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Real Food Heritage
Cultures around the world provide examples of living and sustainable diets, if we go back 200 or more years ago. Those diets vary widely, but they all have a few things in common.
- They all used locally available fruits, in season, and some dried or cool stored.
- They all used locally available vegetables, both in season, and stored either in a cool location or dried. Some vegetables were also pickled for storage in a cool location.
- They consumed grains, and they had some form of bread, with very few exceptions.
- They all had some form of meat protein, either from livestock, or hunted wild. This may have been largely fish, or birds, but meat was invariably present, and only supplemented with insect protein in unusual circumstances.
- They had, with very few exceptions, animals which were milked. Cows, goats, sheep, yaks, reindeer, horses, camels, and many other large animals have been herded and used for both milk and meat for many millenia.
Cultures may have depended primarily on domesticated animals and cultivated crops, or they may have depended heavily, or even entirely, on wild harvested or hunted food sources, but those elements were present more than they were not present. Generally, one group may have been reduced, but was almost never completely eliminated from the diet. Where one was missing the others were balanced to compensate.
There have been NO societies in the history of the world that were gluten free, or vegan, and VERY FEW that have been without milk animals for dairy (yes, even for adults).
They are there, even where you do not think they are! Chemicals are everywhere in your food, and even your organics have chemicals where you don't think they do!
What they do in the food, they do in your body.
Here are just a few of the sources of chemicals:
- Artificial coloring.
- Artificial flavorings.
- Chemical anti-caking agents, emulsifiers, texture enhancers, etc.
- Preservatives. Oh, they are where you know they are, but they are also where you DON'T know they are. In virtually all baked goods, canned goods, dry goods, etc. Designed to prevent growth of living cells.
- Preservative coatings on produce (check the apple boxes, and other fruit boxes - they have a label that you never see on the fruit in the bins in the grocery stores).
- Detergents. Even some organics (gala apples and sprouts, for example) have detergents on them, which you can taste, and which go all the way through the food. Designed to kill bacteria (and hence, fast growing cells).
- Sprout inhibitors. Used to delay breakdown of fruits, and vegetables. On almost all root vegetables, and many other produce items. Designed to stop growth of living cells.
- Chlorine. It does not require labeling. It is in baked goods, canned goods, dried goods, and fresh foods. If the water is not labeled as "filtered", you know it has chlorine, and even some that IS labeled as filtered has chlorine. Fruits and veggies are dipped in it to disinfect them. It is in your water (if you have municipal or community water, it is in there, legally required to be), and it is in the water that is spraying your produce at the grocery store. It is in the water that your Farmer's Market produce is washed in as well. It does not evaporate completely, some of it absorbs into the food. Chlorine can also come through milk, when given to animals.
- Pesticide Residues in food, and Pesticide residues in meats (animal feed is typically treated with pesticide, which the animals ingest).
- Plastic leaching into foods. Plastics leach chemicals, including chlorides, into your foods. Even BPA and phtalate free plastics still leach. Now... HOT plastic leaches more than COLD plastic. So frozen foods packaged in plastics have the least, and hot foods packaged in plastic have the most. Yeah, guys, this IS an issue. I am VERY allergic to plastics, and cannot handle hot foods or foods that were hot packed in plastic containers (face swells, lungs close, not pretty). Non-stick coating on cookware (other than ceramic), or plastic cookware designed for use with hot foods, is the worst for this.
- Herbicide residues in food. This is generally minimal. The things put in food AFTER harvest are far more dangerous than those put on it before hand.
- Medicine residues in food. Antibiotics, and other medications used with livestock.
- Chemical forms of vitamin and minerals, added to "enriched" foods. The body does not use them the same as natural sources, some have harmful side effects or build up harmful metabolites.
There are more, I am sure. And you can't eliminate them all, but knowing where they are can help you isolate what it is you are reacting to, and you can then work on the things that are worst for you.
Otherwise, work on what you CAN control, and trust that your body can handle more than you think it can.
Beef, pork, and chicken are the three staple domestic meats in the American diet, with a few types of farmed fish being common as well. Additional meats - lamb, veal, goat, turkey, duck, goose, good quality fish, shellfish, and a few other odds and ends, are sometimes available may end up being the more important domestic meats when attempting to heal a body or get back to a more natural food intake.
