonderful breakfast of eggs, fresh tropical fruit and yogurt
2. Relax and read a book for awhile
3. Do yoga outside in the beauty of nature
4. Go into a hot spring bath
5. Have sex (I hope this doesn't offend anyone, I think this is as natural as eating)
6. Eat a wonderful gourmet lunch (fresh-caught fish and salad perhaps?)
7. Relax and read a book for awhile
8. Go for a swim in the ocean
9. Get a long wonderful massage with essential oils
10. Have sex (sorry again)
11. Eat a luscious local dinner
Doesn't that sound nice? Sorry to go off on the tangent but I feel so fluffy from my yoga and my milk.
Maybe if I did that once a month or so my immune system would function properly?
Maybe it's more than food?
Friday, May 15, 2009
I would like to refer everyone to this: http://www.foodrenegade.com/michael-pollan-on-marketing-food/
Michael Pollan, author of "In Defense of Food", has an interview where he touches upon the evils of industrial agriculture and factory farms, makes a plug for buying real food on a local level, and talks about the effect of industrial food production on our health care system and our environment. And more. Check it out and pass it on.
Thursday, May 14, 2009
Of course I'm still drinking a lot of yogurt, milk and kefir but food is also on the table. I really, really like food. I always got excited about eating good food before this diet but now it is positively thrilling. I had some delicate bay scallops today. I soaked them in milk for a few hours (he, he) and then I just cooked them for about 5 minutes in butter, heavy cream and sherry. Oh, the joy. And salad, oh, salad, it is so wonderful. It engages all of the senses. The varied textures, the smell of the fresh tomatoes, the crunch of the lettuce, the vibrant colors and of course the glorious taste of fresh avocado, olive oil and tarragon vinegar. There is really nothing like it.
Yes, I miss my milky state of mind but there are dishes to be cooked and goodies to be baked.
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
I know most people think I'm being unwise to do this diet and some friends will be relieved to hear I'm ending it. But I still believe it is an amazing way to improve health, given the right circumstances. It is unfortunate for me that I was unable to do this thing properly. I've made some mistakes, but it also may have not been the best time for me to do it. Whatever the reasons, I have to start eating more food. The milk diet may or may not have caused the increase in incidences of vertigo but I can't take the risk of not knowing. If I continue to have vertigo after stopping then I will know it wasn't the milk and then I'll probably be even more annoyed with myself for stopping. But I often have to remind myself to take a more lighthearted approach to life so it will be good practice.
I weighed in at 123 pounds today. I'm still drinking lots of milk, yogurt and kefir but today I supplemented with beef stock at breakfast and sardines with home-made mayo at lunch. Tonight I will have some beet kvass and some collard greens. I've been advised to take it slowly but I did have some food over the weekend so it probably won't be such a shock to my system. Ho-hum.
I also wanted to note how I make my yogurt, as per some requests. It is not thick like Greek yogurt but it's super easy and quick to make:
I put my full-fat milk in a container with a top (that can go in the oven), add yogurt from the previous batch and then I put it in the warmed oven and leave undisturbed overnight (for about 18 hours is good actually). I heat the oven a little, then turn it off and then put in the milk. Ideally you want the yogurt to be in an environment that's about 85-95 degrees for the duration (over 100 degrees and the enzymes will start to die). That doesn't really happen in my oven but it still works somehow. It always comes out a little runny but sweet and delicious. The ratio is 1/2 cup of yogurt to 1 quart of milk.
Raw milk yogurt has all of the benefits of raw milk (obviously) plus an increased amount of good bacteria. Instead of buying probiotic supplements you can have your own homemade probiotics that taste delicious and cost less.
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
I had another cup of beef stock today too. I'm going to run out and since I don't have any more knuckle or marrow bones I'm going to buy a yellow-fin red snapper tomorrow and make some fish stock. The stock feels like rocket fuel when I drink it. It's pretty amazing. I've been reading Nina Planck's book "Real Food" and she talks about the health benefits of stock. The fat gives a huge boost to your immune system, the gelatin helps your body utilize the protein and the whole thing is rich in easily digestible calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus. And it tastes good too.
Back to my rich, white, scrumptious milk. It is unfathomable that I still love the taste, smell and texture of the stuff! And the milky milk feeling in my mouth after a nice cold glass. We shall see what tomorrow holds. I hope I feel better.
Oh, I almost forgot, I'm up to 122.5 pounds. Yay!
Monday, May 11, 2009
Now that I am not skimming my milk it's like night and day. I'm not dizzy or weak. I don't feel hungry either. Phew! This thing is actually fun!
I did have some beef stock this morning because I was feeling a little weak. It felt and tasted great. I am still taking this thing day-by-day, if I feel any bit of weak or tired or dizzy I will have stock. If that doesn't help I will have some eggs or meat. But I feel great right now.
I've learned some lessons:
1. Milk is to be drunk with the fat.
2. Listen to your body.
3. Your body needs fat, lots of it (I knew this intellectually but now I know for real)
Sunday, May 10, 2009
I felt disappointed to be fading off the the milk diet but the noticeable difference made by small bits of nutrient-dense foods was undeniable. The rest of the afternoon I drank yogurt and in the evening I finished the rest of my milk. I made some halibut for dinner and had a small piece. It gave me another boost of energy. I drank one more glass of yogurt before bed bringing down my supply to about 2 cups.
Today I finished my yogurt first thing (I had to leave 1 cup for my next batch) and all the milk was gone. I had 2 more eggs and again some halibut for lunch. Then we got the wonderful news that the milk was in. At the pickup spot I sat leaning out of my car, opened a jar over the curb, and filled my glass 3 times to drink (yes, I brought the glass with me). It was so absolutely delectable. I think I'm addicted.
I can't really figure out what I'm going to do next. As I mentioned in an earlier blog, I relish having an organized and well-planned life, so this is disconcerting for me. I do have another 10 gallons ready and waiting (which wasn't enough last week, so that's a problem too). But I feel that I've lost the purity of the fast by eating food. I'm also a perfectionist so it's usually all or nothing. OK, I have issues. Let me see.......I guess I'm going to try to go with the flow.
One thing I'm going to do is keep the cream in the milk, at least for a few days. Our cows are Holsteins (which produce milk that is less fatty than Jerseys) so perhaps after skimming the milk there wasn't enough fat to give me sustenance. The other thing I'm going to do is drink stock or eat eggs if I feel dizzy. I really, really don't want any more dizziness or vertigo spells and I need to gain some weight (still at 121). And that's my plan for now. Day by day is my new motto.
