Oh Beans!

I’ve been getting better about eating my beans about once a week or more.  This is now quite important for me as I have scaled way back on meats, especially red meat.  I need my protein!  This is, after all, what beans (ie legumes or pulses) are all about. Tons of protein in a small package (not to mention lots of B vitamins, antioxidants, minerals and much more good stuff depending on the actual bean – some even have omega-3 or 6 fatty acids). But, I really had to work on my bean skills as I was not a regular bean-eater and certainly not a regular bean-preparer-from-scratch.  What’s that you say? You thought beans came in a can, ready to go and easy as pie? Well they didn’t always and they shouldn’t now. At least, not if you want:

  • the most nutritional benefit from your beans
  • to eat fresh food
  • to avoid BPAs from that can of yours, as well as avoiding extra salt or whatever else might be in there
  • to avoid embarrassing gastric problems
  • to save money (dry beans cost far less than canned)
  • be more environmentally friendly (less waste)

For me, the unwanted gas and BPA thing was huge. I can’t stand the thought of eating fake estrogen, can you? Gross… I have enough issues without adding more hormones to the mix! For more information on that, go here.

So anyway – beans —  any kind of el cheapo bagged bean may be easily prepared for cooking and eating.  Once prepared, beans also do tend to keep for a while in the fridge this wayso you are not really sacrificing that by making them “from scratch.”  So, wondering why we don’t make beans this way anymore?  Me too— it’s super easy.

  1. Get some dry beans! So many to choose from! Pinto, black, white, kidney, fava, chick pea
  2. Scoop out 2 cups and dump them into a pot
  3. Cover the beans with some warm water (at least a couple inches over the beans). *Exceptions: When soaking black beans, add 2 tablespoons of lemon juice to the water and mix in.  When soaking chickpeas, use 4 tablespoons of lemon juice and soak for 24 hours.
  4. Wait 12-24 hours. You may want to check and be sure your beans haven’t expanded and used up all their water periodically. Add more if needed.
  5. Drain beans, rinse.
  6. Dump them back into the pot and cover them with water again. Be sure your pot is big enough to let the beans move around while cooking.
  7. Bring water to a boil
  8. Skim off any foamy scum that rises after it starts bubbling
  9. Lower temperature to a simmer, cover and set your timer for about 45 minutes to check for doneness. Cooking time may range between 45 minutes to 4 hours or maybe even longer (?) (esp. in case of chickpeas).  This is the only tricky part. Cooking time varies depending on the type of bean and how long you have soaked them.  You will have to practice a bit here!  In my experience, 2 hours is usually about average.

I have also had to practice ways of incorporating beans. One possible idea is to use black beans anywhere you might use ground beef, or incorporate black beans into a meal, using some beans and some ground beef.  Then there are traditional south of the border meals. I find black beans to be very versatile. They are good as a bean salad or on salads with corn chips, mixed into salsa, even guacamole (why not?), good in an Indian/Asian stir fry fusion of cabbage, onion, red peppers, curry, cumin, red pepper flakes, shredded carrots, etc. and served with rice.  They are good with other beans or mixed up in a skillet with diced tomatoes, onions, chili peppers, garlic and some ground beef/venison/ turkey. Add some chopped cilantro, sour cream, tortillas, salsa … yum!  For some real fun, check out this Black Bean Brownie recipe (great for gluten-free, sugar free cooking)!

You can blend your white beans into a tasty dip with lime and garlic. Or use them in a simple rustic Italian soup with hambone broth, tomato sauce, pasta and oregano.

And chick peas (garbanzos) are very versatile as well, used in many Middle Eastern dishes. Delicious with tomatoes, or blended with tahini, lemon juice and garlic to make homemade hummus! Also good in salads.

I am still working on loving kidney beans — right now, I am only using them in chili. (Be careful! well-soaked kidney beans do NOT need to cook for 2 hours! MUSH!)  My next project will be to make baked beans from scratch….what kinds of bean

These are just a few ideas.

Look below for many others and to learn more. Just substitute your soaked and cooked beans wherever a recipe calls for canned.