With the industrialization of food, has come a severe restriction on the kinds of meats that are commonly available. If there is not demand for it nationwide, it may not be available in many communities. I have found that it is IMPOSSIBLE to buy lamb in the grocery stores in many places.
Why is that important? Because those less common meats may be the very ones that people who are struggling with weight issues, low energy, and chronic digestive or metabolic issues may need in order to heal and sustain a healthy life.
Some wild meats are now available domesticated, and others are not. But whether you hunt, or purchase wild meat, it can be a great help to a body that is healing.
Wild meats may or may not actually be WILD, and they may or may not be "cleaner" than domesticated meats.
Deer, elk, moose, etc, that are hunted on forest lands are likely to be clean and lean. They are excellent sources of healthy proteins.
Antelope, deer, elk, etc, that are grazing in farmer's hayfields are exactly as healthy as the cattle that feed there - because with the exception of medications in other feed, or administered directly to cattle, the animals are eating the same grain or grasses as the cattle, with all the pesticides and herbicides that come with it.
There are some animals that are not quite domesticated, not quite wild, such as quail, pheasant, partridge, red stag, ostrich or emu, or other animals that are classed as Exotics, not really domesticated, but reared in captivity for the purpose of producing meat. Quality of the meat depends upon the methods used for feeding and caring for the animals.
These meats may be much more digestible for some people, and can be a terrific help in overcoming metabolic, or even mitochondrial issues.
Dairy is exactly as healthy for YOU, as the health of the animal that has provided it for you. Animals reared on artificial hormones and antibiotics are NOT healthy animals!
The fat in dairy carries the majority of the chemical and medicinal contaminants, so good raw milk with all the fat on it is a superior food only when the milk is produced in a clean manner, without added chemicals or medications.
There is something amazing about the ability that raw milk has to aid in healing the body. There is also something amazing about how easy it is to work with raw milk, as opposed to pasteurized milk. It is far easier to make cultured foods, and there are many shortcuts that do not work with pasteurized milk, because of the way that pasteurization and homogenization change the behaviors of the milk molecules.
So good dairy is Raw Milk, clean milk products, and minimally processed milk products.
They are a WHOLE DIFFERENT thing than your average commercial milk products!
Fresh, dried, or root cellared fruits are a great source of healthy carbohydrates. Fruits and fruit juices have got a bad rap lately, with the low carb dieters, and with many "traditional" food proponents.
Fruits were typically used in season, often stored in a cool underground storage area to preserve them longer, and often dried for use in the winter. Even nomadic tribes dried fruits to carry with them, because they stored in a small space, and provided a boost of energy and a helpful aid to the digestion of meats and vegetables.
Remember, Tomatoes are FRUIT. This is important, because for many people, pairing fruits with meats helps with digestion, and helps to break down proteins into simpler forms which are better metabolized. For myself, simply pairing fruit with certain meats has enabled me to digest them without indigestion, and this is one of the major things which lead to an increase in energy for me when healing. That is why it is important to remember that Tomatoes are fruit - many meats I have always preferred with tomatoes, or tomato sauce.
Fruits have been unfairly vilified by the low carb crowd. They are high in many elements which are not found in other foods to any large degree, and they may be badly needed for people who are healing from digestive and metabolic disorders.
Whole and fresh is best. Dried is second best, if they have not been treated with preservatives. Unsugared juices are a good option when fresh fruits are not available, and are a very useful food when recovering from acute illness.
Get a wide variety, and use them while in season first. A good dehydrator is worth its weight in gold for drying fruit for winter use. Your own dried fruits, from fruits in-season, will have superior nutrition and quality to imported fresh fruits in the wintertime (when they are imported from places that are not so careful about chemical use). This is how people truly adapted to using fruit, and there is a health benefit in doing so. It allows you to have a wider variety year-round, which means a wider variety of nutritional values all year, and it allows you to have the best quality all year.
Some people think you can live on vegetables alone. Interestingly, they never think that for more than a decade, during which they struggle mightily with the craving for meats and dairy (usually cheese). They crave eggs, and lasagna with chunks of Italian sausage. And hamburgers... With bacon.
Vegetables ARE a really important part of a healthy diet, and they should make an appearance on the plate at every meal where practical. In fact, if they have two spots reserved on the lunch and dinner plate, it is a really good thing!