Friday, May 8, 2009
Since the beginning of this thing I have been wrestling with the issue of not having enough energy to get through the day without dizziness and weakness. I also have not regained my weight so I remain at 121 pounds (at 5'7"). But I have to acknowledge the fact that I am trying to be a purist with what I consume while I conveniently ignore the maxim to stay on bed-rest. I think it would be too much to ask of my family for me to go on bed rest for a month so it is out of the question for me right now. And so I have come to the conclusion that raw milk, yogurt and kefir alone are not enough to sustain me any longer. But, I was lucky enough to get the good piece of information from the farmer today that drinking stock is a great supplement for the milk diet. I'm sure purists would disagree but they would also have me on bed rest.
So today I had a nice warm 8 ounce glass of beef bone broth and it made a HUGE difference in how I feel. Normally at this time of the day I am faded and listless, not much help to anyone. I get in bed early and read stories to my girls because there is not much more I can do. But today I feel much better and no dizziness! It's amazing what a difference the stock has made. So that will be my strategy from now on. Thanks to the milk farmer!
I do have another potential problem. I am low on milk and yogurt and out of kefir. I probably have a total of 6 quarts of sustenance left. And I most likely won't get my milk until Sunday evening. So we shall see how that all pans out.
Thursday, May 7, 2009
When food doesn't matter it is easy to eat junk and feed your kids junk. I often wonder how people can be so blase about what they put into their bodies. I was guilty of this too. So I suppose I can answer the question myself. I have to admit that I just really didn't think it mattered. Now, I do believe that it matters. I really do think that you are what you eat (which would make me a tall glass of milk right about now).
But I also think that attitude is important. I remember reading somewhere that in Ayurvedic thinking your state of mind when preparing food can affect it's nutritional value. So, it's not just about eating the perfect diet, it's also about doing what feels good. Striking this balance is hard. But it is also important to remember that comfort food is usually the stuff that is not good for you.
Back to my original thought. If there was a way to make people appreciate food more then perhaps people could be convinced to eat more healthy foods. One way to do this is to introduce people to super tasty AND healthy food. Like a juicy grass-fed steak smothered in butter, heavy cream and mushrooms (you can tell I'm still craving the steak). This is actually good for you and it's delicious. A twinkie might not look as good after that meal. Another way is to bring them to farms. I think if we visited sustainable farms and created a connection with the land, the food, and ourselves, we might appreciate food more.
And when you appreciate food, I mean, really appreciate it, you probably won't eat as much. Savor each bite, enjoy the whole experience (I think this is also an Ayurvedic concept) and you will feel satiated with less. It is also our duty to pass on an appreciation of food to our children. I love this about anthroposophical pedagogy (basis for Waldorf education). They really try to instill a reverence and appreciation for food at each meal. I need to work on that more.
So, speaking of appreciating food, I love food and I miss it. I know I spoke with big words about drinking milk for 30 days but I just don't see it happening. I just don't feel healthy right now. I do admit that during the day I feel pretty good and I have been having pretty strong endorphin rushes but by about 3 PM every day I feel dizzy and weak. My optimism wanes with the passing of the hours each day. Perhaps I'm not consuming enough and for sure I'm not resting enough. I am supposed to be doing this whole thing on bedrest but that is not an option for me with 2 little ones.
Without this blog I would have stopped this thing days ago. I am proud to say that I haven't cheated at all, like I don't even lick my fingers after peeling a banana for my daughter. But I do find it hard to go on. And yet hard to give up.
Wednesday, May 6, 2009
I forgot to mention that I had lost 7 pounds over the weekend. I know, it's crazy! But I'm happy to say that I did gain 3 pounds back and I'm now at 121. I look skinny. And I don't like it one bit. I was actually hoping to fill out a little from doing this. I guess that one day of fasting really affected me. I'm also having a dizzy spell right now. I was doing really well today, more energy than I had had for days but just in the past hour or so I'm feeling quite dizzy. It is so annoying because I was really hoping to feel energized and spunky and to be getting plumped up from all this milk. Instead I've been dizzy, tired, and weak and I'm getting even more skinny.
The thing is, when it comes down to it, it sucks that I can't eat but if I was seeing more physical results I would be more motivated to keep this thing up. I can definitely handle the temporary loss of food if I am getting some great results in return. But so far, nada. I've also noticed that my feet are still tingly and my thyroid still feels swollen.
So, come on milk, do your magic.
Tuesday, May 5, 2009
The doubt was initiated by a long spell of my head vibrating. I don't understand it any better than you do. The only way I can describe it is that my head felt like it was vibrating, a little. It's the same feeling you get when you've just finished brushing your teeth with an electric toothbrush. I was also feeling weak and a little dizzy.
And with this feeling of lousiness I began to think that this stupid, crazy thing was a bad idea and that I really, really wanted a piece of steak with a nice tasty salad. And I'm sick of kefir, it's awful stuff and I can't get the taste of grass out of my mouth. Okay, I'm done complaining.
So I went back to the book that spurred the temporary bout of insanity that makes me think a raw milk diet is a good thing. And this is what he said;
"Various other symptoms may arise while one is taking
milk, such as headache, backache, pains in the limbs,
feelings of weakness and lethargy, or sleeplessness."
"All the symptoms manifested are
indications of the house-cleaning and rejuvenation which the
body is undergoing, and are no sign that the milk should be
"Where these symptoms develop, I believe the individual
can consider himself extremely fortunate also, for it shows
that the milk diet is not only producing a favorable reaction
in the system, but that the vitality of the body is sufficient to
bring about this reaction with the proper aid. While such
symptoms may not develop in some individuals with great
vitality, rest assured that they will not develop where the
vitality has been lowered to the point from which there is no
return. Also be assured that there is no other régime that
will bring these symptoms and the returning health they
indicate more quickly, and yet with less severity than will
the milk diet."
"We have in the milk diet, without doubt, the most
powerfully effective of all agents for the eradication of
poisons, toxins, waste, and unnatural elements of any
nature; and for the restoration to normal of any tissue and
function capable of restoration; and for removing all
obstacles to the highest manifestation of the vital force
within the body. No other single food can compare with it,
and, for many disorders, no combinations of foods can equal
it for effectiveness."
(The Miracle of Milk, Bernarr McFadden)
So, I decided to rest a bit. Because this guy really knows how to talk up milk.
About an hour later I felt much better and I've been fine all afternoon. Quite relaxed and languid actually. I've decided to just take this whole thing day by day now.
Monday, May 4, 2009
I am normally a person who does too much thinking. I'm always planning and organizing. I'm also one who lives by the laws of common sense. I am punctual, fast-paced, and aggressive (you can imagine how I drive). I'm not a spacey-type of person and I always lament that I'm not as creative as I would like to be. So, it came as a surprise to me today that I was very lucid in certain areas (like speaking to farmers about how they divide up a 1/4 of a cow and the politics of small-scale farming) but for the most part I am a total space-case.