More Resources:








My Life is not Mine in 2009 (and Enzymes)

This post is by way of a mini-update in the recent dead air of this blog.  I’d really like to get back to this but feel I can’t just “dive” back in.  The past several months have brought about many changes for us. Jobs, health, and location have drastically altered since July.

We’ve relocated and C has a new job and I am looking for one.  We are waiting for our house to sell while staying with family.  I was looking forward to taking advantage of the time having little work would provide this fall, but instead I had a scary health incident in August which led to round after round of testing while I also tried to recover. In the end, the enemy turned out to be multiple sclerosis. Thankfully, it was a quick diagnosis and my recovery was fairly “good” in terms of what might have been.

And so although I have long been on the path of healthful living and eating, my efforts have had to be twice what they were before as I am determined to stay off medication.  Right now, what this means is cutting way back on saturated fats (going against all the WAP and NT wisdom).  According to research of Dr. Roy Swank, people with MS tend to have difficulty metabolizing these fats leading to the eventual development of disease. I will not get into details here. Also, after reading “The MS Diet Book” it seems persons with MS can usually trace back a food sensitivity which triggers the immune system dysfunction due to poor absorption of this food or foods. (This is the overly simplified explanation!)  So I am working on cutting way back on fats and dairy right now. It’s hard to tell if it’s “working” as my symptoms were not overt, but rather consisting of many smaller things at once. It is a complex puzzle. I seem to only get one piece every few weeks figured out, but there is progress and I am determined not to be victimized by a diagnosis. This is taking much of my time as we now live in a rural location with less of the foods we buy readily available as well as researching new food needs, recipes, supplements, herbs and most importantly it seems at the moment, enzymes.

My theory is that with proper enzyme support (of which I am sure I am lacking due to digestive complaints I’ve had for quite some time and did not know how to deal with or thought were “not that bad”) I can help correct the absorption problem, eat a less restrictive diet and heal my own body.  My goal for today is identify which enzymes my body most likely needs and order them. If you think this sounds like an easy task, just take a look at this list of types of enzymes that we use!

• amylase – breaks down carbohydrates, starches, and sugars which are prevalent in potatoes, fruits, vegetables, and many snack foods
• lactase – breaks down lactose (milk sugars)
 • diastase – digests vegetable starch
 • sucrase – digests complex sugars and starches
 • maltase – digests disaccharides to monosaccharides (malt sugars)
 • invertase – breaks down sucrose (table sugar)
 • glucoamylase – breaks down starch to glucose
 • alpha-glactosidase – facilitates digestion of beans, legumes, seeds,
 roots, soy products, and underground stems
• protease – breaks down proteins found in meats, nuts, eggs, and cheese
• pepsin – breaks down proteins into peptides
 • peptidase – breaks down small peptide proteins to amino acids
 • trypsin – derived from animal pancreas, breaks down proteins
 • alpha – chymotrypsin, an animal-derived enzyme, breaks down proteins
 • bromelain – derived from pineapple, breaks down a broad spectrum of proteins, has anti-inflammatory properties, effective over very wide pH range
 • papain – derived from raw papaya, broad range of substrates and pH, works well breaking down small and large proteins
• lipase – breaks down fats found in most dairy products, nuts, oils, and meat
• cellulase – breaks down cellulose, plant fiber; not found in humans
• other stuff
• betaine HCL – increases the hydrochloric acid content of the upper digestive system; activates the protein digesting enzyme pepsin in the stomach (does not influence plant- or fungal-derived enzymes)
 • CereCalase™ – a unique cellulase complex from National Enzyme Company that maximizes fiber and cereal digestion and absorption of essential minerals; an exclusive blend of synergistic phytase, hemicellulase, and beta-glucanase
 • endoprotease – cleaves peptide bonds from the interior of peptide chains
 • exoprotease – cleaves off amino acids from the ends of peptide chains
 • extract of ox bile – an animal-derived enzyme, stimulates the intestine to move
 • fructooligosaccharides (FOS) – helps support the growth of friendly intestinal microbes, also inhibits the growth of harmful species
 • L-glutamic acid – activates the protein digesting enzyme pepsin in the stomach
 • lysozyme – an animal-derived enzyme, and a component of every lung cell; lysozyme is very important in the control of infections, attacks invading bacterial and viruses
 • papayotin – from papaya
 • pancreatin – an animal-derived enzyme, breaks down protein and fats
 • pancrelipase – an animal-derived enzyme, breaks down protein, fats, and carbohydrates
 • pectinase – breaks down the pectin in fruit
 • phytase – digests phytic acid, allows minerals such as calcium, zinc,
 copper, manganese, etc. to be more available by the body, but does not break down any food proteins
 • xylanase – breaks down xylan sugars, works well with grains such as corn
 Other general terms for enzymes referring to their general action instead of specific action
  •  Endopeptidase: Enzymes that cleave proteins only on the inside
  •  Exopeptidase: Enzymes that cleave proteins only on the outside (terminal) part
    •  Aminopeptidase: Exopeptidase that cleaves at the amino terminating end
    • Carboxypeptidase: Exopeptidase that cleaves at the carboxy terminating end