But VEGETABLES is not the same thing as VEGETABLE DERIVED FOOD PRODUCTS. Refined vegetable products are NOT good vegetables.
Fresh, dried, or pickled (lacto-fermented) vegetables are the best choices. Fresh vegetables are filled with probiotics, packed with water soluble vitamins and minerals, and help you many ways.
The best vegetables are straight from the field, where they have never been touched by chlorinated water. Second best is either pickled or dried.
Eggs have a very long history as food. Eaten raw long before they were eaten cooked, and added to all manner of baked goods, casseroles, and breakfast foods, eggs have been the bellweather of the economy, the farmer's wife's income generation, and the guilty secret of the cheating vegan.
High in B12, and many other fat soluble vitamins and minerals, eggs also have a history of sensitivities among people with certain allergies, or who have protein intolerances. The causes of this are many, and varied, so the solution for one person is not the same as the solution for another.
One thing is certain... The yolks are LESS likely to cause sensitivities than the whites, the yolks are the HEALTHY part of the egg, and the nutrient density of eggs is concentrated in the yolk more than the whites.
One of the things that surprised me, when I was dealing with egg sensitivities, is that those are the sensitivities that told me exactly how my digestive tract was doing. If I could tolerate eggs, I was doing well. If I was having problems, I'd get intolerant to the whites, and then to the yolks. While I was healing, I'd be able to handle yolks again, and then whites.
Not only that, but I could digest smaller eggs better than larger ones! Bantam chicken eggs were easier to digest (true bantams, not bred down versions). Quail eggs are even easier. Duck eggs were harder to digest, and goose eggs harder still. I would not have thought this would be the case, but it was!
And one more thing is VERY certain... Eggs are FAR more healthy than egg substitutes.
Contrary to a few popular dietary theories, the human race is well adapted to the digestion of grains. It is NOT however, adapted to the digestion of contaminated baked goods and processed foods.
Good whole grain, freshly milled, and baked or cooked into homemade food, is excellent stuff. It is one of the really special foods for healing a body, provided you have healed sufficient to digest proteins well. (For the record, there was a time when I was gluten intolerant, but this reversed as I healed.)
The TYPE of grain that is best for each individual varies with your own genetics. I do well with cooked oats, freshly milled Hard White Wheat flour (but not Hard Red), and with Spelt, Rye, Soft White, and Durum Wheat. I don't do well with millet, or kamut, or quinoa. White rice is just so much starch, but I love Brown Rice, and Wild Rice, and they are good food for me.
Grains are very much a traditional food, but only when they are INTACT, and freshly milled, rolled, or cracked. Once they start to oxidize, they are not as healthy. And when they've been commercially refined, much of the good has been removed - Commercial "whole wheat" flour is anything but!
There is a modern idea that nuts are somehow a replacement for meats, and that a person can have a balanced diet by having nuts on a frequent basis. Legumes also are used as a meat replacement, and are processed into all manner of protein substances. Neither one actually does the job of meat replacer, since they lack vital animal fats, and since the proteins are not used by the body in the same manner as meat proteins. Many people simply lack the ability to convert bean proteins to usable muscle protein.
Historically, nuts were difficult to harvest in large quantities, and limited to one or two varieties in any given region. They were a supplemental food, used sparingly through the year, and NEVER a dietary staple or consistent daily protein source. Even today, they are expensive, limited in availability, and not agriculturally or economically sustainable to use as a significant portion of the human diet.
Legumes were used as a vegetable, not as a meat, and were NOT heavily used until crops were cultivated under commercial agriculture. Until that time, it was simply too inconvenient to raise large quantities of beans, and shelling them out is time consuming - there simply are not enough hours in the day to process enough beans by hand for them to make up a large portion of the winter diet, unless you are using machinery to do so. This is why traditional recipes are not "bean" recipes so much as "soup with beans", where the beans are simply another ingredient in a dish with MANY ingredients. Chili, baked beans, pork and beans, and even lima beans and ham, are relatively new dishes, popularized after industrialization of agriculture and the industrialization of harvest processing.
