Electuaries: 13+ Tips for Making DELICIOUS Herbal Medicines

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Kids can be pretty picky about taking herbal medicines. If it tastes bitter or strange, they don’t want anything to do with it. Some herbs can be tough for adults to ingest, too.

Before reading this article, your options may have been limited to: 1) choke it down, or 2) stay sick. (I guess there is a third option: Add Kool-Aid mix to your nasty herb tea and pray it doesn’t become nasty Kool-Aid.)

But today, I’m going to show you a fourth option, and it’s much better than any of the other three.

Today, I’m going to show you how to make electuaries.

Electuary Basics

An electuary is a mixture of powdered herbs with a sweet binder. You can use honey, maple syrup, or any other sticky substance. My favorite is peanut butter.

For an herb with a pleasant or neutral taste, I typically use equal parts herb and peanut butter. However, the proportions are very flexible and can be altered depending on the taste of the herb and the finickiness of the eater.

One of the reasons I like peanut butter is that it gives you more flexibility with proportions. Add too much honey or syrup, and an electuary will turn into a runny mess. But peanut butter is thick enough to stay in place, no matter what proportion you choose.

Spoon your herb powder and peanut butter into a bowl and stir them up with a spoon. Then roll them into balls and store them in an airtight container. (Wet your hands first before rolling them, or they’ll stick to you.)

Electuaries 1

Refrigeration is not strictly necessary, unless using maple syrup, but it will extend their shelf life. Electuaries should last a couple of weeks in the fridge. I say “should,” because ours always disappear long before then. They’re like herbal cookies—too delicious!

You can also store them in the freezer. This extends the shelf life into months. Also, I think the frozen ones just taste better. If you prefer honey or syrup, the freezer also helps to firm them up. You might even spoon them into molds, like these gummy bear molds I bought off Amazon.Electuaries 2

Texture Tip

I recommend finely ground herb powders for electuaries. Coarser-ground herbs affect the texture and are too noticeable while eating.

Dosing

Dosing electuaries is easier than you may think, because you don’t have to worry about factoring in the binder. Just measure your initial amount of powdered herb, and divide up your finished product to match.

Here’s what I mean. Let’s say you’re starting out with 4 tablespoons of powdered herb. Add your peanut butter (or other binder) and stir it all up. It doesn’t matter how much peanut butter you add. If your desired dosage is 1 tablespoon, divide the mixture into 4 equal parts. Each part now contains 1 tablespoon of herbs.

Getting Fancy

Now that you’ve got the basics down, let’s move on to some fun variations.

Extra Sweet

Sometimes you really need to hide those herbs. Maybe it’s an extra picky child or an extra nasty herb. In either case, a little extra sweetness can go a long way. My favorite option is to add some raw honey to the mix. This doesn’t make the mix too terribly sticky, and the honey adds many medicinal benefits.

Alternately, you could make a peanut-butter-and-jelly electuary. These can be a bit messier, depending on your jelly, but who doesn’t love a good PB&J?

Finally, you could always fall back on sugar. I know it’s not healthy. But desperate times sometimes call for desperate measures.

Here is my minimal-sugar suggestion: Don’t add sugar directly to your electuary mixture. Instead, form the electuary into a ball as normal. Then sprinkle sugar onto a plate and roll the electuary around on it. This way you only sweeten the outside, minimizing the sugar content while retaining a burst of sweetness. Plus, this option lets you make some with sugar and some without.

Electuaries 3

Surprise Inside

What’s better than biting into a yummy electuary? Finding a treat inside. To make these sneaky snacks, form your electuaries around the tasty edible of your choice. My suggestions are chocolate chips, nuts, cherries, raisins, or dried cranberries.

Make a few of each and put them all in the same container. Now every bite will be a surprise!

Going Gourmet

Now let’s really turn up the “wow” factor. It’s time to impress your friends and coworkers, and get your family to cheer. These electuary options will make you the talk of your herbal community.

Herbs and Spices

Raid your spice cabinet to add some zing to your electuaries. Try adding a dash of nutmeg, ginger, or cinnamon to the mix. Or stir in cocoa powder to craft a truly decadent treat.

Feeling really bold? Add some cayenne pepper. Yum!

Herb Cookies

I said earlier that electuaries were like herbal cookies. Well, these actually are herbal cookies. Note that cooking the herbs is pretty hard on their medicinal components. The cooking time is fairly short in this recipe, but you would still be best off choosing a hardy herb. Something that could handle decoction1)Decoction: A preparation in herbal medicine in which the medicinal components of a plant are extracted through boiling or simmering in water for an extended time. This method is often used on tougher plant parts, such as roots, twigs, or bark. A decoction is similar to an infusion, but uses more heat over a longer period of time. would be ideal.

Also, this recipe uses a lot of sugar. I’d say we’re on the very outer fringes of herbal medicine at this point. You’ve been warned.

Electuaries 5

Mix 1 cup of peanut butter, 1 cup of sugar, 1 egg, and your desired herbs in a bowl. Oil a cookie sheet and spoon the mixture out as desired. Bake at 350°F (175°C) for about 10 minutes. Then take them out and let them cool. Optionally, you can add a Hershey’s kiss to the center while they’re cooling. Now you’ve got a delicious desert that’s at least a little bit healthier than a normal cookie.

No-Bake Electuaries

No-bake electuaries involve some heat, but this recipe is much easier on the herbs than the previous one. Combine 1-3/4 cups sugar, 1/2 cup milk, 1/2 cup butter, and 4 tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa powder in a saucepan. Bring it all to a boil, and let it cook for about a minute and a half. Now remove it from the stovetop and stir in 1/2 cup peanut butter, 3 cups of quick cooking oats, 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract, and your desired quantity of herbs. Distribute spoonfuls onto wax paper and let them cool.

Electuaries 6

Dosing is easy to figure out. Take your total quantity of herbs and divide it by the number of cookies you ended with. That’s your dose per cookie.

Chocolate-Coated Electuaries

The heading pretty much says it all. Make an electuary as normal, then dip it in melted chocolate. Now pop in into the freezer to harden and you have another gourmet delight. You could do the same thing with any other coating medium. Try caramel-covered or yogurt-covered electuaries.

Electuaries 7

To be perfectly honest, a lot of these last options are not the healthiest, which might partially defeat the purpose of an electuary. However, these can be a fun project to make with the kids, and can be a really good way to introduce herbal medicine to a public who thinks we’re out here chewing on sticks and roots all day.

Now you have everything you need to craft delicious herbal medicines. Mix and match any of these techniques to become an electuary master, and never have your family members turn their noses up at an herbal medicine again.

Have you made electuaries before? Do any of these ideas sound tempting? Do you have any other ideas for spices, fillings, or other variations? Let me know in the comments.

 

References   [ + ]

1. Decoction: A preparation in herbal medicine in which the medicinal components of a plant are extracted through boiling or simmering in water for an extended time. This method is often used on tougher plant parts, such as roots, twigs, or bark. A decoction is similar to an infusion, but uses more heat over a longer period of time.

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25+ Foods With More Sugar Than You Think

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Are the negative health effects of sugar starting to freak you out?

Maybe you’ve tossed your candy, cookies, and daily desserts aside in the interest of eating healthier. That’s a great start, but in all likelihood, it’s only making a dent in your overall sugar consumption.

The truth is, most processed foods have far more sugar than you would expect from their taste alone. Sugar is used both as a preservation agent and a flavor mask when companies pull the fat content out of food, meaning that even seemingly savory dishes like tomato soup can be loaded with a full day’s supply.

Today, the average adult consumes almost 32 teaspoons (126 grams) of added sugars a day, much of it in seemingly healthy foods. In contrast, the American Health Organization1)http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/HealthyLiving/HealthyEating/Nutrition/Sugar-101_UCM_306024_Article.jsp#.WgH1KWhSxPZ suggests that adults eat no more than 6 to 9 teaspoons (36 grams) a day. This means that most people are eating four or more times the sugar they should—and much of it comes in forms they aren’t even aware of.

Navigating this world of added sugar is anything but easy, as most food manufacturers are keen to keep you in the dark about what their products genuinely contain. Understanding where added sugar lurks in your daily diet is the first step toward cutting it out for good, and this article is designed to show you how.

But first, why is sugar so dangerous in the first place?

Why Is Sugar Bad for You?

It might be hard to think of your daily candy bar as devastating for your body, but health research consistently shows that sugar might be one of the most damaging substances you can consume. Because the human body evolved during a time when sugar was scarce, it’s hardly surprising that our bodies haven’t adjusted to the plentiful portions available today.

This means that the approximately 300 to 500 empty calories from sugar you eat daily may someday lead to a variety of negative symptoms, including type 2 (and 3) diabetes, cancer, cavities, broken bones, general malaise, and more. Sugar has been linked to most chronic diseases, and cutting down your consumption is one of the best things you can do for your long-term health.

Creating Marketing Tactics in the Sugar Industry

It’s wrong to assume that the added sugar in processed food is an innocent mistake; in contrast, it’s part of a concentrated effort by the food industry to get us comfortable consuming more of their products.

In many ways, parallels can be drawn between sugar lobbies and the tobacco industry2)https://www.newyorker.com/business/currency/a-big-tobacco-moment-for-the-sugar-industry, as both invest billions of dollars to circumvent scientific research and find new ways to convince consumers that their products aren’t as dangerous as they seem.

For instance, during World War 1, sugar was advertised as a quick energy builder that could build muscles in minutes, making it a practically patriotic item to ration for America’s soldiers.3)https://food.avclub.com/how-wwi-food-propaganda-forever-changed-the-way-america-1798259481 Later, it was advertised almost exclusively as a “chemically pure food” because of the lack of other ingredients contaminating its chemical structure—that these missing components were essential vitamins and minerals was conveniently left out.4)http://www.businessinsider.com/vintage-sugar-as-diet-aid-ads-2014-10.

Finally, rebranding sugar as a “carbohydrate” moved it from the realm of dessert to the largest food group. Most people know that they are supposed to eat several servings of carbs each day, and putting refined sugar into the same nutritional category as brown rice makes it seem significantly less threatening.5)https://www.globalhealingcenter.com/natural-health/refined-sugar-toxic-to-your-health/

Thanks in part to this clever marketing, Americans have moved from consuming 60 pounds of sugar a year in the 1920s to over 130 pounds annually today.6)https://www.globalhealingcenter.com/natural-health/refined-sugar-toxic-to-your-health/ And in most cases, this sugar isn’t coming from homemade cookies—it’s found in a pernicious variety of hidden forms on supermarket shelves.

Where Is ‘Hidden’ Sugar Most Common?

It’s usually bad for business if companies let on about how much sugar their products contain, so the food industry has devised clever ways of concealing the sugar content in food. Today, there are almost 40 industrial names for sugar, including brown rice syrup, carob syrup, dextrose, evaporated cane juice, high fructose corn syrup, malt syrup, sucrose, and more.7)https://www.rodalewellness.com/food/scary-sugar-statistics A cursory look at a food label often isn’t enough to track all these sugar references, which is what companies rely on to get their product in your shopping cart.

These 25 foods may shock you with their sugar content, and finding ways to quarter your daily consumption might come down to addressing their role in your diet today.

Remember: your daily sugar consumption should be around 30 grams, meaning many of these foods can put you close to the limit with a single serving.

#1. Barbeque Sauce

While this savory seasoning is synonymous with picnics and roasted meats, it packs a punch of sugar that will likely surprise you. Just one tablespoon contains at least 6 grams, and even a modest plate of ribs will quickly pile on 20 grams or more.

#2. Flavored Yogurt

Though touted as a health food, overly flavored yogurt can contain as much sugar as a candy bar. Fruit-filled flavors and brands marketed toward children tend to be the sweetest, and beware any advertised as “low fat.” It’s common for companies to make up for lost flavor in low-fat varieties by filling the void with added sugars instead, meaning the “healthier” product often has the same number of calories as the full-fat version. Many yogurts contain between 19 and 33 grams of sugar per 8-ounce serving, making your “healthy” snack little better than a scoop of ice cream.

A better option? Buy your yogurt plain and add in your own fruit.

#3. Pasta Sauce

Few people think of spaghetti sauce as a sweet topping, but processed tomato products are notorious for being off the charts with their sugar content. While some of this sugar comes naturally from the tomatoes, it’s also added as a preservative and flavor enhancer. A single half-cup serving can contain 12 grams of sugar or more, and the damage is multiplied when you pair it with a starchy pasta that quickly breaks down into simple sugars in your digestive system.

#4. Soda

You know that soda contains tons of added sugar, but the overall amounts may still be shocking. A single 8-ounce can of Coca-Cola contains 29 grams, and a medium-sized fast food drink has 44 grams.

Even worse? Energy drinks.

These caffeinated cans are veritable sugar bombs, and some brands pack in 83 grams of sugar per serving.

#5. Agave

Being found in “healthy” foods doesn’t make this natural sweetener any better for your body than traditional table sugar. In fact, agave is 85 percent fructose, meaning that it strains your body when the liver metabolizes it. Despite convincing marketing by agave suppliers, your body is better equipped to handle sucrose-based cane sugar (though neither form has many redeeming qualities for your health).

#6. Instant Oatmeal

Oatmeal can be an ideal health food, but instant packets are usually stuffed with added sugar—as much as 15 grams per serving. For a healthier option that still has enough sweetness to keep you satisfied, opt for plain oatmeal and add fresh apple slices and cinnamon.

#7. Granola Bars (and Granola in General)

More often than one would prefer, granola bars are merely rebranded candy bars. Their chocolatey coatings can quickly add up to 12 grams or more of added sugar, and even “naked” varieties usually contain concentrated servings of fruit mixed with honey, corn syrup, brown sugar, and other sweeteners.

A bowl of granola can be equally damaging with 10 grams of sugar or more per half cup, and it’s all too easy to eat multiple servings in a single sitting. If you simply need to satisfy your sweet tooth, toss a small handful into your plain yogurt to ensure you maintain a healthy serving size.

#8. Breakfast Cereal

As with granola, almost all cereal brands are bad news for your sugar levels. Even “adult” brands like Raisin Bran contain 18 grams per cup (with about 9 grams of that coming from the raisins)[ https://www.huffingtonpost.com/hemi-weingarten/raisin-bran-deconstructed_b_552981.html], meaning that you can easily get much of your sugar content for the day within an hour of waking up.

#9. Salad Dressing

What’s the easiest way to compromise the nutritional content of your salad? Coat it in sugary dressings. Sweet, fruity vinaigrettes can pass on 5 to 7 grams of sugar in just two tablespoons, turning your healthy salad into an unexpected sugar bomb. To avoid the threat, use a light homemade vinegar dressing and toss in some fresh fruit instead.

#10. Dried Fruit

As healthy as it sounds, dried fruit can quickly cause you to overload on sugar. Most brands list sugar as their second ingredient, and a 1/3 cup serving can quickly top 24 grams. You aren’t much safer if you stick to brands without added sugar, as the drying process concentrates fruit sugars in each piece, meaning that a half cup of dried apples can contain the same amount of sugar as two to three fresh ones, or 40 to 60 grams of sugar.

#11. Coleslaw

It turns out this supposedly healthy side dish is often anything but. A standard serving can contain at least 15 grams of sugar, usually because of the sugary vinaigrette that the cabbage gets drenched in. The good news? Making your own lets you control the sugar content and can let you keep this dish in your food repertoire.

#12. Bottled Tea

Staying away from juice and soda might be second nature for you, but it’s easy to forget that bottled sweet tea can be just as damaging. Many brands contain upwards of 32 grams per bottle, maxing out your sugar quota for the day in a single carton. A better choice is brewing your own and adding lemon juice for flavor instead of sweeteners.

#13. Ketchup

French fries’ favorite companion boasts an impressive sugar content. At 4 grams per tablespoon, it’s best to keep in mind that those squirts add up. For sugar-free flavor, stick to mustard or malt vinegar instead.

#14. Sushi

What could be unhealthy about rice and vegetables? In truth, cheap supermarket sushi contains much more than these wholesome ingredients. Sushi rice usually contains added sugar, and the imitation crab meat, sweet and sour sauces, and rice vinegar all lead to 2 to 4 grams of sugar per piece. If you wish to indulge, stick with high-quality sushi and sashimi instead.

#15. Smoothies

The term “smoothie” can refer to anything from a wheatgrass blend to pureed frozen yogurt, so making comprehensive statements about their sugar content is close to impossible. To keep yourself from sipping on a sugar trap, stick with homemade varieties that rely on plain yogurt and fruits and vegetables for nutrition. Otherwise, you risk having your “health drink” really be a fruity form of ice cream.

#16. Most Bread

It’s no surprise that white bread is filled with sugar, but the amount in most “healthy” breads may astound you. Many wheat breads are only brown because of caramel coloring, and a single sandwich can give you 3 to 5 grams of sugar from the bread alone. Be especially careful with premade sandwiches in the supermarket deli—many contain sugary dressings to remove bitter tastes. Bagels, muffins, and English muffins are even more sugar prone, especially if you top them with jam or peanut butter.

#17. Canned Baked Beans

Most canned foods have the potential to be a disaster for your health, but baked beans are especially notorious for their sugar content, which can top 30 grams per can. The good news is that making your own is easy, and the results are far more tasty and nutritious than their canned counterparts.

#18. Fruity Muffins

Despite its name, an apple-oatmeal muffin is rarely a health food. Many commercial muffins have quadrupled in size in the past decades, and their sugar content has increased to the point that they are basically personal-sized cakes. Treat these muffins like the dessert they really are by eating them in moderation.

#19. Alcohol

Mixed drinks pack a major punch of added sugar into your daily life, and overindulging on Friday nights won’t do your body any favors. One pint of hard cider can contain 20 grams or more of sugar, and sweet white wines can top 6 grams per glass. If you must imbibe, stick to dry red wines, as they tend to have less sugar—or fully fermented white or red wines[http://www.dryfarmwines.com/thegrownetwork], which are statistically sugar free.

#20. Canned Soup

It goes without saying that canned soup is high in sodium, but this classic processed food also contains more than its fair share of sweeteners. Like salt, sugar works as a preservative to extend soup’s shelf life, and a single can often contains 15 grams or more. In fact, canned tomato soup easily tops 25 grams per serving, so you might be better off leaving it on the shelf.

#21. Frozen Dinners

Who knew meat and veggies could be so sweet? It’s shocking how much sugar can be found in these classic convenience foods, but one look at labels reveals that 30 to 40 grams of sugar per serving isn’t uncommon, WITHOUT counting the dessert.

#22. Natural Fruit Juice

It’s clear to most that it’s best to avoid high fructose corn syrup, but even natural sugars can have negative effects on your body. Eating a piece of fresh fruit provides your body with fiber, but just drinking the juice gives your system a rush of sugar that’s hard to process. Just one cup of unsweetened apple juice provides 25 grams of sugar.

#23. Canned Fruit

Canned fruit companies seemingly never got the memo that fruit is naturally sweet, because most forms are loaded with sugar-filled juices and syrups that act as preservatives. A single cup of canned fruit contains 30 grams or more of sugar, meaning you might as well eat seven Oreos and be done with it.

#24. Instant Gravy

Does your meatloaf really need an injection of extra sugar? Then stay away from instant gravy. In fact, since many types also contain palm oil and artificial colors and preservatives, sugar might be the safest ingredient in this side dish. Even so, it doesn’t hurt to skip out on the 2 grams of sugar per serving it contains.

#25. Peanut Butter

Though peanut butter sandwiches are a staple of childhood, many brands contain over 3 grams of sugar per serving. To avoid any added ingredients, stick to natural brands, and top your sandwich with fresh fruit, not jelly.

Bonus: #26. Infant Formula

Does your newborn baby need sugar? Then why on earth is it an ingredient in many infant formulas? Many U.S. formula brands contain corn syrup and sugar, but these companies often aren’t required to list their nutritional information.8)http://www.nbcchicago.com/investigations/target-5-sugar-baby-formula-139339308.html However, research shows that many brands include around 3 grams of sugar per serving.

Because sugar addiction starts young and can last for life, it’s important to think twice before feeding sweetened formula to your infant.

Less Sugar = Better Health

Hidden sugar is found in almost every processed food available today, but there’s a lot you can do to keep your levels in check and avoid the chronic disease it causes.

By avoiding these 25 sugar bombs in the grocery store, you can dramatically lower your daily consumption … and enjoy the sugar that you do you consume with more gusto—and better health.Save

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References   [ + ]

1. http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/HealthyLiving/HealthyEating/Nutrition/Sugar-101_UCM_306024_Article.jsp#.WgH1KWhSxPZ
2. https://www.newyorker.com/business/currency/a-big-tobacco-moment-for-the-sugar-industry
3. https://food.avclub.com/how-wwi-food-propaganda-forever-changed-the-way-america-1798259481
4. http://www.businessinsider.com/vintage-sugar-as-diet-aid-ads-2014-10
5, 6. https://www.globalhealingcenter.com/natural-health/refined-sugar-toxic-to-your-health/
7. https://www.rodalewellness.com/food/scary-sugar-statistics
8. http://www.nbcchicago.com/investigations/target-5-sugar-baby-formula-139339308.html

The post 25+ Foods With More Sugar Than You Think appeared first on The Grow Network.

Cancer’s #1 Favorite Food

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There’s a lot of controversy surrounding cancer and what causes it, but everyone seems to agree on at least one thing:

Treating cancer is expensive. Preventing it can be a lot cheaper.

Nearly 1.6 million Americans faced a cancer diagnosis in 2014 (the most recent year for which numbers are available),1)https://nccd.cdc.gov/USCSDataViz/rdPage.aspx with a cost of care that, in some cases, ranged upwards of $115,000.2)https://costprojections.cancer.gov/annual.costs.html

Yet, while study after study has shown that diet plays a major role in whether a person gets cancer, and that people tend to make healthier food choices when they’re eating at home,3)https://www.usda.gov/media/press-releases/2014/01/16/american-adults-are-choosing-healthier-foods-consuming-healthier Americans allocate less money toward food consumed at home than pretty much anyone else in the world. For example, according to the USDA’s Economic Research Service,4)https://www.ers.usda.gov/data-products/food-expenditures.aspx we spend 6.4 percent of our income on eating at home, while the Finnish spend twice that and the Venezuelans spend triple that percentage.

And it’s not just people in other countries who spend more of their income on food. Our grandparents did, too. Back in 1960, Americans spent about 17.5 percent of their income on all food—including what they ate at home and what they ate out. Now, we spend about 10 percent of our income on eating, regardless of where it takes place.5)http://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2015/03/02/389578089/your-grandparents-spent-more-of-their-money-on-food-than-you-do

These numbers represent a disturbing shift in our national mindset. We’ve moved from a time when soils were healthier and food was more nutritious and generally less processed—but more expensive—to the present day, when the soils used in commercial agriculture are more depleted, the produce grown in them is less nutritious, and widely available foods are more processed—but also more affordable.

Simply put, Americans are not used to paying what high-quality food costs anymore.

Even people with access to sustainably produced, locally grown food via a farmer’s market, natural grocery store, or CSA often struggle with the cost. These products are more expensive to grow or raise—and therefore more expensive to buy.

But even though processed, packaged foods are sometimes cheaper than their sustainably produced, whole-food alternatives, their true cost can be astronomical.

According to Dr. Raymond Francis, author of Never Fear Cancer Again, disease has only two possible causes: toxicity and malnutrition.

The foods that increase cancer risk often contribute to both.

The bottom line is that we can pay more now for healthier foods and the deeper nutrition and reduced toxicity that come with them—whether we’re paying financially or, if we’re backyard food producers, through an investment of time and energy—or we can pay more later to treat the diseases that can stem from malnutrition and toxicity. As one young TEDx speaker, Birke Baehr, put it back in 2011, “We can either pay the farmer, or we can pay the hospital.”6)https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SvVZwJbs54c

In the end, one of the best ways to reduce your risk of cancer is by eating the diet we all know we should—filled with high-quality vegetables, fruits, whole grains, proteins, and healthy fats.

If you’re not quite there yet, and you’re interested in reducing your risk of cancer by cleaning up your diet, the following list of carcinogenic (or potentially carcinogenic) foods is a good place to start. You can improve your health even further by replacing them with foods from our list of 30+ Cancer-Fighting Foods.

One final note: As you read this list, remember the old adage that “the dose makes the poison.” Even water, which everyone would agree is absolutely essential for life, can kill you if you drink too much at once.7)https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/strange-but-true-drinking-too-much-water-can-kill While it’s best to avoid these foods on a consistent basis, most of them probably won’t hurt you if they’re consumed every once in a while. After all, what’s a BLT without the bacon?

  • Sugar: Cancer has a favorite food. It’s sugar. Without it, cancer cells can’t grow and spread—in fact, they need almost 50 times more sugar to function than regular cells, according to Dr. Nasha Winters, author of The Metabolic Approach to Cancer. In addition, up to 80 percent of cancers are fueled by glucose and insulin, in one way or another.8)http://www.greenmedinfo.com/article/recent-observations-indicate-cancer-cells-readily-utilize-fructose-support-proliferation-and It’s easy to see why too much sugar in the diet is a very bad thing. In fact, the less refined sugar, the better!
  • Alcoholic Beverages: Our bodies turn the ethanol in alcoholic drinks into acetaldehyde, a known carcinogen. In addition to damaging the body’s DNA and keeping cells from being able to perform repairs, alcohol also increases estrogen levels in the blood (a contributor to breast cancer), prevents the body from absorbing several nutrients, and may contain carcinogenic contaminants.9)https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/causes-prevention/risk/alcohol/alcohol-fact-sheet#q3 It should be noted, however, that red wine contains resveratrol, a substance that has been shown to have anticancer properties.10)https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28123566 While the substance itself has been widely studied, only a few studies have looked at whether drinking red wine reduces a person’s cancer risk.
  • Tobacco: This one’s no surprise. While tobacco is lovely when used for plant gratitude, and Native American cultures believe it offers its own gift of interpretation to help with disputes, it can wreak havoc on a person’s body when it’s smoked or chewed. Smoking tobacco, inhaling secondhand smoke, or using smokeless tobacco—whether chewing tobacco or snuff—all put loads of carcinogenic chemicals into your body.11)https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/causes-prevention/risk/tobacco/cessation-fact-sheet
  • Processed Meats: Defined as any meat that’s been preserved through curing, being salted or smoked, or by other means, processed meats include bacon, hot dogs, sausage, and lunch meats including corned beef, salami, pepperoni, capocollo, bologna, mortadella, and ham. They are categorized by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) as “carcinogenic to humans.”12)https://www.iarc.fr/en/media-centre/pr/2015/pdfs/pr240_E.pdf Scientists suspect that the nitrite preservatives contained in processed meats are what causes the harm. The body can convert these nitrites into N-nitroso compounds (NOCs), which damage cells in the bowel lining. To heal the damage, cells replicate more often, which in turn provides more opportunities for DNA replication errors.
  • Red Meat: Beef, lamb, and pork contain heme iron, a naturally occurring red pigment that helps form carcinogenic compounds in the body and has toxic effects on cells and genes.13)http://cancerpreventionresearch.aacrjournals.org/content/4/2/177 It’s important to note that, in their research, scientists are lumping industrially produced red meat together with meat from animals raised on a natural, healthy diet. There’s no discussion in the scientific community on whether meat of healthier animals—such as cows fed and finished on grass—has the same negative effects.
  • Charred Meats: Grilling meat at high temperatures can produce heterocyclic amines and polycyclic amines, both of which can increase a person’s risk of developing cancer.14)http://www.cancerresearchuk.org/about-cancer/causes-of-cancer/diet-and-cancer/how-healthy-eating-prevents-cancer
  • Salt-Preserved Foods: In addition to the processed, salt-cured meats mentioned above, this category includes salted fish and some pickled vegetables. The IARC lists Chinese-style salted fish as carcinogenic, but hasn’t yet made a determination on whether other types of salted fish increase the risk of cancer in humans.
  • Coffee: Is it, or isn’t it? Thanks to a recent lawsuit, coffee’s been in the news lately. At issue is the fact that roasting coffee beans causes the formation of acrylamide, a naturally occurring substance that has the potential to interact with DNA.15)http://www.newsweek.com/fear-coffee-causes-cancer-prompts-california-add-warning-labels-672831?yptr=yahoo Coffee isn’t the only culprit, though. Acrylamide develops in many foods when they are cooked at high temperatures for a long time (think baking, frying, and toasting, in addition to roasting). This year, the United Kingdom’s Food Standards Agency launched a “Go for Gold” campaign to encourage people to avoid overcooking foods—thus minimizing the creation of acrylamide—by aiming for a finished color of golden yellow or lighter.16)https://www.food.gov.uk/news-updates/news/2017/15890/reduce-acrylamide-consumption Despite the fact that coffee contains acrylamides, the popular beverage offers several other health benefits. So many, actually, that the American Institute for Cancer Research includes coffee on its list of Foods That Fight Cancer.
  • Areca nuts: About 10 percent of the world’s population still chews this addictive berry. It’s been shown to have several ill effects on the body, and is linked to numerous cancers.17)https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4080659
  • Artificial Sweeteners: According to M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, the link between artificial sweeteners and cancer is inconclusive—but possible. Since some studies have shown a correlation between the two in lab animals, the current recommendation is to avoid artificial sweeteners like aspartame and saccharine altogether.18)https://www.mdanderson.org/publications/focused-on-health/may-2015/FOH-cancer-love-sugar.html[/note]
  • Toothpaste: Okay, so, technically toothpaste is not a food, but it made this list because it’s ingestible and some formulations may contain disperse blue 1, a dye that’s listed by the IARC as possibly carcinogenic to humans—and that’s also used as a hair and fabric dye.19)https://ntp.niehs.nih.gov/ntp/roc/content/profiles/disperseblue1.pdf Worth keeping an eye on!
  • Very Hot Beverages: Studies in cultures where people typically drink their tea or mate at about 149°F (70°C) have found a correlation between very hot beverages and the risk of esophageal cancer. But, unless you keep a thermometer handy when you’re drinking your morning Joe, how are you supposed to know how hot is too hot? Here’s a good rule of thumb: If you have to sip it to be able to drink it, let it cool a bit first.

What about you? What’s your take on what causes cancer—and what you can do to prevent it? Leave us a comment below!

(This article was originally published on October 2, 2017.)

 

References   [ + ]

1. https://nccd.cdc.gov/USCSDataViz/rdPage.aspx
2. https://costprojections.cancer.gov/annual.costs.html
3. https://www.usda.gov/media/press-releases/2014/01/16/american-adults-are-choosing-healthier-foods-consuming-healthier
4. https://www.ers.usda.gov/data-products/food-expenditures.aspx
5. http://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2015/03/02/389578089/your-grandparents-spent-more-of-their-money-on-food-than-you-do
6. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SvVZwJbs54c
7. https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/strange-but-true-drinking-too-much-water-can-kill
8. http://www.greenmedinfo.com/article/recent-observations-indicate-cancer-cells-readily-utilize-fructose-support-proliferation-and
9. https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/causes-prevention/risk/alcohol/alcohol-fact-sheet#q3
10. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28123566
11. https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/causes-prevention/risk/tobacco/cessation-fact-sheet
12. https://www.iarc.fr/en/media-centre/pr/2015/pdfs/pr240_E.pdf
13. http://cancerpreventionresearch.aacrjournals.org/content/4/2/177
14. http://www.cancerresearchuk.org/about-cancer/causes-of-cancer/diet-and-cancer/how-healthy-eating-prevents-cancer
15. http://www.newsweek.com/fear-coffee-causes-cancer-prompts-california-add-warning-labels-672831?yptr=yahoo
16. https://www.food.gov.uk/news-updates/news/2017/15890/reduce-acrylamide-consumption
17. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4080659
18. https://www.mdanderson.org/publications/focused-on-health/may
19. https://ntp.niehs.nih.gov/ntp/roc/content/profiles/disperseblue1.pdf

The post Cancer’s #1 Favorite Food appeared first on The Grow Network.

Making and Using a Poultice … Even On Hard-To-Treat Areas!

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Today, I’m going to empower you with several potent poultice variations to bring your herbal medicine game to the next level.

Making and Using a Poultice 1

The benefits of a poultice are that it is very localized, primarily affecting the area of application, and that it allows for prolonged contact with the medicinal plant components. Tinctures and essential oils are more concentrated than poultices, but they also absorb very quickly, spreading around the whole body. Poultices are longer lasting and much more targeted.

Poultices have another advantage in that they typically have a lot of drawing power.1)Bone, Kerry, and Simon Mills. Principles and Practice of Phytotherapy. Churchill Livingston, 2013. This makes them popular treatment choices for objects stuck in the skin, venomous bites, stings, and contact poisons, such as poison ivy.

Are you ready to become a pro poulticer? Then read on to learn the tips, tricks, and techniques to get the most out of this powerful herbal application.

How to Make a Basic Poultice

To make a standard poultice, mix dried or fresh herbs with water, stir or mash into a paste, and apply to the skin. Wrap it all up with a cloth or bandage to hold everything in place. Then congratulate yourself on a job well done.

“That’s awfully vague,” you may be saying. Well, yes, I suppose it is. But poultices are simple things, when you get down to it. They’re basically just a paste of herbs and water held against the skin. Rest assured, I will get into more details below. Check out this short video for a demonstration:

Consistency

How much water do you mix with your herbs? It’s more of an art than a science. You can find different recommendations for proportions all over the Internet, but it more or less boils down to using the “Goldilocks” method. This poultice is too dry. This poultice is too wet. This poultice is just right.

Making and Using a Poultice 2

The drier you make it, the better it stays in place. The wetter you make it, the better it conforms to your body and the better the herbal constituents will interact with or absorb into your skin. You want it wet enough to spread easily, but firm enough to keep it from running.

If you’ve added too much water, add some more of the herb. If you’ve added too much herb, add some more water.

Fresh or Powdered Herbs?

Use either. Powdered herbs are easier to work with, but fresh herbs are more potent (at least theoretically). Fresh herbs will require much less water, but will require a lot of grinding and mashing with your mortar and pestle. (Or you can just stick them in a blender.)

Using a Basic Poultice

When applying a poultice, you’ll usually want to cover about twice the size of the affected area.

Again, this may vary. Size may not be very crucial when dealing with a splinter. But if I had a rattlesnake bite on my foot, you’d better believe I’d make a whopping big poultice. No point in taking chances.

(By the way, that’s exactly what Marjory did when she got bitten by a copperhead snake. She wrote about it in her book, Snakebite! How I Successfully Treated a Venomous Snakebite at Home; The 5 Essential Preparations You Need to Have.)

The bottom line is that a bigger poultice isn’t going to hurt anything, but a smaller one may be ineffective. When in doubt, go bigger.

That goes for thickness, too. You can often get away with thinner poultices for minor things, but somewhere around the size of a thick hamburger patty (or veggie burger) would be ideal.

Making and Using a Poultice 3

Duration and Frequency of Use

How long should you leave it on and how often should you apply a new one? Again, you can get all manner of answers from herb books and websites.

For typical applications, an overnight poultice is a good choice. This is based on my theory that it’s a lot easier to deal with a poultice when you’re not walking around doing stuff. Repeat as needed.

Of course, poultices can be worn during the day, too. Six hours on and six hours off is a good general timing. You could also do anywhere from four hours on and four off to 12 on and 12 off.2)Jones, Patrick, DVM. The HomeGrown Herbalist. HomeGrown Herbalist, LLC, 2015. I like to give the skin at least half of the day free from the poultice to breath and relax.

Removal

Poultices usually come off without much trouble. However, if you had a particularly sensitive area, or just wanted to hedge your bets, you could apply a thin layer of oil to the area before applying the poultice.

What If It Won’t Stay Put?

Are your herbs sliding around? Try placing a gauze pad or folded washcloth on top of the herbs before wrapping it all up. Now when the outer wrapping is bumped or jostled, the herbs will have an extra layer of insulation from movement.

Fastening Options

Remember, poultices don’t have to be fancy. A roll of duct tape works just as well as an ACE elastic wrap. Often, you can wrap the area with a towel and fasten it by tucking it back in on itself. No additional fastener needed.

That being said, sometimes getting a little fancy can be fun, too. Consider sewing a pocket into your poulticing cloth to hold those herbs in place. Another option is to sew Velcro straps to your cloth. You’ll appreciate this if you ever have to poultice your own arm. One-handed poultices can be tricky.

Super-Charged Poultices

Instead of mixing your plants with water, why not use an herbal tea or a decoction?3)Decoction: A preparation in herbal medicine in which the medicinal components of a plant are extracted through boiling or simmering in water for an extended time. This method is often used on tougher plant parts, such as roots, twigs, or bark. A decoction is similar to an infusion, but uses more heat over a longer period of time.

The benefit of using a decoction or an infusion instead of plain water is that you’ll pack twice the power into the same-sized package.

Should Your Poultice Be Hot or Cold?

Temperature can influence your poultice’s effect. A hot poultice will have more drawing power, as well as stimulate relaxation and blood flow. A cold poultice will help reduce inflammation and dull pain.

Plastic Wrap

If you’re applying a hot poultice, add a layer of plastic wrap directly over the herbs to reduce the amount of heat lost to the air. Reduced airflow also reduces cooling from evaporation.

Fomentation

Technically speaking, fomentations aren’t really poultices. They’re more like a close cousin.

Rather than applying herbs to the skin and wrapping them with a towel, a fomentation soaks the cloth directly in an herbal tea or decoction and then applies that cloth to the skin. Wrap this in a warm towel, changing as needed to keep up the heat.

You may want to add a layer of plastic wrap between the two fabric layers to keep your fomentation from soaking up into the outer layer. Heating packs can also be used, if desired.

Herbal Ice

Making and Using a Poultice 4

Let’s not forget the power of ice. It cools, sooths, and reduces swelling. But why stop with plain old ice? Let’s get some herbs in there. Caution: With any of these options, a layer of cloth between your skin and the ice is advisable, to prevent any damage from the cold.

First, a note of practicality. While you absolutely can make a regular poultice and freeze it, I recommend that you make it much thinner than normal. A thin application is easier to bend, even while frozen, and is safer if you plan to leave it on for an extended time.

Another option is freezing plant juice in ice cube trays. If you don’t have a juicer, you can use your blender and strain out the pulp.

Wrap a cube or two of frozen juice in a wash cloth and hold it on the affected area as you would with regular ice. You can also crush the ice with a hammer or blender, and wrap it on your arm as a frosty poultice. It feels a bit like having a snow cone wrapped around your arm.

If you don’t have any frozen juice, you can also soak a cloth in fresh juice and stick it in the freezer for a few minutes. You might call this a reverse-fomentation. Be sure you take the cloth out before it freezes.

Weird Locations

Sometimes an area does not lend itself to easy poulticing. This may be a matter of creative wrapping, or, in more challenging cases, you may need additional strategies.

Consistency (Again)

Altering the amount of liquid in a poultice can often get it to behave the way you want. A wetter poultice will flow in between cracks and crevices to touch every bit of skin. It also penetrates hairy areas better than a thick poultice. The downside is that it tends to be messy and get into a lot of areas you weren’t intending to treat.

A thicker poultice is much easier to keep in place. It’s especially useful in difficult-to-bandage areas, where a normal poultice would tend to fall away from the skin. The downsides to a thicker mixture is that it tends to crumble if too dry, and the herbal constituents may not absorb into the skin as well.

Ear

The insides of ears can be tricky. You really don’t want little pieces of plant material lost down in there. That’s just asking for trouble. However, you do have options.

You can cover the opening of the ear with a thin fabric to prevent plant materials from falling in. Then apply a hot poultice to the ear and cover to retain heat. The heat will carry any vaporizing constituents through the air, into the ear. This tends to be most effective with highly aromatic plants.

The classic example is to take an onion slice, heat it up, place it directly over the ear, and cover it with a towel. In this case, no fabric is needed to cover the opening to the ear canal.

Mouth                          

You can’t exactly wrap up the inside of your mouth. But you can pack herbs between your teeth and cheek, or directly onto a tooth. This is usually done overnight, since it won’t get in the way of talking and eating.

Be aware that some herbs will stain your teeth. I once used plantain in my mouth to help resolve a blocked salivary duct. It was effective, but gave me “zombie teeth” for a few days. If you’re concerned about staining, a grape leaf can be used to shield your teeth from direct contact.

A poultice can also be applied on the outside of the mouth if tenderness or other factors prevent you from placing herbs inside.

Special Applications

Spit Poultice

You won’t get to use your fun herbalist toys, but spit poultices are often just as effective as anything you’d get from a fancy apothecary. Think of it as a field-expedient poultice.

Making and Using a Poultice 5

To make a spit poultice, take the plant material and chew it up thoroughly in your mouth, mixing it with your saliva. This may sound gross, but saliva speeds wound healing4)Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology. “Licking Your Wounds: Scientists Isolate Compound In Human Saliva That Speeds Wound Healing.” ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/07/080723094841.htm (accessed April 30, 2018). and has antimicrobial properties.5)Tenovuo, Jorma. “Antimicrobial Agents in Saliva—Protection for the Whole Body.” Journal of Dental Research 81, no. 12 (December 1, 2002): 807-009. Accessed April 30, 2018. https://doi.org/10.1177/154405910208101202. Still, you’d rather touch your own spit than someone else’s, right? So let the poultice’s recipient do the chewing.

Then apply the plant material, spit and all, to the desired area. If you don’t have anything to wrap it with, you might take a strip of cloth from your shirt, use a clean handkerchief, or just hold it in place until you can find something better. If you’ve got the right plants around and a little crafty know-how, you can create a wrapping from leaves.

Making and Using a Poultice 6

Adhesive Bandages

If your affected area is small enough, a simple adhesive bandage makes a super-easy poultice wrapping. It also works well to hold a thin slice of plant material in place, or to cover an area without fully wrapping it up.

 

Making and Using a Poultice 7

I used this method with a stubbornly infected cut on my thumb. I used a thin slice of garlic and a Band-Aid to poultice the cut overnight. In the morning, my thumb joint was a little stiff from the intensity of the garlic, but the infection was 100% dead.

Indirect

Some herbs can be over-stimulating to bare skin. In these cases, you can lessen the effect by first covering the area with a few layers of cheesecloth or a thin, clean dish towel. Then apply the poultice normally. This slows down the skin’s interaction with the herb, reducing any zingy sensations.

Making and Using a Poultice 8

Beauty Treatment

We’ve all seen pictures of someone at a spa. Maybe you’ve been that person. You’ve seen the clay masks on the faces and cucumber slices on the eyes. Well, those are basically poultices without any fancy wrapping. You now have my permission to go to a spa and tell your family that you’ve got an appointment at a holistic treatment facility.

Making and Using a Poultice 9

The Wrap-Up

This wraps up my discussion of poultices. (See what I did there? Because you wrap a poultice around you? No? Nothing? Alright.)

Can you think of any variations that I missed? Do you have any special techniques or tricks? Maybe a favorite poultice formula? Share them with us in the comments below, and help us power up those poultices.

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Psst! Our Lawyer Wants You to Read This Big, Bad Medical Disclaimer –> The contents of this article, made available via The Grow Network (TGN), are for informational purposes only and do not constitute medical advice; the Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of a qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. If you think you may be suffering from any medical condition, you should seek immediate medical attention. You should never delay seeking medical advice, disregard medical advice, or discontinue medical treatment because of information provided by TGN. Reliance on any information provided by this article is solely at your own risk. And, of course, never eat a wild plant without first checking with a local expert.

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References   [ + ]

1. Bone, Kerry, and Simon Mills. Principles and Practice of Phytotherapy. Churchill Livingston, 2013.
2. Jones, Patrick, DVM. The HomeGrown Herbalist. HomeGrown Herbalist, LLC, 2015.
3. Decoction: A preparation in herbal medicine in which the medicinal components of a plant are extracted through boiling or simmering in water for an extended time.
4. Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology. “Licking Your Wounds: Scientists Isolate Compound In Human Saliva That Speeds Wound Healing.” ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/07/080723094841.htm (accessed April 30, 2018).
5. Tenovuo, Jorma. “Antimicrobial Agents in Saliva—Protection for the Whole Body.” Journal of Dental Research 81, no. 12 (December 1, 2002): 807-009. Accessed April 30, 2018. https://doi.org/10.1177/154405910208101202.

The post Making and Using a Poultice … Even On Hard-To-Treat Areas! appeared first on The Grow Network.

Dandelions: 31+ Medicinal and Culinary Uses for the King of Weeds

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This article is part of a series on weed gardens and identifying and using the plants you’ll often find there. For other articles in the series, please click here.

Dandelions - Uses, Eating. Medicine

As you can see, the weed garden is really starting to come to life. I’ve got henbit, sedges, dayflowers, wood sorrel, pokeweed, and a few other visitors. But one weed I would gladly welcome has yet to show up. Dandelions!

Dandelions - Uses, Eating. Medicine

Dandelions are pretty much the unofficial mascots for foraging and herbal medicine. They can be found on every continent (except Antarctica) and have tremendous value as food and medicine. They invade lawns, fields, and waste spaces despite every effort to control, contain, and kill them.

Dandelions are survivors, and they pass on a little of that to us when we consume them.

Identifying Dandelions

While dandelions do have a few look-alikes, none of them are toxic. Among the common fakers, you’ll find cat’s ear, chicory, shepherd’s purse, and hawksbeard. Here’s your guide to telling the real thing from the fakers.

Dandelions are perennials1)Perennial: Any plant that lives for more than 2 years. that grow in a basal rosette.2)Basal Rosette: A circular arrangement of leaves at ground level. You’ll never find leaves growing from the stem. Leaves are anywhere from 2 inches to over a foot (5 to 40 centimeters) long and have jagged teeth.

Dandelions - Uses, Eating. Medicine

The jagged pattern of the leaves can vary quite a bit. On some plants, the indentations will go nearly to the midline of the leaf, while others will have fairly shallow teeth. The tips of the teeth tend to point backward, toward the center of the plant. Leaves are virtually hairless at all stages of growth.

Dandelions - Uses, Eating. Medicine

By the way, the name “dandelion” is said to come from “dent de lion” or “teeth of the lion.” And depending on who you ask, this either refers to the jagged leaves or the flower petals.

The scientific name, Taraxacum officinale, could be translated as “the official cure for every disorder.”

Dandelions - Uses, Eating. Medicine

The yellow blooms are composite flowers. That is, they look like one flower, but are technically a cluster of tiny flowers. The ends of the petals tend to be flat, rather than tapering to a point, and they overlap all the way to the center of the flower. Blooming happens mostly in spring, and again in fall, with sporadic blooming at any time.

Dandelions - Uses, Eating. Medicine

These flowers turn into the puffballs that kids love to blow on to make wishes. A single dandelion plant may produce many stems and flowers, but each stem will have only a single flower. The stems are hollow and can range in length from 2 to 18 inches (5 to 45 centimeters).

All parts of the plant contain a white, milky sap. This would normally be a warning sign, but dandelions are an exception to the rule.

Read More: “How to Not Die While Wildcrafting: 15 Rules for Foraging Safely”

There are even some rather useful applications for this sap, which we’ll get into below. Be aware that dandelion sap has occasionally been reported to cause contact dermatitis in some individuals.

Dandelions can be found throughout the U.S., Canada, and most of the rest of the world, especially around people. This is another plant that loves us and wants to be near us. You can find them in lawns, fields, pastures, waste spaces, and disturbed ground. They seem to survive everything from drought, to over-picking, to digging, to mowing, to herbicides. But why would you want to get rid of these happy little guys? They’re beautiful, and they’re trying so hard to help us.

Edible Uses and Dandelion Recipes

If you do an Internet search for dandelion recipes, you’ll find page after page of preparations for this versatile vegetation. Recipes abound!

I, myself, have only scratched the surface of dandelion delicacies. There are just so many!

Nutritional Value

And why shouldn’t there be? Every part of the plant is edible, raw or cooked. And not only are dandelions plentiful, they’re very nearly a perfect food. Dandelions are rich in potassium; magnesium; manganese; phosphorus; sodium; copper; choline; calcium; iron; lecithin; biotin; inositol; chlorophyll; fiber; and vitamins A, B1, B2, B5, B6, B9, B12, C, D, and E.3)Foster, Steven, James A. Duke, and Steven Foster. A Field Guide to Medicinal Plants and Herbs of Eastern and Central North America. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2000.,4)Peterson, Lee Allen, and Roger Tory Peterson. A Field Guide to Edible Wild Plants: Eastern and Central North America. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1999.,5)Chevallier, Andrew. Encyclopedia of Herbal Medicine. London: DK/Penguin Random House, 2016.,6)Blair, Katrina. The Wild Wisdom of Weeds: 13 Essential Plants for Human Survival. White River Junction, VT: Chelsea Green Publishing, 2014.,7)Gladstar, Rosemary. The Beginners Guide to Medicinal Herbs 35 Healing Herbs to Know, Grow, and Use. Storey Books, 2012.,8)Elpel, Thomas J. Botany in a Day: Thomas J. Elpels Herbal Field Guide to Plant Families. Pony, MT: HOPS Press, 2004.

That’s quite a mouthful. Literally.

They have more vitamin A than any other green plant—six times more than carrots—and a single cup of fresh greens will meet your daily requirement of beta-carotene, iron, calcium, and potassium!9)Blair, Katrina. The Wild Wisdom of Weeds: 13 Essential Plants for Human Survival. White River Junction, VT: Chelsea Green Publishing, 2014.

That tap root really reaches down to bring up the good stuff. You can see why I call them the king of weeds.

Furthermore, when eaten as a whole (roots to flowers/seeds), the dandelion forms a complete protein, with all 9 essential amino acids.10)Blair, Katrina. The Wild Wisdom of Weeds: 13 Essential Plants for Human Survival. White River Junction, VT: Chelsea Green Publishing, 2014. That’s a pretty good trick for a plant.

Dandelion also seems to help with the absorption and balance of minerals.11)Hoffmann, David. Medical Herbalism: The Science and Practice of Herbal Medicine. Rochester, VT: Healing Arts Press, 2003.

Overcoming the Bitter Taste

But let’s address the elephant in the room. Dandelions are bitter. Very bitter. Involuntarily-spit-them-out-and-go-wash-your-mouth-out-with-ice-cream bitter.

Perhaps I exaggerate. But how is one to get past the bitterness to access those amazing nutrients? I’ve got you covered.

First, you should select the best dandelions. The best-tasting leaves have had the easiest life. Don’t pick any sunbaked, twice-stepped-on leaves. Harvest from a plant in a shady, well-watered location. Harvest younger greens, earlier in the year. Leaves toward the center of the rosette also tend to be less bitter.

Next, choose the right preparation. It’s the rare individual who enjoys eating a handful of dandelion greens raw. It’s a lot easier to moderate their taste by chopping them up and mixing them with other greens. They also pair well with savory dishes.

Of all the cooking methods, boiling does the best job of reducing bitterness. Drop the leaves into boiling water for 5 to 10 minutes. If you’ve picked a good plant, it shouldn’t take much more than this. If not, you can always boil them longer. Use plenty of water so the bitterness has someplace to go.

Eating the Roots: Stir-fried, Pickled, and as a Coffee Substitute

The root can be eaten raw, but tastes better when cooked. Try them sliced and stir-fried with other veggies. Cooking breaks down the root’s inulin into fructose, bringing out a much sweeter taste. They’re also a fine addition to soups and stews, and—although I’ve never tried it—they are reportedly quite tasty when pickled.

Dandelions - Uses, Eating. Medicine

Dandelion Coffee Recipe

The root is typically harvested from late fall to early spring. Second-year roots are preferred, but good luck on guessing how old a dandelion is by looking at it. If it’s too old and woody to eat, you can still use it to make a caffeine-free coffee substitute. Slice up the root and slow-roast it in your oven until it turns dark brown and becomes brittle. This should take about 30 minutes at 350°F (175°C). Let it cool, and then grind it up to use like coffee grounds. I’m usually not a fan of coffee substitutes, but this is one I really enjoy.

Dandelion Mocha Recipe

If you’d like to take your dandelion coffee to the next level (and who wouldn’t?), you can turn it into a dandelion mocha. This recipe comes from Rosemary Gladstar, and it is delightful.

Use 1 tbsp each of dandelion coffee grounds and cacao nibs. Simmer in 3 cups of water for 30 minutes. Then strain and add ½ cup milk (or milk substitute), ½ tsp. cinnamon, ½ tsp. vanilla extract, 1 tbsp. honey (or other sweetener), and a dash of ground nutmeg or cloves.

It’s excellent. I highly recommend you try it.

Eating the Flowers: Sautéed, Fried, and Infused

The flowers make a colorful addition to salads, soups, ice creams, or just about anything else. Two of my favorite ways to eat them are sautéed in butter and as an ingredient in dandelion lemonade.

  • Sautéed blooms are easy. Just melt some butter and sauté away. (Alternately, you could make a simple egg-and-flour batter and fry them. Yum!)
  • To make dandelion lemonade, just add about a quart of dandelion flowers to a half gallon of lemonade. Let the mixture infuse in the fridge overnight, then strain out the blossoms and enjoy.

The less green you have from the base of the blossoms, the less bitter they will taste. Here’s a brief clip demonstrating a super easy way to separate the petals from the bitter greens:

https://youtu.be/fWyA35Cs5e0

The last way to get past the bitterness is simply to build up an appreciation for it. Sure, it’s not the most popular option, but you really can develop a taste for a food by consistently consuming small portions of it. Gradually, your aversion turns into tolerance. And then tolerance can even become a craving. It really works. Try it!

Medicinal Uses for Dandelions

Dandelion’s medicinal effects are not limited to its impressive nutritional profile. It sports a bevy of benefits. Let’s dive in!

As a Digestive Aid

Dandelion’s bitter taste is likely also its best-known medicinal property. It’s a bitter. Bitters are plants that encourage optimal digestion by stimulating the secretion of enzymes and digestive juices.12)Gladstar, Rosemary. The Beginners Guide to Medicinal Herbs 35 Healing Herbs to Know, Grow, and Use. Storey Books, 2012.,13)Hoffmann, David. Medical Herbalism: The Science and Practice of Herbal Medicine. Rochester, VT: Healing Arts Press, 2003.

Dandelion stimulates appetite, aids the liver in its detoxification duties, helps to regulate the release of pancreatic hormone, is stimulating to the spleen, supports correct bile duct function, and even helps to repair the gut wall.14)Elpel, Thomas J. Botany in a Day: Thomas J. Elpels Herbal Field Guide to Plant Families. Pony, MT: HOPS Press, 2004.,15)Hoffmann, David. Medical Herbalism: The Science and Practice of Herbal Medicine. Rochester, VT: Healing Arts Press, 2003.,16)Mills, Simon, and Kerry Bone. Principles and Practice of Phytotherapy: Modern Herbal Medicine. Edinburgh: Churchill Livingstone, 2013. It may even help to resist the progression of cirrhosis of the liver.17)Mills, Simon, and Kerry Bone. Principles and Practice of Phytotherapy: Modern Herbal Medicine. Edinburgh: Churchill Livingstone, 2013.

Dandelion is a remarkable plant!

To Treat Colitis

In one experiment, participants with non-specific colitis were given dandelion along with calendula, lemon balm, and St. John’s wort. Complete relief from spontaneous and palpable pains was reported by 96% of participants, and stools were normalized in those with diarrhea symptoms.18)Mills, Simon, and Kerry Bone. Principles and Practice of Phytotherapy: Modern Herbal Medicine. Edinburgh: Churchill Livingstone, 2013.

As a Spring Tonic and Diuretic

Dandelion is also well-known as a spring tonic. It helps to flush and tone the body after enduring the rigors of winter.

The entire plant is diuretic, flushing excess water from the body and generally giving us a good cleansing. The leaf is more powerful than the root, and is comparable to the drug furosemide in terms of strength.19)Hoffmann, David. Medical Herbalism: The Science and Practice of Herbal Medicine. Rochester, VT: Healing Arts Press, 2003. Don’t take it right before bed or you’ll be up all night. Trust me. I know.

Dandelion’s diuretic properties help to relieve fluid retention.20)Mills, Simon, and Kerry Bone. Principles and Practice of Phytotherapy: Modern Herbal Medicine. Edinburgh: Churchill Livingstone, 2013. It is also used to dissolve calcium stones and to prevent new ones from forming, and can be used safely over long periods.21)Elpel, Thomas J. Botany in a Day: Thomas J. Elpels Herbal Field Guide to Plant Families. Pony, MT: HOPS Press, 2004.,22)Mills, Simon, and Kerry Bone. Principles and Practice of Phytotherapy: Modern Herbal Medicine. Edinburgh: Churchill Livingstone, 2013.

Dandelion’s diuretic nature may also help to explain its effectiveness in relieving arthritic complaints.23)Hoffmann, David. Medical Herbalism: The Science and Practice of Herbal Medicine. Rochester, VT: Healing Arts Press, 2003.

With conventional pharmaceuticals, as the body flushes out water, it’s also flushing out our supply of potassium. This can be rough on your heart and cause problems for anyone with a heart condition.24)Hoffmann, David. Medical Herbalism: The Science and Practice of Herbal Medicine. Rochester, VT: Healing Arts Press, 2003. Dandelion, on the other hand, is so rich in potassium that even while it flushes out the body, it still provides a net gain in potassium.25)Chevallier, Andrew. Encyclopedia of Herbal Medicine. London: DK/Penguin Random House, 2016. This makes it an ideal diuretic herb for people with heart issues.26)Hoffmann, David. Medical Herbalism: The Science and Practice of Herbal Medicine. Rochester, VT: Healing Arts Press, 2003.

For Skin Health

The natural latex in its sap is helpful in getting rid of warts.27)Gladstar, Rosemary. The Beginners Guide to Medicinal Herbs 35 Healing Herbs to Know, Grow, and Use. Storey Books, 2012. However, this is not a quick process. The sap must be applied several times a day for 2 to 3 weeks. Direct application of the sap can also help with moles, pimples, canker sores, and other skin blemishes.28)Blair, Katrina. The Wild Wisdom of Weeds: 13 Essential Plants for Human Survival. White River Junction, VT: Chelsea Green Publishing, 2014., 29)Grossberg, George T., and Barry Fox. The Essential Herb-drug-vitamin Interaction Guide: The Safe Way to Use Medications and Supplements Together. New York: Broadway Books, 2007.

To Fight Cancer and Harmful Bacteria

Dandelion may have anti-tumor/anti-cancer properties, though it is not clear whether this would be from a direct action or indirectly through its ability to cleanse and support normal body function.30)Hoffmann, David. Medical Herbalism: The Science and Practice of Herbal Medicine. Rochester, VT: Healing Arts Press, 2003.,31)Mills, Simon, and Kerry Bone. Principles and Practice of Phytotherapy: Modern Herbal Medicine. Edinburgh: Churchill Livingstone, 2013. Dandelion also appears to have selective antimicrobial properties, supporting healthy gut bacteria while discouraging unhealthy ones.32)Foster, Steven, James A. Duke, and Steven Foster. A Field Guide to Medicinal Plants and Herbs of Eastern and Central North America. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2000.,33)Blair, Katrina. The Wild Wisdom of Weeds: 13 Essential Plants for Human Survival. White River Junction, VT: Chelsea Green Publishing, 2014.,34)Mills, Simon, and Kerry Bone. Principles and Practice of Phytotherapy: Modern Herbal Medicine. Edinburgh: Churchill Livingstone, 2013. It even helps prevent plaque buildup on teeth.35)Blair, Katrina. The Wild Wisdom of Weeds: 13 Essential Plants for Human Survival. White River Junction, VT: Chelsea Green Publishing, 2014.

Other Medicinal Uses

Dandelion is also cooling and drying, and can be used as a fever reducer.36)Mills, Simon, and Kerry Bone. Principles and Practice of Phytotherapy: Modern Herbal Medicine. Edinburgh: Churchill Livingstone, 2013. It’s a mild laxative and has an alkalizing effect on the body.37)Elpel, Thomas J. Botany in a Day: Thomas J. Elpels Herbal Field Guide to Plant Families. Pony, MT: HOPS Press, 2004.,38)Hoffmann, David. Medical Herbalism: The Science and Practice of Herbal Medicine. Rochester, VT: Healing Arts Press, 2003.,39)Mills, Simon, and Kerry Bone. Principles and Practice of Phytotherapy: Modern Herbal Medicine. Edinburgh: Churchill Livingstone, 2013. Dandelion may also help some people with allergies and food intolerances.40)Mills, Simon, and Kerry Bone. Principles and Practice of Phytotherapy: Modern Herbal Medicine. Edinburgh: Churchill Livingstone, 2013.

In animal studies, dandelion has been shown to have hypoglycemic activities.41)Hoffmann, David. Medical Herbalism: The Science and Practice of Herbal Medicine. Rochester, VT: Healing Arts Press, 2003. This may make it a helpful plant for those with diabetes, but could be a contraindication for those with hypoglycemia.42)Elpel, Thomas J. Botany in a Day: Thomas J. Elpels Herbal Field Guide to Plant Families. Pony, MT: HOPS Press, 2004.,43)Grossberg, George T., and Barry Fox. The Essential Herb-drug-vitamin Interaction Guide: The Safe Way to Use Medications and Supplements Together. New York: Broadway Books, 2007.

Medicinal Formats and Dosages

You can use dandelion via any of the normal methods: fresh, dried, tincture, decoction, infusion, etc. The dried leaves make an excellent addition to green powders.

Outside of some very specific circumstances, dandelion is widely considered to be safe. Recommendations vary from herbalist to herbalist as to how much you should take.

I will present some amounts that I think are reasonable, but you should view them as suggestions, rather than rules. Other quantities/frequencies could be equally valid, depending on your situation.

Root Tincture

1:5 ratio in 60% alcohol. Use 2.5–5 ml, 3 times daily.

Root Decoction

Use 2–3 tsp of root material in 1 cup of water. Simmer for 10–15 minutes. Drink this 3 times a day.

Leaf Tincture

1:5 ratio in 40% alcohol. Use 5–10 ml, 3 times daily.

Leaf Infusion

Pour boiling water over ½ tsp of dried leaf and allow to steep for 10–15 minutes. Drink this 3 times a day.

Long Live the King!

Dandelions are so impressively versatile that I could never fit everything into a single article.

For example, did you know that the sap can be used as glue, or that the stem can be fashioned into a working flute?

What else did I leave out? What’s your favorite recipe or medicinal use? Do you have any dandelion stories (or horror stories about the bitter flavor)? Are dandelions really the king of weeds, or should that title belong to a different plant? Let me know in the comments!

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Psst! Our Lawyer Wants You to Read This Big, Bad Medical Disclaimer –> The contents of this article, made available via The Grow Network (TGN), are for informational purposes only and do not constitute medical advice; the Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of a qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. If you think you may be suffering from any medical condition, you should seek immediate medical attention. You should never delay seeking medical advice, disregard medical advice, or discontinue medical treatment because of information provided by TGN. Reliance on any information provided by this article is solely at your own risk. And, of course, never eat a wild plant without first checking with a local expert.

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References   [ + ]

1. Perennial: Any plant that lives for more than 2 years.
2. Basal Rosette: A circular arrangement of leaves at ground level.
3, 32. Foster, Steven, James A. Duke, and Steven Foster. A Field Guide to Medicinal Plants and Herbs of Eastern and Central North America. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2000.
4. Peterson, Lee Allen, and Roger Tory Peterson. A Field Guide to Edible Wild Plants: Eastern and Central North America. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1999.
5, 25. Chevallier, Andrew. Encyclopedia of Herbal Medicine. London: DK/Penguin Random House, 2016.
6, 9, 10, 28, 33, 35. Blair, Katrina. The Wild Wisdom of Weeds: 13 Essential Plants for Human Survival. White River Junction, VT: Chelsea Green Publishing, 2014.
7, 12, 27. Gladstar, Rosemary. The Beginners Guide to Medicinal Herbs 35 Healing Herbs to Know, Grow, and Use. Storey Books, 2012.
8, 14, 21, 37, 42. Elpel, Thomas J. Botany in a Day: Thomas J. Elpels Herbal Field Guide to Plant Families. Pony, MT: HOPS Press, 2004.
11, 13, 15, 19, 23, 24, 26, 30, 38, 41. Hoffmann, David. Medical Herbalism: The Science and Practice of Herbal Medicine. Rochester, VT: Healing Arts Press, 2003.
16, 17, 18, 20, 22, 31, 34, 36, 39, 40. Mills, Simon, and Kerry Bone. Principles and Practice of Phytotherapy: Modern Herbal Medicine. Edinburgh: Churchill Livingstone, 2013.
29, 43. Grossberg, George T., and Barry Fox. The Essential Herb-drug-vitamin Interaction Guide: The Safe Way to Use Medications and Supplements Together. New York: Broadway Books, 2007.