Crazy!  This above link, however, is the best source of knowledge for the uninitiated (like myself).   So, I think this is a decent returning post. There is so much other information I have learned in this interim, but I have to stick with what’s current for me now or I’ll never get anything posted!

Letter to Prospective Vegetarian

It is not my intent to beat anyone over the head with the message contained in this letter, but only to tell you what I know from experience and believe based on what I’ve researched and read.  I am aware that it may be extremely controversial and very against the mainstream arguments which validate a vegetarian diet. Please feel free to leave a comment with your thoughts.

Well, I did suspect as much as to your stance of vegetarianism and I wholly agree with you as to the badness of the meat industry and the importance of eating local, pastured meat. It sounds like the only problem is that you feel you don’t care for meat?  Really, I was the same way. I was always telling people I did not really like meat and disliked preparing it even more.

Would you believe I made fish stock a few months ago from real whole fish bodies (Ew)? You are on the coast and should count your blessings to have access to so much seafood. If you do not like pastured meat, remember you have shellfish and fish to supplement your diet. I assume you like seafood? Anyway, it’s funny how I’ve changed after changing so many other things and realizing how important meat actually is (including seafood). I can now bravely prepare fish and meat like a proper housewife. Ok, maybe not quite that good, but I’m a far cry from my squeamish self of a year ago. I guess it just helps to know you are doing it for your nourishment and not just to do it because you always have or because you feel a vague  sense that you should not knowing exactly why.  I will just share a
few points with you that I attribute to eating more meat. (Before, I was eating meat about once a week or even less often. I now try to eat meat at least once a day, only sometimes going a day or two without before having some. I always am sure to eat eggs and/or legumes on a day without meat.)

– I can go longer between meals now that I eat more meat and do not
feel the need to snack all day long and into the night.
– I am less fatigued during mid-day (actually, NO fatigue …)
– I dont’ need to eat as much food overall to feel full (ie, way less carbs)
– Whenever I realize I’m feeling sluggish and get that weak, shaky
“starving” feeling, I stop and think when I last ate meat.. more often
than not, it’s been a few days!

OK, so those are the everyday benefits. All that stuff that goes on under the surface is harder to talk about because I don’t really have a good total knowledge of the chemistry angle. One factoid from the NT book is that even a small amount of meat/meat fat with a mainly veg meal greatly improves your body’s ability to assimilate the nutrients
from your veggies.  Can you believe that?  That really floored me.

But the important thing to remember is that meat provides certain essential minerals and vitamins that you cannot effectively acquire from other sources (contrary to vegetarian doctrine). For example, with regard to vitamin D, aside from the sun, meat is your only other source (especially via liver or cod liver oil.)  Also vitamin A (the fat kind, not the beta carotene kind), B12, Zinc and I really can’t remember what else.  Vitamin D and B12 deficiencies are very common in developed nations (i have a friend with both of these
deficiencies at a semi-serious level).

It’s all very complex because each vitamin/mineral effects your body’s ability to use OTHER vites/mins. So if you don’t have enough Vit. D, you may also be deficient in other ways. This is just one example.