It has taken a bit of effort to remember exactly what it was I was doing. I've been driving like someone who has no particular place to go. And I've spent long moments staring off into space thinking about nothing. I also took a long leisurely nap with my daughter. These are pretty much positive things for me because I do need to slow down.
But I also feel a slight sense of panic that has come with the apparent loss of control. I like to have my house clean and to be operating right on schedule. But in order to keep up to my usual standards I would have to muster up the strength and willpower that I seem to be saving for something else. So I suppose that I'm letting the housekeeping go and the cooking (a little) and just kind of going with the flow of things and not worrying about time as much.
Sunday, May 3, 2009
So today is Day 1 instead of tomorrow. But that's OK. I didn't get my milk until about 1 PM today so until then I had to have my yogurt (which was fine) and my kefir (which I had let sit too long and was therefore quite sour and the unhappy consistency of runny yogurt). The milk tasted sweet as pie when I finally got some!
So far my impressions are thus:
I am glad I have this blog because I need all the motivation I can get to keep doing this.
I have no idea in the world how I'm going to get through this month.
Milk is delicious but a cup an hour gets old after about 3 hours when that is all you can consume.
Yogurt sweetened with bananas is delightful and I miss it.
I miss all food. Food is wonderful and I look enviously at all of the sane people in this world who have no desire to do an exclusive raw milk diet.
Saturday, May 2, 2009
Here is the article, in case you are curious: http://www.notmilk.com/kradjian.html
And below is my response to it. The first part, in quotes, is from a posting of mine on a forum and after that is what I wrote today. I haven't eaten at all today so my brain is a little funny. Please excuse any typos!
"I agree with a lot of what he says about milk because he is talking about pasteurized milk. He's right on and I think the dairy (and meat) industry is carrying on with horrendous acts of cruelty to animals. And they are creating a product devoid of essential enzymes (to facilitate digestion) and nutrients.
However, what I am advocating is a completely different product. Animals that are kept on small-scale farms by conscientious farmers will never have pus in their milk and any diseases will be caught early on. These animals are extremely healthy and pathogens are monitored on a daily basis. Their milk is filled with enzymes, vitamins and nutrients that are hard to find in such abundance elsewhere. (BTW, human milk is filled with pathogens as well, but, just like raw cow's milk, the natural bacteria inhibit the overgrowth of these pathogens in the milk and in the belly. i.e.: they actually protect you from those other foods that cause the majority of food-borne illnesses, like spinach, sprouts, peanuts, etc).
And I really don't get the argument that we are to eat like other animals. How does that argument hold water? Are we to eat like tigers (raw meat)? Or cats? (raw meat) or cows (grass?) Why are we to eat like other animals? They don't all eat like us.
And if one is to argue we were meant to eat only what we did in H/G times then we better go empty out our pantries. First and foremost: sugar. Oh, and don't forget to get rid of all those handy crackers and cereals, oh, yeah, and bread, rice, beans, corn, popcorn, fruit rolls, soy milk, almond milk, a whole slew of veggies, HFCS, the list could go on and on.
Milk in it's natural state was consumed by humans way before agriculture. MOST of the things we consume today were introduced into the human diet long after milk was. So by this guy's logic, we were not meant to eat that other stuff either. He also denigrates meat. Does he mean to imply we didn't eat meat either? There are many who would take issue with that one.
He says we get too much protein. My response is, we don't get enough fat. A high protein, low fat diet is almost as bad as a low protein, low fat diet. We need fat and lots of it; it just needs to be good fat, not in the form of vegetable oils.
If you really want to give your children healthy food, the right place to start is probably avoiding all refined sugar and processed foods and only feed whole foods that you have obtained from a local source. (oh, wait, that could be raw milk)
So IMO, the only reason why you wouldn't consume raw milk (besides those with real allergies to casein and such) is because you don't like it (to turn his argument around)."
In his article Dr. Kradjian says:
"Milk is a maternal lactating secretion, a short termMy response to this is: Raw milk from healthy cows contains the following beneficial elements:
nutrient for new-borns. Nothing more, nothing less."
Enzymes: According to Dr. Edward Howell, author of the book, "Food Enzymes For Health and Longevity"
"It seems that we inherit a certain enzyme potential at birth. This limited supply of activity factors of the life force must last us a lifetime......Other things being equal, you live as long as your body has enzyme activity factors to make enzymes from......If enzymes were in the food we eat they would do some or even a considerable part of the work of digestion by themselves. However, when you eat cooked, enzyme-free food, this forces the body itself to make the enzymes needed for digestion. This depletes the body's limited enzyme capacity.....This state of enzyme deficiency stress exists in the majority of persons on the civilized, enzyme-free diet." (Howell 78-79) He goes on, "In fact, low enzyme levels are associated with old age and chronic disease. There's not much hard evidence on whether taking additional enzymes will extend the life span. However, we do know that laboratory rats that eat raw foods will live about three years. Rats eating enzymeless chow diets will live only two years. Thus, we see that diets deficient in enzymes cause a thirty percent reduction in life span. If this is held true for human beings it may mean that people could extend their life spans by twenty or more years-just by maintaining proper enzyme levels." (Howell 24-28)
Raw milk contains the following enzymes: Lactase: helps break down lactose into simple sugars; galactose and glucose, Galactase: breaks down galactose, Lactoperoxidase: assists with oxidation of organic substances in milk, Lactoferrin: kills many pathogens that are attracted to iron, assists with iron assimilation, and strengthens the immune system, it has been approved as an anti-microbial against E. coli, Catalase: protects cells, Amylase: aids in digestion, Lipase: can separate fatty acids from triglycerides (the absence of these enzymes in pasteurized, homogenized milk causes the milk to go rancid), Phosphatase: bacteria destroyer. (The Untold Story of Milk, Ron Schmid, 106-108)
Ron Schmid in his book, "The Untold Story of Milk", summarizes the value of enzymes in raw milk. "These enzymes play a vital role in the assimilation of the vitamins and minerals in milk, support the immune system, and provide powerful protection against pathogens. They are what make raw milk a living food." (Schmid, 108)
Bernarr McFadden writes the following about enzymes in raw milk, in his book "The Miracle of Milk":
"These ferments or digestants undoubtedly act as stimulators and regulators
of nutrition, and are identical in their function with certain
of the digestive enzymes secreted by various organs in the body."
Pasteurization kills almost all enzymes, rendering it a dead food.