Beans do store well, and have been a winter staple for many centuries, but not by themselves. They have always been combined with a variety of vegetables (dried or winter stored), or with meats (beans with cured meats are a tradition in MANY cultures). It is important to understand though, that depending on large amounts of beans in your diet for protein sources is also NOT agriculturally sustainable outside of industrialized agriculture, because beans are land intensive, equipment intensive, and generally herbicide intensive. They do return some nitrogen to the soil, but they also prefer rich soil for growth, and they are not a sustainable form of fertilization of land (they don't return enough to replace animal manure as a sustainable fertilizer).
Beans and nuts are good food, and definitely have a place in a balanced and healthy diet. They may be foods that cause digestive problems sooner than others when a person has significant chronic digestive or metabolic illness.
They are not meant to be daily staples, and never have been in any sustained culture. They are one of many vegetable foods that are used in combination with other foods to add variety, both in nutrition and in taste.
Most people have no idea how many different kinds of mushrooms traditional people consumed. We still see some of this heritage in parts of Europe, where the local markets have vendors with large baskets of all manner of wild edible mushrooms.
In the US, most people are only familiar with the nasty white button mushroom, and have no idea that there are other mushrooms that actually taste good (even to mushroom haters - yeah, I grew up hating mushrooms). The more mushrooms I have tasted, the more I realize that about half of them taste similar to the white button, about a quarter of them have flavors that hide in anything, so you never quite know WHAT they taste like, and the other quarter are distinctive, and quite enjoyable.
Mushrooms are a vital element in the human diet, in ways we have completely ignored. I have found that they are very healing, many are strongly antibiotic or antiviral, and virtually all mushrooms have the capacity to help your body detox, and rid itself of harmful chemical build-up. Some are helpful in balancing the metabolism, others in regulating hormones. A good variety of DIFFERENT KINDS of mushrooms, served 2-3 times per week, can be very helpful in healing and regulating a body that is out of balance and afflicted with chronic illness.
It is worth learning to identify those wild mushrooms growing in your yard. Chances are, at least a few of them are edible. Don't bother trying to ID the little ones - they aren't worth the trouble. But any larger mushrooms that grow, are worth identifying, because you have about a 50% chance of having a good edible! (If you need help with mushroom ID, email us, and ask.)
If you have never had a salad made with Chickweed, or bits of purslane decorating your bed of greens, or a lovely potato soup that is flavored with Ramps or Wild Onions, then you are missing out! There are many other wild edibles also which are worth the time to harvest and use.
Some wild edibles are pretty marginal. I mean, henbit is edible, but not something I'd go out of my way for. Plaintain is about like spinach. Clover blossoms aren't worth the bother, they lack distinctive appeal. There are a few things worth going out of your way for though, and they can also generally be cultivated intentionally, either by naturalization into a suitable habitat, or by adding them to your gardens or landscaping each year.
The wonderful thing about wild edibles is that they have not been genetically altered, hybridized, or messed with in ways that cultivated crops have been. For many people, they will be more easily digestible, and a good source of seasonal nutrients.
Since wild edibles are very seasonal, you gain the benefits of returning a little more to the healthy seasonal changes that the human body responds well to. We need more vegetables and fruits in the summer, and more fats and meats in the winter. Our bodies simply function best that way!
Once you learn to enjoy wild edibles, you may notice that the weeds in your garden are less provoking, because many of these foods grow as weeds, and when you eat them, they are not an annoyance anymore, but a delightful gift of nature!
When we began cleaning up our diet, and trying to remove chemicals from our food, it quickly became clear that the only way we were going to be able to produce food that really was clean, that we KNEW was clean, was to grow it ourselves.
We don't always grow a lot of it, but we always grow what we can. We set out with the goal of growing every bit we could ourselves, both crops and livestock. It has been a battle to be able to do significant amounts, for reasons that are not easily explainable (complicated story). But every bit we do is a blessing to us, because we know that it is absolutely clean.
When we grow crops, we do so without any chemicals at all. We use animal manures, from animals we know are cleanly raised.
When we raise animals, they are fed in part from our own crops, and from other food sources we know are chemically clean. Some of their food they forage, and some we gather for them. Some is purchased, but only as a last resort, and we NEVER feed pelleted or processed feeds to our animals. If we buy feed, it is hay, or grains, sometimes fruits and vegetables.
The thing with growing your own is, do what you CAN, and make sure you don't let yourself get overwhelmed, either with the prospect of doing it, or with the daily tasks of doing it. Add things one at a time, and be patient with yourself. Learn ways to save time and money with it, or it will gobble up both! Practicing No-Till gardening methods saves time and money (in HUGE amounts), and raising a few animals along with your crops benefits the garden, you, and the animals.