Meat broth is incredibly important for all these same reasons but is especially rich in minerals (Calcium, sulfur, iodine (if fish) and many others which are very bioavailable in broth (better than a multi vitamin!)…) and helps you digest the meat that goes with the broth. Vegetable broth does not have all these good things unfortunately… maybe some of it, but it is not comparable…

SO if you can’t stomach meat, I would recommend making a lot of meat stews and soups until it doesn’t bother you so much. Then also you can make sauces with meat stock to help you digest. you don’t necessarily have to eat steak every night.  I know someone who says that meat makes them feel sick and I just read an article that discussed how people who have gone many, many years on low fat and plant-based diets often develop this complication as your body (without getting into specifics that I can’t actually recall) has altered so that it is actually harder for it to digest meat when it is eaten and this can
become a vicious cycle where vegetarians are essentially forced to remain vegetarian while getting sicker. People on these diets can also apparently become very out of balance with their copper and zinc (among other vitamins and minerals) causing other serious
health problems. (Warner)

Another issue that vegetarianism presents is that you must also eliminate animal fats which are key for health as well. We’re made to use these naturally occurring fats (it makes sense that the fat goes with the meat, doesn’t it? why do we insist on removing all of it?),
not chemically processed vegetable fats which did not even exist in the not so very distant past and which present numerous health hazards. (Yes, seed and nut oils are better, but only if mechanically processed and meat fat is much cheaper!)

Traditional cultures around the world fed the richest meats and fats (fish roe, rich butter, organ meats) to those in their childbearing years, or those who had just married. This really struck me as well.

I know it’s possible to find anything out there to agree with what you want to hear and I have thought about this and these pro-meat arguments (via NT book) really do make sense with me  and I feel right about them (physically and mentally and spiritually). As a former
meat-hater, I hope it helps to support the argument here.  The physical factor (feeling more energetic and not hungry all day long) made my choice easy and the rest followed…

More Resources:

The Myths of Vegetarianism

Letter to Vegetarians (scroll down)

Vegetarianism: What the Science Tells Us


Why Vegetarians are Eating Meat

High- versus low-meat diets: effects on zinc absorption, iron status, and calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, nitrogen, phosphorus, and zinc balance in postmenopausal women

Effects of replacing meat with soyabean in the diet on sex hormone concentrations in healthy adult males


Here’s just a brief update in our life…

Dinner tonight: Coconut Fish Soup. yes, it was actually good, and very easy! Yum! A great way to use that fish stock we made a few months ago (also, not as hard as you would think!) I bought a pound of US farmed catfish pieces for only $2.99/lb (apparently, any fish can be used), cut it up in to bite size pieces add this to a pot that also had:

· 1 ½ qt. Fish stock

· 1 ½ c. coconut milk/creamed coconut

· 2-4 T. lime juice

· 1 T. grated ginger

· 1-3 minced jalapeños/chili peppers

· 5-6 chopped basil leaves

· salt to taste

· parsley/cilantro to garnish

And then bring to a simmer for about ten minutes. EASY. The flavor was unlike any other soup I’d ever had, but after about 3 spoonfuls, I really thought it tasted really good – kind of a buttery, creamy flavor. Great with some sweet potato casserole and a green salad.

Summer is officially here because I bought the first jar of pickles: Bubbies of course. Wow… are they amazing! Don’t throw away that brine either… that is good stuff. Also, Kombucha was on sale at Earthfare so I bought a few bottle! A fabulous alternative to alcohol…. In fact, Kombucha can have trace amount of alcohol due to the fermentation process giving people like me (ultra-lightweights) just the right amount of “buzz” to feel good but not too good!

I also made my first bulk order of sorts last week and it arrived a couple days ago. The big finds were raw organic nuts (especially pine nuts!) and maple syrup which are difficult to find at a half-way reasonable price. Although the cost of shipping added to the lower prices did not end up saving me LOTS of money, I feel it was worthwhile to be able to find many of these products in one location. If I am happy with them, it will be good anyway! Since I am not part of a co-op for bulk orders or anything like that, this was my next best option. The retailer is www.naturalgrocers.com. The items arrived in just under a week – not bad. The other nice thing about this place is they also sell vitamins and body care products. They have a huge selection of bulk items such as nuts, grains, flours, etc. I ordered a couple types of rice to try, some organic steel cut oats, some spelt flour, and several other items.