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8 Homeopathic Remedies for Plants and Animals

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Recently, Marjory was kind enough to feature me as a Local Changemaker on The Grow Network blog. When I completed the interview, I felt there was more to share. We especially did not discuss how homeopathic remedies extend beyond medicine for humans to include the treatment of our pets, livestock, and agriculture.

Read More: “Meet Elena Upton, Local Changemaker”

Homeopathic Remedies for Plants

Did you know that homeopathic remedies can help weak, pest-infested, and frost-damaged plants—and can even build them up?

Give Your Plants a Springtime Boost

You can strengthen plants in the early spring by giving them Silicea 200C (made from silica, a building block of all cells). Place 6–8 pellets in water to melt them, then use that liquid to water trees and shrubs by pouring it directly on their trunks and in the soil around them.

Treat Downy and Powdery Mildews

Since homeopathy is symptom-driven, different presentations of the same disease may require different homeopathic remedies. That is the case with both powdery mildew (which thrives in dry, warm weather) and downy mildew (which appears in damp conditions).

Use the following homeopathic remedies to treat powdery and downy mildew, but pay special attention to the symptoms of the disease and treat accordingly.

When the symptoms of each disease are as follows, the remedy of choice is Cuprum metallicum 30C:

  • Powdery Mildew: White, moldy layer on the upper sides of leaves (can be wiped off)
  • Downy Mildew: Gray-to-violet coating underneath the leaves after rainy weather

But the remedy of choice is Natrum sulphuricum 30C when the following symptoms are present:

  • Powdery Mildew: Grayish-white mold on stalks and upper sides of leaves
  • Downy Mildew: Gray or grayish-violet under the leaves after warm, humid weather

Treat Gray Mold on Strawberries

Another homeopathic remedy that benefits plants is the use of Calcaria phosphorica 6C and Ammonium carbonicum 30C to treat gray mold (Botrytis) on strawberries. This condition is due to deficiencies of calcium, phosphorus, and magnesium and to excess nitrogen in the plants. Using Calcaria phosphorica 6C and Ammonium carbonicum 30C resolves this deficiency and toxicity.

Also keep in mind that when Botrytis is present, you should not use artificial fertilizers or fresh or composted animal excrement. Just apply compost made from plants to ensure a less acidic environment.

Homeopathic Remedies for Animals

Let’s move on to animals. As I mentioned above, homeopathic remedies are chosen based on symptoms. This is as true for animals as it is for plants and humans.

Following are some examples of symptoms commonly found in horses (although you could replace the word “horse” below with “goat,” “cat,” “cow,” etc.—the same remedy would be used for any animal exhibiting these specific symptoms):

  • Do you have a horse with anxiety that is restless, fearful, or suffering from gastritis? Try the remedy Arsenicum album.
  • Or has he gotten sick with a fever, developed bronchitis, become irritable (wants to be left alone), and started thirsting for large amounts of water? Try the remedy Bryonia.
  • Or maybe she has digestive issues, along with apathy, indifference, sluggishness, and lack of reaction? Try the remedy Carbo vegetabilis.

I use a horse as an example with 3 different sets of issues to demonstrate how observation is key to choosing the correct remedy. Again, if you see these specific symptoms being exhibited in an animal of any other species, the same remedy would be used.

To offer another example, if a dog overindulged in his food (and everyone else’s he could steal when you weren’t looking) and later appeared bloated and irritable, I’d give him Nux vomica. If the horse out in the pasture overgrazed on grass and was bloated and irritable, Nux vomica would also be the remedy to relieve his discomfort. 

How to Administer Homeopathic Remedies

Homeopathic remedies for animals can be dropped into their water.

Dosage is not an issue with homeopathy. It is not like milligrams of pharmaceuticals. Remedies consist of little sugar pills, and the medicine is sprayed on the pills during the manufacturing process. The sugar pills serve as the carrier for the medicine, so 4 pellets, 6 pellets, or 8 pellets are all okay. Use your best judgment based on the amount of water you are dropping them into. You can also dissolve a few pellets into a little water and use a syringe to dispense the liquid directly into the animal’s mouth. 

In addition, you can purchase remedies as liquid tinctures. Although they aren’t readily available in the United States, you can purchase them online from other countries. My favorite source is Helios in the United Kingdom. Ordering from them is easy, and the tinctures usually arrive within a week. Here is the link: https://www.helios.co.uk/

3 Major Differences Between Homeopathic Remedies and Pharmaceuticals

So what are these remedies? Dr. Samuel Hahnemann (1755–1843), who developed the concept of homeopathy, recognized something that most doctors did not (and still don’t): There is an energy that drives all of nature. It is also referred to as a life force, vital force, vitality, or energetic signature.

Difference #1: Restoring Balance

The human body is subjected to a number of insults at every moment—changes in temperature, physical strains, and exposure to toxins or germs. In spite of all this, we rarely fall ill. And even if we do, we get well most of the time. We cannot escape the conclusion that there is a force within all of us that coordinates our system—a force that helps to keep the balance between us and our surroundings. Hahnemann recognized it as a function of life itself.

When we do get sick, it is because that life force, or vitality, has been disturbed. The disturbance of the vital force is the real dis-ease and that is what needs correction.

Homeopathy addresses these disturbances. Just as it takes a clear signal to tune into your favorite radio station, a clear energetic signal is the key to restoring balance to the organism, whether it be plant, animal, or human.

This is the first major difference between homeopathy and pharmaceutical medicines.

Difference #2: Like Cures Like

The second difference is the concept that “like cures like.” You see this in nature everywhere you look.

Let’s use stinging nettle as an example. It comes by its name quite honestly. Who hasn’t accidentally run into a patch and come out hollering, knowing you are about to come down with an itchy, burning rash? The homeopathic remedy Urtica urens is made from the stinging nettle plant that has been diluted and attenuated. When utilized for a rash, hives, prickly heat, or any other skin issues that exhibit similar symptoms, the results are nothing short of miraculous.

Difference #3: Dosage

The third difference between homeopathy and other forms of medicine is the tiny amount it takes to be effective. As mentioned previously, it rebalances disturbed energy patterns.

The body is a brilliant mechanism and only needs the correct information to right itself (as do plants and animals).

My point in moving from explaining the use of homeopathy for humans to discussing plants and animals is that we all have the same carbon structure, and therefore we are all healed in the same way. I have used these remedies on plants, animals, and humans for nearly 30 years—and I have yet to be disappointed.

Interested in Learning More About Homeopathic Remedies?

If you’re interested in learning more about homeopathy, you might want to consider reading my new book, MASTERING ALTERNATIVE MEDICNIE: Your Family’s Guide to Wellness, Volume I, which will be released in the next two months.

The companion book, MASTERING HEALTH: Secrets to Success, is geared toward those who are new to homeopathic remedies, and it offers a much more in-depth explanation of homeopathy and other natural medicine practices. It also covers top homeopathic treatments and their uses, plus case studies so that readers can gain a better understanding of how to dispense the remedies.

I will be offering a free download of MASTERING HEALTH: Secrets to Success to members of The Grow Network Community when they purchase MASTERING ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE: Your Family’s Guide to Wellness, Volume I. More details will be available soon, so stay tuned!

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The Grow Network is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate program designed to provide a means for our team to earn fees for recommending our favorite products! We may earn a small commission, at no additional cost to you, should you purchase an item after clicking one of our links. Thanks for supporting TGN!

 

 

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Meet Elena Upton, Local Changemaker

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Elena Upton, Local Changemaker

Elena Upton
Local Changemaker

Website: ElenaUpton.com

Follow on Social Media: Mastering Alternative Medicine (Facebook)

Fast Fact: Elena’s first book, Mastering Alternative Medicine: Your Family’s Guide to Wellness, is set to release this spring. Find all the details and more great tips on her website!

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Tell us a bit about your background—your heritage, where you grew up, and what first drew your attention to the world of natural remedies?

I am a native of New England, and my family ancestry is Italian. You know what that means . . . good food!

My paternal grandparents had a garden, and my grandfather made his own wine. He also owned small neighborhood grocery stores (five at one point). I remember them as being no more than probably 500–600 square feet and jam-packed with fruits and vegetables and imported Italian grocery products.

I would go into the store up the hill from my house after school and, of course, make my way to the little ice cream cooler. He kept a box of change by the register for those who needed a little extra, and I’d pick out a nickel to buy a frozen treat.

I also remember he had a large notebook with names and numbers scribbled in it. He said it was for “credit.” The locals would come in and pick up food staples they needed and run a tab, promising to come back later to pay.

This didn’t connect me with natural medicine specifically, but it gave me a foundation for good, healthy food and a sense of taking care of the community.

Was there a particular “Aha!” moment in your family’s medical history that you’d consider a true turning point away from traditional treatment methods?

The “Aha!” moment that changed my life forever was a ski trip to Colorado with my husband and sons in 1988.

We were visiting my husband’s former college roommate, George, when his wife, Colleen, pulled out a little white box filled with vials. She referenced a booklet, opened one of the vials, and popped a few little pills into her mouth.

She had been getting noticeably sick with a cold. Within an hour or so, though, there was no sign of the cold continuing to materialize.

I asked her what had been in the box, and she said homeopathy.

I had never even heard the word before!

She went on to explain that it was natural medicine from Germany. It is made from tiny expressions of plant, animal, and mineral substances that act as “information” for the body to follow to heal itself.

I thought that was the most amazing thing I had ever heard! When we went back to Massachusetts, I immediately went to the library to research homeopathy. (There was no World Wide Web then.)

The reason I was so interested was because I was developing some health issues, my husband had health issues, and both my sons had their own health problems cropping up. It seemed whatever conventional medical intervention we were given only suppressed the problem or made it worse. I wanted to know what this magical medicine was and why I’d never heard of it.

Soon after, my husband was transferred to California, and my good friend’s family was also transferred there. At our first West Coast reunion, my friend mentioned learning about homeopathy in Ohio and had a prospectus in her hand for The British Institute of Homeopathy. They had opened a satellite school in Los Angeles. Needless to say, we both enrolled. This was the beginning of a decade of formal training in homeopathy.

My health immediately improved with the use of homeopathy. My husband’s lifelong allergies were gone, and my son’s chronic, seasonal bronchitis cleared. I never looked back.

You’re a strong believer in “food as your first medicine.” How has your diet and that of your family evolved since the days before your homeopathic training?

Wholesome, fresh food was always my first medicine with the rich experience from my family.

The piece of the puzzle that came next, once I was deeply ingrained in the holistic medical community, was developing an understanding of how our food sources had deteriorated with the use of preservatives, the introduction of fungicides into “modern” farming, and the advent of GMO seeds.

What studies/training did you undergo to lead to your role today as a homeopath, author, lecturer and product development specialist?

When you study homeopathy, or any other form of holistic medicine (naturopathic, acupuncture and Chinese medicine, chiropractic, etc.), you gain insight into working with the whole person mentally, emotionally, and physically.

This includes their energetic body.

It is a huge departure from the Western model of medicine, with its use of pharmaceutical drugs and invasive procedures. Instead, there is a respect for the innate intelligence of the body to heal itself, if given the correct information. This information comes in the form of clean, nutritious food and natural-based medicines.

My earliest experiences included a Canadian naturopathic doctor who came to work with me in the clinic I opened after finishing school. He had trained in Germany and opened my eyes to many modalities beyond homeopathy.

We found herbs, supplements, and homeopathic remedies to be a winning combination.

In addition, my older son became a licensed acupuncturist and Chinese herbalist (yes, I’m very proud!), and we have clients we work with together. He can read their pulse, use needles to direct or unblock energy, fix structural issues, etc., and homeopathy adds another dimension.

Sometimes, when someone is stuck in a certain health pattern and not making the expected progress, I treat with a homeopathic remedy that reaches the emotional blockages, and Bam!, their physical issues clear up.

Grief is, by far, the largest block to healing.

You make an especially ardent case against commonly used antibiotics. Please explain the research behind this movement and the top alternative treatments you credit with keeping you and your family off of antibiotics for 30 years now.

Before antibiotics (and before vaccines were introduced in response to epidemics), there was homeopathy.

It is over 230 years old and is the second largest system of medicine in the world—everywhere but America.

In my upcoming book, Mastering Alternative Medicine: Your Family’s Guide to Wellness, I briefly explain the history of homeopathy and how this inexpensive, safe medicine has been systematically driven out. The space here simply doesn’t allow me to explain the volume of research that exists for homeopathic remedies and the true facts about people saved from smallpox and other diseases when conventional medicine failed.

Armed with a reference guide and a homeopathic kit, you can stop many illnesses in their tracks before they even develop.

Examples include using Euphrasia as soon as symptoms of conjunctivitis (pink eye) arise; Hydrastis for sinusitis, and adding Sanguinaria if it’s chronic; mercurius solubilis or mercurius vivus for tonsillitis; hepar sulph calcarea for dental abscesses; Allium cepa for hay fever; Aconitum and Bryonia (or Gelsemium, depending on symptoms) for the common cold or flu; Belladonna or ferrum phos (depending on symptoms) for fever; and Nux vomica for acid reflux.

I could go on with pages and pages of natural solutions, and this is exactly the subject of my book. Listed above is just a small sampling of the FDA-approved remedies you can buy for $6 to $8 in any health food store or pharmacy or online. (I have an extensive reference section in the book on how to source the remedies you need.)

Not everyone has an opportunity to grow their own food or healing herbs. Even if you do, there are important natural remedies we all should know about sitting on a shelf in your health food store. Just as it takes effort to grow your own food, it takes effort to find health solutions not readily spoken about in mainstream society.

Please tell us how your new book came about and the personal research that fueled it.

For nearly 30 years, I have studied homeopathy and other holistic modalities.

It never gets old to see how quickly people improve (with no side effects) when they use remedies from nature.

I have gathered data, researched, and studied with medical professionals who have found another way . . . a safe way to stay healthy. It was a natural transition to pull it all together and share information you’ll never hear on the nightly news or from your insurance-mandated doctor.

It is your right to keep your family and yourself as healthy as possible. Bringing holistic medicine into your life may be what you are looking for, as it was for me.

Can you offer any last piece of healthy living advice that would be of interest to our Grow Network community?

I would like to stress that, because of the source of homeopathic remedies, they are safe for pregnant women, infants, and the elderly, as well as animals and plants. In essence, when you feed the body what it needs—clean, organic food and clean, natural medicine—it responds in kind.

 

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March Question of the Month

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TGN Community members, please let us know:

What are your favorite combinations for companion planting?

Leave us a reply in the Forums, here: https://thegrownetwork.com/forums/topic/what-are-your-favorite-combinations-for-companion-planting

Then, stay tuned—we’ll be compiling your answers into an article soon!

 

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Cold and Flu Remedies (Your Answers to the Question of the Month!)

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What’s your most effective remedy for colds and the flu?

Cold or flu got you down? Our Community’s got you covered! Check out these great tips and tricks for treating (and preventing!) colds and flus naturally.

Silver

When it comes to fighting off colds and flu, several of you swear that silver is worth its weight in gold.

  • Suz says, “Since flu starts in the gut, we take colloidal silver at the first symptoms: 5–6 ounces for adults over 170 pounds, 4 ounces for adults under 170 pounds, 3 ounces for those between 80–110 pounds, and start with 2 ounces for a child. After 90 mins, you should see a reduction in symptoms. Four hours after the first dose, take a second dose of equal amount. Six hours after the second dose, take a third dose of equal amount.” She says it will stop not only flu in its tracks, but also stomach viruses and food poisoning. Suz also suggests taking probiotics or eating yogurt the next day to help restore healthy gut bacteria.
  • At the first sign of illness, Marly gargles with and swallows ASAP Smart Silver, and keeps it up all day while symptoms persist.
  • Dsymons recommends snorting some colloidal/nano silver to help assuage a stuffy nose.
  • Phil Tkachukrecommends 10ppm colloidal silver. He says you can either buy it, or make it yourself using The Silver Edge generator or Atlasnova generator.

Fire Cider/Four Thieves Tonic/Dragon’s Breath

Community members velaangels, Mark, Kathy, Brodo, and Rhonda all rely on homemade fire cider as a winter immune booster. Rhonda takes 1 shot per day throughout the winter for prevention, and also uses it to shorten the duration of the illness if she does catch a cold or the flu.

Loa uses Dragon’s Breath—which she says is similar to fire cider—daily during flu season. She works at a high school “around a LOT of sneezing, wheezing, coughing kids” and says she hasn’t had a cold or the flu in the 13 years since she started boosting her immune system with Dragon’s Breath. Here’s how she makes it: “I layer onions, garlic, horseradish, ginger, parsley, and cayenne peppers in a jar and cover with natural apple cider vinegar. I let it steep for about 6 weeks, then strain, add some powdered turmeric, and put the glass jar into the refrigerator. To use, I mix a tablespoon of the mixture with a tablespoon of honey added to a cup of warm water.”

Read More: “How to Make Fire Cider”

Teas, Tonics, and Tinctures

You offered our Community members some wonderful ideas for teas, tonics, and tinctures.

  • Thomas Hodge makes an infusion with crushed Linden flowers and stems by adding 1/2 ounce of plant matter to a quart canning jar and then filling the jar with hot water. He seals it, lets it sit overnight, and strains it in the morning, squeezing the liquid from the linden. Then, he says, “chill it or drink it right away—8 ounces every 3 or 4 hours.”
  • Val recommends a “flu tea” made with 1 teaspoon each of elderflower, mint, yarrow, and lemon juice. This makes 2 cups of tea. “The elderflower is anti-catarrhal and anti-inflammatory, the mint is diaphoretic (it increases bile, thereby helping to release toxins), and the yarrow increases sweating but lowers fevers. It is a pleasant-tasting tea.” Brodo makes a similar tea, but substitutes lemon balm for the mint and adds a spoonful of local, raw honey.
  • Sunny makes a tea from dried elderberries, turmeric, freshly ground black pepper, and slices of fresh gingers, and drinks it all day long, usually mixed in with coffee or chai tea.
  • peaveyplunker mixes together 3 cloves garlic, 1 tablespoon honey and 1/8 teaspoon of cayenne pepper, and takes 1/2 teaspoon of the mixture every half hour until symptoms subside.
  • Stephanie Lebron creates a tea with hot water and lemon juice, plus either ginger, rosemary essential oil, or lemon eucalyptus essential oil.
  • w13jenjohnuses a homemade tincture of elderberry, licorice, and wild cherry bark, and also recommends a tea made with sage, lemon eucalyptus, and ginger, then sweetened with honey.
  • Shrabonisays that a “ginger, pepper, and turmeric-powder decoction in a glass of warm water works wonders.”
  • moncaivegan90boils 2 cups of water with a cinnamon stick, adds 1 cup of fresh red or purple bougainvillea flowers, turns off the heat, covers it for 2 minutes, and then strains it. “I like to add a spoonful of raw honey and enjoy 2 to 3 times a day. This works especially well for colds and coughs.”
  • Yvette McLean makes a tea with mullein, peppermint, and lemongrass, and drinks it around the clock—hot or cold—for 2 to 3 days. She also uses the tea in the following recipe:5 cloves garlic
    2 Tbsp. sage (fresh or dried)
    2 Tbsp. oregano (fresh or dried)
    3 Tbsp. fresh ginger
    1 Tbsp. thyme (fresh or dried)
    1 Tbsp. rosemary (fresh or dried)
    2 Tbsp. honey
    2 whole lemons (including skin)
    2 c. mullein/peppermint/lemongrass tea, cooledBlend all ingredients together. Do not heat mixture. Take 1–2 ounces 3 times per day.

    “You will be better by the third day,” she says.

Oregano Oil

Several of you recommend using oregano oil to fight off colds and the flu. But do your research! Joy Deussen says, “Be careful with oregano oil. It is hot and will burn the inside of your mouth. I recommend you put it in a capsule and swallow for no discomfort.”

Vitamins

Increase your vitamin intake when you’re fighting off a cold or the flu.

  • Sunny increases consumption of vitamin D.
  • Stephanie Lebron says she takes 2000 mg of vitamin C every hour or so in the first 24 hours of feeling something coming on.
  • Nance Shaw also takes vitamin A morning and night.

Elderberry

Take some form of elderberry for its immune-boosting properties.

  • Along with taking homeopathic oscillococcinum and drinking a Linden infusion, Thomas Hodge takes a tablespoon of black elderberry extract before bed.
  • Denise takes 1 teaspoon of elderberry syrup every day during cold and flu season.
  • Scott Sexton takes elderberry syrup and/or tincture, plus recommends “Lots of water and rest. Meditation and yoga. And frequent sips of apple cider vinegar. I use essential oils, too. Oregano and the Thieves blend. Plus, I always add a citrus oil. Citrus oils are just happy, and I think they put me in a better mood, too.”

Onions and Garlic

Onions and garlic are a favorite food when you’re dealing with colds and the flu.

  • For air purification, Rebecca Potrafka leaves a cut-up onion sitting out in a glass dish. She also takes honey onion syrup for a scratchy throat.
  • Susanne Lambert offers an interesting thought on using onions: “I’ve done some experiments with onions underfoot before bed with a pair of socks. I found that when I woke in the morning, my stuffy nose was gone.”
  • Sunny adds raw or slightly roasted garlic cloves plus sautéed onions to meals.
  • Michael Gray says that if he feels something coming on, he adds to his meals “a fresh clove of garlic, smashed, chopped fine, left out for 2 to 3 minutes” and says that he gets better faster than others who are sick at the same time but don’t take fresh garlic.
  • Marjory is also a huge fan of using raw garlic as an immune booster when she’s fighting off a cold. She’ll chop up several cloves, let them sit for about 10 minutes, and swallow them straight. (Yes, we’ve seen her do this firsthand! 😉

Over-the-Counter Remedies

Sometimes, the pharmacy is your friend. Our Community members recommended several over-the-counter products that help fight colds and the flu.

  • Bonnie Camo and Thomas Hodge both recommend homeopathic oscillococcinum. Bonnie says it “usually cures colds or flu if taken in the first 24–48 hours. Available in most pharmacies and inexpensive.”
  • Jill recommends cocolaurin. “It’s a natural supplement, anti-bacterial, anti-viral, and anti-fungal. Very effective and safe.” (Cocolaurin is a super-concentrated form of monolaurin, which is distilled from coconut oil.)
  • Several of our Community members take zinc when fighting off a cold or the flu. Nance Shaw recommends a dose morning and night, kathybelair52 sucks on zinc acetate lozenges at the first sign of cold, and Jill takes zinc in the form of Zicam. Sunny also occasionally uses Zarbee’s Nighttime Cough and Throat Relief drink mix, which contains zinc.
  • Sunny also puts Plant Therapy Organic Immune Aid essential oil in the diffuser, under the nose, and on the soles of the feet.
  • When TommyD feels something coming on, he takes 3 capsules of echinacea 3 times a day for a few days.
  • Marius says colloidal silver usually helps him avoid the flu. However, “this year the flu strain was extremely potent, and it got me for the first time in 8 years. I cured it in about 2 days by ingesting hydrogen peroxide 3% In the next days, I rebuilt my intestinal flora—which could be damaged by hydrogen peroxide—by eating probiotics.”
  • Among other things, Nance Shaw recommends soothing coughs at bedtime by putting Vick’s VapoRub on the arches of the feet.
  • Several of you recommend using a neti pot during the sickness to help relieve symptoms. (Remember, though—the FDA recommends rinsing only with distilled, sterile, or previously boiled water, as tap water may contain harmful organisms that could actually make the problem worse.)

Encourage Fever

PInteaReed says, “If you are stricken with flu, make sure to help your fever. Wrap up in heavy blankets and try to keep the fever at 101°F to 102°F. Of course, if it goes higher, unwrap! Fever is what helps kill the viruses inside you. We just used this on this recent strain of really nasty flu that is going around. An hour after you wrap up, you should see a huge abatement of symptoms.”

Prevent It

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and our Community members offered some great suggestions for keeping colds and the flu at bay.

  • TommyD says he can’t remember the last time he had the flu, and attributes part of his immune strength to cooking regularly with a spice mix of turmeric, freshly ground black pepper, ginger powder, and Ceylon cinnamon.
  • Sandy Hines says neither she nor her husband have caught the flu or a cold in over 30 years. “If your
    body is alkaline, flu viruses and cold germs cannot live. Every night before bedtime, we have 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda in a few inches of cool water.” They also eat about 2/3 cup of plain yogurt with a teaspoon of raw, unfiltered, local honey in it during the day; drink plenty of clean water, eat nutritiously; drink orange juice; and take 1,000 to 2,000 mg of vitamin C every day.
  • Michael Gray helps prevent illness by taking a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar and a teaspoon of honey mixed in warm water every day.
  • Emily says she doesn’t catch colds or the flu, and attributes it to taking Citricidal brand grapefruit seed extract at least once per day. She adds, “I take up to 24 drops. Three is what the package says. Vitamin C is one reason it works so well, and that’s natural Vitamin C, not ‘ascorbic acid.’”
  • Community member bobcarmenmertz has been taking homemade Golden Paste for more than 8 months and credits it for feeling well. “I did start to get a cold, but the severity and duration were greatly reduced. The paste includes turmeric powder, coconut oil, and freshly ground black pepper. You can make it yourself and refrigerate for 2 weeks.” One recipe we found for Golden Paste is as follows:Golden Paste Recipe
    1/2 c. turmeric powder
    1 c. water (plus up to an additional cup of water, if needed)
    2–3 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
    1/3 c. healthy fat—either from raw, unrefined, cold-pressed coconut oil, flaxseed oil, or virgin/extra virgin olive oilCombine the turmeric and 1 c. water in a saucepan, and bring to a boil. Turn the heat to low and simmer for 7–10 minutes or until the mixture becomes a thick paste. (You may need to add some or all of the additional water during this step.) Remove from heat and let the turmeric/water mixture cool down until it is warm and not hot. Add the freshly ground black pepper and oil, and stir well to incorporate. Allow it to cool, then keep it in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks, or freeze some if you don’t think you’ll use it up by then. You can use Golden Paste in smoothies, in yogurt, as a condiment—even as as an immune-booster for your pets!

Thanks so much to each and every TGN Community member who shared your favorite home remedies in response to our February Question of the Month! You are highly valued!

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12 Uses for Rose Petals—From the Kitchen to the Boudoir (With Recipes)

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The fabled rosequeen of the plant kingdom. Did you know that there are over 100 species of roses?

While the wild roses, Rosa rugosa, are considered the queen of the roses for medicinal purposes, all roses lend their soothing and nurturing support in many ways. You need not go out into the wild to look for roses as you probably already grow some yourself, or at least know someone who does since roses are commonly grown as ornamental plants.

Although roses are fairly easy to grow, often requiring nothing more than periodic pruning, the spectacular sight and heavenly scent of the flowers do not last long and soon give way to the red colored fruits known as rose hips. Collecting rose petals, however, is easy to do so long as one is wary of the thorns.

Read more: 7 Types of Marigolds – Which One is Right for You?

How to Dry Fresh Rose Petals

How to dry fresh rose petals

Rose petals are edible and can be collected at any time for this purpose. However, rose petals that are to be used in recipes or to be dried require a bit of planning. The perfect time to collect rose petals is mid-morning, on a dry day when the dew has evaporated and there’s been no rain for at least the past two days. Bring your fingers over an opened rose flower and tug gently on all the petals at once.

Roses that are ready to release their petals will fall easily into your hands while the center of the flower will remain intact to produce the rose hip soon thereafter. Petals that resist when you tug on them are not ready to be collected, and if you persist you may accidentally pull off the whole flower. While gathering your rose petals, collect them in a paper bag. This will help to absorb any moisture that may be on petals. A wooden basket will work. Only use a plastic bag as a last resort.

To dry the rose petals, simply spread newspaper on a flat surface, distribute the petals across the paper and let them air dry. They should be ready in a few days. You can also let them air dry in a dehydrator, or turn it on and use the lowest setting (95°F).

Read more: Edible Redbud Flowers – The Delicious and Nutritious Harbinger of Spring

12 Creative Uses for Rose Petals

12 Uses for Rose Petals

Now that you know how to collect rose petals, and you know that they are both edible and medicinal, read on to discover some of the ways you may want to experience the beneficial effects of rose petals for yourself or for your family.

1. Let Them Eat Rose Petals on Toast

Place a layer of your favorite nut butter, cheese topping, or spread on toast. Place a fresh petal on top of the spread and continue to cover with petals. Now, eat on up!

White petals make a nice contrast against the brown of a nut butter while dark, damask-colored roses lend their perfume to the air before taking a bite.

Feel free to use a combination of colors or to try this idea with crackers and serve as interesting hors-d’oeuvres. Different colors have different tastes, so have fun experimenting!

2. Add Fragrance to Your Next Salad

Red, light pink, dark pink, white, yellow, orange, mauve, or blue—fresh rose petals make a stunning contrast against the greens in a salad. Not only do they tempt the eyes, but the nose, too. Rose petals contain anthocyanins, so feel free to indulge in these antioxidant-rich delicacies.

3. Help a Boo-Boo or a Sore Throat

Rose petals are antiviral, antibacterial, and antiseptic, so the next time you get a small cut while out in the garden, apply a fresh petal or two and hold in place as a protective covering. To help relieve a sore throat, infuse fresh rose petals in honey.

Simple Rose-Petal Honey Recipe

Add fresh rose petals to a mason jar and lightly pack them in. Pour honey over the petals almost to the top, and stir with a non-metallic object (a bamboo skewer works nicely) to ensure petals are coated. Add more honey to the top. Put on lid and screw cap and let them sit for 6 weeks in the cupboard.

Strain out rose petals using a sieve, pushing down on the rose petals to extract all of the honey with the back of a spoon or, make this task easier by using a nut milk bag. Store your rose-petal honey in a cool, dry place.

Add a teaspoon or two to some warm tea to nix a sore throat “in the bud” (at the first sign of a sore throat).

4. Move Blood, or Stop Diarrhea

Rose tea makes an excellent emmenagogue to help move blood and quell cramps during menstruation. Rose tea can also help to curb diarrhea since roses are astringent (wild rose being especially so).

Rose Tea Recipe

Fill a mason jar to the top with slightly packed dried petals. Pour boiling water over the roses, to the top of the jar. Place lid and screw cap on; let sit 4 hours to overnight. Strain out petals using a sieve, squeezing out the excess tea from the flowers. (You can also use a nut milk bag: Place nut milk bag in a bowl, pour tea into the bag, close the bag and squeeze out the liquid.)

To help relieve menstrual cramps or diarrhea, drink 2–3 cups per day.

5. Soothe and Nourish Your Skin

Roses are considered to be cooling and hydrating, and they offer their soothing energy to help with both irritated and dehydrated skin when made into a floral water. While you can buy rose floral water, you might want to try your hand at this homemade version.

Rose Floral Water Recipe

You’ll need:

A large pot
A heat-proof bowl about the same size as the pot (although you can make a smaller bowl work)
A brick or another heat-proof bowl to hold up the first bowl
Plenty of ice
Approximately 4–6 cups of fresh rose petals
Some spring water
A turkey baster
Clean spritz bottle (optional)
A funnel (optional, but if you’re using the spritz bottle, this makes pouring the Rose Floral Water into it a lot easier)

Place the brick in the bottom of the pot and place the bowl on top of the brick. If you don’t have a brick, use an inverted bowl and place the first bowl on top of the inverted bowl. Next, place fresh rose petals in the pot all around the bowl. The rose petals should come up halfway to the bowl—use about 4–6 cups of fresh petals. Add spring water to cover the roses. Place the lid on the pot and turn on the heat to medium-high. When the water starts boiling, lower the heat to medium. Invert the lid of the pot and add ice to the lid.

It works like this: The rose petals in the water are simmering in the pot. The rose water rises to the top of the pot (vaporization), where it meets the cold lid. Condensation forms on the lid and then it drops back into the bowl. The liquid collected in the bowl is now floral water!

Since the ice will melt, use the turkey baster to suck up the excess water. Continue to add fresh ice for the next 20–30 minutes. You can check after 15 minutes to make sure there is still water in the pot. Let everything cool, and then pour the floral water into a clean spritz bottle (using a funnel makes this task a lot easier).

To use as a gentle toner for the face, help soothe irritated skin (including acne and sunburn), or help rehydrate skin, simply spritz on face after a shower, after being out in the garden/sun for too long, or as needed.

6. Ease Your Pain

Since roses are well-known for their emollient and healing properties, they nourish all kinds of skin types, including skin with rosacea and eczema. Roses are also great for soothing pain and easing taut nerves when made into a simple massage oil.

Rose-Petal Oil Recipe

Fill a mason jar with slightly packed fresh rose petals. Pour olive or sweet almond oil over the petals. Mix to coat the petals with the oil—a bamboo skewer makes a good stirring stick. After mixing, add more oil to the top of the jar. Place lid and screw cap on, let sit 6 weeks in the cupboard, then strain out the rose oil (yes, a nut milk bag or sieve will work). Store your oil in a dark amber bottle.

Variations: To extend the shelf life of your oil, you can add 1 teaspoon of vitamin E oil. To make your facial oil more nourishing, you can use walnut or macadamia oil (highly nourishing for dry, sensitive, or mature skin). You can also add in several drops of rose hip seed oil (purchase in health food stores), if desired.

7. Open the Love Center

Roses have long been associated with love, and they are known to help open the heart chakra. They have also been known to help mend a broken heart. Try this sweet and simple recipe for a little emotional healing.

Rose Glycerite Recipe

Fill a mason jar to the top with slightly packed fresh rose petals. Pour food-grade glycerin over the rose petals, stirring to ensure they are coated (a bamboo skewer works well for this). Add more glycerin to the top. Put on the lid and screw cap and store in the cupboard for 6 weeks. Use a nut-milk bag or sieve to strain out the liquid, pressing or squeezing on the petals to extract all of the liquid. Store the rose glycerite in a dark amber bottle that has a cap affixed with a dropper.

You can carry this bottle around with you. Whenever you need a little emotional rebalancing, take 2030 drops in a glass of water. Glycerin is 60% as sweet as sugar, so consider this a sweet “medicine” indeed!

8. Uplift Your Spirits

Roses are known for helping to decrease stress, tension, and depression, and to lighten the mood. So why not indulge in a 0 calorie pick-me-up with some Rose Petal Jello?

Rose Petal Jello Recipe

To 2 cups of rose tea (see #4 above), add a teaspoon of stevia, or more, according to your taste. Put the tea in a glass or ceramic pot and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and add in 1 package of gelatin, stirring to dissolve about 2 minutes; then put in the fridge to set.

Note: Different roses yield different-tasting jello. How strong or weak you make the tea also affects the taste. For example, try using 1/2 oz. rose petals in 1 liter of water if you think it’s too strong, or add in 1 1/2 oz. petals to 1 liter of water for a stronger taste.

Variations: To sweeten the jello more, try adding in a tablespoon of rose glycerite (see #7 above), plus stevia to taste. Since gelatin is great for the skin, you can add in 2 packages of gelatin instead of one.

9. Add Fragrance to Your Unmentionables

Rose petals are commonly used in potpourri, so why not make your own? It’s cheap and easy. While you can add dried rose petals to mini organza bags (purchase in stores or online), for a dirt-cheap DIY solution, simply add dried petals to a paper envelope, seal it and slip it in your drawer.

You could also make your own bag with some leftover fabric scraps. Use shears to cut a square or circle in a piece of fabric. Add a few rose petals to the center, gather the edges together, then secure with a rubber band. Finally, add a ribbon to hide the rubber band.

If you’d like a stronger scent, add a few drops of rose essential oil. If you’d like the scent to last longer, add 1 tablespoon orris root powder to every 2 cups of rose petals.

10. Entice You, Entice Me

It’s no secret that roses are an aphrodisiac. Indeed, rose petal tea helps to tonify both the male and female reproductive systems. In men, it helps to speed up sperm motility, thereby helping with fertility. In women, the bioflavonoids in roses help with the production of estrogen. And the phytosterols in roses help both sexes to balance their hormones. Although you can get some of this love action by sipping on a cuppa rose tea (see #4 to learn how to make rose tea), try using rose tea instead of water the next time you cook rice, quinoa, millet, or your other favorite grains.

11. A Romantic Dinner for Two

Roses have long been associated with love ,and they are also aromatic. Try adding some romance to the dinner table with this simple recipe: Use equal parts rose tea (see #4 above) and apple cider vinegar with the “mother.” Store in a spray bottle. To use: Spritz on salads to lend some romance. You can also pair this with oil to make a romantic rosy salad dressing.

12. Relax in Luxury

What else can I say, roses are simply luxurious! Restorative and relaxing, rose petals are known to calm the mind. So the next time you want some “me time,” unwind by adding rose petals to your bath. Simply add a small handful of dried rose petals to the center of a face cloth, tie with elastic bands, secure the cloth over the faucet and run the water. Or you can add the facecloth directly to the bath water. Add in some Epsom salts or sea salts and let the fragrance of the roses envelop you in serenity.

Do You Have More to Add to this List?

These are only a few simple suggestions about ways that you can creatively use rose petals at home to enhance your meals, your health, and your relationships. If you have other uses for rose petals that I’ve overlooked here, go ahead and add a comment below to share your ideas with our Community!

However you use them, be sure to give carte blanche to a wholesome dose of love and perfume about the air. Enjoy!

(This post was originally published on August 5, 2015.)


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The Kidney Wrap: Prepare Your Body For Winter

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Have you ever heard of a kidney wrap? It’s a simple but powerful technique to take care of your body during the winter months.

It soothes the adrenals and ensures your body will be ready to have a fabulous spring. This amazing health technique used to be well known by folks who lived in cold climates, and you’ll recognize the truth of it when looking at the fashions people wore in old photos.

Learn how to protect your own body with a kidney wrap in this video featuring Doug Simons (the master herbalist who teaches “Treating Infections Without Antibiotics”).

(This is an updated version of an article originally published in October 2013.) 

 

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Homemade Shampoo Disaster

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So I’ve been working on researching plants high in saponins—which is a natural form of soap. And I was delighted to find that the roots of pokeweed (Phytolacca americana) are very high in saponins.

Pokeweed is also a fairly toxic plant. You can eat it if you harvest the leaves in the very early spring while the plant is young and before the stalks turn red. You have to boil it and discard the water at least twice (three times or more for those who worry a lot). So I probably should’ve been a bit more cautious.

By the way, the purple berries (also toxic to humans, but I’ve seen poultry enjoy them) make a really nice dye for cloth or buckskin.

Anyway, I harvested a big chunk of root and grated it up with a cheese grater. When I put that in water, I was delighted with how soapy the water got—it is soapier than yucca root. Let me point out that natural soaps like this never get quite as frothy as commercial stuff, but this was surprisingly soap like.

Between handling the pokeweed root and then washing my hair with it, I got a good dose of whatever else is in those roots. Oh dear, I got quite a headache and a bit dizzy! LOL. So let me be the first to tell you NOT to try this one at home!

Stick with baking soda and vinegar if that is what you are using. And my personal favorite to date is the egg/honey/lemon blend I wrote about in this post on homemade shampoo.

If you are wondering why I don’t just make soap using lye and fat … well, here is a short video that explains why not.

 

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(This article was originally published October 29, 2013.)

 

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The Top 10 Tropical Staple Crops (VIDEO)

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Earlier this year I created a video on the top 10 tropical staple crops. It took me way too long to write and edit, so I hope you find it incredibly helpful.

Let’s run through them here, along with a few notes.

10: Grain Corn

Corn

 

Stick to dent corn varieties in warm, hot climates. Flint corns are better for up north, dent for down south. Corn needs decent soil and plenty of nitrogen, but it’s the best grain for production and processing—much easier to process than small grains like oats, rye, and wheat. You need to nixtamalize it with lime or eat it as part of a balanced diet to avoid pellagra, a niacin deficiency which will really mess you up.

9: Pumpkins/Winter Squash

Pumpkin

 

These are one of my favorite plants to grow. In the tropics, most of the pumpkins grown are C. moschata types, though there are others, too. Pumpkins take up a lot of space, but make big, storable fruit. On the downside, they’re not that calorie dense and it’s easy to get sick of eating pumpkins.

8: Breadfruit

Breadfruit

 

Breadfruit is delicious and productive, plus it’s a tree so you don’t need to plow and plant like you do with annual staples. They are tough trees, though they can’t take any cold. The downside is that the breadfruit come in seasons instead of spread out through the year.

7: Coconuts

Coconuts

So long as you don’t cut through your hand while opening them, coconuts are very good. They are high in good fats and nutrients, grow easily even in terrible soil, and require very little work to maintain. The fronds are also useful for crafts, thatching, baskets, and more. The downside of coconuts is they are a pain to open.

6: Bananas and Plantains

Plantains

It’s a fruit! No, it’s a starch!

Unripe bananas and plantains can be cooked and eaten like potatoes or fried like chips, making them a good way to fill in the caloric cracks. Though they are non-seasonal, they do produce better in the rainy season unless you keep them watered. And they like a lot of water! They also like a lot of nitrogen. Plant them around the septic tank and you’re golden.

5: Malanga and Taro

Malanga Roots

Malanga, a.k.a. dasheen, has edible leaves (when cooked ONLY) and tubers (ditto). They like a lot of water and grow like weeds in a drainage ditch or shallow pond.

4: Pigeon Peas

Pigeon Peas

Pigeon peas are a very easy-to-grow nitrogen-fixing tropical staple crop. The dry peas are a good source of protein and the younger peas can be eaten like common green peas. If you have marginal ground, hack holes in it and plant pigeon peas. The downside is that shelling the peas takes way too long. I also find them a bit hard to digest.

3: Cassava

Cassava Coming Up

Cassava is a carbohydrate bazooka. It’s productive even in bad soil and has roughly twice the calories of white potatoes. Unfortunately, it’s almost devoid of real nutrition. It’s just a blast of carbs. This makes it great for a crisis, but not good to eat all the time. The leaves are edible when boiled and are nutrient-rich, so it makes sense to eat the leaves and roots together.

2: Sweet Potatoes

Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes have edible greens and roots, produce abundantly in a small space, are high in calories and nutrition, and are non-seasonal. An excellent choice for survival.

1: True Yams

Giant Yam Root

Yes, I am prejudiced. Yams (Dioscorea spp.) are my favorite staple crop. The flavor is good, they take almost no work to grow, they’ll live on the margins of a food forest, and they’ll even grow and produce when guerilla-planted in the woods. Grow some—you’ll be impressed.

Conclusion

Any combination of these 10 tropical staple crops could keep you alive in a crisis. I recommend planting more than one of them for variation in diet, plus redundancy. If cassava does badly one year, you’ll still have pigeon peas. If the malanga doesn’t get enough water, maybe the corn will come through. Experiment and see what grows best in your area.

Did I miss one of your favorite tropical staples? Leave me a note and let me know.

 

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Growing Microgreens and Sprouts Indoors All Winter Long (Video)

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fresh-arugula-micro-greensAs the temperatures drop and the days get shorter, I’ve heard from several gardeners up north that they are packing it up for the year and winterizing their gardens.

But even up north, there’s one easy way to keep some fresh greens coming all winter long–with just a few containers and a little bit of your open counter space.

Microgreens are a great option for keeping your vitamin intake up over the winter. In addition to being tasty and trendy, they pack a big nutritional punch. A study published in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry looked at 25 common varieties of microgreens and found that they generally have higher concentrations of healthful vitamins and carotenoids than their mature counterparts. Red cabbage microgreens had the highest concentration of vitamin C, and green daikon radish microgreens had the most vitamin E.

Check out this video about growing microgreens and sprouts indoors:

If you want to give this a try and you’re looking for a cheap and easy way to get started, read this article from our writing contest: Easy and Fresh Micro Greens and Herbs All Year Round. You’ll find one example of a no-frills way to get this done–without needing to buy anything but seeds.

(This post was originally published November 17, 2015.)

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[VIDEO] How To Make Fire Cider

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I make this Fire Cider (know in some circles as “Four Thieves Tonic”) each year just as the holiday season gets going. It needs about a month to set, and is ready by January when my immune system could use a good nudge.

Even though I don’t really like spicy stuff that much, I really do like this one.

There are numerous versions of Fire Cider circulating out there. Some are made to be used only externally—e.g., on the skin to ward against bacteria—while others are made out of essential oils. Since making essential oils is a trail I am not wanting to go on right now, I prefer this recipe, which is ingested.

Here are the ingredients I used, and a list of other possible ones you might want to add. Of course, be careful if you have any kind of allergies to any of these . . . .

  • Garlic
  • Hot Peppers
  • Juniper Berries
  • Rosemary
  • Ginger
  • Horseradish Root

And here is a “possibles” list.

  • Mint
  • Coriander
  • Cloves
  • Black Pepper

Please let me know in the comments section below if you have a favorite recipe for “Fire Cider.” Do you use any ingredients that I’ve neglected to mention here? I’d love to hear about them . . . . And do let me know if you try it this winter!

(This article was originally published in December 2013, but I decided it was time to revisit the recipe! Enjoy! I’m about to start a new batch myself . . . .)

taking-garlic-as-medicine-500x262

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Cheap, Healthy Meals: How to Eat Sustainably on a Budget

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It’s a constant battle:

How can I eat healthy?

How can I eat healthy on a budget?

And how can I eat healthy on a budget while also living a sustainable lifestyle as an apartment homesteader? GAHHHHHHHHH…

Wuf. I feel ya.

It isn’t easy to eat healthy and sustainably in a world full of “quick and easy” meals—quite aptly named fast food—and inexpensive food trucked from hundreds of miles away.

In the last chapter we talked about ways we can grow some of our own produce. In this chapter, let’s talk about cheap, healthy meals—the best, most sustainable and budget-friendly ways to eat healthy as an apartment homesteader from all the food sources you’ll encounter.

Healthy Food is Sustainable Nutrition

If you’re healthy, you will save money at the doctor and the pharmacy. Saving money at the pharmacy means ingesting fewer pharmaceuticals that are unsustainable to make and distribute and that damage your body’s ability to naturally fight diseases. And to be healthy—and therefore avoid the pharmacy—you need to have good nutrition.

In other words, healthy body = sustainable nutrition = saving money.

When we eat non-organic, pesticide-heavy food, our bodies enter a toxic state. Our bodies don’t know what to do with the toxins, so they are pushed into our fat stores. Our cells build up thick walls to protect against the toxins in our blood streams so we cannot even absorb necessary vitamins and minerals that our bodies need to function.

And the same happens when we eat meat treated with antibiotics or drink water full of chemicals from crop runoff and water treatment facilities.

All the food, water, pharmaceuticals, personal care products, and other environmental factors around us create a toxic equation. We live in a constant state of toxicity.

So how do we rid our bodies of those toxins? We already talked about replacing toxic personal care products with natural, DIY products. Later in this series, we’ll talk about using herbal remedies to replace pharmaceuticals.

With some simple switches in our food and water intake, we can begin the detox process.

  • The first step in detoxing is to increase hydration. But don’t just start downing tap water. Most tap water contains chemicals that will continue adding toxins to the equation. Drink distilled or filtered water. Most nutritionists suggest that we each drink half of our body weight in ounces of water every day. One way to jump-start the detox process is to drink at least twenty ounces of water right when you wake up in the morning. Drinking water after a nighttime “fast” will get everything moving and help flush out toxins.
  • Then, eat small portions of healthy foods multiple times throughout the day, plus lots of water to keep toxins moving through your body.
  • Also, consider adding therapeutic-grade essential oils to your daily routine in your personal care products and cleaning supplies, or to your diet in your food or water. Essential oils can help oxygenate your blood and can be absorbed in cells with even the thickest membranes.

It will take time for your body to detox, but once you do, you’ll find you’re able to eat less and that your body craves only healthy, organic food—food that will fill you up faster and leave you fuller for longer.

If you’ve been eating healthy, organic, toxin-free food for a while and your body seems to be going backward in some ways (e.g., if you have aches and pains or your digestion is arguing with you), DON’T STOP. That is your body’s way of telling you it is getting rid of the toxins it has been storing for years!

You’re almost there.

Keep feeding your body what it needs!

Budget for Organic, Budget for Sustainable

So what are those “healthy foods” we should eat small amounts of multiple times a day, and how can you fit them into your budget?

First, eat less meat. Meat is expensive. Organically raised meat is off-the-charts expensive. Try observing a Meatless Monday for a few weeks; you may be surprised how much money you actually save by simply cutting out meat one day a week.

Buy in bulk. Many organic grocery stores or regular local grocery stores have an area where you can buy bulk dry goods. My local store even has a place where you can grind your own peanut butter and fill your own honey jars! Buy in bulk and make sure you can preserve your purchases for future use.

Eat seasonally. Out-of-season fruits and vegetables have to travel from areas of the country or world with different growing seasons, so they are going to be more expensive (and less sustainable because of their use of fuel). Find a seasonal produce calendar for your region and buy only produce that is in season. Buying local will be mostly “seasonal.” Keep that in mind and support your local gardeners!

Make room in your budget to purchase organic produce on the “Dirty Dozen” list. Remember that list?

The Dirty Dozen

Dirty Dozen

  • Strawberries
  • Spinach
  • Nectarines
  • Apples
  • Peaches
  • Pears
  • Cherries
  • Grapes
  • Celery
  • Tomatoes
  • Sweet Bell Peppers
  • Potatoes

Eating healthy means being careful not to ingest harmful chemicals like pesticides. Buying organic produce from the Dirty Dozen list—while slightly more expensive up front—will save you money in doctors’ visits and pharmaceuticals over time.

You’ll be healthier, and your bank account will thank you for it.

Cheap, Healthy Meals From the Grocery Store

If you’re working with a particularly tight budget, you may decide to purchase some conventionally grown produce from your local grocery story. If that is the case, purchase less expensive, non-organic produce from the “Clean Fifteen” list.

The Clean Fifteen

Clean Fifteen

  • Sweet Corn
  • Avocados
  • Pineapples
  • Cabbage
  • Onions
  • Sweet Peas
  • Papayas
  • Asparagus
  • Mangoes
  • Eggplant
  • Honeydew
  • Kiwi
  • Cantaloupe
  • Cauliflower
  • Grapefruit

But even produce on the Clean Fifteen list can be coated with some pesticides, so make sure you wash all produce you purchase from the grocery store.

Find or make your own produce wash that will remove as many potential pesticides and other toxins from the list as possible.

For produce with skin, soak for one hour in plain white vinegar. Then scrub gently and rinse.

For leafy greens, add two tablespoons of sea salt to two cups of water. Also add a little lemon juice. Spray the cleaning solution on the greens, then soak in a diluted vinegar solution for fifteen minutes. Rinse in cold water to plump them up (they’ll probably wilt a little bit in the cleaning process) and then dry them completely using a salad spinner before storing.

I like to add a few drops of lemon essential oil to the vinegar solution when I’m cleaning produce. The extra cleaning power helps me feel safe eating non-organic produce. Also, therapeutic-grade lemon essential oil is one of the least expensive essential oils, so it is a win for both your health and your budget!

Eating cheap, healthy meals from the grocery store doesn’t mean eating unsustainably. Many grocery stores purchase local produce. If the products aren’t clearly marked, ask the management what is locally grown. If you can’t afford organic, you may at least be able to afford local and then clean the produce at home.

Another way to eat sustainably from the grocery store is to cut down on your food waste. Set up your apartment homestead compost unit and dispose of your food scraps there. Then, use that compost in your patio or indoor garden.

Remember also to be conscious of your trash production. When you purchase produce from the grocery store or buy in bulk in the organic sections, make sure you have your reusable bags and avoid plastic and cardboard containers as much as possible.

Healthy, Budget-Friendly, and Sustainable Food Prep

One way you can be sure you’re saving money, eating healthy, and tracking exactly where every part of your meal is coming from is to cook meals at home.

My favorite recipes are the simple ones: roasting vegetables in the oven on a sheet pan, freezing fresh frozen fruit and making smoothies, or baking a whole chicken and using it for chicken quesadillas, chicken salad, and chicken soup throughout the week.

If you keep it simple, you’ll be more likely to stick to your health-food plan, your budget, and your commitment to sustainability.

Meal Plan to Waste Not

If you don’t have one yet, create a weekly meal plan. Consider seasonal produce, evaluate what food your garden is producing now or what you have left of your garden preserves, and check ads for anything you have to purchase from local vendors or from the grocery store.

Make sure your meal plan doesn’t stretch your budget. Cheap, healthy meals are easiest to come by when you prepare them yourself at home, but if you’re still strapped, consider these tips for creating a budget-friendly, healthy, and sustainable meal plan:

  • Eat less meat. Refer to my post on conserving fuel in your apartment homestead for more reasons to go meatless.
  • Eat less dairy. Animal products are expensive to produce—especially organically.
  • Substitute half of your meat each week with vegetable proteins like beans and lentils.
  • Buy in bulk when you can and preserve the products for future use. (For example, buy a whole chicken, bake it, and shred it. Store serving sizes of it in individual—reusable—containers and freeze whatever you don’t use that week for future meals.)
  • Double your recipes and freeze your leftovers for an easy go-to meal when you’re strapped for time or lack the motivation to cook a fresh meal. It’s easy to cave and go to a restaurant when you’re feeling unmotivated to cook, and that lack of motivation will cost you money and sustainability.
  • Make sure you preserve the food you buy so that it lasts as long as it possibly can. Use raw vegetables and fruit early in the week so they don’t go bad, or freeze what you won’t use right away. Research ways to keep produce, nuts, dairy, etc., fresher longer and implement those practices in your kitchen.

“Healthy,” “Sustainable,” and “Budget-Friendly” are three terms that can easily go together with a little bit of planning and a commitment to the process.

In the next post in the Apartment Homesteader series, we’ll talk about ways to set up your apartment compost system so your food scraps can help feed your garden and help you produce more of your own food in your apartment homestead. Stay tuned!

 

References

https://wellnessmama.com/28/diy-fruit-and-vegetable-wash/

https://www.cornucopia.org/2015/03/10-ways-to-eat-organic-on-a-budget/

https://www.ewg.org/tapwater/?gclid=Cj0KCQjwvOzOBRDGARIsAICjxoeqqHpeY0WWZKuzuyFzeiDKOG5P37Qb_jyjmTkgIqrqKoQQYR7J9DMaAstFEALw_wcB#.WdwzJ9OGMfE

http://3ewellness.com/

https://www.youngliving.com/en_US

https://foodbabe.com/2013/05/20/how-to-eat-organic-on-a-budget/

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Homemade Apple Cider Vinegar, the Easy Way—With 29 Uses

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Making apple cider vinegar is a topic that is well-documented on various sites across the Internet. When I searched searched for recipes online, I found a wealth of information—covering how to make cider from fresh organic apples, how to transform that cider into hard cider (with many warnings to keep it out of reach of any alcoholics in the household) and, finally, how to allow the cider to go from alcohol to vinegar.

Making cider from fresh fall apples, as is recommended, can take up to six months from start to finish.

At the time that I wanted to do this, fall apples were not in season, and I was really looking for the quickest, easiest technique I could find. I opted to make my homemade apple cider vinegar using the “path of least resistance,” and here is how I did it:

How to Make Homemade Apple Cider Vinegar, the Easy Way

clean-jar-and-apple-ciderAny large vessel should work for this fermentation project. Stick to glass or pottery; avoid plastic and metal.

Some time ago, a friend of mine was getting rid of unneeded items from her kitchen. She had two large Lipton Sun Tea jars that she thought I could put to use. I have a policy of accepting things that other people want to give me, so I took the jars home with me and started thinking about how I could use them.

When I started researching the method to make my own apple cider vinegar, I realized that these big jars would make the perfect vessel—so I dusted one of them off and headed to the store for some cider.

  1. jar-of-apple-cider-covered-with-cheese-clothI bought the cheapest, no-frills bottle of apple cider that I could find.
  2. After sterilizing my big glass jar, I poured the cider in and covered the mouth of the jar with cheesecloth, secured in place with a strong rubber band.
  3. I placed the jar in the cabinet above my stove to allow it to ferment in a warm, but not too warm, dark place.
  4. fermenting-apple-cider-vinegarVinegar can take between two to four weeks on average to complete the fermentation process. You can begin taste testing your fermenting apple cider after a few days and throughout the process until you are satisfied with the quality of your vinegar.
  5. At that point, you will want to put the vinegar into bottles or jars that you have designated for the storage of your finished product. In a sealed container, you can store your vinegar in the refrigerator indefinitely.

If you are anything like I am, you probably have a motley assortment of jars and bottles that you have saved and you will have plenty of ways to store your batch of vinegar. My grandmother’s oft-quoted motto of, “Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without” is my guideline, so there are always jars, bottles, and containers aplenty in my home.

step 6 ready jars for bottlingI found that homemade apple cider vinegar is easy to make. The hardest part of making the vinegar was waiting for it to finish fermentation.

The next time I make vinegar, I will opt for creating my own organic cider from fresh fall apples and turning that cider into apple cider vinegar.

29 Uses for Homemade Apple Cider Vinegar

Health and Wellness

  • Take a tablespoonful daily in eight ounces of water as a preventative against colds and flu. It works, people. Just give it a try.
  • When battling gastroenteritis, also known as stomach flu, take a tablespoonful in eight ounces of water several times a day.
  • When battling diarrhea, take a tablespoonful in eight ounces of water several times a day. Don’t argue about it like my husband and kids do—just take it. You will be glad you did!
  • Treat sunburn by soaking a washcloth in undiluted vinegar and applying directly to the burned area of skin. Let the dampened cloth lie on the skin for 5-10 minutes. You will smell like a salad, but your sunburn won’t hurt!
  • Taking vinegar in the same dosage as for flu can help reduce joint pain and is safer than taking anti-inflammatory medicines.

Household

  • Clean and deodorize after pet accidents by spraying the carpet with a solution of 50 percent vinegar to 50 percent water. First, blot up any liquid, then soak carpet with vinegar water. After five minutes, blot the area thoroughly and allow to dry. Once dry, there should be no odor.
  • Clean and deodorize after the toddler’s potty training accidents, following the same process as is used to clean up pet accidents. Pets and toddlers do have some interesting similarities!
  • Use vinegar and water to clean glass and mirrors in a ratio of one part vinegar to eight parts water.
  • Adding 1/2 cup of vinegar to the last rinse cycle of your wash load will help to soften clothes and control static cling.
  • Adding vinegar to the last rinse cycle also helps to reduce lint buildup on clothes and keeps pet hair from sticking to clothes. We all love our pets, but no one wants to wear the evidence of having pets on their clothing.
  • Vinegar can aid in removing stubborn stains such as coffee and tea. Soak the stain in a solution of 1/3 cup vinegar to 2/3 cup of water. After soaking, hang items out in sun until dry.
  • Full strength vinegar can remove stubborn mildew stains from clothing.
  • Use a mixture of 50 percent vinegar to 50 percent water as a stain treatment before washing any items that are stained. Keep this near the washer in a spray bottle. This solution costs way less than name-brand stain removers and contains no petrochemicals.

Beauty Treatments

  • Apple cider vinegar is a great hair conditioner. Mix with water in a one-to-one ratio in an old shampoo or conditioner bottle. Apply to hair and allow to sit for a couple minutes, then rinse.
  • Rinse it through hair to detangle and reduce frizziness.
  • Rinsed through hair, it helps control dry, itchy scalps due to the antifungal and antibacterial properties of the vinegar.
  • Use apple cider vinegar as a face wash. Mix one tablespoonful of vinegar to a cup of water and apply to facial skin using a cotton ball. Apple cider vinegar-water is naturally antibacterial and deep cleans pores. Follow with a moisturizer suited to your skin type.

Dog Treatments

  • Apple cider vinegar can help restore proper pH to your dog’s system. If your dog is itchy, scratches constantly, is losing fur, or is stinky, adding a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar twice a day to his or her food can help relieve the misery. You can increase the dose up to a tablespoonful a day if you are not seeing results at a lower dosage.
  • Apple cider vinegar is also useful for preventing ear infections in dogs. Apply a few drops inside your dog’s ears following a bath.
  • Spraying your dog after a bath with a 50/50 vinegar-water mixture and allowing him or her to air dry can help kill fleas, ticks, and ringworm.
  • Adding one teaspoon of apple cider vinegar to your dog’s drinking water can help reduce or eliminate the tear stains that light-colored pets often get by their eyes.
  • Apple cider vinegar added to a dog’s water can help to eliminate urinary problems.

Cat Treatments

  • Apple cider vinegar used in a 50/50 vinegar-water mixture can be applied to cats with pink eye to clear the infection.
  • Apple cider vinegar in a 50/50 vinegar-water water mixture can be wiped on a cat’s paws and applied to its neck to combat the urinary tract infections that cats seem to be prone to having. Adding vinegar to a cat’s water can treat the UTI, but cats can be finicky about the way their food and water taste and may avoid drinking the water. Applying the mixture to the paws makes them ingest it as they clean their paws. Do this twice a day for best results.

Horse Treatments

• Apple cider vinegar can be used to treat horses who have urinary tract stones by adding 1/2 to one cup of vinegar to six gallons of water.
• Treat hoof rot by soaking your horse’s hooves in apple cider vinegar two to three times a day.
• Treat your horse’s dry skin and dandruff by adding up to 1/2 cup of apple cider vinegar to your horse’s feed daily.
• Adding apple cider vinegar to your horse’s feed and water can help combat fly problems.
• It is effective in relieving painful joints in horses. Add up to 1/2 cup to your horse’s feed daily.

As with any information you read, it is your responsibility to do your research and evaluate the use of apple cider vinegar for yourself, your household, and your pets. I do not claim to be a medical professional or a veterinarian, nor do I play one on television, but I can tell you that I have used apple cider vinegar at home for myself, my family, and my pets with great success for the past twenty years at least.

Because my family and I survive and actually thrive on a tight budget, I have made it my mission to find ways to run my home as inexpensively as I can, while maintaining or improving our quality of life.

I also have a philosophy of thinking for the long term as my husband and I grow older, to find ways of keeping our spending low as our income decreases.

Using natural products such as apple cider vinegar has been a boon to our health and our budget, and I hope you will find similar results for yourself!

TGN Bi-Weekly Newsletter

(This is an updated version of a post that was originally published on September 6, 2015.)

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Health Care Alternatives: A DIRE Need

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Remember last year when I ended up in the hospital due to an abscessed salivary duct?

I had tried treating it with home medicine, and finally got to the point where I knew I was out of my depth.

I was weak, in pain, and having more and more difficulty swallowing.

It was time to go to the hospital.

Unfortunately, but not surprisingly, my hospital experience wasn’t the best. (You can read about it in previous Inside Editions here and here … and if you’re not a sponsor yet, but want to stand shoulder to shoulder with us in spreading the word about the power of backyard food and medicine production to improve health and heal the planet, click here.)

The abscess was caused by a small stone that was stuck in the duct, blocking the flow of saliva. The hospital treated the infection, but wasn’t able to remove the stone while I was there because the inflammation was so intense.

My ear, nose, and throat doctor said I should give it a few months, then get the stone surgically removed.

I was about to start the process of scheduling the surgery this spring when, in the midst of prepping my garden beds and shoveling a bunch of compost, the same salivary duct got infected and abscessed. Again.

When it happened last fall, I had wanted to visit Shifu, a Chinese doctor who’s a genius with alternative medicine and who offices out in the forest near me.

He wasn’t available at the time—but thankfully, he was able to see me this spring. I told him I needed him to lance the abscess. Shifu examined me, and shook his head.

“No. Not going to lance,” he said. “I do acupuncture.” (His English is not nearly as good as his medicine!)

Well, my hospital stay was no picnic, and I wasn’t eager to repeat the experience later when the still-present stone decided to act up again. So, I argued with him.

“No. No. It needs to be lanced.”

But he insisted.

The long and short of it is that, 15 minutes and 10 acupuncture needles later, he sent me home with some herbs. Three days later, the whole abscess had just dissipated. It was gone.

My hospital stay was super-expensive. We have a high deductible insurance plan, so it was $5,000 out of pocket for me. And, honestly, I’m still paying those hospital bills. (Not to mention all the time it took me to recover my good gut flora after they killed it all off with antibiotics—and who knows what else they did to my body with that toxic, radioactive injection prior to the CT scan!)

Then, this time, I was able to visit this old Chinese man out in the woods. He charged me $95 … the abscess cleared up … and my gut flora are still intact!

Even more remarkable was what happened a few days later … .

I tell the whole story in my next video chapter of Grow: All True Wealth Comes From the Ground.

Bottom line? Industrial medicine has its place, but alternative forms of treatment can be just as effective nine times out of ten.

And the world needs access to them in a serious way.

What if you could provide them with that access, and achieve financial freedom at the same time?

You’ll learn more about that in this video, too.

Then, I’d love to hear about your experiences with alternative medicine, and your perspectives on the issue of redeveloping health care.

Would you leave me a comment below?

Huge thanks!

