Tuesday, March 25, 2008

responsible testing

a reader writes:

"Interesting, but the Mother Earth chart is PROPAGANDA! If they cared about proper scientific methods, they would have sent eggs of comperable volume to the labs to be tested (as a control) alongside their pasture chicken free range eggs. In my mind, the fact that they did not do that throws their entire study out the window. And they only tested SIX (6) goddam eggs per farm!

However, I take stock in the 2003 study done at Penn State U by H.D. Karsten:
http://www.poultryscience.org/spss03abs.pdf(see abstract 60, page 15)

It looks like they were testing 200+ eggs per group... They DID find that the pasture eggs had more good stuff in the yolks, but it's not as overstated as the mother earth stuff. Might be worth trying to track down a copy of the paper/study (or maybe there is just the abstract, idk)"

Monday, March 24, 2008

even more on eggs

This blew my mind.

more on eggs

The folks at Mother Earth News have a nice piece on pastured Hens.  Check it out here.

missing for a few days

Jesus kept me away.
I sing in a church to make enough money to eat all my good foods, and last week was holy week.

One thing happened yesterday that I thought I would mention: I was running late for work, so I could not cook up some of my greenmarket eggs.  I ran into the deli across from the church to grab a breakfast sandwich.  Bacon and egg on a roll.  A sandwich I have ordered without a thought from delis in every corner of NYC over the years.  This time however I had just read about our most awfully treated industrial game, the Laying Hen.

These formerly proud fowl are in the most nefarious conditions.  Now, we know that stress affects hens, leading to feather pecking, and to the horrid act of rubbing their breasts against their cages until they are a bloody mess.  We also know that these birds cannot even spread their wings.  But we as humans are more concerned with our own problems.  So why shouldn't we eat industry eggs?  Simple:  they taste like nothing.  They are like the shadow of an egg from my parent's childhood.  All that remains is the texture.  The colors are gone, the flavor is gone, the integrity of the yolk and whites, all gone.  Have one egg from a decent farm and you will never want to go back.  Thick, hard shell, deep orange pasty yolk, wonderful rich flavor.  The yolk gets the color from nutrients gained when Hens are pastured.  Remember that?  Hens running around on grasses?  It is certainly a far cry from the tiny cages most of America's Laying hens live out their short, miserable lives in.

But this begs the question:  how can I eat breakfast when I am late for work on a Sunday morning in NYC?  This is something so many of us in NY go through.  We are all busy, and places to eat are everywhere.  In this case, the eggs were weak, the bacon was blah, the roll wasn't even that good, but overall, it was an OK breakfast.  One that I always enjoyed in the past.  This time, with some knowledge inserted into my breakfast, I was more aware of the mediocrity as well as the ethical pitfalls of my meal.  I was filled with a drive (this was not the first time i have felt this) to get out of this system.  

But what does that mean?  Leave the city?  Leave the country?  i know things are better in other places.  Small pockets of the country in which you can provide yourself with all the food you need from local high quality farms.  Or places like France, and several other european countries, where processed and/or downright shitty food is far less prominent.  I don't know the answer.  We still must enjoy the act of eating after all, even if the food is poor.  We accomplish more with our digestion if our hearts and minds are engaged in the act.  I cannot cringe every time I eat something that tastes less then or is ethically unsound.  There would just be too many meals that I could no longer eat.  This is not the best option.  The bottom line is that I must eventually get out of the industry loop.

In the interim however, I am going to have to occasionally suspend my mind during necessary meals out in this intractable city.

Good eggs can be obtained at several NYC Greenmarkets.  Most of them have egg vendors once a week.  You will not find good eggs at the supermarket.  The Happy Hen?  Organic Valley?  Land O Lakes?  whatever.  their Hens live in terrible conditions.  They cannot even peck each other's eyes out, because de-beaking is permitted under most "humane" standards.
Just go the markets, $3/dozen or so, which is about the same as most organic labels.  