Growing your own is just the logical conclusion that many people will reach, after they consider available food sources, and realize that for them, good clean food may be impossible to obtain unless they produce some of their own.
Cured and brined foods have a long history in many cultures. Those foods may be vegetables, or meats. Many people use the term "lacto-fermenting" for pickling, and for some alcoholic ferments, but the term does NOT refer to the curing or brining of meats, because they do not form lacto-bacillus, which gives the term its name.
Some CULTURED foods DO fit in this category. Things like kefir, yogurt, buttermilk, and some other cultured milk products, because they DO form lacto-bacillus in the culturing process.
Lacto-fermentation is very trendy right now. In fact, we sell an airlock lid (unique design of our own invention) for making old fashioned brined pickles (Fermenta Cap).
Basically, lacto-fermentation is just pickling, or curing, with or without salt. Now, there is one really vital thing that you need to understand about lacto-fermentation, and healing the body.
Any food that has SIMPLE carbohydrates (that means sugars, fructose, or starchy sugars), will create alcohol. This means that if you ferment fruits (including tomatoes), beets, squash, potatoes, grains, or anything with sugar, honey, agave, etc, added to it, then you are making a ferment with alcohol. Alcohol ferments use the sugar instead of salt to encourage preservation. Vegetables without starchy sugars are brined with salt, and do not build significant amounts of alcohol. Milk ferments CAN do so, but usually are not fermented long enough to do so, and are generally not a concern.
It is important to understand that, and to understand that Alcohol is HARMFUL to the digestive tract, and to neural cells, and to endocrine cells in the body. Small amounts are generally something the body easily compensates for. But larger amounts - amounts high enough to create fizz, or tingle in the ferment - are harmful to the digestive tract, AND they are classed as "alcoholic" by the Federal Government. But the real reason you don't want to use those, is because alcohol KILLS living cells (it is used as a preservative and disinfectant because cells and microbes cannot grow in it, it kills them). You don't want to put that into your digestive tract if you are trying to heal, any more than you'd want to drink chlorine.
So when we talk about Cured and Pickled foods, we are NOT talking about anything alcoholic.
We are talking about kraut, pickles, and milk cultures. These foods are good preserved foods, because they are LIVING foods, with plenty of healthy microbes, and nutrients that are either intact or enhanced.
Cultured or pickled foods are NOT MORE healthy than fresh foods!
Raw milk is a fresh food, kefir is a cultured food. They are BOTH very healthy, and BOTH are nutrient dense, they simply contain a DIFFERENT complement of microbes, and a slightly different balance of nutrients.
Cucumbers and cabbage are healthy fresh food. Cabbage is known to aid in healing the digestive tract. Pickles and kraut are healthy brined and cured food. Both are nutrient dense, with slightly different microbial and nutritional complements.
Traditionally, cured foods were NOT served daily. They were often used as condiments, or as seasonings (meats were often used that way), and they were used in winter when fresh was no longer available.
That is the healthiest way to use them in a balanced diet. Use pickling, curing, and culturing to preserve foods longer when you have a surplus of them, because they will store longer than fresh.
Yogurt and kefir are helpful for healing the digestive tract, and overcoming lactose intolerance, and for helping with chronic digestive disorders. Kefir and yogurt also store longer in the fridge than fresh raw milk, so you can use it to get you through a spell without milk, or to help you so you don't have to go out of your way for raw milk quite so often.
Using these foods in a traditional manner helps to provide healthy food year-round, as part of a more natural seasonal eating pattern.
Supplements are NOT PART of a traditional diet, except as medicinal treatments! Let's get that straight right away!
Anyone who says that you need supplements to achieve basic nutrition because our food comes from the fields and farms "depleted" of nutrients is full of horse pucky. It is not true, and it is the most common line trotted out by supplement manufacturers and peddlers whose only goal is to persuade you that health is not achievable without their product.
The best source of NUTRIENTS, is FOOD. Good, whole, and clean food has everything in it that you need. The only "depletion" of nutrients in our food that matters at all to you is the depletion in REFINED and PROCESSED foods, because they are incomplete foods, and the enriched vitamins and minerals they throw back in at the end are not in a form that your body will easily use.