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8 Ways to Detox Your Personal Care Regime

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So you’ve decided to become an apartment homesteader; are already making consistent lifestyles changes to limit your personal use of water, electricity, and fuel; and have committed to producing less trash.

You. Go. *Virtual high five!*

But there is even more to the homesteader’s life than conservation.

In this post in the Apartment Homesteader series, I want to consider preservation.

Preservation comes in many forms. Today, let’s talk about how you can preserve your health by removing harsh, nasty, human-made chemicals from your homestead personal care cabinet and making your own natural alternatives.

Let’s Talk Toxins …

Toxic chemicals are everywhere: in our water, our air, our food, and the products we purchase.

We can’t always avoid them when they show up in our food, water, or air, but we can make a concerted effort to avoid them in the personal care products we buy!

What are the toxic chemicals in common products? What makes them dangerous?

We can group the chemical “yuck” into three categories:

  • Carcinogens: Chemicals that can potentially cause cancer
  • Neurotoxins: Chemicals that mess with our brain
  • Endocrine Disruptors: Chemicals that mimic and mess up our hormones

Every time one of these chemicals gets into our blood stream, we risk damaged cells and organs.

Makeup

Ladies, listen up: the makeup we wear contains some seriously terrifying chemicals!

Did you know that the average American woman puts over 80 different types of chemicals on her face, in her hair, or on her skin before breakfast?

How insane is that?!

And all of those chemicals are absorbed into our skin and enter our blood stream … which means that, just because we put eye shadow, lipstick, and a few other cosmetics on our faces this morning, we potentially have over 80 toxic chemicals coursing through our veins RIGHT NOW.

If you read the ingredient lists of the makeup you buy, you’ll likely come across some or all of the following chemicals with some frequency: phthalates, lead, quaternium-15 and other formaldehyde-releasing preservatives, PEG compounds, BHT, BHA, parabens, octinoxate, carbon black, siloxanes … and more.

  • Phthalates are a group of chemicals that may be disruptive to the endocrine system, which is responsible for hormone production. Chemical interference in your endocrine system can lead to developmental, reproductive, and neurological damage. Where would you find phthalates? They’re used to plasticize products, making them more flexible or better able to hold color and scent. But just because “phthalates” don’t show up on an ingredient list doesn’t mean they’re not in there. These chemicals can be grouped under and listed as “fragrance.” Companies claim their fragrance formulas as “trade secrets,” which is their fancy way of telling us they don’t want us to know what they put in their makeup. Your best bet is to avoid products that list “fragrance” and choose ones that use natural plant oils.
  • Lead is a proven neurotoxin linked to miscarriage, reduced fertility, and delays in the onset of puberty for females. To find it, look no further than your lipstick, as color additives are a common source of lead in makeup. And, you know it’s true: every time you wear lipstick, you’ll end up ingesting some of it.
  • Quaternium-15 releases formaldahyde. It is used in mascara, pressed powders, and eyeliners. It is a potential carcinogen and can cause skin sensitivities and irritation.
  • Parabens are dangerous. They are the most widely used chemical preservatives in cosmetics, and they easily penetrate your skin and are absorbed into your blood stream. Parabens can mimic estrogen and have been detected in human breast cancer tissue.

Skin Care

Raise your hand if you have a skin care product in your bathroom right now that is labeled as “anti-aging.”

You do?

Well, sorry to break it to you, but the chemicals in your anti-aging lotions and creams may kill you before you have a chance to show off your “younger-looking” skin.

First up, the one we already saw in makeup: parabens. Parabens are used in over-the-counter personal products as a preservative to extend the shelf life of the product. These chemicals can be found in face and body moisturizers, body wash, and cleansers.

Also in makeup: phthalates. These have been classified as a “probable human carcinogen” by the Environmental Protection Agency.

Almost all skin care products contain synthetic substances that are petroleum based. Petrochemicals have been shown to cause anemia, kidney degeneration, and nerve damage.

You should also make it a habit to avoid cosmetic fragrance. The smell of that “lavender-scented” lotion is made from about 2 percent lavender “essence” and 98 percent … other stuff. And if the fragrance is completely artificial, expect it to be made from petroleum or coal.

These cheap, synthetic chemicals mimic the aroma of natural fragrances. Companies use them because they are cheaper than pure, natural scents, which only come from essential oils.

Hair Care

Lotions and potions for hair care are also laden with chemicals. Two biggies are sodium lauryl sulfate and sodium laureth sulfate, which in combination with other chemicals can form nitrosamines, a truly awful carcinogen. Exposure to these chemicals can cause eye damage, depression, diarrhea, and more.

A toxic chemical that shows up in hair dyes is coal tar. A byproduct of coal processing, coal tar is a known human carcinogen. Extended exposure to coal tar can cause mild dermatitis, vision issues, headaches, dizziness, and labored breathing.

Propylene glycol is a chemical used in styling gels, conditioners, and shampoos … and you might also recognize it as the active ingredient in antifreeze. Propylene glycol can cause brain, liver, and kidney abnormalities.

Antiperspirants 

In addition to parabens—the endocrine disruptors—aluminum compounds are often found in antiperspirants. Some studies indicate that they might promote cancer and mess with your hormones.

Another chemical, silica, is a skin irritant and may be contaminated with a carcinogen, which means it could be capable of increasing your cancer risk.

Catch the drift here?

The chemicals found in most makeup, skin, hair, and antiperspirant products on the market can cause more problems than they are created to fix.

When we lather on lotion, style our hair with gel, paint our faces with liquid foundation, and coat our armpits with aluminum-filled antiperspirants, we’re spending thousands of dollars to toxify our bodies and, potentially, permanently damage our health.

DIY for the Win!

But there is another option: DIY the heck out of your personal care products! By making your personal care products yourself, you can know exactly what goes in and exactly what will be absorbed by your skin.

Below, you’ll find recipes for eight common personal-care products you can make using a few simple, natural ingredients — and they won’t even break the bank!

I recommend that you include certain essential oils in each of the recipes below. Make sure you use only therapeutic-grade, 100 percent pure essential oils. (The term “therapeutic grade” is not regulated, but you a better shot at getting high-quality essential oils if you look for that label.) Essential oils can help oxygenate your blood, move nutrients into your cells, and promote detoxification. Plus, they smell awesome.

Store all of these products in dark glass containers (think amber/brown or blue) in a mostly cool, dark place—like your shower or your bathroom cabinet.

Facial Scrub

1/2 c. baking soda
3/4 c. coconut oil (solid at room temperature)
10 drops of essential oil (e.g., frankincense, lavender, tea tree)

Mix all ingredients together in a bowl until you have a gritty paste consistency. Transfer to an airtight glass container. Use the paste to wash your face in the shower or over the sink.

Shampoo

1 c. Dr. Bronner’s Pure Castile Liquid Soap (unscented)
1 c. organic coconut milk
10 drops essential oil (e.g., lemongrass, tea tree, orange)

Pour all ingredients into a glass container with a pump top. Shake well before using.

Body Soap

2/3 c. Dr. Bronner’s Pure Castile Liquid Soap (unscented)
1/4 c. raw honey
2 tsp. olive oil (can be substituted with sweet almond, grape seed, or sesame oil)
1 tsp. vitamin E oil
20 drops essential oil (e.g., lavender, tea tree, lemongrass, frankincense)

Pour ingredients into a glass container with a pump top. Shake well before using.

Body and Face Lotion

1 c. coconut oil (solid at room temperature)
1 tbsp. vitamin E oil
10 drops essential oil (e.g., lavender, frankincense)

Mix all ingredients and transfer to an airtight glass container. Lotion will melt when it comes into contact with your skin, so use less than you think is necessary at first. A little will go a long way when the coconut oil turns to liquid!

Toothpaste

1/2 c. baking soda
1/2 c. coconut oil
1/4 c. sea salt
10 drops essential oil (e.g., peppermint, cinnamon)

Mix all ingredients and transfer to an airtight glass container. Use 1/2 tsp. of paste every time you brush your teeth.

Beard Oil

1/3 c. olive oil or fractionated coconut oil
10 drops essential oil (e.g., cedarwood, sandalwood, orange, rosemary, peppermint)

Pour ingredients into a glass container with a dropper top. Shake gently to mix. Use 2–3 drops daily for healthy facial hair.

Roller-Bottle Perfume for Women

Fill a glass roller bottle 3/4 full with distilled water. Fill half of the remaining space with vodka (to enhance the aroma). Add 5–10 drops of your favorite essential oils. (I recommend ylang ylang, frankincense, and copaiba.)

Roller-Bottle Cologne for Men

Fill a glass roller bottle 3/4 full with distilled water. Fill half of the remaining space with vodka (to enhance the aroma). Add 5–10 drops of your favorite essential oils. (I recommend cedarwood, cinnamon bark, and copaiba.)

Other Products

You don’t have to stop there! There are plenty of other products you can make with inexpensive, natural ingredients and essential oils:

  • Hand soap
  • Laundry detergent
  • Mouthwash
  • Hair spray
  • Hair detangling spray
  • Hair styling putty
  • Deodorant
  • Makeup
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Lip balm
  • Lip scrub
  • Hair rinse
  • Hair conditioner
  • Salves
  • Acne treatment
  • Face masks
  • Sunscreen
  • Bug spray
  • Shaving cream

If you find a recipe for one of these products that you love, be sure to comment below and share it with your fellow homesteaders.

Together, we will work hard to live toxin-free lives!

28 Days to Clean Challenge

Do you want to really commit to good, clean living? See if you can do the 28 Days to Clean Challenge!

  • Week 1: Replace all skin care products with natural DIY alternatives.
  • Week 2: Replace all hair care products with natural DIY alternatives.
  • Week 3: Replace all makeup, deodorant, and specialty items (e.g., sunscreen, bug spray) with natural DIY alternatives.
  • Week 4: Replace all household cleaners with DIY alternatives.

References

https://www.diynatural.com/homemade-body-wash/
https://www.annmariegianni.com/toxic-chemicals-in-makeup-industry/
https://www.madefromearth.com/harmful-ingredients-skincare-products.html
https://www.vitacost.com/blog/bath-beauty/4-toxic-chemicals-to-avoid-in-hair-care-products.html
http://www.organics.org/7-harmful-ingredients-in-your-deodorant/
https://wholenewmom.com/health-concerns/its-easy-to-be-green-18-homemade-natural-personal-care-products/

 

The post 8 Ways to Detox Your Personal Care Regime appeared first on The Grow Network.

30+ Cancer-Fighting Foods

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Last month, the idea that cancer is a victim’s disease and that people are powerless to prevent it received yet another blow.

A World Cancer Research Fund/American Institute for Cancer Research (WCRF/AICR) analysis of 99 studies and nearly 30 million people with colorectal cancer gives clear evidence that deep nutrition is a major weapon in the human arsenal against cancer.

It’s just the latest in a long line of scientific studies that prove that people who want to reduce their cancer risk can do so by eating nutrient-dense foods.

Ready to pack your fridge, pantry, and garden with cancer-fighting foods?

The foods on this list are a great place to start:

  • Whole Grains: According to the WCRF/AICR report, whole grains contain a veritable cornucopia of anticancer properties—from dietary fiber that can, among other things, help prevent insulin resistance, to a variety of compounds such as selenium, lignans, and vitamin E that “have plausible anti-carcinogenic properties.”1http://www.wcrf.org/sites/default/files/CUP%20Colorectal%20Report_2017_Digital.pdf
  • Green Foods: Chlorophyll-rich foods like wheatgrass, spirulina, and arugula help purify the blood and detoxify the system. There is also evidence that chlorophyll may block the carcinogenic effects of certain cancer-causing chemicals.2http://lpi.oregonstate.edu/infocenter/phytochemicals/chlorophylls/index.html#biological_ activity
  • Cruciferous Vegetables: Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli contain glucosinolates, which the body breaks down into indoles and isothiocyanates, known cancer-fighting compounds.3https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/causes-prevention/risk/diet/cruciferous-vegetables-fact-sheet
  • Nuts and Seeds: Powerhouses of micronutrients, nuts and seeds also contain healthy fats that improve the bioavailability of cancer-fighting nutrients in other foods. In fact, if you pair them with green vegetables, you’ll absorb 10 times more anticarcinogens than you would if you ate your veggies alone.4https://tv.greenmedinfo.com/top-5-cancer-prevention-foods-dr-joel-fuhrman In addition, flaxseeds and sesame seeds contain cancer-fighting lignans, and black sesame seeds are filled with antioxidants.
  • Garlic: If you’ve read the TGN e-book Garlic: Your First Home Medicine, you probably won’t be surprised to learn that garlic is believed to have anticancer effects, especially on cancers that affect the digestive system.5https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/causes-prevention/risk/diet/garlic-fact-sheet
  • Onions: According to Dr. Joel Fuhrman, best-selling author of Eat to Live, consuming lots of onions can cut a person’s risk of getting major cancers—including breast, colon, prostate, and ovarian—by 50 to 70 percent.6https://tv.greenmedinfo.com/top-5-cancer-prevention-foods-dr-joel-fuhrman
  • Mushrooms: No need to spring for the fancy mushrooms to benefit from the anticancer properties of these fungi. Even the less expensive, more widely available white, cremini, and portobello mushrooms can reduce inflammation, slow the growth of cancer cells, reduce the risk of breast cancer by blocking the production of estrogen—and the list goes on and on!7http://www.huffingtonpost.com/joel-fuhrman-md/gombbs_b_996352.html
  • Berries: Blackberries and blueberries have powerful antioxidant properties. Among other life-giving benefits, they help prevent DNA damage and hinder blood supply to growing cancer cells.8http://www.huffingtonpost.com/joel-fuhrman-md/gombbs_b_996352.html
  • Tomatoes: These lycopene-rich fruits also contain the carotenoids alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, and lutein, plus vitamin E, vitamin C, and potassium. Eat them with healthy fats to increase your body’s ability to absorb tomatoes’ cancer-fighting phytochemicals by two to 15 times.9https://cfaes.osu.edu/news/articles/ohio-state-research-fat-in-avocado-helps-body-absorb-convert-vitamin-nutrients
  • Olives and Genuine Olive Oil: Olives contain an abundance of antioxidants, including squalene and terpenoids.10http://journals.lww.com/eurjcancerprev/Abstract/2004/08000/Olives_and_olive_oil_in_cancer_prevention.12.aspx Olive oil has similar cancer-fighting properties, but if it’s imported, make sure it’s genuine. Several studies within the last few years have shown that a large number of imported “olive oils” are fake or adulterated in some way.11https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2012/jan/04/olive-oil-real-thing
  • Seaweed: With its incredible mix of micronutrients, seaweed is full of the deep nutrition that keeps a body healthy and fuels its fight against cancer. In Chinese medicine, it has long been used to soften hardened tumors.12http://www.greenmedinfo.com/blog/preventing-and-reversing-cancer-naturally-anticancer-diet-shopping-list
  • Turmeric: Chemical compounds in turmeric, known as curcuminoids, are anti-inflammatory and neutralize the free radicals that can cause DNA damage.13https://www.mskcc.org/cancer-care/integrative-medicine/herbs/turmeric
  • Green Tea: Filled with antioxidants, green tea has powerful anticancer properties. It’s been shown to prevent several types of cancer in animal studies, as well as to considerably slow the growth of cancer cells.14http://www.greenmedinfo.com/blog/preventing-and-reversing-cancer-naturally-anticancer-diet-shopping-list
  • Black Pepper: Piperine, a compound found in black pepper, fights cancer at the cellular level and has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, as well. In addition to its standalone cancer-fighting properties, it also seems to improve the bioavailability of the anticancer compounds in substances like turmeric and green tea.15http://www.aicr.org/cancer-research-update/august_21_2013/CRU_spices_cancer_prevention.html
  • Mistletoe: Studies indicate that mistletoe extracts may trigger a cancer-fighting response in the immune system, in addition to improving symptoms and reducing side effects in cancer patients.16https://www.mskcc.org/cancer-care/integrative-medicine/herbs/mistletoe-european
  • Magnolia Bark Extract: Magnolia bark extract contains compounds that have demonstrated anti-inflammatory and anticancer properties in animal studies and in the lab. While it has not been evaluated through clinical trials, this herb is commonly used in traditional Chinese medicine.17https://www.mskcc.org/cancer-care/integrative-medicine/herbs/magnolia-officinalis
  • Rosemary: This fragrant herb helps prevent DNA damage and keeps cancer cells from proliferating.18https://www.researchgate.net/publication/6344840_Anti-proliferative_and_antioxidant_properties_of_rosemary_Rosmarinus_officinalis
  • Chili Peppers: Capsaicin, the same compound that makes chili peppers hot, has been shown to significantly slow the growth of prostate cancer tumors in mice. In fact, it caused 4 out of 5 cancer cells to self-destruct in a process called apoptosis.19https://www.cedars-sinai.edu/About-Us/News/News-Releases-2006/Pepper-Component-Hot-Enough-To-Trigger-Suicide-In-Prostate-Cancer-Cells-.aspx
  • Pomegranate: Juice from pomegranate seed pulp has both anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Laboratory studies have shown it to prevent the growth of cancer cells, and results of a human study suggested it has both preventative and therapeutic effects against cancer.20https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16192356
  • Beans, Peas, and Lentils: These nutrient-dense carbohydrates offer a plethora of health benefits, from stabilizing blood sugar to lowering cholesterol. Filled with fiber and resistant starch, intestinal bacteria ferment them into cancer-fighting fatty acids.21http://www.huffingtonpost.com/joel-fuhrman-md/gombbs_b_996352.html

You’ve probably noticed that almost all of the foods on this list would be considered a normal part of a nutritious diet.

In fact, the best diet you can eat to reduce your risk of cancer is the one you’re probably already trying for: rich in vegetables and fruits, whole grains, and healthy fats and proteins.

As you combine a deeply nutritious diet with other cancer fighters like exercise and low levels of stress and environmental toxicity, you’ll be taking your health into your own hands—and that’s exactly where it belongs.

Watch The 3-Day Live Broadcast, Starting October 5:   “The Truth About Cancer – LIVE!”

Want to learn more about preventing and/or treating cancer from the world’s foremost experts?

We want to mention that we’ve received word that our friend, Ty Bollinger, is hosting his critically acclaimed health summit:

“The Truth About Cancer – LIVE.”

… Starting October 5 at 8:30 a.m. EST.

And you’re invited to watch the live broadcast of this 3-day event for FREE.

Experts will be sharing their most advanced, front-line information about healing and preventing cancer and other chronic diseases…

Register early to make sure you get a spot.

Click Here To Register To Attend.

References   [ + ]

1. http://www.wcrf.org/sites/default/files/CUP%20Colorectal%20Report_2017_Digital.pdf
2. http://lpi.oregonstate.edu/infocenter/phytochemicals/chlorophylls/index.html#biological_ activity
3. https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/causes-prevention/risk/diet/cruciferous-vegetables-fact-sheet
4, 6. https://tv.greenmedinfo.com/top-5-cancer-prevention-foods-dr-joel-fuhrman
5. https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/causes-prevention/risk/diet/garlic-fact-sheet
7, 8, 21. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/joel-fuhrman-md/gombbs_b_996352.html
9. https://cfaes.osu.edu/news/articles/ohio-state-research-fat-in-avocado-helps-body-absorb-convert-vitamin-nutrients
10. http://journals.lww.com/eurjcancerprev/Abstract/2004/08000/Olives_and_olive_oil_in_cancer_prevention.12.aspx
11. https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2012/jan/04/olive-oil-real-thing
12, 14. http://www.greenmedinfo.com/blog/preventing-and-reversing-cancer-naturally-anticancer-diet-shopping-list
13. https://www.mskcc.org/cancer-care/integrative-medicine/herbs/turmeric
15. http://www.aicr.org/cancer-research-update/august_21_2013/CRU_spices_cancer_prevention.html
16. https://www.mskcc.org/cancer-care/integrative-medicine/herbs/mistletoe-european
17. https://www.mskcc.org/cancer-care/integrative-medicine/herbs/magnolia-officinalis
18. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/6344840_Anti-proliferative_and_antioxidant_properties_of_rosemary_Rosmarinus_officinalis
19. https://www.cedars-sinai.edu/About-Us/News/News-Releases-2006/Pepper-Component-Hot-Enough-To-Trigger-Suicide-In-Prostate-Cancer-Cells-.aspx
20. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16192356

The post 30+ Cancer-Fighting Foods appeared first on The Grow Network.

Top 25+ Cancer-Causing Foods

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There’s a lot of controversy surrounding cancer and what causes it, but everyone seems to agree on at least one thing:

Treating cancer is expensive. Preventing it can be a lot cheaper.

Nearly 1.6 million Americans faced a cancer diagnosis in 2014 (the most recent year for which numbers are available),1https://nccd.cdc.gov/USCSDataViz/rdPage.aspx with a cost of care that, in some cases, ranged upwards of $115,000.2https://costprojections.cancer.gov/annual.costs.html

Yet, while study after study has shown that diet plays a major role in whether a person gets cancer, and that people tend to make healthier food choices when they’re eating at home,3https://www.usda.gov/media/press-releases/2014/01/16/american-adults-are-choosing-healthier-foods-consuming-healthier Americans allocate less money toward food consumed at home than pretty much anyone else in the world. For example, according to the USDA’s Economic Research Service,4https://www.ers.usda.gov/data-products/food-expenditures.aspx we spend 6.4 percent of our income on eating at home, while the Finnish spend twice that and the Venezuelans spend triple that percentage.

And it’s not just people in other countries who spend more of their income on food. Our grandparents did, too. Back in 1960, Americans spent about 17.5 percent of their income on all food—including what they ate at home and what they ate out. Now, we spend about 10 percent of our income on eating, regardless of where it takes place.5http://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2015/03/02/389578089/your-grandparents-spent-more-of-their-money-on-food-than-you-do

These numbers represent a disturbing shift in our national mindset. We’ve moved from a time when soils were healthier and food was more nutritious and generally less processed—but more expensive—to the present day, when the soils used in commercial agriculture are more depleted, the produce grown in them is less nutritious, and widely available foods are more processed—but also more affordable.

Simply put, Americans are not used to paying what high-quality food costs anymore.

Even people with access to sustainably produced, locally grown food via a farmer’s market, natural grocery store, or CSA often struggle with the cost. These products are more expensive to grow or raise—and therefore more expensive to buy.

But even though processed, packaged foods are sometimes cheaper than their sustainably produced, whole-food alternatives, their true cost can be astronomical.

According to Dr. Raymond Francis, author of Never Fear Cancer Again, disease has only two possible causes: toxicity and malnutrition.

The foods that increase cancer risk often contribute to both.

The bottom line is that we can pay more now for healthier foods and the deeper nutrition and reduced toxicity that come with them—whether we’re paying financially or, if we’re backyard food producers, through an investment of time and energy—or we can pay more later to treat the diseases that can stem from malnutrition and toxicity. As one young TEDx speaker, Birke Baehr, put it back in 2011, “We can either pay the farmer, or we can pay the hospital.”6https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SvVZwJbs54c

In the end, one of the best ways to reduce your risk of cancer is by eating the diet we all know we should—filled with high-quality vegetables, fruits, whole grains, proteins, and healthy fats.

If you’re not quite there yet, and you’re interested in reducing your risk of cancer by cleaning up your diet, the following list of carcinogenic (or potentially carcinogenic) foods is a good place to start. You can improve your health even further by replacing them with foods from our list of 30+ Cancer-Fighting Foods.

One final note: As you read this list, remember the old adage that “the dose makes the poison.” Even water, which everyone would agree is absolutely essential for life, can kill you if you drink too much at once.7https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/strange-but-true-drinking-too-much-water-can-kill While it’s best to avoid these foods on a consistent basis, most of them probably won’t hurt you if they’re consumed every once in a while. After all, what’s a BLT without the bacon?

  • Sugar: Cancer has a favorite food. It’s sugar. Without it, cancer cells can’t grow and spread—in fact, they need almost 50 times more sugar to function than regular cells, according to Dr. Nasha Winters, author of The Metabolic Approach to Cancer. In addition, up to 80 percent of cancers are fueled by glucose and insulin, in one way or another.8http://www.greenmedinfo.com/article/recent-observations-indicate-cancer-cells-readily-utilize-fructose-support-proliferation-and It’s easy to see why too much sugar in the diet is a very bad thing. In fact, the less refined sugar, the better!
  • Alcoholic Beverages: Our bodies turn the ethanol in alcoholic drinks into acetaldehyde, a known carcinogen. In addition to damaging the body’s DNA and keeping cells from being able to perform repairs, alcohol also increases estrogen levels in the blood (a contributor to breast cancer), prevents the body from absorbing several nutrients, and may contain carcinogenic contaminants.9https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/causes-prevention/risk/alcohol/alcohol-fact-sheet#q3 It should be noted, however, that red wine contains resveratrol, a substance that has been shown to have anticancer properties.10https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28123566 While the substance itself has been widely studied, only a few studies have looked at whether drinking red wine reduces a person’s cancer risk.
  • Tobacco: This one’s no surprise. While tobacco is lovely when used for plant gratitude, and Native American cultures believe it offers its own gift of interpretation to help with disputes, it can wreak havoc on a person’s body when it’s smoked or chewed. Smoking tobacco, inhaling secondhand smoke, or using smokeless tobacco—whether chewing tobacco or snuff—all put loads of carcinogenic chemicals into your body.11https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/causes-prevention/risk/tobacco/cessation-fact-sheet
  • Processed Meats: Defined as any meat that’s been preserved through curing, being salted or smoked, or by other means, processed meats include bacon, hot dogs, sausage, and lunch meats including corned beef, salami, pepperoni, capocollo, bologna, mortadella, and ham. They are categorized by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) as “carcinogenic to humans.”12https://www.iarc.fr/en/media-centre/pr/2015/pdfs/pr240_E.pdf Scientists suspect that the nitrite preservatives contained in processed meats are what causes the harm. The body can convert these nitrites into N-nitroso compounds (NOCs), which damage cells in the bowel lining. To heal the damage, cells replicate more often, which in turn provides more opportunities for DNA replication errors.
  • Red Meat: Beef, lamb, and pork contain heme iron, a naturally occurring red pigment that helps form carcinogenic compounds in the body and has toxic effects on cells and genes.13http://cancerpreventionresearch.aacrjournals.org/content/4/2/177 It’s important to note that, in their research, scientists are lumping industrially produced red meat together with meat from animals raised on a natural, healthy diet. There’s no discussion in the scientific community on whether meat of healthier animals—such as cows fed and finished on grass—has the same negative effects.
  • Charred Meats: Grilling meat at high temperatures can produce heterocyclic amines and polycyclic amines, both of which can increase a person’s risk of developing cancer.14http://www.cancerresearchuk.org/about-cancer/causes-of-cancer/diet-and-cancer/how-healthy-eating-prevents-cancer
  • Salt-Preserved Foods: In addition to the processed, salt-cured meats mentioned above, this category includes salted fish and some pickled vegetables. The IARC lists Chinese-style salted fish as carcinogenic, but hasn’t yet made a determination on whether other types of salted fish increase the risk of cancer in humans.
  • Coffee: Is it, or isn’t it? Thanks to a recent lawsuit, coffee’s been in the news lately. At issue is the fact that roasting coffee beans causes the formation of acrylamide, a naturally occurring substance that has the potential to interact with DNA.15http://www.newsweek.com/fear-coffee-causes-cancer-prompts-california-add-warning-labels-672831?yptr=yahoo Coffee isn’t the only culprit, though. Acrylamide develops in many foods when they are cooked at high temperatures for a long time (think baking, frying, and toasting, in addition to roasting). This year, the United Kingdom’s Food Standards Agency launched a “Go for Gold” campaign to encourage people to avoid overcooking foods—thus minimizing the creation of acrylamide—by aiming for a finished color of golden yellow or lighter.16https://www.food.gov.uk/news-updates/news/2017/15890/reduce-acrylamide-consumption Despite the fact that coffee contains acrylamides, the popular beverage offers several other health benefits. So many, actually, that the American Institute for Cancer Research includes coffee on its list of Foods That Fight Cancer.
  • Areca nuts: About 10 percent of the world’s population still chews this addictive berry. It’s been shown to have several ill effects on the body, and is linked to numerous cancers.17https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4080659
  • Artificial Sweeteners: According to M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, the link between artificial sweeteners and cancer is inconclusive—but possible. Since some studies have shown a correlation between the two in lab animals, the current recommendation is to avoid artificial sweeteners like aspartame and saccharine altogether.18https://www.mdanderson.org/publications/focused-on-health/may-2015/FOH-cancer-love-sugar.html[/note]
  • Toothpaste: Okay, so, technically toothpaste is not a food, but it made this list because it’s ingestible and some formulations may contain disperse blue 1, a dye that’s listed by the IARC as possibly carcinogenic to humans—and that’s also used as a hair and fabric dye.19https://ntp.niehs.nih.gov/ntp/roc/content/profiles/disperseblue1.pdf Worth keeping an eye on!
  • Very Hot Beverages: Studies in cultures where people typically drink their tea or mate at about 149°F (70°C) have found a correlation between very hot beverages and the risk of esophageal cancer. But, unless you keep a thermometer handy when you’re drinking your morning Joe, how are you supposed to know how hot is too hot? Here’s a good rule of thumb: If you have to sip it to be able to drink it, let it cool a bit first.

Watch The 3-Day Live Broadcast, Starting October 5: “The Truth About Cancer – LIVE!”

Want to learn more about preventing and/or treating cancer from the world’s foremost experts?

We want to mention that we’ve received word that our friend, Ty Bollinger, is hosting his critically acclaimed health summit:

“The Truth About Cancer – LIVE.”

… Starting October 5 at 8:30 a.m. EST.

And you’re invited to watch the live broadcast of this 3-day event for FREE.

Experts will be sharing their most advanced, front-line information about healing and preventing cancer and other chronic diseases…

Register early to make sure you get a spot.

Click Here To Register To Attend.

References   [ + ]

1. https://nccd.cdc.gov/USCSDataViz/rdPage.aspx
2. https://costprojections.cancer.gov/annual.costs.html
3. https://www.usda.gov/media/press-releases/2014/01/16/american-adults-are-choosing-healthier-foods-consuming-healthier
4. https://www.ers.usda.gov/data-products/food-expenditures.aspx
5. http://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2015/03/02/389578089/your-grandparents-spent-more-of-their-money-on-food-than-you-do
6. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SvVZwJbs54c
7. https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/strange-but-true-drinking-too-much-water-can-kill
8. http://www.greenmedinfo.com/article/recent-observations-indicate-cancer-cells-readily-utilize-fructose-support-proliferation-and
9. https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/causes-prevention/risk/alcohol/alcohol-fact-sheet#q3
10. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28123566
11. https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/causes-prevention/risk/tobacco/cessation-fact-sheet
12. https://www.iarc.fr/en/media-centre/pr/2015/pdfs/pr240_E.pdf
13. http://cancerpreventionresearch.aacrjournals.org/content/4/2/177
14. http://www.cancerresearchuk.org/about-cancer/causes-of-cancer/diet-and-cancer/how-healthy-eating-prevents-cancer
15. http://www.newsweek.com/fear-coffee-causes-cancer-prompts-california-add-warning-labels-672831?yptr=yahoo
16. https://www.food.gov.uk/news-updates/news/2017/15890/reduce-acrylamide-consumption
17. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4080659
18. https://www.mdanderson.org/publications/focused-on-health/may
19. https://ntp.niehs.nih.gov/ntp/roc/content/profiles/disperseblue1.pdf

The post Top 25+ Cancer-Causing Foods appeared first on The Grow Network.

10 Easy Ways To Take Care Of Your Teeth … Naturally!

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Are you taking care of your teeth? It is one of the single most important preventative measure that you can do yourself. Poor oral health leads to gum disease, facial pain, infections of the mouth, and more serious health problems, including stroke, heart disease, irritable bowel syndrome, kidney disease, diabetes, and oral cancer. According to the ADA, nearly 50% of Americans don’t go to the dentist because of fear, money, or the belief that their mouths are healthy. Here are some easy ways you can care for your teeth, naturally.

From the Inside-Out

A healthy mouth involves your entire body. Your body needs fat-soluble vitamins and minerals to keep your mouth healthy, too.

These minerals and vitamins support the body as a whole but also create more mineral-rich saliva, which is how your body protects your teeth.

Saliva and Oral Health

Saliva is how your body protects your teeth. On a practical level, teeth are remineralized as your saliva washes over your teeth. However, you must have appropriate nutrients in your body, or your saliva will lack the minerals needed to protect and strengthen your teeth.

Watch Your Diet

Eating a balanced diet of fruits, vegetables, meats, and dairy provide you with all of the nutrients that you and your teeth need.

Keep in mind that acidic foods increase the risk of tooth decay because it breaks down the enamel of your teeth and allows bacteria to get into your teeth. You don’t have to avoid acidic foods altogether, but knowing which foods are acidic will help you take control of those portions.

Fruit and Vegetables

Munching on apples, celery sticks, carrots, and peppers make your teeth strong and healthy.

Sesame Seeds

Use sesame seeds as a oral scrub. They gently remove plaque and tartar and don’t damage your teeth. Chew them up, but don’t swallow them.

How to care for your teeth and gums—naturally!

1. Brushing

Your brushing routine is super-important for your overall mouth health. You should brush at least twice-a-day. If you do it properly, brushing should take about two minutes. Do you have problems brushing that long? Set a timer for two minutes to make sure you brush for the appropriate amount of time.

  • Start your brushing routine in the back of your mouth. If you follow the same routine each time, it will become a habit.
  • In order to loosen food debris and plaque that builds up around the gum line, brush in a circular motion downward from the gums.
  • Don’t forget the backsides of your teeth! The back surfaces of all your teeth are just as important as the front. Food and debris can build-up there just as easily.
  • Brushing the biting surface of your teeth will loosen food particles that settle into the indentations.
  • Bacteria builds up on your tongue and the inside of your cheeks. Be sure to brush these areas to promote fresh breath.

2. Floss

There is a lot of controversy over flossing right now. For years, it has been said that “flossing is the most important thing you can do to protect your teeth and gums.” However, many people overlook this simple task or don’t do it correctly.

Now, there is mounting evidence that flossing doesn’t help prevent gum disease.

With that said, there are minimal risks and a lot of potential rewards. So, go ahead and floss!

Use an unwaxed, natural floss to get between your teeth and below the gum line where plaque, food particles, and bacteria hang out.

Note: Petroleum byproduct are used in waxed floss. Also, check the package for the cruelty-free label. You’ll know that no animals were harmed in the production of that floss.

How to Floss

  1. Cut a length of floss that you can wrap around your fingers and still have enough to hold and work in between your teeth with an up-and-down motion.
  2. Curve the base of each tooth in a C-shape and work the floss beneath the gum line. As you move from tooth to tooth, use a clean part of the strand.

Make Your Own Toothpaste

This toothpaste recipe has no fluoride, is safe for children, and those with thyroid problems. Oh and it’s YUMMY, too!

Get the recipe here!

 

take-care-teeth-naturally

3. Drink water

The average American drinks only 2 1/2 cups of water a day. To help you stay hydrated, you need to drink at least 8-8 oz. cups of water each day.

If you are thirsty, you are already dehydrated. Besides keeping your body hydrated, water helps wash away food and bacteria left in your mouth.

Your saliva is produced from water. It neutralizes the acidity in your mouth that erodes tooth enamel and weakens your teeth.

Make it a habit to rinse your mouth or swish with water after every meal. This will help eliminate leftover bits of food and speed up the remineralization process.

Make your own Mouth Wash

In a glass jar, mix 1/2 cup of filtered water, 2 teaspoons of baking soda, 2 drops of tea tree oil, and 3 drops of peppermint essential oil. Shake well. Store in your bathroom cabinet.

To use: Swish 3 teaspoons in your mouth for a minute or two. Try to avoid swallowing it.

Note: Double the recipe if you need a larger batch.

4. Chew xylitol gum

Bacteria love the sugar alcohol in xylitol, but bacteria can’t break it down. The bacteria starve to death. Chewing xylitol gum reduces gum disease and tooth decay successfully. It also promotes saliva production, which increases the antibacterial forces in the mouth. It also promotes saliva production, which increases the antibacterial forces in the mouth.

5. Oil pulling

Oil pulling is an ancient Ayurvedic technique to keep your mouth healthy. Both sesame and coconut oil have antibacterial properties that keep your teeth and gums in tip-top shape. And you’ll also notice that oil pulling naturally whitens your teeth. Do this first thing in the morning.

How to oil pull:

  1. Put 1 tablespoon of sesame or coconut oil in your mouth.
  2. Gently swish it around for 10 to 20 minutes.
  3. Spit it out into the garbage. Avoid gargling or swallowing the oil.
  4. Rinse your mouth with warm water.
  5. Brush your teeth as usual.
  6. Repeat daily, first thing in the morning, on an empty stomach.

You may have to build up to the 20 minutes. At first, I had so much saliva in my mouth along with the oil that I could only swish for a minute or two. Start where you can and build-up to 10 to 20 minutes.

What oil pulling does:

Oil pulling draws out toxins from your body. It is primarily used to keep your teeth, gums, and mouth healthy and improves your overall health.

6. Tongue scraping

Get yourself a tongue scraper. Stainless-steel tongue scrapers, which you can buy online, are much easier to clean.

What it does:

Tongue scraping reduces and removes the bacterial growth on your tongue that leads to bad breath. Removing bacterial growth is good for you because it reduces the likelihood of tooth decay, tooth loss, gum disease, and other oral problems.

How to tongue scrape:

  • Do your tongue scraping first thing in the morning.
  • Watch in a mirror. Place the tongue scraper at the back of your tongue. Pull it to the front edge of your tongue, and discard the build up.
  • Repeat this motion twice.
  • Be gentle! You don’t want to hurt your taste buds.

7. Drink herbal tea

Herbal, red, white, and green tea are excellent after-dinner palate-cleansers. They also have the added benefit of keeping plaque from developing.

 

take-care-teeth-naturally

8. Herbs & Spices

Herbs and spices have long been favored to clean and freshen the breath. Many herbs have antibacterial properties, which help keep your teeth and gums from getting infected.

Cloves
Suck on a whole clove to lessen tooth pain.

Aloe vera
Apply aloe vera gel in small quantities if you have gum inflammation. Be warned, natural aloe gel is extremely bitter tasting.

Turmeric
Keep your gums and teeth healthy and infection-free with turmeric, which contains antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties.

Mix a ¼ teaspoon of turmeric powder and a little bit of water into a paste. Brush your teeth a few times a week to control plaque and prevent gingivitis.

Licorice
According to a 2011 study published in the American Chemical Society’s Journal of Natural Products, scientists discovered that two important compounds in licorice helped kill the major bacteria responsible for tooth decay and gum disease.

Use a soft licorice stick like a toothbrush to remove plaque and tartar.

9. Add supplements

Minerals are very important to overall health, but especially for teeth and gums. Diet alone might be enough, but many foods lack nutrients from being grown in nutrient depleted soil, so supplements help fill the gaps. Check with a medical professional before adding supplements.

  • Vitamins A, C, D, K
  • Magnesium
  • Gelatin
  • Cod Liver Oil

10. Herbal breath fresheners

  • Chew on fresh parsley or mint leaves.
  • Rub your teeth with orange peel to help fight tartar build-up and whiten teeth.
  • Gargle with an old-fashioned solution
    1 cup of water and 2 Tablespoons of apple cider vinegar. Combine and store in a glass jar. Shake well before use. Rinse and repeat every 2-3 days for maximum value.

Do you use any of these natural tooth care techniques? Tell us your story in the comment below.

Resources:

American Dental Association.
U.S. News & World Report. August 2, 2016. David Oliver. Health Buzz: Flossing Doesn’t Actually Work, Report Says. 

 

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Did You Know That 9 out of 10 Adults Have Gum Disease?

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“If you’re over 30 years old, chances are better than 90% that you have some form of gum disease.”
– David Kennedy, DDS – Past President of International Association of Oral Medicine and Toxicology

This is a pretty unsettling little fact, but it is a fact. Ninety percent of adults over 30 have active gum disease. That’s sad when you know that you can prevent gum disease. Signs range from swollen gums to bad breath and bleeding or receding gums to loose teeth. These symptoms are so common that most of us don’t even equate them with gum disease. We just think of it as business as usual in OUR mouth, and go about our daily brushing routines.  But if commercial toothpastes were really effective in preventing gum disease, would 90% of us be walking around with gum disease every day?  I don’t think so.

active-gum-disease

What is gum disease?

The bacteria in your mouth creates a sticky film called plaque that forms around your teeth and gums. If it isn’t removed daily, it will harden and become tartar. Plaque, tartar, and accumulating bacteria irritate and inflame the gums. This is known as gingivitis. When the plaque and tartar begin to form below the gumline your problem has progressed to periodontal disease. The bacterial infection spreads and destroys the gum, teeth, and bone structure. It could result in tooth loss.

Here is the path to prevent gum disease …

Your diet has a lot to do with your mouth health. If you eat acidic, junk, or sugary foods, your teeth and gums are going to have problems. When you eliminate processed foods and increase your oral health, your gums will begin to heal.

Some foods that cause acidity in the body:

  • grains (unsprouted or unfermented)
  • hydrogenated oils
  • sugar
  • some dairy products (low-fat yogurt, cheeses)
  • processed foods
  • Some fish (canned tuna, trout)
  • processed and fatty meats, salami, hot dogs, and corned beef
  • sodas, sweetened beverages, and fruit juices

Foods that help prevent gum disease:

  • Wild-caught fish (salmon, mackerel, and sardines, fish that is high in omega-3s)
  • Fresh veggie juice (helps reduce the inflammation in your body)
  • Chewing gum with Xylitol (xylitol helps prevent the build-up of bacteria)
  • Raw Vegetables and Apples (naturally clean your teeth)
  • Foods high in fat soluble vitamins (raw milk, coconut, beef liver, bone broth, grass-fed animal meat)

Other lifestyle choices to help prevent gum disease:

  • Don’t smoke
  • Chew on garlic (put it in your salads
  • Check your gut.
  • Oil pulling
  • Flossing
  • Make your own Toothpaste or Powder

Simple and Natural Tooth Powder

Ingredients:

  • 3 tablespoons Bentonite Clay
  • 1 tablespoon Baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon Powdered cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon Xylitol powder
  • 2 tablespoon calcium and magnesium powder
  • 10 drops of thieves essential oil
  • 20 drops of peppermint essential oil

Directions:

  1. Mix all ingredients in a non-metallic bowl.
  2. Put your powder in a pint-size glass jar for storage. Use one jar per family member if you’re going to dip your toothbrush into it.

To use: Wet your toothbrush in hot water and dip it into your homemade powder. And BRUSH! Rinse with cool water. The powder can be used daily and is good for kids and adults.

If you’d rather have toothpaste, here is a Simple and Natural toothpaste Recipe.

 

What is your oral health regime? Do you use natural products, homemade, or commercial tooth care? We’d love to hear your story in the comments below.

 

Resources:

Gum Disease Natural Treatments & Causes. Dr. Axe.
Heal Gum Disease In A Week or Less. Natural News.

 

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The post Did You Know That 9 out of 10 Adults Have Gum Disease? appeared first on The Grow Network.

7 Toxins Lurking In Your Toothpaste

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Over your lifetime, you’ll use about 20 gallons of toothpaste. The chemicals in that toothpaste can get into your bloodstream. Even though you don’t swallow it, your mouth can absorb it. Let’s take a look at what’s in your toxic toothpaste.

Toxins In Your Toothpaste

Look on the back of your toothpaste tube. What ingredients are listed? Can you even pronounce them? My thought: If you can’t or struggle to pronounce it, you probably shouldn’t put it in your body.

There are certain risks with a lot of common toothpaste ingredients, even though they are branded as “natural.” The chemicals in your toothpaste are known to cause mental and physical problems, inflammation, and cancer.

Artificial Colors, Flavors, and Sweeteners

Toothpaste often contains artificial colors, flavors, and sweeteners, especially toothpaste branded for children. These are linked to hyperactivity and behavioral problems.

FD&C and D&C dyes are made from petroleum. The term “lake” is a colorant made by combining a pigment with metal salts, usually aluminum, zirconium, titanium, and others.

Aspartame and artificial sweeteners are added to toothpaste to make it taste good. Aspartame in the body breaks down to wood alcohol and formaldehyde. Both of these are stored in your liver or kidneys. They are not eliminated from the body.

Fluoride

I could write an entire article on the dangers of fluoride.

In a 2010 study, researchers found that a beneficial layer of fluorapatite was formed on your teeth from fluoride, but it was only 6 nanometers thick. Let’s put that into perspective—you’d need 10,000 of those layers to be the width of a human hair. The ultra-thin layer disappears as soon as you chew something.

Now consider the toxic nature of fluoride. It is a chemical that accumulates in your tissue over time. It can cause neurological, as well as endocrine system problems.

Triclosan

To fight plaque and gingivitis, Triclosan, an antibacterial chemical is added to toothpaste. However, it has been linked to antibiotic resistance, endocrine disruption, and thyroid dysfunction.

Its chemical makeup is similar to thyroid hormones. Triclosan causes a wide-range of health problems including breast, ovarian, prostate, and testicular cancer, preterm and low birth weight babies, pre-puberty in girls, and undescended testicles in boys.

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate

This harmful chemical is responsible for the foaming action of your toothpaste.

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate has also been linked to skin irritation and canker sores. It is registered as an insecticide. The manufacturer sought approval to market Sodium Lauryl Sulfate as an organic pesticide. The application was denied because of the potential environmental hazard.

Studies have shown that it may have toxic effects on marine life.

Formaldehyde-Releasing Preservatives

Some of the chemicals in toothpaste release formaldehyde—a known carcinogen. These preservatives kill microbes that might grow in the toothpaste.

The preservatives are absorbed into your bloodstream through the lining of your mouth. It can also cause allergic skin reactions.

Here are 10 Formaldehyde-releasing preservatives to watch out for:

  • DMDM hydantoin
  • Diazolidinyl urea
  • Imidazolidinyl urea
  • Polyoxymethylene urea
  • Methenamine
  • Quaternium-15
  • Sodium hydroxymethylglycinate
  • Bronopol
  • Bronidox
  • Glyoxal

Parabens

These chemicals are endocrine disruptors that have been linked to cancer and developmental and reproductive issues. They act like the hormone, estrogen.

Keep an eye out for these chemicals in your toothpaste:

  • Methylparaben
  • Ethylparaben
  • Isobutylparaben
  • Propylparaben
  • Butylparaben
  • Isopropylparaben

Carrageenan

This thickening agent is a suspected carcinogen. According to current research, food-grade carrageenan creates intestinal inflammation that can lead to cancer, even in small doses.

It has been linked to:

  • free radicals
  • inflammation
  • insulin resistance
  • glucose intolerance

Diethanolamine (DEA)

This foaming agent is a known hormone disrupter that reacts with other ingredients. It forms a potential carcinogen called N-nitrosodiethanolamine (NDEA), which is readily absorbed through the skin. It has been linked to stomach, esophagus, liver, and bladder cancers.

On another note …

Many kinds of toothpaste include ingredients that are genetically modified Organisms (GMOs). The only way to avoid these is to buy products that carry the USDA 100% Organic label.

So how do you brush your teeth with all of these toxins in your toothpaste?

There are several healthy and safer alternative products on the market. Look at your local health food store for some of their recommendations.

OR, with a few ingredients, you can make your own.

Simple and Natural Toothpaste

Brushing twice-a-day, this recipe lasts about a month.

Ingredients:

  • 2 Tablespoons Raw cacao powder (promotes remineralization) Or Calcium Carbonate Powder
  • 3 Tablespoons Baking soda (it is alkaline, helps balance pH in the mouth)
  • 2 Tablespoons Xylitol Powder (natural sweetener, reduces cavity-causing bacteria, more is not better with this ingredient. If it is too sweet or if you get sweet cravings, reduce the amount.)
  • 2 to 3 Tablespoons Coconut oil (naturally prevents candida in the mouth, boosts the microbiome in your gut)
  • 15-20 drops Essential oils for flavor (cinnamon, orange, or peppermint) This is optional, but it does add to the taste. I tend to like the peppermint.

How to make it:

  1. Melt or slightly soften the coconut oil.
  2. Measure the dry ingredients into a glass measuring cup.
  3. Pour the coconut oil into the dry ingredients, and stir. Mix the ingredients really well. It should be the consistency of cookie dough, or if you prefer, cake batter.
  4. Put the mixture in a small glass jar to store.

To use: Dip your toothbrush and scrape a small amount onto the bristles.

Your Diet

Also, remember that your diet is essential as the foundation for healthy teeth and gums. Your oral health depends on:

  • Vitamins C, D, and K2
  • Magnesium
  • Phosphorus
  • Potassium
  • Calcium

 

How do you take care of your teeth and gums? Tell us in the comments below.

 

Resources:

Is Your Toothpaste Toxic? Progressive Health.
Is Your Toothpaste Loaded With Toxins? Mercola.
Epoch Times August 26, 2015
Behind the Dazzling Smile: Toxic Ingredients in Your Toothpaste. Cornucopia report.

 

The post 7 Toxins Lurking In Your Toothpaste appeared first on The Grow Network.

How To Grow Equisetum Hyemale

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Equisetum hyemale is commonly called scouring rush or rough horsetail. Equisetum is not a rush, fern, or reed. This horsetail is a non-flowering, rush-like, perennial, which is native to Europe, North America, and Asia, and is invasive in most places. It is very easy to grow Equisetum Hymale!

It is a single surviving genus that dates back 350 million years. Its name comes from the Latin word equus meaning “a horse” and seta meaning “a bristle.”

The stems

It occurs in wet woods, moist hillsides, and the edges of lakes, rivers, and ponds. This species has rigid, rough, hollow, jointed-and-segmented, bamboo-like, dark green stems that are about 1/2 inch in diameter at the base.

Photosynthesis happens in the stems of this plant. Fertile stems bear pine cone-like fruiting heads about 1-inch long, which contain a lot of spores.

If you live in an area that is frost-free, the evergreen stems are pretty in winter.

The stems are also high in silica and were used by early Americans for polishing pots and pans. (1)

The leaves

Tiny, scale-like leaves attached to the stem and fuse into an ash-gray sheath, which is a 1/4-inch long. The leaves end in a fringe of teeth marks at each stem node (joint). During the growing season, these teeth shed.

grow-equisetum-hyemale

Grow Equisetum Hyemale

This ancient plant spreads by rhizomes (underground stem that acts like a root). It is commonly called horsetail or winter scouring rush, but there are several varieties. This particular species is one that has been used for centuries for tooth and gum care.

In your landscape

Horsetail reeds (Equisetum hyemale) is a great addition to the edges of backyard ponds and water features. The reeds thrive where soils are moist, but the plant remains above water. Depending on where you live, it can be invasive. This species of horsetail multiplies in a “thicket.”

The reeds may stay green where frost is not a concern. The reeds are typically grown only as a potted plant, because they spread quickly via underground rhizomes. It grows to a height of 2 feet to 4 feet.

Soil

Equisetum Hyemale tolerates a wide-range of moist soils It will even grow in up to 4 inches of standing water. A large colony of reeds forms in the wild. Equisetum Hyemale is a very aggressive plant, which needs to be restrained by a pot. Once established, it can be challenging to remove because the rhizomes spread wide and deep. Any small section of rhizome left behind will sprout a new plant. In water gardens, plant in pots, or it will choke out other plants.

This horsetail species likes a slightly acidic soil with a clay, loam, sand mix. It particularly likes wet sites. It is perfect for a bog garden, containers, or water gardens.

Light

Grow Equisetum Hyemale in full sun, partial sun, or partial shade depending on your particular climate.

Climate

This species of horsetail grows well in Zones 4 through 9.

Click here to find your hardiness zone.

Maintenance

Indoors or outside, be sure to cut off any rhizomes growing out of the pot. This will keep the horsetail from spreading into the pond or surrounding soil.

Place the pot so the rim is above the water surface, near the edge of a pond or water feature is perfect.

Prune the dead stems after they turn brown in winter. Provide some winter interest by leaving the stems in place until new stems emerge.

Watering

Water horsetail reeds twice-a-week or more, so the soil stays moist, almost wet. Pots sitting in water need less watering. Water pond plants only if the potting soil surface looks dry.

Pests

Equisetum Hyemale does not have any serious insect or disease problems. The only problem is its very aggressive and spreading nature.

Fertilizer

When the reed is actively growing in spring and summer or every two months, apply a fertilizer made for pond or bog plants. Follow the recommended applications on the fertilizer bag.

Here are 35 Homemade Organic Fertilizers to try!

Grow Equisetum Hyemale Indoors

Although a bog plant, horsetail reeds are low-maintenance and do well in pots on your patio, too. Plant Equisetum Hyemale in a non-perforated, 1-gallon pot with drainage holes.

Lift the pot once-a-month to examine the drainage holes. Cut back any rhizomes that are trying to escape.

Indoors, grow Equisetum Hyemale in moist soil and with a lot of light. A sunny window is perfect.

Use a potting soil that works best for bog and water garden plants. Set the pot in water that is no more than 4-inches deep.

Will you be growing Equisetum Hyemale? Tell us your thoughts in the comments below.

Research:

1 Missouri Botanical Garden. [http://www.missouribotanicalgarden.org/PlantFinder/PlantFinderDetails.aspx?kempercode=c670]

 

 

Beautiful, Squeaky Clean, HEALTHY Teeth
… Without Going To The Dentist!

Click here to get this holistic approach to caring for your teeth

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Hidden Dangers Of Commercial Dental Care

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I do not like going to the dentist for a wide range of reasons—from bad experiences with hygienists to a slew of dental procedures that have cost tens of thousands of dollars. But there is something else, too. The dental materials and practices are creating toxic dental care.

How many people ENJOY going to the dentist?

Every time I go to the dentist, I’m waiting for the “other shoe to drop.”

Things to keep in mind

  • Dentists and hygienists look for what they are trained, so they see what they want to see.
  • The problems caused by toxic dental material may be masked by the symptoms, which mimic other medical conditions.

5 things you didn’t know about your dentist

  1. More than likely your dentist graduated years ago. Dentistry has changed so much in the last several years. Has your dentist continued his education?
  2. You dentist probably doesn’t have the latest technology. It would cost more than $2000 to update his or her equipment to provide the best possible care.
  3. The American Dental Association and the FDA do not have a problem with mercury fillings. Is your dentist still using these toxic time bombs?
  4. The lab your dentist uses is more important than you are. Make sure your dentist is not using an overseas lab or a cut-rate domestic lab who uses tin, aluminum, or even lead to cut costs.
  5. Dentists can receive a kickback for referring you to a specialist. For instance, you may be told you need a root canal or orthodontics. These specialists give your dentist a referral fee for every patient that gets treatment, even if you don’t need the treatment. Do you need a second opinion?

Remember, you always have the right of refusal or even delay while you get a second opinion.

Toxic Dental Care: What are they putting in your mouth?

X-rays

In 2013, research showed that repeated dental x-rays without a neck shield make you predisposed to thyroid cancer. (1)

Bacteria

In 2016, 30 children in California contracted a bacterial infection from a dentist’s office. The contaminated water could create long-term health problems for these children because the infection can often spread to the gum and jawbone.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), outbreaks at dentist’s offices are rare. However, they do admit that even though there are recommended guidelines to prevent bacterial infections, many dentists do not follow these guidelines and procedures. (2)

Sealants

Dental sealants are coatings of thin plastic applied to the teeth to prevent decay. The sealants prevent food particles and bacteria from getting into the grooves of the teeth where it is difficult to brush. Sealants last about five to ten years.

There is some concern that undetected decay can be sealed into teeth, which will continue to decay the tooth silently.

Also, there is the potential BPA (bisphenol A), a chemical used in plastics, which has been associated with health and developmental problems in humans and animals. It has been studied as a potential issue with dental sealants. The American Dental Association research shows that BPA only shows up in sealants as a trace amount. (3)

Fluoride (4)

There are many adverse effects of fluoride ingestion:

Brain.  Scientists have found dementia-like effects, as well as lower I.Q. levels.

Thyroid. Fluoride is an endocrine disrupter, which can lead to problems with judgment and intellect, depression, and weight gain.

Bones. Fracture risks may increase with fluoride ingestion. There is also a recent study by Harvard scientists that found a connection between fluoride and a serious form of bone cancer in males under 20 years of age.

Kidneys. People with kidney disease have a higher risk of fluoride toxicity.

Some things to keep in mind:

Children anti-cavity fluoride treatments were never found safe or effective by the Food and Drug Administration.

In 1951, the American Dental Association said, “there is no proof that commercial preparations … containing fluorides are effective in preventing dental decay.”

The bottom line—fluoride won’t keep your teeth healthy and could pose a serious health risk.

 

toxic-dental-care

Toxic Dental Materials

There are so many dental materials created. It would be impossible for any one person to stay up-to-date with every single material used in dentistry. Here are a few that stand out.

Fillings

Fillings can be made out of plastic, resins, and amalgam (metal).

Amalgam fillings have been scientifically proven to be detrimental to human health since 1927.

For almost 200 years, mercury amalgam has been the most commonly used dental filling material. Amalgam is a mixture of 50 percent mercury and the other 50 percent tin, silver, and copper.

The mercury content in the filling is not stable and leaks 24 hours a day, especially after eating, drinking hot drinks, and brushing your teeth.

Mercury is one of the most toxic metals on the planet and is a known neurotoxin. It damages nerve and brain tissues. Of course, plastics and resins are not much better.

Crowns & Bridges

Crowns and bridges are mostly made out of metal. If you ask your dentist for a porcelain crown, he or she may have a porcelain piece made that’s baked onto the metal. These metals act as a substructure for strength, but they also contain nickel.

Nickel is cancer-causing. It’s a neurological toxin. Crowns and bridges can also contain palladium, cobalt, cadmium, and barium. This dental work can be a big toxic mixture.

Dentures

A lot of dentures are made out of materials that contain cadmium. Cadmium is a neurotoxin. The teeth and wires that they use can have stainless steel or nickel chromium, which are also bad for you.

Polymethyl methacrylate is a material used in bike parts. It is also the pink part of partials and dentures. If your dentist is using that material and you have redness on your gums, you could be allergic to it.

Add to that that dentures are constantly giving off fumes, and you have a recipe for sickness and disease.

Implants

Titanium was used in implants. This metal has been known to cause headaches, migraines, and immunity issues. Today ceramic and zirconium are used in place of titanium.

Toothpastes

Not only is the commercial toothpaste that you use toxic, but the polishers that hygienists use also have fluoride, sugars, and pumice.

Research has shown that polishing can remove tooth enamel. The American Dental Hygienists’ Association (ADHA) said in their paper: (4)

  • Polishing is a cosmetic procedure with little therapeutic value.
  • Thorough brushing and flossing produce the same effect as polishing.
  • Continuous polishing can, over time, cause morphological changes by abrading tooth structure.
  • The outer layers of enamel are removed through polishing.

Their conclusion was that polishing should only be performed as needed and not be considered a routine procedure.

Deep-cleaning or Scaling

If you haven’t had the pleasure of experiencing this deep-cleaning method, it is a high-pressure water pearl salt that is shot between your teeth and gums to remove tartar and plaque.

Experts say it won’t harm your teeth or gums, and helps prevent gingivitis and periodontal disease.

However, there are some hazards of which you need to be aware:

  • Improper teeth scaling can loosen teeth. If this happens, there is a chance you could lose several teeth.
  • There are concerns for people who have diabetes or heart conditions.
  • Inappropriate teeth scaling can cause gum or periodontal disease. Bacteria and food debris accumulate in the pockets left by the scaling procedure.
  • If your teeth are already sensitive, teeth scaling can increase your sensitivity to hot or cold food.

While risks might be minimal and the rewards great, it is still best to be informed. You are your own best health advocate, and that goes for your teeth and gums, too!

In the pocket

Dentists are increasingly in the pockets of big corporations, pharmaceutical companies, and specialists. It is to their benefit to sell you … well, just about anything from fluoride to teeth straightening devices.

It is becoming a larger concern that your dental health decisions are at the mercy of dental insurance companies and corporate managers, and not necessarily what is best for you.

Allies of corporate dentistry offer high-dollar contracts that prey on new dentists trying to pay off student loans.

Out of YOUR pocket

The cost of going to the dentist is going up significantly. The average American will spend approximately $9,000+ out-of-pocket on dental procedures in one year.(5)

Dental insurance costs an average of $360 per year, which may only cover a portion of the actual cost of a procedure. If you don’t have dental insurance, a cleaning will cost about $150 each visit. If you have a cavity, you’ll pay between $90 and $250 for EACH filling. The cost of bridges, x-rays, crowns, extractions, etc. goes up from there.

Did you see this article:  How Much Will You Spend At The Dentist?

George Carlin said something similar … Somewhere in the United States is the worst dentist. And what’s terrifying is that someone has an appointment with him or her tomorrow morning.

Hopefully, dentists will begin to stop this downward spiral into toxic dental care. Perhaps as patients begin to see the dangers of this type of dental practice, it will persuade the establishment to take a closer look at their materials and procedures.

Maybe it will be a time when people’s health is put before the ol’ mighty dollar.

What are your thoughts on the dental care system? Tell us your stories in the comments below.

 

Resources:

1 Repeated Dental X-rays Without Neck Shielding Predispose to Thyroid Cancer. American Thyroid Association. [https://www.thyroid.org/professionals/ata-publications/clinical-thyroidology/september-2013-volume-25-issue-9/clin-thyroidol-201325201-202/]

2 Bacteria in dentist’s water send 30 kids to hospital. CNN. [http://www.cnn.com/2016/10/11/health/california-dental-water-bacteria/index.html]

3 Are Dental Sealants Safe? Dr. Weil. [https://www.drweil.com/health-wellness/body-mind-spirit/dental-oral-health/are-dental-sealants-safe/]

4 American Dental Hygienists’ Association Position on Polishing Procedures, 2001 [www.adha.org]

5 Dental Facts & Statistics. [https://www.dentalplans.com/press-room/dentalfactsfigures]

 

Discover how to care for your teeth…

  • Dental hygiene without brushes, paste, or floss
  • Healing cavities with herbs
  • Treating abscesses with herbs and poultices
  • Treating cracked and chipped teeth

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Your TEETH Are Alive

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Yes, you read that correctly—your teeth are alive.

Did you know that 92% of U.S. adults between the ages of 20 to 64 have the pleasure of experiencing a cavity in their permanent teeth. The “drill and fill” method is painful, expensive, and potentially toxic.

Check out this article about the Hidden Dangers of Commercial Dental Care!

It’s no wonder people are seeking alternatives to dentists.

You can repair cavities without a dentist and have squeaky clean teeth—just like coming out of the hygienists office—and not pay a cent?

Yup, its true.

The Adventure Began

A few years ago, I was on an adventure (and you know by now that I venture pretty far off the beaten path). I found this amazing healer who lives mostly out in the wilderness.

Doug had watched how the animals take care of their teeth, and he learned from primitive peoples (like the Tarahumara Indians), how they take care of their teeth.

So a few years ago, I got an abscessed tooth. And I healed it using Doug’s methods.

Amazing!

Doug is kinda different.

Uh, some folks have called him a tree hugger. He has that indigenous, earthy sort of vibe to him. But so many people from all walks of life have bought the video because the information is so good.

Now, let’s talk about your teeth being alive!

It might be difficult to believe that your teeth are alive because they are so hard, but it’s true. Nerves inside your teeth control blood flow and nourishment, so this makes your teeth another organ in your body.

Just like other organs in your body, it’s important to keep your teeth clean and healthy. If your teeth are unhealthy, it can affect the other organs, as well as your quality of life.

It’s not only about your smile!

There are two basic parts to your teeth: the crown and the root. Then, there is also the gum tissue and the bone, which are both very important.

Tooth Parts

The crown is what you see above the gumline.

The root is what is below the gumline. It is about 2/3rds the length of the entire tooth.

There are four different tissue types that make up each tooth.

Enamel is the white part of the tooth. It protects the tooth from wear and tear, and is very strong. It is also the hardest substance in your body.

Dentin supports the enamel. It’s a yellow bonelike material, slightly softer than enamel, that holds some of the nerve endings. These nerve endings let you know when there is something wrong with your teeth.

The Pulp is at the center of the tooth. It’s made up of soft tissue that contains blood vessels, lymph tissue, and nerves. Your teeth get nourishment and signals to and from your brain through the pulp.

Cementum covers the root of your tooth. It helps attach the tooth to the bones in your jaw.

The Periodontal Ligament is a cushioning layer that sits between the cementum and your jawbone. It helps connect the two.

Knowing your teeth is important, because if a tooth is alive, it can also die.

What is tooth decay?