You may not want to hear about this, but I will share anyway, because I think it’s pretty amazing…. I am experimenting with a natural cure for a UTI (urinary tract infection) that I’ve been fighting for a while now in an effort to avoid antibiotics. It finally got quite bad and I did go to the doctor this past week. (Turns out I wasn’t exactly “fighting” it with enough of a strategy to do much good prior to Thursday). With prescription in hand as insurance, I went ahead with my new “natural” remedy which I read about on the www.earthclinic.com site. So I took my apple cider vinegar tonic and took a nap on Thursday thinking “this will never work” as I tried to ignore the uncomfortable burning sensation. Just as I was drifting off to sleep, I suddenly became aware that the burning feeling was gone. Completely gone. Wow! Now I was hooked and I did not want to give up on my plan. To make a long story (that is not over yet) shorter, I will just say that it has definitely improved … urgency has decreased and burning is completely gone although the burning has since returned and subsided again. One interesting symptom, however, is slight kidney ache that came on yesterday and has since subsided almost entirely. Overall, I am much better which leaves me a bit confused (less tired, less burning, etc.). However, the kidney thing worried me enough to go to the pharmacy today. After which, of course, I really had no symptoms except for moderate frequency. I keep putting it off…”I”ll just see how I feel after lunch…. After dinner…. Tomorrow…” So, we’ll see how long I continue with this, but it is improving and I am eating a restricted diet: NO sugar whatsoever (not even most fruit except for berries), and I’m eating a lot of raw parsley, cranberry juice (the real stuff w/o added other juices), as much raw food as possible (mostly via smoothies) and some other things like plenty of yogurt, garlic, good oils and some good fiber as well which are supposed to help along with my apple cider vinegar tonic about three times a day. We shall see… I am just really impressed the apple cider vinegar did anything whatsoever. As a side benefit, my eczema problem is also improving considerably since I began this “diet.” Interesting. (OK, ok: I did cave in big time (for me) and ordered a small, decaf iced coffee with whipped cream while we were at the bookstore today… boy, was I craving it… It was stupid, but I do get weak sometimes!)

While we were at the bookstore, I began to read The Whole-Food Guide to Strong Bones: A Holistic Approach by Annemarie Colbin. This book had some really interesting insights to this. I want to order a copy as well as one for my mom and sister… as with most websites, books, diets, etc. I can’t usually buy into all the author is saying , but from what little I read, probably the majority of it I agree with. Worth the read anyway.

So, that’s the quick and dirty update… cheers!

Grain, dairy and legumes, oh my!

What’s the big deal about soaking grains and legumes and fermenting dairy and generally spending a lot more time in the kitchen, You ask?!

WELL. I can understand your skepticism… after all, you’ve been eating all these foods without soaking and fermenting them and and you feel just fine.

Now here’s where I’m a bit of a skeptic myself. Do you really feel fine? Or have you just gotten used to feeling any of these things after you eat “normal” grains (bread, cereal, etc.), dairy, nuts and/or beans? Maybe they are just an annoyance, but perhaps they do exist for you (one or several) and you barely even notice it when it happens. The side effects I am talking about are:

  • bloating
  • gaseousness (you know what I’m talking about!)
  • nausea or unsettled stomach
  • “Stuffed” to the point of feeling kind of sick even if you did not eat that much
  • cramps
  • gas pains
  • heartburn
  • diarrhea

Do you really think this is the way you should feel after eating? I know I did for … um… let’s say, the past thirteen years. But a healthy digestive system should not have any of these symptoms after eating grains, dairy and legumes! (unless you REALLY overeat!)

Now, one thing to point out is that, of course, other ingredients that you eat with these things could also be bothering you. We won’t get into that. For now, we’ll just focus on these three things and why preparing them traditionally is actually important for you.

(And if none of this is clicking with you at all, let me ask you another question: do you know anyone who is allergic to corn, soy, wheat/gluten, dairy and/or nuts???)