Be Well.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

make me a vessel for you.

Alex Koppelman  of Salon has this to say:

"In January, the Food and Drug Administration released a report concluding that food produced from cloned animals is as safe as food produced from ordinary animals, and decided against making the labeling of food from cloned animals mandatory."

I do hope we come to our senses with cloning. The importance of bio-diversity is paramount in our food supply. The prevalence of monoculture in agriculture, and industrial meat processing has been shown in countless studies to be the cause of a great many health problems and diseases. In fact, lack of diversity, and poor conditions are the cause for the cloning push. Animals are poorly treated, they get sick, they disrupt production. Cloned animals are less likely to get sick, as we can control their genetic structure, rendering all the animals being harvested equal in terms of treatment necessity. So, to avoid the problems of the lack of bio-diversity in a broken industrial system we will eliminate bio-diversity all together. We will clone our beasts, imposing cookie cutter strictures on nature, in the most fundamental way.

When the Organic movement began, and was actually organic, the founders assailed chemical/industrial farming practices, suggesting that we would eventually find these practices to be detrimental to human health and environmental health. Their theory was that these practices were unnatural, and therefore bankrupt. They in turn were pilloried by the establishment, as extremists, with no scientific evidence to back their claims. Their statements turned out to be correct, as we have seen with DDT, and many other toxins proudly lacing our food supply. Cancer incidence is skyrocketing, obesity, heart disease, diabetes, antibiotic-resistant strains of infectious bacteria, all these can be traced to the food supply. Cancer from toxins; obesity, heart disease and diabetes from the industry of Corn and Corn syrup, and the meat that it feeds, resistant bacteria from the antibiotics used on sickly livestock (who are sick due to poor treatment of course).
Using that simple bit of logic as our philosophical barometer, that unnatural = unhealthy, we can suggest similar things about cloned meats. Cloning is the opposite of natural in that it eliminates bio-diversity. The healthiest systems in nature are those that are most diverse: the old growth forest, or on the other end of the spectrum, the mixed race human being. More diversity equals healthier, heartier systems with more biomass per cubic foot of land. However, If we reduce bio-diversity we find unproductive land, sickly life forms, and eventually, no life at all.

This time we are reducing diversity to null via the genetic level. It is as if we are heading down an ever shrinking tunnel. Can the result possibly be a good one? Logically the answer is no. Scientifically the answer is unknown. At the moment, without long term testing, science cannot tell us one way or the other. But the american people need to be fed, and the agri-business needs to grow fiscally, so watch out my friends! Because the next time you buy a certified angus top round from the grocery store, it very well may be cloned, but you will have no way of knowing.

Be Well.

Monday, March 17, 2008

What to eat...Chicken.

Here we go, a staple of the American diet.  What Chickens should we eat?  This question is confusing to answer due to the common usage of somewhat empty terms:  Organic, Free-Range, All-Natural, etc.  So let's do some clearing up.  I love chicken, and finding the right chicken to consume is important to me.  If it is important to you also, read on.

The basics:  
1.  What do chickens eat:
Chickens are omnivores.  A vegetarian diet is not vital.  But the mythology of the vegetarian diet as most healthy has extended to chickens, who happen to be voracious consumers of other animated life forms.  Basically, chickens eat anything and everything, so a chicken is not necessarily better if it has been raised on a  vegetarian diet.  An old style farm diet for a chicken consists of insects, worms, detritus off of cow manure, human food waste, as well as grass and seeds.  Chickens are tremendously well suited to converting massive piles of manure and waste into the lifeblood of the farm - Compost.  The folks at Vermont Compost Company use chickens as their primary processing mechanism in their production of compost.  Their chickens forage on a local grass and huge piles of food waste from surrounding institutions such as Ben & Jerry's.  