You probably know tooth decay as cavities. Tooth decay happens when bacteria found in plaque coats your teeth and produces an acid, which erodes and destroys the tooth enamel. Once it destroys the tooth enamel, it begins to work toward the pulp.

This type of bacteria feeds on sugar and carbohydrates. If left untreated, this tooth erosion causes pain, infection, and eventually tooth death.

Poor oral hygiene, junk food, and acidic foods and drinks promote tooth decay, and the death of the tooth.

But there’s good news!

The hard tissue of your teeth can remineralize. But it’s not as easy as just taking a pill for it. You’ll need to maintain a diet that is good for your teeth and make sure that plaque and tartar are not left on your teeth.

10 things you can do to help remineralize your teeth

  1. Get off the sugar! This is what the plaque bacteria thrives on.
  2. Reduce your intake of grains, beans, lentils, soy, nuts, and seeds, but remember these are also important for a healthy balanced diet.
  3. Increase your vitamins and minerals, especially Vitamin A, C, and D, and Calcium, Magnesium, Zinc, and Iron.
  4. Eat apples, pears, raw celery and carrots, and cucumber to dilute sugars and stimulate saliva production, which will protect your teeth.
  5. Kill the cavity causing bacteria with good oral hygiene.
  6. Fix dry mouth! Saliva is very important in protecting your teeth from decay.
  7. Make your own toothpaste, mouthwash, and practice oil pulling.

 

Do you need an alternative for your dental care?

Discover …

  • Dental hygiene without brushes, paste, or floss
  • Healing cavities with herbs
  • Treating abscesses with herbs and poultices
  • Treating cracked and chipped teeth

The post Your TEETH Are Alive appeared first on The Grow Network.

How To Make a Difference In Your Food Supply

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One online newsletter changed my food supply …

Most days, I’m on the Internet for work. I’m usually searching for information. There are a few online newsletters to which I subscribe in order to keep up with the issues of the day and general reports. I never thought my Internet searches would lead to my making a difference in my food supply.

It was through one of these online newsletters that I found a company who was canning high-quality beef and pork from a family farm. I checked out their website and looked for nutritional information.

It is always valuable, especially for someone like me who is sensitive to heavily salted foods. The nutrition information wasn’t available on their website, so I called.

The number seemed to be local to me, so I was intrigued. I like buying local.

However, the farm was located in Ohio. It turned out that one member of the family lived relatively close to me. I mentioned to him the missing nutrition information, and he promised to email it to me immediately.

food-supply

Is it really pasture-raised beef and pork?

I’ve purchased pastured beef through my local grocery stores for years. My next question to the son was about that. He confirmed that the beef and pork was raised on grass, but was finished on corn.

While I had him on the phone, I learned that it was a family farm. I inquired if the corn was organic. Most commercially grown corn is genetically modified (GMO).

The person I spoke with wasn’t certain, but promised to speak with his father to find out for sure.

Family farm becomes aware

Not too long after that phone call, I got a call from his father, the actual farmer!

We had a long conversation about his farm, the cows and pigs, and the corn that was used to finish the animals before slaughter. I was disappointed to discover that he didn’t know whether the corn was organic or GMO. He told me that it came from a silo that was filled by several of his neighbors, as well as his farm.

Alarm bells are ringing

I was especially concerned because it was very likely that the corn was GMO. I spoke with him about my concerns about food that is genetically modified. He was assured by the experts that GMOs were safe.

Rather than argue about it, I decided to praise all the things he told me that were sustainable: using cover crops, rotating pastures, and using manure for fertilizer. I could see that he was really trying to produce the best meat possible for his customers, and I told him as much.

We ended the call on a positive note, and I thought that was the end of it.

Have you read this article on Food Safety and Nutrition by Tasha Greer? Click here to read it.

The food supply changes

About a week later, I got an email from the farmer’s son.

Imagine my surprise and joy to read:

“I’d like to let you know that we have researched the GMO issue, and we have decided to switch our operation in Ohio to completely GMO-free grains and hay. We are starting the process next week and will keep our customers and potential customers in the loop as to when we are completely GMO-free!”

I really didn’t expect one phone call to make that big of a change!

The moral to the story is to communicate and ask questions!

Whether you get the same result that I did or not, every person who takes the time to look into a product and ask questions will cause the market to change … and hopefully improve it for others.

It is true that the food sold in the U.S. is changing. For those of us still dependent on grocery stores, more and more of them are selling organic produce, pasture-raised meats, dairy, and eggs.

If the largest distributors, like Wal-Mart are providing organic foods for their customers, organic and pasture-raised is a big deal.

According to the OTA (Organic Trade Association), Americans spend almost $50 billion on organic foods annually. (1)

Check out this chart by the Organic Trade Association: Organic: Big Results from Small Seeds

If there is a product you like, but it’s not organic—talk to the producer, especially a small farmer. Anyone who takes the time to do that is important to them. What these farmers realize is that one person represents potentially hundreds or thousands of their customers.

You can make a difference! Sometimes, it’s just a phone call away.

Have you made a difference in your food supply? Tell us your story in the comments below.

Resources:

  1. Organic Trade Association. [https://www.ota.com/resources/market-analysis]

 

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How Well Do You Know Your Teeth?

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Do you know your teeth? Did you know that each one has a number?

Running your tongue across your teeth is probably the most common body movement you do. It’s important to know your teeth because it will help identify problems, give you the knowledge you need to be in charge of your dental health, and makes you aware of issues before they become problems.

But how well do you really know your teeth?

Imagine …

… Sarah’s tooth in her upper right jaw hurt. Can you imagine how much more respect, and probably better treatment, she would get from her dentist if she said, “I am having some sensitivity with tooth number 3, can I make an appointment?”

Really knowing your teeth is the first step to better dental health, and being in charge of what is used in your mouth.

A good way to start is to learn the numbers for each tooth.

know-your-teeth

© kaligula

Tooth Numbers

The adult human mouth is blueprinted with 32 teeth—16 on the upper and 16 on the lower.

Use a mirror or your tongue to identify each of your teeth and their numbers.

The first tooth is in the upper right. Then, go around to number 16, which is on your upper left. Most people no longer have their wisdom teeth, so often the first tooth in your upper right jaw is actually # 2. Number 17 starts on your lower left and goes around to #32, which is your lower right. Again, the wisdom teeth are often missing so usually the first tooth on the lower left is #18.

Get a dental mirror, and check this out for yourself!

Dental Language

If you’ve ever laid back in a dental chair and wondered what the gobbledygook the dentist was saying to his assistant, this article is the first step in unraveling that mysterious language.

Here are some terms you might hear at your dentist’s office, and what they mean:

Anterior describes things pertaining to your centrals, laterals, and cuspids.

Apex is the very bottom of the tooth’s root.

Aspirator is the little tube-like straw that sucks up your saliva.

Buccal is the tooth surface that is next to your cheeks.

Calculus is a hard deposit that forms when you do not brush your teeth and plague hardens, also known as tartar.

Caries are cavities or tooth decay.

Cariogenic is a decay-causing material.

Central means the two upper and two lower teeth in the very center of your mouth, also called Incisors.

Crown is the part of your tooth above the gum line.

Cuspids are the pointy teeth just beside the laterals. They have one point, and commonly called canines.

Dentin is the calcium part of your tooth below the enamel containing the pulp and root canals.

Enamel is a hard ceramic that covers the exposed part of your teeth.

First Bicuspids are the teeth just beside the cuspids. They have two points.

First Molars are the teeth beside the second bicuspids. These teeth have four points.

Gingivitis is reversible inflammation of the gum tissue, but does not include the bone.

Implant is a tooth replacement. The implant is different from a bridge as it is permanently attached to your jaw.

Labial is the tooth surface that is next to your lips.

Lingual is the tooth surface next to your tongue.

Lateral means the teeth just beside the centrals.

Malocclusion is misaligned teeth or jaw.

Mandible is your lower jaw.

Maxilla is your upper jaw.

Occlusal surface is the chewing surface of a tooth.

Periodontal disease is inflammation and irritation of the gums which if left untreated can cause the teeth and jawbone to deteriorate or fall out.

Plaque is a bacterial colony which has mineralized and attacked your teeth, causing decay.

Prophylaxis is a professional cleaning of your teeth by a dentist or hygienist.

Root is part of your tooth in your gums.

Sealant is a plastic coating used to protect your teeth from decay.

Second Bicuspids are the teeth beside the first bicuspids. They also have two points.

Second Molars are the teeth beside the first molars. They also have four points.

Third Molars are your wisdom teeth. Some people have them. Some people don’t. Often times, they are pulled so as not to cause problems in your mouth.

 

Have you seen this article: How Much Money Will You Spend on Dentistry?

 

know-your-teeth

© lisafx

What you need to know

  1. Being able to chew your homegrown food is essential for good digestion. Actually getting the nutrition that your body needs relies on your teeth being healthy and strong.
  2. You’ll impress the heck out of your dentist and get much more respect and possibly better care, if you know your tooth numbers.
  3. Knowing your tooth numbers and checking your own teeth regularly is very important to the prevention of tooth and gum issues.

You have more control over your dental health than you know. And healthy teeth and gums are important for a happy and healthy YOU!

Tell us in the comments below. How well do you know your teeth?

 

Your Teeth Are Alive and Can Heal Themselves!

I’ll show you how Doug Simons takes care of his dental
health with simple, easy-to-do, and effective methods.
You can too!

Click here for more information!

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The 12 Most Dangerous Antibiotic-Resistant Superbugs

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The threat of antibiotic-resistant superbugs is quickly becoming a huge concern. The World Health Organization (WHO) is ready to take a stand. For the first time, the WHO[i] has created a list of the top twelve most dangerous superbugs. The reason for drawing attention to these deadly diseases is so they are taken seriously.

A panel of international experts[ii] at the WHO, list disease-causing bacteria based on four things: [iii]

  1. Prevalence in the general community
  2. Overall mortality rates
  3. Burden on the health care system
  4. Level of resistance to treatment

The twelve that ranked highest on their list are the most dangerous bacteria on the planet today.

The Threat of Antibiotic Resistance

Concern over antibiotic-resistant superbugs[iv] is becoming more and more important. Every year, antibiotic resistance in the United States is responsible for 2 million illnesses and almost 23,000 deaths.[v] Most fatalities come from people with weak immune systems, including cancer patients, infants, and the elderly. A widespread, antibiotic-resistant superbug epidemic is just a matter of time. There are diseases now resistant to every antibiotic we have available.

One reason why the supply of antibiotics has dwindled to dangerously low levels is because new drugs are difficult to create. Seventy years of antibiotic research discovered dozens of effective drugs. But new ones aren’t being developed fast enough to beat the resistant stains. There have been decades of overuse of antibiotics by both humans and livestock. It’s easy to see that a perfect storm of antibiotic-resistant superbugs is brewing.

New Antibiotics?

Pharmaceutical companies aren’t likely to create new antibiotics anytime soon. They take years to develop[vi], and most aren’t profitable enough for drug companies to invest millions in research and development. There has not been a new antibiotic brought to the market since 1984. It looks like there is less of a chance that a new “miracle drug” will be on the market anytime soon.

Nonetheless, the stakes have never been higher to become better prepared to fight against antibiotic-resistant superbugs.

The superbugs that made the WHO list are separated into three categories: critical, high, and medium.

Acinetobacter baumannii © Kateryna Kon

Priority 1: Critical

According to the WHO, there are three types of superbugs that require immediate attention in order to keep them under control. They are categorized as a critical priority because each one is multi-drug resistant and often prove fatal in hospitals and nursing homes.

Acinetobacter baumannii, carbapenem-resistant

Acinetobacter baumannii is highly drug resistant and affects people with compromised immune systems, meaning it often leads to pneumonia and is increasingly responsible for deadly blood infections in hospital patients.

Pseudomonas aeruginosa, carbapenem-resistant

Highly adaptable in developing antibiotic resistance, pseudomonas aeruginosa is responsible for skin rashes, ear infections, blood infections, and often deadly bouts of pneumonia in hospital patients.

Enterobacteriaceae, carbapenem-resistant, 3rd generation cephalosporin-resistant

As a family of bacteria often found in the human gut, enterobacteriaceae has been called a “nightmare bacteria”[vii] by health officials. It is resistant to over a dozen antibiotics and kills half of all infected patients. Hospitals are the main place to contract enterobacteriaceae. It is known to cause urinary tract infections and pneumonia.

antibiotic-resistance

©Eldar Nurkovic

 Priority 2: High

Next on the WHO list are a variety of multi-drug resistant microbes that spread quickly and are dangerous to contract, including staph infections, salmonella, and gonorrhea.

Enterococcus faecium, vancomycin-resistant

Though often harmless in the human intestine, enterococcus faecium can also cause dangerous diseases like meningitis and endocarditis.

Staphylococcus aureus, methicillin-resistant, vancomycin intermediate and resistant

More commonly known as MRSA[viii], staphylococcus aureus is the bacteria responsible for roughly one third of flesh-eating bacteria[ix] in the United States. This superbug is a prime cause of skin and respiratory infections and food poisoning. Often it is resistant to penicillin. MRSA is regularly found[x] in hospitals.

Helicobacter pylori, clarithrocin-resistant

Often present in the stomachs of people with gastric ulcers, helicobacter pylori has been linked to stomach cancer.[xi] The majority of infected patients don’t show any symptoms. Strains of antibiotic-resistant helicobacter pylori are becoming more common, making effective treatment very difficult.

Campylobacter, fluoroquinolone-resistant

Found in poultry, campylobacter[xii] spreads to people who eat the contaminated meat. This microbe causes blood diseases, diarrhea, and food poisoning, especially in developing countries that do not have access to proper antibiotics.[xiii]

Salmonella spp., fluoroquinolone-resistant

Found worldwide, strains of salmonella cause a variety of illnesses, including typhoid fever and food poisoning. Throughout the U.S., an estimated 1.4 million people[xiv] become ill from salmonella every year. Infants, young children, and the elderly are most at risk.

Neisseria gonorrhoeae, 3rd generation cephalosporin-resistant, fluoroquinolone-resistant

Shaped like a coffee bean, neisseria gonorrhoeae is responsible for an antibiotic-resistant superbug of the sexually transmitted disease gonorrhea. Antibiotic resistance against penicillin was widespread by the 1940s. Today most forms of neisseria gonorrhoeae are resistant to every drug but cephalosporin, which is “the last line of defense.”[xv]

antibiotic-resistance

©VadimGuzhva

Priority 3: Medium

Childhood infections make up the “medium priority” for the WHO. However, many researchers fear that antibiotic-resistant superbugs will soon become more widespread.

10  Streptococcus pneumoniae, penicillin-non-susceptible

While Streptococcus pneumoniae is relatively common in the lungs of healthy people. However, those with weaker immune systems (like children and the elderly) often come down with pneumonia, infections, and meningitis.[xvi]

11  Haemophilus influenzae, ampicillin-resistant

Once thought to be the cause of the flu, haemophilus influenza is still known as “bacterial influenza.” Actually, it’s responsible for infections like bacterial meningitis, pneumonia, and infectious arthritis. It is resistant to penicillin antibiotics.

12  Shigella spp., fluoroquinolone-resistant

Naturally found in humans and gorillas, shigella is a leading cause of diarrhea worldwide. It contributes to 74,000 to 600,000 deaths every year.[xvii] Many of the antibiotics used aren’t working any longer.

The looming threat of antibiotic-resistant superbugs is a medical issue likely to be the talk of the 21st century. The WHO hopes that making this information public will help bring proper research and new discoveries in the fight against these antibiotic-resistant superbugs.

Sources
[i] WHO: Global Priority List of Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria To Guide Research, Discovery and Development of New Antibiotics

[ii]The Washington Post: The World’s Leaders are Finally Holding a Summit on Superbugs

[iii]Stat News: WHO Releases List of World’s Most Dangerous Superbugs

[iv]New York Times: Deadly, Drug-Resistant “Superbugs” Pose Huge Threat, W.H.O Says

[v]Center for Disease Control and Prevention: Antibiotic Resistance

[vi]IDSA: Despite Superbug Crisis, Progress in Antibiotic Development ‘Alarmingly Elusive’

[vii]PBS Frontline: Illinois “Nightmare Bacteria” Outbreak Raises Alarms

[viii]New York Times: MRSA Health Guide

[ix]New York Times: Necrotizing Soft Tissue Infection Health Guide

[x]Oxford Academic: Dominance of EMRSA-15 and -16 among MRSA causing nosocomial bacteraemia in the UK: analysis of isolates from the European Antimicrobial Resistance Surveillance System (EARSS)

[xi]Pathobiology of Helicobacter pylori-induced Gastric Cancer

[xii]Medscape: Campylobacter Infections

[xiii]Antimicrobial Susceptibilities of Multidrug-Resistant Campylobacter jejuni and C. coli Strains: In Vitro Activities of 20 Antimicrobial Agents

[xiv]Human Health Implications of Salmonella-Contaminated Natural Pet Treats and Raw Pet Food

[xv]Planned Parenthood: STD Awareness: Antibiotic-Resistant Gonorrhea

[xvi]New England Journal of Medicine: Community-Acquired Bacterial Meningitis in Adults

[xvii] Status of vaccine research and development for Shigella

 

 

antibiotic-resistant superbugs

More Antibiotics are Not the Answer!

Do you know how to treat common injuries and infections without the help of a doctor or antibiotics?

Unleash Infection-Fighting Compounds
Hundreds of Millions Of Years In The Making!

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Grow Tulsi: The Super-power Salad Herb

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Growing tulsi (holy basil) is super-easy!

About two years ago, I joined a community garden and planted a 4-foot by 8-foot plot. A friend has a local nursery, so I picked up some plants to get started and used seeds for the rest. One of the plants I purchased was a goji berry bush. To be honest, I am not the best community gardener. I have problems incorporating regular visits to the garden into my weekly schedule.

Getting Everything Planted

A few weeks after I got everything planted, I noticed another plant growing like crazy next to my goji berry bush. I tried to cut it back, so the goji would have room to grow.

The leaves tasted like a spicy mint that was very pleasant.

The Takeover

As the weeks went by, this crazy plant literally took over and smothered the goji berry bush.

Every time I would go to my plot, I would cut it back. It didn’t work. Then, it started to flower. It had tiny whitish purple flowers on a long stalk. I brought a few of the flowers home so I could research and identify the plant.

Have you seen this article on how to identify plants.

It turned out to be holy basil or tulsi (Ocimum tenuiflorum).

When I harvested my garden plot, I decided to bring the tulsi home to see if it would grow. It lasted a while with a lot of flowers. Then it died completely, or so it seemed. The tub was on my front porch and left there throughout the winter.

Annual Revisits

When the weather started to warm again, I saw the green leaves of the tulsi start to sprout out of the soil in the tub.

The Harvest

We have been harvesting tulsi for the last eight months. It is delicious in our salads. It adds a spicy, mint flavor similar to regular basil.

The Many Benefits of Tulsi

In India, people have been growing Tulsi for its medicinal properties for more than 3,000 years. Holy basil is considered a sacred plant in Hinduism.

In traditional medicine, Tulsi is used for:

  • Stress
  • Digestive problems
  • Treating colds and fevers
  • Treating allergies & infections
  • Strengthening the immune system
  • Treating hair and skin disorders
  • Dental health
  • Repelling insects and treating insect bites

Tulsi is very important in Ayurveda and naturopathy, because the plant is loaded with antioxidants, phytonutrients, essential oils, and vitamins A and C, which have been known to help manage diabetes and high blood pressure. If you use a few tulsi leaves regularly, it will help the body function properly.

It is known to have antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal properties. It is considered an adaptogen, (a substance that helps the body adapt and function optimally).

Besides adding it to salads, the leaves are easy-to-make into a tea.

Add it to your garden

There are more than 100 varieties of Tulsi. If you have a warm, sunny place in your garden or on your porch or windowsill, consider adding a tulsi plant. It is perfect in a container garden with other sun-loving herbs. It is easy-to-grow and requires very little care.

In the late spring or early summer, when the temperatures in your area are around 70°F, sow seeds outdoors. If you want an early start, sow the seeds indoors in a sunny window.

Put the tulsi seeds on top of the soil and lightly press down for soil contact. Spray the seeds with water or compost tea. Keep the soil moist until the seeds germinate in about 1 to 2 weeks.

Pinch the top of the tulsi plant when there are four to six pairs of leaves for a bushier plant.

Harvest Tulsi

Harvest the tulsi leaves throughout the growing season. As the plant gets bigger, use a pair of scissors to cut the larger leaves or cut an entire branch.

Use the fresh leaves the same day, or they will fade. Or dry the leaves by collecting the branches. Place them in a dry place away from direct sunlight. Move the stems around about three times each day until the leaves are crisp and easily crushed.

 

Do you have tulsi in your garden? How do you use it? Tell us in the comments below.

 

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Food War: Grocery Shopping Versus Fresh Food

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Feeding a family isn’t cheap these days, and it only gets more expensive with each additional mouth. I’ve always wondered about the cost between Grocery Shopping and Fresh Food, but never really sat down to crunch the numbers … until now!

Eating healthy is also more expensive than eating processed foods loaded with artificial ingredients and sodium. In fact, following the government’s recommended dietary advice can add 10 percent to your monthly bill. Fresh fruits and vegetables are always more expensive than processed, canned, or frozen foods. If you want to go completely organic, count on spending sometimes double that.

The Criteria for the”Food War:”

We have to compare apples-to-apples and … well you get the idea. So, we’ll look at:

  • Expense
  • Health – Mental and Physical
  • Waste
  • Time

In the expenses, we’ll compare certain food:

  • Lettuce
  • Carrots
  • Tomatoes
  • Basil
  • Apples
  • Eggs

We’re also going to use $15 per hour for any labor costs or time spent.

grocery-shopping-fresh-food

And in this corner … Grocery Store!

According to the USDA 2017 Cost of Food Report, the average American spends between $100 to $300 per person per month on groceries. It may be higher or lower based on where you live. (1)

Grocery Store Expense (This is from your average local store, prices may vary in your area)

Lettuce

Organic Price: $1.69/head
Non-organic Price: $0.99/head

Carrots (3 lbs.)

Organic Price: $3.49
Non-organic Price: $2.99

Tomatoes (Heirloom)

Organic Price: No organics available when I went shopping
Non-organic Price: $2.99/lbs.

Basil

Organic Price: $2.99/pkg.
Non-organic Price: $1.99/pkg.

Apples

Organic Price: $1.99/lbs.
Non-organic Price: $0.99/lbs.

Eggs (1 dozen)

Organic Price: $5.69
Non-organic Price: $1.99

Most of the non-organic produce was from Mexico or Peru, and a lot of the organic produce was also.

On average, I spent about $125 per week for my family of three. I bought organic produce, grass-fed, free-range, no hormone meats and eggs (sometimes from the store, but usually from a local farmer).

Health – Mental and Physical

In 2016, the average American spent $10,345 annually on health care (insurance premiums, deductibles, co-payments, prescriptions, and medicines). (2)

According to a The Atlantic 2014 article, healthcare was the number one cause of personal bankruptcy and was responsible for more collections than credit cards. Forty percent of Americans owe money for times they were sick. (3)

More than 71 percent of Americans are overweight or obese, and 16 percent of children and adolescents are struggling with obesity (4)

There are four contributing factors: (5)

  1. Processed foods
  2. Portion size
  3. Fast food
  4. Being less active

Let’s not forget to add in the hassle and headache it can take to go to the grocery store. You might not be able to be quantify it, but just bear it in mind.

Can you be healthy eating from the grocery store? Check out this chapter of the Grow Book!

grocery-shopping-fresh-food

Waste

The average American throws away 4.4 pounds of trash each day. The annual weight of trash from the entire country equals 254 million tons, that is the same as 1.2 million blue whales, and would reach to the moon and back 25 times, a journey of 11,534,090 miles. (6)

The sad thing is that you probably live closer to one of the 2,000 active landfills than you might think. Some inactive landfills have become public parks. (6)

Landfills also produce millions of cubic feet of methane gas each day. What impact does this have on our health?

Think of the waste from your groceries: food packaging, plastic produce bags, plastic bottles, twist ties, Styrofoam, and grocery bags that come along with buying groceries. This waste has to go somewhere. I kept track for several months of my grocery shopping days. Over half of my grocery list had some sort of packaging, which added up to about 10 lbs. a week.

Some cities are beginning to charge for every bag of garbage your put in the bin. The average cost is $2 per bag.

The good news is that 34.3 percent of garbage is being recycled or composted each year. That prevents 87.2 million tons of material from going into the landfill. (6)

Think about how much food you throw away because it spoiled in the refrigerator. Waste adds up!

Time

It takes me an hour to shop, but I also spend about 30 minutes to 45 minutes preparing to go grocery shopping, making my list, and seeing what needs to be bought. It takes about 15 minutes each way to get to and from the store. The parking lot is always a madhouse. Add the stress of that up in the Health section above.

Pros of going grocery shopping:

  • You can have your favorite food any time.
  • It’s convenient to run to the store if you need something.
  • Loyalty cards/Cash-back programs
  • Prepackaged, quick food

 

grocery-shopping-fresh-food

And in this corner … Fresh Food!

(And the crowd goes wild!)

Even a small garden plot, can yield an estimated 7 lbs. of fresh produce per square foot. (It depends on where you live and what you plant.)

Expense

You will have an initial investment, which includes soil conditioning, garden beds, and seeds or plants. Based on my own start-up costs, I’m saying $250 for the veggies and $300 for the chickens. You can certainly do it cheaper. We’ll have more on that in future posts. I’ll average this out over the year.

Lettuce

Seeds: $2.50/pkt
Watering: 1 hour/every 3 days.
Labor: Minimal. I was surprised how easy this was to grow.
Final Yield: I had continuous salad mix by harvesting the outside leaves every couple of days. Estimated 5 lbs. throughout the season. I had a cup of salad greens every day for four months. I can definitely extend the season and produce more.

Carrots

Heirloom Seeds: $3.00/pkt
Watering on system: 1 hour/every 3 days
Labor: Minimal. Didn’t do much at all. They grew really well without much help.
Final yield: About 6 lbs. Plenty to eat raw and dehydrate, can, and freeze.

Tomatoes

Heirloom Seeds: $2.50 – $3.00/pkt  Heirloom Plants: $6.00 ea.
Watering on system: 1 hour/every 3 days
Labor: Average. About 15 minutes every other day, nipping suckers, watching for signs of disease or pests. My first seedlings didn’t make it, so I replanted heirloom plants.
Final Yield: A little less than 80 lbs. of tomatoes from 4 plants, enough to eat fresh and preserve for later in the year.

Basil (It’s difficult to grow basil from seeds)

1 Plant: $3.00 – $5.95
Watering on system: 1 hour/ every 3 days
Labor: minimal. Harvest leaves every few days. Grew like a weed.
Yield: Off of 2 plants, I got enough for 12 pint jars of pesto and a 16 oz. container of dried.

Apples

Bare tree: $20-$25
Watering: 1 hour/ every 3 days
Fertilizer: $10
Kaolin clay: $12
Labor: Intensive. planting, pruning, training, thinning, treating, picking up fallen fruit. About 20 minutes every other day.

Eggs (only have 6 laying hens and no rooster)

Feed: $100/mo. (This can be reduced with a little planning and a more mature garden.)
Water: 1 gallon per day
Room: about 100 square feet, including the coop and run. They free-range, too!
Labor: I do the deep-litter method, so there isn’t a lot of maintenance. I spend on average 30 minutes every day, checking, gathering eggs, feeding, cleaning the roost, and giving love.
Yield: average 2 dozen eggs/week. We keep one and sell one.

grocery-shopping-fresh-food

Health – Mental and Physical

New studies are showing that the microbes in the soil actually work a lot like Prozac. (7)  They give you good feelings, well-being, and happiness.

The food is healthy, too. You know exactly what was used to grow your groceries.

And let’s not forget the exercise factor. You can burn anywhere from 200 to 600 calories per hour gardening.

Waste

Growing your own groceries has minimal trash.

My family is still buying some food from the grocery store. Maybe one day, I’ll grow my own quinoa.

Now that I’m conscious of food packaging. I look for packaged food that can be recycled or composted. If not, I try not to buy it. My garbage went from one full bag of garbage every three days to a handful of recyclables, large bucketfuls of compostables, and less than 2 lbs. of actual garbage each month.

I’m still trying to minimize my footprint. The goal is zero-waste, or at least as close to it as possible!

Time

In my small garden (about 100 square feet, if you put it together), I spend an average of 20 hours each month in the garden on various chores during the growing season between February and November. I spend about five or so in the winter months on greens, looking through heirloom seed catalogs, and planning next year’s garden.

All of my beds are on a timed and water-regulated irrigation system. In other words, if it rains, the system doesn’t come on. This saves water and time.

The chickens take an average of 30 minutes-a-day winter and summer. They are quite the characters, so they provide entertainment as well.

I didn’t keep track of my preserving time (canning, drying, and freezing), so an estimate is about 10 to 20 hours total for the entire season.

Of course, I see this as time well spent. Twenty hours in the garden or 30 minutes for the chickens could easily be more, because I love it so much.

grocery-shopping-fresh-food

And the winner is…!

As far as cost goes, fresh food from the garden wins by a slim margin. However, it is difficult to quantify your health and happiness into this equation.

I know for me. I’m happier when I’m gardening. I know I’m healthier because of the exercise and eating good, clean food. The dollar amount is interesting, but almost inconsequential.

 grocery-shopping-fresh-food

Resources:

  1. [https://www.cnpp.usda.gov/USDAFoodPlansCostofFood]
  2. Department of Health and Human Services;[ https://aspe.hhs.gov/pdf-report/individual-market-premium-changes-2013-2017]
  3. The Atlantic [https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2014/10/why-americans-are-drowning-in-medical-debt/381163/]
  4. [https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/obesity-overweight.htm]
  5. American Cancer Society: [ https://www.cancer.org/cancer/cancer-causes/diet-physical-activity/body-weight-and-cancer-risk/health-issues.html]
  6. Save on Energy [ https://www.cancer.org/cancer/cancer-causes/diet-physical-activity/body-weight-and-cancer-risk/health-issues.html ]
  7. [http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-larry-dossey/is-dirt-the-new-prozac_b_256625.html]

Do you grow your own food and medicine? What savings have you seen? Tell us in the comments below.

 

Access our growing selection of Downloadable eBooks…

…. On topics that include growing your own food, herbal medicine, homesteading, raising livestock, and more!

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The post Food War: Grocery Shopping Versus Fresh Food appeared first on The Grow Network.

Food War: Grocery Shopping Versus Home Grown Food

Click here to view the original post.

Feeding a family isn’t cheap these days, and it only gets more expensive with each additional mouth. I’ve always wondered about the cost between Grocery Shopping and Fresh Food, but never really sat down to crunch the numbers … until now!

Eating healthy is also more expensive than eating processed foods loaded with artificial ingredients and sodium. In fact, following the government’s recommended dietary advice can add 10 percent to your monthly bill. Fresh fruits and vegetables are always more expensive than processed, canned, or frozen foods. If you want to go completely organic, count on spending sometimes double that.

The Criteria for the”Food War:”

We have to compare apples-to-apples and … well you get the idea. So, we’ll look at:

  • Expense
  • Health – Mental and Physical
  • Waste
  • Time

In the expenses, we’ll compare certain food:

  • Lettuce
  • Carrots
  • Tomatoes
  • Basil
  • Apples
  • Eggs

We’re also going to use $15 per hour for any labor costs or time spent.

grocery-shopping-fresh-food

And in this corner … Grocery Store!

According to the USDA 2017 Cost of Food Report, the average American spends between $100 to $300 per person per month on groceries. It may be higher or lower based on where you live. (1)

Grocery Store Expense (This is from your average local store, prices may vary in your area)

Lettuce

Organic Price: $1.69/head
Non-organic Price: $0.99/head

Carrots (3 lbs.)

Organic Price: $3.49
Non-organic Price: $2.99

Tomatoes (Heirloom)

Organic Price: No organics available when I went shopping
Non-organic Price: $2.99/lbs.

Basil

Organic Price: $2.99/pkg.
Non-organic Price: $1.99/pkg.

Apples

Organic Price: $1.99/lbs.
Non-organic Price: $0.99/lbs.

Eggs (1 dozen)

Organic Price: $5.69
Non-organic Price: $1.99

Most of the non-organic produce was from Mexico or Peru, and a lot of the organic produce was also.

On average, I spent about $125 per week for my family of three. I bought organic produce, grass-fed, free-range, no hormone meats and eggs (sometimes from the store, but usually from a local farmer).

Health – Mental and Physical

In 2016, the average American spent $10,345 annually on health care (insurance premiums, deductibles, co-payments, prescriptions, and medicines). (2)

According to a The Atlantic 2014 article, healthcare was the number one cause of personal bankruptcy and was responsible for more collections than credit cards. Forty percent of Americans owe money for times they were sick. (3)

More than 71 percent of Americans are overweight or obese, and 16 percent of children and adolescents are struggling with obesity (4)

There are four contributing factors: (5)

  1. Processed foods
  2. Portion size
  3. Fast food
  4. Being less active

Let’s not forget to add in the hassle and headache it can take to go to the grocery store. You might not be able to be quantify it, but just bear it in mind.

Can you be healthy eating from the grocery store? Check out this chapter of the Grow Book!

grocery-shopping-fresh-food

Waste

The average American throws away 4.4 pounds of trash each day. The annual weight of trash from the entire country equals 254 million tons, that is the same as 1.2 million blue whales, and would reach to the moon and back 25 times, a journey of 11,534,090 miles. (6)

The sad thing is that you probably live closer to one of the 2,000 active landfills than you might think. Some inactive landfills have become public parks. (6)

Landfills also produce millions of cubic feet of methane gas each day. What impact does this have on our health?

Think of the waste from your groceries: food packaging, plastic produce bags, plastic bottles, twist ties, Styrofoam, and grocery bags that come along with buying groceries. This waste has to go somewhere. I kept track for several months of my grocery shopping days. Over half of my grocery list had some sort of packaging, which added up to about 10 lbs. a week.

Some cities are beginning to charge for every bag of garbage your put in the bin. The average cost is $2 per bag.

The good news is that 34.3 percent of garbage is being recycled or composted each year. That prevents 87.2 million tons of material from going into the landfill. (6)

Think about how much food you throw away because it spoiled in the refrigerator. Waste adds up!

Time

It takes me an hour to shop, but I also spend about 30 minutes to 45 minutes preparing to go grocery shopping, making my list, and seeing what needs to be bought. It takes about 15 minutes each way to get to and from the store. The parking lot is always a madhouse. Add the stress of that up in the Health section above.

Pros of going grocery shopping:

  • You can have your favorite food any time.
  • It’s convenient to run to the store if you need something.
  • Loyalty cards/Cash-back programs
  • Prepackaged, quick food

 

grocery-shopping-fresh-food

And in this corner … Home Grown Food!

(And the crowd goes wild!)

Even a small garden plot, can yield an estimated 7 lbs. of fresh produce per square foot. (It depends on where you live and what you plant.)

Expense

You will have an initial investment, which includes soil conditioning, garden beds, and seeds or plants. Based on my own start-up costs, I’m saying $250 for the veggies and $300 for the chickens. You can certainly do it cheaper. We’ll have more on that in future posts. I’ll average this out over the year.

Lettuce

Seeds: $2.50/pkt
Watering: 1 hour/every 3 days.
Labor: Minimal. I was surprised how easy this was to grow.
Final Yield: I had continuous salad mix by harvesting the outside leaves every couple of days. Estimated 5 lbs. throughout the season. I had a cup of salad greens every day for four months. I can definitely extend the season and produce more.

Carrots

Heirloom Seeds: $3.00/pkt
Watering on system: 1 hour/every 3 days
Labor: Minimal. Didn’t do much at all. They grew really well without much help.
Final yield: About 6 lbs. Plenty to eat raw and dehydrate, can, and freeze.

Tomatoes

Heirloom Seeds: $2.50 – $3.00/pkt  Heirloom Plants: $6.00 ea.
Watering on system: 1 hour/every 3 days
Labor: Average. About 15 minutes every other day, nipping suckers, watching for signs of disease or pests. My first seedlings didn’t make it, so I replanted heirloom plants.
Final Yield: A little less than 80 lbs. of tomatoes from 4 plants, enough to eat fresh and preserve for later in the year.

Basil (It’s difficult to grow basil from seeds)

1 Plant: $3.00 – $5.95
Watering on system: 1 hour/ every 3 days
Labor: minimal. Harvest leaves every few days. Grew like a weed.
Yield: Off of 2 plants, I got enough for 12 pint jars of pesto and a 16 oz. container of dried.

Apples

Bare tree: $20-$25
Watering: 1 hour/ every 3 days
Fertilizer: $10
Kaolin clay: $12
Labor: Intensive. planting, pruning, training, thinning, treating, picking up fallen fruit. About 20 minutes every other day.

Eggs (only have 6 laying hens and no rooster)

Feed: $100/mo. (This can be reduced with a little planning and a more mature garden.)
Water: 1 gallon per day
Room: about 100 square feet, including the coop and run. They free-range, too!
Labor: I do the deep-litter method, so there isn’t a lot of maintenance. I spend on average 30 minutes every day, checking, gathering eggs, feeding, cleaning the roost, and giving love.
Yield: average 2 dozen eggs/week. We keep one and sell one.

grocery-shopping-fresh-food

Health – Mental and Physical

New studies are showing that the microbes in the soil actually work a lot like Prozac. (7)  They give you good feelings, well-being, and happiness.

The food is healthy, too. You know exactly what was used to grow your groceries.

And let’s not forget the exercise factor. You can burn anywhere from 200 to 600 calories per hour gardening.

Waste

Growing your own groceries has minimal trash.

My family is still buying some food from the grocery store. Maybe one day, I’ll grow my own quinoa.

Now that I’m conscious of food packaging. I look for packaged food that can be recycled or composted. If not, I try not to buy it. My garbage went from one full bag of garbage every three days to a handful of recyclables, large bucketfuls of compostables, and less than 2 lbs. of actual garbage each month.

I’m still trying to minimize my footprint. The goal is zero-waste, or at least as close to it as possible!

Time

In my small garden (about 100 square feet, if you put it together), I spend an average of 20 hours each month in the garden on various chores during the growing season between February and November. I spend about five or so in the winter months on greens, looking through heirloom seed catalogs, and planning next year’s garden.

All of my beds are on a timed and water-regulated irrigation system. In other words, if it rains, the system doesn’t come on. This saves water and time.

The chickens take an average of 30 minutes-a-day winter and summer. They are quite the characters, so they provide entertainment as well.

I didn’t keep track of my preserving time (canning, drying, and freezing), so an estimate is about 10 to 20 hours total for the entire season.

Of course, I see this as time well spent. Twenty hours in the garden or 30 minutes for the chickens could easily be more, because I love it so much.

grocery-shopping-fresh-food

And the winner is…!

As far as cost goes, fresh food from the garden wins by a slim margin. However, it is difficult to quantify your health and happiness into this equation.

I know for me. I’m happier when I’m gardening. I know I’m healthier because of the exercise and eating good, clean food. The dollar amount is interesting, but almost inconsequential.

 grocery-shopping-fresh-food

Resources:

  1. [https://www.cnpp.usda.gov/USDAFoodPlansCostofFood]
  2. Department of Health and Human Services;[ https://aspe.hhs.gov/pdf-report/individual-market-premium-changes-2013-2017]
  3. The Atlantic [https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2014/10/why-americans-are-drowning-in-medical-debt/381163/]
  4. [https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/obesity-overweight.htm]
  5. American Cancer Society: [ https://www.cancer.org/cancer/cancer-causes/diet-physical-activity/body-weight-and-cancer-risk/health-issues.html]
  6. Save on Energy [ https://www.cancer.org/cancer/cancer-causes/diet-physical-activity/body-weight-and-cancer-risk/health-issues.html ]
  7. [http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-larry-dossey/is-dirt-the-new-prozac_b_256625.html]

Do you grow your own food and medicine? What savings have you seen? Tell us in the comments below.

 

Access our growing selection of Downloadable eBooks…

…. On topics that include growing your own food, herbal medicine, homesteading, raising livestock, and more!

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

The post Food War: Grocery Shopping Versus Home Grown Food appeared first on The Grow Network.

Inside Chicken Factory Farms—The Awful Truth

Click here to view the original post.

Despite the enormous amounts of chicken meat getting churned out daily, few people have any idea what’s really involved with raising chickens in a commercial setting.

Every year, more than 9 billion chickens1http://www.upc-online.org/chickens/chickensbro.html are raised and slaughtered in the United States, which accounts for roughly 95 percent of the land animals butchered for food each year.

The Factory Approach to Raising Chickens

As the meat industry has grown, the large companies that monopolize it consistently find ways to shield consumers from the reality of their meat. Though consumption of chicken meat has more than doubled per person since the 1970s,2https://www.ers.usda.gov/data-products/food-consumption-and-nutrient-intakes.aspx few people outside the industry have ever seen the inside of a chicken farm.

While it’s easy to imagine that most chickens spend their lives scratching around in lush pasture, the truth is quite different.

To understand the way that 99 percent of chickens are raised in the United States, you need to look closer at the factory farm.

Origins of the Factory Farm

Until the 1950s, raising chickens for meat was a costly process, so most people made do with the occasional chicken dinner as a Sunday treat.

Eggs were the prized commodity, and chicken meat was considered a bonus byproduct of raising eggs. Most coops were small, housing about 60 birds, and these birds had constant access to the outdoors to nest, roost, dust bathe and enjoy other natural chicken behaviors.

By the 1980s, the egg industry scaled up and began to shift from standard coops to massive complexes that often housed a half million birds per coop.3http://www.factory-farming.com/factory_farming.html

While these measures increased productivity and made economic sense, they came at a cost to the birds’ quality of life with overcrowding, disease and high death rates.

At the same time, advances in breeding produced the ‘broiler,’4http://www.upc-online.org/books/prisoned_chickens_poisoned_eggs_2009.pdf a chicken breed that gained weight faster and more efficiently than other varieties, making it perfect for the standardized conditions factory farms use when raising chickens.

Within a matter of decades, chicken moved from a luxury good to a standard meat that most families could afford to eat almost daily.

Conditions on Factory Farms

By nature, chickens are intelligent and social birds.

They prefer to live in groups of 30 in well-defined pecking orders, and they can recognize their flock mates and bond through communal activities like dust baths and prowling pastures in pursuit of bugs.

Hens are also extremely maternal and spend large portions of their lives sitting on eggs and raising their young.

Unborn chicks even chirp to their mothers through their shells.

In almost every way, factory farms stifle natural chicken instincts and force them to live in ways that are highly unpleasant for their physical and psychological health.

Some of the common issues plaguing modern chicken farms are described below.

Overcrowding

Space is money in factory farms, so most broiler chicken facilities tend to be extremely crowded, often allotting less than one square foot per chicken.5https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/apr/24/real-cost-of-roast-chicken-animal-welfare-farms

Not only does this make it impossible for chickens to roam, scratch or find any privacy, it thwarts their natural tendency to set up a hierarchy. This inevitably causes social tensions, and chickens respond to the stress by pecking each other and fighting.

To prevent the birds from injuring each other, chicken farmers simply debeak baby chicks with a hot blade (without any anesthesia) mere hours after they hatch.

Not only are most chicken farms critically short on floor space, they are also dark, stuffy and even dangerous.

Chickens evolved in tropical forests,6http://www.upc-online.org/books/prisoned_chickens_poisoned_eggs_2009.pdf and they like nothing more than fanning out their feathers on a hot summer day.

Yet, most factory farms are windowless, meaning that the thousands of birds in each house live out their days in a dusty, ammonia-filled space without ever seeing the sun.

Raising chickens for meat - watch the film.

Questionable Breeding Practices

Most chicken eaters tend to prefer white meat, so the breast and thighs are the most valuable part of each bird.

In the past decades, chickens have been bred to capitalize on this trend, and the resulting broilers have drastically enhanced breasts and thighs, to the point that these body parts outpace the growth rates of their leg bones and organs.

While broiler skeletons are only 85 percent formed at six weeks old, their bodies are required to support far more weight than a regular bird.

This means that most broilers become so heavyset at a few weeks of age that they can barely walk, and some break their legs or suffer heart attacks from the strain.7https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17435038

It’s not unheard of for some birds to die of thirst, as their overinflated bodies can make it physically impossible for them to reach their water nozzles.

It turns out that extra fat is bad for the consumer, too.

Studies conducted in London found that modern broiler chickens have three times the amount of fat they had 35 years ago,8https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19728900 mostly due to their carbohydrate-heavy diets and inability to roam around.

Pressure in the egg industry to produce cheaper cartons can also lead to physical problems for hens. Because of genetic selection for birds that start laying eggs younger, some hens struggle to lay eggs when their bodies aren’t fully developed.

This can lead to prolapsed uteruses,9http://www.the-chicken-chick.com/2012/04/prolapse-vent-causes-treatment-graphic.html or a uterus that gets pushed partway out of the body and immediately becomes vulnerable to infection and disease.

Because of the expense of treating illnesses like this, most prolapsed hens are left to languish until they die.

Animal Abuse

Of the 300 million laying hens10http://www.peta.org/issues/animals-used-for-food/factory-farming/chickens/egg-industry/ in the United States today, over 95 percent of them spend their lives in wire battery cages, most of which provide less than the size of a sheet of paper in living space.

This provides far less room than a hen needs to turn around, flap her wings, preen, or bathe.

These hens are crammed eight or nine in each cage, and the cages are stacked on top of each other, meaning that feces and food spills on the hens below. Fresh laid eggs drop through the wires of the cage for easy collection, therefore stifling the hen’s instinct to brood.

The inability to exercise and constant egg production means that calcium leaches from the hen’s bones, often causing them to break.

Resting against metal wires also causes injuries to her skin and feet, and most hens get severe skin abrasions on their sides. The combined stress of captivity and copious egg production ensures that most hens live for two years or less.

If the living conditions in egg farms are bad for hens, they are deadly for roosters.

As male chicks can’t lay eggs, they are considered to have no value and are suffocated, electrocuted, gassed, or ground up as soon as they are sexed.

Low-Quality Feed

In the wild, chickens spend much of their days foraging for sprouts and insects, meaning that their diet provides them with plenty of nutrition.

Unfortunately, factory farm conditions provide little opportunity for similar diet supplementation.

When factory farms are raising chickens, they feed them only GMO grains, and their rations are often mixed with ground up bits from other animals,11http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2014/07/23/cheap-factory-farmed-chicken.aspx including the carcasses of cows, pigs and even other chickens.

Antibiotics Overuse

To keep birds healthy in overly crowded and poorly ventilated conditions, they are fed copious amounts of antibiotics.

This helps control for bacterial diseases that otherwise thrive in coop conditions and helps birds retain water to add on weight before butchering. Widespread use of antibiotics in the meat industry is leading to global problems, including the rise of antibiotic-resistant “superbugs.”12http://thegrownetwork.com/antibiotic-free-meat/

Spread of Disease

It’s naïve to think that the all chickens in the grocery were healthy when they died.

In truth, many factory farm chickens are sick for much of their lives due to living in unsanitary, overcrowded conditions.

These birds spend their lives walking through piles for their own excretion and feathers, burning their eyes from the ammonia that results. This means that factory chickens have weakened immune systems, making them more susceptible to catching diseases from other chickens.

These conditions make the salmonella bacteria easy to spread, occasionally resulting in contamination for humans from uncooked meat.

Sometimes, infections become so out of control that an entire coop of chickens needs to be put down to prevent an outbreak from exploding.

In northwestern Iowa, such a fate met the chickens of Sunrise Farms.13http://www.cnbc.com/2015/04/24/inside-sunrise-farms-avian-flu-chicken-slaughter.html

Some of the birds in the 3.8 million flock contracted a case of bird flu, meaning that every bird in the facility was condemned to death and that the facility itself was quarantined indefinitely.

Pollution

Allowing large concentrations of animals to live together in cramped conditions inevitably leads to pollution problems, and commercial chicken farms produce a tremendous amount of waste every year.

According to research, a one million-bird hen house produces 125 tons of wet manure14https://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/detail/null/?cid=nrcs143_014211 every day, meaning that every truckload of feed that comes on a farm requires another load to carry waste away. This manure is often stored in massive piles where it can leak into the water system and create toxic conditions for nearby ecosystems.

Raising chickens for meat - watch the film.

Are ‘Free Range’ Farms Any Better?

As customers have gotten more informed about the true conditions factory farms provide when raising chickens, many companies have adjusted their poultry and egg production to be “free range.”

At first glance, this seems like a victory for chicken welfare, but is it?

In truth, there is no uniform standard about what it means to be raising chickens “free range.”

Chickens only need to be kept cage free and have access to the outdoors to qualify, even if they are packed onto overcrowded coop floors and their “outdoor space” is a cement pad that few birds ever venture on.

This means that the majority of ‘free range’ farms are as cramped and windowless as any other.15http://advocacy.britannica.com/blog/advocacy/2007/05/the-difficult-lives-and-deaths-of-factory-farmed-chickens/

Video: A Glimpse Inside

Ready to see inside a chicken farm yourself?

Getting photos or video footage inside a chicken coop is never easy, as the large companies that own them find it better that their customers have little idea of what’s really going on.

Farmers are often reluctant to speak up, as publicly complaining about the company they are contracted with can leave them in a lot of trouble, and often leads to hefty fines and broken contracts.

That’s why this footage from Craig Watts is so valuable.

Risking his business to reveal the truth, Craig allowed a film crew into his coops to get a look at what really goes on inside.

If you want an insider look at the way Perdue is raising chickens, watch this video to see for yourself.

In Summary

Raising chickens cheaply comes at a high cost for the planet, your health, and the well-being of the animals involved.

If you want to make a stand for healthier and more humane poultry practices, it’s important to know the reality of the dismal conditions within chicken farms today.

And consider raising your own backyard chickens … for eggs, meat, or both.   (Watch “Raising Meat Chickens – The Film” to see exactly how it’s done.)

Raising chickens for meat - watch the film.

References   [ + ]

1. http://www.upc-online.org/chickens/chickensbro.html
2. https://www.ers.usda.gov/data-products/food-consumption-and-nutrient-intakes.aspx
3. http://www.factory-farming.com/factory_farming.html
4, 6. http://www.upc-online.org/books/prisoned_chickens_poisoned_eggs_2009.pdf
5. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/apr/24/real-cost-of-roast-chicken-animal-welfare-farms
7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17435038
8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19728900
9. http://www.the-chicken-chick.com/2012/04/prolapse-vent-causes-treatment-graphic.html
10. http://www.peta.org/issues/animals-used-for-food/factory-farming/chickens/egg-industry/
11. http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2014/07/23/cheap-factory-farmed-chicken.aspx
12. http://thegrownetwork.com/antibiotic-free-meat/
13. http://www.cnbc.com/2015/04/24/inside-sunrise-farms-avian-flu-chicken-slaughter.html
14. https://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/detail/null/?cid=nrcs143_014211
15. http://advocacy.britannica.com/blog/advocacy/2007/05/the-difficult-lives-and-deaths-of-factory-farmed-chickens/

The post Inside Chicken Factory Farms—The Awful Truth appeared first on The Grow Network.

GROW: Staying Healthy and Free—Even In Old Age! (Video 3)

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You’ve seen this, I’m sure:

The connection between health and freedom?

With good health, we have the freedom to pursue hobbies … spend active days with family and friends … travel … and continue the everyday activities we, perhaps, take for granted in our younger years.

Yet as most people get older, they let health slip away, instead of vigorously pursuing it. And with it, their freedom slips away, too.

But what if I told you:

Health can continue into your 80s and 90s.

And that decline *isn’t* a given in your senior years. But instead, health is something you can actively continue to pursue—and as a result, hang on to that freedom.

In my fourth video chapter of Grow: All True Wealth Comes From the Ground, I explore 2 secrets to staying healthy and making your coming years the best ones yet.

Click PLAY to watch the video now:

In the video, I also talk secrets to staying healthy, including:

  • A SIMPLE Test to Determine Longevity
  • Why Exercise Doesn’t Equal Fitness
  • The Absolute BEST Way to Incorporate Movement Into Daily Life

After you watch it, would you leave me a comment?

I’d love to know:

How do you add movement to your life?

What movements make you feel best?

I can’t thank you enough.

I’m looking forward to hearing from you!

The post GROW: Staying Healthy and Free—Even In Old Age! (Video 3) appeared first on The Grow Network.

GROW: What Toxins Are Hiding in Your Home… Making You Sick? (Video 2)

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Is your shampoo killing you?

How about your carpet?

Most people would be shocked to learn of the number of common household items that are making them sick … or worse.

That’s why my second chapter-turned-video of Grow: All True Wealth Comes From the Ground explores the toxins that are all around us…

…and what we can do to avoid them!

Click PLAY to watch the video now:

In this video, you’ll learn:

  • The 2 Physical Causes of ALL Disease and Illness
  • EVERYDAY Ways Toxins Are Getting Into Your Body
  • Why the USDA and FDA Are Turning a Blind Eye to the Contamination of Our Commercial Food Supply
  • More Than a Dozen Steps You Can Take to Help PREVENT Toxicity in Your Home and Body

After you watch the video, I would SO appreciate it if you would leave me a comment to let me know your experiences with toxicity.

Have toxins made you sick?

How do you keep toxins out of your home and body?

Thank you again for taking the time to watch this video!

Your experiences and the wisdom you have gleaned from them are so valuable—and very well might end up in Grow: All True Wealth Comes From the Ground!

(If you missed them, watch the FIRST VIDEO and SECOND VIDEO in the series here (#1) and here (#2).

The post GROW: What Toxins Are Hiding in Your Home… Making You Sick? (Video 2) appeared first on The Grow Network.

Antibiotic Resistance on the Move

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New Development in Antibiotic Resistance

A new study came out on Tuesday that investigates the way antibiotic resistance spreads on pig farms, and beyond.  What did they find?  Well, let’s just say that what happens on the pig farm doesn’t necessarily stay on the pig farm.

The study was led by Michigan State University’s Center for Microbial Ecology, with help from the Chinese Academy of Sciences, and the USDA National Animal Disease Center.

The Abridged Version

Working with pigs from a lab in the US, and pig farms in China, the researchers identified and sequenced 44 genes that are related to antibiotic resistance, and its distribution on pig farms.

What they found is a little alarming, but it shouldn’t be too surprising if you’ve been following along.  They found that there is a direct correlation between bacteria that can resist antibiotics, and the ability of those bacteria to spread their resistant traits to other bacteria.

In other words, the bacteria haven’t only learned to resist antibiotics – they have also learned to spread that resistance to their neighbors.

New Insights into Multidrug Resistance

On a pig farm, there is a rich and dense population of pig bacteria.  That’s not a bad thing in and of itself.  The same could be said for a large, centralized population of any other living thing – including humans.

When any particular antibiotic is used, bacteria can develop resistance to it.  So it stands to reason that bacteria may be resistant to antibiotics they have seen before, but they should be susceptible to antibiotics they have not seen before.

This study shows that it’s not that simple.  When one antibiotic is used, resistance to many antibiotics can increase.  The study identified single genes that lend resistance to 6 classes of antibiotics.

Learn More About Your Biome: Microbes 2.0 – A Tiny Manifesto

Resistant Bacterial gone “Viral”

When multidrug resistance does develop, it can be passed between unrelated bacteria using a process known as horizontal gene transfer.

While science has been aware of the problem of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, and the concept of horizontal gene transfer, before now – this new research shows a direct link between the two.

As a result, when one bacterium develops resistance to one drug, you can end up with a community of unrelated bacteria that possess resistance to many drugs.

The study’s authors go so far as to say that “multidrug-resistant bacteria are likely the norm rather than the exception in these communities.”

There Goes the Neighborhood

Now for the really interesting part!

They also looked at soil from Chinese vegetable farms that use manure-based fertilizer.  In the fertilized soil, they found completely different bacteria than they found on the pig farm – as you would expect.

But the completely different bacteria in the soil did possess the same multidrug-resistant genes that they found on the pig farm.  Yikes!

According to Yongguan Zhu, co-author from the Chinese Academy of Science, “This indicates that on the Chinese farms, the potential for resistance gene transfer among environmental bacteria is likely.”  So, what happens on the pig farm does not stay on the pig farm.

Read more about antimicrobial resistance: Antimicrobial Resistance in the News

The Bottom Line for the Biome

Slowly but surely, the scientific community is arriving at the realization that antibiotics in the food supply, and antibiotic misuse in general, are a direct threat to human welfare.

As soon as the problem of antibiotic resistance began popping up in hospitals around the world, there was a call to separate the antibiotics that are used for animals from the antibiotics that are used in human medicine.  Some people believed that if we reserved certain antibiotics for human use only, we could keep antibiotic-resistance confined to the farm.

No such luck.  The use of one antibiotic in either location – the farm or the hospital – can result in bacteria that are resistant to multiple drugs, and that resistance can probably be passed from one bacteria to another unrelated bacteria, in real time, across environmental barriers.

So what’s next?  The authors of this study suggest that we need to monitor and manage known genetic pools of antibiotic resistance.  And we need to begin reducing the presence of resistant genes on farms – which means cutting out the antibiotics.

paul-wheaton-6-ways-to-keep-chickens


 

Sources:

1: Antibiotic resistance genes increasing – http://msutoday.msu.edu/news/2016/antibiotic-resistance-genes-increasing/
2: Clusters of Antibiotic Resistance Genes Enriched Together Stay Together in Swine Agriculture – http://mbio.asm.org/content/7/2/e02214-15

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Hand Washing and the Fear of the Faucet

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Don’t Fear the Faucet, Sir

In public bathrooms around the world today, men and boys everywhere will finish up their business, zip up, and stroll right back out into the world – without even glancing at the sink on their way out.  Gross.

You might say, “Not my man – he knows better.”  And I hope you’re right.

But, as a man in the world, I see this all the time.  I haven’t exactly kept count, but if I had to make an educated guess based on my own personal experience, I would guess that 50% of the men in public restrooms don’t wash their hands on the way out.

I’ve seen this in the workplace, in restaurants and stores, in airports and stadiums… you name it.

And They Admit It

So I did some quick research and I found that, unfortunately, my hunch was correct – roughly half of the people on earth can’t be bothered to wash their hands after using the bathroom.

Initial Hygiene, a UK company, published a survey in February 2015 of 100,000 Europeans, and they found that 62% of men, and 40% of women, regularly don’t wash their hands after using a public bathroom.  So I guess it’s not only men who are doing this.

An American company, the Bradley Corporation, published a similar survey in October 2015, without drawing a line between genders.  They found that 92% of respondents believe it’s important to wash their hands after using a public restroom, but that only 66% say they always do it.  And a full 70% admitted that they regularly don’t use soap.

It gets even worse.  In 2013, a team from Michigan State University published a report in the Journal of Environmental Health, in which they studied 3,749 people in public restrooms.  They found that only 5% of the people in their sample washed their hands long enough to destroy infectious germs with soap – 15 to 20 seconds.

Make your own simple non-toxic cleaners: Easy and Natural Home Cleaning

Why Not Wash?

Why wouldn’t you wash your hands?

Are people really too busy to stop and wash?  I don’t think so.  If you have time to pee, you have time to wash and rinse, right?  It takes less than 30 seconds.

Is there some stigma about washing your hands that I don’t know about?  Does stopping to wash your hands mean that you’re admitting to having dirty hands?  I don’t get it.

I think the real answer is that the average guy generally doesn’t think about the consequences.  He looks at his hands and they don’t look dirty, so he blows it off – “it’ll be fine.”

Hand Washing and Disease

But in reality, at the moment this man is looking at his hands, there are literally trillions of bacteria right there in front of his eyes.  Some of these are the normal, healthy organisms that have been on his skin all along.

But some are random, strange, bathroom bacteria that this person has never come in contact with before.  And now they’re on the skin of his hands – the most likely spot to touch his eyes, mouth, nose, ears, and… well, all of his other openings too.  The skin of his hand is also where germs are most likely to be passed to other people – whether family or stranger.

And it’s not just about bacteria.  This is a great way for a virus to spread too.  A microbiologist named Charles Gerba published a study in 2014 where he used a harmless “tracer” virus to demonstrate that a virus placed on a strategically located door handle can spread throughout a typical office space within 2 to 4 hours.

If there were ever a time to wash your hands, this is it!

Read more about the organisms that live inside and on your body: Microbes 2.0 – A Tiny Manifesto

Scaring People Straight

Research has found that posting signs about the importance of hand washing does actually make a difference in how frequently people stop to wash their hands after using the bathroom.

That company I mentioned above, Initial Hygiene, offers a product that uses sensors to count the number of people who use the bathroom against the number of people who wash their hands.  It keeps a running tab, and displays the results publicly on the bathroom wall.  So on the way out, you see the percentage of people that have washed their hands after using the bathroom.  They claim that this increases hand washing by 50%.

One simple change that I think would help is scarier signs.  Instead of a cute sketch of two hands under a faucet…  How about a nasty microscopic image of a virus, alongside a picture of a sick person?  I think that might stop the average guy in the example above, so instead of saying, “it’ll be fine,” he says, “well, better safe than sorry.”

hand-washing-sign

Don’t Go Overboard – Soap is Sufficient

Please don’t get all freaked out and start spraying antibacterial products everywhere.

Soap is a great tool for this job.  Just wash your hands with soap.  While it can kill some bacteria and viruses, what it’s really good at is removing them from your skin.

If you need to use a hand sanitizer, there are some that have water as their base and use herbal compounds as their active ingredients – those seem like the mildest solution.

Avoid products that contain synthetic antimicrobial compounds like Triclosan.  Even though these may make you feel better today, you are helping to create stronger and stronger germs for tomorrow – each time you use an antimicrobial like this.  The problem of antimicrobial resistance used to be science fiction, but today it has become a very real problem in the world.  Yes, today.  But that’s another topic for another post.

Clean your hands without synthetic chemicals: How to Make a Natural Antibacterial Hand Sanitizer

A Closing Plea

A plea to building designers and automation engineers…

There are some of us who try, every time, to leave the bathroom with as few germs as possible in tow on our skin and clothing.  We are the people who use the paper “toilet seat condoms.”  We try not to touch dirty surfaces, and we wash our hands every time.

We’ve watched with wonder over the past few decades as you all have automated urinals, toilets, water faucets, paper towel dispensers, and even soap dispensers!  Bravo!  We hardly have to touch anything anymore, if we don’t want to.

But still, at the end of every public bathroom experience is the single worst part… the doorknob.

No matter how well you wash, and no matter how futuristic the whole bathroom is, the last thing we do on our way out is grab the dirtiest object in the place – the same thing that the other 70% of people who didn’t even wash their hands grabbed on their way out.

It’s the doorknob you should automate!  Automate the bathroom door!

organic-seed-alliance-seed-saving-guide


Sources:

1: Do YOU always wash your hands after going to the loo? http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2971931/Do-wash-hands-going-loo-62-men-40-women-admit-don-t-bother.html
2: Global Handwashing Day Focuses on Need for Universal Hand Hygiene. http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/global-handwashing-day-focuses-on-need-for-universal-hand-hygiene-300159521.html
3: Only 5% Wash Their Hands Properly After Going To The Toilet. http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/261875.php
4: How quickly viruses can contaminate buildings and how to stop them. http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2014-09/asfm-hqv090214.php
5: Hygiene Connect. http://www.initial.co.uk/hygiene-connect/
6: Hand Hygiene: Why, How & When? http://www.who.int/gpsc/5may/Hand_Hygiene_Why_How_and_When_Brochure.pdf

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Holistic Weight Loss for Gardeners

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Support Your Body, Mind, and Soul for Healthy Weight Loss

Looking for holistic weight loss strategies? While there’s a whole psychology around weight loss, there are a few simple tricks that you can implement right away.

The first is sleep. As any health practitioner will tell you, if you aren’t sleeping properly, you can kiss your weight loss goals goodbye (yes, it has everything to do with cortisol and adrenal health).

The second is stress. And your food can be a major part of your daily stress management. Eating is a time of rest and digest. It’s a time to sit down and replenish. Enjoy your food, and chew it thoroughly.

The third is appreciation. Being grateful for your food helps you to appreciate all that you have right now. If you are thankful for the food, then you will be thankful for the person who worked hard to grow the food, and guess what… that person is you! You’re eating healthy food, celebrating an accomplishment, and you’re starting to feel better already.

When you’ve got the basics down and you’re ready to really shed some weight, your garden is a great resource for weight loss.

Here are 8 weight loss strategies that should fit right in for home gardeners. Think home grown veggies, fiber, and water. And, of course, some exercise too.