Raw milk from healthy cows will contain the following nutrients:
Vitamin A: contains large amounts, this vitamin is essential for growth, protein, mineral and vitamin digestion and assimilation, blood and bone health
B Vitamins: support "healthy nerves, skin, eyes, liver, muscle tone, and cardiovascular function; they protect us from mental disorders, depression and anxiety. Deficiency of the B vitamin complex can result in the enlargement and malfunction of almost every organ and gland in the body." (Nourishing Traditions, Sally Fallon, 38)
mineral salts help to balance the body's acid/alkaline balance;
lime, flourin, sulfur, phosphorus, chlorine, sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium, iron and iodine and other mineral salts which are easily assimilated by the body from raw milk and are essential for the health of teeth, bone, brain cells, nerve cells, and ductless glands;
leukocyte cells which happen to be similar to those white blood cells in our blood and when added to our blood aid in fighting disease cells;
Vitamin C a strong anti-viral and vital in the prevention of scurvy. "it is also needed for a whole host of processes including tissue growth and repair, strength of capillary walls, lactation and adrenal gland function. It is vital for the formation of collagen, the body's structural substance." (Nourishing Traditions, Sally Fallon, 38)
fat which is essential for nutrient absorption in the food, is crucial to our basic cell growth and health, is necessary for our brains to function properly and aids in hormone production.
Essential Fatty Acids: available in the milk of grass-fed cows, they protect against disease and are important for brain and memory function. The typical American diet these days has an excess of Omega-6, so the Omega-3s in raw milk from grass-fed cows provides another means to balance this excess
Vitamin D necessary for strong bones and teeth and normal growth and unfortunately is so deficient in our diets that most doctors prescribe it as a necessary supplement
Beneficial Bacteria: Found in abundance, aid digestion and protect against overgrowth of bad bacteria, often kill pathogens, act as a natural antibiotic,
Pasteurization and homogenization either destroy these essential nutrients or make them difficult for our bodies to absorb. The highly acidic, force-fed grain diet given to most cows (even organic) results in the reduction or abscence of many of these nutrients.
So, in essence, raw milk from grass-fed, pasture-raised cows is an extremely beneficial food that is packed with lots of essential nutrients that are lacking in the typical American diet. It is an easy and delicious way to get the nutrients and bacteria we need to maintain good health and it is much cheaper than supplements. Kids love it too!
Dr. Kradjian goes on to say:
Consider for a moment, if it was possible, to drink the milk
of a mammal other than a cow, let's say a rat. Or perhaps
the milk of a dog would be more to your liking. Possibly
some horse milk or cat milk. Do you get the idea? Well, I'm
not serious about this, except to suggest that human milk is
for human infants, dogs' milk is for pups, cows' milk is for
calves, cats' milk is for kittens, and so forth. Clearly,
this is the way nature intends it. Just use your own good
judgement on this one.
There is evidence that humans have been drinking the milk of other mammals for over 30,000 years (to put that into perspective, corn has only been around for about 7,000 years). Humans across the globe, throughout history have valued milk as a reliable source of nutrients and energy. It has been regarded as a sacred food by many ancient cultures. Humans have (and sometimes still do) consumed the milk and blood of cows, buffalo, bison, reindeer, yak, goats, sheep, and antelope. And as I stated above, we also consume every other part of the animal, why not also the milk? I don't see the basis for this argument. I think that it is just his personal opinion that humans shouldn't drink milk.
Well, I could go on for hours on this guy because he really leaves himself open to criticism but I am on my fast right now (no food for 2 days) and my brain is not functioning too well. I applaud him for attacking the horrible ways cows are treated and the health risks of consuming conventional, mass-produced, pasteurized and homogenized milk. But raw milk from pasture-raised cows is really completely different, incomparable actually.
Friday, May 1, 2009
On the eve of my fast I chose to eat Corned Beef Hash. How sick is that?! I didn't really choose per se, I just didn't plan well. The corned beef hash was good though. It was my first time making and eating this dish. As I was eating it though I was thinking that I should have made some steak with mushrooms instead, one of my favorites. But I think I will miss salad the most!
Tomorrow and the next day I will be fasting on water, and more water. Ho-hum. This is the least exciting part of this whole thing for me. I don't do well with no food.
Before I begin this "diet" I really want to have my blood work done to see what my TSH (Thyroid Stimulating Hormone), T3, T4 (thyroid hormones) and my antibodies (Hashimoto's indicators). The problem is that the insurance company doesn't want to pay because I just recently got tested. I'm still debating whether or not to do the test anyway. I really want to see if the raw milk diet has an effect on those indicators.
I know it is not as objective but before starting I do want to note how I feel overall.
I am pretty flexible and don't feel like my muscles are tight or tense (even without yoga in the past week).
I have plenty of energy as long as I get 8 hours of sleep; anything less and I feel tired but not exhausted.
It takes me about 15 minutes to fall asleep at night.
I remember my dreams about once a week or so.
I sleep fairly deeply.
I often tense my jaw and sometimes I grind my teeth at night.
I have a strong feeling of contentment emotionally.
I feel very relaxed (in general).
Lately my endorphins are pulsing pretty regularly (I can feel them).
My right foot is occasionally tingly and/or swollen (down from daily and in all 4 limbs about 2 months ago)
My right hand and right foot "fall asleep" in the night about once or twice a week (down from nightly about 1 month ago)
My cheeks are red but I have only a small amount of acne (compared to pretty visible chronic rosacea about 7 months ago)
I sometimes get a small rash on my hand where my rings are.
My feet tend to have dry skin and some calluses.
My hands get dry if I am too lazy to use my rubber gloves religiously.
If I eat something that is not a protein after awhile of not eating I get a head rush.
Sometimes I feel dizzy if I stand or sit up too quickly.
Possible TMI: I rarely have gas and I have pretty frequent bowel movements but sometimes it is a little dry and pellet-like (there I wrote it).
I weigh about 124 lbs and I have about 18% body fat.
So that's about it I think. I am excited about starting this but a little nervous. I've met a few naysayers. We shall see.
Wednesday, April 29, 2009
On a much more positive note than yesterday, I am going to praise Heidi. I am reading this lovely book with my daughter and it is so inspiring I feel like moving to Switzerland and becoming a goat-herder (well maybe not that inspiring). At each meal they relish the fresh bread with toasted cheese and fresh goat's milk. It seems that that's about all they eat. Oh, and some cured meat as well. Doesn't that just sound delightful? The beauty of it for me is that it is so simple, yet infinitely nourishing. And Heidi has such a lust for life that she appreciates it all and stands in awe at the simplest of things.
This is the kind of value I would like to see my children embrace. First, I suppose I have to embrace it. Unfortunately, living simply seems to be quite complicated.
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
So, I feel the need to rant and rave about this swine-flu thing. I know, everyone is pretty sick of hearing about it but there are 2 issues that I want to think about and I haven't seen them addressed in mainstream media.