2.  To free range or not to free range.
Free-Range in the business of chickens just means that the chickens are free to roam around.  It has no stipulations for the conditions of the houses, the number of chickens or the location of the birds (in or out of doors).  As a result, most "free-range" birds are housebound, in large structures with concrete floors, packed to the nines into relatively small spaces, and given the freedom to roam around pecking each other's eyes out with aplomb.  A far cry from the 'happy hen' myth propagated by food production labeling.   
The inability to properly manage large flocks of bellicose fowl has led companies like Bell & Evans to forego the titular "free-range" markings for their more manageable "free to roam".  Bell & Evans, according to their website, keep the chickens in spacious pens that they may be better managed and kept from injury and disease.  Perhaps this is one of the reasons why their chickens were recently voted best tasting by the New York Times.  
In the end, the best of all possible worlds is totally free-ranging, low population birds, but the title alone is not enough to ensure quality.  The best bet is to go to local farmer's markets and find your local chicken farmers.  In New York City, fresh chicken is available at several Green Markets and some Grocery stores.  Check out Dine's Farm based out of the Catskills, for a listing of purveyors.  

3.  Cost.  
If you are looking for that 69 cent/lb chicken, then buy your week old big ol' industrial chemical Perdue Roaster.  The conditions for most industry birds are devastating, the foods they eat - deeply embroiled in the Corn-Soy matrix that has destroyed the Corn Belt.  

If you want the right thing, go to the markets, find your local farmers,  even if it will cost you 3 or 4 times as much.  It will likely taste 3 or 4 times better, so all is fair.

For those that want a compromise, go for the Bell & Evans, the hybrid of the chicken market.  They are big, but they have much better policies then the other big producers.  You can be sure of healthy clean chicken meat at least.  Though Bell & Evans will probably cost as much as the local farmer's market birds.  This whole thing is inevitable, we must spend more to right the scales.  Growing a bio-dynamic chicken costs more, takes longer, consumes no fossil fuel or chemicals, removes waste from the environment, and adds vital nitrogen to compost. 

4.  Where to find better birds:

Eat Wild, an advocacy site for grass-fed and pastured meat consumables has a locator, check it out here.

Good hunting, Be Well.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

live from the GreenThumb NYC Conference

Scott Stringer is speaking at the moment.  LOUDLY!!  

Anna Lappe just finished.  She was terrific, focusing on the relationship between Industry and Climate change.  Some highlights:

* Industrial food is responsible for 1/3rd of greenhouse gas emissions. 
* Livestock = 18% of those emissions.
* More people in America are in prison then are farming.
* Today there are 4000+ farmer’s markets in the country.  30 years ago there were less then 700.

the mad hot ballroom kids are coming on...

Be Well.

farming in NYC??

Yes.  It exists.  Today in the Bronx, there is an all day conference sponsored by NYC parks and rec:  The 24th Annual GreenThumb GrowTogether Conference.  This is the day when our local gardeners and farmers come together and share ideas and inspiration.  And yes, in case you were wondering, there are local farmers in the City of New York.  Like this one.  

Anna Lappe, whose sites are linked to the right, is the Keynote speaker.  More to come on this exciting event later today.

Be Well.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Boston catches up to it's neighbors.

The folks over at EAT THIS! reported the good news:  boston has caved to megalopolis peer pressure and eliminated Trans fats.  check the article here.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Congee is magic

About 6 months ago I was walking home from class at 9 or 10 at night.  I was hungover, feeling like I could get sick if not careful.  The local chinese place was closing up shop for the night, but there were still a couple of customers waiting at the counter for their orders.  I popped my head in and said one of the few chinese phrases I could remember from my previous Mandarin classes.  "you have congee?" (translated from the mandarin, of course).  The guys at the grill just smiled and shook their heads.  What did I think this was?  A chinese restaurant?  I mean where Chinese food is cooked?  I must be crazy.