8 Holistic Weight Loss Strategies for Gardeners

The 80-10-10 Rule

One of the best tips for weight loss is to follow the 80-10-10 guideline: 80 percent of each meal is comprised of low glycemic veggies with the other two 10 percent portions being protein and fat. Note the word guideline here, because you can play around with the numbers.

For example, one person might choose to eat 50% low glycemic veggies and 30% medium or high glycemic veggies (e.g. carrots, squash, potatoes, etc). Another person might use this rule and eat 60% low glycemic veggies and 20% medium to high glycemic fruits. Yet another person might up the protein or fat, perhaps to 15% each, with 70% being low glycemic veggies. And still another person might not make much fuss about the glycemic index and just eat a combined total of 70-80% veggies.

Generally speaking, making half of each meal with low glycemic veggies is a good rule of thumb to follow. Here’s what that might look like: a green smoothie for breakfast, soup with veggie “buns” for lunch, and steamed veggies with protein and a salad for dinner.

Having snacks on hand to curb hunger and prevent you from eating something not-so-healthy is also a really good strategy. Keep low glycemic fruits like Granny Smith apples; cut up veggies like carrots, celery, and bell peppers; or a handful of seeds and nuts, or trail mix, on hand for times when you have the munchies. Fruit leathers, fruit chips, veggie chips and kale chips are some other healthy snacks that you can DIY for cheap.

Read about several healthy DIY snacks here: 5 Dehydrator Recipes for Home Grown Fruits and Vegetables

vegan-taco-wrap

Swap out the Carbs

A great way to follow the above rule is to out swap out high glycemic foods like bread, pasta and cereal with low carb veggie options. There are also many snacks and desserts you can make where veggies are the main ingredient. Look for recipes of this kind in Paleo cookbooks. If you’re the kind of person that says you just have to look at carbs and you’ll put on the pounds, you’ll really benefit from incorporating this eating strategy. Looking for a few ideas right away? Get the scoop and a slew of recipes in my article 8 Ways to Replace Carbs with Home Grown Veggies.

Think Liquid Nutrition

Does your green smoothie make you feel like voguing? It should! Green smoothies feature fiber-rich, low glycemic greens married with sweet fruits and blended to a smooth puree.

Some people have an issue with downing a green colored drink. They wonder whether or not green smoothies taste good. The answer is unequivocally yes!

Green is the new black, folks. Greens are hot, and they are always in style. Not only are greens low in calories, but they are a good source of protein. Green smoothies make an excellent choice for breakfast, snack time, or as a pre-/post- workout energy boost.

The secret to making an outstanding green smoothie? Finding that perfect balance of sweetness from the fruits to smooth out any rough edges from the bitter greens.

Everyone’s taste buds vary, but as you get used to that healthy taste, your body will actually crave a more bitter tasting brew; in other words, more greens and less fruit.

The bitter taste is actually the most underdeveloped taste here in the West. That’s a shame, because bitter foods and herbs are great ways to stimulate the production of bile from the liver to help with digestion.

Here’s a fun recipe to try that boasts minerals and vitamins by replacing the water in a green smoothie with an herbal weight loss infusion:

Banana Kiwi Nettle Silk-y Smoothie Recipe

  • 3-4 handfuls chopped red kale
  • 2 oranges, peeled & seeded (or manually juiced if you prefer)
  • 2 apples, cored (peeled if you prefer)
  • 2-3 cups corn silk* and nettle infusion**, for consistency
  • 2 bananas, peeled
  • 2 kiwis, peeled

Instructions: Add all ingredients to a high speed blender and whip to a smooth consistency.

Variation: Juice the kale, oranges and apples first. Add the juice to a high speed blender with the rest of the ingredients and whip to a smooth puree.

Variation of Herbal Infusion: Use 1/3 ounce each corn silk, nettle and lemon balm.

*Corn silk can be purchased at Asian markets, but you can also collect those corn “strings” when you eat fresh corn on the cob (simply let silk dry out by spreading  on newspaper or on mesh sheets in a dehydrator before making the infusion). Corn silk is used as a diuretic and weight-loss aid.

**To make the infusion: place 1/2 ounce each corn silk and nettle in a 1-liter mason jar. Add in boiling water to the top. Place on lid and screw cap, let sit 4 hours, then strain out solids and use in recipe.

Here are some ideas for making juice and smoothies from some items you might not have thought about: 9 Ways to Eat Commonly Wasted Seeds, Stems, Peels & More

More Options for Liquid Nutrition

Other options to get you thinking liquid nutrition? Freshly made green and veggie juices, soups and congees.

While juices don’t have any fiber, they offer up a quick rush of energy packed with antioxidant power and they help alkalize your system. And while green juices – which boast leafy greens and low glycemic fruits like apples – are low in calories, veggie juices like carrot and beet juice are excellent to help the liver flush toxins out of the body. You can also use the psyllium tip below before gulping down that juice to help keep you feeling full for longer.

When it comes to soup, have you ever noticed that pureed veggie soups are similar to green smoothies and juices, except that the veggies are first cooked before being pureed? Carrot, broccoli, leek and potato soup, all make for light liquids (or meals) that fill up the stomach. Yet to help keep you satiated for longer, consider trying this hack: add water to a one-pot meal and puree it into a soup. For example, take rice, chicken, and veggies and add sufficient water to turn it into a puree. Make sure to add your fave herbs and spices, warm it up and done! The trick is that because you’ve added water and your belly can only hold so much, you’ll actually be eating less food than had you eaten the one-pot meal by itself.

Congees are similar to soups, and like soups they offer up lots of water with few calories: the usual recipe is 1 cup rice to 5-7 cups water (although I’ve seen recipes for as much as 8-9 cups water). Place both in a crock pot and let cook overnight. You can do this with brown rice or white rice and even some whole grains like rye and millet. To add taste to your congee, replace the water with chicken, veggie or mushroom stock and add in your fave herbs and spices to taste. You can also add in 1-2 tablespoons of miso or hoisin sauce to add flavor; add in chunks of chicken, fish, or tofu; and add in 1-2 bunches of chopped green onions or shallots. In Chinese medicine, congees are seen as a nourishing “porridge” for those under the weather or who have weak digestion, but they also serve as great comfort food during the colder winter months. Here’s a simple and tasty recipe to help you out with this idea:

Easy Ginger & Tempeh Rice Congee Recipe

  • 1 cup jasmine rice
  • 8 cups water
  • 1 package tempeh, diced
  • 2 bunches spring onion, chopped
  • 2 TBsp freshly grated ginger

Instructions: Add all to a crock pot and place on low for 6-8 hours or overnight. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve warm.

Fill Up On Fiber

When we think of fiber, we often think of fruits and veggies.  But while fruits and veggies offer up insoluble fiber – mucilaginous seeds like flax and chia, as well as psyllium husk, offer up soluble fiber that not only helps to regulate bowel movements but that helps keeping you feeling satiated for longer. To help keep you full – and hence, to help you eat less – take 1 tablespoon psyllium husk with a glass of water, half an hour before meals. You can also use 1 tablespoon ground chia or flax seed as well.

Green Goddesses of Weight Loss

Most of the herbs that are used in weight loss tend to be stimulants that work on metabolism, or diuretics that help flush water out of the body. A simple green goddess herb for holistic weight loss is Chickweed (Stellaria media) – it grows wild, is easy to grow, self-seeds readily, and is shade-loving. Chickweed contains saponins and natural lecithin that mop up fat and allow for better absorption of nutrients and minerals.

You can make a standard infusion of 1 ounce dried herb to 4 cups boiling water in a mason jar, let sit 4 hours, then strain and drink 2-4 cups a day.

A daily dropperful of tincture will also work: chop fresh chickweed with scissors and slightly pack to fill a mason jar (size depends on how much herb you have). Fill the jar with 100 proof alcohol (50% by volume), put on lid and screw cap and let sit 6 weeks. Strain and pour into sterilized amber bottles. Chickweed can also be juiced, added to smoothies, tossed into salads and cooked like spinach. If you don’t happen to have any on hand, Mountain Rose Herbs has both dried chickweed and extract.

Another green goddess herb for weight loss is parsley – this known diuretic might already be growing in your garden. Nothing could be easier than giving this spritely herb a rinse and juicing her with other fruits and veggies to partake of her weight loss benefits. Here’s a simple and refreshing recipe that doubles as a green juice and green smoothie:

Parsley Rules – Juice or Smoothie Recipe

  • 2 zucchini, chopped
  • 1 bunch celery, chopped
  • 1 cucumber, chopped
  • 1 bunch parsley, chopped

Instructions: Juice all ingredients and drink up! Alternatively, add all to a blender with enough water for consistency. And a third option still: juice the fibrous celery and parsley. Add to a high speed blender and blend in the zucchini and cucumber.

Variation: You can add a cored apple or two for sweetness. You can either juice the apples or add them directly (peeled, if desired) to the blender with the rest of the ingredients.

Stinging Nettle (Urtica dioica) is another diuretic and lymphatic system stimulant that is a superior ally in breaking down cellulite and encouraging the kidneys to release metabolic waste. Drinking 2-4 cups daily of this nourishing infusion will also supply you with a host of nutrients that support overall health, including adrenal health, such as chlorophyll, iron, calcium, magnesium, potassium, zinc, copper, and Vitamins A, D, and K. To make a nettle infusion, follow the directions above to make a chickweed infusion but use nettle instead. For a recipe idea using nettle infusion, try this nettle soup recipe:

Nettle, Asparagus & Broccoli Soup Recipe

  • 3 cups nettle infusion
  • 2 bunches asparagus
  • 2 zucchini, chopped
  • 1 handful broccoli florets
  • 1/2 red onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 cup water
  • 3-4 tsp Chinese 5-spice or Moroccan marinade mix, to taste
  • 3-4 TBsp olive oil

Instructions: Blend nettle infusion with veggies and water in a high speed blender. Add soup to pot with spices to taste and warm up. Place in soup bowls, add in oil and serve.

Timing Counts

A very important rule for weight loss is not to eat after 7 PM. This is not only a “secret” known in bodybuilding circles, but is a truism known in Chinese medicine that eating late at night puts a strain on the liver that impinges weight loss. As I’m sure you’re aware, the liver is a major organ in the body that plays a crucial role in fat digestion and in detoxification, and does a host of 500+ jobs in the body.

From a nutritional or naturopathic perspective, not eating late at night also makes sense: eating a heavy meal at night (e.g. protein and fat) that can take up to 5-6 hours to digest will impede the process of rest and repair during sleep. If you are hungry after 7 PM, make it something liquid, such as a green juice, or something easy to digest like a small piece of fruit. I can’t tell you how many people have followed this simple rule of timing and have seen weight loss results (plus have been helped with their liver issues).

Polar Bear Skinny Dipping

If this sounds like you plunging into cold water in your birthday suit, you’re spot on! It’s also called cold water immersion therapy, cold therapy, cold thermogenesis and cryotherapy.

To do: fill your bath tub with cold running water. If it’s winter weather, the water will be cold enough. If not, add in a bag of ice or two to get that water really cold. Get in and sit in the tub for 5 minutes.

The first time is the worst, I’ll warn you now. It’s darn cold, but your body will go into thermogenesis, a fancy term which means that your body will kick start its metabolism to conserve heat and you’ll start shivering. During this process, your “brown” fat (brown adipose tissue) which is found in your sternum, collarbones, neck and upper back will start to burn up the white fat that hangs around hips, thighs, buns, and bellies – the stuff that everyone wants to get rid of. You can do this every day or every second day. Try to add 5 minutes each time you do it until you reach 30 minutes.

In case you’re wondering if this is healthy, this technique has been shown to boost the immune system, improve sleep quality, enhance hormone levels, improve sexual performance, lower blood sugar, and help with food cravings.

Does it work for weight loss? Many people swear by this technique, although it is a little extreme.

If you’re looking for a much more gentle approach – which will work on the lymphatic system – you can play with the cold and hot water taps during your shower. After washing up, adjust the water to a cool temperature that is kind of cold but that you can withstand. Do this for 30 seconds up to 1 minute, then put it back to warm for another 30-60 seconds. Do this for a minimum of 10 times. With time, your body will be better able to tolerate the cool water, and you’ll be able to adjust the water so that it’s much colder. This technique will help you to flush toxins out of your body, as well as to support your weight loss goals.

happy-and-healthy-woman-working-in-her-garden

Exercise

We all know that exercise is important, and the great news is that you don’t have to pay a cent to lose weight. The cheapest and easiest? Walking. It costs nothing and you can do it anywhere, anytime, right from your front door. Snowstorm or not, there’s just no excuse (in fact, you actually get a better workout walking in the snow because of the resistance). Other free workouts include gardening, dancing, and shoveling snow. Gardening is especially good exercise, because the more you do it, the more your diet improves.

There’s a plethora of free instructional videos on YouTube – everything from barre classes, belly dancing, and pilates to high intensity cross-fit and sandbag training – that you can do in the comfort of your home.

Two other dirt cheap ways to shed pounds? Skipping and rebounding. For a few dollars, you can buy a jump rope and walk-jump on a pedestrian path, along a track field or in a park. Skipping burns more calories in less time than running; although if you have joint issues, you’re better off going for a jog in the pool or jumping on a rebounder. Jumping on a rebounder is a great way to stimulate the lymphatic system, helping your body with detoxification. It also boost the immune system, increases mitochondrial production (provides energy), and improves balance and coordination. It makes very little noise (great if you live in an apartment) and a hand rail can be used for those with mobility issues. Rebounding is used by astronauts to help with bone mass and density – which goes to show you that something as simple as rebounding can have a profound effect on your body.

So get moving already!

Read more: The Secret to a Long and Happy Life is in the Garden

Finding the Right Diet and Exercise for You

So what’s more important, diet or exercise? How about both?

Finding the right types of food and exercise for your lifestyle and your specific body type are a much better prescription for holistic weight loss than any of the latest diets du jour.

To help you discover what’s best for you, you can refer to some existing classification systems that recommend eating strategies according to body type. You might be interested in learning about eating for your metabolic type (see Dr. Mercola’s website), your dosha type according to Ayurvedic medicine (see Nature’s Formulary), or your blood type (see Dr. Peter d’Adamo).

For specific types of weight loss exercise (as well as dietary recommendations), see either Dr. Eric Berg or Dr. Abravanel for your hormonal body type.

The post Holistic Weight Loss for Gardeners appeared first on The Grow Network.

5 Dehydrator Recipes for Home Grown Fruits and Vegetables

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Is Buying a Dehydrator Worth the Cost?

Buying a dehydrator can be an investment, although they do come in several different sizes. The smallest dehydrators are typically the cheapest. Often times, the only difference between a “big” dehydrator and a “small” dehydrator is the number of stacking trays that are included – and some brands are modular, so that you can buy more stacking trays as you need them.

Sure a dehydrator is used to dry food, but what about using an oven? And what kinds of things can you dry exactly? While you can dry food on a silicone non-stick baking mat (or parchment paper) at the lowest temperature in an oven, usually around 170F, it takes a long time for the food to dry and there is often a risk of burning. That’s because the function of an oven is to bake, broil and roast food, not to dry it. In comparison, a dehydrator comes equipped with a fan for ventilation and has a temperature range of 95F to 160F. It uses very little electricity and makes about the same amount of noise as a stove. As for what kinds of uses a dehydrator can have, check out the following ideas and recipes. It may just be worth your while to own one if you fancy making these tasty dehydrated treats.

Dried Herbs & Wild Edibles

Growing your own herbs just makes sense: they’re cheap and easy; they make your garden look beautiful and attract pollinators to the garden; and most importantly they enrich your body with local, organic, and sustainable goodness. Leaves such as rosemary, parsley, and oregano; seeds such as celery, dill, and coriander; edible flowers like rose, chamomile, and calendula; and medicinal herbs like lemon balm, feverfew, and mint – all can be easily dried on mesh or solid sheets in your dehydrator.

While you can dry at the lowest recommended setting of 95F, you can also let them air dry before storing them in paper bags or glass containers. If you happen to be growing a lot of herbs, a larger model of dehydrator will come in mighty handy, especially if you also enjoy foraging for wild edibles and wildcrafting with medicinal herbs. Dandelions, violets, plantains, and yarrow come lilting and dancing in spritely spring; wood sorrels, sow thistles, mallows and day lilies beckon forth enticingly in the passionate euphoria of summer; while dandy burdock roots, plantain seeds, rose hips and elderberries lie still waiting in the cool cornucopia of fall. All of these, and so many others, can be made useful by being dried on the many stacked trays of your trusty dehydrator, whatever the season! Drying red clover blossoms is a really great example of how handy a dehydrator can be: since each flower shouldn’t to touch another, a dehydrator with multiple trays is an excellent way to dry a bunch at once, instead of having them spread out all over your kitchen table. Indeed, instead of spreading things out on your table and having your kitchen look a little bit more homely than usual, a dehydrator keeps things looking nice and tidy!

If you want to get started right away, but you don’t own a dehydrator yet – check out this simple trick to dry your herbs with nothing other than a mesh bag: Drying Herbs the Easy Way

Fruit Leathers

You know those fruit leathers, or “roll ups” they sell at the supermarket? They are simply fruits that have been pureed and then dried. You can DIY for cheap, they are easy-peasy to make and oh-so healthy. How to? Blend fresh fruits in a blender to a puree and spread to 1/4 inch thick on a solid sheet. Dehydrate ’til dry, flip the other side, peel off the solid sheet, then continue drying until completely dry. That’s it. You can use just one fruit, like only raspberries, only blueberries, only apples; or do a mix of fruit, such as apples and berries together. Any combination will do, they all pretty much tasty. You can also mix veggies and fruits together, like half carrots and half apples, or half carrots and half peaches.

The bonus is that you can make your own flavors that aren’t sold in stores, like kiwi, plum and strawberry-beet. Don’t care for the seeds? Simply use a food mill after pureeing, then spread thinly on a solid sheet. Not sweet enough? Add in a bit of stevia and dehydrate away! Not only do fruit leathers make healthy snacks, but they make great trail food too. And did I mention that making fruit leathers is a great way to use up fruits and veggies that are starting to rot? Or that your favorite green smoothie can be turned into a fruit leather? While there are plenty of recipes out there, here’s an easy one to get you inspired right away:

Berry Green Fruit Leather Recipe

• 2 cups berries (any kind)
• 1 cup peeled and chopped beets
• 1-2 handfuls chopped greens (e.g. kale, spinach, lettuce, etc.)
• Stevia, to sweeten
• 1/2 cup water, for consistency

Instructions: Puree berries, beets, and greens with enough water to make a smooth puree. Add in stevia to sweeten. Pour onto solid sheets and use a spoon or spatula to spread evenly to 1/4 inch thick. Dehydrate at 115F until dry. Flip, carefully peel away solid sheets and continue drying on mesh sheets, about 6-8 hours total. Using clean scissors, cut fruit leather into long strips or squares.

Notes: 1) You can use 1 cup leftover cooked beets instead. 2) You can pass the puree through a food mill first to remove any seeds, then pour and spread onto solid sheets. 3) Note that the type of green used and how much will affect the taste. 4) You can use 1-2 cups steamed or cooked greens instead. 5) Feel free to double or triple this recipe!

Variation: Apple ‘n’ Cinnamon Fruit Leather: Replace berries with 4-5 peeled, cored and chopped apples. Puree with the rest of the ingredients and add in 1-2 tsp cinnamon to taste. Add in 1-2 bananas for extra sweetness, if desired.

Dried Fruit, Fruit Powders & Chips

If you’re growing your own fruit trees, then besides making jellies, jams and fruit leathers, drying your own fruits is an excellent way to preserve them. Simply slice the fruit 1/8 – 1/4 inch thick and place on mesh sheets to dry. How long it will take for the fruit to dry will depend on moisture content of the fruit and humidity in the air. Once dried, wait 20-30 minutes and evaluate their crispness: can you break them in half? If yes, you can then store the dried pieces in vacuum sealed bags or in glass containers with tight fitting lids. If you are worried about mold, however, you can go one step further and fill a mason jar 3/4 of the way with the dried fruit. Put on the lid and shake twice a day for one week. If you see any condensation, the fruit isn’t dry enough and you should put it back in the dehydrator to dry for longer. If there isn’t any condensation, then you can keep the fruit in the mason jar or store it any way you like.

Interested in growing your own fruit trees? Check out these helpful articles: Create an Inexpensive Orchard with Bare Root Fruit Trees and Prune Your Fruit Trees Now for a Great Harvest Later

Sometimes these dried fruit slices are called chips, and they fetch a high price in health food stores. DIY couldn’t be easier. Sprinkle on your fave spices and sweeteners – for instance, rub apple slices in lemon juice and cinnamon, or top strawberry slices with powdered stevia. You can even dip blueberries in melted chocolate before drying them! In fact, making your own is not only cheaper, it also means you can make fruit chips that you can’t find in stores, like carambola and prickly pear.

dehydrated-apple-chips

Dehydrated apple chips

After your fruit is dried, you can use a high speed blender to grind it into a powder, and you will have made your own smoothie powder! You can use 1/2 – 1 tsp arrowroot powder to help with clumping, if you like. The fruit powder you make can be added to smoothies, sprinkled over porridge and cereal; reconstituted with juice to make popsicles; whisked with vinegar and oil to make fruity salad dressings; added to baked goods like cookies, muffins, waffles, and pancakes; and used to add flavoring to meringues, yogurt, and sorbets.

Here are 2 fun recipes using powdered strawberries for you to try:

Simple Strawberry Dressing Recipe

• 3 TBsp olive oil
• 1 TBsp apple cider vinegar (or your fave herbal vinegar)
• 1 tsp strawberry powder
• Stevia to sweeten

Instructions: Blend all ingredients together, adding additional strawberry powder for flavor, and additional stevia for sweetness, if desired. Feel free to add as much strawberry powder as you like.

Simple Strawberry Popsicles Recipe

• 1/2 cup apple juice
• 3-4 TBsp hot water
• 2 tsp or more strawberry powder
• Stevia to sweeten

Instructions: In a bowl, dissolve the strawberry powder in the hot water. Stir in the apple juice and sweeten with stevia. You can add in more powder, dissolved with hot water, for a stronger taste. Pour into popsicle molds and freeze. Enjoy!

Veggie Leathers as “Bread”

Instead of going the carb (e.g. grain) or fat (e.g. flax or chia) route to make breads, buns, and wraps; why not make “bread” using just veggies? Veggie leathers have the same texture as fruit leathers and you can add tomatoes, sundried tomatoes, herbs like Italian seasoning, and spices like curry to make them taste savory. The secret to making veggie leathers? Psyllium husk! Psyllium husk has a mucilaginous quality that acts as a binder to keep the veggie puree sticking together and then drying into a nice leather. You can also use ground chia or flax seed instead, and, if you want your leather to have more texture, you can always up the amount of flax or chia, or add in other seeds and nuts. Think of the possibilities: carrot leather, beet leather, or a red cabbage and chard “bread”! No more worrying about going for another slice of bread, plus you’ll be sure to be getting in your RDA of veggies! Here’s a recipe to help you out with this idea, using psyllium as a binder:

Carrot Leather “Bread” Recipe

• 5 lbs carrots, peeled, chopped & cooked
• 1 1/2 – 2 TBsp psyllium husk powder

Instructions: After cooking or steaming carrots until tender, puree carrots with just enough water for consistency in a high speed blender. Add in the psyllium and whip to blend. Spread onto 2 solid sheets to 1/4 inch thick, ensuring the batter is uniform. Dehydrate at 115F until dry. Flip the sheets over and peel off the solid sheets. Continue drying on mesh sheets until dry. Using clean scissors, cut each leather into 9 medium or 6 large squares. Use as buns for burgers or as sandwich “bread.”

Variation: You can also puree the carrots in a food processor, transfer to a bowl and add in psyllium husk flakes. Add in 4-6 TBsp, let sit 5 minutes to gel, then spread onto solid sheets.

Variation: Don’t care for the leathery texture? Instead of using the psyllium, do this: soak 1 cup flax seed in 2 cups water for 4-8 hours. Puree the flax seed with 1 cup additional water in a high speed blender ’til smooth. Puree the carrots in a food processor, then add them to the blender with the flax puree and blend ’til smooth. Spread onto solid sheets to 1/4 inch thick, then dry. You can also use 1 cup ground flax seed instead of the soaked whole flax.

If you like this, there are some other ways to substitute vegetables for bread in my article, 8 Ways to Replace Carbs with Home Grown Veggies.

Dried Veggies, Veggie Flours & Chips

Just as with fruit, slicing veggies thinly (or dicing them small) and then dehydrating them on mesh sheets is a great way to preserve them for future use. As with fruit, let cool for 30 minutes before snapping a piece in half to check for dryness, then store in vacuum sealed bags or in glass containers with tightly fitting lids. Nothing could be easier than to rehydrate these dried veggies by adding them to the soup or stew pot!

Again, as with dried fruit, you can grind these dried veggies into a powder and add them to smoothies, baked goods and pasta sauce (e.g. tomato powder) for extra nutrition. Indeed, some folks have gotten the idea to use veggie powders as flour, and you can purchase parsnip, beet and carrot flours for a pretty penny. Is it cheaper to DIY? Absolutely!

It’s cheaper to make your own veggie chips too. Just like those root veggie chips sold in health food stores, which are oh-so tasty, but liberally baked in oil and salt. While there are recipes to make root veggie chips on the lowest setting in your oven, they seem more baked than dried and there’s always that risk of burning. It’s much easier to use that good ol’ dehydrator, and there’s no need for oil at all!

Instructions: Slice root veggies such as carrots, beets, parsnips, turnips, rutabagas and squash very thinly (3/16 of an inch thick) using a mandoline or peeler, place on mesh sheets and dehydrate away! If you like, you can marinate the slices in your fave marinade overnight or toss the slices with some lemon or lime juice and some herbs or spices to taste before drying. Be sure to fill up all the sheets you have, because once these chips are ready, they’re gone!

Here’s a sweet recipe using zucchini and cinnamon:

Simple Cinnamon Zucchini Chips Recipe

• 4-6 large zucchini
• Cinnamon
• Powdered stevia or a stevia blend

Instructions: Peel the zucchini if you like, then use a mandoline to slice zucchini thinly crosswise. Place slices on a mesh tray and sprinkle stevia and cinnamon on top. If you’d like, you can brush the slices with water or a bit of lemon juice to help the powders to stick. Dry at 115F for several hours and devour! Note that you can apply cinnamon and stevia to both sides of the chips, if you like.

Variation: To make these chips savory, you can brush both sides with a thin layer of
• pasta sauce, then sprinkle on Italian seasoning
• BBQ sauce, then sprinkle on cumin and smoked paprika
• lemon juice, then sprinkle on ground dill leaf (ground parsley or coriander leaf are nice too)
• lime juice or water, then sprinkle on rosemary and thyme

Oh, and speaking of zucchini, if you ever find yourself with a surplus of zucchini or squash, be sure to read my article 12 Ways to Make a Zucchini Surplus Disappear.

Believe it or not, these 5 recipes are just the beginning of the great uses I’ve found for my dehydrator. I’m working on another list of 5 more easy dehydrator recipes, and I’ll share it with you soon.

 

DIY Awesomeness – The World’s Best Ultra-Athletes Grow Their Own Energy Drinks

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Pinole – The Preferred Drink of the Tarahumara

If you’ve been following along with Marjory’s adventure to visit the Tarahumara tribe in Mexico, you’ve probably already heard about pinole. This is an ancient drink made of ground corn that originated with the Aztecs and spread throughout Central and South America.

The Tarahumara use this drink as an energy drink – it fuels their epic long runs across the jagged terrain of the Copper Canyon. The drink also makes you feel full, even if you haven’t eaten, which is convenient when you’re running for 12 hours straight without stopping to eat.

Marjory brought this video back from her trip to Mexico, and you can see a 71 year old man demonstrating rarájipari, the traditional Tarahumara game of kicking a rock ball down a trail. One week before this was filmed, this man completed a 72 kilometer race, overnight. Check it out:

Traveling to Meet the Tarahumara

Marjory kept a journal of her entire trip to Mexico and she’s sharing the story here. You can see lots of beautiful photographs, and read all about the Tarahumara way of life, including how they grow their own food and medicine, in her story Extreme Agri-Tourism: Off the Grid with the Tarahumara Indians.

There will be more information about pinole during this year’s Home Grown Food Summit. The summit will be hosted online next month from March 7th to March 13th. If you receive the [Grow] Network’s free email newsletter, then you’re already registered for this free event! If you still need to register, you can sign up here: 2016 Home Grown Food Summit.

 

DIY Awesomeness – The World’s Best Ultra-Athletes Grow Their Own Energy Drinks

Click here to view the original post.

Pinole – The Preferred Drink of the Tarahumara

If you’ve been following along with Marjory’s adventure to visit the Tarahumara tribe in Mexico, you’ve probably already heard about pinole. This is an ancient drink made of ground corn that originated with the Aztecs and spread throughout Central and South America.

The Tarahumara use this drink as an energy drink – it fuels their epic long runs across the jagged terrain of the Copper Canyon. The drink also makes you feel full, even if you haven’t eaten, which is convenient when you’re running for 12 hours straight without stopping to eat.

Marjory brought this video back from her trip to Mexico, and you can see a 71 year old man demonstrating rarájipari, the traditional Tarahumara game of kicking a rock ball down a trail. One week before this was filmed, this man completed a 72 kilometer race, overnight. Check it out:

Traveling to Meet the Tarahumara

Marjory kept a journal of her entire trip to Mexico and she’s sharing the story here. You can see lots of beautiful photographs, and read all about the Tarahumara way of life, including how they grow their own food and medicine, in her story Extreme Agri-Tourism: Off the Grid with the Tarahumara Indians.

There will be more information about pinole during this year’s Home Grown Food Summit. The summit will be hosted online next month from March 7th to March 13th. If you receive the [Grow] Network’s free email newsletter, then you’re already registered for this free event! If you still need to register, you can sign up here: 2016 Home Grown Food Summit.

 

Extreme Agri-Tourism: Off the Grid with the Tarahumara Indians, Chapter 12

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Sleeping with Rats is Better than Freezing (or Getting Covered with Chicken Shit)

Dave was the first to move and he strode out to greet the Tarahumara in the field. I admit I held back out of embarrassment. But in the next moments we watched Dave excitedly shaking hands and hugging the Tarahumara and calling us to come over.

“What good luck!” Dave yelled back to us, “come on over.” It turns out that the people here working the field were the ones whose home we were headed towards. Juancensio, his wife Margarita, and the rest of his family.

juancensio-and-margarita-in-front-of-their-home

Juancensio and Margarita in front of their home

A Friendly Greeting from New Tarahumara Friends

“But this is not your field,” Dave exclaimed. Juancensio explained that so many of the Tarahumara had abandoned their lands to move into town, he had started taking over the fields and planting them. He did not mind us eating the apples one bit, especially since he too was a sort of trespasser. They waved us over to a rest area they had setup, and Margarita offered us cups of pinole.

We chatted for a bit, but the sun was high and we had caught them near the end of the bean harvest, and they needed to get back to work. “Can we help?” asked Dave. Juancensio said “no,” the weeds had prickles and we would get scratched.

Harvesting Beans in Tarahumara Country

Dave, Anthony, and I looked at each other and fully understood that was an attempt at politeness. So we went out into the field and began to mimic what they were doing.

marjory-harvesting-beans

Marjory harvesting beans

It looked like the main harvest had already been done and they were gleaning the last remaining beans that could be gotten. So we went around and searched for whatever pods of beans we could find. It was true that the weeds were a little prickly, but a few scratches are par for the course in most agricultural work.

cleaning-the-beans

Cleaning the beans

We collected the bean pods in buckets or on cloths, and took them to an area with an almost flat stone. To shell the beans, we took turns beating the pile with long sticks. The heavy beans would fall to the bottom and the lighter chaff, leaves, and stems would be taken off the top, shaken, and put to the side. The beans at the bottom were collected and then poured from one bucket to another for further winnowing.

lucia-and-her-brother-beat-the-beans

Lucia and her brother beat the beans

The beans were large multi-colored beauties. Later, I asked Juancensio where he had gotten the bean seeds, and he said they had been with the Tarahumara forever.

close-up-of-two-hands-with-colorful-beans-note-the-blisters-forming

Closeup of two hands with colorful beans – note the blisters forming

A Tricky Walk Back to Juancensio’s Homestead

The earth had kept turning while we worked and now the sun was low in the sky. Dave said we still had about an hour or so of hiking to do. We watched Juancensio load up his donkey with two heavy bags of beans that had been harvested. We picked up our packs, and everyone headed across the field towards a trail that would take us to their homestead.

The trail was crazy steep and at times imperceptible. When I wasn’t worried where my next step would be, I was swept away by the beauty of the land. We hiked for about an hour or so and then came to the edge of Juancensio’s homestead. He and his family live in a breathtakingly beautiful valley.

Their home was so picturesque, tucked so far away from any roads.

beautiful-scene-of-juancensios-valley-with-small-cabins

Beautiful scene of Juancensio’s valley with small cabins

Burros – The Tarahumara Workhorse

Anthony noticed that their home was made concrete. Later he asked “Juancensio, how did you ever get concrete up here?” The family laughed and pointed to the burro. Countless bags had been painstakingly brought up from town by burro and mixed by hand. It was a lot of work. The home was approximately 20′ x 20′ with two doors and no windows.

Those little burros did so much work. Earlier I had been teasing Pedro that he was our “burro rojo” since he always took the heaviest pack and he only wore the one red shirt he had brought on the trip. Pedro considered this nickname a great compliment and it was starting to dawn on me why. Burros are awesome.

These Kids Can Work

Upon arriving at his homestead, Juancensio dropped the lead rope for the burro and his 10 year old daughter Lucia began to unpack the bags of beans. Dave told me that by the age of about 12, young girls had all the skills to run a homestead and were often thinking of getting married.

Anthony whipped out his camera and caught Lucia working on video. I am a little embarrassed that I was standing around while she worked, but arriving in this new setting and unsure of the order of things, I just didn’t know what to do. Fortunately, Dave came to his senses and helped her out at the end. Those bags were heavy!

Check out this short video clip of Lucia that I uploaded to YouTube. Can you get your kids to work like that?

Things Get Chilly

Juancensio’s homestead was at about 7,000 feet and the air was starting to chill in a way I suspected was going to turn into downright cold. I looked up and the crystal clear sky overhead confirmed it would get much colder.

When packing for the trip I knew it would be cool at night, but somehow in my subconscious I was thinking, “Hey I am going to Mexico,” and images of people on beaches in Cancun flickered in the back recesses of my mind. Somehow it didn’t occur to me that I would be up high in the mountains and November was a cold month. So the bottom line is I knew that I didn’t have good enough gear to keep me warm sleeping out under the stars at this altitude.

marjory-holding-cup-she-underestimated-the-cold

Marjory holding cup – she underestimated the cold

I thought of how wonderful the heat was from the old 55 gallon drum they had cut into a crude stove inside their home. And I suspected (correctly) that we would not be invited in the house to sleep.

Dave and Anthony had apparently prepared better than I had, and they began to lay out their gear on the ground near the house.

So I looked around. From past experiences sleeping outside, I knew there were two things I would need. The most important thing I already had: excellent ground isolation with a blow up pad that my sweet husband had gotten for me. Number two would be to find some overhead cover. I knew that even just sleeping under a tree would be warmer than out in the open. But the only tree nearby was on a steep slope and was filled with a flock of free range chickens. Sleeping underneath a big flock of birds is never a good idea. Waking up covered in splotches… nope, not good.

Would You Rather Freeze or Sleep with Rats?

There was a storage cabin right near the house and I asked if I could sleep in there. “No” was the initial response. And then they explained that it had a store of corn and there were many rats living inside. Juancensio hated cats and his attempt to control vermin with snap traps wasn’t working.

The colder air nipped at me and I told them I didn’t mind sleeping with rats. Actually, I am totally fine sleeping with rats. It beats the heck out of freezing or getting covered with chicken shit. Apparently Pedro also wasn’t prepared for the cold and he didn’t mind sleeping with rats either. He asked again on both of our behalf. Margarita and Juancensio shrugged their shoulders and left us to do what we wanted.

So we found places on the ground between the corn crib and other piled up goods.

My New Rat Roommates

And yes, that cabin was definitely filled with rats. I know there are a lot of people who have some deep-seated phobias about vermin; will they run up your leg? Or bite you and infect you with some disease? And it is true that in some cases their feces contains the dreaded hantavirus.

But while I am not exactly super fond of rats and mice, I do try to stay in good relationship with their nation. And I correctly figured that there was more than enough corn to eat, so they would not bother me. Although during the three nights we spent there, Pedro said he got nibbled once.

Now it so happened that while moving things out of the way, we put a guitar on top of the corn crib. And during the night, while the rats were doing their thing, occasionally one would run across the strings of the guitar and make it “bbrrriiinnngg.”

marjorys-sleeping-bag-on-the-floor-next-to-the-corn-bin-and-guitar

Marjory’s sleeping bag on the floor next to the corn bin and guitar

The next morning at breakfast Margarita was curious as to how I had fared in the cabin. I think they were really wondering if I was OK sleeping in there or not. You know, how would this rich American woman deal with rats running around her at night? And would they be perceived as bad hosts? I smiled and reassured her that I was fine. I told her, “Oh yes, you definitely have rats, and they are having a very good time. They played the guitar and had a fiesta with your corn.” Everyone laughed at that.

Seeing an Old Friend for the First Time

The day was going to be beautiful. Margarita and Lucia were going to show me how they make tamales. I would spend a lot of time with Juancensio discussing planting, harvesting, and livestock. And as it turns out, I was inadvertently going to rock Dave’s world.

Dave and I had known each other for about eight years or so… Twice a year this crazy group of about 300 people show up in a wilderness area to spend a week together trading skills and knowledge from the Paleolithic era. We do things like make pottery by digging up clay from the earth and then firing it in a pit. Or tanning deerskins using just the brains of the animal. Chipping stones to make blades. Or my personal favorite, making fire by rubbing sticks together. When you can get fire like that, something really changes in you. It’s hard to describe.

It makes total sense that Dave would always attend these gatherings; he is one of the world’s foremost experts in Stone Age living skills. But me? I don’t have any particular reason, except that my daughter and I love it. It is a special time for us to be together, and we have a ton of fun playing cave women for the week.

So Dave and I have spent many days and nights around the campfire, out in the bush, or learning new skills in small groups; and you would think that we know each other well. But apparently there was something fundamental about me that he never knew. And he was about to find out.

margarita-marjory-and-lucia-making-tamales

Margarita, Marjory, and Lucia making tamales


This article is Chapter 12 in the series “Extreme Agri-Tourism: Off the Grid with the Tarhumara Indians.” You can read the rest of the series here:

Chapter 1: Extreme Agri-Tourism
Chapter 2: Hard Traveling
Chapter 3: The Tarhumara Girls School
Chapter 4: How To Lose 30 Pounds In 10 Seconds
Chapter 5: Gunfights Don’t Usually Last That Long…
Chapter 6: The Vomit Comet Through Tarahumara Country
Chapter 7: Don’t Ever Do This When Traveling In Strange Territory
Chapter 8: Nice Legs Really Scare Tarahumara Men
Chapter 9: Living Sustainably Is An Everyday Thing Here
Chapter 10: The Biggest Surprise of the Trip
Chapter 11: Another Tarahumara Myth Busted
Chapter 12: Sleeping with Rats is Better than Freezing
• Chapter 13: COMING SOON

 

Extreme Agri-Tourism: Off the Grid with the Tarahumara Indians, Chapter 11

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Another Tarahumara Myth Busted; They Would Love to Eat More Meat

I asked Juan (the 71 year old Tarahumara runner) and the assembled group, “Do you like to eat meat?”

“Oh yes,” Juan answered with an added tone of appreciation I hadn’t heard before. “What kinds of meat?” I asked, hoping for some more specifics. And you’ll get a sense of his lifestyle by the order in which he answered: “Squirrel, chicken, lizard, snake…” Then Juan said another creature and there was a general discussion of how to translate that into English, but no one knew. I think the closest translation is “something like a pack rat.”

Thinking of the goat and cows I had seen, I asked about beef and goat. “Oh yes,” Juan and everyone agreed they were good to eat. But rarely do they eat their herd animals. They are too valuable. The herds are needed for fertility to grow the crops, and as a form of cash. They trade goat meat with Mexicans for needed items such as tools and cloth.

tarahumara-cattle-herd

Tarahumara cattle herd

I got the sense the Tarahuamara would love to eat more meat in general, but it is too expensive.

The Fat of the Land

You know what they love the most? Fat. Fat is one of the most difficult things to grow or produce and it is highly, highly prized. Most of the homesteads we saw had at least one pig sty with two or three pigs. The pigs were being raised primarily for the fat, and the flavor that fat would impart.

pig-in-pen

Pig in pen

Have you ever heard the phrase “the fat of the land”? Living off the largess of grocery stores, modern Americans don’t realize how difficult fats are to produce. Now when I say “fat” I mean the real stuff – either the fats taken from healthy pasture raised animals, or the oils pressed from olives or coconuts.

In Texas it is quite common to buy a half or whole steer once a year and keep it in the freezer. One year I decided to make pemmican, which is a traditional food of the Native Americans. I had heard that pemmican was like old-time energy bars; it was loaded with lots of calories and nutrition, had a long storage life without refrigeration, and yet was compact. I wanted to experience this food.

Pemmican – The Native American Energy Bar

Pemmican only has two basic ingredients: dried meat (that you grind to a powder consistency), and rendered fat. Sometimes people add dried berries or spices for flavor.

I wanted to try and make this ancient protein energy bar. So when I ordered the annual steer from Buddy the grass-fed rancher, I naively asked if he could also arrange to give me the fat (there is usually big gobs of it surrounding the organs).

This happened to be in a year of severe drought for Texas. “Marjory,” Buddy said in his long Texas drawl, “there ain’t no fat on any cows in Texas this year. We’ve had a hard enough time just keeping them alive.”

I looked around me and saw with new eyes the yellows and browns of dead and dormant plant life everywhere in the landscape. For the earth to create fat, she needs rains, good soil, and moderate temperatures. Fat is a product of abundance and good times.

Of all the gifts we had brought on the trip to Mexico, I think the most appreciated were the jars of coconut oil.

Want to know what was the least appreciated gift?

Tarahumara Energy and Health Come from Home Grown Food

You know how much the Tarahumara love that drink made of corn called pinole? Well Dave had thought to bring a couple bags of pinole that he had purchased in the US. Dave knew how much the Tarahumara loved pinole and thought this would be the perfect gift. Dave offered these bags to all of the Tarahumara we visited. The response was pretty much the same everywhere. They would politely decline the gift. When Dave insisted, they took the bag but it seemed more out of courtesy than desire. I noticed that the bags lay unopened and untouched for the duration of our stay.

In private moments, I asked if it was because they didn’t like the taste of the store-bought pinole. But the taste wasn’t really the issue; it was because that corn did not fuel them like their own homegrown corn. The commercial stuff just doesn’t have the mana that their own food has.

lola-chopping-firewood

Lola chopping firewood

And how could commercial food even begin to compete? The Tarahumara food was either wild-caught or home grown on lands that had been tended by their families for all of their history. The seeds were saved and blessed before planting. Every step of the process was tended by love from a family member. The power and nourishment in their own food was tremendous.

I suspected Dave’s gifts of store-bought pinole would end up in the chicken coop or pig pen once we left.

I am not sure if Dave had brought the bags of pinole and given them as gifts to prove a point to me, or if he is just naturally a generous guy and he had forgotten that the whole reason I was intrigued to come on this adventure was because he had told me the main reason for the Tarahuma’s incredible athleticism and health was because they grow their own food.

But in any case, it was very obvious that a critical key to the Tarahumara vibrancy was that they produced their own nourishment.

tarahumara-grow-their-own-food-because-it-fuels-them-better

Tarahumara grow their own food because it fuels them better.

Back on the Bus

Now I don’t want to get all idealistic and uptopian here. Dave was intentionally taking us to visit people he knew who were living as closely as possible to their traditional roots. There were certainly many Tarahumara who were in towns, strung out on alcohol or drugs, or working for the narcotics trade. I suppose one way to look at this is as if we were getting to meet the ‘Amish’ of the Tarahumara; these Indians recognized the values of their traditions, were living as closely as possible to those, and yet they were embracing some of the new technology and ideas.

After finishing up with the filming of the runners in this valley, Dave had another group he wanted us to go meet. The next stop would be far deeper into the Canyons and much further off grid. So the next morning, we loaded our packs, regretting that we didn’t have more time, and we said goodbye.

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Laundry line with teddy bears

We got back onto the “vomit comet” (the red bus that was the main transportation system) and rode for about an hour until Dave went up to the driver and requested a stop. This time there was no observable reason for stopping. It wasn’t a village or anything. There were no houses or homesteads around. There were certainly no signs. But Dave seemed to know where he was going, so we shouldered our packs and started following him down a trail through the woods.

marjory-and-dave-hiking-towards-juancensios

Marjory and Dave hiking towards Juancensios

Backpacking Deeper into Tarahumara Country

The terrain was very rough, steep, and ever changing. Occasionally, the trail was very narrow with deadly consequences for a misstep. At some points we were walking through forested woods, and at other times we were climbing over craggy peaks with spectacular views. This is the part of the trip that my family would have loved and I felt deep pangs of regret they weren’t here to share this. My kids love rock climbing and they would have been scrambling all over the mountains with youthful joy.

Occasionally, the trail would open up to reveal a wide plateau. It was at the edge of one of these open areas that Pedro suddenly stopped. There was a big pile of rocks and he picked up a nearby stone and tossed it onto the top of the heap. He told us this was a Tarahumara custom that anyone who passes here must add a rock to the pile.

pedro-throws-a-rock-on-the-pile

Pedro throws a rock on the pile

An Ancient Tarahumara Tradition

I marveled at the sight. There must be tens, no maybe hundreds of thousands, of rocks in the pile. Each rock had been held in a human hand and placed here. In this wild country, at least two hours by foot from the nearest empty road. I stood in wonder at the evidence of centuries of people who paused here and honored this point in their journey.

Surprisingly, there were still many, many, rocks lying around to be picked up. So each of us offered a short prayer to the land and added to the pile.

prickly-pear-grows-pretty-big-here

Prickly pear grows pretty big here

We continued on for at least another hour or two of hiking and it began to dawn on me that I was getting hungry. We hadn’t packed any lunches. And other than a few snacks, I hadn’t thought at all about meals. I really didn’t mind. Being hungry for a day or so wasn’t really a problem, and I was sure we would get where we were going by nightfall at least.

anthony-hiking-in-tarahumara-land

Anthony hiking in Tarahumara land

And then just after crossing an impossibly high and breathtakingly beautiful peak, we came to the edge of another plateau and there in front of us was an apple tree, loaded with fruit.

I wasn’t the only one who was hungry and we all dropped our packs and bit into the sweet and tangy fruit. They were good apples. Everyone we had met so far commented on how good a year it was for apples, and this tree was loaded. In the back of my mind I was thinking “these are so sweet, I doubt it could be a wild apple.”

apples-on-a-tree

Apples on a tree

Forbidden Fruit?

I had quickly polished off two, and I was reaching for a third when Anthony pointed out that there were people staring at us. Off in the field stood a motionless group of Tarahumara who were clearly trying to figure out what we were doing.

I almost choked on the apple in my mouth. Was this considered stealing? The fruit was sweet and delicious, which meant it must have been a grafted tree that had been planted by someone. Was the ‘someone’ who had planted the tree in the group looking at us now? If a stranger came onto my land and started eating my apples, I would probably be upset.

This was no way to behave as a visitor in a foreign land, and I felt ashamed of myself. We would certainly have to apologize and make amends.

In trigger-happy Texas, you could be in a world of hurt for doing something like this. Were we in any danger?

We all fell silent wondering what would happen next.


This article is Chapter 11 in the series “Extreme Agri-Tourism: Off the Grid with the Tarhumara Indians.” You can read the rest of the series here:

Chapter 1: Extreme Agri-Tourism
Chapter 2: Hard Traveling
Chapter 3: The Tarhumara Girls School
Chapter 4: How To Lose 30 Pounds In 10 Seconds
Chapter 5: Gunfights Don’t Usually Last That Long…
Chapter 6: The Vomit Comet Through Tarahumara Country
Chapter 7: Don’t Ever Do This When Traveling In Strange Territory
Chapter 8: Nice Legs Really Scare Tarahumara Men
Chapter 9: Living Sustainably Is An Everyday Thing Here
Chapter 10: The Biggest Surprise of the Trip
Chapter 11: Another Tarahumara Myth Busted
• Chapter 12: COMING SOON

 

5 Homestead Probiotics You Can Make at Home!

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Making Your Own Low Cost Probiotics

Well the science is in folks, and has been for some time! Probiotics are essential to maintaining a healthy gut, and a strong immune system. A properly functioning digestive system is the key to good health. You can grow, purchase, and eat all of the organic, mineral dense, beyond awesome food you want, but if you are not digesting and absorbing those nutrients then it is all for naught.

The same can be said for all of the fancy vitamin supplements, and even many of the probiotic supplements that are out there. There’s an old saying that goes something like: “garbage in, garbage out.” Anyway, there’s good news. You can grow your own probiotic nutritional supplements right in your homestead kitchen, or barn, or hallway closet… The point is you can be in control of your health and not have to depend on high dollar supplements grown in some lab someplace hundreds of miles away!

The Top 5 Probiotic Foods on Our Homestead

I put together a list of the top five probiotic-rich foods that we are currently or have in the past made and consumed here on the Traditional Catholic Homestead (www.traditionalcatholichomestead.com):

#1 – Kefir: We make both dairy and water kefir at home. It’s super simple, and easy to keep the process going perpetually. We usually go through about a gallon and a half of kefir per week in our household.

#2 – Kombucha: Another super simple and easily propagated probiotic beverage. The Traditional Catholic Homestead family consumes anywhere from 3 to 6 gallons of continuously brewed kombucha per week. Here’s how we brew ours: Brewing Kombucha. I really like experimenting with different herbs and teas in our brews. I’ve even heard of someone making Mountain Dew-flavored kombucha (though I wouldn’t recommend it)!

Note: Kefir grains and kombucha SCOBY will grow and reproduce so you can propagate the cultures and give away or sell the surplus.

#3 – Sauerkraut: The old homestead standby! There are a million different recipes for fermented kraut that you can make at home. As long as you don’t can the finished product it will be a probiotic-rich powerhouse. The beauty of sauerkraut is that it doesn’t require any fancy inoculants or cultures to get going. A true kraut is like a sourdough bread starter… made from wild cultures that occur all around us! Other than cabbage (or seed), no start up costs!

home-made-sauerkraut

Home made sauerkraut

#4 – Other Fermented Veggies: The same process and bacteria used to make sauerkraut can be used to ferment any number of other veggies. Just use what you like or what you have in abundance. We’ve fermented carrot sticks, salsa, shredded beets with carrots, garlic… you name it. The possibilities are literally limited by your imagination and tastes!

#5 – Homebrew!!! Most people wouldn’t think of homemade beer, hard ciders, mead, or wine as a probiotic food, but if you think about it, they are. Any of your homebrews will have living yeasts present throughout the beverage (as long as you don’t pasteurize it, but who does that, right!). I know there is a big push in some circles to eliminate yeast from our diets, but they are an essential part of our digestive process. They just need to be kept in balance. Plus, homebrew is awesome!!!

Honorable mention goes to homemade vinegars. These are the living vinegars with the “mother” culture still in them. We haven’t made any yet, so I didn’t include them in this list, but homemade apple cider vinegar is coming soon to the repertoire of fermented foods on The Traditional Catholic Homestead.


Thanks to Dave Dahlsrud for participating in the [Grow] Network Writing Contest.

We’re still getting the list of prizes lined up for the Spring 2016 Writing Contest. We awarded over $2,097 in prizes for the Fall Writing Contest, including all of the following:

– A 21.5 quart pressure canner from All American, a $382 value
– A Survival Still emergency water purification still, a $288 value
– 1 free 1 year membership in the [Grow] Network Core Community, a $239 value
– A Worm Factory 360 vermicomposting system from Nature’s Footprint, a $128 value
– 2 large heirloom seed collections from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds, valued at $103 each
– A Metro-Grower Elite sub-irrigation growing container from Nature’s Footprint, a $69 value
– 2 copies of the complete Home Grown Food Summit, valued at $67 each
– 3 free 3 month memberships in the [Grow] Network Core Community, valued at $59 each
– 4 copies of the Grow Your Own Groceries DVD video set, valued at $43 each
– A Bug Out Seed Kit from the Sustainable Seed Company, a $46 value
– 4 copies of the Alternatives To Dentists DVD video, valued at $33 each
– 4 copies of the Greenhouse of the Future DVD and eBook, valued at $31 each

 

Extreme Agri-Tourism: Off the Grid with the Tarahumara Indians, Chapter 10

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The Biggest Surprise Of The Trip? The Tarahumara Hate To Run

I was still having trouble sleeping and didn’t get much rest during the night. But during the days I was energized without any of the afternoon “lag.” Was it the never-ending mugs of pinole that I was drinking? It didn’t make sense to me that just a drink made from corn could be so filling and so energizing, but the Tarahumara swear by it and I had to admit I felt unusually good with very little sleep.

After breakfast (beans and tortillas as usual) the first of the more wild runners arrived. Everyone did a round of those gentle handshakes to welcome him. Any concerns I had about authenticity evaporated; just one look at him and I realized he was the real deal.

Meeting the Tarahumara Race Runners

Juan Lerio looked half wild. He shyly engaged with us and yet also seemed to be keenly aware of what was going on in the mountains of our periphery. He was 71 years old. Like the other Tarahumara he had a small compact body, clearly hardened by a life spent mostly outdoors.

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Tarahumara runner Juan Lerio – 71 years old

He was wearing a flowing white shirt and white cloth wrapped around his groin in the fashion of shorts. The Mexicans have been known to tease these guys, saying that they wear diapers. But it looked very loose, practical, and comfortable to me. I’m not sure how they tied or pinned it together, and it seemed inappropriate to ask.

And like Pedro, Bernadino, and most of the other Tarahumara we have met, Juan wore the sandals for which they’re famous. Look at his feet in this photograph – wow.

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The sandals and feet of a Tarahumara runner

Others from the surrounding area started arriving. Afren began to play producer and he moved us all to a nearby area for the filming. As Anthony worked with Afren on the logistics, I sat on the hillside talking with the growing crowd of Tarahumara runners and observers.

A Stranger in a Strange Land

Initially, I found myself feeling really out of place with these people. Standing next to them, or sitting together chatting, I felt huge and bloated. We really are bigger, slower, weaker, and almost gluttonous compared to them. Normally I have an inner sense of femininity – but that completely disappeared now that I was so much ‘bigger.’

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Sitting on the hillside talking with Tarahumara while Anthony sets up

But everyone was congenial enough, so I got over myself. Although shy, the wilder Tarahumara didn’t mind my questions.

I was fascinated by Juan (the 71 year old). I asked him when was the last time he had raced? “Last week,” he told me. He had finished a 72km race. They like to start at night when it is cooler, and it took him until noon the next day to complete.

marjory-with-tarahumara-runners

Marjory with Tarahumara runners

The Biggest Surprise of the Trip

“That is quite a run,” I said, awed by his abilities. But almost immediately I was corrected, “No, I didn’t run. I actually don’t like running.”

Huh? I did a double take. Did he just say – the Tarahumara don’t like to run?

Isn’t that what they are famous for? Weren’t the Trahumara were the ones who had so easily beaten America’s top ultra-athletes at the Leadville 100? Weren’t the Tarahumara runners the main feature of the NY Times best-seller Born To Run? Weren’t the Tarahumara the ones whose running talent prompted Mexican Government officials to try to get a 100 mile race added to the Olympics?

And if Juan wasn’t running last weekend, just what was he doing for those 72 km?

Rarajípari – The Tarahumara Game of Choice

The group laughed and then patiently explained the mystery to me. It turns out they find simple straight running to be very boring. Instead, they love a game they call rarajípari where they kick and chase a ball across the mountainsides. They maneuver this ball as quickly as they can along the narrow winding paths of their steep country side. It is much more interesting, and challenging. And indeed it requires constant shifts and adjustments and much more agility and overall athleticism than the more simplistic repetitive movements of running down a path. They said the only reason they went to those races in the US – like the famous Leadville 100 – was for the money.

So we came all this way to find out the Tarahumara hate to run!

And it is because just running 50 or 100 miles at a stretch is not challenging enough.

It took me a moment to let that sink in.

“What happens if the ball goes over the side of the path, deep into the canyon?” I asked.

Well, apparently, you have to go get it. And you can’t touch it with your hands. You have to somehow bring it up with your feet only. I thought that must be a very bad thing. But no, the Tarahumara assured me, the same thing could happen to any of your opponents at any time. So you never knew what would happen until the game was over.

Elder Athletes and Ultra Athletes

I was so amazed that Juan could run so far and be in such great shape for his age. Later I would meet an 80 year old man of equal abilities. And I was stunned at one runner named Daniel Perez who looked so youthful at the age of 60.

tarahumara-runner-daniel-perez-60-years-old

Tarahumara runner Daniel Perez – 60 years old

I was thinking that when I got back home I would start running and increasing my athleticism. I had improved so much in the last several years already, but my gains seemed tiny now that I could see what was possible. I would definitely be expanding my garden to grow more corn, beans, and squash. That pinole drink was amazing and I absolutely wanted to start making that. What these people had was immeasurably good.

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An 80 year old Tarahumara man

Wow, just running 100 miles was so boring they had to increase the athleticism of the game by a magnitude to keep themselves interested.

Have you gone back to your high school reunions every so often? I’ve found it quite fascinating. In your twenties and thirties everyone was eyeing the attractiveness of your spouse, how much money you were making, or what splashes you had made in the media. As the years and decades roll by, the focus shifts to who is most independent of the medical system and who is the healthiest.

Health. You can’t buy it. And living without it sucks.

The Inspiring Health of the Tarahumara People

I was inspired at seeing what is possible for a human body. These people who had almost no money, had a recipe for health and vitality, and everything that is really meaningful in life. And it was a pretty simple recipe that could be done anywhere; grow your own food, with as much family involvement as possible, and play hard.

“I hope that I will be in the great shape you’re in when I am 71 years old,” I told Juan earnestly.

Everyone laughed at me. “You won’t be,” they chorused in merry agreement.

OK, so they were probably right about that. But I promised myself I would be in a lot better shape than I was right then. The fact that I could do this trip now was a testament to how much more vitality and strength I had gained in the last few years.

Capturing an Authentic Tarahumara Race on Film

Both Anthony and I were delighted at the Tarahumara’s insistence that we film things as authentically as possible. They had initially asked us if we could do the filming at night because that is when most of the races are run. Anthony explained that we didn’t have the video equipment for that. Since they do also run during the daytime, they agreed to filming during the day.

They felt it was very important for us to film a pinole stop. If you recall, pinole is that corn drink that I was pretty sure was keeping me so jazzed all the time. During a game, each runner has a support team. Since a lot of the games are played at night, about every 10 km a spouse, child, or friend would build a big fire and be ready to give the runner a cup of pinole. Unlike the ‘aid stations’ for American races, a runner only gets pinole from his own support team. Support teams generally do not offer aid to competitors.

tarahumara-runner-gets-a-drink-of-pinole-from-family-during-a-race

A Tarahumara runner gets a drink of pinole from a family member during a race.

The games were played by everyone; men, women, and children. The women used a stick to move their balls along, and the men just used their feet.

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Diego and Lola – grandmother and grandson playing rarajipari

Stone Age Skills and Ancient Games

While I had been chatting with the runners, Dave had been pecking away at some task. If you recall, Dave is an expert in Stone Age living skills. And now he stood up and handed me a stone that he had shaped into a perfect ball about 4 inches in diameter. I passed the ball around and the Tarahumara looked appreciatively at Dave’s skill. They played with balls made of stone like this, or out of wood. Dave had probably learned from them in earlier years how to make the balls, and he had learned well.

I wondered how it works out trying to kick a stone ball while wearing sandals. But as I would soon see, it works out just fine. In fact, later on in the trip I would have the luxury of being on a mountain trail with no pack and lots of distance to go. I started kicking rocks down the trail playing a very rough version of their game. I did modify it a bit though; when my rocks went over the edge, I simply waved goodbye and found another rock. No way in hell was I scrambling down the canyon after a rock.

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Kicking the stone ball with sandals – somehow it works out

I suppose it is the Stone Age version of ‘kick the can.’ It was really fun. I suppose classics are classics, huh? I was wearing my sandals and I found that I could simply use the edge of my sandals, and it was easy. I rarely hurt my toes.

Anthony almost had his gear setup, and soon we would be capturing the graceful movements of these people as they played their game across the rough landscape.

anthony-records-two-tarahumara-runners

Anthony records two Tarahumara runners

But first, there was one more fascinating conversation I would have with my new Tarahumara friends.

Do the Tarahumara Eat Meat?

So far, we had mostly been served a vegetarian diet (beans and tortillas, or tortillas and beans). Were the Tarahumara vegetarians? Did they like meat? Was cutting out meat a requirement for this healthy lifestyle?

Becoming vegetarian is a big trend in the US. Plenty of the rich and famous are cutting out animal products. Former President Bill Clinton, for example. He used to proudly say he never met a hamburger he didn’t like, but now he is on the vegetable road. Other celebs who reportedly chose the diet include Ozzy Osbourne, Ellen DeGeneres, Alicia Silverstone and Dennis Kucinich.

There is also quite an impressive list of great athletes, such as the ultra runners Scott Jurek and Rich Roll that are vegans and swear by their diet.

Do you need to be a vegetarian to be so healthy?

And did the Tarahumara like to eat meat?


This article is Chapter 10 in the series “Extreme Agri-Tourism: Off the Grid with the Tarhumara Indians.” You can read the rest of the series here:

Chapter 1: Extreme Agri-Tourism
Chapter 2: Hard Traveling
Chapter 3: The Tarhumara Girls School
Chapter 4: How To Lose 30 Pounds In 10 Seconds
Chapter 5: Gunfights Don’t Usually Last That Long…
Chapter 6: The Vomit Comet Through Tarahumara Country
Chapter 7: Don’t Ever Do This When Traveling In Strange Territory
Chapter 8: Nice Legs Really Scare Tarahumara Men
Chapter 9: Living Sustainably Is An Everyday Thing Here
Chapter 10: The Biggest Surprise of the Trip
• Chapter 11: COMING SOON

 

Extreme Agri-Tourism: Off the Grid with the Tarahumara Indians, Chapter 9

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Living Sustainably Is An Everyday Thing Here

Bernadino and his family are a group of about ten. They grow all of their own food and they live completely off grid, as do most of the Tarahumara that we met on this trip. They wear a combination of both western clothing and their own traditional styles. Their primary worldly possessions consist of a selection of hand tools, some pots and bowls, the ubiquitous hand crank grain grinder, and the Gov’t issued solar panel and light.

While Bernadino doesn’t have a lot of worldly possessions, he is a very wealthy man when it comes to the things that matter most.

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Bernadino’s family group photo – note the grain grinder at the right

Bernadino grew up living in caves, although now they lived in a small two room house. Bernadino was a teenager before he saw his first “chuboche” (a non-Tarahumara person). Unlike most of his tribe, Bernadino was very curious and wanted to learn more about these strangers. David Holladay tells a wonderful story of how he first met Bernadino in a free presentation available at the 2016 Home Grown Food Summit. Be sure to check it out here: 2016 Home Grown Food Summit.

bernadino-dave-and-marjory-in-the-cave-where-bernadino-grew-up

Bernadino, Dave, and Marjory in the cave where Bernadino grew up

For a bit of income, Bernadino does some logging and occasionally sells some goat meat. The girls occasionally make baskets or other handicrafts for sale. But they really don’t need, or seem to want, much.

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One of Bernadino’s daughters making a pine needle basket – the Tarahumara women are famous for these

The Harsh Nature of Tarahumara Life in the Copper Canyon

The family was still in a bit of a grieving process as Bernadino’s wife had mysteriously disappeared about nine months ago. She had gone hiking up into the mountains to gather… I’m not sure what. But she had never returned and the body was never found. Did she accidentally fall and kill herself? Did a pack of wild dogs get her? Or did she have a fatal run-in with the narcotraficantes? No one knew, and at this point, they presumed her dead.

When talking about Bernadino, his neighbors say, “He will find another good wife very soon. He is a kind man, a hard worker, and he has a fine family.” I agree. That’s what women want, in any culture, and he will surely have a new wife as soon as he is ready.

marjory-and-bernadino-enjoy-exchanging-info-on-growing-corn

Marjory and Bernadino enjoy exchanging info on growing corn

The main staples Bernadino’s family grow are the traditional ones for most of the Americas; corn, beans, and squash. Although, the bio region at the bottom of the canyon (an area we didn’t get to) is quite different – more subtropical – and the Tarahumara in those regions rely on other staples.