Grains and Legumes

In many indigenous cultures, these items are prepared first by soaking them in an acidic solution. The food may then be cooked and eaten. These processes were “invented” LOOOOONG ago. These peoples (Fallon cites examples coming from all around the world where people soaked their grains: Africans soaked millet, North American Indians soaked nuts and ground them into a “milk”, Central American Indians and people who still live in Mexico and surrounding areas soak their corn in a lime solution, in Asia soybeans are always prepared through fermentation before eating, Fallon also said as recently as a few generations ago, there were directions on the back of the quaker oat can with instructions to soak the oats overnight before cooking. These are just a few examples from memory. Please read the book, Nourishing Traditions for many more examples from history.

So, why did they do this and why should we care? The process of soaking foods in an acidic solution helps to break down the grain so that it sprouts or begins to sprout. Doing this releases enzymes that neutralizes phytic acid in grains. This acid inhibits absorption of important minerals into the body such as calcium, magnesium, iron and zinc. Fallon writes “…sprouting also neutralizes enzyme inhibitors present in all seeds. These inhibitors can neutralize our own precious enzymes in the digestive tract. Complex sugars responsible for intestinal gas are broken down during sprouting…” (p. 112, Natural Traditions)

Wheat is one of the healthiest grains, but the gluten in the wheat is very hard for us to digest. Soaking or sprouting the wheat breaks down this protein so that all the components can be assimilated.

Not only these things, but other important changes take place: your grains actually undergo a process that renders them healthier, increasing available vitamins such as the B vitamins and sometimes vitamin C.

The above description goes for nuts and seeds and now you know why so many processed grain products are fortified with many other vitamins and minerals. Some seeds cannot be sprouted due to how they have been processed, but they still benefit from soaking because the sprout inhibitors will be neutralized.

Read my personal account (under “Coping with the Implications”) of digestive troubles cured by transitioning from raw almonds to soaked and roasted ones. And check out this article on how to “Be Kind to Your Grains.

Now on to dairy

You are already familiar with many cultured dairy products: yogurt, buttermilk, cheese, sour cream. Well. Here’s the rub (And really, the content more suited for another blog entry) — it really depends on what KINDS of these products you’re eating as to whether or not you’re getting the full benefit. But let me back up a bit more. Yes, cultured dairy is good (we have seen all those probiotic yogurt commercials). But, more importantly, why is uncultured dairy bad? Or at least not so good?

Well, again, I will skirt the larger issues and the politics and just lay it out there: because our milk is pasteurized and because of the harsh methods used to “produce” milk from cows. For now, let’s only talk about pasteurization. This process heats the milk at high temperatures, making many proteins less available; the fats in the milk are more likely to go rancid after this process; vitamin C loss usually exceeds 50% and loss of other vitamins may be as high as %80. Some vitamins, such as B12 are entirely destroyed; Fallon claims there is some evidence that pasteurized milk strains the pancreas and may be the reason behind the linkage between drinking milk and diabetes. Oh, yes, and again, this is the reason your milk is fortified!

The relevant fact for this posting is that pasteurization destroys the enzymes in the milk. These just so happen to be the enzymes required to assimilate certain ingredients found in milk, such as calcium. (Ever wondered why so many milk drinking people are getting osteoporosis??)

Other compositional changes take place during pasteurization, making it even more difficult to digest. Without the important enzyme component found naturally in milk, what you now buy at the grocery store is a product that is essentially indigestible! (and I have given you the tame, cliffnotes version of the milk saga!)

YES, and yes, all of these problems with digesting improperly prepared grains and dairy can and are related to allergies. It is no wonder so many people now have gluten and lactose intolerance. So — here is the case for cultured dairy — many of these products are tolerable to those with dairy allergies. WebMD states “A food allergy is an immune system response. It occurs when the body mistakes an ingredient in food — usually a protein — as harmful and creates a defense system (antibodies) to fight it. Food allergy symptoms develop when the antibodies are battling the “invading” food.”