DO NOT USE MULTI-VITAMINS! They have refined versions that your body won't handle well in the first place. They have a specific group of nutrients in them, which are the SAME nutrients that are tossed back into every refined food on the market anyway, so they are things you either DO NOT NEED, or that you already are not digesting in those forms anyway! If you CAN digest them, then you OD on the ones that do not clear out of your system easily. Many people experience chronic headaches and nausea from multi-vitamins and do not realize that is the culprit. If they have something in them that you DO need, then you DON'T need all the rest of the garbage that comes along with the one thing you need! Often the things you don't need will undo the good of the thing you do need, making it impossible to heal when you are taking a multi-vitamin. Eat good food. Take single nutrient supplements for those things that you actually do need more of temporarily.
There are TWO situations in which you may need supplements short term, and ONE in which you may need them long term.
1. If you have a digestive disorder that has left you deficient in certain nutrients, then you may need vitamin or mineral supplements short term. If you are healing your body, you won't need them long term, except in RARE circumstances.
2. If you are healing your body, you might need herbal supplements short term, in order to assist in the healing process. Again, if you are healing, there is simply no reason why anyone needs to take any herbal supplement for life, except in very rare circumstances.
3. In rare circumstances, where a genetic metabolic, mitochondrial, or other deficiency is present, where it cannot be compensated for by dietary adjustment (it often can), then you might need a nutritional supplement long term. In rare situations where a chronic disease is present that cannot be healed (Type 1 diabetes, HIV, or other inborn or acquired diseases), herbal supplements may help to compensate long term.
Eat food before you choose a supplement. If you need B-12, eat egg yolks, meats, and raw milk. If you need calcium, have raw milk, and dark green veggies, and bone marrow, or other sources high in calcium. For potassium, potatoes, bananas, avocados, and other high potassium sources will do better than a potassium supplement.
Supplements can be a helpful bridge when you are recovering, and rarely a long term substitute for, or complement to, medical treatment for chronic conditions, but they should not be taken as "insurance", and they should not be considered to be a "necessary" part of a healthy diet.
Food has tremendous power to heal a body, or to keep it in good health. It also has tremendous power, if adulterated and messed with, to cause great harm to the body.
We have found that the biggest health benefits come not from supplements or miracle cures, but just from persistently choosing good, wholesome, nutrient dense, natural, and fresh foods.
Sometimes the best "medicine" isn't medicine at all!
Nutrition can have a tremendous affect on moods and upon our ability to control certain behaviors. When one has chronically low energy levels, depression often accompanies it.
Having experienced clinical depression with every pregnancy except one, and seasonal depression until about 10 years ago, I've experienced the effect that nutrition and health can have on mental health. The depression diminished as my digestive health improved.
There are various diets recommended for improving mood stability and concentration, but there are more failures from it than successes, in part because it is so difficult to restrain oneself to an unnatural diet - and most diets recommended for this ARE unnatural.
For our family, the best solution was to just heal the body. And that was done best by a wide variety of real foods, which are the best quality we can afford - in other words, the foods that have the least possible chemical contamination.
Any time any "expert" condemns an entire category of genuine food as being "bad", when there is evidence of long term health benefits from that food, you may know they are a quack.
Any time an "expert" blames the ills of the world on a single food item, you may know they are a quack.
Beyond that, there are many food myths that have caught on, simply because a particular industry engaged in effective marketing, by claiming that food to be "healthier" than another, by their skewed reckoning.
Food "research" is unfortunately badly tainted by marketing dollars, and many people will believe tainted research over common sense.
In general, if the food news coming out is marketing a food as a "superfood", then the research is tainted. If the news elevates a single food in such a way that it radically benefits the sellers of that food, it is most likely tainted.
Real research generally yields logical results and evidence of moderation where food is concerned.
There are many ways to earn from Real Food. From the sale of products, to the sale of equipment, to the sale of information, there are options for almost anyone who is motivated to earn.
There is one key to it that is the biggest money key though. That is, to eliminate the distribution chain.
Sellers of equipment, products (including fresh foods), and information all profit MORE when they sell directly to the customer than they do if they sell wholesale into the corporate supply chain.