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Dave looks out over Bernadino’s corn field

Traditional Methods for Farming and Fertilizing

The big field where Bernadino grows his corn has a soil that is fairly rich, loamy sand. “How deep is the soil before you hit rock or hard pan?” I asked. But no one knew, and apparently it is more than deep enough. Fields are plowed in the spring using horses, and simply left fallow in the wintertime. There is no cover cropping, and of course there are no chemicals. Bernadino said that field had been farmed by the Tarahumara for hundreds of years.

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Two of Bernadino’s horses – used for both transportation and for plowing.

The secret to Tarahumara crop productivity is in the goat herd. Each day the goats are herded into the surrounding mountainsides to forage. They are brought back every evening to a pen. The fertility dropped in the goat pen is piled up and saved throughout the year. The manure is applied to the field and lightly tilled in with the spring plowing. When the corn is about knee high, another handful or so of manure is applied. About 70 goats is the right number for this size field.

bernadino-holding-a-handful-of-black-gold-in-front-of-his-pile-of-goat-manure-fertilizer

Bernadino holding a handful of black gold in front of his pile of goat manure fertilizer.

The responsibility for the goat herding and care is shared between the eldest daughter and son.

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The eldest son and daughter had responsibility for the goat herd.

Baby Goats!

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Berndino’s small child holding a baby goat

Anthony especially lit up when he saw all the baby goats. So of course, we have a lot of really cute baby goat photos. Actually, we probably have too many cute baby goat photos. “My wife just loves goats,” Anthony mused. “I wonder if I show her these photos, if I can make her slightly jealous for not coming on this trip.” We both laughed at that one, knowing full well that neither of our spouses would’ve really been up for this kind of an adventure.

anthony-has-a-new-goat-friend-although-I-am-not-sure-he-really-wanted-to-be-kissed-on-the-first-date

Anthony has a new goat friend – although I am not sure he really wanted to be kissed on the first date.

Anthony is the one who coined the phrase “extreme agri-tourism” to describe this trip.

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Billy goat white

Hmm, looking through the footage, we have a zillion photos of cute baby goats. I just can’t begin to get them all posted.

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Cute baby goat photo

They really are sooo cute!

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Two baby goats – cuteness!

OK, these stills just aren’t showing how much fun it is to watch these baby goats playing around… So here is a short video clip.

Interestingly, nobody seemed to know how many inches or centimeters of rain they got in a year. Nor did they know how many acres the field was. Measurements like that just aren’t something they do. Bernadino told me that he generally plants toward the end of May. And they typically have some good wet months in June and July. They leave the corn in the field to dry on the stalks, and usually harvest in late September or October.

dave-marjory-and-pedro-in-corn-field-discussing-planting-and-harvesting

Dave, Marjory, and Pedro in corn field, discussing planting and harvesting

Vermin Control the Tarahumara Way

Our arrival coincided with the end of the season, and most of the harvesting had already been done. It’d been a good year and the homemade corncribs were bursting. The grain is protected from rodents by a few scraggly cats. The cats seem to be doing a good job here.

marjory-in-corn-crib-this-year-there-was-a-big-harvest

Marjory in corn crib – this year there was a big harvest.

We visited another homestead where the owner didn’t like cats. He depended on snap traps, and the vermin were everywhere. But at Bernadino’s place there are a few cats that make a good living, even if they don’t have much fat on them.

this-little-kitten-had-a-very-important-job-keeping-the-rodents-from-the-stored-grain-and-playing-with-kids

This little kitten had a very important job – keeping the rodents from the stored grain and playing with kids.

Preparing Traditional Tarahumara Corn Drinks

In addition to the wonderful conversations about growing crops, we filmed two of Bernadino’s daughters as they taught us how to make “esquite” and “pinole,” two very popular corn-based drinks. After they made each beverage they passed the big mug around for the whole family to have a drink. The cup came to me, and Anthony grinned at me wondering if I would drink it or not. Dave had already taken a big appreciative gulp. But Anthony had declined; the water had not been boiled, and it was a communal cup.

“Risky” was the unspoken word in the glance that Anthony shot me. I closed my eyes, briefly feeling the curve of the mug in my hands. I went inward and asked my body what direction I should take. I sensed it would be OK, and took some sips.

should-marjory-have-taken-a-drink-from-the-cup-of-esquite-she-will-know-in-a-few-hours

Should Marjory have taken a drink from the cup of esquite? She will know in a few hours.

If those sips were a mistake, well, I would know in a few hours.

By the way, Anthony and I put together a really good video of the girls teaching us how to make these drinks in a presentation that will be aired for free at the 2016 Homegrown Food Summit, which you can access here: 2016 Home Grown Food Summit.

anthony-films-the-making-of-special-corn-drinks

Anthony films the making of special corn drinks.

Bridging the Language Gap

The evening was so pleasant we all just stayed together talking and laughing. Some of the more amusing things were our attempts to learn each other’s languages. Pronunciations by new learners are always funny – on both sides. I pulled out of my daypack a short Tarahumara/Spanish/English translation guide that I had printed out for the trip. The eldest boy loved the document so much I gave it to him. I had a few Tarahumara words down at that point and realized I probably wasn’t going to progress much further.

bernadinos-son-loved-the-small-printed-dictionary-of-words

Bernadino’s son loved the small printed dictionary of words.

It turned out that boy was also a bit of a missionary and regularly traveled to visit the more remote Tarahumara. We realized this boy would have much greater need for our second tent than we did, so we gave it to him. His smile of delight upon receiving it was so beautiful.

We knew we had some hiking ahead of us and lightening the load in this way felt right. Although I admit, just as when we gave away the first tent to the Tarahumara girl in Creel, I had that nagging feeling about just how useful that untested (and inexpensive) equipment would be.

I suppose a better question might have been, would we be in need of that tent? But you know, that just didn’t cross my mind at the time. (I know my husband will cringe when he reads how easily and thoughtlessly I let go of the equipment he insisted I take for our protection. Sigh… sorry Hon.)

As we headed back across the cornfields to Afren’s home where we were sleeping, our thoughts turned to tomorrow’s activities. Afren had been successful in arranging for some of the more wild Tarahumara runners to come for an interview with us. And they would give a demonstration run for us to film. Would these men be the real deal, or just some guys from town dressed up in traditional clothing?

And how would we know the difference?


This article is Chapter 9 in the series “Extreme Agri-Tourism: Off the Grid with the Tarhumara Indians.” You can read the rest of the series here:

Chapter 1: Extreme Agri-Tourism
Chapter 2: Hard Traveling
Chapter 3: The Tarhumara Girls School
Chapter 4: How To Lose 30 Pounds In 10 Seconds
Chapter 5: Gunfights Don’t Usually Last That Long…
Chapter 6: The Vomit Comet Through Tarahumara Country
Chapter 7: Don’t Ever Do This When Traveling In Strange Territory
Chapter 8: Nice Legs Really Scare Tarahumara Men
Chapter 9: Living Sustainably Is An Everyday Thing Here
• Chapter 10: COMING SOON

 

Extreme Agri-Tourism: Off the Grid with the Tarahumara Indians, Chapter 8

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Nice Legs Really Scare Tarahumara Men

“Outdoor women who do a lot of exercise and really use their muscles have such a nice shape. And you really have good legs,” Dave continued.

I was completely freaking out at this point.

Speechless.

My mind raced, “is Dave hitting on me?” Anthony was within earshot; although he was far enough away I couldn’t see the expression on his face. My vision was getting blurry. But I did see that Anthony was completely still and no longer working his camera or lenses, so I was pretty sure he was listening. Surely Dave could not be so bold, or stupid, with Anthony so close.

in-spare-moments-anthony-was-frequently-backing-up-data-the-batteries-for-this-trip-were-a-big-chunk-of-the-weight-we-carried

In spare moments Anthony was frequently backing up data. The batteries for this trip were a big chunk of the weight we carried.

All of us were happily married – to other people.

It couldn’t be that. But what?

“With the warm weather we are having, what you are wearing is probably just fine where you live…” Dave continued.

Respecting Cultural Boundaries When Traveling

I almost started breathing again with relief. Thankfully – I think I could now see where we were going with this conversation. My clothing was inappropriate for the situation. I didn’t need to look down at my cutoffs, which were not that short, but they definitely weren’t like the Tarahumara women with their long skirts. (Check out the photo where we are shelling corn in the previous post, Chapter 7 of this series; do the shorts look inappropriate to you? – ouch!)

How could I have been so thoughtless?

I flashed back to the television show in the hotel in Los Mochis with the women in short shorts (back in Chapter 1 of this series I saw something in Los Mochis that would cause me great embarrassment). And the big Corona beer poster in my home town with the sexy models with their short shorts… But those were Mexican women who lived in big cities.

I wasn’t like either of those women. But what did I look like compared to full-blooded Tarahumara Indians who lived rurally and didn’t even own television sets?

Of course Dave was right. He was probably embarrassed too. He probably didn’t want to have this conversation any more than I did.

“These Tarahumara live near the road and they have seen everything. So you are probably not offending them.” I picked up where Dave had been continuing to talk.

Well, that helped a little.

But Dave went on, “But you really do look good, and even if you don’t notice it, the men are looking at your legs. And the women see their men sneaking looks at you and it is going to cause problems in marriages…”

I screamed inside my head “Dear God, please make this man stop!”

“I’ll change clothes as soon as I get back,” I said abruptly, and probably a little too loud.

Even as I am writing this weeks later, I am freaking out emotionally. So I am going to go have a glass of my home-made elderberry wine and I’ll be back in a minute. BTW drinking a glass of red wine every day is one of the habits of the healthiest people in the world. Although I did’t see the Tarahumara with wine, they do make a home made beer.

[Check Out this Article: The Healthiest People in the World and How They Got That Way]

Fortunately at this point in the story, Lola was done filling up the jug and Pedro was shouldering the bottle to take back to the house. They seemed oblivious to our conversation.

There was a tacit agreement that when they were speaking in the Tarahumara language, we knew they were talking about us. And when we were speaking English, they knew we were talking about them. We politely ignored each other during these times. The common language was Spanish, and everybody participated in speaking Spanish as best they could. So Pedro and Lola ignoring us was par for the course.

As we walked back, Dave was saying soothing things trying and make the situation less awkward. But I couldn’t hear him. I was fighting back tears. When we got back to the house I immediately went to my room, got into long pants, and then climbed into my sleeping bag and scrunched down to the bottom so my head was covered. Then I had a good session of deep breathing and calming myself down.

Learning to Nixtamalize Corn

I eventually climbed out of my bag because the nixtamalization process was almost done and it was time for the next step. Focusing on work is always a good remedy in these situations. And I was going to have to get on with life. Nobody said anything to me and soon enough everything was back to normal. I was very careful from that point on to be aware of which culture I was in, and that I stayed within appropriate boundaries.

back-to-work-marjory-spent-quite-a-bit-of-time-on-a-grinder-milling-corn

Back to work – Marjory spent quite a bit of time on a grinder milling corn.

I am very intrigued by this nixtamalization process. And I’ve got to tell you a fascinating background story. In the 1800s many white settlers and homesteaders moved into the southeastern part of United States. They grew and used corn as their primary staple crop as had the indigenous people of that same area. But the white settlers became afflicted with the disease known as pellagra.

anthony-getting-the-video-of-lola-washing-nixtamalized-corn-in-the-stream

Anthony getting the video of Lola washing nixtamalized corn in the stream

Pellagra: Vitamin Deficiency in the Southeastern United States

Pellagra has the symptoms known as “the four Ds”: dermatitis, diarrhea, dementia, and death. While settlers had copied the indigenous peoples and grown corn as a staple crop, they did not copy the process by which the corn was prepared. The indigenous people did not suffer from the disease, yet the settlers did. Pellagra reached epidemic proportions in the southern United States in the early 1900s. Between 1906 and 1940 more than 3 million Americans were affected by pellagra, resulting in more than 100,000 deaths.

although-most-of-the-cooking-is-done-by-women-all-the-men-know-how-and-here-is-young-diego-learning-from-his-grandmother

Although most of the cooking is done by women, all the men know how and here is young Diego learning from his grandmother.

It turns out that the special indigenous “nixtamalization” process releases vitamins from the corn. Especially niacin (vitamin B3) and tryptophan, which were later identified to be the nutrient deficiencies that caused pellagra.

a-pot-of-corn-with-lime-simmers-on-the-wood-burning-stove

A pot of corn with lime simmers on the wood burning stove.

How did these so-called “primitive” people know to nixtamalize their corn? Where did they learn the process? Who told them how to do it? No one knows. It is quite a mystery.

The key part of the nixtamalization process is boiling the corn in a lye solution. The lye can be made from the ashes of hardwood trees, as is often done in the southeastern part of United States. Or, as in Mexico and the southwestern US, (where hardwood trees are not as easy to come by) a lye solution is made using lime.

I asked Lola where she got her lime, and she showed me a big bag of it she bought in town. Not that long ago, they used to dig special rocks and then bake them in the ground to make their lime. I really wanted to film that process too, but it took a while and we didn’t think we would be able to fit it into this trip. If I ever go back that’s one thing I definitely want to record.

Nopalitos and Nixtamalization

I believe that the nixtamalization process with lime is very important for another reason. Lime is basically calcium and because of this process the Tarahumara have a very calcium-rich diet. The Tarahumara also love to eat nopalitos, which are the pads of prickly pear. The Tarahumara were very aware that eating nopalitos was beneficial in preventing and curing diabetes. But I am not sure they knew that nopalitos also are high in oxalates. Oxalates bind up calcium in the body. I am willing to bet that eating the calcium-rich tortillas from nixtamalized corn helped offset any damage the oxalates in the nopalitos might have done. It is quite amazing how these indigenous diets that have been developed and tested over hundreds of years really have a lot of wisdom behind them.

lola-harvesting-prickly-pear

Lola harvesting prickly pear

We got some fantastic footage of Lola harvesting and cooking prickly pear pads, a.k.a. nopalitos. Note: if you want to see a detailed video of the process of making tortillas, tamales, pinole, and nopalitos, check out the presentation at the 2016 Home Grown Food Summit. In that free presentation you can see for yourself how the nixtamalization is done – it isn’t oblivious how they could have discovered this, is it?

And while Dave had given me quite a shock that morning when he revealed how upsetting my bare legs were to Tarahumara men, within the next two days, I would inadvertently have as big a shock for him.


This article is Chapter 8 in the series “Extreme Agri-Tourism: Off the Grid with the Tarhumara Indians.” You can read the rest of the series here:

Chapter 1: Extreme Agri-Tourism
Chapter 2: Hard Traveling
Chapter 3: The Tarhumara Girls School
Chapter 4: How To Lose 30 Pounds In 10 Seconds
Chapter 5: Gunfights Don’t Usually Last That Long…
Chapter 6: The Vomit Comet Through Tarahumara Country
Chapter 7: Don’t Ever Do This When Traveling In Strange Territory
Chapter 8: Nice Legs Really Scare Tarahumara Men
• Chapter 9: COMING SOON

 

Everything That’s Right with the World Today

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Bad news is everywhere you look. On your television, on your radio, and on your computer screen. Frankly, it can be overwhelming sometimes.

But nobody told that to the folks over at Rodale. They just announced the honorees of the first ever Rodale 100. These are 100 inspiring people, projects, and organizations that created positive change in 2015 with unique accomplishments and innovative ideas.

If you read one of these stories each day, you’ll have a positive pick-me-up that lasts 100 days!

The Rodale 100 – Inspiring Good News from Around the World

So take a break from the negative news and read about these people who are doing something positive to improve their local, national, and global communities. There are many inspiring stories here…

The honorees are divided into 5 categories:

Social Outreach
Fitness
Health
Food
Environment

You can see all 100 of the honorees here: The Rodale 100.

Selecting the Honorees for the Rodale 100

To build this list, Rodale put together a panel of journalists, activists, and experts. Each honoree has been vetted by an expert panel, with an emphasis on these 3 factors:

• groundbreaking innovations that revolutionize how we see the world while driving others in the industry to embrace creativity;
• a positive impact that affects changes on a local, national and/or global scale;
• a displayed commitment to the welfare of human beings, animals, and the environment.

Who Made the List

There are many familiar names on the list, including some Hollywood actors and actresses who have taken on meaningful pet projects, like Matt Damon’s water.org. And there are some big companies who are sponsoring various projects, like Subaru, who in 2015 became the first car manufacturer in U.S. history to achieve zero landfill status. And there are some really great looking nonprofit projects on this list that I hadn’t seen before.

There’s even a U.S. Politician. No kidding. Rep. Tim Ryan of Ohio is a foodie, and he made the list because of his book, The Real Food Revolution: Healthy Eating, Green Groceries and the Return of the American Family Farm.

I was especially happy to see that Perry Alagappan made the list in the Health category. If you missed the story about Perry’s new water filter, see this article – One Young Man Tackles a Huge Global Problem. Go, Perry!

And there’s another notable youth on the list, as well – Olivia Hallisey is a 17 year old from Connecticut who invented a new way to test for ebola virus. You can see a short video with Olivia below. These kids are making me feel like a serious slacker!

I hope you enjoy looking over all the different projects on this uplifting list, and I hope it helps distract you from the negative news for a short while.

 

Elder Athletes Who Grow Their Own Food: The Tarahumara Indians Part 7

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Don’t Ever Do This When Travelling In Strange Territory

Early the next morning Dave came into my room and tapped the foot of my sleeping bag. “Hey you want to go on a hike?” Dave asked. After all the planes, trains, and buses the chance to get some exercise was just what I wanted. Plus, I hadn’t slept that well and I was wide awake anyway. So I enthusiastically said, “yes!”

Anthony, Pedro, and I followed Dave up a narrow mountain trail. On the way we met up with a Tarahumara neighbor named Bernadino. I would end up spending a lot of time with Bernadino and his warm family discussing how they grew and prepared food.

After about 20 or 30 minutes, we came upon a large comfortable cave where Bernadino and his family had lived until recently (when they moved into the house they now occupied). In the 2016 Home Grown Food Summit, there is a fascinating full-length interview where Dave tells about Bernadino’s background and how the two of them met. Click here to get to the Home Grown Food Summit.

marjory-dave-and-bernadino-in-the-cave-where-bernadino-used-to-live

Marjory, Dave, and Bernadino in the cave where Bernadino used to live.

By the time we got back down to the house for breakfast, the sun was up and we could tell it was going to be a warm day. After we had eaten we would start our first class on how to make tortillas with Lola. Life moves at a more leisurely pace in Mexico and by the time our “class” was actually going to start, it had already gotten downright hot. I slipped off for a quick second to change into some cut-offs and felt much more comfortable.

Nixtamalization – Preparing Corn for Consumption

First off we had to shell the kernels of corn off the cobs. Then the corn was put in a pot with water. Powdered lime is added to the pot and it’s put on the stove to simmer for about an hour. This is a process called nixtamalization. It is a process that makes the nutrients in the corn more bio-available when you eat it.

shelling-corn-is-the-first-step-in-making-tortillas-and-everyone-helped-out

Shelling corn is the first step in making tortillas and everyone helped out.

I have always been fascinated by nixtamalization. How humans ever discovered this process is quite a mystery to me. It’s an extremely important process to anyone who’s interested in being self-reliant and relying on corn as a staple. All of the indigenous people throughout the Americas that grow corn know how to nixtamalize corn and do it regularly.

How did the indigenous peoples know to nixtamalize their corn? Where did they learn the process? How could they possibly have discovered it? The process is not intuitively obvious. If you’d like to see for yourself how it’s done, there will be a free presentation airing at the 2016 homegrown food summit which you can sign up for here by clicking this link: 2016 Home Grown Food Summit.

anthony-films-lola-as-she-washes-the-nixtamalized-corn-in-the-stream-by-the-house

Anthony films Lola as she washes the nixtamalized corn in the stream by the house.

One of the interesting things about our trip is that all these “classes” we were taking didn’t really affect daily Tarahumara life that much. Nixtamalizing corn and making tortillas were things the women did every day. Having us around to ask questions and do a bit of filming didn’t really interfere with their normal schedule.

How the Tarahumara Manage Their Drinking Water

Once the pot of corn was bubbling away and the stove was piled with wood, Lola said we had about an hour. She needed to go get drinking water. So we all went to go with her. Neither Anthony nor I have a lot of experience traveling in Mexico. But we had heard about “Montezuma’s revenge.” And both of us were being very careful. If the water wasn’t boiled, then we were treating it with iodine.

anthony-and-marjory-treated-most-of-their-drinking-water-with-iodine-drops-to-prevent-montazumas-revenge

Anthony and Marjory treated most of their drinking water with iodine drops to prevent Montazuma’s revenge.

Lola’s house was only about 30 yards from a stream, and come to think of it, so were all of the rural Tarahumara homesteads that we would visit. But none of them drank from the streams that were right next to their houses. All of them got their drinking water from cleaner sources that were 500 to 1,000 yards away, and usually higher up.

So at Lola’s home, once or twice a day someone in the family would take a 5 gallon jug and go up and get water from the stream.

the-house-water-supply-is-jugs-of-water-brought-in-from-a-nearby-stream

The house water supply is jugs of water brought in from a nearby stream.

“When we need to carry more water over longer distances, we use “La Pipa,” Lola told me. La pipa means “the pipe” in Spanish.

But “La Pipa” turned out to be the name of the white donkey that had been hanging around the yard. It was a joke in a second way as well, in that because of her white color, the donkey also looked like a piece of PVC pipe (the common plumbing pipe which is usually white).

marjory-and-the-donkey-named-la-pipa

Marjory and the donkey named “La Pipa”

Managing Livestock the Tarahumara Way

“Is this area fenced?” I asked, wondering about how they cared for the donkey. No, it wasn’t. La Pipa was free to go wherever she wanted. She was hanging around the house these days because there were still some greens growing in the yard, the apple orchard still had fruit, and there was the possibility of corn husks coming from the house.

They fully expected her to wander off eventually. When they needed her to carry stuff, or for plowing, they would simply ask their neighbors, “Have you seen my donkey?” and eventually she would be found.

“Why would she ever let you harness her again?” I asked. Because they would feed her corn or other grains when she worked with them. Otherwise they didn’t have to worry about her. It was a good arrangement for everyone.

But La Pipa wasn’t used for the daily household water, so without La Pipa’s help we headed up to the stream for drinking water.

while-getting-drinking-water-for-the-house-lola-gets-her-grandson-diego-a-drink-at-the-water-hole

While getting drinking water for the house Lola gets her grandson Diego a drink at the water hole.

It was while we were up there getting water that Dave dropped a bombshell on me.

He came up to me and said, “You know, Marjory, you are really quite a babe.”

I froze, horrified.

I am not sure how long it took me to respond.

“Uh, that’s nice of you to say…” I stammered, not quite believing him and certainly not knowing how to respond in this situation.

“Oh, I really mean it!” Dave exclaimed, “you are really an attractive woman.”

Now, of course every woman on the planet would enjoy being called a babe. Although, personally, I think at my age I’m well past that description. But I will confess that about 1% of me was just thrilled.

But the other 99% of me was on high alert. What in the heck was going on???

My internal organs started screeching. Here I was out in the middle of God knows where in Mexico, and we were planning to go ever further off the beaten path. We were only a few days in to what should be about another week of traveling. I spoke only a little Spanish and my Tarahumara was zilch.

No matter where this conversation was going, it couldn’t be good.


This article is Part 7 in a series about Marjory’s trip to visit the Tarahumara Indians. You can read the rest of the series here:

Elder Athletes Who Grow Their Own Food: The Tarahumara Indians Part 1
Elder Athletes Who Grow Their Own Food: The Tarahumara Indians Part 2
Elder Athletes Who Grow Their Own Food: The Tarahumara Indians Part 3
Elder Athletes Who Grow Their Own Food: The Tarahumara Indians Part 4
Elder Athletes Who Grow Their Own Food: The Tarahumara Indians Part 5
Elder Athletes Who Grow Their Own Food: The Tarahumara Indians Part 6
Elder Athletes Who Grow Their Own Food: The Tarahumara Indians Part 7
• Part 8: COMING SOON

 

8 Ways to Replace Carbs with Home Grown Veggies

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While low-carb diets seem to be the all the rage nowadays, there’s actually some merit to swapping out starchy foods like bread, rice and pasta. How so? By replacing them with superfood veggies! Whether you follow a paleo, vegan, or whole foods diet (or something in between), all experts agree that low-glycemic veggies are in. Not only are they a superb way of achieving weight loss goals, they’re also an excellent way of getting in your daily RDAs of vitamins and minerals. Of course, we here at the Grow Network know that growing your own food means that ALL veggies are stellar stars!

So here are a few ways of cozying up to all that produce you’ve been growing… and to help you stick with those New Year’s resolutions.

Easy Ways to Replace Carbs with Vegetables – with 8 Recipes

#1 – Veggin’ on Veggie “Buns”
Swap out those carb-rich buns for lycopene-rich tomatoes. Simply cut in half and stick your burger in the middle, or scoop out the “innards” (add these bits with avocado in the food processor to make guacamole) to better fit the burger. If you’d prefer a cooked bun, consider using baked yam slices: peel, slice thickly into 1-inch rounds and bake, then slide that burger in between two yam slices. For a BBQ inspired taste, grill 1-inch slices of zucchini or marinated portobello mushroom caps, then stick your burger between two pieces, add the fixings and dig in. If you fancy using a toothpick to hold everything together, by all means go ahead!

#2 – Veggin’ on Submarine “Buns”
This a very simple idea similar to #1 above, only this time the form (i.e., length) of the “bun” changes. For a raw option, peel a cucumber and slice it in half lengthwise, scoop out the inner parts, then add in your fave nut pate, chicken or egg salad, tempeh scramble or whatever you please. Zucchini also works well here. For a cooked version, as with the idea above, slice a zucchini or a large bell pepper lengthwise into two strips, then grill both sides 4-5 minutes and use as submarine “bread.” Grilled eggplant is another mighty tasty option. Simple can be this good!

#3 – Pizza Veggie Love “Crust”
Yes, it’s true: you can use cauliflower and broccoli to make pizza “bread.” While it doesn’t have the same texture as the ol’ wheaty fare, it’s actually quite tasty and it’s quite easy to make. Give it a try in this recipe here:

Chickpea Cauliflower Pizza Crust Recipe

• 1 lb. cauliflower OR broccoli
• 1/2 cup chickpea flour
• 2 TBsp ground flax seed + 6 TBsp water OR 2 eggs, beaten
• 1 TBsp ground chia or flax seed
• 1 tsp Italian seasoning, powdered
• 1/2 tsp sea salt

Directions: Put the broccoli or cauliflower in the food processor and use the pulse button to grind it to look like rice (you want to have 3 cups). If you like, you can then steam this “rice” for 5 minutes, then let cool before handling. Place the “rice” in a nut milk bag or cheesecloth and wring out the excess water. If using the flax and water, add together in a small bowl and let sit 5 minutes. Then, add the cauliflower or broccoli “flour” in a bowl with the rest of the ingredients, including the soaked flax/water mixture OR 2 beaten eggs. Add in additional chickpea flour as necessary to form a smooth dough. Divide the dough and make 2-4 small round pizza crusts, smoothing the dough to ensure there are no cracks, and place on parchment lined cookie sheets. Bake at 400F for 30 minutes, then use a big spatula to gently flip the crusts over and bake for an additional 15 minutes. Done! Add your fave toppings and bake an additional 10 minutes.

Note: Double or triple recipe to freeze for future use. Place between sheets of parchment paper and gently place in a plastic bag. Thaw before reheating. Do note that crusts are rather fragile, so handle with care.

Variation 1: You can use half broccoli and half cauliflower if you like.
Variation 2: You can use any other flour you wish to replace the chickpea flour.
Variation 3: If you prefer to make one large pizza crust or shape it into a rectangular shape on your cookie sheet, by all means go ahead! Just remember to flip the crust over and cook it an additional 15 minutes to get a texture that will be crispy like pizza bread. Enjoy!

#4 – I Likey Ricey: Parsnip & Cauliflower Power
Similar to the idea in #3 above, use the pulse button on your food processor to grind the cauliflower or parsnip to look like rice. Now what? Now you can use this “rice” to sub in for regular rice. The simplest, of course, is to add it to your plate with a bit of salt and butter as a side dish. Another idea: use this “rice” in your next nori sushi recipe, adding in whatever else you normally use. Yet another idea: ever made stuffed peppers or tomatoes? Great, now you can do the exact same thing by stuffing them with parsnip or cauliflower rice, adding in your fave marinade, herbs and spices, and cooking as usual. Here’s a recipe with cabbage rolls to get you started with this idea:

Cabbage Rolls with “Parsnip Rice,” Feta, and Mint Recipe

• 1 cabbage, green, red OR Savoy
• 1 cup packed parsnip OR cauliflower “rice”
• 1/3 cup feta cheese or vegan shredded cheese
• 3 TBsp Kalamata olives, chopped
• 2 TBsp fresh mint, chopped
• 2-3 cups tomato sauce

Directions: Remove core from cabbage and take off 8 large leaves. Bring a pot of water to a boil and add in leaves. Simmer on low 5-10 minutes until softened. Add the rest of the ingredients together, except the tomato sauce, in a bowl. Take out cabbage leaves and let cool until ready to handle. Depending on the size of the leaf, place 1/4-1/2 cup of the filling on the edge of a leaf and roll, tucking in the sides. Repeat with rest of ingredients. Add sauce to a pot and place cabbage rolls seam side down in the sauce. Cover and cook 8-10 minutes, until rolls are hot all the way through and cabbage is really tender. Serve rolls with the sauce, adding in additional mint and olives for garnish, if desired.

Note: If you find your sauce too thick, simply add some water to thin it out to avoid burning.

Variation: Use 3/4 cup cauliflower or parsnip and add in 2 grated carrots. Once rolls are done, add sauce and rolls seam side down in a crock pot. Cook on low 6-8 hours, until rolls are heated through and cabbage is very tender.

Bonus Power Idea: After steaming or cooking cauliflower or parsnip until tender, you can whip them in a blender with milk, butter, salt and pepper to taste, just like (and instead of) mashed ‘taters. Some people don’t bother cooking the veggies at all, just add to the blender and eat on up! Here’s another yummy recipe for you to enjoy:

Whipped Parsnip “Potatoes” Recipe

• 6-8 parsnips, peeled, chopped (and steamed/cooked, if desired)
• 4 TBsp ground sunflower seeds
• 4 TBsp Udo’s 3-6-9 oil OR olive oil
• 2 TBsp sea salt
• 3 cloves garlic
• 1 cup or more water, milk OR unsweetened non-dairy milk, for consistency

Directions: Whip all ingredients in a blender to a smooth texture and serve.

#5 – Rappin’ About Green Wraps
Instead of the standard slice of wheat or whole grain bread, opt for a healthy green in a leaf of lettuce. Simply add chicken, tuna, fish, tempeh, etc. and eat open-faced or place another leaf on top. You can also double up and use 2 leaves on both the top and bottom. If you find this idea a bit too raw for your tastes, try parboiling or lightly steaming chard or kale leaves so that they wilt, let them cool slightly, then add your fixings. Since the leaves are now soft, you might even enjoy rolling them up and eating them in wrap style. Steamed collard or cabbage (not a leafy green but tasty nonetheless) also work well for this idea.

vegan-taco-wrap

#6 – Oh My Veggie Pasta Love Affair
So many people enjoy pasta, but not what it does to their waistline! As noted in this article, there are many healthy alternatives out there and veggies fly high on the list. Options include using a spiralizer to turn carrots, zucchini and beets into noodles, then pairing with your fave pasta sauce (tomato, alfredo, peanut, etc). Zucchini sliced lengthwise into long strips can be used like lasagna noodles. And then there’s good ol’ spaghetti squash, which looks just like pasta noodles, but has a much better carb profile, way less calories and boosts vitamins and minerals like Vitamin A and potassium. Oh my veggies, I am so in love with all the ways you can be enjoyed!

#7 – Supersize Me Breakfast: Veggie Waffles & Pancakes
Hold the eggs and toast, because veggie breakfasts are so in! Sure, many people know about green smoothies for breakfast, but sometimes you just get tired of the same ol’ thing. And when you have leftover beet and carrot noodles that you’ve spiralized in #6 above, you can then turn them into… “hash browns,” and waffles! Better get out those yam and sweet potato “spuds” too, because veggie pancakes are the newfangled way to supersize your breakfast! Here are 2 recipes to get you high on veggies first thing in the morning:

No Yamby Pamby Pancakes Recipe

• 1 cup cooked and pureed yam or sweet potato
• 1/4 cup ground flax + 3/4 cup water, soaked together for 5 minutes OR 4 eggs, beaten
• 2 TBsp almond OR coconut flour
• 1 tsp vanilla
• 1 tsp cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice (optional)
• Coconut oil, for frying

Directions: Mix all ingredients together. Grease a frying pan with coconut oil and cook 1/4 cup of the batter on medium-high heat. When bubbles form, flip and cook the other side. Repeat with rest of the batter. Top your pancakes with fresh fruit and a low calorie sweetener (e.g. stevia, erythritol, xylitol, etc.), if desired.

Carrot & Beet “Hash Browns” and Waffles Recipe

• 1 1/4 cups packed spiralized beet, carrot, or a combination of both
• 3 TBsp flax + 9 TBsp water
• 1 heaping TBsp chickpea, almond or coconut flour
• Coconut oil, for frying

Directions: Add altogether in a bowl and let sit for 5 minutes for the flax to gel. Squeeze the dough together and divide into 4. Heat a frying pan on medium-high heat and add coconut oil. Squeeze each hash brown to hold its shape and place in the frying pan. Fry for 5-8 minutes, gently pressing down on each hash brown, then flip and do the other side. Serve and eat on up!

Notes: 1) The coconut and almond flour lend a sweeter dough than using chickpea or a grain flour. That means you can make these sweet or savory: if you want to go the sweet “root,” top with fresh fruit and a low calorie sweetener like stevia and eat on up! If you want to go the savory “root,” consider adding in 1/2 tsp each garlic and onion powder (or more, as you like), and salt and pepper to taste. 2) You can also use these savory hash browns as a burger patty or to eat as a side of veggie “bread” with soup. Enjoy!

Variation: To turn these into waffles, grease a waffle maker and scoop the “dough” across the top. Close waffle maker and press down for 1 minute. Cook for 12-15 minutes, until there is no more steam being released. Repeat. Top with fresh fruit and stevia, or whatever catches your fancy.

#8 – High Vibin’ on Zero Fat Veggie Chips
Instead of fatty and salty potato chips, or store-bought kale chips high on the nutty scale, you can easily slice carrots, beets, parsnips, turnips, zucchini and sweet potatoes very thinly using a mandolin. Add to a bowl, then add in herbs and spices. There are so many combinations that can be used to flavor these chips, whether savory or sweet.

Fat Free Veggie Chip Recipe

• 2 medium vegetables sliced thin
• 1/2 tsp herbs and spices

Note: A general tip is to use 1/2 tsp of herb/spice for every 2 veggies. Here are a few combinations you can try:

• 1/4 tsp each garlic and onion powder
• 1/2 tsp herbes de provence + a pinch each of garlic and pepper
• 1/2 tsp cinnamon + 1/2 tsp powdered stevia (or more, as you like)

Directions: Once spiced, place the chips in a single layer on parchment lined cookie sheets and bake at 200F for 3-4 hours, rotating pans every 30-40 minutes and keeping an eye on them so they don’t burn. Once done, you can sprinkle on sea salt if you like. If you have a dehydrator, place the slices on mesh sheets and dry at 115F for 6-8 hours. Fat free chips never tasted so good!

In a similar vein, you can make those oh-so-popular kale chips using any thick, zero-fat marinade or vinaigrette, massaging the kale chips to coat, then drying them ’til crispy. A dehydrator is really the ideal way to go when making kale chips, but you can also use an oven at 200F. Here’s a simple and tasty recipe for making fat free cheesy kale chips (dairy-free to boot):

No Cheese Cheezy Kale Chip Recipe

• 2-3 bunches kale, stems removed and leaves torn into bite-size pieces
• 1/4 cup fresh lemon or lime juice
• 3/4-1 cup nutritional yeast
• 1-2 tsp garlic powder
• 1-2 tsp onion powder
• 1 tsp sea salt

Directions: In a bowl, massage kale pieces to coat with the lemon or lime juice. In another bowl, mix the nutritional yeast with the garlic and onion powder, then massage all leaves with this mixture to coat. Let marinate 15-30 minutes. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper and spread kale chips in a single layer so that they are spread out and don’t overlap. Dry at 200F 2-4 hours, keeping an eye on them so they don’t burn. Alternatively, if you have a dehydrator, spread the chips on mesh sheets and dry at 115F 6-8 hours or overnight.

If you’re thinking sure, this is all nice and dandy, but what about those yummy bready muffins and other baked goods? You’d be surprised how many recipes there are to make desserts with veggies as the main ingredient! Here’s a final recipe for some num-num no bake carrot bliss balls to get you enjoying this veggie-table idea!

No Bake Carrot Bliss Balls Recipe

• 2 cups carrot pulp leftover after juicing OR 2 cups ground carrots using the pulse button on the food processor
• 1 cup pitted dates, soaked 4 -8 hours until soft
• 1/2 cup almond pulp leftover from making almond milk (or any other nut or seed milk) OR 1/2 cup almond flour
• 2 TBsp ground flax or chia seed mixed with 6 TBsp water
• 1 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice or cinnamon
• 1 tsp vanilla
• Carob or cocoa powder

Directions: Puree the dates in the food processor. Add in the rest of the ingredients, adding in a bit of the date soak water if needed to get a dough that sticks together. Take a tablespoon of the dough and roll into a ball in the palm of your hand. Roll the ball into carob or cocoa powder. Repeat with rest of the ingredients. Store bliss balls in refrigerator.

 

Elder Athletes Who Grow Their Own Food: The Tarahumara Indians Part 6

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The Vomit Comet Through Tarahumara Country

The bus filled up completely, and then filled up some more. One of the last people to get on was a young woman with a child snug on her back and another small one tugging at her skirt. I was just about to get up and give her my seat when Anthony beat me to it.

Good man, that Anthony is.

The bus rolled out. And as we passed the scene of the gunfight at the edge of town, I realized that rubbernecking is a universal human behavior. Even the driver was curious and slowed the bus as we passed the intersection. I was briefly worried that the bus would tip over as everyone leaned to look out the windows on the right side. But there wasn’t much to see and the bus soon surged on.

Part of the spectacular beauty of the Copper Canyon is its intense ruggedness. I honestly have no idea how anybody would’ve ever thought they could build a road through there, but humans do some amazing things. Much of the road was built by blowing out part of the canyon’s vertical rock, so the twists and turns in the road are mercilessly sharp as it hugs the rugged walls.

they-really-built-a-road-through-here-seriously-people-are-crazy

I could definitely see why people would vomit on this ride.

Anthony managed to get a video clip of some of it. Somehow sitting here in the comfort of my home office and watching it just doesn’t convey the visceral distortions that happened when we were actually doing it. I think during the worst parts of the drive Anthony couldn’t get any decent footage, so what is on this clip is one of the more tame stretches. The driver had been apparently driving this route for many years and felt completely comfortable barreling as fast as he possibly could around impossibly tight curves and having no clue if anybody else was coming or not. Note as you watch the clip what little regard the driver has for which lane he is in.

It’s one of those times when you just want to close your eyes and think about the last time you updated your will and last testament. Except that you really want to see the view. And with eyes open or closed, you are going to be queasy at least. Anthony took the brunt of it; standing up and trying to keep his pack full of heavy equipment from falling on anyone’s head.

the-village-of-humira-is-just-a-bend-in-the-road-with-a-few-houses

After about an hour so of this torture, Dave moved up to the bus driver and talked with him. The driver stopped in what looked to me like just a bend in the road with a few houses. “We’re here,” Dave shouted over the rumbling engine, “this is Humira.”

We wobbled off the bus and I noticed that even Dave looked pale. Our hosts Lola, Afren, and their family were there to greet us with big smiles. We did light handshakes and introductions all around.

afren-lola-and-family-in-front-of-their-home-in-humira-mexico

Dave had instructed us earlier that we should make a point to gently shake hands with anyone and everyone in a new setting. The handshake is a gentle, almost ‘just touching’ of palms. Although it felt a little awkward at first, it did seem to be the expected protocol, and by the end of the trip it would be second nature to go and do this gentle handshake anytime someone new came up.

Lola and Afren picked up some of our bags and helped us with the short distance to their homestead. Their home was a large house by Tarahumara standards. Maybe about 800 sq. ft. by my guess. It consisted of four rooms. There was one big room that was a combination kitchen and dining room. Then there were two bedrooms, and a big storage room on the side. I lucked out and got the small bedroom with a thin bed of mostly coils. The guys ended up in the storage room. There wasn’t any bedding to spare, but Anthony I had sleeping bags, and Pedro and Dave brought blankets. We were all glad to be indoors.

the-guys-slept-in-this-storeroom-at-afren-and-lolas-home

All of the Tarahumara houses I would see on this trip had only one big bed, except for Lola and Afren’s place. So for those of you wondering about the practice of “the family bed,” well it is alive and well among the Tarahumara in Mexico.

None of the houses had any running water or plumbing, although surprisingly, each had a little bit of electricity. Apparently the Mexican government had come through a few years ago and offered every family a small solar panel, battery, and inverter with enough power for a light bulb and possibly a small radio.

small-govt-issue-solar-panel-we-saw-on-most-of-the-tarahumara-rural-homes

As soon as we had settled in, Lola offered us steaming mugs of pinole and started cooking tortillas. Pinole is a drink made from ground corn that is sort of like a watery porridge. The Tarahumara Indians love this drink and over the next week I would be astonished to find how energizing and filling it is. I really can’t explain why this drink made me feel so upbeat – seriously – it’s only made from ground corn that was popped.

as-soon-as-we-arrive-lola-starts-cooking-offering-us-pinole-and-tortillas

And the tortillas! Oh my, these tortillas were a world apart from the thin GMO cardboard disks that pass with the same name in America. The Tarahumara tortillas were thick, hardy, nourishing, and delicious. Cooked simply by themselves with no oils, butters, or salt – they were hand patted and toasted on the top of Lola’s wood-burning stove. She piled them up in a tall stack on the table and they were a major feature of every meal.

hand-made-tortillas-from-home-grown-corn-are-thick-and-delicious

Afren was a good-natured, outgoing sort of guy who seemed like he really enjoyed a good drink with the boys from time to time. He was not full-blooded Tarahumara although he had been raised in the village. Afren was one of those guys whose heart had turned away from tradition and toward the acquisition of cowboy boots, shiny belt buckles, and dreams of fast money.

Lola was full-blooded Tarahumara and quite an accomplished woman. She had left the village to gain the education necessary to become a professional nurse. She returned to her home area to operate a small medical clinic that was a tremendous service to her community. But the funding for the medical outpost had dried up, and I felt a sadness emanating from her that I guessed was because she no longer had this meaningful work.

the-closed-clinic-where-lola-used-to-serve-the-community

Afren and Lola were widely respected in the community and they were helpful in arranging connections for us to learn and film traditional Tarahumara food production and preparation.

I wanted to learn how to cook tortillas and make pinole!

on-the-side-of-every-tarahumara-home-was-a-small-fire-pit-for-making-pinole

Dave had previously brought groups of Americans here who wanted to learn their traditional skills, so these Tarahumara were used to both teaching and being filmed. They suggested that a fair price for one “class” would be 200 pesos (about $12.50) and that we should work with several different families in the valley in order to spread the wealth evenly.

Note that all the classes we filmed about how to make tortillas, pinole, and much more are offered in free videos that will be aired at the 2016 Home Grown Food Summit. Check it out here.

We spent the afternoon discussing Tarahumara culture and traditions and making a rough schedule for classes. When the subject of their famous races came up I asked Afren if it would be possible for us to put up the purse money to sponsor a race. “No,” Afren said, “it doesn’t work like that. Each runner brings a little bit of money, and they pool that money up to make the purse.” But he thought he might be able to find a group of runners who would be willing to put on a demonstration race for us.

Anthony and I had given Afren several hundred pesos to buy groceries. The next day while we were filming classes with Lola, Afren would go to the next village to pick up food and see if he could scout out some runners.

Now in the back of my mind I was just a little bit worried about this. I mean would Afren go out and scrounge up some drinking buddies and say, “Hey – I got some Americans with easy money – just wear some traditional dress and look like you are running.” But the cost for the event was only going to total about $100 and I figured it was worth the risk. If it wasn’t the real deal we could always scrap the footage.

marjory-taking-notes-in-a-discussion-on-growing-corn-beans-and-squash-tarahumara-style

But a possible con job was about to be the least of my worries.

Have you ever been in a foreign culture and discovered that you were unconsciously doing something that was very disturbing to everyone around you?


This article is Part 6 in a series about Marjory’s trip to visit the Tarahumara Indians. You can read the rest of the series here:

Elder Athletes Who Grow Their Own Food: The Tarahumara Indians Part 1
Elder Athletes Who Grow Their Own Food: The Tarahumara Indians Part 2
Elder Athletes Who Grow Their Own Food: The Tarahumara Indians Part 3
Elder Athletes Who Grow Their Own Food: The Tarahumara Indians Part 4
Elder Athletes Who Grow Their Own Food: The Tarahumara Indians Part 5
Elder Athletes Who Grow Their Own Food: The Tarahumara Indians Part 6
• Part 7: COMING SOON

 

Elder Athletes Who Grow Their Own Food: The Tarahumara Indians Part 5

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Gunfights Don’t Usually Last That Long…

The town of Creel has a population of about 5,000. It’s a pretty small place. The gunshots were coming from somewhere at the edge of town which wasn’t that far away. I suppose I should’ve been more disturbed, but honestly I wasn’t.

I live in a rural part of Central Texas and I hear gunshots almost every day. In fact, on some days, the shots I hear are mine.

anthony-is-such-a-good-video-guy-he-even-makes-drying-clothes-look-interesting

The co-op was on a small backstreet and many buildings surrounded us. The shots sounded far enough away I thought there wouldn’t be any danger of ricochets or stray bullets hitting us. Or, I hoped so.

I looked at the rest of our group. Pedro had settled in sitting quietly on the step in front of the store. His face unreadable in that placid way that Indians around the world seem to have. Anthony was alert, but calm. “Sounds like a typical day in Fresno,” Anthony said when he saw I was checking in on him. Dave was busy talking to people to see if he could find out what was going on.

anthony-had-the-heaviest-pack

So I did the safest thing I could think of and entered the store and went shopping. It was inside a concrete building – surely no bullets would get in there? (Note to my husband: see how shopping is a good thing and can actually save your life at times?).

I’m not any great expert on conflict, but one thing I’ve noticed over the years is that any fight – be it with fists, knives, or guns – is usually over very quickly. And sure enough the shots died down within minutes.

A small crowd had gathered in the street in front of the store. The co-op had turned into an impromptu community center. Everyone was looking for information on what had happened and no one knew. Since milling about there wasn’t doing us any good, Pedro suggested that we head off to the bus station and wait there. Pedro told us the buses fill up and if we wanted a seat we should get there early.

I expected the bus to be a refurbished old school bus, and I was mildly surprised to see it was a slightly newer model touring coach. A few years ago I visited Cuba and every day brought a new miracle as the bus sputtered its way safely to and from where we were going. If its old inspection sticker was to be believed, that Cuban school bus had been in Louisiana in 1987 at one point in its history. We all took turns sitting in this one seat where you had to use your feet to hold down a piece of cardboard that covered a giant hole in the floorboard. If you didn’t keep the hole covered, then everyone riding inside the bus would get to breathe toxic exhaust.

The big red coach in front of us now looked in much better shape. Compared to that old Cuban bus, this looked downright deluxe. “Don’t get too excited,” Dave said, “these coaches might be newer, but they have cloth seats.”

the-vomit-comet-also-known-as-the-bus-to-batopilas-mexico

“Why are cloth seats a problem?” I asked, surprised.

“Well,” said Dave, “with those old school buses you could go inside and hose them down. These new ones with cloth seats you can never wash out the smell of vomit.”

Within my first few steps on to the bus I knew exactly what he meant.

And we would soon to find out why people riding this bus would be compelled to vomit. In fact, I would nickname the bus “the vomit comet.”


This article is Part 5 in a series about Marjory’s trip to visit the Tarahumara Indians. You can read the rest of the series here:

Elder Athletes Who Grow Their Own Food: The Tarahumara Indians Part 1
Elder Athletes Who Grow Their Own Food: The Tarahumara Indians Part 2
Elder Athletes Who Grow Their Own Food: The Tarahumara Indians Part 3
Elder Athletes Who Grow Their Own Food: The Tarahumara Indians Part 4
Elder Athletes Who Grow Their Own Food: The Tarahumara Indians Part 5
• Part 6: COMING SOON

 

Elder Athletes Who Grow Their Own Food: The Tarahumara Indians Part 4

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How To Lose 30 Pounds In 10 Seconds

By the time we left Pedro’s house it had been dark for a long time, and Anthony and I had been up since 4:30 a.m. that morning. We were exhausted.

At the girls dorm I lucked out and was assigned one room by myself; the privilege of being the only female, I suppose. Anthony and Dave were sharing another room. At this point in time, those beds were looking really good. But before we could go to glorious sleep, our hosts had everybody circle up in the living room and they brought out a guitar to sing some songs.

marjorys-room-at-the-tarahumara-girls-school-in-creel-mexico

Then it was time for prayers. And they were excruciatingly long ones in English, Spanish, and then in Tarahumara. I looked over and saw Anthony weaving in an attempt to stay standing.

And then finally my prayer was answered and we got dismissed to go to our rooms.

“Poor Anthony,” I thought as the sound of Dave’s loud snoring came across the hall into my room. Had Anthony thought to bring a pair of earplugs? If not, he was probably not going to get much rest. I put a pillow over my head to shut out the sound and went to sleep.

luzdivini-one-of-our-hosts-at-the-girls-school-in-creel-mexico

When I got up the next morning Dave was gone, ostensibly to work on logistics. While we waited, Luzdivini and Javier were kind enough to give Anthony and I a tour of the facilities and tell us a bit about the girls. Most of the girls went home on the weekends as their families didn’t live that far away. But one very shy and pretty girl named Angelique could only go home on major holidays because she lived too far out. She was the most traditional of the girls and held closely to her family’s customs.

My heart really went out to this young woman. The feeling was so strong that I wondered why. There must be some connection, but it eluded me at the moment. It would be almost the end of the trip before I would realize what it was.

angelique-a-tarahumara-girl-at-the-school-in-creel

Angelique was related to Patricinio, the famous Tarahumara violin maker. Javier mentioned that we would probably be going very close to where her family lived, and I suggested that Angelique write a letter to her family and perhaps we could deliver it for her. She brightened at this and got pen to paper.

Delivering that letter would turn out to be both a blessing and a curse.

During our tour, I asked Javier about the tanks I saw on the tops of buildings. There were also tanks at ground level that were piped into gutter systems which were clearly for rainwater catchment. But why would anybody have a tank on top of the roof? Javier explained that electricity and water supply in the town were very unreliable. So when the utilities were on, everybody would pump water up to tanks on tops of their houses so that they would have gravity fed water available during the frequent blackouts.

tanks-on-top-of-buildings-because-utilities-are-not-that-reliable

Dave returned and we headed out to Pedro’s house to take him up on his invitation for breakfast. “Dave,” I asked, “can we stop by the grocery store on the way?” When you’re paying a guy $20 a day to carry a pack, having three hungry Americans show up on his doorstep would surely be a strain on his family. Plus the night before when I had suggested I would bring eggs, I noticed his wife’s eyes light up.

We bought armloads of groceries; eggs, sausage, cheese, onions, tomatoes, potatoes, garlic, and tortillas – probably enough to feed Pedro’s family for a week. This did a lot to ensure our presence was deeply appreciated and the welcome was genuine. Pedro’s wife was a good cook. I never did find out why Pedro lived in the city. Dave told me that in previous years there have been a string of droughts that forced many of the Tarahumara off the land. They came into town to find jobs so that they could feed their families. And in all too many cases, as happens round the world, they succumb to alcohol or drugs and thus begin a downward spiral that few can escape from. Pedro was on the up and up right now, but I suspected there had been problems in the past.

pedro-in-his-small-but-comfortable-home-in-creel-mexico

After breakfast I asked, “Where’s the bathroom?” Pedro’s bubbly young son was assigned to show me. We walked down to the end of the block and across the gravel road. The boy pointed to a grove of trees and then sat on a big rock with his back to me. He politely waited for me to do my business. It took me a moment to realize… Oh, the trees are the bathroom for the subdivision.

Back at the house, I noticed that Pedro took only a knife, a blanket, and a jacket. He bid his family farewell and we all headed back to the girls school to do a final gear assessment and prepare to go on the bus.

We definitely had too much stuff. We spread it all out on the floor and decided what to take. The most important pack was the one filled with all of Anthony’s video gear. Cameras, lenses, computer, batteries, memory, tripod… it was a pretty heavy pack. We had to take this pack and Anthony manned up to carry it.

Anthony and I slimmed down our personal loads by leaving a bag full of clothes at the school that we would pick up upon our return to Creel.

The heaviest, bulkiest gifts we gave away to the girls. We laid out the packages of cloth and sewing kits that I had brought on the floor in the living room. The girls eyes widened when they understood they could take what they wanted, and the stuff just simply evaporated. School supplies and most of the tennis balls also disappeared pretty quickly. Dave picked up one of the two tents and turned it over thoughtfully in his hands. They were inexpensive 3-man tents I had picked up at a local sporting goods store just before leaving. I had brought them along mostly at the insistence of my husband who had been getting more and more worried about me. “Hon, there have been heavy rains in that region lately,” he said with real concern in his voice. “Just one good soaking and you’ll be miserable.”

He was right, of course. Since none of our regular personal gear was the right size, I picked up these two tents at the last minute. And by bringing them, I had committed a cardinal sin of any expedition; it was gear I had never tested.

“I’m not sure we will need two tents,” Dave said, “but I think we should take one just in case.” He turned to Javier and asked, “Would you be in need of a tent?”

Javier looked like he had been struck by lightning. Apparently one of the girls in the school had an opportunity for some very important studies a long distance away. They had gotten most of the supplies she needed for the journey, but the one thing that was missing was a tent. They just didn’t have the resources to get one and the whole school had been praying on the issue.

I felt a twinge of apprehension as a ghost popped up to remind me that I had never tested that tent, and it was a cheaper brand. But Dave assured me that as soon as we left, they would be setting it up and testing it out. The instructions were printed clearly in schematics on the side.

So with much lighter packs, many good wishes, and sincere prayers for a safe journey we headed out. We still had lots of gifts to give, and knowing our packs would continually lighten made it easier.

javier-gives-us-a-tour-of-this-small-church-for-the-tarahumara-girls-school-in-creel

On the way to the bus stop, Dave wanted to show us one other thing. It was a small Tarahumara Indian buying cooperative. We could fill the last remaining crevices in our packs with some additional small lightweight gifts that would be greatly appreciated the further out of town we got. Things like raisins, pecans, dried peppers, and other spices.

It was on the way to this little co-op that we heard the unmistakable sound of gunshots.


This article is Part 4 in a series about Marjory’s trip to visit the Tarahumara Indians. You can read the rest of the series here:

Elder Athletes Who Grow Their Own Food: The Tarahumara Indians Part 1
Elder Athletes Who Grow Their Own Food: The Tarahumara Indians Part 2
Elder Athletes Who Grow Their Own Food: The Tarahumara Indians Part 3
Elder Athletes Who Grow Their Own Food: The Tarahumara Indians Part 4
• Part 5: COMING SOON

 

Your Gut is the Cornerstone of True Health

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Gut dysfunction can be linked to virtually every disease and can cause conditions like fatigue, depression, food sensitivities, chronic pain, allergies and many more. These conditions are by and large preventable, but have reached epidemic proportions as the Western lifestyle has infiltrated the entire globe with poor diet choices, stress, toxic overload and bacterial imbalance.

This is why Dr. Josh Axe, Donna Gates, and Dr. Eric Zielinski have gathered together more than 30 gut health experts from around the world to share evidence-based information about the tools you need to regain control of your health. It’s called the Heal Your Gut Summit, and it’s happening this week.

Tens of thousands of people will learn the important wisdom of digestive health from the world’s leading experts. Will you be there?

These are just a few things you’ll learn at the Heal Your Gut Summit:

• Healing the gut to boost immunity and fight cancer
• Losing weight by improving digestive health
• Solutions to recover from irritable bowel syndrome
• Balancing hormones and increasing libido
• Reversing allergies and autoimmunity with foods and herbal remedies

If you’re just hearing about it, there’s still time to gain access to all 35 expert talks. The summit is free to watch, this week only. Several of the presentations will be available for free each day, for the next 7 days, starting tomorrow – Monday, January 18th.

Additionally, you have the option to purchase all 35 talks. If you purchase the summit, you can listen to the audios on your computer or mobile device, read the complete transcripts and share this important information with family and friends. The online access package for all 35 expert talks is on sale for $59 until tomorrow morning (Monday, January 18th) at 10 a.m. U.S. eastern. After 10 a.m. Monday, it increases to $79.

1. Register immediately to see this week’s free talks:
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2. Purchase all 35 expert talks (price GOES UP when the event STARTS):
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If you decide to purchase the summit, you will also get access to over $800 worth of eCourses, guides, eBooks and other advice from the expert speakers, at no additional charge. As an affiliate of the Heal Your Gut Summit, the [Grow] Network will receive a percentage of any revenue generated through this promotion.

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Elder Athletes Who Grow Their Own Food: The Tarahumara Indians Part 3

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It puzzled the Tarahumara that we were so much bigger, we ate so much more, and yet we couldn’t carry as much nor go as fast.

No matter how big of a room, or how crowded, if Dave Holladay is there you know it. He wears a big wide-brim straw hat and every inch of him below that is just as striking.

“Instead of spending your money on Margarita’s Hotel, there is a Tarahumara girls school with some extra room that could really use your help,” Dave suggested. I looked at Anthony, and as his head was nodding, I said “sure.” Dave scooped up about half of our luggage and strode off across the railroad tracks.

“Well, what are your first impressions of Creel?” Dave asked me as I almost jogged along to keep up with him.

overview-of-creel

“Uh, the smell?” I said hesitantly.

“Yeah, isn’t it great,” Dave replied with genuine enthusiasm, “I love the smell of Mexican villages. It is a combination of something dead, something burning, something cooking, and shit.”

I had to admit that he had the combination dialed in perfectly. And for a brief moment his enthusiasm was so infectious I actually could smell his point of view. But in the next second, I came back to my original conclusion that it simply stank. I decided not to mention my opinion to Dave.

cozy-little-shop-for-eating

In all fairness, I would later discover that the downtown part of Creel was clean with no ill smells. There were beautiful little churches, nice shops, and colorful murals.

marjory-by-mural

pretty-little-church-in-creel

Dave was off on another topic anyway. As we walked he filled me in on the plans he had for us. In the short time we had in Creel, he would introduce us to several Tarahumara who were living in town so we could see what their lives were like. Tomorrow we would get on the bus to spend time with the Tarahumara who were living far out of town, but still pretty close to the road. The next stop after that we would go further out requiring a good bit of hiking to reach other Tarahumara living even more remotely in the canyons.

inside-the-girls-school-view-toward-kitchen

Our first stop would be where we just agreed to sleep for the night. The place was a dormitory set up for Tarahumara girls. The Mexican government offered education scholarships to the Tarahumara but very few of them could take advantage of the offer as the schooling was in town and most of the Indians live out in the rural countryside. None of them could afford to support a child to live in town. A kindly group from the Methodist church had set up a dormitory situation for girls that offered them free room and board. But the organization was struggling. While they did have buildings, facilities, and occasional shipments of beans and rice they still needed so many other things such as fresh food, medicines, and clothing.

3-i-_MG_9135-marjory-pedro-dand-dave-at-the-grocery-store-getting-supplies

We barely had time to drop our luggage and meet with the older couple Javier and Luzdivini, who took care of the girls, before Dave whisked us off to the next place.

following-dave-through-the-village-to-the-outskirts-of-town

We walked at a quick pace through an impossible maze of ramshackle buildings to the home of Faviola. As best I could guess it was a two-room building of about 300 square feet total. As soon as we came in she put a pot of water to boil on the wood-burning stove and then got another pot and started cooking some popcorn to offer us as refreshment. With Faviola’s help, David began to tell us her story.

typical-tarahumara-home-at-the-edge-of-town-in-creel-mexico

She grew up and lived on her father’s land which had been a nice homestead far away from town. They had beautiful orchards, good soils in the fields, a herd of goats, and some chickens. Now there happened to be a really bad guy in the region; a Mafioso bully who is known especially for his love of raping women. All of the women and the girls in the area were deathly afraid of being out at night or away from their fathers or husbands.

What happened one night was that this bad guy was at Faviola’s father’s house and the bad guy was using his truck to ram the wall of their home. Faviola’s father had an illegal gun (although it was only a .22 caliber). He decided to use it to fire a warning shot to hopefully scare off the intruder. Well, as fate would have it, the random shot landed right between the eyes of the bully. He was paralyzed and could not move. Of course nobody would touch him or offer any help. And apparently it took about six hours for him to die a slow helpless death.

Everybody in the region considered Faviola’s father a hero. But he was still sentenced and served a term of seven years in prison. And while he was gone, the Mafia took over his home and property. They kicked the family out and apparently they were still there today. Faviola moved into town and made a meager living by baking bread and selling it to the hotels or other places.

“Isn’t there any recourse through the law?” I asked.

Faviola sighed heavily and I wasn’t sure if it from was her own hopelessness, or at my naïveté. “They are one and the same,” she said.

Next we went to meet Pedro and his family in his small but comfortable home. They were also all full-blooded Tarahumara. David had arranged that we would hire Pedro for $20 a day to help carry our packs and gear. David suggested that we hire as many Tarahumara as we had packs. In that way, we would not have to carry anything and these men could be offered meaningful work. After hearing how narrow and steep the trails were, both Anthony and I were completely fine with that suggestion.

3-h-DSCN2303-anthony-and-the-tarahumara-we-are-bigger-eat-more-adn-slower

Dave told me that on other trips he had taken ultra athletes into the canyons to meet the Tarahumara. Those athletes were a bit proud, but the Tarahumara would end up carrying everyone’s packs regardless if they were paid or not. Even the fittest of us slow them down. It puzzled the Tarahumara that we were so much bigger, that we ate so much more, and yet we couldn’t carry as much nor go as fast. How could we be so inferior and yet have so much more influence in the world?

When Dave asked me how many men I thought I would need I told him three or four.

Now normally when I travel, I am a minimalist. But on this trip I was loaded down with gifts. High-quality steel knives, sewing kits, bolts of cloth, guitar strings, seeds, para cord, school supplies, headlamps, and a bunch of tennis balls to hand out to the kids. By the end of the trip we would even give away the packs themselves and the two tents we had brought along. I wanted to learn from these people and I wanted to offer them something in return. Carrying a lot of money certainly would’ve been easier (and we did pay out quite a bit of money as wages) but just throwing money around seems so crass.

On his scouting trip, David had not been able to find us suitable men. “There were some young bucks I know that are certainly healthy and strong enough,” Dave said, “but I just wasn’t sure if they would really be there to meet us at the bus. You know, if they got wind of a really good race going on in another valley they would be gone. They are beholden to no one.”

Dave also wanted to make sure there wouldn’t be any problems with drugs or drinking, and that whoever would be on the trip would be fun to be around. Pedro was the only guy Dave could find who fit the bill.

So we were way overloaded with gear and only had Pedro to help. But the solution to that problem turned out to be surprisingly easy.


This article is Part 3 in a series about Marjory’s trip to visit the Tarahumara Indians. You can read the rest of the series here:

Elder Athletes Who Grow Their Own Food: The Tarahumara Indians Part 1
Elder Athletes Who Grow Their Own Food: The Tarahumara Indians Part 2
Elder Athletes Who Grow Their Own Food: The Tarahumara Indians Part 3
• Part 4: COMING SOON

 

Catch Marjory Wildcraft on TV this Weekend!

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Marjory Wildcraft will be featured on this week’s episode of the public television show Central Texas Gardener. Marjory went into the studio and had a nice chat with the show’s host, Tom Spencer, about how to grow half your groceries in less than an hour per day – no matter how big your yard is.

marjory-wildcraft-with-tom-spencer-on-central-texas-gardener

Central Texas Gardener is a long-running local gardening show in Austin. The show regularly includes local experts from the world of gardening. This summary is from the show’s Facebook page:

We’re all about organic gardening, outstanding waterwise plants, design inspiration, wildlife, homegrown food, and creative fun in the garden!