What is cultured dairy? This is a milk product that has begun to separate (the lactic-acid producing bacteria consumes the sugar (lactose) in the dairy) and it begins to ferment, hence the word “lacto-fermentation.” These foods include yogurt, buttermilk, kefir, sour cream and others. However, there are several different versions of fermented milk products found around the world and each are soured, cultured, or inoculated in slightly different ways. Suffice to say, the process of fermentation helps to break down the difficult to digest protein, casein, in the milk as well as increasing the beneficial enzymes (for example the enzyme lactase, which helps digest lactose) and vitamins in the milk product, even after it has been pasteurized. Consuming these products will also help you maintain a good balance of beneficial bacteria, helping you stay healthy and resist illness.

Please refer to pages 33-35 and 80-81 in Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon to read more and see where I liberally “stole” all this information. I also encourage you to check out the Real Milk website to really dig deeper about the milk “conspiracy” and read “The Raw Truth About Milk.

So if you want to learn how to prepare these foods, I encourage you to explore the links to the right to learn more. And the best source I know of to really learn is the book, Nourishing Traditions. Good luck…!

Olive Oil Fraud

I have been searching for real olive oil.

Yes, it’s true, the olive oil you buy at the supermarket or warehouse store is almost 100% likely to not be the real thing. At least it is only partly real. Usually it is cut with some other lesser quality oil such as corn, canola, soybean or other.

Olive oil fraud has been labeled as even more lucrative than cocaine trafficking (Mueller – see below).  Like most problems, there is no one simple explanation (Besides greed!)  So instead of rehashing what’s already been said and explaining the logistics, I will list here several links where you can read about it for yourself. *sigh*

But I will leave you with the one authentic brand recommended in Nourishing Traditions: Bariani. I got on this quest, however because I felt sure there had to be others (read on).

Mueller, Tom. “Slippery Business” New Yorker online, August 13, 200

Olive Oil Fraud Rampant As Demand Skyrockets. NPR news story.

California Olive Oil Council (www.cooc.com) Seems to be the only place in the US doing something about this problem.  A recent bill to create stringent  standards in California passed January 2009. I haven’t explored this site fully yet… they do have a list of brands that meet their standards.

Online discussion about this issue. This forum includes several interesting facets about olive oil fraud.

Take the Olive Oil Challenge, Cheeseslave blog. This posting is what jogged my memory about this issue and really prompted me to look into it more deeply. She also recommends Adam’s Ranch olive oil.

Back to reality, oops, there goes gravity

As I am working on this blog a little here and there, I wondered if I should hit on some of the highlights of
what it is this is really all about rather than just diving into specifics as I have been. You can also read about some of the basics in the “About” page. I would also like to discuss some our psychological “issues” surrounding this admittedly unusual lifestyle/diet and how we may struggle to accept the myriad implications.

What’s the Main Idea?

So, as you can see, I don’t think there is any real consensus as to what to actually call this diet. We call it “The Diet”, but others call it the WAP (Weston A. Price diet) and I think I have seen NT (for Nourishing Traditions). Perhaps the most sensible one I’ve seen is calling it the “Traditional Foods Diet. ” And first things first: by “diet”, we mean… the way we eat on a regular basis, not a “diet” you go on and then get off of. We are not “going” on this diet. We are simply eating/living this diet!

So, here are just a few of the key principles, but by all means, check out the sources on the right hand side to read up on your own about some of this stuff from other people’s perspectives. Especially check out the Cheeseslave blog which is very comprehensive and is already doing exactly what I’d like to do here. It would be worth your while to spend some quality time perusing her site for recipes, info on vitamins, health and parenting on this diet.

The key point that we believe in is that food should be traditionally prepared in a way that renders it most nourishing. Food that is not prepared in this way harms us in one or both of the below ways:

  1. It over-taxes our bodies as it works to metabolize improperly prepared food (ie, food that is not in its most digestible state)
  2. It literally poisons us if it is not close enough to a nutrient to actually nourish us (in the instance of a huge variety of preservatives, heavily processed foods, chemicals, etc. that we consume regularly but that are not actually food products or so far from the original product, that our bodies cannot recognize them as food) causing all sorts of health problems (usually those that manifest over a long period of time.)

