From harvest to table ~ what's cooking now?

This blog shows where all those garden goodies I grow end up. I call this little eating area next to the stove my "chef's table" because at all the best restaurants it's a privilege to be invited to dine in the kitchen where the chef reigns supreme. So here I am "reigning" and you are all invited. :-D

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Food manifesto

Glenda left a simple, but provocative question when she commented on my last post.

"Are these [new food] choices all based on health?"

Well, I guess whenever someone tries something new in the kitchen it's either because of:
flavor, availability, cost, boredom, curiosity or health.

My recent rash of food experiments were initially triggered by curiosity (fermenting cider).

Then, in November I learned that what I thought was "wholesome nutritious easy-to-grow 18" modern wheat" has been so genetically modified (faster growth, less crop damage, storage, etc.), so filled with gluten and gliadin (apparently addictive - attaching to the brain's opiate receptors instilling cravings for MORE of the wheat) and so UN-nutritious it has to be fortified! Oh yum?   I thought walking away from that would be hard, but it turned out to be surprisingly easy.  I switched to the ancient grain - spelt - and am learning, for the first time in my life, just how satisfying it is to make my own healthy baked goods (flatbread, biscuits, soda bread, etc.)  Ounce per ounce - unadulterated wholegrain spelt flour has MORE nutrients than ANY fortified modern wheat flours.  Originally I made this change to avoid modern wheat.  But the ultimate result was - fun with flour!  Homemade goodness.  And, while I had no idea this would happen, I lost weight, and food cravings, and better blood sugar & cholesterol values.

Well, when you're on a roll, you wonder - hey - what else can I find to make being in the kitchen more fun?  So curiosity again.  Long winter days inside, access to the Internet, and the blogsosphere at hand.   Reading blogs from around the world and how other cultures grow,  prepare and preserve foods.  Following their links to vids and articles and other interesting blogs.

This research fostered a growing awareness of increasingly poor nutrition in our (ever more limited variety) 'mono'food crops (wheat, soy, corn, etc); the likes of MONSANTO, BAYER, etc with their uncontrolled genetic engineering of crops and 'patenting' genetic seed sources - limiting what small farms and backyard gardeners can buy/plant in our own plots, and more. And let's not look too closely at the inhumane and unhealthy environment in the meat & egg industry.  It's enough to put one right off your feed.

Then there are the age-old food preps that are now lightly dismissed or outright banned.  Ban raw milk?  Oh, don't get me started.  Then there's canning: So many US government food sites seem to feel that we're all idiots, that we couldn't preserve a jar of jelly without at least a master's degree in food science, and that everything should be water-bathed or pressure-canned to kill the bad bugs else we're all gonna die from botulism or ptomaine.  Meanwhile the rest of the planet stuffs things in jars, throw in some salt and water and stow it under a counter for the whole winter's use.  I've yet to see a US headline "Ukrainian farmwife and family dead from bad jar of cabbage - FDA says WE TOLD YOU SO!"

Then there's fermentation.  It's not just for hard cider! *heh*  Even Doctor OZ agrees that a lot of our bad health is due to bad eating habits.  Take pickles.  Pickles used to be fermented and a big jar or barrel lasted all winter.  Now commercial pickles are processed in vinegar. With longer shelf life.  (Don't get me started on 'best by/used' dates - savvy folks see right through that marketing ploy.)  So now we home can pickles in vinegar.  Nutritious?  Not by half. But those fermented pickles were chock-full of lactobacillis - probiotic bacteria that help digest food and enhance our digestive track's enzyme action.  By age 50 or so most of us have LOST almost HALF of our digestive enzymes - so we have problems.

Besides, fermenting is FUN.  Now I'm not limiting my fermentation to yogurt and buttermilk.  Nope.  When I can't be outside (or down in the basement) growing organic food, I can watch lovely jars of fermenting food bubbling away in the kitchen, or waiting in the fridge to grace a good meal.  I find myself taking time to reflect on my food instead of absently munching away while reading or watching TV or some other diversion (a bad habit from living alone).   After all, I'm putting way more thought and effort into all this, so I'm learning to savor. That book or TV show can wait.

Another effect -  I've noticed that the contents of my fridge is changing.  Less dead food, way more living things to eat.  Sound scary?   No.  Healthy AND scrumptious?  Yes.