The first issue is cytokine storms. In a very layman's nutshell a cytokine storm is an exaggerated immune system response to a previously unknown pathogen. Normally cytokine acts as a sort of dispatcher to immune cells. It tells them where to go and keeps them on their toes to do their job killing the bad guys. The problem is that sometimes these cytokines get out of control, start acting wild and don't do their dispatch job correctly. This can be quite damaging to the body because if there are too many of these immune cells going all crazy your body can't handle this. An example is if a cytokine storm occurs in the lungs then the overabundance of the immune cells can block airways and cause death.
This was a major problem in the 1918 influenza pandemic. Those with strong immune systems tend to be the victims of cytokine storms, hence the death of many people in the age-range of 20-45 years old. This has been the case in the current swine-flu outbreak as well.
It would be nice to see some media coverage on this one. They keep saying education is key, blah, blah, blah, but they're not saying anything useful. "Wash your hands". Gee, thanks.
I did find this website: http://www.bird-flu-influenza.com/relenza-tamiflu-alternatives-folk-medicines-antivirals.htm, which gives helpful information about treating for bird flu (with cytokine storms in mind). They recommend some things that are anti-viral and some that inhibit cytokine production. It is very helpful. Some things listed are: raw garlic (anti-viral), Vit C (anti-viral and cytokine inhibitor), green tea (anti-viral and cytokine inhibitor), St. Johns Wort (anti-viral and cytokine inhibitor), freshly squeezed apple juice (anti-viral) and more. Some things to avoid were: elderberry juice, honey, chocolate, Kim chi (they all enhance cytokine production) and more. Check out this page if you're worried.
Another bone I have to pick is with the fact that there is absolutely no coverage of the origination of the flu virus! It has been reported (all over Mexico) that the virus comes from a "pig farm" in Perote, Mexico. Ah, guys, that place is no more a farm than my backyard. What it is is a Confined Animal Feeding Operation or CAFO (our gov came up with this name). Do you want to see Wikipedia's definition?
"Confinement at high stocking density is one part of a systematic effort to produce the highest output at the lowest cost by relying on economies of scale, modern machinery, biotechnology, and global trade. Confinement at high stocking density requires antibiotics and pesticides to mitigate the spread of disease and pestilence exacerbated by these crowded living conditions."
(Just in case you didn't know, we are talking about animals here, live animals that actually have nerve endings and everything)
And they go on to say:
"The UN and OIE estimate that in coming decades there will be billions of additional consumers in developing countries eating meat factory farmed in developing countries, but currently only about 40 out of the around 200 countries in the world have the capacity to adequately respond to a health crisis originating from animal disease (such as avian flu, West Nile virus, bluetongue, and foot and mouth disease). Widespread use of antibiotics increases the chance of a pandemic resistant to known measures, which is exacerbated by a globally distributed food system. Decreased genetic diversity increases the chance of a food crisis."
I don't know about you but I have two reactions to this. One, why are those friggin' things allowed to exist?! Two, why are those friggin' things allowed to exist?! Oh, but wait, don't tell me, because I know why.....without them the industrial agriculture giants cannot make billions and billions of dollars. Well we wouldn't want to jeopardize their bottom line in the name of say, reducing the risk of a pandemic virus killing untold numbers of people, now would we? Oh, and what about allowing the doomed animal to live a decent life? No, that would go against everything you are taught in business school about maximizing profits and lowering costs.
Do you want to know what I read in a great book called, The Untold Story of Milk, by Ron Schmid? On page 206-207 he quotes an article from the New York Times Magazine written by Michael Pollan, "To Visit a Modern CAFO".
" Piglets in confinement operations are weaned from their mothers 10 days after birth (compared with 13 weeks in nature) because they gain weight faster on their hormone- and antibiotic -fortified feed. This premature weaning leaves the pigs with a lifelong craving to suck and chew, a desire they gratify in confinement by biting the tail of the animal in front of them. A normal pig would fight off his molester, but a demoralized pig has stopped caring. 'Learned helplessness' is the psychological term, and it's not uncommon in confinement operations, where tens of thousands of hogs spend their lives ignorant of sunshine or earth or straw, crowded together beneath a metal roof upon metal slats suspended over a manure pit.
"So its not surprising that an animal as sensitive and intelligent as a pig would get depressed, and a depressed pig will allow his tail to be chewed on to the point of infection. Sick pigs, being underperforming 'production units', are clubbed to death on the spot. The USDA's recommended solution to the problem is called 'tail docking'. Using a pair of pliers (and no anesthetic), most but not all of the tail is snipped off. Why the little stump? Because the whole point of the exercise is not to remove the object of tail-biting so much as to render it more sensitive. Now, a bite on the tail is so painful that even the most demoralized pig will mount a struggle to avoid it."
That might make you think twice about buying conventional meat again. And just because it is organic, doesn't mean that they're not doing this to the animals. The key to buying quality meat is small-scale, local and pasture-raised animals. These animals are not forced to endure the horrors of mass-production confinement operations. If we buy from local conscientious farmers we are speaking with the loudest voice there is, dollars (or pesos). Let's take our money away from fat corporations with absolutely no regard for the animals nor for the health of the general public, and give it to local farmers who are struggling to survive with no government subsidies and not a lot of consumer love.
And perhaps we won't have to live in fear of catching some bizarre pathogen that crosses 4 species?
Monday, April 27, 2009
If food can cure then this soup must be very effective.
I'm really on the countdown now. Four more days of eating. OK, I'm getting nervous.
Saturday, April 25, 2009
There is a peace in our house now, that wasn't there before. And it's not just because my husband is finally married to a woman who cooks what he actually wants to eat. Rather, it is due to, what I call, the "beef high" (although this term is somewhat self-limiting). With the drastic change in our diet came lots of lovely endorphins.
I was brought up in a "hippy household" I suppose. We had a huge garden, we ate tofu, brown rice and fresh veggies. Meat was taboo, especially after my step-father took a part-time job at a local chicken slaughterhouse. When I was little I craved meat and sugar and ate them whenever I had the chance. As an adult I unconciously accepted the theory that meat is bad for you but at the same time I was never fully convinced. I trudged along on pasta, chicken, veggies and more pasta. Food was never really very satisfying. Oh, things did taste good but I was never satisfied, somehow I was looking for more. Maybe that's why I was able to scarf down 3 heaping bowls of pasta in one meal. Oh, and that's probably why I gained a lot of weight.
But once I started eating high quality red meat, pork, seafood and a lot more fat I began to get endorphin rushes at almost every meal. And one day I realized that my overall mood was much calmer and peaceful than it had been. That feeling is still with me, 6 months later. It is hard to describe but it is something like; now I am blessed with a sweet contentment that stays with me all day. And "pork bliss" aside, my husband has noticed he feels the same way.