Coping with the Implications

There is a lot of baggage wrapped up in really embracing this type of lifestyle and diet. The implications of doing so are numerous and can easily turn people away from the ideas that are discussed here. In my opinion, these hard-to-cope-with implications are:

  • Feeling supremely overwhelmed, dismayed and confused by an overload of new information that contradicts what you thought you knew… and what it could mean if you ignore this new information as well as if you don’t!
  • The idea that we have been essentially deceived for our entire lives by the media, the government, our health care practitioners and others (resulting in feelings of frustration and anger)
  • The idea that we may NOT have been eating (or feeding others in our families) healthfully (like we thought we were) and feelings that might accompany this (frustration, guilt, anger)
  • Frustration at the financial cost of eating truly healthfully (compared to what we may be used to)
  • Frustration and anxiety about how to manage a new lifestyle that requires more food preparation, more experimentation and learning, more research, more shopping around, etc.
  • Disbelief in general — why should we believe any of this bunk!? After all, if it’s so true, why haven’t we heard about it before

I know it took us a couple months to mostly recover from our shellshock — that everything we thought we knew was wrong. How could we have been lied to (essentially) all along? I will not get into the layers of politics here, but suffice to say, you most definitely cannot believe everything you hear or read. And yes, you should test these ideas for yourself as well. As for us, the more we read, researched, pieced information, health patterns and so forth together, the more it all made so much sense. There really is no part of this diet that doesn’t fit into a sensible framework for us.

For just one example: it may not seem like you really need to soak and roast your nuts before consuming them. Many people really look at us strangely when we mention this idea. However, I knew that after eating LOTS of almonds during my ravenous afternoon and evening lapses between meals while I was going straight from work to school and not getting home until 9pm, I eventually began to suffer extreme digestive problems when eating my almonds. Once they seemed to “save the day” when I could not eat a proper dinner … now, they were causing embarrassing digestive problems and unbelievable cramping. I could no longer enjoy them. After reading about the traditional way of preparing nuts, I was excited to give it a try. Sure enough, my GI complications vanished after I began to eat soaked and roasted nuts. Not only this, but I only needed to eat perhaps half of what I used to eat in order to feel just as satisfied. Wow! There was really something to the idea after all. Our bodies are just not equipped to digest certain parts of certain foods. Sure, you can put up with it for a while, but eventually, it’s going to cause problems of one kind or another. Now I also knew why eating peanut butter would cause similar problems. Perhaps this was also why I would occasionally suffer an allergic reaction when I ate cashews.

At any rate, I am saying all this to 1. encourage the skeptics and 2. encourage you to make it “make sense” to you in a personal way. If it seems too outrageous to believe that you’ve been deceived, that you may need to re-juggle your finances so you can increase your food budget (and hopefully eventually decrease your medical budget!); that you may need to invest in some decent cookware, go to the weekly farmer’s market, etc…. check out other resources on the subject for yourself. But try to look at it from all angles. You cannot safely make a judgment if you only read literature from one side of the issue (ie. Only the government, only the packaging/processing companies or only pharmaceutical companies.) Look at unbiased information and research.

This is why I do recommend reading Nourishing Traditions. The authors incorporate a wide range of literature including historical accounts of how food was once prepared before we became so darn civilized (refrigeration no longer mandated that food stay fresh through various fermentation processes) and so darn greedy (cutting nutritional corners to save on production costs not to mention the advent of hundreds and hundreds of processed “fake” food like soda and pre-packaged foods that we have become so addicted to and regularly spend money on.)

See if anything adds up and most of all, ask yourself “Why have the media, the medical professionals (most, although, I am sure not all), the drug companies, the agricultural corporations, food packaging/processing companies and the government been sending the messages that they have been?” Only until you can believe they sadly do not really care about your well-being, but rather your influences as a consumer, will it begin to make some sense.

We encourage you to give yourself time to process any and all of this new information. It is not something anyone can change overnight. I think after doing this for nearly a year, that a safe amount of time to expect on transitioning to the WAP diet would be 1-3 years depending on the size of your family and their willingness to try new things and alter lifestyles. Good luck… leave a comment!