The show airs in several other cities – so check the list below to see if there’s any chance you can catch Marjory on TV this week…

Even if Central Texas Gardener doesn’t air in your city, you can still watch Marjory’s interview on the show’s website, here: Watch This Week’s Episode of Central Texas Gardener

Channel Day Date Time
KLRU (Austin, TX) Saturday
Sunday
Monday/>
Jan. 16
Jan. 17
Jan. 18
Noon & 4:00 p.m.
9:00 a.m.
5:30 a.m.
KLRU Q (Austin, TX) Tuesday
Wednesday
Friday/>
Jan. 19
Jan. 20
Jan. 22
6:30 p.m.
7:00 a.m.
9:30 a.m.
KLRN (San Antonio, TX) Saturday Jan. 16 11:00 a.m.
KNCT (Killeen, TX & Waco, TX) Saturday Jan. 16 1:30 p.m.
KAMU (College Station, TX) Saturday Jan. 16 5:00 p.m.
KPBT (Midland, TX) Monday Jan. 18 12:30 p.m.
Panhandle PBS (Amarillo, TX) Saturday Jan. 16 11:30 a.m.
KRSC (Claremore, OK) Saturday
Tuesday
Jan. 16
Jan. 19
5:00 p.m.
Arizona Public Media ReadyTV (Tucson, AZ) Thursday Jan. 21 1:30 p.m.
KBDI (Denver, CO) Sunday
Tuesday
Jan. 17
Jan. 19
2:00 p.m.
2:30 p.m.
KTWU (Topeka, KS) Multiple Days & Times
Also on UNCMX (Raleigh-Durham, NC) and
K32EO (Colorado Springs, CO)

 
I can’t wait to see it!


Many thanks to Central Texas Gardener for inviting Marjory to the show! You can learn more about the show here: Central Texas Gardener

 

Elder Athletes Who Grow Their Own Food: The Tarahumara Indians Part 2

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Hard Travelling To Get To The More Difficult Part of Extreme Agro Tourism

In the hotel in Los Mochis I was still keyed up from the excitement of the adventure and I decided to see what Mexican television had to offer. There were quite a few channels dedicated to soccer and I paused at one for a few minutes listening to the rhythm of Spanish speakers and trying to pick out words and phrases here and there.

I flipped through some more channels and landed on a show that consisted of two stunningly gorgeous young men and two almost mannequin-like young women. The women reminded me of a full-size Corona beer poster that hangs on the wall of the Mexican restaurant in my neighborhood. The young women had an overly stylized beauty. Heavy on the makeup, with skimpy clothes that revealed impossible cleavage. Were those things real, or all silicone? Their incredibly short shorts made me wonder why they bothered at all.

Whatever these four were doing I couldn’t exactly tell but about half of the time the camera just panned up and down the women’s legs. I concluded that Mexican television was on par with, or possibly worse than, American television and I turned it off. Whether I was tired or not I knew I should go to bed as I was going to have to get up at 4:30 am the next morning to catch the train. The train ride was one of the more relaxing and pleasant aspects of the trip. There was almost nobody in first class (a.k.a. tourist class) of the train. Apparently, a lot of people had read that article in the NY Times about the increasing violence in Mexico and the train was essentially empty. There was a small group of tourists with a guide, and this was about the only time on the whole trip that I saw any other Americans at all.

marjory-in-light-of-train-door-way-too-early-in-the-morning

The train ride is spectacular and it certainly felt safe. At times it seemed almost as if there were more guards than there were tourists. The guards walk the length of the train regularly in their black combat outfits carrying AR 15s and side arms. Whenever the train slowed into a station, I would see one or two of them slip off and patrol the entire length of the train from the ground presumably to make sure that nobody sneaked on or off.

train-and-view-of-rugged-country

Practicing my Spanish I chatted with the guards for a bit. And between my broken Spanish and their broken English, we managed to exchange some pleasantries. When I asked them if I could take their photographs they suddenly froze up and it was very clear that that was not a good idea. I asked them why, but I couldn’t quite understand what they meant when they kept saying something about ‘salud.’

Later I was told that there’s incredible friction between the military, the police, and the mafias. And these guys were with the military, and they could be in real danger if their photographs got into the hands of the rivalry police or mafia.

security-police-on-train

The scenery is stunning and Anthony and I spent quite a bit of time between the cars where the top half of the door was open to the outside. There was a safety sign, which everybody ignored. I guess they figured if you were stupid enough to stick an arm or head outside and get it knocked off by a branch or possibly the entrance to a tunnel, well that was your problem.

safety-sign-on-the-most-fun-part-of-the-train

anthony-is-a-brave-videographer

In preparation for this trip, Doug Simons, the herbalist, had made me a pair of Tarahumara style sandals – ‘huaraches tres pontas,’ or ‘3 point sandals,’ as they are known. Sure enough, I would see these being worn everywhere on this trip. I had been having some problems with the straps and keeping them tied. Later, I would learn from the Tarahumara themselves that my straps were too thin, and they would teach me the best knot to tie them on. But at this time I didn’t know what was wrong. When I saw the logo for the train ‘El Chepe’ was a running sandal, I thought it might shed some light on my shoe problems. But no such luck. The logo is simply a stylized thing that doesn’t reflect how sandals are worn or tied. Dummy me, huh? Trying to gain useful info from a marketing piece.

the-logo-for-el-chepe-is-the-tarahumara-sandal

By the way, there is a complete tutorial on how to make these sandals in the 2016 Home Grown Food Summit, including the additional info on the correct size of straps and the best knot. The entire Summit has a series of free presentations that will be shown in March of this year. You can sign up to get free access by clicking here.

beautiful-rugged-country

Later that afternoon as we pulled into the station at Creel, I girded myself emotionally. I had been warned that there would be a mob of scrawny children begging for food at the train station. That is certainly the most difficult part about traveling in an economically stressed area. Small children surrounding you with their hunger showing in their ribs and the desperation in their eyes. Their dirty palms open. Such a situation is so hopeless; you can’t give to all of them and you certainly can’t give to one. It is really hard to live with yourself after experiencing that.

sign-of-creel-at-train-station

I started to ‘toughen up’ inside.

But I was hugely relieved that while the train platform was certainly crowded, there were only a few scraggly looking dogs that were begging.

crowded-train-station-platform

Anthony stood by our pile of luggage while I went out to scout to for Dave. I was just about to give up and figure out how to get to Margarita’s Hotel when I heard a familiar call, “eee, yyyyouuuhhh.” It sounds like the cry of a red tailed hawk. I immediately answered back “caa caw, caa caw.”

For the past several years Dave and I have led groups of teenagers to spend a night out in the Sonoran Desert with nothing but the clothes on their backs. No chapstick, water bottles, flashlights, knives, or tools. We would build a fire using Stone Age techniques from things we would find, and make shelter as best as we could – or not, as was usually the case.

It is pretty hard-core; it gets really cold, the ground is hard, no one sleeps very well, and everyone reaches some breaking points.

Dave starts out the evening telling the kids that people all over the world would be doing this tonight. Refugees from Syria, Africans caught in the crossfire of civil wars, and victims of volcanoes or tsunamis – all would be walking as far as they could tonight with their life’s possessions on their backs. They would try to get as far away as possible from the danger, and when they could not walk any further, they would find a place to sleep. In the morning, they would have no home to return to, but would pick up their meager belongings and keep walking.

We were lucky. Although we would suffer this night, we had loving families and warm camps that would have breakfast ready for us after the sun rose.

When Dave put it that way to the group of teenagers, none of them ever complained.

I went along not because I was any great wilderness skills expert but because they needed a female chaperone for when the girls would be separated from the boys into their own camp. Funny huh? None of the other parents volunteered.

Dave and I had developed crude communication signals that traveled well over long distances in the night. His call was of the sound of the hawk, and mine was the song of the crow. Although I still couldn’t see him through the train station crowd, his familiar call announced he was here, and it lifted my spirits.

The adventure was really on!

After a brief introduction to Anthony, Dave didn’t waste a moment getting us swept into realities of gunfights, stolen properties, indigenous prejudice, and life in Mexico.


This article is Part 1 in a series about Marjory’s trip to visit the Tarahumara Indians. You can read the rest of the series here:

Elder Athletes Who Grow Their Own Food: The Tarahumara Indians Part 1
Elder Athletes Grow Their Own Food: The Tarahumara Indians Part 2
• Part 3: COMING SOON

 

5 More DIY Probiotics – Kefir, Kvass, and Kombucha

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cross-cut-red-cabbage-closeupIf you missed part 1 of this series, see this article for an overview of 4 good alternatives to the pricey probiotics you see in your local health food stores: DIY Probiotics – 4 Cheap and Easy Alternatives. As you’ll see, there’s no need to break the bank for expensive capsules and tablets when you can indulge in your own DIY recipes that are easy to make at home. And, they’re cheap too!

#5 – Milk (Dairy) Kefir

Even though there’s plenty of confusion around the different names used for ferments, this one is fairly straight forward. In this case, we’re talking about the traditional process of incorporating cow, goat, or sheep milk with kefir grains. Kefir grains are really strands of Streptococci bacteria (e.g. Streptoccocus thermophilus), Lactobacilli bacteria (e.g. Lactobacillus acidophilus, L. casei, L. paracasei, and L. brevis) and various kinds of yeasts. They are often referred to as yeast or bacterial starters. The bacteria use the lactose sugar in the milk to survive and thrive.

It’s especially easy to make your own. You can purchase a package of powdered starter for cheap from the supermarket or health food store and make quick on fermenting your own. You can also buy kefir grains online (they have different strains of bacteria than the ones sold in powdered form) or even get some starter from someone you know. It only takes 24 hours to culture. Once you have your first batch of kefir done, you can then use that as a starter, and continually have a fresh supply of kefir on hand. You can expect to be drinking between 30-50 healthy probiotics – no excuses as to why we shouldn’t all be drinking probiotic-rich kefir every day!

Basic Milk Kefir Recipe
• 4 cups organic milk, whole, part or skimmed
• 1 package milk kefir starter

Instructions: Place milk starter in a clean 1-quart mason jar. Gently warm the milk in a ceramic, glass, or stainless steel pot on the stove until finger hot. Pour the milk into the jar. Stir to dissolve the powder with the handle of a clean, wooden spoon. Cover with a dish cloth or paper towel, secure with an elastic band, and let sit in a warm area of your kitchen (70-75°F) for 24 hours. Colder temperatures will mean it will take longer for your milk to culture while warmer temperatures mean it will take less time. After 24 hours, the kefir will have the consistency of buttermilk, or a thin, runny yogurt. It’s ready to drink! Add kefir to smoothies or use to make creamy salad dressings like ranch and dill.

Notes: 1) If you are making kefir with kefir grains (not the powdered starter), you’ll have to strain out the grains using a plastic (not metal) fine mesh sieve before consuming the liquid. 2) To make a fresh batch of kefir, place 1 cup of kefir in a 1 quart mason jar to use as your starter. Gently warm 3 cups milk and pour over the starter. Stir to combine with the handle of a wooden spoon. Place a dish cloth or paper towel, secure with elastic band, and let sit in a warm place in your kitchen. Done in 24 hours!

#6 – Non-Dairy Kefir

Oh no, not again! But this time without the milk?! Are there even kefir grains used?! Yes, the word kefir has now been stretched to reflect the trend of fermenting nut, seed, grain and coconut milks with kefir grains. And yes, because there is no lactose sugar in these types of milks, the bacterial strains used to ferment them may be somewhat different than the ones used for dairy kefirs. For example, some use the same transparent grains to ferment water kefir (see below) while others use specific strains of probiotics like Body Ecology’s Kefir Starter. Bacterial strains that you’ll find in this type of ferment can include Lactobacillus casei, L. plantarum, L. cremoris along with the yeast Saccharomyces boulardii. Note that sometimes inulin (a prebiotic) can be added to kefir grains to help feed the bacterial strains, that is, the probiotics.

While you can purchase the kefir grains online (some health food stores may carry them, look for the word “vegan” on the packaging), it’s best to make your own non-dairy milk rather than buying the ones from stores which contain carrageenan, guar gum, and other unsavory ingredients. Note that in comparison to dairy kefir, non-dairy kefir is quite watery – all the better to add to smoothies, dilute juices, make cold soups like gazpacho, or drink as is!

Basic Non-Dairy Kefir Recipe
• 1 liter non-dairy milk (sunflower, hemp, walnut, almond, sesame, coconut, etc.)*
• 6 Tbsp kefir grains
• 1 tsp date paste (optional)**

Instructions: As with dairy kefir, place grains in a mason jar. Warm the non-dairy milk until finger hot (when you stick your clean finger in, there is no difference in temperature). Pour the non-dairy milk into the jar and stir with a non-metallic object. Place on the lid and screw cap loosely and leave to ferment in a warm area of your kitchen for 24-48 hours. As with other ferments, humidity and heat will affect the ferment time. Pour non-dairy milk through a non-metallic sieve, or use a nut milk bag. You can reuse the kefir grains to make up to 5-6 more batches of kefir.

Variation: The following technique may be helpful to extend the shelf life of your kefir grains’ potency indefinitely: after straining out the kefir grains, place the grains in 1-liter finger hot dairy milk + 1 tsp date paste. Let sit 24 hours, then strain out the kefir grains (if someone is OK with dairy kefir, give them this liquid to drink!). Now use the grains to make your non-dairy kefir as in the recipe above. Do this process of letting the grains sit in dairy milk (in other words, making a dairy kefir) once a week. If you are very sensitive to dairy, do not use this technique.

*Basic Non-Dairy Milk Recipe
• 1 cup seed or nuts
• 2 cups spring water

Instructions: If you wish, you may soak your seeds/nuts for 4-8 hours, then strain and use. Place nuts/seeds in a high speed blender with the water and puree. Strain the liquid out using a nut milk bag. Drink or use in recipes.

Variation: For a thicker milk, use 1 cup water and for a thinner milk use 3 cups water. I’d recommend using 1-2 cups water when using to make kefir.

**Basic Date Paste Recipe
• Organic dates (Medjool, honey, etc)
• Water to cover

Instructions: Place dates in a bowl and cover with water. Let soak 4-8 hours until soft. Place dates (remove any pits first) in a food processor and add in enough of the soak water to make a thick paste. Use in recipes where you want a sweet taste. Store in a mason jar in the fridge.

#7 – Water Kefir

Seriously? I bet there are no milk or kefir grains used, are there?! Well, yes and no. There are two methods to make water kefir, you see. In the first, water is used as the liquid, and the “kefir grains” are really sugar and fresh and/or dried fruits that are allowed to ferment in the water. I should mention that this is also sometimes called Kvass (see below). In the second method, water is used as the liquid, and sugar is paired with the same kefir grains used to make non-dairy kefir above. After this first ferment, the strained liquid is then made to ferment again with dried fruits, fresh fruits, fruit juices, and herbs and spices. Bacteria and yeasts are present, and might include Lactobacillus acidophilus, L. brevis and L. bulgaricus, as well as the yeasts Saccharomyces boulardii and S. cerevisiae.

You have to admit that even if you’re using zero kefir grains to make a beneficial brew of bacteria, the principle of what a kefir is still holds true: it is a liquid in which a symbiotic relationship of various beneficial bacteria and yeast consume sugar and produce ethanol, carbon dioxide and lactic acid. And in case you were wondering, dairy kefir grains create a complex matrix of soluble polysaccharides/complex sugars (another way of saying that is mucous) while non-dairy/water kefir grains are a matrix of insoluble complex sugars (which is why this kefir is much more watery than the dairy one).

There are many sites online where you can buy water kefir grains, and there are just as many recipes around. If you’re looking to add flavor to water kefir, the general rules are:

• Fruit Juice: Add 1/2 cup fruit juice for every 4 cups water kefir – use right away or refrigerate.
• Fresh Fruit: Add 1-2 chopped fresh fruits to every 4 cups water kefir and let sit 1-2 days, then strain.
• Dried Fruit: Add a handful of dried fruits to every 4 cups water kefir and let sit 3-7 days, then strain.

If you’d like to add fizz to your ferment, then instead of using a mason jar, use a tightly capped bottle that doesn’t allow oxygen in. Just be sure you “burp” (open) the bottle once a day to prevent gas buildup from bursting your bottle and be careful when opening the bottle – contents are under pressure! Dare I mention that these fizzy water kefir drinks are sometimes referred to as fizzy sodas? Right, so here’s that basic recipe:

Basic Water Kefir Recipe
• 1 pkg or 3 Tbsp water kefir grains
• 1/4 cup organic sugar
• 4 cups spring water
• 1/4 tsp ConcenTrace minerals or unsulphured blackstrap molasses* (recommended, but optional)

Instructions: Place sugar in a mason jar. Warm the water gently in a glass, ceramic or stainless steel pot. Add to mason jar and stir to dissolve with a non-metallic object. Add in the kefir grains. Cover with a dish cloth or paper towel and secure with an elastic band. Let sit for 24-48 hours in a warm spot in your kitchen. Strain out the kefir grains using a non-metallic sieve. You can now reuse your kefir grains and your kefir is now ready to be consumed, refrigerated or fermented a second time with fruits to add flavor.

* Water kefir tends to ferment better when minerals are present. Blackstrap molasses yields a particularly strong taste that some don’t mind while others do.

Variation: Easily flavor this basic recipe by adding in 1/2 cup of your favorite juice. Keep remainders refrigerated.

Here’s an interesting wild recipe that you can try on for size:

Stinging Nettle Vitamin C Enhancer
• 4 cups stinging nettle infusion or 4 cups water + 1/4 tsp ConcenTrace minerals
• 3 Tbsp water kefir grains
• 1/4 cup sucanat or organic sugar
• 1 Tbsp each dried rosehip, elderberry, and goji berry
• Peel from 1 orange and 1 lemon
• (optional but oh-so yummy) 1 Tbsp each orange and lemon juice

Instructions: Make your water kefir first: warm nettle infusion (or water + minerals) in a glass, ceramic or stainless steel pot. Place sugar in a mason jar and pour in warm tea/water. Stir with the handle of a wooden spoon or other non-metallic object to dissolve. Add in kefir grains. Place a paper towel or dish cloth on top, secure with an elastic band, and let sit 24-48 hours. Strain out kefir grains using a plastic sieve (you can now use the grains to make another batch of kefir).

Pour the kefir into a mason jar or bottle with the dried fruits, peels and juices, if using. Let sit 3-7 days. Taste test on day 3 and then on each day until it is to your liking. You can always add in more orange and/or lemon juice, if desired. Be sure to burp bottles each day to help with gas buildup.

#8 and #9 – Kvass and Kombucha

Hold on a minute there, sister. So, one of the methods to make water kefir is also called kvass? Yes, although I think kvass is a better classification name to use where fruits or veggies, perhaps sugar or honey, plus water are fermented and no kefir grains are used. Perhaps we could call it fermented fruit or fermented tea? Perhaps not. Let me muddy the waters further by pointing out that you can find different traditional ways to make kvass: the first is to ferment grains or bread (usually rye) with fruits, perhaps with a sweetener and a pinch of spice. The second way is to use beets, and the method to make it is similar to the beet rejuvelac or beet kefir covered in Part 1: DIY Probiotics. Now don’t roll your eyes, let’s put all the name calling aside!

While kvass may be much less popularly known than kombucha (see below), it’s a breeze to make. Some people don’t use sugar at all, some use honey instead, some are keen on using fresh fruits and some enjoy using edible flowers and herbs. Children seem to really enjoy the sweet version of using fresh fruits, perhaps with a touch of honey.

Here’s the basic version of making beet kvass using salt, followed by a wild fermented fruity “tea” kvass:

Basic Beet Kvass Recipe
• 2 beets
• 1-2 tsp sea salt
• 4 cups spring water

Instructions: Trim beet ends. No need to peel, simply wash and then dice beet. Place beet, salt and water in a clean mason jar. Put on lid and screw cap and place on a plate. Let ferment for 3-7 days. Taste test on day 3 and each day thereafter to see if it’s to your liking. Scoop off any mold that forms. Strain out beets using a non-metallic sieve. You can drink the liquid (kvass) right away or refrigerate first and consume after a few days (some say the taste mellows out) . Drink 3-4 ounces per day.

Note: Do open the jar every day to prevent gas buildup, which can warp the lid.

Variation: Use 3 3/4 cups water + 1/4 cup cabbage or other veggie rejuvelac (see Part 1: DIY Probiotics) as your starter. Alternatively, you can use 1/4 cup of any ‘kraut brine recipe. Use 1 tsp salt. Let ferment 2-3 days, then strain out liquid. Drink and refrigerate leftovers.

Apple and Rose Petal Kvass Recipe
• 1-2 small apples, cored and diced
• 1 handful dried rose petals
• 2 cups spring water
• 1-2 Tbsp honey (optional)

Instructions: Place all ingredients in a 2 cup mason jar. Place on lid and screw cap. Shake a few times a day. Done in 2-3 days, when apples look “cooked” or there are bubbles on the top. Strain out the liquid and compost the fruit and petals. Keep refrigerated afterwards. Drink 3-4 ounces per day.

Variation: Replace apples with a handful of fresh cranberries, raspberries or blueberries. Dried fruit works fine too. Replace rose petals with dried chrysanthemum flowers.

Notes: 1) Push down on lid to test for amount of carbon dioxide buildup. If it doesn’t pop up or push down, open lid to release gas, then screw lid back on. Do this 1-2 times each day. 2) Some people find that the honey makes for a better ferment, while others find it too sweet and prefer it without – almost like a fermented tea.

Speaking of fermented teas, in kombucha, black or green tea is first fermented with a Symbiotic Colony Of Bacteria and Yeast called a SCOBY, also called mother, baby, or mushroom (it’s not a mushroom). Once this initial ferment has been done, various fruits and herbs can be added and the liquid can be allowed to further ferment, offering up a host of tasty flavorings. It’s a fizzy drink and the alcohol content can vary. Usually, the first ferment will yield a brew of about 0.5%. Second ferments, where the naturally occurring sugars in fruit will react with the yeasts, can bump the alcohol content up, so you might be interested in purchasing a hydrometer from your local brewery supply store.

Making your own kombucha is quite cheap, once you have procured your SCOBY. If you know someone who brews kombucha, you can ask them if they might share a baby from their mother SCOBY. Otherwise you can purchase one online for $15-$35, and you might find one cheaper on Craigslist or Kijiji. Another option is this: since all bottles of kombucha contain SCOBY, you can begin your journey into kombucha-making by buying 1 bottle from the health food store and growing your own SCOBY:

DIY SCOBY Recipe
• 1 bottle unflavored, raw, unpasteurized, organic kombucha
• 1 cup black or green tea, with 1 Tbsp organic sugar dissolved

Instructions: Place kombucha and sweetened tea in a mason jar. Cover with a dish cloth or paper towel secured with an elastic band. Let the SCOBY grow for several weeks (will depend on heat and humidity, estimate 2-4 weeks). At first, the bacteria will ferment to look like a thin film floating on the top of the surface. It will then grow and be ready to use when it is 1/4-1/3 inch thick.

Now that you have your mother, or SCOBY, there are plenty of recipes online that you can find and experiment with. Make sure to share the love with friends and family!

There are many fermented foods out there that you can buy or make (many recipes online), such as:

• dairy or non-dairy cheeses and yogurts
• the fermented soys of tempeh (tofu fermented with the fungus Rhizopus oligosporus or R. oryzae), miso (soy beans fermented with the fungus Aspergillus oryzae), and natto (soybeans fermented with Baccillus subtilis var. natto)
• pickled goodies like umeboshi plum, ginger, beets, pickles and kimchi
• apple cider vinegar with “mother”
• raw milk, to which nothing need be added!

The takeaway of this fermented story? In theory, almost any food can be fermented – yes, there are even recipes for making fermented fish! I’ll leave you with this one last easy-peasy recipe that you can make at night and eat in the morning:

Kefir-Inspired Cinnamon Raisin Oats
• 1/2 cup rolled oats (gluten-free if need be)
• 1/2 cup dairy or non-dairy milk + 1/2 cup dairy, non-dairy or water kefir
• A handful of raisins or 2-3 chopped and pitted Medjool dates
• 1 Tbsp ground chia seeds or 1 1/2 Tbsp whole chia seeds
• 1/8-1/4 tsp cinnamon
• (optional) 1-2 Tbsp shredded coconut
• Stevia, to sweeten

Instructions: Add all to a mason jar, except stevia. Shake jar well, then refrigerate overnight. In the morning, shake jar again. Pour into a bowl and sweeten with stevia, if desired.

Variation: Use 1 cup dairy, non-dairy or water kefir. You can also use 1 cup dairy or non-dairy milk.

Variation: For a chocolatey taste, dissolve 1 Tbsp cacao powder with a bit of hot water. Add to the mason jar with the rest of the ingredients. In the morning, top your oatmeal with 1-2 Tbsp carob chips, dark chocolate chips or cacao nibs, if desired.


This article is part 1 of a 2 part series called “DIY Probiotics” about cheap and easy alternatives to the expensive packaged probiotics available in health food stores. You can read the rest of the series here:

Part 1: DIY Probiotics – 4 Cheap and Easy Alternatives
Part 2: More DIY Probiotics – Kefir, Kvass, and Kombucha

 

Elder Athletes Grow Their Own Food: The Tarahumara Indians Part 1

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Extreme Agro-Tourism

david-holladay-is-a-direct-descendant-of-the-famous-doc-hollidayI went to the presentation given by David Holladay with only mild curiosity. I figured it would be a pleasant way to spend an evening. An enjoyable end to an enjoyable day. Little did I know that it would be the start of an epic adventure.

And as you might be thinking, yes, David is a direct descendent of the famous Doc Holliday. And the modern day Dave is just about as big a character as his famous forefather.

I was attending a primitive skills gathering and the announcement said the presentation would be at “dark 30.”

Someone had rigged up a small generator-powered projector and used the broadside of a white canvas tent for the screen. We sat in a semicircle in the dirt and the stars above peeked in to watch the show too.

David is one of the world’s leading educators in Stone Age living skills. Hollywood producers have been known to consult with him for his expertise on movies such as “Castaway.” The History Channel picked him up and featured him on their show No Man’s Land. And he has been featured in numerous articles and magazines. But for most of Dave’s life, he has lived in wilderness areas and made a living by leading people on adventures in terrain they would otherwise never see.

In this evening’s presentation, Dave was going to share some of his experiences visiting with the Tarahumara Indians of northern Mexico. The Tarahumara Indians are one of the few remaining indigenous groups that still live wild in North America. They are known for their incredible athleticism, health, and longevity. The Tarahumaran Indians live tucked far away from civilization in the unbelievably rugged terrain of the Copper Canyon.

Several decades ago, while visiting his mom in his hometown of Tucson, Arizona, Dave saw a photo in the local newspaper of two Tarahumara girls who were grinning from ear to ear. Through a series of coincidences he got to meet the girls and when he asked them why they were smiling so much they said, “Because we have eaten today.” Dave befriended them, and their families invited him to come visit their homes in the Copper Canyons of Mexico.

Dave thrives in rugged terrain and took the Tarahumara up on their welcome and he has been going back every year since.

two-tarahumara-runnersThe Tarahumara Indians lived in intentional seclusion and obscurity until the world discovered that they were the fastest ultramarathon runners on the planet. Their incredible feats of athleticism, longevity, and health have been highly acclaimed in books such as the New York Times bestseller Born To Run by Christopher McDougall. The healthy diet of the Tarahumara became a prescription for curing diabetes as outlined by Dr. Daphne Miller, Ph.D., in her book The Jungle Effect.

I loved both books and figured this presentation would be fun to see what the Tarahumara were really like from a first hand account.

As the presentation started, I leaned back on my elbows in pleasant contentment. I could almost doze with the crackling warmth of the big campfire at my back.

But not too long into his presentation, Dave said something that had me sitting bolt upright. He said:

The Tarahumara say they are the fastest runners in the world because they grow their own food. They say that the masa from the stores doesn’t fuel them like their own homegrown corn. Their food is grown on land that their families have been tending for centuries. Their seeds are blessed by their community, and every stage of the growing, harvesting, and preparing of the food is tended with love by themselves and their family. There is an energy and strength to their food that cannot be matched.

I have been working on a project exploring how the next cutting edge for ultra athletes will be growing their own food. I said to myself, “Wow, I’ve got to go meet these people and verify this.”

So seven months later, after many preparations and logistics, I found myself hugging my husband goodbye at the airport.

Our tiny group would just be the [Grow] Network’s brave video producer, Anthony Tamayo, and me. I had tried to interest others into joining this expedition. I contacted numerous ultra athletes, paleo nutrition experts, and longevity researchers. All of them were initially very excited and wanted to go.

“Oh Marjory, this trip will be incredible, let me clear my calendar!” was the typical response.

overview-of-the-copper-canyons-from-the-trainThen I contacted Josué Stephens who is an organizer for extreme endurance races in the Tarahumara region. Josué told me that he would not be going back to the Copper Canyon anytime soon. When I asked him why, he sent me this link to an article just published by the New York Times In Mexico; An Extreme Race In Extreme Danger. The article outlined how the violence in the region had become hyperactive and people were being found with their heads cut off.

“But Josué,” I said, “you run your race course right through marijuana and poppy fields.” That seemed pretty dumb to me. But nonetheless Josué was not going to join me in this Copper Canyon trip.

And as soon as everyone else saw the NY Times article they all dropped off too.

My husband was really worried too, but after almost 19 years of marriage he knows better than to try and stop his wife when she decides something is important. The night before my departure, he had gone over all the maps of the area and asked me again, “So exactly where are you going and what is your itinerary?”

“I don’t know, Hon,” I said, “all I know is that David Holladay will try to meet us at the train station in Creel, and if he’s not there we should book a room at Margarita’s Hotel and wait for him until he arrives.”

The plan was that David would get to the region a few days ahead of us to scout out some of the backcountry areas to see who was home, who wasn’t, and who would be open to visitors. There are very few telecommunications in the region. We wouldn’t know exactly where we were going until we got there. And even then we might not know. Would the buses run on schedule? There had been a lot of rain recently, would the roads be open? Would the Tarahumara even be home – or had the violence driven them deeper into the canyons? It is just not one of those trips you could plan.

route-map-of-the-train-named-el-chepeI gave my husband the names of a couple of small towns that we might be in or near; Creel for certain, Samachique as a possibility, and maybe Batopilas. He grumbled unhappily with this meager amount of information and said, “at least I’ll have a starting point to send the mercenaries to look for you.”

At the departure curbside he reminded me again that we have two kids. Then he held me close and kissed me deeply.

That kiss almost undid me.

I have a loving family, a beautiful home, and deeply meaningful work. Why was I going on this trip again?

“I’ll be back,” I said into his shirt with more confidence than I actually felt at that moment. I reluctantly left his embrace. I was already way past committed. So I commanded my buckling legs to get going, and I pushed the cart loaded with overstuffed duffel bags toward the airline counter.

Thus began a long grueling day of airports and changing flights, immigration and customs, and of course delays when we got to Mexico City.

Note to self: Never, never, never fly through Mexico City’s terminal 2 ever again in my life. It is the most dysfunctional, disorganized, and ridiculous way of getting passengers onto planes that I have ever experienced.

And this was simply the beginning of the hard travelling that would get us to the more difficult part.

Our first transit stop, we got into Los Mochis, Mexico pretty late in the night. The hotel was fairly decent and there isn’t much to remark about the experience except for one thing that would cause me some real embarrassment in the next few days…


This article is Part 1 in a series about Marjory’s trip to visit the Tarahumara Indians. You can read the rest of the series here:

The Tarahumara Indians Part 1: Elder Athletes Grow Their Own Food
• The Tarahumara Indians Part 2: COMING SOON

 

DIY Probiotics – 4 Cheap and Easy Alternatives

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cross-cut-red-cabbage-closeupYes, the prepackaged probiotic capsules and tablets in health food stores can be pricey. But there’s no need to break the bank for expensive products when you can indulge in your own DIY recipes to make your own probiotics at home, and cheaply, too.

Just be aware that when it comes to ferments, the names people use can get a little murky.

#1 – Sauerkraut

Got cabbage? You’re probably familiar with this one already, but it’s such an excellent source of probiotics that it deserves our top spot. Even if you’re not growing your own, cabbage is dirt cheap to buy. The Environmental Working Group even listed non-organic cabbage as being low in pesticides (#4 on the “Clean 15” list), so there’s really no excuse. And yes, you can easily make sauerkraut in as little as 5 days, without using salt, and using repurposed mason jars.

Of course, you can get all fancy and use a pickling crock, add in mint, dill, ginger, and other herbs and spices, add in a package or two of pricey starter culture, and let the ‘kraut ferment for up to 2 months. If you’re interested in a more complex ‘kraut, see this article: Make the Perfect Home Fermented Sauerkraut – It’s All in the Temperature.

Here’s that simple, cheap, DIY recipe you can do right away (feel free to double or triple the recipe):

Salt-less Sauerkraut
• 1-2 heads cabbage
• 2-3 cups spring water, for consistency

Instructions: Make sure surfaces, equipment and tools are very clean (wash with food grade hydrogen peroxide or spray with vinegar, then rinse). Remove outer leaves from cabbage and set aside. Shred cabbage using food processor. Place half the shredded cabbage in a bowl. Take the other half of the shredded cabbage and puree with enough water to a make a thick slurry in the food processor (this might take a few batches). Pour pureed cabbage over shredded cabbage and mix to cover. Take this mixture and pack tightly into clean 1-liter wide-mouthed mason jars, pushing down on the mixture with your fist to pack it in as much as you can. Leave a 1-inch space at the top. Roll a cabbage leaf into a cigar shape. Place on top of the sauerkraut (squeeze leaf in or cut to fit as needed). Repeat and stuff in 1-2 more leaves, then place lid and screw cap on. The goal is to use the cabbage leaves – which are wedged between the sauerkraut and lid – to keep the ‘kraut under the water. Repeat process with rest of jars. Depending on the size of your cabbage, you should estimate two 1-liter mason jars for every head of cabbage. Place jars on a plate, as they may leak out. Let ferment for 5-7 days. You can taste test after 5 days, or let it ferment for longer. Some ferment for 5 days, some for 2 weeks, others up to 2 months. Discard (compost) the rolled cabbage leaves and store the ‘kraut in the fridge, where it will continue to ferment but at a much slower pace due to the cold temperature. Eat 1-2 tablespoons up to 1/4 cup per day with lunch or dinner.

Notes: 1) Fermentation time depends on heat and humidity. During warmer months, the fermentation process is much faster. 2) If you hear noises coming from the jars, it means there’s gas buildup. You can open them to release the gas, then tighten the lids again. 3) You can use green, red, savoy, bok choy, etc. or any combination of different sorts of cabbage.

#2 – Fermented Veggies

Got more cabbage? And root veggies? With fermented veggies, you’re doing the exact same thing you did with the cabbage in the sauerkraut, only now you’re using root veggies. Often, cabbage and root veggies are used and people call it either sauerkraut or fermented veggies. It’s really just a game of semantics, is what it is!
Carrots and beets tend to be the root veggies most commonly used in recipes, but don’t shy away from adding in parsnips, turnips, radishes, rutabagas, and even the roots of wild edibles like burdock, dandelion, wild carrot, and creeping bellflower. You can add in cabbage, use salt (or use the method as in #1 with pureeing half the veggies with water as the brine), add in herbs and spices, and even throw in a package or two of pricey starter culture.

Here’s a simple DIY recipe you can do to get started right away with this idea, using lovely apples to boot:

Gingery Apple Parsnip Salt-less ‘Kraut
• 1 head cabbage
• 1 thumb-size piece ginger, peeled
• 1-2 parsnip, peeled
• 2 large apples, peeled & cored
• 2-3 cups spring water

Instructions: Remove outer leaves of cabbage and set aside. Shred cabbage, ginger and parsnip in a food processor. Place in a bowl. Puree the apples with 2-3 cups water in a blender until smooth. Pour over veggies and use hands to completely cover. Pack veggies tightly into two 1-liter mason jars, leaving a 1-inch space at the top. Roll a cabbage leaf into a cigar shape. Place on top of veggies. Repeat and stuff in 1-2 more leaves, then place lid and screw cap on. Set jars on a plate, as they may leak out. Let ferment for 5-7 days. Compost the rolled cabbage leaves on top, remove any mold that may have formed, and store in the fridge. Eat 1-2 tablespoons or up to 1/4 cup daily with meals.

Variation: Replace parsnip with 1-2 carrots or 1-2 beets.
Variation: Replace cabbage with 3-4 carrots + 2-3 beets.
Variation: Feel free to omit the ginger if you like, and add in your fave herbs and spices.

#3 – Cabbage Rejuvelac

Got cabbage? Again?! Cabbage rejuvelac is an oh-so-easy recipe to get in your probiotics. It’s much easier to make than the traditional way of making salted sauerkraut (no pounding, grunting, or salt required!). You take cabbage, blend it with water, let it ferment, strain out the cabbage, then drink the liquid. You can add this liquid to smoothies or even pair it with oil and herbs/spices to make salad dressings. And did I mention you can also do this with beets, carrots and other root veggies, just like you would with #2 above, but so much simpler? I also should mention that this ferment goes by other names, like Cabbage Kefir.

Here’s that easy-peasy recipe to get you going:

Cabbage Rejuvelac (or Cabbage Kefir)
• 3 cups chopped or shredded cabbage
• 1 cup spring water

Instructions: Puree cabbage in a blender. Pour into a 1 liter mason jar. Cover top of jar with a paper towel or dish towel and secure with a rubber band. Let sit for 3 days. Scoop off any mold that has formed on top (if any). Pour mixture through a nut milk bag. Drink or use in recipes. Will keep for a few days in the fridge. Use 1-1.5 cups of this liquid to start your next batch of cabbage rejuvelac, er, kefir. Subsequent batches of cabbage rejuvelac will be more potent in probiotics.

#4 – Rejuvelac

Here we go again?! Nope, not cabbage or veggies this time around, but grains. Usually, wheat is first sprouted and then water is added to the grains and left to ferment. The liquid is strained out and then drank or used in recipes, as in #3. Since gluten intolerance is rather rampant nowadays, rejuvelac has seemingly fallen out of vogue. Yet rejuvelac can easily be made with gluten-free grains like quinoa and millet.

Hulled millet is dirt cheap and doesn’t sprout as other grains do. All the better and quicker for making a simple and easy gluten-free rejuvelac teeming with probiotics. Dare I mention that this ferment also goes by other names, such as Sprouted Grain Kefir? Nah, let’s get to the recipe:

Millet Rejuvelac
Place 1/2 cup hulled millet in a 1-liter mason jar and let soak overnight. Drain and rinse well. Add water to the top of the mason jar, place a dish towel or paper towel to cover the top and secure with an elastic band. Let sit 2-4 days. Taste test on each day to see if it’s to your liking (it gets more sour the longer it ferments). Strain out the liquid using a sieve or nut milk bag. This liquid is the rejuvelac. Drink on up! You can use this in smoothies instead of milk or water, or make salad dressings paired with oil. Use 1/3-1/2 cup of this rejuvelac to start your next batch of sprouted grain kefir, I mean, rejuvelac.

Variation: You can do the above method with quinoa. You might even notice that the quinoa already has “tails” (has sprouted) after soaking for 8 hours. Quinoa is high in saponins, so make sure you rinse well.


This article is part 1 of a 2 part series called “DIY Probiotics” about cheap and easy alternatives to the expensive packaged probiotics available in health food stores. You can read the rest of the series here:

Part 1: DIY Probiotics – 4 Cheap and Easy Alternatives
• Part 2: DIY Probiotics – 5 More Cheap and Easy Alternatives (Coming Soon)

 

Eggsposing Some Basic Facts About Eggs

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fresh-eggs-in-a-basketEggs have gotten some bad press over the last few decades, but today they’re more popular around the world than ever. The infographic below shows some interesting statistics. The numbers on global egg production came from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. As you can see, egg production worldwide has more than quadrupled in the past 50 years.

And we all know why eggs are so popular. They’re healthy and nutritious, and they’re one of the most versatile ingredients you could wish for. If you have fresh eggs on hand, you have a good start on a healthy home-cooked meal – whether it’s breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Fried, scrambled, or used in a quiche, omelet, souffle, or frittata – eggs are always useful.

Take a look and see if there’s anything here you didn’t know…

eggsposing-eggs-infographic

Hopefully most of us have access to fresh, local, organically grown eggs through our own flocks, our neighbors’ flocks, or through a relationship with a local farmer. But if not, the explanation about labeling above may be of some help. While the labels “Cage Free, Free Range, and Free Roaming” are enticing – they probably don’t mean what you think they mean. If you do have access to fresh local eggs, check out this article from Joe Urbach about several different methods to put up fresh eggs: 5 Easy Ways to Preserve Your Fresh Eggs.

And the nutrition information in this graphic might be useful for general planning purposes. If you want more detailed information about egg nutrition, or if you’re concerned about cholesterol, read this article: The Perfect Hard Boiled Egg; and Why You Should Eat Them.


Thanks to Fix.com for the infographic. You can see the original posting here: Eggsposing Eggs.

 

5 Natural Juices to Heal a Sore Throat

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watermelon-juiceSore throats are a fairly common problem during the winter months. Sore throats are often brought on by sudden changes in weather, mucus drainage, or as a symptom of a common cold. The pain and inflammation that accompany a sore throat can be very irritating, and can even get in the way of your daily routine; especially if your job involves speaking to others or talking on the phone.

A sore throat can be a symptom of a serious illness. But getting a sore throat doesn’t necessarily mean you need to rush in to see a doctor right away.

Jeffrey Linder, M.D., is an internist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, in Boston. He did an interview with Time Magazine’s Health.com about some common recommendations for soothing a sore throat. According to Dr. Linder, “Staying hydrated is very important, especially when you’re sick and your throat is irritated or inflamed. You should be drinking enough fluid so that your urine is light yellow or clear. This keeps your mucous membranes moist and better able to combat bacteria and irritants like allergens, and makes your body better able to fight back against other cold symptoms.”

Let Your Beverage be Your Medicine

There are several medicinal drinks that you can use to keep yourself hydrated, while medicating your sore throat at the same time. You can nip your cold in the bud and prevent high fevers by hydrating with these natural juices and teas that can save your day with their high concentrations of antioxidants and other beneficial compounds.

To emphasize hydration, you can dilute fruit and vegetable juices with cold water and ice. To emphasize the medicinal qualities of the juices and teas listed below, don’t dilute these juices and drink them as they are.

#1 – Ginger Juice
Ginger is full of minerals and antioxidants. The antibacterial properties of ginger can help to treat a number of infections in the throat. Consume a half cup of ginger juice at the first sign of an itchy throat. A combination of ginger and honey can work wonders and can help to cure a sore throat in no time at all.

#2 – Garlic Juice
Having natural antibacterial and antibiotic properties, garlic juice has proven to be an effective solution for people who catch cold easily. Take two teaspoons of garlic juice in a glass of warm water and it can heal your sore throat without the need of any medications.

#3 – Licorice Root Tea
Known for its naturally sweet and mild flavor, licorice root is another great herbal remedy for a sore throat. According to herbwisdom.com, licorice root “soothes soreness in the throat and fights viruses that cause respiratory illnesses and and overproduction of mucus.” Licorice root is also widely used in treating stomach ulcers, as compounds in the root are useful for lowering stomach acid levels – relieving heartburn and indigestion, and even acting as a mild laxative.

#4 – Pineapple Juice
Did you ever think that pineapple juice could help you when you are suffering from a sore throat? In addition to providing a good source of vitamin C and manganese, pineapple juice contains bromelain, a combination of protein-digesting enzymes that is only found in pineapples. Researchers at the University of Maryland Medical Center are looking into bromelain as a potential treatment for many conditions including viral and bacterial infections – although UMMC advises taking bromelain as a supplement to get a higher concentration of the enzymes.

#5 – Watermelon Juice
Watermelon is more than 90% water, so it’s great for keeping yourself hydrated. It’s also a good source of vitamins C and A. And watermelon is a traditional cure for sore throats in Chinese herbal medicine. A glass of cool, sweet watermelon juice can cool your sore throat and help to bring relief.

When to Seek Medical Care

The CDC published recommendations about when you should seek medical care for a sore throat. They encourage you to get assistance if you or your child exhibit any of the following symptoms:

• Sore throat that lasts longer than 1 week
• Difficulty swallowing or breathing
• Excessive drooling (young children)
• Temperature higher than 100.4 °F
• Pus on the back of the throat
• Rash
• Joint pain
• Hoarseness lasting longer than 2 weeks
• Blood in saliva or phlegm
• Dehydration (symptoms include a dry, sticky mouth; sleepiness or tiredness; thirst; decreased urination or fewer wet diapers; few or no tears when crying; muscle weakness; headache; dizziness or lightheadedness)
• Recurring sore throats


Sources:

• 10 Ways to Soothe a Sore Throat – http://time.com/3772261/soothe-sore-throat/
• Ginger & Honey for a Sore Throat – http://www.livestrong.com/article/265676-ginger-honey-for-a-sore-throat/
• Licorice Root (Glycyrrhiza Glabra) – http://www.herbwisdom.com/herb-licorice-root.html
• Fresh Pineapple Juice & Bromelain – http://www.livestrong.com/article/486718-fresh-pineapple-juice-bromelain/
• Lu, Henry C. Chinese Natural Cures. New York, Black Dog & Leventhal Publishers, Inc. Copyright 1986.

 

The Secret to a Long and Happy Life is in the Garden

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Dan Buettner wanted to find the secret of longevity. He traveled the world over, meeting and interviewing the world’s centenarians (people over 100) to learn the secret from those who could speak from experience. But when he pressed them for an answer most of them could not really say. One of them said with a shrug, “We just forget to die.” Too busy living to worry about dying.

These centenarians never thought of retiring. For some of them it was literally never a thought that crossed their mind. They didn’t even have a word for retirement. They were still herding sheep, milking goats, or tending their gardens. They all ate lots of vegetables, and most of them grew their own.

In the U.S., we have a fascination with youth and a fear of aging. These feelings are are not shared in some other cultures. Of a village in Sardinia, Italy, Buettner says, “On tavern walls, instead of posters of bikinied women or fast cars, you’d see calendars featuring the ‘Centenarian of the month.’”

Buettner says, “None of the 253 spry centenarians I’ve met went on a diet, joined a gym or took supplements.”

How is it that these people are still dancing when most people their age have returned to dust? Buettner put together a team to help him collect the data and facts as well as engage in personal visits so they could actually get to know these amazing people and translate what they learned into information that we can all use to keep us dancing right up to the moment the music stops.

Dan Buettner’s Recommendations for Longevity

After working on this project for seven years, Buettner boiled it down to the following recommendations:

1. Make exercise a part of your lifestyle rather than just doing exercise for its own sake.
2. Stop eating when you feel 80% full, because the feeling of fullness is delayed by 20 minutes.
3. Eat mainly plants.
4. Drink a little red wine daily — with moderation of course.
5. Have a goal in life — a reason to get up in the morning.
6. Slow down and have strategies for relieving stress.
7. Be part of a spiritual community.
8. Make your family members top priority.
9. Choose friends who encourage these positive values.

You can read the whole story in his book, The Blue Zones, Second Edition: 9 Lessons for Living Longer From the People Who’ve Lived the Longest.

I am pleased to note that most, if not all, of these recommendations can be answered in the garden. We have healthy exercise, plenty of fresh vegetables, a reason to get up in the morning, and a place to forget stress for sure. Some things in the list might be answered indirectly – like growing red grapes to make wine, and having gatherings and family picnics in the garden.

Let’s take a closer look at the different recommendations and how you can fulfill them in your own garden:

Recommendation #1 – Exercise
Working in the garden is certainly exercise, but your choice of tools will make a big difference in how effective and enjoyable it is.

I have lately discovered the Meadow Creature broadfork. It’s an excellent tool for breaking up new ground and loosening the subsoil to make it retain more water. It’s perfect for exercise because you keep your back straight and use both arms and legs equally. You just step on the cross bar, sinking the tines into the ground, then lean back to cut through the soil. It loosens soil without turning it over. If the ground is very hard, keep it shallow on the first pass and then repeat until you get the tines all the way in — 12 to 16 inches, depending on which model you use. I feel such a sense of well-being after working with my broadfork that I wonder if I might be getting the grounding benefit called “earthing.” Even though I’m wearing shoes, my hands are on the metal handles and the tines are deep in the ground. Anybody out there have any ideas about that?

My broadfork obeys me perfectly, so it’s safe to use up close to plants, as long as I pay attention to what I’m doing. Not so with a rototiller, which I think has a mind of its own, and a cantankerous one at that. The broadfork is also quiet, undemanding, and maintenance free. Another favorite garden tool is the garden claw which also lets you keep your back straight while working. It has six tines in a square position at the bottom. You push down and twist. No more back-breaking work with these two tools.

Recommendation #2 – The 80% Rule — Stop Eating Before You Reach Full Capacity
Well, I’m afraid this one isn’t easier if you garden. It might actually be harder to stop eating, because your food all tastes so good. But then, you aren’t consuming empty calories, so I wouldn’t worry as much about this one. Just eat slowly, and stop before you’re full.

Recommendation #3 – Eat Mainly Plants
No problem! If you garden at home, there are plenty of fresh vegetables for the picking. And if you plan your garden well, you can keep the fresh harvest coming almost all year long in many areas.

Recommendation #4 – Drink a Little Red Wine
Most of us rely on the grocery store or another retailer to supply us with red wine. But if you’re an adventurous gardener, you could consider planting a grapevine along the edge of your garden. This would provide you fresh grapes to work with, and it might even provide some additional exercise if you crush the grapes traditionally – with your feet. However you get your red wine – always drink it in moderation.

Recommendation #5 – Have a Reason to Get Up in the Morning
There’s no place like the garden in the early morning. What an inspiring place to be! Avid gardeners are heavily invested in their gardens, and so they always have a reason to climb out of bed and go out to the garden to survey their progress, preen their plants, and plan for upcoming projects.

It’s true that a garden can become very unsightly and discouraging if bugs and weeds take over. So, always keep the size of your garden small enough to maintain it in good condition, and continue adding new seeds and plants so that you have constant, vigorous growth. Yes, let some of your plants go to seed for flowers and nectar for the good guys (pollinators and insect predators), but keep planting new things, too, so that the garden stays beautiful all season long.

Gardens can also be very expensive, especially if you opt to purchase soil, fertilizers, and pest sprays. One way to keep costs under control is to learn the principles of permaculture. Permaculture seeks to mimic nature and always tries to minimize external inputs (like store-bought soil). The word “permaculture” (combining “permanent” and “culture”) and the basic principles behind it have been around since the 1970s, but some of the concepts are quite ancient.

a-guild-of-lettuce-radishes-and-beetsOne of the ideas in permaculture is to create groupings of plants that aid and protect one another. These plant groupings are referred to as guilds. And emphasis is placed on using plants that attract pollinators and other “good guy” insect predators. The “three sisters” is a great example of a guild, invented by Native Americans. They planted corn, beans, and squash near each other. The corn stalks act as a trellis for the beans. The bean plants fix nitrogen in the soil. And the squash plant acts as a mulch, shading the ground and keeping the soil moist.

When you plant large groups of the same thing, you make it easy for the nibbling insects that eat in your garden. Instead of having to forage for food, they get to shop at the supermarket. If we take a cue from nature, and plant a variety of different plants together, we have a better chance to outsmart those pests.

a-guild-of-lettuce-beets-and-radishesI have not tried the “three sisters” yet, but I have learned that beets, radishes, and lettuce work well together. You do need to give a little extra attention to the beets, to make sure the other plants don’t overwhelm them. Here the radish has shaded the lettuce, and some bugs have eaten the radish leaves instead of eating the lettuce. This worked out great for me, since I wasn’t planning to eat the radish leaves anyway.

One experiment I did was to stop spraying for insects because spraying kills the good guys, too. This summer, when I was watering and something jumped out of the foliage, it was often a small frog or toad rather than a grasshopper or cricket. You don’t eliminate all the pests, and believe it or not, you don’t want to. If all of the pests disappear, there won’t be any food left for the good guys, and they will disappear too. I must confess, though, that the cabbage caterpillar was just too much and I had to resort to using Dipel. I don’t mind so much when insects stop by for a snack, but when they move right in to stay and leave garbage behind, I just can’t help myself.

open-pollinated-grape-tomatoesThis year I was excited to have an “open pollinated grape tomato” (that’s the only name I have) come up prolifically. I did nothing for them except grow them last year. This year I didn’t plant, water, fertilize, or spray for disease or bugs. I didn’t even pull weeds or keep the tomatoes picked. The plants came up through the weeds and grass, grew up over the top of the the weeds or climbed on anything available, without being tied. Other tomatoes had a hard time this year – it was too wet, then too dry, and the bugs were bad. But there was no problem at all for those little grape tomatoes. I could pick what I wanted, whenever I wanted, all summer long. And they kept right on growing until the first frost. They are bite-sized with superb flavor, perfect for salads and snacking. I would love to hear if anyone else has a favorite garden plant that takes care of itself like this. The picture here was taken in November, so the tomatoes had slowed down quite a bit. But you can see how they still held their own above the weeds and grass.

Recommendation #6 – Slow Down and De-Stress
Gardening is a great stress-reliever for gardeners of all ages. For many of us, the garden is a place we go to unwind and bond with nature. If you have a garden in your yard, you always have a place nearby to regroup and collect your thoughts when life gets difficult and stressful.

If you’re already feeling tranquil, just go out and smell the flowers. Want to punch somebody? Attack the weeds instead. This works better than a punching bag, you will love the results, and there are no regrets!

Walking barefoot on bare earth or grass also helps to reduce stress. We actually do run on electricity, and we benefit greatly from grounding. This is called “earthing.”

Recommendation #7 – Be Part of a Spiritual Community
Recommendation #8 – Make Family Members a Priority
Recommendation #9 – Choose Friends Who Encourage These Positive Values

Some people get a strong spiritual reward from gardening, and for others it’s all about the food. Some families garden together, while some gardeners have families that prefer to stay indoors. Some people garden alone, while others are active in local gardening clubs and community gardens.

What’s important here is to acknowledge that people need people. So, you might need to consider leaving your garden for these last three.

Community gardens are a great way that you can use your love of gardening to connect with others. Even if you already have your own garden at home, adopting a plot in a community garden will put you in touch with other like-minded people in your area. Local gardening groups and clubs are another great way to connect with others who share your love of gardening.

If your family and friends aren’t interested in gardening with you, leave your garden and meet them on their ground. You can always bring some of the wonderful flowers and food from your garden along, to share with your closest loved ones.

Gardening Your Way to a Long, Happy Life

I think the time has come to consider returning to some of the forgotten ways of our ancestors, which were just as effective, and often more efficient, than the way we do things now. Permaculture can be an exhaustive subject, but there are many new books available that translate the concepts into use for the home garden. This opens many vistas for continued learning and keeps our minds alert. Some of my favorite authors on the subject are Anna Hess, Toby Hemenway, and Christopher Shein.

Growing your own food gives you such a sense of satisfaction when you walk through the grocery store. The food there is bland and it lacks nutrition, but you notice the prices going up and up. Instead of wringing your hands and wondering how long you’ll be able to feed your family, you can feel wealthy – knowing that the most delicious, most nutritious food is already at home.

Go to your garden for health and long life. There you will find your medicines and your supplements. And these don’t need to be kept out of the reach of children. Instead of harmful side effects, they have wonderful, live-giving benefits.

sunflowers-in-bloomThe garden provides more than just fresh produce. There is an energy exchange — a symbiotic relationship between people and plants. It’s obvious when you think of the oxygen/carbon dioxide exchange, but there is so much more. We were meant to be in a garden. The beautiful sights, the pleasant fragrances, and the songs of birds have a calming, healing influence on us. We take care of the garden, and it takes care of us.

Life began in a garden and it still flourishes there. The bible tells us that even Jesus sought solace in the garden. He went there to commune with His Father, and to gain strength for His supreme hour of testing.

The kiss of the sun for pardon
The song of the birds for mirth.
One is nearer God’s heart in a garden
Than any place else on earth.

– Dorothy Frances Gurney

 

The Banana-pocalypse… It’s Coming

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banana-plantation-monocultureMonoculture is defined as “the cultivation or growth of a single crop or organism, especially on agricultural or forest land.” The first time I remember hearing about monoculture was when I read Michael Pollan’s The Botany of Desire back around 2001. Monoculture is a big deal in agriculture, and it just may become a household word for Americans of all persuasions in the near future…

If you’ve ever driven through Iowa and looked out the window to see clean, identical rows of corn extending all the way to the horizon… that’s what monoculture looks like. Likewise, if you’ve driven through Kansas and seen amber waves of grain, waving uniformly as far as the eye can see… that was monoculture as well.

The Dangers of Monoculture

Monoculture is widely viewed as a bad idea because it means that we invest heavily in one variety of crop, putting all of our proverbial eggs into one basket. If a pest or disease comes along and attacks that chosen variety, we’re simply out of luck, as all of our resources were sunk into that single variety, and now it has a big problem.

History has demonstrated the danger of monocultures several times, most famously in Ireland during the Great Famine of the 1840s.

Ireland invested heavily in the potato during the 18th and 19th centuries. Ireland’s rural poor were especially dependent on the potato as their primary staple. In the mid 1840s, a fungus called Potato Blight (Phytophthora infestans) made its way from South America, to North America, and on to Europe. Within only a few years, potato blight had spread worldwide. Crops were lost on many continents, but the effects were most devastating in Ireland, where potatoes had been commonly grown in monoculture. The disease wiped out a significant portion of the potato harvest for several consecutive years, and hundreds of thousands of Ireland’s poor starved to death.

And this was in the 1840s, before steam-powered railroads and ships were widely adopted – long before commercial flight. But even back then, it took an aggressive fungus about 2 years to travel from South America, north to the U.S., and across the Atlantic to Europe – with horse-drawn wagons and wind-powered clipper ships as its only helpers.

Similar scenarios have played out over time – and some of them have happened very close to home. 100 years after the Great Famine in Ireland, Victoria oat blight swept through oat monocultures in the United States. And then in the 1970s, southern corn leaf blight spread through the U.S. These are examples of monocultures being targeted by a single, well-adapted pathogen, right here in America.

In the 1950s, monocultures of Gros Michel bananas were famously obliterated by Panama disease on banana plantations around the world from South America, to Africa and Australia.

Despite history’s repeated lessons on this subject, in today’s industrial agriculture environment monoculture is perfectly commonplace. Genetic modification of crops lends itself to monoculture, as endless fields of beans and grain can be modified to resist one specific pesticide or herbicide, enabling cost-effective weeding and pest treatment from crop-dusting planes overhead. The result is exactly the scenario about which history has repeatedly warned us. While the modified crops are resistant to a controlled substance manufactured in a lab, they are abnormally susceptible to naturally occurring pathogens. Any one pathogen that adapts to prey on the monocultured crop can run rampant, free from the natural checks and balances present in a diverse ecosystem.

History Repeats Itself

And according to the journal PLOS Pathogens from the Public Library of Science, we may be on the verge of another global monoculture backfire today. On November 19th, they published a study detailing the legacy of the Panama disease disaster, one generation later. The Gros Michel banana variety, which had been reproduced around the world by tissue cloning, slowly gave in to Panama disease around the world in the middle of the 20th century. To beat the Panama disease pathogen, banana growers identified a different variety that was resistant to the disease, and they began to produce that alternate variety, the Cavendish, in place of the failing Gros Michel. No significant changes were made in the method of production – only the variety of banana was changed.

Who would have guessed it? The pathogen behind Panama disease (since identified as Fusarium oxysporum) has naturally adapted to target the new Cavendish variety of bananas. First identified in the 1990s, the new strain of Panama disease (Tropical Race 4) has wiped out banana plantations in Taiwan, China, Indonesia, Malaysia, Australia, the Philippines, Jordan, Pakistan, and Lebanon. The Cavendish currently represents 99 percent of the global banana market. And, it seems that its time is limited. With no known controls, it’s only a matter of time before the banana plantations of Latin America are infected with the new strain of Panama disease.

As the study’s authors note, “Any disease management eventually fails in a highly susceptible monoculture.”

Banana producers will likely, and predictably, find another variety of banana that is resistant to Tropical Race 4, and substitute that variety where the Gros Michel and now the Cavendish have failed. And we’ll enjoy bananas again, until the disease adapts to prey on the new variety. But the larger lesson to be learned here is that monoculture itself is inherently unsustainable.

One can’t help but wonder… what if an environment existed where many different banana plants of diverse genetic origins were grown alongside other plants with different genetic and microbial profiles? Would Panama disease fade to the background? What happens when you introduce Tropical Race 4 into an environment of thriving biological diversity, instead of a massive monoculture of its pre-selected prey?

Perhaps one day we’ll find out.

In the meantime, what can we do about the impending banana-pocalypse?

Dealing with the Banana-pocalypse

One thing that we can all do is to plant our gardens full of organic heirlooms of many varieties, and then talk to anyone who will listen about the importance of biodiversity. If we can demonstrate that diversity works on a small scale, and infect that idea into the minds of everyone around us, we might one day reach a tipping point where everyone recognizes both the danger of monoculture and the benefit of biodiversity. With each heirloom variety you preserve, and with each landrace variety you select, you pave the way towards a cultural shift of understanding biodiversity.

Personally, in my household, the first thing we’ll do is try to find a good substitute for frozen banana pieces in our smoothies. Dang! Frozen bananas are awesome smoothie fodder… I wonder if anyone can recommend a good substitute? Maybe frozen sunchoke tubers? If you have any ideas to help us out, use the comments section below to let me know about them…


Sources:

• National Center for Biotechnology Information: An Andean origin of Phytophthora infestans inferred from mitochondrial and nuclear gene genealogies
• PLOS Pathogens: Worse Comes to Worst: Bananas and Panama Disease—When Plant and Pathogen Clones Meet
• The Washington Post: Bye, bye, bananas

 

One Young Man Tackles a Huge Global Problem

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perry-alagappan-stockholm-junior-water-prize

Image Credit: Jonas Borg

An 18 year old student from the Houston area won international acclaim earlier this year when he unveiled a science project he developed on his own, in his spare time. It’s a water filter that can remove heavy metals from electronic waste from drinking water.

The problem of e-waste has been well documented. As we adopt more and more personal electronics, we generate more and more e-waste. It might be hard to believe, but we’re only seeing the tip of the iceberg right now. Smartphones are everywhere in some countries already, but new coverage subscriptions are projected to more than double over the next 5 years, with most of those new subscriptions coming from Asia Pacific, the Middle East, and Africa. Ericsson Mobility recently projected that by the year 2020, 70% of the world’s population will be using smartphones.

The issue is compounded by the ideas of planned obsolescence, and Moore’s law, which keep us buying new devices as the software and hardware in our existing devices become obsolete every few years. As a result, we’re throwing away millions of tons of electronics each year.

And these devices are, unfortunately, pretty toxic to the environment. Some of the materials can be recycled, but the majority end up in landfills or massive waste piles. A report earlier this year found that 70% of the heavy metals in US landfills come from electronics, even though only 2% of the trash is electronic waste. It’s nasty stuff.

Countries in Africa and Asia are importing much of this waste, accepting the toxicity in exchange for the money they can make by taking it off the hands of western countries.

18 year old Perry Alagappan, from Houston, took the problem head on.

He developed a new filter, using graphene nanotubes, that can filter 99% of the heavy metals from water. The filter he made can be reproduced for about $20, making his solution 5 times less expensive than the reverse osmosis technology that has been widely used in the past. The filter is renewable, unlike reverse osmosis filters that are discarded and replaced. After each use, you rinse the filter with vinegar, and it’s ready to go again. And the filtered metals can be used or sold for profit.

Perhaps the best part of this story is that Perry has decided to make his project open source, so that other researchers around the world can pick up his work and make further improvements without worrying about infringing on his patents.

This young man started working on this project out of a personal desire to help his family. He explains, “I became interested in water purification when I visited my grandparents in India, and saw with my own eyes how electronic waste severely contaminated the environment.”

Perry Alagappan was awarded the Stockholm Junior Water Prize at World Water Week for this invention. He also won an AXA Achievement Scholarship. He was accepted to study at Stanford, and began working on his undergraduate Pre-engineering degree there this fall.