Now, I liken this to driving a VW for a long time and then getting behind the wheel of a mercedes. You may have been perfectly content with the VW but it wasn't until you drove the mercedes that you realized something was sorely lacking (lucky for us the good food is more accessible than the mercedes).
If nothing else, I think we should enjoy life. That is why I want to drive the mercedes and eat wholesome food that gives me a rush.
Friday, April 24, 2009
Quoted from Food Renegade:
"Well, fellow Food Renegades, it’s that time of the week again! We are bringing together a collection of recipes, tips, anecdotes, and testimonies — each from a lover of Real Food.
Last week’s carnival was inspiring! Thirty-seven bloggers participated, many of them first timers. If you didn’t check it out, you should. You’ll find a wealth of great articles and posts there. It’s my personal hope that Fight Back Fridays will unite many of us coming from within different circles of the Real Food Revolution so that our influence can grow, so that we can change the way America (and the industrialized world) eats!
So, let’s have some fun."
Check it out. Lots of great posts: http://www.foodrenegade.com/fight-back-fridays-april-24th/#comment-2206
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
I have finally gotten used to not eating bread. I am going gluten-free until after the milk diet because I've read that gluten is a common cause of many health problems, one of which is Hashimoto's (which I have). I also thought that it would be easier to do the milk diet if I slowly cut back on things that I really relish so that I'm not going through multiple with-drawls all at once. I just love having my lovely home-made rolls with tons of butter and raw honey. Oh, I don't even want to think about it. But my cravings for it have passed now (after about a week).
So the gluten thing is a non-issue now (although I hope to be able to tolerate small amounts later on). I'm going to make a nice big batch of peanut butter cookies and carob chews. Those are to be eaten at night with large and luscious glasses of raw milk. Can you hear me sighing?
But, they have to be finished by next Monday because that is when I stop that sort of indulgence. I think that by May 1st, when I start my 2-day fast, I should be over craving those carob chews and peanut butter cookies.
Carob Chews, if you are not familiar, are simply wonderful, delightful snacks. I got the recipe from Nourishing Traditions, by Sally Fallon.
You will need:
1/2 cup raw honey
1/2 cup carob powder
1 Tbls vanilla extract
1 Tbls almond extract
1 cup almonds
1 cup cashews
1 cup coconut meat
1 tsp sea salt
First I grind the almonds, cashews and salt in my food processor (mind you I have soaked and dried the nuts beforehand). Then I gently heat the raw honey (just to body temperature so the enzymes stay alive) in a double-broiler. I add the carob and extracts to the honey and mix with a wooden spoon. Then I pour the mixture into the ground nuts and add the coconut meat and mix in the food processor. After, I spread the mixture out on a cookie sheet and refrigerate. When it's cooled I take it out, let it warm a little and cut into little squares and re-refrigerate. They are a great, energy-boosting snack that kids love!
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
For those of you whose reaction to hearing that I will consume only raw milk for one month is, "that is the most disgusting thing I have ever heard of", I understand where you're coming from. I too found milk pretty repulsive, basically my whole life. But the thing that you are thinking of when I say milk is quite different from the heavenly liquid I will be consuming in large amounts in May.
Conventional milk that you buy in most supermarkets is stuff that I would avoid at all costs. If it is ultra-pasteurized and homogenized (almost all of it is) and lowfat you are talking about something that is completely different from the original product.
The original product itself is pretty nasty. Think about it, cows forced to stand continuously on concrete floors while they are milked incessantly (average over 6 gallons a day) and fed anything from GMO grains and soy by-products to bovine growth hormones (so bad they are illegal in Canada) and "sludge" (ethanol by-product filled with lovely chemical residues). And don't forget the antibiotics and pus that come out of these heavily medicated yet sickly animals (average life span is 42 months for a confinement cow as opposed to 12-15 years for a pasture-raised one).
And since there is so much nastiness in the original product, pasteurization is a wonderful tool. Who needs to worry about keeping pathogens out when you're going to cook it anyway? Ultra-pasteurized milk is cooked at a cozy temperature of 230 to 285 degrees F! Boiled milk anyone?
Yes, it kills all the bad stuff, but it kills the good stuff too. You know, the vitamins, minerals, enzymes and beneficial, pathogen-killing bacteria. Mmmmm, my favorite, dead bacteria in my cereal! Don't think that just because it's dead it can't affect you, some say that this cooked bacteria can cause an immune response that leads to autism. I don't think this theory has been subjected to much research but why risk it?
Homogenization breaks down the size of the fat globules in milk. Makes' em tiny so we don't have to see how much fat is in there. Although people used to like that because it gave them a clue as to how healthy the cows were that the milk came from. The healthier the cow (good diet of grass and hay and lots of time outdoors usually did the trick) the more cream would be in the milk. Oh, yeah and homogenization has been linked to heart disease.
But why would big dairy manufacturers care about your health? Ultra-pasteurization and homogenization make it possible for milk to be shipped across the country. This stuff does not go bad! You don't even have to refrigerate it for up to 6 months! They just put it in the cooler section because no one wants to buy milk that doesn't need to be refrigerated.
And don't think that just because it's organic that you're in the clear. Read the label. Almost all organic milk you see these days has been ultra-pasteurized and much of it comes from cows living out their dreary lives in confinement.
Lowfat is not where it's at. In the process of making skim milk nitrates are produced (carcinogenic) and cholesterol is oxidized (linked to plaque build-up in the arteries). Not happy news for those drinking skim milk to avoid cancer and heart disease! And although there is lots of protein in the milk there is not enough fat for our bodies to absorb it properly. So our body calls in the Vitamin A reserves from the liver to help out. Sigh.
OK, so all of you milk-haters, we're on the same page with that stuff. But raw milk that comes from healthy, happy cows who spend their time grazing pesticide-free grass is just brimming with good stuff. Maybe I'll touch on it lightly and save more for another day. But for now let me just say that the raw milk I'm thinking of has the following: phosphorus, chlorine, sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium, iron, iodine, vitamins A, C, B6, B12, and K2, and is loaded with protective bacteria and life-sustaining enzymes. And there is lots of fat, making it quite easy for your body to digest and absorb these nutrients.
Monday, April 20, 2009
One day last October, while I was brushing my younger daughter's teeth I noticed that there were some funky brown spots on her teeth. Ahhhhhhh! My child is not perfect?! Cavities?! How could it be?
This is what really started me on my journey to find out if food can cure, although that wasn't my intention at the time. I absolutely refused to accept the party line that says, "if you're child has a cavity the problem is in her mouth, and if we extract the cavity, all will be fine". I saw the cavity as a symptom of some hidden problem in her body.