The difference is considerable. Yes, you do more of the work, and you have to be good at marketing. But if you can do that one thing, the profit potentials are 10 times what they are if you sell into the distribution chain.
Traditional preservation does not actually include canning, but we have included it here, because of the value for preserving seasonal harvests in a simple to use manner.
- We DRY a lot of foods. This is probably the most common traditional preservation method, being used for fruits, vegetables, and meats, and naturally occurring with grains, nuts, and legumes. We don't freeze dry, it is neither economical, nor efficient, and we simply do not have the time or money to fuss with it.
- We FREEZE a lot of foods. Also a traditional method, freezing was used by northern civilizations to store some foods through the winter.
- We COOL STORE some foods. The traditional is a root cellar. We use a basement, or a refrigerator, and sometimes a front or back porch area. Appropriate for potatoes, apples, cabbages, squash, onions, and other similar crops, and for smoked or cured meats.
- We CURE, PICKLE, or CULTURE some foods. Traditionally this is why we have pickles, kraut, cheese, ham, sausage, and other foods that are treated with salt or aged in a way that encourages beneficial microbial growth.
- We SMOKE some foods, in combination with drying or curing. Another longstanding traditional preservation method.
- We DO SOME oil or fat pack foods, but are careful about what we do, because some either do not store long enough to be worth the trouble, or they have too high a risk of deadly peripheral contamination to be worth it.
- We CAN many foods, a lot of them pressure canned, for quick fix, grab and go meals, and to make some meats more digestible (production breed meats are hard for me to digest unless the proteins are changed by cooking processes, and high heat is one thing that works). We are careful about methods used, and pay attention to nutrient loss. We use MANY "not recommended" methods, because our experiences have taught us that the government is not the only, or even the best, arbiter of safety where food is concerned! We use recommendations from around the world, and we learn the science, and figure out WHY things are tricky, and then develop methods for compensating. Our food is good, it is safe, and it is a huge benefit to us every day.
People have been preserving and storing food for as long as they have been eating food. Healthy food preservation is part skill, and part art, but once you get going on it, it really ISN'T all that hard!
In the US, we have largely lost the traditions involved in seasonal eating. The corporate distribution chain has overtaken our instinctive and cultural food usage, and we are now persuaded that we must have lettuce, spinach, celery, carrots, tomatoes, and zucchini year round, and that apples, oranges, and bananas are sufficient fruits for any month of the year.
Do you realize how UNNATURAL that is?
Whatever happened to regional crops? What has happened to the wider variety of fresh fruits and vegetables that used to parade through the grocery stores through the summer, and fade in the winter? Now, the only thing that changes, is the price! The store stocks the same produce all year, imported from Chile when it is out of season here!
Traditionally, people ate more fruits and veggies in the summer, and more meats, dried foods, and cured foods through the winter.
- Ham was a fall and winter food. Hogs were slaughtered in the cool of late fall or early winter (so the carcass would cool quickly), and cured and smoked for use through the winter.
- Greens were a spring food - they don't grow well in the summer, you know, and in the fall, there are other foods which are bearing. In Europe, greens are also a winter food - they grow very well under protection, well into the freezing temperatures.
- Lamb, mutton, veal, chicken, and other small animals were summer food, because they could be butchered and used within a few days, and did not need to be stored.
- Fruits were consumed in season. Did you know that beginning with early berry harvests, that there is SOME kind of fruit coming into ripeness almost constantly from late May to October? A well planned farm will have fruits bearing in a kaleidoscope of production all summer long, and deep into the fall. Strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, apricots, plums, peaches, pears, prunes, apples. You eat all you want, and preserve the rest for winter treats.
- Grains were harvested in the fall, and stored for use all year. Usually used more heavily in the winter, and spring, when vegetables were less prevalent, and less so in the summer when last year's grains were running low.
- Milk was plentiful in the spring and summer when forage is lush and the cows and goats have just freshened. So spring and summer were also cheesemaking times. Milk production begins to slack in the fall, when cows are becoming heavy with calves, and goats are ready to breed again, and when fresh forage is starting to decline, and there is no milk at all when the cows and goats are preparing for birth and dropping their young. So spring and summer, and even in the fall, fresh cold milk was used more. In the winter, cheese and butter were available from what was preserved through the summer.