Here he is to tell you about it himself…


Sources:

Texas teenager creates $20 water purifier to tackle toxic e-waste pollution
American student wins 2015 Stockholm Junior Water Prize for revolutionizing method to remove electronic waste from water
Ericsson Mobility Report: 70 percent of world’s population using smartphones by 2020
Global E-Waste Management Market, Material (Metals, Plastic, & Glass), Sources (Household Appliances, Entertainment & Consumer Electronics, IT & Telecommunication), industry size, share, growth, trends and forecast 2015-2021

 

The Healthiest People in the World… and How they Got that Way

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Marjory just got back from a big adventure. She went to the Copper Canyon in Mexico to meet the Tarahumara Native American people. They’re world-renowned for their long distance running capabilities.

And they claim that their running abilities peak at age 64!

So… Marjory went down there to interview them and find out what they’re eating.

In the spirit of Marjory’s adventures to learn more about traditional cultures and their diets, I thought this infographic would fit in nicely. It takes a look at 5 of the healthiest nations in the world, defined by their long life expectancy and low infant mortality rates. I couldn’t help but notice the little factoid about New Zealand… Check it out:

the-healthiest-people-in-the-world

To read more about the Tarahumara people of Mexico, check out this article Marjory wrote last summer: At What Age Does The Human Body Peak In Athletic Performance?.

 

(Video) Grow Sprouts and Microgreens Indoors All Winter Long

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fresh-arugula-micro-greensAs the temperatures drop and the days get shorter – I’ve heard from several gardeners up north that they are packing it up for the year and winterizing their gardens.

But even up north, there’s one easy way to keep some fresh greens coming all winter long – with just a few containers and a little bit of your open counter space.

Microgreens are a great option for keeping your vitamin intake up over the winter. In addition to being tasty and trendy, they pack a big nutritional punch. A study published in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry looked at 25 common varieties of microgreens and found that they generally have higher concentrations of healthful vitamins and carotenoids than their mature counterparts. Red cabbage microgreens had the highest concentration of vitamin C, and green daikon radish microgreens had the most vitamin E.

Check out this video about growing microgreens and sprouts indoors:

If you want to give this a try and you’re looking for a cheap and easy way to get started, read this article from our writing contest – Easy and Fresh Micro Greens and Herbs All Year Round. You’ll find one example of a no-frills way to get this done – without needing to buy anything but seeds.

 

Antimicrobial Resistance in the News

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antibiotics-for-humans-and-food-animalsAs many of you know, we are currently working on a project to create an educational film that will empower individuals and families to safely treat infections at home, without the use of antibiotics. Members of the [Grow] Network are coming together to fund the Indiegogo campaign we created to produce this film. This is a classic example of strength in numbers, and it shows the potential a community like ours has for creating change. You can see the campaign here: Treating Infections Without Antibiotics – Indiegogo.

As we have been working on this project, we have received a huge outpouring of support. We have received messages of encouragement from concerned citizens around the globe – including scientists, medical doctors, and people who have fought off antibiotic-resistant infections in their own bodies.

I went to bed last night feeling very positive about the support that we have received. A huge outpouring of support and encouragement, and a successful campaign to empower people to take an active stance against this problem in their own homes… What could be better? Right?

Haha, that was last night – when I went to bed.

Eight hours later, I woke to some of the biggest headlines I can remember about the antibiotic-resistant threat. I was drinking my coffee and glancing through the headlines…

Here’s the first thing I noticed:

Misunderstanding of antibiotics fuels superbug threat, WHO says
This article from Reuters begins with this quote: “The rise of antibiotic resistance is a global health crisis,” from WHO Director-General Margaret Chan. She was speaking with reporters about a report the WHO just released that exposes a lack of understanding and awareness about antibiotics and antibiotic resistance around the globe. She went on to say that the problem is “reaching dangerously high levels” in all parts of the world and could lead to “the end of modern medicine as we know it.”

Talk about a timely news story… We’ve pointed to WHO claims about antibiotic resistance before, like in this post – 23,000 People Will Die This Year… And Never See Their Killer Coming.

But there’s more.

The next headline I noticed was this one:

Health Experts Are Explaining Drug-Resistant Bacteria Poorly
This article from The Atlantic leads in with the quote: “health experts invoke an ‘apocalyptic’ threat that’s bigger than terrorism or climate change.” They go on to detail an entirely different study, funded by London’s The Wellcome Trust, that focuses on the lack of understanding and awareness about antibiotics in the U.K. The author asserts that “the fault, arguably, is on us – science journalists, scientists, doctors, communicators, and everyone who’s beating the drum about this impending threat.”

Well then – that’s two big headlines about antimicrobial resistance. A good day for awareness about the problem, to be sure…. But still no real action taken as a result.

Wait, there’s more… Next, I saw this headline:

Pediatricians want farmers to use fewer antibiotics
This one is on CNN. In an open letter from the American Academy of Pediatrics, the lead author Dr. Jerome Paulson says, “We know our side is not perfect, physicians do bear some responsibility for this and there has not always been a prudent use in our practice, we are doing something on our side to help fix this.”

The article goes on to point out that in 2012, 80% (or 32.2 million pounds) of antibiotics used in the US were used on animals. And of those, 60% were the same drugs that are used to fight infections in humans. Dr. Paulson says, “We also want to make sure the government agencies and agribusiness will look at this serious issue as well and get these unnecessary antimicrobials out of the production stream.” Dr. Paulson encourages parents to buy meat with a “no antibiotics added” label, noting that he sees antibiotic-free meat much more available in the marketplace.

So, still no real action – but that’s at least a call for some action.

And those articles are just the tip of the iceberg – the internet is bustling with activity and information today about the antimicrobial-resistant threat to people all over, as the World Health Organization kicks off its first ever World Antibiotic Awareness Week. I see that similar stories are running on Fox News, Time, and many industry-specific publications in the medical and agricultural communities.

If you’ve been following along here on our growyourowngroceries.org, this problem probably isn’t news to you. We’ve had an ongoing dialog about microbial resistance for a while now, and it’s obvious that when the WHO and The Wellcome Trust did their surveys – they didn’t call up many members of the [Grow] Network. Remember this article – Microbes 2.0 – A Tiny Manifesto?

While the national news media does appear to be getting on board to help raise awareness, I’m not sure that we can count on them to create real change.

I hope I’m wrong about that.

But, I suspect the initial response will be more like finger-pointing and name-calling, as the doctors blame the farmers, the farmers blame the pharmaceuticals, and everyone blames the government.

There’s just too much money on the table to expect wholesale change to take place without some strong outside influences.

So, as always, the responsibility for creating real change will likely fall on us – you and I. What can we do?

In a nutshell – we can take the money away. Here’s how:

Vote with Your Dollars
When you buy meat, spend that extra few dollars to buy meat that has not been treated with antibiotics. Let the massive food industries know that you are aware of the problem, and you expect them to take action if they want your money.

See this report card about how several national fast food chains stack up regarding their policies on the use of antibiotics in their meat supply – (Infographic) Is Your Lunch Full of Antibiotics? A Fast Food Report Card. If a company is not transparent and responsible about their antibiotic policies – simply don’t give them any of your hard-earned money.

When possible, buy your meat from a local farmer who will stand in front of you and answer your questions about how antibiotics were used in raising that meat. There’s more information available about this in the book Holy Cows and Hog Heaven by Joel Salatin, and in this article – 4 Uncommon-Sense Guidelines for Food Safety and Nutrition.

Opt Out
Doctor and PatientWhen you go to your doctor’s office, push back when they prescribe antibiotics for minor infections that could be treated without the drugs. Every time they suggest an antibiotic, ask them what alternatives you have, and what are the likely outcomes if you don’t take the prescription. Do rely on your healthcare providers for their expert guidance, but don’t just fall in line with the course of treatment that maximizes their income stream. Insist that they give you thorough information and that they keep themselves well-informed.

If you’re considering any elective surgical procedures – get information from the hospital about antimicrobial-resistant infections other patients have experienced at that facility and for the procedure in question. If resistant infections are common at the facility, or for the specific procedure – opt out.

Learn about Your Alternatives
Learn about how to protect yourself and your family. For some infections, there are perfectly good alternatives to the industrially produced chemical antibiotics. We are not as dependent on these drugs as we are led to believe. Learn about your alternatives.

We are producing an educational video about herbal treatments – and as I write this there are 8 days left to claim a discounted copy of that video by taking part in our Indiegogo fund-raising campaign here – Indiegogo – Treating Infections Without Antibiotics.

Colloidal silver is another alternative. We’ve published some information about colloidal silver, mostly regarding its use in the yard and garden (Colloidal Silver Kills Plant Fungus, Produces Larger and Healthier Crops and A Recipe for Serious Sunburn Relief – And It’s Great for Bug Bites Too). But there’s a lot of good information available about colloidal silver and its use as an antimicrobial treatment for infections in humans too.

Lead by Example
If you are raising food animals, do it without optional antibiotics. This might go without saying for this audience. Most [Grow] Network members who are far enough along on their journeys to be raising food animals already know about the problem, and many of you are activists for change when it comes to antibiotics in the food supply. But if your veterinarian isn’t proactive about this – ask them to read about the issue and become informed. Avoid antibiotics when you can.

Fan the Flames
Help spread the word about this issue. When you see good information about the problem, forward that information to your friends and family – and through your social networks. There is strength in numbers. If one of us tells our doctor and grocer that we don’t want optional antibiotics, we are a nuisance. If 1 million of us tell our doctors and grocers that we don’t want optional antibiotics, we are a small concern. If 100 million of us do this, we are an immediate threat to the system. Spread the word and help us reach critical mass.


Sources:

• Reuters – Misunderstanding of antibiotics fuels superbug threat, WHO says
The AtlanticHealth Experts Are Explaining Drug-Resistant Bacteria Poorly
• CNN – Pediatricians want farmers to use fewer antibiotics

 

4 Uncommon-Sense Guidelines for Food Safety and Nutrition

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Many of us take for granted that the food we buy is safe to eat. Yet with salmonella showing up in eggs and cucumbers, E. coli (O157) finding its way into ground beef and spinach, botulism in potluck potato salad, and bits of metal in the kids’ favorite mac and cheese – it’s hard to know what’s safe to eat anymore. To complicate matters further, some safe-handling regulations, like the 60 day waiting period on soft-ripened cheeses in the US, may actually raise our risks for lethal levels of listeria.

And even if you have the time and space to grow your own food, there is still some chance that E. coli, salmonella, or listeria might be lurking in your soil. After you pick your way through the minefield of foodborne pathogens at the grocery store, farmers markets, and your own backyard… then there’s still the whole debate about nutritional content of industrially grown food versus home grown or organically grown food to navigate.

If it sounds like the issues around food safety and nutrition are unnecessarily complicated, that’s because to some extent, they are. Food is a basic need. Humans have been locating or growing it for all of human history. Risk has always been present in the process, and good nutrition has always been a moving target. Technology makes it possible for more of us to spend less of our time focused on personal food production, but it will never eliminate risk or eradicate nutritional deficits in human beings. In fact, more technology in food often exacerbates these issues. So, rather than change our habits whenever a study reveals data that might later be retracted (e.g. eggs are bad… no, wait… they are good) or a governmental policy is proposed to prevent greedy corporate officers from allowing salmonella-infected peanut butter to be sold to unsuspecting consumers, how about just relying on a good old “common sense” approach to eating? Right?

carrot-tops-in-the-gardenIf only it were that easy! I use “common sense” in quotes because we really have no common basis for this anymore. Many consumers don’t even know how food grows. In food deserts (primarily low income, inner city areas), children barely see any fresh vegetables on market shelves, much less exotic fare like chard or carrot tops. Most cultural knowledge about growing, storing, and preparing food has been relegated to the role of “old wives tales” in industrialized countries. The more distance we have from the origins of our food, the more likely we are to rely on “experts” to keep us safe and healthy. And “experts” are often graduate school students learning how to conduct studies, paid employees of companies using the information to sell products, or governmental agencies reacting to problems that have already become public concerns.

Let’s face it – having the skills to manage our own food safety concerns and achieve good nutrition is anything but common these days. Luckily, members of the [Grow] Network are way ahead of the average consumer in this regard. We are growers, or soon to be growers, and we have food preservation and cooking skills as well. Yet, even people like us have biases that make us susceptible to hype.

For example, I hear many home growers espouse the nutritional benefits of home grown food, but when I ask them about the micronutrient content and organic material in their soil, they tell me about store bought fertilizer. When I ask them how they use their fresh vegetables, they tell me about canning. Home grown food and homemade meals are beneficial in many ways, but unfortunately, higher nutritional content probably isn’t one of them unless you grow your food using a soil-supporting system like Marjory Wildcraft’s Grow Your Own Groceries, and also eat or properly store your food immediately after harvesting.

Despite the complexity of these issues, food is still basic – and with a few basic techniques, we can have uncommonly good sense about food safety and nutrition.

As a precautionary note, I am not an expert on food safety or nutrition, I am just a person, like you, who understands that this is important. I do my best to stay abreast of current issues.

So, to help you in your quest for uncommonly good sense, I offer you the following 4 “food for thought” guidelines to stimulate your own thinking on this important subject.

Uncommon Sense Guideline for Food Safety #1 – Develop a Healthy Sense of Skepticism

Even though it is easy to vilify the industrial food complex, I don’t think they are really “out to get us.” Let’s be realistic – they don’t even know us. But I do think they are out to do whatever is necessary to claim their share of the market. $1.4 trillion is spent annually on food in the US alone. And with food and beverage companies spending $136 million on advertising each year in the US, even savvy consumers can get confused between propaganda and sound health information.

This is why it makes good sense for us to treat all of the information we hear about our food supply, our nutritional needs, and our food safety with a healthy sense of skepticism.

Let me share a story to illustrate my point. For some time, there’s been a story circulating about vegetarians from India moving to the UK and becoming malnourished there while eating the same diet of lentils, rice, vegetables, etc. The story goes that studies were done, and a determination was made that food sanitation processes in the UK resulted in lower nutrient levels for the same basic foods. As an advocate for non-industrial food, I loved this story. It supported my personal opinion that products like pre-washed lettuce are just marketing gimmicks to trick us into spending $6 for a batch of greens that would sell for half that at a local farmers market. I started digging in to look for research that supports this story, and I couldn’t find anything.

In wading through hundreds of studies, I did find a few interesting commonalities. First, no matter where they live, vegetarians from India (or anywhere else for that matter) seem to be at risk for malnutrition in the form of a vitamin B12 deficiency. This is not entirely surprising, since B12 is most bioavailable for human absorption from animal products. Next, some studies suggested that the prevalence of B12 deficiencies was higher in “the West” than in India. However, this was likely skewed statistical data – in many other scientific studies, participants in India actually had much higher rates of undiagnosed B12 deficiencies. Finally, although the statistical data on the prevalence of B12 deficiencies was inconclusive, the research did launch other scientific studies to determine if there were nuances of vegetarianism in India that might lead to better nutrition for vegetarians elsewhere. Those studies showed two interesting facts: 1) feces found in drinking water in parts of India did contain absorbable forms of B12, and 2) certain kinds of small intestine microflora, present in test subjects in India, can synthesize B12.

So, what can this example teach us in terms of developing a healthy skepticism about food information? For me, there are two big takeaways:

A) Don’t believe everything you hear!

irrigation-water-fowled-by-ducks

Irrigation water “fowled” by ducks.

This story is an example of a myth pointing to a truth. If you took it at face value, you might think that food sanitation leads to malnutrition. But in fact, it was more likely sanitized water – not sanitized food – that could have caused B12 deficiencies among recent immigrants from India to the UK. Now, before you throw out water sanitation to stave off a B12 deficiency, consider that India is often cited as one of the top countries in the world for illnesses and deaths caused by unsafe drinking water. Also, if you zero in on the microflora argument, that too is related to foods being irrigated, washed, and prepared using contaminated water. Vegetarian study participants in India did tend to have a greater variety of intestinal flora than did their counterparts in the West – which is often seen as a benchmark of good health. This might have made them less symptomatic than their Western counterparts, and may have given them higher-than-average tolerance for feces-contaminated water. Even so, eliminating water sanitation for industrialized populations is obviously not the best way to remedy B12 deficiencies in vegetarians. Luckily, there is also good data to suggest that drinking more milk or taking vitamin supplements can help.

B) Not all studies, or citations of studies, are equal.

As I researched this story, I also came across a lot of studies which are used to promote products that seemed… well, dishonest. Luckily, it was pretty easy to separate the wheat from the chaff. Good studies control for extraneous factors – like the higher instances of undiagnosed B12 deficiency in India versus the West. There is a big difference between compiling data to favor your cause and doing a controlled study to find the correct answer.

If you poll ten people on a New York City street and ask them if they have recently visited a Starbucks, most will say “yes.” Do the same poll in Mount Airy, North Carolina and most will say “no.” Based on this poll, it’s clear that people in New York City like Starbucks more than those in Mount Airy. Right? Wrong! The closest Starbucks to Mount Airy is an away hour by car. The data is skewed because participants do not have equal access to a Starbucks. Yet many studies about food safety and nutrition are actually taken out of context in much the same way.

For example, organic naysayers have frequently cited studies showing that E. coli (O157), found in ruminants (e.g. cows), is detectable in their manure. Since organic growers apply ruminant manure to their vegetable beds, E. coli is therefore potentially transmitted to organic soil and creates a risk in our food supply. This is true! But guess what? Non-organic growers also use manure in their fields. The use of manure by organic growers is actually regulated to higher standards than it is for non-organic growers. But the really dangerous part of this debate is that the organic versus non-organic question muddies the waters and takes consumer attention off of the actual safety hazard.

The more important risks for E. coli-contaminated produce relate to whether the produce grows in direct contact with the soil – not its organic status. Lettuce, for example, has a higher risk for contamination than staked tomatoes because of its proximity to the ground. So – my personal distaste for pre-washed grocery store greens aside – washing lettuce at home is important to food safety.

Furthermore, the biggest risk for the greatest number of people isn’t in produce at all. It is in ground beef, because the cuts of meat used to make ground beef had direct contact with cow feces. Some argue that your risk is lower with grass-fed meat because there is less E. coli in the rumens of grass eaters. But often, it doesn’t even matter if this is true or not. Due to USDA regulations, most store-bought grass-fed beef is processed in the same facilities used for grain-fed meat, and E. coli contamination can occur from contact with the same processing equipment.

Hopefully the above examples illustrate why it is important to view all food information with skepticism. I wish it were easy and transparent, but that’s just not the case when so much money is at stake. Sometimes just by engaging in the debate, we lose sight of the real issue – which is access to safe and nutritious food for all of us.

Uncommon Sense Guideline for Food Safety #2 – Grow It or Know It

Let’s take a closer look at grass-fed beef. Many people buy grass-fed beef because they believe it is healthier and safer. This is another area where there are lots of studies with conflicting results. As we’ve already covered, unless the meat is actually processed – slaughtered, butchered, and packaged – in a facility serving only grass-fed beef growers, then the risk of E. coli is the same regardless of what the cow was fed. So, cook your beef to at least 160 degrees and eat immediately after cooking to stay safe. And use your healthy sense of skepticism to evaluate whether or not the various certification labels on your meat wrappers actually effect your safety.

In the US, “grass-fed” is a term regulated by the USDA, and it requires that:

The diet shall be derived solely from forage consisting of grass (annual and perennial), forbs (e.g., legumes, Brassica), browse, or cereal grain crops in the vegetative (pre-grain) state. Animals cannot be fed grain or grain byproducts and must have continuous access to pasture during the growing season.

This means your grass-fed cows could have access to “pasture” the size of a postage stamp, eat a diet of GMO soybean plants and corn from the stalks, and live on a feedlot for most of the year.

happy-meat-farm-ground-beef-labelLabeling that indicates “pasture-raised,” or variations thereof, requires that the animal not be confined in a feedlot, but it doesn’t indicate anything about the animal’s diet. Even if you go for a quadruple whammy and get beef that is labeled as Certified Organic, grass-fed, pasture-raised, and non-GMO; you still can’t be sure how much of that animal’s diet was actually foraged by the animal in open pasture. So, when you read studies claiming that the nutritional content in grass-fed meat is very similar to that of grain-fed meat, now you know why!

But let’s be realistic – most of the consumers who are spending all that extra money on grass-fed or pasture-raised meat are looking for meat from animals that have been allowed to find their own meals in wide open fields that are full of all their favorite pesticide-free plants – just like they would have back when the buffalo roamed free. We want “natural” food (and not the USDA definition of natural which just means no artificial flavor or color and “minimal” processing). Those animals are very hard to find at the supermarket. But if and when you do find them, I am sure their nutritional content will be significantly different than their feedlot counterparts – so will their taste, texture, and your experience of eating them.

Grass-fed beef is just one example of how regulations can make it more difficult for the consumer to know how their food was raised or grown. The deeper you look into these issues, the more obscurity you find. So, it turns out that what Marjory has been teaching for years is right on – to ensure quality, nutritional content, and safety in your food, you really need to either grow it or know it.

home-grown-turnips-and-tomatoesIn a whole foods system like Marjory Wildcraft’s Grow Your Own Groceries, soil is fed, animals are fed, and you are fed in ways that promote optimal nutrition. If you use a system like this, your chances of having more nutritional content in your foods are much higher. If you are buying directly from beyond organic, biointensive, biodynamic, permaculture, or other farm systems that are focused on soil health and biodiversity, and you eat your food soon after purchasing it, your food is also likely to have higher nutritional content than food from the grocery store. Additionally, when you eat local you cut the time and distance between you and your food, which often means higher vitamin content since the food is picked ripe and is less subject to the nutrient degradation that can occur over long storage periods. If you go to the trouble of getting fresh food, don’t let it sit on your counter for a week before you use it. If you can’t eat it fresh, then can or freeze your fresh food immediately after harvest.

For things you are not able to grow yourself, the next best thing is to know the farmer who does grow them. This isn’t a perfect guarantee of food safety or nutritional benefit, but if you can ask questions and see the growing conditions, then you can be a better judge of the safety and quality of your food. Keep in mind, good farms are operated by people trying to earn a living doing something that usually pays less than the US poverty rate. They don’t have big advertising budgets, so they have to work hard to keep all of their customers happy. Respect their visiting hours, make an appointment, or be willing to pay their farm tour fees to help them cover the time they’ve lost for doing other activities. If you are unable to visit, at least make sure the farmer is open to visitors and ask your questions by phone or email. It does take some effort to get to know your food suppliers, but it gives you more control over the process and you won’t have to rely on misleading labels to guide your important food decisions.

Uncommon Sense Guideline for Food Safety #3 – Use Your Body’s Early Warning System

Remember the first time you inhaled a cigarette? As the smoke entered your lungs, you had this immediate urge to cough it back up. But your friends were watching, so you held it down until the burn was so intense you had to let it out. Maybe you managed to suppress the cough, or maybe not, but even so, your body knew – with that first inhalation – that something was wrong. Even if you didn’t have this experience, I bet you know what I am getting at. Our bodies are highly-attuned survival machines and they will try to warn us when something is dangerous for us.

Now, I know what you are thinking… most foodborne pathogens are microscopic. They are so tiny you couldn’t possibly taste, see, or smell them in your food. You are absolutely right. And still, every time I’ve ended up with food poisoning (which is a lot as a food-adventurer), I knew it was going to happen. There was something – an odd mouth feel, a little turn in my stomach, or a quiet thought – that told me the food wasn’t right. Then for whatever reason – I ate it anyway and ended up sick. Maybe it was all in my mind… or maybe it was in my cells. I only know that I’ve never regretted the times when I chose to listen to these warnings, and I’ve always regretted the times when I chose to ignore them.

what-happens-one-hour-after-drinking-a-can-of-cokeI am not suggesting that you rely on your body’s early warning system as your primary tool for ensuring food safety and health. That would be crazy! By eating tons of sugar, simple carbs, salt and other seasoning, and adapting our digestive systems to modern food, we’ve managed to suppress a lot of our survival instincts about food safety. Remember that infographic that went viral about what happens to your body after drinking a can of Coke? The phosphoric acid in the soda keeps you from vomiting in reaction to the sugar. There are a lot of these kind of “overrides” in our food supply, like adding milk and sugar to downplay our instinctive revulsion to the acidity in coffee. Additionally, as a hold-over from our hunter/gatherer days, our taste receptors still get all excited when we come across sweet or umami (fatty) flavors, since those are more likely to give us calories to carry us until we find our next meal. Our slow-evolving taste receptors don’t yet realize that it is easier for us to get junk food than healthy food these days. Also, our other senses often override our taste receptors – smell is particularly influential, and many of our responses to smell are cultural (like grandma’s apple pie).

When cultivating your body’s early warning system, don’t focus on signals of pleasure or disgust – like “wow, that’s delicious,” “I am starving, and this cheeseburger hits the spot,” or “yuck, that’s disgusting” – as those are more likely to be cultural, engineered by food scientists, or throwbacks to leaner times. Instead pay attention to your more subtle responses that don’t scream quite as loudly. And for kicks, plug your nose and see if things taste different. Also, eat slower. According to that Coke infographic, it takes your body a full hour to respond to the stimulus. And by now, everyone knows it takes at least twenty minutes for your stomach to tell your brain that you are full. By eating slower, you give your body time to react so you can listen to all of its responses before the damage is done.

Food is a basic need and our bodies are adapted to convert food to energy. So, doesn’t it also make good common sense that our bodies might give us clues about the nutrition and safety of what we eat?

Uncommon Sense Guideline for Food Safety #4 – Live Well

sunflower-bloomWe’ve just spent a lot of time thinking about food safety, and with good reason. Annually in the US, healthcare costs for foodborne illnesses are around $150 billion. Each year, one in six people will contract a foodborne illness, and 3000 people will die from food poisoning. At risk populations – including anyone with a weakened immune system, children, the elderly, and pregnant women – will be among the largest groups affected and the consequences for them are more likely to be lethal. Food safety is serious, and we should protect ourselves form the risks as best as we can.

There are people all around the world who don’t get to choose what they eat. Hopefully someday we can change that, so that everyone can have healthy food. Yet most members of the [Grow] Network have both the power and the ingenuity to make healthy eating decisions. An apple may cost more today than a packaged apple pie, but in the long run, opting for cheap and easy food now may cost you your health or your life later.

Every year in the US alone, 900,000 people die prematurely – mostly for health-related reasons. Some of these are genetic or unavoidable, but at least 222,500 premature deaths per year could be prevented by making healthier living decisions, according to the CDC. And we don’t even want to talk about the tax and personal dollars spent on healthcare for avoidable health problems.

Choose to live well now, so that you can live better and longer later. And honestly, you don’t need me to tell you how to do that. You already know what to do!

 

Turn Your Apple Harvest into Homemade Apple Cider Vinegar

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fresh-ripe-apples-on-the-treeFall is abundant with many opportunities of harvest. One such opportunity for us in the Mitten State is the bountiful apple harvest. If you live in Michigan, it’s no secret that apples are very prolific here!

Even without your own orchard or even your own tree, there are apples to be had alongside country roads and often people will give them away for free! Apples can be found in virtually every part of Michigan, and it’s a wonderful opportunity to take advantage of at this time of year. For us, we’ve had the good fortune of buying a piece of property with a well established orchard. The last couple of years, we barely scratched the surface of the bounty, even though we made apple pies, apple sauce, and ate apples to our heart’s content.

This year is a different story. I decided I wasn’t going to let those beautiful red, green and yellow orbs of goodness go to waste. Along with collecting as many as we could for pies and sauce, we also collected for cider, and apple cider vinegar! The inspiration came to me while I was fermenting grain with whey. If grain and vegetables benefit from fermentation, so can apples, and it’s an age old process that preserves the apple harvest for months or even years.

Hard apple cider is made simply by allowing raw apple cider from freshly pressed apples to ferment. Don’t let the simplicity of the thing fool you, however. Good hard apple cider is difficult to get right. The cider is traditionally fermented in oak barrels, but it has been problematic due to the inherent leakiness of wooden barrels, and our current divorce from using wood anything. We’ve used glass fermenting jars. The fermentation process will occur regardless of any added culture. Wild cultures that are naturally present in the apple will ferment the cider just as well as the purified strains from the store. The only problem with wild cultures is, you’re not sure what you’re getting! If you’re not much of a gambler, you can always add a yeast killer, wait a few days (the appropriate length of time should be described in the directions), and add a known culture. If vinegar is your end goal, the wild cultures will do just fine. A cider maker may also choose to add sugar or honey or some other sweetener to boost the end alcohol content. For vinegar, adding sugar will make a more acidic end product.

The cider will go through two stages; aerobic and anaerobic fermentation. During the first aerobic stage, the cider will froth and foam – it is casting off impurities, and the cider maker should be sure to keep the fermentation vessel clean during this time. He should also take care to keep the top covered. Even though this is is an aerobic process, the cider maker will not want wild yeasts and dust to prematurely spoil the cider. When the foaming subsides, an air lock can be placed over the opening so that the anaerobic process can begin. You will notice that during this stage, there will be lots of bubbles from the yeast fermentation process. You know that the cider is near finished when the bubbles slow or completely stop. The actual amount of time it takes completely depends on the blend of apples, their ripeness, sweetness, and if any sugar or sweetener was added.

Apple cider vinegar is easy to make. First you have to make hard apple cider, described above. If you aren’t interested in drinking the hard cider, it doesn’t really matter how well it turns out, because either way it will turn to acid vinegar. The hard cider is simply allowed to remain in open air, so that the alcohol can be converted to acetic acid. The cider maker may add a bit of previous apple cider vinegar to the mix to speed the process. Raw apple cider vinegar will grow a ‘mother’- a cloudy yeast complex that floats around in your cider. This is normal. Stir it twice daily, and test your vinegar after about a week. If it has reached a desirable acidity level, simply pour it into clean storage containers such as glass canning jars, seal it, and keep it in a cool, dark place. Vinegar will last indefinitely, but it may get stronger over time. If your vinegar turns too strong, dilute it with water to taste.

The amount of apples needed to make cider is not very large. This depends on the type of apples and also their ripeness. The taste of the cider and vinegar will also depend on the type of apples. Optimally, one would want some sweet, some tangy, and some bitter apples to round out the flavor. For our first try, we were able to obtain a few different varieties. The process is still underway, as fermentation takes time. But our liquid gold is bubbling away, and we’re eager to try it!


Thanks to Michelle Maier for participating in the [Grow] Network Writing Contest.

We have over $2,097 in prizes lined up for the Fall 2015 Writing Contest, including all of the following:

– A 21.5 quart pressure canner from All American, a $382 value
– A Survival Still emergency water purification still, a $288 value
– 1 free 1 year membership in the [Grow] Network Core Community, a $239 value
– A Worm Factory 360 vermicomposting system from Nature’s Footprint, a $128 value
– 2 large heirloom seed collections from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds, valued at $103 each
– A Metro-Grower Elite sub-irrigation growing container from Nature’s Footprint, a $69 value
– 2 copies of the complete Home Grown Food Summit, valued at $67 each
– 3 free 3 month memberships in the [Grow] Network Core Community, valued at $59 each
– 4 copies of the Grow Your Own Groceries DVD video set, valued at $43 each
– A Bug Out Seed Kit from the Sustainable Seed Company, a $46 value
– 4 copies of the Alternatives To Dentists DVD video, valued at $33 each
– 4 copies of the Greenhouse of the Future DVD and eBook, valued at $31 each

 

(Infographic) The Nutrition of Mental Health

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brain-foodLast year, my wife and I read The Happiness Diet by Tyler Graham and Drew Ramsey. The book was pretty good, and since reading it we have been much more conscious about eating the right foods to feed our brains. All of the changes we’ve made as a result have been simple, and most of them have been delicious! We eat a lot of smoothies, and a few simple additions to our regular recipes have been keeping our brains pretty happy.

Honestly, if you’re already on-board with eating an organic whole foods diet – there probably isn’t anything here that’s going to shock you. The gist of the book is to avoid processed foods, mind your minerals, avoid refined sugars, eat really good meat, and so on. But there is a wealth of information about various vitamins and minerals, and exactly why they’re needed by your body and brain.

I came across this infographic that has similar information, neatly condensed for a quick read, and I thought I’d pass it along. Take a look, and see if there’s an easy change you can make in your own diet that might help you get your brain in better shape.

This just might help you get through next Monday with a smile on your face…

the-nutrition-of-mental-health


Many thanks to www.bestmastersincounseling.com for sharing this free resource. You can see the original posting here.

 

23,000 People Will Die This Year… And Never See Their Killer Coming

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How to Survive the End of Modern Healthcare As We Know It

hospital-surgical-teamAcross the United States, 23,000 people will die in the next 365 days.

And they’ll never see their killer coming.

Many of them will walk into their local hospital, expecting treatment for minor injuries like cuts or breaks… or routine procedures like colonoscopies or caesarean sections or day surgeries.

And they’ll never walk out.

Superbugs, stronger than any antibiotic we can throw at them, are spreading faster than we have the capacity to fight back. 2 million people will be infected in the United States this year alone. 23,000 will die.

And similar death tolls are being reported around the world:

25,000 in Europe this year.

With an estimated 10 million deaths per year, globally, predicted by 2050 — more than the current global death totals from cancer.

The situation has become so grim that in October 2015, the World Health Organization declared it “a global health crisis… the end of modern medicine as we know it.”

The End of Modern Medicine As We Know It

The glory days of antibiotics are over.

Since penicillin was first prescribed 73 years ago, it has saved millions of lives.

But now it’s clear, thanks to the unrestrained use of antibiotics, we’ve unwittingly helped nature breed dangerous strains of superbugs that are, quite literally, killing us.

Our medical system is being driven back to the late 1800s – a time when simple infections kill. And health experts around the globe are beginning to panic, as they’re being backed into corners by strains of superbugs now immune to all known antibiotic treatments.

Doctors are being forced to cut out infections, amputate, and, in worst case scenarios, watch their patients die slow, agonizing deaths.

In October 2015, the World Health Organization went boldly on record, saying:

“With few replacement products in the pipeline, the world is heading towards a post-antibiotic era in which common infections will once against kill.”

– Dr. Margaret Chan, Director-General, WHO

Antibiotics have been prescribed as blanket cure-alls by doctors… demanded and popped like candy by the general populace for every sniffle, ache, and pain… and wildly abused by the agriculture industry to boost profits.

And now the human race will pay the ultimate price for our heedless arrogance.

Mother Nature Always Wins

It’s survival of the fittest, a battle being waged at the microscopic level.

And right now, Mother Nature is winning.

All because bacteria, hundreds of millions of years old, evolve far too fast for medical science to keep up.

Multi-year clinical trials of new antibiotics are laughable when battling a bacterial enemy that can exponentially reproduce in as little as four minutes.

How do you fight back against a single bacteria that can multiply to one million cells in as little as seven hours? Passing along resistant traits to offspring with each new generation?

More frightening still, scientists are seeing bacteria pass resistant traits between completely unrelated strains like trading cards. (Imagine a chameleon passing its survival skills to a monkey, and vice versa — in a single generation.)

Bacteria are even arming against antibiotic threats they haven’t encountered yet!

The ongoing use and abuse of antibiotics is quite literally teaching bacteria how to thrive in the presence of new antibiotics – creating superbugs. And now, too late, health and disease control organizations from around the world are sounding the alarm. Because too many of our medical advances are wholly dependent on antibiotics to fight and prevent infection.

Lifesaving surgeries. Organ transplants. Chemotherapy.

Death rates are predicted to skyrocket. Treatment options are vanishing.

The Spreading Plague of Superbugs

Every day, you’ll find new reports of superbugs snuffing out lives.

The stories all sound eerily similar: a mom or child or friend goes to the doctor for routine medical care… becomes infected by a superbug… finds themselves fighting for their life… and, too often, loses the battle.

A few recent stories include:

“Melbourne footballer survives rare superbug which ‘ate’ his legs.”
(Oct 19, 2015; 9NEWS.com.au)

“Superbug infection greatest increase in children ages 1-5”
(Oct 20, 2015; Rush University Medical Center)

“Surge in the number of cases of terrifying hospital superbug after NHS relaxes hygiene rules”
(Sept 27, 2015; DailyMail.co.uk)

“‘Superbug’ Infection Could Cost NY Giants Player His Foot”
(Oct 13, 2015; Scientific American)

“Patient Infected With Superbug At Local Hospital Speaks Of His Ordeal”
(Sept 21, 2015; CBS Los Angeles)

“Superbug Virus 2015: CDC Warns Of New Antibiotic-Resistant Infection, An Emerging Threat”
(Oct 7, 2015; Parent Herald)

… The safety net of modern health care is clearly at risk.

Take, for example, urinary tract infections (UTIs).

Getting a UTI used to be “no big deal.” You’d get a diagnosis from your doctor, take the prescribed drug, and within 48 hours you’d be back to normal. Within a week you were usually cured.

No longer.

UTIs are quickly becoming resistant to most standard antibiotic treatments. Which means they’re resulting in life-threatening kidney infections… with deadly results.

Other common superbugs that are rapidly spreading include:

MRSA, an antibiotic-resistant form of Staph. Known to cause pneumonia and life-threatening blood infections, MRSA is easily picked up by patients in hospitals and care facilities. Controlling the spread is challenging.
CRE (Carbapenem-resistant Enterbacteriaceae). According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it kills almost 50% of hospital patients infected.
C. diff (Clostridium difficile). It causes debilitating diarrhea, can eat through a patient’s bowels, and causes blood poisoning. C. diff spreads easily on bed rails, furniture, toilets, bedpans weight scales, medical equipment, etc.
Shigella is a highly contagious bacteria brought back to the US by overseas travelers that’s now resistant to multiple strains of antibiotics. It easily spreads in public facilities — like pools.
• An extensively drug-resistant form of highly contagious Tuberculosis (MDR-TB) has been identified in over 100 countries, in all regions of the world.
• A drug-resistant form of Malaria is threatening to outpace global efforts to control an outbreak.

And these are just a handful of the better-known risks.

The list of superbugs with limited treatment options is growing. Quickly.

The Cavalry Isn’t Coming

And unfortunately, there’s no hero on the horizon to save us.

It’s expensive to develop new antibiotics. It takes roughly 20 years to see a return on the investment, and some of these new drugs work for as little as six months before bacteria develop a resistance.

So it should come as no surprise, fewer and fewer drug companies are investing in antibiotic research and development.

Scientists are becoming increasingly concerned and pressuring governments to “do something.” So governments are trying to incentivize drug companies to “please take another look” with cash injections. But it’s business. And the few corporations willing to take the bribes aren’t moving fast enough.

Roughly 50 new drugs were introduced in the 80s and 90s. Now, there are very few in the pipeline. And most drugs introduced since the year 2000 are modified versions of existing drugs, not new drugs.

Plus, changes aren’t happening fast enough, on a global scale, to stem the tide of growing antibiotic resistance.

As the World Health Organization has pointed out, we’re not reacting fast enough, on a global scale, to contain the spread of superbugs and antimicrobial resistance.

The bacteria spread too easily, through poor sanitation, human error, inappropriate food handling, and more.

At the most recent World Health Assembly held in Geneva (May 2015), the problem was declared:

“A profound threat to human health.”

This is, no doubt, an understatement.

Learn To Save Yourself… And The Ones You Love

So how do you protect yourself?

And prepare for the predicted post-antibiotic era?

There are a few steps you can take:

1. Avoid the unnecessary use of antibiotics.
This should go without saying… But don’t contribute to the global problem by using antibiotics if there is another treatment option available. Be proactive. Let your doctor know that you are concerned about antibacterial resistance. Encourage sparing use of prescription of drugs. Be part of the solution!

2. Avoid purchasing meat treated with antibiotics.
The overuse of antibiotics by large-scale livestock operations continues to be the largest single abuse of antibiotics worldwide. And while some will have you believe their meat, sold in stores, is free of antibiotics, this doesn’t address the issue that livestock treated with antibiotics contributes to the global problem of antibiotic resistance.

(Plus you should be aware, in August 2015, a test by Consumer Reports showed that 18% of conventionally raised ground beef, purchased at stores across the United States, was tainted with bacteria resistant to three or more classes of antibiotics.)

What’s the solution? Eat less meat. Raise your own meat. And when this isn’t practical, purchase locally where you can ask questions about the use of antibiotics.

And if you’re a vegetarian, be aware that produce grown in animal manure from farms where antibiotics are administered may be contaminated with antibiotic resistant bacteria, too.

3. Pay attention to where your food and water is coming from.
Scientists are sounding the alarm, with recent evidence that our wastewater treatment plants may be a primary breeding ground for resistant bacteria.

Antibiotics expelled from humans as well as farm run off create a survival-of-the-fittest scenario where superbugs can share resistant traits.

So pay close attention to where your food and water is coming from:

Where is the fertilizer used on your produce sourced? Did you know that “sludge” from wastewater treatment plants is being used as fertilizer for agriculture crops?
What’s the water source? Again, water from rivers downstream of wastewater treatment plants is shown to be contaminated with antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

Wastewater treatment plants are a primary source of antibiotic release!

4. Stay away from healthcare facilities where superbugs breed.
Hospitals, doctors’ offices, care homes, and other patient intake facilities are the perfect breeding ground for superbugs. Human error and carelessness spreads bacteria within these facilities at an alarming rate.

Avoid unnecessary exposure to bacteria in these facilities!

This means not rushing into the doctor’s office at the first sign of a sniffle. Give your body’s immune system a chance to fight off the infection – without drugs.

And STAY HEALTHY. Eat clean, unprocessed, local foods. Move your body. Remember, the healthcare system that kept your parents and grandparents alive will look very different as you age.

(DISCLAIMER: Use common sense. If you’re having a serious medical emergency, a hospital visit may mean the difference between life and death.)

5. Most important…

Learn to treat yourself with herbal medicine!

herbal-remedies-as-an-alternative-to-antibioticsWith major health organizations predicting death and disease levels comparable to those in the 1800s as superbugs continue to spread around the world, we need to be prepared to look after ourselves.

This is when knowledge of herbal medicine once again becomes priceless.

Because while it’s easy for bacteria to evolve and develop a resistance to single-compound antibiotics, it’s much harder for the same bacteria to outmaneuver the more complex compounds found in herbs.

In herbals you’ll find between 200 and 2000 different compounds working together!

Plants have evolved over hundreds of millions of years with their own combinations of antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral and insecticidal compounds.

So it only makes sense…

… Ancient wisdom that uses combinations of natural herbals to treat infection can, in fact, be more effective than single-compound or even multi-compound antibiotics!

And it’s for this reason, a group of us connected via The [GROW] Network are currently collaborating with some of the most knowledgeable herbalists in the United States to produce a lifesaving video series…

… To teach people without any medical training how to treat common illnesses and injuries with herbal alternatives to antibiotics.

And empower you!

So that before death comes knocking…

And before you are backed into a corner and forced to take someone you love into a superbug-plagued hospital because you didn’t know what to do…

… You’ll have learned the secrets to using Mother Nature’s natural antibiotics and remedies to confidently treat simple health concerns at home. With herbals found or grown in your own neighborhood. Or, purchased from a local herbalist.

If you’re interested, you can watch a preview of the movie here:

Watch The Movie Trailer: “Treating Infections Without Antibiotics”

We’re offering a series of generous gifts as “thank yous” to people who support our early efforts via this Indiegogo release.


Sources for this article include:

Antibacterial R&D Incentives
http://www.who.int/phi/implementation/antibacterial_research_development_incentives.pdf

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: HAI Prevalence Study
http://www.cdc.gov/HAI/surveillance/

Cleaning up a breeding ground for antimicrobial resistance
http://www.buffalo.edu/news/releases/2015/10/023.html

European Medicines Agency: Antimicrobial resistance
http://www.ema.europa.eu/ema/index.jsp?curl=pages/special_topics/general/general_content_000439.jsp

Global Antimicrobial Resistance Surveillance System: Manual for Early Implementation
http://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/10665/188783/1/9789241549400_eng.pdf?ua=1

How Safe Is Your Ground Beef?
http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/food/how-safe-is-your-ground-beef

Insights into Antibiotic Resistance Through Metagenomic Approaches
http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/756378_8

Jim O’Neill: Why antimicrobial resistance needs to be reviewed
http://www.cctv-america.com/2015/10/12/jim-oneill-why-antimicrobial-resistance-needs-to-be-reviewed

Just How Fast Can Bacteria Grow? It Depends. Proteomics Data Validate Model of Bacterial Growth
http://www.pnnl.gov/science/highlights/highlight.asp?id=879

Microbial Reproduction
http://www.microbeworld.org/interesting-facts/microbial-reproduction

Multidrug-resistant Shigellosis Spreading in the United States
http://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2015/p0402-multidrug-resistant-shigellosis.html

New Superbug Infection Spikes Worry Nursing Homes, CDC
http://cnsmaryland.org/2015/10/02/new-superbug-infection-spikes-worry-nursing-homes-cdc/

Origins and Evolution of Antibiotic Resistance
http://mmbr.asm.org/content/74/3/417.full

Taking on the Superbugs
http://www.nytimes.com/2015/10/20/business/energy-environment/taking-on-the-superbugs-antibiotics.html

The Coming Cost of Superbugs: 10 Million Deaths Per Year
http://www.wired.com/2014/12/oneill-rpt-amr/

The evolving threat of antimicrobial resistance: Options for action
http://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/10665/75389/1/WHO_IER_PSP_2012.2_eng.pdf?ua=1

The Rise of Superbugs
http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/health/the-rise-of-superbugs/index.htm

UTIs Are Getting Tougher To Treat
http://www.webmd.com/women/news/20150429/uti-antibiotic-resistance

White House announces plan to fight antibiotic-resistant bacteria
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/to-your-health/wp/2015/03/27/white-house-announces-plan-to-fight-antibiotic-resistant-bacteria/

WHO Director-General addresses G7 health ministers meeting on antimicrobial resistance
http://www.who.int/dg/speeches/2015/g7-antimicrobial-resistance/en/

 

How to Grow (or Buy) Healthy Food – Chapter 10

Click here to view the original post.

The [Grow] Network is pleased to publish Colin Austin’s 10 part series, How to Grow (or Buy) Healthy Food. This article is Chapter 10 of 10. You can read the other chapters here:

Chapter 1 – Diet and Health, a Personal Experience
Chapter 2 – Statistics and the Diet Controversy
Chapter 3 – Eat Right, Not Less
Chapter 4 – Finding a Diet by Self-Experimentation
Chapter 5 – Essential Nutrients for Good Health
Chapter 6 – The What and Where of Minerals
Chapter 7 – The Rhizosphere
Chapter 8 – Transferring Nutrients and Biology to Growing Beds
Chapter 9 – From Garden to Kitchen
Chapter 10 – Community Action


Chapter 10 – Community Action
colin-and-xiulanWe have talked about the technology of growing plants which are healthy for us. But we are not finished.

What’s to Come in Chapter 10
Only the super human can grow all the plants they need on schedule, and some people cannot grow at all, so we discuss the social issues of health and buying and sharing food.

Buying Healthy Plants

I refuse to believe that I am the only person on the face of the earth who is disorganized and fails to produce a continuous stream of plants just ready for picking. I also refuse to believe that I am the only person who has a finite brain and just does not have the expertise to grow all the range of plants and herbs, each with their own specialist horticultural protocol that they would like to eat.

But the current imbalanced diet – too much energy – not enough nutrients – is causing the number one health problem globally and many people cannot even think about growing food as an alternative.

The obvious solution is simply to go out and buy what you can’t grow – but where to go?

Supermarkets are very good at what they do – which is to make money. There is no secret on how to make money – buy as cheap as possible (which they can do by squeezing the grower) and sell at as high a price as you can get – which they do by high pressure advertising and branding. And they sell as much as they can.

I am not saying this is criminal or unethical – their job is to make money. If they don’t maximize profits they will be penalized by the financial establishment who have zero concern for my health – these are the rules of the society we live in.

I live in a horticultural area and I have gotten to know many of the local growers. I prefer shopping in the local market rather than the hassle of a supermarket.

I feel moderately comfortable with what they have to offer. They are also pretty straight dealers. I once just mentioned in passing that the watermelon I bought last week was a bit overripe – just chatting really – so he knew he needed to pick a bit earlier. He immediately gave me a new one; no receipt, no argument – that does not happen in supermarkets.

Xiulan loves markets; they are a form of entertainment for her. She demonstrates her Chinese heritage by being a master bargainer – sometimes embarrassingly so – I tell the stall holder to raise the prices when they see us coming so she can bargain them down.

Buying at the local market is a good start and I guess I am luckier than most – but I want to go further. I am convinced that the root to healthy food starts in the soil (excuse the pun) so I ask myself how I could solve the problem of wanting to buy plants knowing for sure that they been grown in nutrient-rich soil.

I don’t think I am alone in this, although I am better placed than most people because I have a large block and don’t have to go out to work. There must be millions of people around the world who for reasons of time, space, and knowhow simply cannot grow the food they would like but would still like to buy nutrient-rich plants which means they are grown in nutrient-rich soil.

Another twist to this problem is that eating fresh is so much healthier and tastier. If food is picked and eaten straight from the plant it just taste so much nicer.

Peas are the classic example. Eating a pea straight out of the pod within minutes of picking is just a totally different experience that unfortunately many people just don’t have.

Wicking Baskets

My aim in developing wicking baskets was to give people the benefit of eating fresh home grown produce without having to do all the work of growing everything themselves.

Wicking baskets are just like a small wicking bed. They are simply filled with nutritious soil (Wickimix) which sits in a bucket which acts as a water reservoir.

However the idea behind wicking baskets is much broader than a simple wicking bed. A commercial grower could grow plants to maturity either in multiple wicking baskets or in a mother bed.

When mature, the basket can then be passed on to a customer who can then pick fresh vegetables as needed. I use the chop and chew method, just pruning the outside leaves and letting new leaves shoot. A plant can be a productive source of food for many months with this system.

However when the plant is finally exhausted the customer can get a refill basket from the grower.

I use wicking baskets extensively, even though I have a large block. The reason stems from my state of disorganization.

I am daily surprised that at night time it gets dark (some people are very slow learners) and realize that I have forgotten to go down the block to pick my vegetables for dinner. Having a few wicking baskets sitting on my veranda gives me an immediate source of vegetables without having to run down to the garden in my underpants (or worse – it gets hot in Queensland).

Of course wicking baskets could be used as a primary source of production, but the quantity of vegetables that can be grown all the way from seed is limited. However they can provide a valuable source of nutrients, growing plants like water cress and herbs.

Motivation

I have put a great deal of effort into studying diet and particularly how to grow healthy food. Obviously helping Xiulan has been the primary motivation, and thankfully her health has improved dramatically as she eats a more healthy diet.

The rate of increase in diabetes is just staggering. It’s not just the numbers of people who are already diabetic – the really scary statistic is the rapid increase in the number of people who are pre-diabetic. This is not just a problem for Xiulan and me – there are already nearly a billion people around the world that are already diabetic – and the number is going up daily.

I have the technology which I know can help – at least for Xiulan and me – but how do I spread this technology? I feel I need to do what I can to help – but how?

I realise that many groups are already cooperating with growing healthy food – but only on a small scale. I would like to see this expand across the globe in the way that wicking bed technology has spread simply by people spreading the word on the internet, whether by websites, blogs, or social media.

The system of Creative Commons gives us a mechanism for this to happen, but in a much more controlled way than happened with wicking beds.

The Punch Line

We can take some things as undisputed scientific facts:

1) The body needs energy or fuel, it gets this from sugars and carbohydrates, generating energy by burning carbon and hydrogen.
2) The body needs certain chemicals, which it cannot manufacture itself, so we must eat. These are vitamins, 13 of which are undisputed (but up to 27 have been reported in the literature).
3) Plants produce a whole range of phytochemicals which have been scientifically identified, but we are not sure exactly what role they play in our health – but they seem critical.
4) Our bodies need various food in addition to fuel to regenerate our body parts.
5) The world is suffering from a major health crisis as a result of poor diet.

Despite any negative comments I make – the modern food industry actually produces an abundant quantity of energy food at low cost – but it is lacking in vitamins and phytonutrients.

I built a successful career based on examining scientific evidence and where scientific evidence was lacking or debatable still coming up with practical solutions that worked. This is called a ‘working hypothesis.’

My working hypothesis is that these phytonutrients are essential for health, if they are not in our diet our bodies senses the lack – we feel hungry and tend to pig out on high energy – low nutrient – food. Diabetes here we come!

This is what I call the hungry beast inside.

This may be a working hypothesis, but I have tested it out using myself as a guinea pig – I eat until I feel full and generally feel satisfied between meals – I feel my energy level for my age is good and although my weight may be marginally above ideal it is stable.

Working on the basis of a considered evaluation of available data (as opposed to undisputed scientific fact), I feel confident in promoting this approach to diet as the best available solution to the global metabolic syndrome problem.

My solution is that people should supplement their diet with a variety of plants grown in nutritious soil with a full range of minerals and trace elements and with an active soil biology to make the minerals available to the plants.

I have tried to illustrate the basic principles that I use to grow plants with these essential phytonutrients.

While is does take more effort in growing, I can see this being practical for some people who have land and time to grow their own high nutrient food with these essential phytonutrients. I see this as practical because they only have to grow enough additional food to supplement their diet. I see no point in them trying to replace the high energy food which forms the bulk of food intake and which can be readily purchased.

However I realise that many, if not the majority of people may find this impractical because they lack space, time or skills. There needs to be an alternative solution for these people.

I cannot see the traditional massive food system – dominated by short term profits – producing this high nutrient food – they are the cause of the problem.

But I can see a community action developing where people are motivated by ethics and providing a genuine service, rather than dominated by profits. Naturally, members of the community need to cover their costs if they are volunteering their efforts, but there is an opportunity for businesses to make reasonable profits – but it should not be the dominating motive. I am still naive enough to believe in ethical business.

This would need appropriate awareness within the community of the importance of phytonutrients, and the cooperation of home growers and ethically orientated commercial growers to supply the food.

A Community Project

One of the first jobs in creating this community action is getting the message out.

Before Xiulan was diagnosed with diabetes I really did not know much about it – I was ignorant. When it got the point that she looked as though they may have to amputate her foot I realized what a terrible disease it is. Diabetes is the most common cause of amputations and blindness and a poor diet lacking in nutrients is a major part of the problem.

I should at least make an effort to get the message out – but how? I know the number of people googling ‘rhizosphere and diabetes’ is going to be pretty small so I am not going to achieve that much by myself. Simply putting these – and the many articles I write – up on the web won’t have the needed impact. It just gets drowned out by the noise on the web and the desire for a three second sound byte.

But I look back to the wicking bed story. Probably very few people using wicking beds are even aware of my web site, they have just learned about it second, third or fourth hand. It is a little unfortunate that the message got a little scrambled but it is great that they at least got the basic message.

Since my original publications, the system of creative commons has evolved. I am not sure whether people really appreciate the significance of creative commons but it is a major development allowing people who have creative ideas to cooperate with others on community based projects.

I cannot do it myself but I can ask people reading this to take action. This could be as simple as telling friends and referring them to my website, putting the message on Facebook or whatever social media they use, if they run a website to put it on their site and if they are master filmmakers to put it on YouTube or similar sites. This cost virtually nothing and all I ask is to follow the principle of creative commons.

Let us learn from experience with wicking beds – many people have been involved with wicking bed technology – members of our Eco-community and all those people who send me emails often with excellent ideas and information. The ideas are not all mine but I accumulate information and use my website as a central source of information. I am happy to adopt a similar role in centralizing information on growing healthy food.

Delivering the Goodies

Once we have got the message out there – people are going to ask, “where can I buy this high nutrient food and how can I be sure that it really is high nutrient and not some marketing scam?”

Home Growers
I know from my experience that I often end up with surplus food that I would prefer to pass on rather than put back into my composting system (however much I love it). This must be happening all over the world so why not benefit from this by selling (or giving away if you prefer) this surplus produce.

I know that this happens already – when I have a surplus, I often just give it to my friends and they give to me when they have a surplus. But this is the age of the internet – why not do this on a bigger scale – using the internet as a medium for creating new contacts.

Commercial Growers
But I do not see this as limited to the home gardener. I live in a horticultural region and I know that many of these growers are decent honest people trying to earn a living by selling healthy food. I know that many of these growers are being squeezed by the big supermarkets and would welcome an alternative.

Again the internet provides a mechanism. Even if they are selling at the local market, it is more convenient for both customer and grower to have orders placed online for pick up at the market. Additionally there are growers’ groups who are already running a home delivery service.

What is currently missing is a way for the customer to be sure that the plants are grown in nutrient-rich biologically active soil. This would require some system of certification but would undoubtedly benefit customer and grower. If there is the interest from growers I can set up such a system.

The Community Bulletin Board at healthyfoodassociation.com

The internet has changed the world we live in by providing a global means of communication.

I have set up a website at www.healtyfoodassiocation.com which is essentially a free bulletin board. At this moment it is just a trial to learn peoples’ reactions but it can be refined as needed. The idea is simply to create a free bulletin board where growers and buyers can post and make contact.

Growers producing healthy food can post that they have their product available, this is a non-trading non-commercial web site – anyone interested in buying the produce can then contact the grower directly and arrange whatever commercial and delivery arrangement suits them. This could be either direct contact or at a local market.

This is a totally free website where growers can post information on the produce they have available and promote their expertise in growing healthy regeneration food. It aims to bring consumers and growers together free of commercial hype so people can avoid the drama that Xiulan and I have been through.

Certification

I anticipate that customers will be looking for some sort of assurance that the plants really are grown in nutritious biologically active soil. At this moment I am waiting to see how these ideas float with growers but I see that a system could be set up where growers could use a name such as ‘Grown in Wickimix®’ so they can promote that the produce is grown in this nutrient-rich soil.

This would be a system somewhat similar to organic produce. Many certified organic growers may use this system but there would be an additional emphasis on the nutritional value of the soil in addition to avoiding the use of toxic sprays.

Author’s Plea

fad-diets-dont-workIn this series I have tried to give useful information about diet and health – I hope this benefits the home grower and dedicated growers. However there are billions of people around the globe who are suffering from poor health from eating unhealthy highly processed foods – high in calories but low in critical nutrients. I make a plea for community action to make healthy food readily available to anyone concerned about their health – whether they are gardeners or not.

If you are sympathetic to this aim, please contact me at colinaustin@bigpond.com.


Chapter 1 – Diet and Health, a Personal Experience
Chapter 2 – Statistics and the Diet Controversy
Chapter 3 – Eat Right, Not Less
Chapter 4 – Finding a Diet by Self-Experimentation
Chapter 5 – Essential Nutrients for Good Health
Chapter 6 – The What and Where of Minerals
Chapter 7 – The Rhizosphere
Chapter 8 – Transferring Nutrients and Biology to Growing Beds
Chapter 9 – From Garden to Kitchen
Chapter 10 – Community Action

© 28 July 2015 Colin Austin – Creative Commons – This document may be reproduced but the source should be acknowledged. Information may be used for private use but commercial use requires a license.

 

How to Grow (or Buy) Healthy Food – Chapter 9

Click here to view the original post.

The [Grow] Network is pleased to publish Colin Austin’s 10 part series, How to Grow (or Buy) Healthy Food. This article is Chapter 9 of 10. You can read the other chapters here:

Chapter 1 – Diet and Health, a Personal Experience
Chapter 2 – Statistics and the Diet Controversy
Chapter 3 – Eat Right, Not Less
Chapter 4 – Finding a Diet by Self-Experimentation
Chapter 5 – Essential Nutrients for Good Health
Chapter 6 – The What and Where of Minerals
Chapter 7 – The Rhizosphere
Chapter 8 – Transferring Nutrients and Biology to Growing Beds
Chapter 9 – From Garden to Kitchen
• Coming Soon – Chapter 10 – Community Action


Chapter 9 – From Garden to Kitchen
colin-and-xiulanWe have reached the point where we are growing plants – maybe in wicking or sponge beds.

What’s to Come in Chapter 9
Now we have to have a little chat about soils and how they actually work. Then a little discussion on the tricks I use to overcome my disorganization and lack of cooking skills.

Surface Chemistry

Soils look so simple – just a pile of dirt but as it is the year of the soil we must acknowledge the complexity of soils. We may start with the minerals in the soil, then follow up introducing the soil biology to release the nutrients but the next role of soil is to hold onto the nutrients.

This is done by surface chemistry; we need to have a soil surface which can hold onto the nutrients. It’s even better if the soil has a large surface area. Clay fills both roles very well, but is only needed in small quantities in the mix.

Vermiculite is another material I use which has a large surface area with the right surface chemistry to hold onto nutrients until needed by the plants.

Hydrophilic and Hydrophobic
But with wicking bed soil we need two fundamental features – the soil must wick, which is a question of surface chemistry, particle size, and porosity.

Soils can be either hydrophilic e.g. water loving which is exactly what we want in a wicking soil or it can be hydrophobic which means it repels water.

This combination of the chemistry of the soil particles themselves and how they are coated by the bugs is what holds the nutrients.

For example, sand is naturally hydrophilic which makes it a good material for wicking, however if it develops a waxy coating – as often happens in sandy soils under gum trees – it can become hydrophobic and useless as a wicking bed soil.

Many types of compost are hydrophilic and make good wicking soils but one of the best materials is roots, which have naturally evolved as nature’s water transport system.

I take advantage of this property by seeding my baskets so while they are being inoculated with the soil biology they are also developing a root mass with a very high wicking capacity.

Porosity
Another major difference between a conventional and wicking soil is porosity. Conventional soils need some porosity to provide drainage but if they are too porous any water just flows straight through and is lost (often with the nutrients).

In a wicking bed, the bulk of the water is stored in the soil itself. In recent work carried out by Peter Van Beek (www.easygrowvegetables.net) he measured the water holding capacity of various soils, sand and stone mixes. He found that good soils can hold more water than the stone or sand mixes which are often used in the base of wicking beds. He found that the void content of soils could be over 50%. I have used his method to measure the water holding capacity of my mix at over 60%. Basically it is full of holes.

I call the soil which has been prepared this way and inoculated with biology Wickimix®.

What Plants to Grow

You may be expecting me to go into detail on all the types of plants which you could grow.

Well I do grow a lot of Chinese style vegetables, cabbage, Bok choi, mustard greens, etc.

I know that there are various classifications for the nutrient content of plants – usually topped by kale – but I think that if you have genuinely healthy soil then any plant will be both nutritious and grow easily.

My aim is variety.

Helping Out Messy Man
I have to admit that I am more than a bit disorganised. I could claim that I travel a lot and can’t always be available to put in the seeds when I should to ensure a continuous supply of vegetables – but the fact is I am an experimenter – that is my focus so more often than not I either have a total surplus of some plant because I tried four different methods of growing and they all worked and provided an excess that I have no hope of eating – or conversely they all fail and I have nothing.

So I have developed some good friends in the vegetable world to overcome my disorganization.

The first three are staples – Kang Kong, purple amaranth and Egyptian spinach. They grow so well in my area that they could almost be considered weeds but they have helped me over a bad patch more than once.

The other cover for my disorganisation is baby greens. These are a little more mature than shoots or micro-greens but have more body. So if see I am going to run out of vegetables I simply seed a fresh wicking basket to quickly grow some baby veggies.

I just cover the entire basket with seeds and within a couple of weeks or so the baby greens will start to be big enough to eat – later I can transplant them from the baskets to full scale wicking beds.

Cooking and My Lack of Culinary Arts

I would rank amongst the world’s worst cooks, so I should not be giving culinary advice – but I will make a few comments. I once went onto a strict vegan diet. This was essentially a no fat diet. At first I felt good but as the weeks went by I turned into Mr. Notsohappy. You can get awfully fed up with steamed cabbage. I felt hungry and started to get cravings. I began to think about the old joke that giving up wine, women, and song does not make you live longer – it just makes it seem longer.

I wanted to stay on a largely vegetarian diet but as I read about how fat slowed down the speed of digestion I decided that I should experiment with a certain amount of fat in my diet.

I tried to get maximum variety in my diet but for now I will focus on what has become almost a staple, not every day but frequently. Previously, I had been almost exclusively steaming with no fat. Now I started to fry my vegetables in olive oil. But in addition I would put a few pieces of Chinese sausage in with the vegetables.

I have no idea what they put in those sausages but they really are tasty. The fat and flavoring would transfer to the vegetables and made an immense improvement to their flavor. I would then add apple vinegar, maybe some soya sauce and a good old dose of spices. This was a big improvement but the stock was watery and really not so nice.

I then added thickening to make a richer gravy. I used a variety of thickening agents some commercial but many times flour, maybe semolina, sometimes good old fashioned oats or one of the many grains that are widely available.

This was an immense improvement in terms of pleasure in eating and how I felt – but there was still something missing. I though it may be a vitamin B12 deficiency and started to eat a lot more vegemite (actually Dick Smiths Ozimite). Again a bit better, but then I discovered malt extract.

I started to add this to milk drinks (soya milk) and tea (I drink Chinese green tea). I actually felt full for the first time in a long while and the craving disappeared.