I went to a "holistic" dentist just in case (I've also discovered on this journey that so many "holistic" care-providers have an agenda to sell their stuff or some other stuff like vitamins, etc and it's really quite a shame) and she said my daughter has 2 borderline cavities. She recommended a massive dose of flouride to stall the decay (so much for holistic care). Of course I refused the treatment. But at this point I felt better knowing that her teeth weren't about to fall out or anything.
Then I discovered a book called "Cure Tooth Decay" by Ramiel Nagel. And in it I was introduced to the concept of stopping tooth decay through a healthy diet and also to the teachings of Weston A. Price. Wow! This was a new world I was entering!
Up until that point I was like most health-conscious thinking people in America, I thought that cholesterol, saturated fat and basically meat were all things to avoid whenever possible. Vegetables, chicken and well, I don't even know what, tofu maybe, were all good things to eat. Low-fat was the way to go. I have to say that up until that point I hadn't really ever been committed to one style of eating for health reasons. I more just went with food I enjoyed eating that didn't make me sick (like I wouldn't eat McDonalds because it made me feel horrible but I would eat a ton of Haagen Dazs).
Suddenly, I was allowed to eat cream and butter and red meat and whole milk and more cream! On the other hand, I did feel chained to the kitchen because now I had to soak my grains, nuts and legumes (to neutralize the phytates that block mineral absorption), I could no longer buy boxed cereal and granola bars for my kids snacks and I had to make my own sauerkraut and yogurt. Local, pasture-raised meats and dairy, fresh veggies, and lots of good fat were to be the mainstay of my diet. Processed foods, rancid and oxidized vegetable oils and refined sugars were out.
Over time I became accustomed to slaving in the kitchen (which I really do enjoy at heart) and things became easier. Now I feel like somewhat of a pro and the food I cook is, if I may say so myself, fabulous!
Oh yeah, my daughter's cavities have not progressed at all. Yay!
Sunday, April 19, 2009
But first, I have to talk about what I ate for dinner! Because that is infinitely more exciting....
I slow-cooked my short grain brown rice in coconut milk and home-made chicken stock (made with chicken feet) and sea salt for a long time. I also cleaned some wild-caught shrimp and grated some horseradish into some of my special home-made ketchup to make a cocktail sauce. And of course there was my famous salad and sauteed greens. We ate some of the shrimp raw and some flash-boiled. It was pretty good and it is such a simple meal (and can be done more quickly if you buy cleaned shrimp.
So in January I went to a routine check-up at the doc and did some bloodwork. He called me a week later to tell me my TSH (that is the hormone that stimulates the thyroid to do it's job) was extraordinarily high. He was shocked because I had no symptoms. Needless to say, I was shocked too.
So what followed was a month or two of anxiety, filled with countless doctor visits and lots of deep breathing moments. You see, I was unwilling to just go pick up the synthroid as my (now fired) doctor had advised. I knew I had a crazy, out of control number on my bloodwork (TSH: 147) and I didn't really know much else about hypothyroidism. So my mission was to find out what was causing the problem and to find the least invasive way to manage it.
The more I read, the more disheartened I became. I subsequently found out that I had Hashimoto's (an autoimmune disease that causes your immune system to attack your thyroid). Even the doctors with the "alternative" approach agree that once you go autoimmune you never go back. And as my anxiety increased I began to have numbness and tingling in my feet and hands when I laid down at night. I was told it wasn't phsychosematic but I realize now that stress aggravates thryoid issues and that my stress was bringing about these symptoms. The more I felt the symptoms, the more stressed I got.
So, I eventually started taking a somewhat "natural" medication called Armour. It is made of pig thyroid hormone (not the synthetically produced hormone in Synthroid and others). I take a very low dose of 30 mg a day. The funny thing is that even before I started taking the Armour my TSH had gone down to 41 (in about one month). I know that my diet can take the credit for this one!
I recently got more bloodwork done and my TSH is now 7. I'm not sure if the Armour did it or not but my (new) doc was shocked at how quickly my TSH and antibodies had improved (especially on such a low dose). She recommended I continue to do whatever the heck it is I'm doing.
So I sort of do know why my thryoid is sick but it's still a mystery as to why my immune system is malfunctioning. Will raw milk change things??
Saturday, April 18, 2009
Let’s see, I had leftover chili tonight. Oh, but for lunch I had a good one. My special salad (2-3 types of lettuce, avocado, tomatoes tossed with wheat-free soy sauce, beet kvass, raw vinegar and olive oil) with a can of skinless, boneless sardines smothered with my delish home-made mayonnaise. This was an intensely satisfying dish but I was craving a glass of milk afterward and we’re all out.
The funny thing is that about 30 minutes later I was overcome with wave after wave of nausea (something I haven’t experienced much since eating the “real food” way). It was pretty bad so I put a tablespoon of whey (the real stuff baby) in a glass of water, drank it and within 5 minutes the nausea had vanished. Coincidence? Perhaps.....
So I think we are guilty of programming our children to enjoy sweets from very early on. What would you think if you saw a mom denying her child cake at a birthday party? Perhaps you would pity the child for missing out on one of the joys of being a child? Maybe criticize mom for being so rigid?
Why are we so sure this is what kids need? Is it because we want it so badly? Is it possible for us to stop the rampant addiction to sugar by denying it to our children. Do we even want to? Why do people feel compelled to give sugary sweets to kids? I would have to say that there are two distinct groups on this (well there may be more but these are the 2 types of parents I usually encounter). Group 1 tries to avoid giving sugar, somehow fails with all the peer pressure and then feels guilty or uneasy when their little ones indulge. Group 2 has no problem at all with it, thinks it is just part of being a kid and that it probably doesn’t do all that much damage anyway. And I suppose this is neither here nor there but those of us who try to avoid it are really annoyed at Group 2’s behavior. Why do we succumb? Why does a group 2 even exist?
I have to venture a guess to say we succumb because our genes tell us to. Basically, we really do give a s**t what people think about us because societal acceptance is a precursor to survival. Back in the day when we were hunter/gatherers we needed husbands to stick around (or wives or partners) to help keep the kids alive and we needed neighbors and kin around to help us stay alive too. The best way to keep them around was to follow social rules. This present day longing to belong comes from the ancient necessity to belong. So when everyone else is pouring pounds of sugar down their kids throats without a thought we figure that’s the norm so we do it too. OK, this is over-simplified but doesn’t it make sense?
Now does Group 2 exist because of the same reason? Peer pressure? Maybe that was the norm when they were growing up so it will be the norm for their kids? maybe they felt deprived as a child? Of food or love? Maybe they feel guilty for something they are not providing to their child, like wholesome food or love? Maybe they just want to be cool parents?