- Potatoes, Squash, Cabbage, Rutabagas, Carrots, Parsnips, Onions, and other storable vegetables were staples through the winter, and kept in a root cellar to supply the kitchen until the greens were up in the spring.
- Shelly beans, split peas, lentils, and other legumes were dried and stored to supplement winter food supplies. They do not store as well as grain, so they degrade in quality and become difficult to cook (and to digest) toward spring if they are not kept airtight.
Seasonal foods allow the body to take advantage of varied nutrients, and signal the body that it is well-nourished. Eating seasonally helps us live more economically, and to enjoy a parade of flavors that cycle with the seasons.
It seems there is a war on, against fresh food, local food, raw milk, organic food, artisan foods, and home food production. It used to be the government encouraged these things, but now they discourage them, through a combination of fear tactics, regulatory burdens, and punitive actions.
Farmer's Markets have caught on in many areas, and now the Federal Government is making noises about "assisting" them. This is the first step in controlling them, after which they can discourage the grassroots, independent element in them. Yes, folks, one follows the other, as night follows day.
This is the pattern that has plagued good food. There are currently still some legal exceptions that small farmers can take advantage of to produce food without Federal oversight, but they are closing one by one, as the Federal Government tightens its noose, and as local and state governments rush to fill the void with their own restrictive regulations.
Food IS political, and always will be, because it is the ultimate means of controlling the public.
Healthy oils may be obtained from either plants, or animals, but will generally be either heat extracted, or cold pressed, if they really are healthy. Solvents will be used occasionally, but only certain types, and not those typically associate with commercial high volume oil extraction.
Animal oils generally require heat extraction. Rendering duck fat or lard are classic examples. Heat extracted animal fats are considered to be healthy. Many animal oils are extracted using solvents, but the solvents used are toxic, and this groups those fats into the unhealthy category since it is impossible to extract every bit of solvent.
Plant oils may be cold pressed, hot pressed, or solvent extracted. Generally cold pressed is perceived to be the healthiest, but it is NOT healthier than hot pressed if you are going to use the oil for cooking. Solvent extracted is usually considered unhealthy because of the solvents used.
Theoretically, if a healthy solvent were used, oils extracted using this type of solvent would produce a healthy product. So far, manufacturers do not seem to think this is a good idea, I suspect because of cost.
All proteins are not created equal. Animal proteins and plant proteins are used differently in the body, and they are not precisely interchangeable.
Protein deficits in children can permanently stunt growth, and cause a specific type of malnutrition, called Kwashiorkor. Parents who dismiss protein needs in children, in support of a vegan diet are playing fast and loose with their children's lives.
In this day and age, protein intolerances are fairly common, but they are often due to the chemicals that go along for the ride, and not necessarily the protein itself. Gluten, milk proteins, bean proteins, canned meat proteins, egg whites, and other protein types may cause digestive upset when an intolerance develops. The majority of the time, it is either reversible, or switching to a different form of the protein (fresh cooked instead of canned, raw instead of pasteurized, fresh milled instead of in pre-baked goods, quail eggs instead of chicken eggs, etc) will allow compensation for the problem.
With the low-carb fad, came a LOT of misunderstanding of carbohydrates!
There are two types: Simple, and Complex
Simple carbs include sugar, fructose, honey, agave, refined wheat flour, white rice, and other refined and processed carbs that convert easily to glucose.
Complex carbs include whole grains, vegetables, whole and fresh fruits, and the carbohydrates in dairy product.
Some simple carbs are needed, and useful in the body, but refined and processed types are best avoided. Simple carbs are less of a problem when consumed with complex carbs (and in fact, will affect blood sugar less when eaten in combination).
The good carbs are the whole, fresh, and uncontaminated ones (no preservatives or chemical additives). And the best way to use them is in all their diversity, including whole grains and clean dairy.
A collection of recipes both ancient and contemporary, to help incorporate real and whole foods into a modern life.
The information on this site is presented for informational purposes only, and consists of the opinions and experiences of the site authors. It is not to be construed as medical advice or to be used to diagnose or treat any illness. Seek the assistance of a medical professional in implementing any nutritional changes with the goal of treating any medical condition. The historical and nutritional information presented here can be verified by a simple web search.
I do what I do because I understand the science behind it, and I've researched worldwide sources to verify the safety of my practices to my own satisfaction. Please do your own research, and proceed AT YOUR OWN RISK.