Friday, November 30, 2012

When an Elder Dies...

"When an Elder dies, a library burns to the ground." ~Old African saying

This quote is from from an exciting book I'm reading (Deep Nutrition: Why Our Genes Need Traditional Foods), and it really has made me think about a lot of things, not just food. (Posting here my Thanks to a Reader who suggested this book!) That quote has stirred a lot in my mind relating to the things that just my grandparents and their grandparents knew, and now are lost, never mind what the earlier generations knew. My grandfather tasted the soil. How would I even begin to know what I was tasting, and what it means?

I'll be posting thoughts from time to time that have risen from my second reading of this book, but what comes to mind at this moment is longevity.

I've been hard at work (again) on my family genealogy, and I've begun to notice how many of my ancestors lived for several years past 100, and how very many lived well into their 90's full of vigor. These are people born between 1700 and 1830 who kept a milk cow, a beef and a hog or two plus chickens, raised their own vegetables, and ate a healthy homemade diet.

They cooked with lard, made loads of butter and cheese from unpasteurized milk still full of healthy enzymes, and fermented many garden vegetables (fermenting increases nutritional content) for the lean winter months. 

As mechanized food production came into being, the mortality age began to drop, and that was long before fast food and GMO's, which continue to decrease the mortality rate in spite of vaccines. Out of 25,000 people in my family database, I have only seen Diabetes as the cause of death in 2 people before 1850, and only a handful with heart complications (including cerebral hemorrhage). To be sure, there were many women who died in childbirth, and men killed in hunting accidents or while felling trees, but those were not food-related. There were also the occasional widespread outbreaks of cholera, but those too were not food related, merely a lack of immunity.

Many families in the 1700's and early 1800's had a stone grain mill at home unless there was a water gristmill within a day's travel. Those home mills were still in use into the late 1800's. (There's a name for them, but I fail to recall it. It was a homemade version of the machined stone mill above. You fed the grain through the hole in the top, and the flour emerged around the bottom ring. Beats hitting the grain with a rock!) 

If you were lucky enough to have a mill within a day's ride, you received a sack of flour in exchange for your grain, less a bit as payment to the miller. You didn't ask if it was really your grain you got back, because all grains grown then were organic and there were no toxins in the air until factories came about. I you didn't properly fertilize your garden with aged manure and what we now call compost, your grain production would be too small to mill anyway.

Water mills have been around for centuries. In England in 1086, there were over 5,000 water mills, and the much later European immigrants to this country brought the knowledge with them (along with how to brew the grains into a beverage). Water mills for grinding grains were eventually replaced by newer mechanized mills that generated heat in the milling process, destroying valuable nutrients. Even though we can purchase "stone-ground" grains today over the internet, I'd be willing to bet most of the processes generates heat.

I have been fortunate, just once, to visit a defunct but still operational neighboring water mill and have the man grind some grain for my mother and me as a favor. There must have been a hundred feet of leather "straps" connecting the water wheel via several gears to the grinding stones. 

There is a defunct water mill about 3 miles from my house. There's not much water in the creek anymore, but a good long mill race could compensate, at least seasonally, because there's a good head to the creek waters. The problem is that today no one understands (or cares) about the nutritional difference in stone-ground grains, so it would not be profitable. 

In today's society, "health" does not exist because it's not profitable. Yeah, lots of companies offer things to regain health... but do they? Only treating our ills is profitable.

Here's another interesting thought... the Scots several hundred years ago were fierce fighters, stalwart beings, and ate a diet heavy in oats. Today oats are highly recommended, but nutritionally lacking. The difference? The Scots thatched their roofs, and cooked and heated with peat fires. Every year they replaced the old thatch which was full of minerals from the smoke of winter fires, and added it to the garden where they grew oats.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Wanna Move to Peru?

Peru has officially passed a law banning genetically modified ingredients anywhere within the country for the next ten years.

In a massive blow to multinational agribiz corporations such as Monsanto, Bayer, and Dow, Peru has officially passed a law banning genetically modified ingredients anywhere within the country for a full decade before coming up for another review.

Peru’s Plenary Session of the Congress made the decision 3 years after the decree was written despite previous governmental pushes for GM legalization due largely to the pressure from farmers that together form the Parque de la Papa in Cusco, a farming community of 6,000 people that represent six communities.

They worry the introduction of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) will compromise the native species of Peru, such as the giant white corn, purple corn and, of course, the famous species of Peruvian potatoes. Anibal Huerta, President of Peru’s Agrarian Commission, said the ban was needed to prevent the ”danger that can arise from the use of biotechnology.”

While the ban will curb the planting and importation of GMOs in the country, a test conducted by the Peruvian Association of Consumers and Users (ASPEC) at the time of the ban’s implementation found that 77 percent of supermarket products tested contained GM contaminants.

Research by ASPEC confirms something that Peruvians knew all along: GM foods are on the shelves of our markets and wineries, and consumers buy them and take them into their homes to eat without knowing it. Nobody tells us, no one says anything, which involves a clear violation of our right to information,” Cáceres told Gestión. GMOs are so prevalent in the Americas that it is virtually impossible to truly and completely block them, whether through pollination or being sneaked in as processed foods.

There is an increasing consensus among consumers that they want safe, local, organic fresh food and that they want the environment and wildlife to be protected,” wrote Walter Pengue from the University of Buenos Aires in Argentina, in a recent statement concerning GMOs in South America. “South American countries must proceed with a broader evaluation of their original agricultural policies and practices using the precautionary principle.”

Note: This decree was signed into effect on April 15th 2011. I guess agribiz corporations didn't want it widely known!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Thanksgiving Morning

Thanks-giving Morning and Every Morning...

"When you rise in the morning, give thanks for the light, for your life, for your strength. Give thanks for your food and for the joy of living. If you see no reason to give thanks, the fault lies in yourself.Tecumseh

(I copied this from another blog, but it's a great quote to remember.) 

Blog Update

Several people have emailed me about my absence from blogging, so I thought it was time to respond to everyone.

At first I was just busy busy, and very distracted from my blog.

But now I've been sick as a dog for 3+ weeks. Kidney infection, and so far have had allergic reactions to 4 different meds. If the infection continues, they will admit me, and administer IV drugs. Yuck, I'd have to eat institutional food! (Starving might be better!)

I don't have the energy for anything, can barely get from the bed to the bathroom, or bed to the computer, and have been nauseated 24/7 for 3 straight weeks. The new script for nausea seems to work and I've had 2 nausea-free days. I hope it continues, at least until I can get TG dinner on the table.

I have a free-range local duck (Peking) and hope I don't cook it improperly since I've never cooked a duck. Cooked a goose once but that was so far back in the dark ages that I don't remember much.

Happy Thanksgiving!