The only thing I can say is that they surely are NOT setting their kids up to survive. They may have the appearance of being able to survive (popularity brings friends and mates) but their bodies are more likely to be sickly (in the short or long-term).
Friday, April 17, 2009
Today I made my most delicious “wild caribbean chili” (recipe courtesy of The Joy Of Cooking). Yum! Ground beef sauteed with onions and garlic, add some cumin, salt, pepper, lime and orange juice, a little unrefined whole cane sugar, black beans, beef stock and crushed tomatoes. It is soooo tasty and the combination of the ground beef with the beef stock makes it delightfully digestible.
Thursday, April 16, 2009
The Brazilian cheese bread was OK yesterday but not so good re-heated today. I think I need to mix it, bake enough for that day and freeze the rest.
I went to the doctor today. She OKed my raw milk diet! She said she is not too excited about it but she’s not against it. We will monitor my liver and kidneys. She’s a pretty good doctor though. She actually listened to me and didn’t say I was crazy.
My blood work was better too. I take small doses of Armour (30mg day) and my TSH (Thyoid Stimulating Hormone) went from 41 on Feb. 13 (down from 147 on Jan 5 and that was before I took the armour) to 7 on April 2nd. My antibodies improved greatly as well. I’m still not within normal range on these things but everything is moving in the right direction. This is where I make a plug for the way I eat. The doctor was amazed at how quickly my levels are adjusting on such a small amount of thyroid hormone. I’m convinced that it is because of how I eat and my regular practice of yoga. Now, if I can discontinue this gluten-free thing that would be great (as I bite into my day-old, dry Brazilian cheese bread). I can’t help it, I love my freshly baked whole wheat rolls! I still have to cook them for my family and my mouth drools watching them.
Now my thought of the day. What stops people from eating well? I know this is a huge question. But I want to ponder it. I’ll start with sugar. Addiction to sugar is rampant in our world today. The average sugar consumption for Americans is huge! Anywhere from 64 to 150 pounds a year, depending on who is talking. Now it’s pretty common knowledge that humans have been gifted with an innate sweet tooth, to facilitate breast-feeding (breast-milk is sweet!). But back when we were running around catching animals and picking berries we didn’t have too many chances to munch on a snickers, so there weren’t very many sugar addicts. Now that sugar is readily available, like on every street corner and checkout aisle, it is pretty hard for us to resist. And what we often forget is that every time we eat a french fry or a piece of white bread there occurs a peak in blood sugar levels. Those empty carbs are converted into sugar right away. So don’t think you deserve desert after you’ve had a peanut butter and jelly sandwich on white bread (even the peanut butter may have sugar in it). But you will most likely crave something sweet.
One of the major problems here is that most of what we eat is not satisfying. Why is it not satisfying? Because it is nutritionally empty. Let’s look at a typical meal for me one year ago.
Breakfast: boxed cereal (organic honey Os perhaps) with low-fat milk, then an all-natural turkey sausage and organic egg on an english muffin
boxed cereal: highly processed under high heat and pressure (shown to be extremely difficult to digest and to cause peaks in blood sugar production, perhaps even more than sugar). Any nutritional content is pretty much useless because my body was unable to absorb it.
organic low-fat milk: A highly processed, dead liquid devoid of valuable enzymes and containing only small amounts of nutrients. Being low-fat it had some of the natural fat replaced with a powdered form of milk that was commercially dehydrated causing oxidation of the cholesterol in it. And it is highly likely that the original product was extracted from sickly, undernourished, over-pumped cows fed an unnatural diet of soy and corn (yes, even organic milk can be bad)
turkey sausage: A highly processed product with a high-sodium content, but at least there must have been some nutrients in the meat.
organic egg: this was probably the most nutritious thing I ate all day
english muffin: it was white! oh boy, blood sugar peaks, empty calories, no nutrients
So what was my breakfast? Pretty crappy! The egg was really the only saving grace and that wasn’t from a pasture-raised chicken so it was of less value.
So after I consume this breakfast that actually did more damage than good, what did I feel like eating? Some sugar anyone? My body was crying out for more, more, more! I had given it some energy but not much else.....where was the calcium, magnesium, Vit A, Vit D, Vit C? So the bodies natural reaction is to ask for more! This is one reason why people can’t control themselves, their bodies are calling out for more.
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
With the industrial revolution families began to leave the farms and to work out of the home more. More and more people moved to metropolitan areas and more women left the home to work. This necessitated a lot more “quick” meals. Breast-feeding and cooking began their wane. By the 1920s people were still mostly cooking and breast-feeding but not as they had done 50 years earlier. Women had tasted freedom and who could blame them for wanting more? With these changes on the home-front and technological advances in machinery the concept of industrialized food processing became very appealing for profit-minded businesses (well, what other kind is there?). Companies began to find more and more inroads to alleviate the workload of working moms. How convenient it would be to buy your bread instead of slaving at home?
Fast-forward to now. It is all too common for women to work out of the home, even with tiny newborns. The average American consumes a large amount of processed food. And we eat a ton of wheat products, almost none of which have been fermented or sprouted. A lot of our health problems today are probably derived from the way we eat grains. (Sugar and high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) are also big culprits in the demise of our health) Unfortunately for us it would be way too costly (read: lower executive salaries) for big food manufacturers to soak or ferment grains. Don’t want to mess with the bottom-line. And now big pharma is there to pick up the slack. They are making billions on our sick, diseased, fat bodies. It seems it is easier for us to take medication than to change our ways.
So perhaps gluten is not the enemy. Maybe we need to get back into the kitchen and start soaking and fermenting our grains from their whole form. Gluten is a friend (unless you are already gluten-sensitive), and that boxed food is not!
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
Now this brings me to an interesting thought that has been rattling about in my head. Why are people so intolerant of so many things (and I’m not talking prejudice here, that’s another conversation)? You’re either gluten-sensitive, or lactose intolerant or you suffer from multiple allergies or something. There is a long list of possible culprits, let me tell you. And there are champions of each of these causes. See because I believe that our bodies used to be pretty darn perfect, we functioned quite wonderfully, a long time ago. Now we’re all broken down and fat and diseased and tired and stressed out! What the heck is going on?
I am on a quest to answer this question to my own satisfaction. I have always been curious about this stuff. Like, why do so many people need glasses? How could we have carried on our species way back when we were hunter/gatherers (HG) if half of us couldn’t see the darn animals?! We would have died out pretty quickly. So I’m guessing all this vision trouble is a relatively new thing. But my real probing of the question of why we are so messed up really picked up speed when I found out I was one of the sick ones!
I will ponder on this regularly. One thought I have is, perhaps we just eat a bunch of junk and it’s killing us. What do you think? A possibility?