So I walked on, dejected, unable to get my warm revitalizing fix.  I knew they wouldn't have it, but I thought, "just maybe they make it for the staff..."  or some other silliness.  I needed to wait till morning when I could drag myself over to chinatown.

So what is Congee?  Why is it so important?  Basically, Congee is rice and water, cooked to death, literally.  I have heard differing opinions of the ratio, from 5-1, to 8-1, to 10-1, water to rice.  But rice and water are the core, the Juk, as the chinese call it.  

But anybody who has tried to just cook rice and water to death (i mean upwards of 8 hours, at least) knows that it won't taste like much worth eating at the end of the simmering eternity.  Some of the basic additions, and I think most important ones, are (lots of) salt, ginger (thin strips of fresh ginger), scallion.  Then comes the major players - fish cake, pork, chicken, beef;  basically any meat you like.  You can also load it up with mushrooms and veggies, of which I would recommend baby Bak Choi and chinese Broccoli, but any veggies are fair game.  The most important addition for the downtrodden is the thousand year egg.  It is really just a normal egg, aged for 100 days.  It has terrific warming qualities, but must not be consumed often, as it can be toxic in large doses.  Only when sick with a cold/flu is a good rule.

The basic idea behind soup or porridge when ill is quite simple:  When ill, the body is fighting on several fronts to remove toxins, viral, bacterial or otherwise.  It cannot muster the normal amount of energy required to processing and extracting nutrients from the food we eat.  So we make it a little easier, we cook our food.  And we cook it.  And we cook it some more, until it is so broken down by the time we ingest it that it can just slide right down.  The stomach has relatively simple time breaking it down.  What's easier on the stomach is by design easier on the Duadenum-pancreas-gall bladder complex that follows - where most fats and carbs are broken down; and then the rest of the small intestine - the site of most of the absorption of nutrients from our food; and finally the large intestine, for easy removal of waste and water re-absorption.  If less energy is required in breaking down our meals, then less energy will be diverted from the most important process, that of removing toxins.

Why is Congee so useful in these cases?  It is cooked like three times longer then mama's chicken soup.  The thousand year egg, if added, has been microcosmically decomposing for 100 days, the meat and veggies used have been boiled or steamed to death, all told, this meal is tremendously easy on the system, but also full of nutrients and fluids, two vital elements in the art of healing.

Where do we get congee?  Well, experimenting with making good congee is elusive, most recipes just say:  Water, Rice, salt - then add what you want.  So it really is a personal project, if undertaken.  If you live near a chinatown, go to one of those chinese places where no white people go, they should have it.  Some places make it only late at night or in the morning, as it is breakfast in much of China.  The places I have gone in NYC serve it at all hours.

if in new york, Congee Village is a good bet.  That's usually where I go.  I also like "New Wing Wong" on lafayette at canal, which has a partner place around the corner on Canal.  

Some places use MSG, so it helps to ask.  MSG is not very happy, and should be avoided.  

Next time you're ill try out Congee, I'm sure, after you feel the warmth, the lift of this vital food that you will agree with me that it is some magic shit.

Be Well.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

what to eat when you are down and out. Introduction.

uggg.  Just got sick.  eating lots of soup.  

Though I could write a lot about what I think we should be eating while ill, I think it is interesting that our bodies generally tell us what we should not be eating.  For instance, if I even think about fried foods in my current Flu-like state, I feel nauseated.  There were bagel chips on the counter this morning, and I thought "God NO!".  My body is pretty clear about what it does not want to eat right now.  But that doesn't necessarily mean I am clear on what I should eat.  

next post:  the joys of congee.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

buying your values

$19.30. That's how much I spent on 2 lbs of pasta, 1 lb of marinara sauce, and .74 lb of pecorino romano cheese.  The location of my spending spree was Caputo's Deli, here in my neighborhood, Carroll Gardens.  Caputo's has been here in the neighborhood forever, though I have not. somebody named "mommiebrain" commented on citisearch as follows:

"I have been going to Caputo's since I was a small kid and my parents went there as kids also. We no longer live in the area, but we have a special order every Christmas for all of their goodies and my Uncle brings them to us to enjoy every year! Caputo's is the best bakery!"

