Sunday, August 13, 2006

More on Weston A. Price/Nourishing Traditions

In my last post, I mentioned that the traditional cultures studied by Weston A. Price valued animal products. (By the way, Dr. Price studied 14 cultures, not 11, as I said yesterday.) There were other important foods or food preparation methods that Dr. Price identified - these foods and methods are just as important as adding the animal foods. I've discussed these below.

First, a few of my thoughts. If you continue to eat the Standard American Diet (SAD) - white flour products, vegetable oils, sugar, large amounts of grocery store meat, & junk food, I'm not sure it would be best to add a lot more fatty animal products to your diet. I know that raw milk/dairy, pastured eggs & meats, & coconut/palm oil are healthy nutrient-dense foods. But added to SAD, I'm not sure if they will do more good or harm. I struggle with this myself. I haven't transitioned myself to a whole-foods traditional diet. I know these are sound principles, but I struggle to find time & money to implement them.

My biggest recommendation to anyone trying to decide what kind of diet is best is to take it to the Lord in prayer. I don't think it is possible to decide using logic. You can find a thousand different diets out there, and each one says all the others are wrong. Each one has research to back it up. Sometimes you can ferrett out the inconsistencies and misrepresentations or manipulations of data, but sometimes two opposing diets both seem to make sense. If you're not religious, I'm not sure what to tell you :-)

Additional Important Foods and Preparation Methods
This article is a great starting point.

I'll summarize a few of the principles I think are important and do-able:

1.) Grains should be prepared by soaking, sprouting, or fermentation. These preparation methods "'pre-digest[s]' grains, allowing the nutrients to be more easily assimilated and metabolized" (Wheaty Indiscretions - Jen Allbritton). Sprouting begins the germination process, increases enzymatic activity, and inactivates enzyme inhibitors. Soaking neutralizes phytic acid. Oat groats can be soaked overnight in an acidic medium (water plus whey, yogurt, or lemon juice) before making oatmeal in the morning. The best bread is a traditional (no added yeast) sourdough. I have not yet been able to produce a good whole-wheat sourdough loaf, but I have an online mentor who has been successful at it. This article explains the process in detail. Bread can also be made using wheat berries that have been soaked, sprouted, dried and ground.

2.) Lacto-fermentation can be used on dairy and vegetables to "pre-digest" the foods and increase enzymatic activity. Raw milk can be used to make kefir or yogurt. Raw cream can be left out overnight and then made into delicious butter. Many vegetables can be lacto-fermented (examples are kim-chi and sauerkraut - the "traditional" versions, not the vinegary commercial versions).

3.) Bone broths should be used. Bone broths are "protein sparers" - they allow you to consume less protein than you normally would need. I like broths because they are a good way to use the whole animal. A good bone broth is made by soaking leftover bones and meat along with vegetables in cold water and 2 tablespoons of vinegar for 1 hour. Then the mixture is simmered for 24-72 hours. You can add parsley for the last 10 minutes. Then you wait for it to cool and strain it. Delicious! I have found that a slow cooker (Crock-Pot) is a perfect way to cook the broth. It doesn't heat or steam up the whole kitchen, and I feel safer leaving it on overnight than I do leaving the stove on. If you'd like to get the broth boiling quickly, start it on the stove, and then transfer it to the Crock-Pot. A bone broth made from an organic pasture-raised animal will be full of gelatin, which is very good for you. Store animals may not produce the best broth. I used to buy chickens from a farm in Houston. The farmer would leave the feet on - they were full of gelatin, although the broth looked pretty nasty with those feet floating around.

4.) Superfoods. These are not really supplements, but very nutrient-dense foods. These are things you can add to your diet now, regardless of what other changes you have made. Taking cod liver oil daily made a lot of sense to me and was very easy for me to do. We bought Carlson's brand - lemon flavored. I could take it plain, and both my kids (ages 4 and 2) also liked it plain. It is high in Omega-3's and Vitamin D, both of which nearly everyone agrees are essential.

It's a fact of my life that I really struggle with routines. My home routines are nearly non-existent. I'm working full time, and my husband is at home with the kids, so I've expected him to do all the "home" things. Homemaking is not his natural talent, so it's been difficult for him, and things just don't get done. When I come home from work, I'm too exhausted to even think about doing them. This is the main reason I haven't implemented more NT/whole/traditional foods in our diet. I've bought raw milk & pastured eggs, made broth, tried sourdough, used coconut oil and cod liver oil, and even made some lacto-fermented kim-chi once. But I haven't been able to create a weekly or monthly routine so that I can continue to do these things. Now that money is tight, I'm not using any of the foods I used to. If I can just get my routines down, I will be able to implement the inexpensive things so much easier. If I get control of the budget, I can plan for the more expensive ones. Baby steps!

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