Bottom line - I'm all pumped up.   I'm believe I'm declaring my independence from the FDA, AMA, AgBus, BigFood, PharmRx, and Big Brother.  I'm not a sheeple - human livestock to be fed with GE food and bi-products loaded with fat, salt, wheat, corn syrup and unpronounceable chemicals all the while being told it is tasty and wholesome.   (Tasty? Ever enjoy an organic free range chicken-n-dumpling dinner?  You'd never forget it.) Nosirree.  I'm no longer going to eat (or grow or think or blindly buy) what a pervasive corporate economy WANTs me to do to support THEIR bottom line and lifestyle, especially at the expense of my own. 

If you think I was picky beFORE when I shopped?  Ha! (Hmmm, obviously this post has gotten waaay past food choices...  Sorry about that. *heh*).


With my new food/life outlook 'awakening' in mind, I can't WAIT for this year's veg garden.  I see some real changes out there, too.

So, Glenda.  I hope this helps.  Though these new choices were never originally motivated by health, it turns out that better, more sustainable health is one of the results. But, If you hadn't asked, I don't think I would have gathered my thoughts in such an organized(really?  you call this organized?) manner about my new food awareness.  Thanks much for the nudge...

Meanwhile - gotta run - time to feed my new sourdough starter.  I call her Mona.  (Don't laugh - if I keep her fed and healthy she'll probably outlive us all, so why not give her a name.  It's only polite....)  ;-D

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  1. Fab-u-lous post darling! And very timely - have you seen the huge uproar in England at present about "beef". Apparently for at least the last ten years, most minced beef products sold in this country have had various proportions of horsemeat included. There is, of course, a media frenzy looking for the 'culprits'. They're right here, of course, all the people who want their food to be cheaper than cheap and are not prepared to pay for traceable, certifiable ingredients.

    Afraid Management and I are feeling dreadfully smug as our consumption of pre-prepared ready meals is minimal to the point of I cannot remember when we ate something like that and I certainly don't have anything in the freezer that we need to worry about. For the last five years I've only bought meat from our local butcher and I know that I may well have driven past the field my beef/lamb/pork has been grazing in :}

    I am loving seeing your current food experiments and will jump in to have a go too when I've got the current crop of builders out of the house!

    1. Hello, dear Hobbit. Yeah, this post did get away from me a bit. LOL Even so, I don't think people realize just how restrictive food production (think monoculture) has become and how naive we are to think BigFood and AgBus give a damn about our nutritional needs. After all - they factor in so many deaths/lawsuits for foods & drugs to their bottom line. (I'm sure they factored that in for horsemeat, too!) You can bet your bippy I'll be growing as many heirloom varieties as I can get my hands on this season. And seed saving? Before it was a fun thing. Now it's a serious investment for the future. Next I'm lining up a local free-range egg supplier. Too many battery eggs in the markets. :-(

      Hope your crop of builders are working up to snuff. Looking forward to update entries. :-D

  2. PS: I want your chicken & avocado salad - yum yum!

    1. I never knew how well chicken and avocado complimented each other. Right now avo's are available in stores: 4/$5. I may get a couple more while they are here.

  3. Well put Kris. I have been doing the 'no boxed mixes or prepared foods for a long time, but haven't quit using KA flour!
    My grandmother and mom made pickles in a crock jar using only water and salt. My sis tried it and failed....curious. I have failed with sauerkraut every single time I have made it. Isn't that strange?

    I have a book you might find interesting,

    Real Food by Nina Planck. It is quite an eye opener.

    1. I'm going to try fermenting pickles when the cukes come in this summer and will get back to you on them. I've bought mostly whole foods for the past 3-4 years, but now I'm going to be even more selective.

      I'll Google Nina Planck and check her out. THanks.

  4. Excellent post Kris. I hope your research and enthusiasm motivate others.

    1. Thanks, Leigh. And YOUR blog is full of inspiration! :-D

  5. You and I are so similar! I buy all of our meat straight off a certifiably humane organic farm and eat as much organic produce as possible. I even use the term sheeple and made sure to teach it to my students. :o) I eat very little processed food. It's just so gross to me. I can't even stand the taste of it anymore.

    1. I've recently added the BOYCOTT MONSANTO on my blogs. The list of processed food/products that use Monsanto GMO crops and dangerous chemicals is long and pervasive. I'm so surprised there's not more outcry against them.

      Lucky you, Tam, to find a HOF for meat. I'm toying with the idea of raising my own chickens at this point... As for eating out? I've had to stop - the stuff IS gross. I carry a couple of organic power bars in my purse -- just in case.