Caputo's is a family business, making fresh Pasta, Sauces, Mozzarella;  and selling some of the finest imported italian foods we can get this side of the atlantic.  But you pay for those 'old world' values.  Here is the breakdown of the items I bought today:

$6.83 for the cheese
$3.49 for one pasta
$4.99 for the other pasta
$3.99 for the sauce

$19.30 total

This will supply me with roughly 4-6 meals, coming to about $4-5/meal. Not a bad rate, considering.

Now, if I had gone to the little supermarket across the street for some standard industry foods, the total would have been substantially lower:

$3.49 for brand name Romano (i forgot which...sorry!)
$2.78 for the Barilla Pasta x2
$3.49 for Classico Marinara (24oz, 8 more then I bought from Caputo's)

$9.76 total

So I could have gotten away with $2.50/meal. Why didn't I??

Well, firstly, I only have my mouth to feed.  So, right off the bat I have a simpler time eating then those with children/dependents.  But, I eat a fair amount more then I (really) need to when I sit down for lunch. I could get away with less, leaving a portion for the imaginary dependent, and be just as well off nutritionally.

Secondly, the key element here is that I have made a commitment, even if it dries up the coffers, to buy my values.  In America we truly have one method of expressing our democratic freedom. One thing we can do to show our ethics, our morals, and our political ambition.  How do we do these things?  We spend our money.  What we spend it on determines more then just what we ingest, or keep in our homes, play in our stereos, drive around town.  What we spend our money on determines where we stand on commerce, industry, environmental factors, politics.  It is our civic responsibility in this capitalist nation to spend our money, and make statements with that spending.  

This is why I cannot accept any argument for certain purchases.   Purchases that wreak of reprehensible practices:  A Hummer for instance,  McDonalds, shopping at Wal-Mart, or, a most pervasive evil, doggy clothing.  These purchases are so wanton, so without defense.  The truth of the matter is:  they simply must be stopped.

On the other end is a place like Caputo's.  Local, small business.  Making fantastic food the same way they have for generations (making it impossible for modern chemical/synthetic food to enter the equation).  But to support this kind of business one must spend almost twice as much.  

The question is:  can we tighten up in other areas to accommodate these values?  I have begun the process.  To be honest, though it is expensive, it is rewarding.  I am helping keep Caputo's open, where in many other neighborhoods, stores like it have closed.  

I think we need to evaluate our food purchases, and adjust.  On countless occasion we hide behind the monetary argument:  cheaper = better.  Let's throw that out.  Let's buy the best product, from the best source, regardless of price.  If we have to eat a little less, drink a little less, buy one less superfluous item from target, buy the dog one less sweater, we can do it.

Of course there are those who cannot do it.  I will (conveniently) leave them out of this equation.  But my assumption is that in this country of plenty, that percentage is rather small.  Most americans are deeply wasteful.  We are foolish, impulsive, driven by fad.  Most of us can adjust our purchasing capably, even if we are looking at spending 100% more on food then our current allocation.  

Get to it.

Be Well.

Friday, March 7, 2008


This is here mostly because I forgot to reference Oysters in my last post.


"You're SO good, Leo"

Please Somebody save me from my white skinned brethren!

Be Well.

beyond organic

I have been reading the Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan.  It is a terrific book, and it seems he has become the Times' Best Selling face of the Slow Food movement. 

I love situations in which my suspicions about foods in general are justified by factual information!  Thanks to Michael Pollan's book, this happens as often as I can turn the pages of the book.  

One example is milk.  I have been talking to my sister-in-law about what milk to feed to my nephew.  She has found it difficult to find decent milk.  The problem is that organic milk is not really milk anymore, much of the time.  Or rather, what our ancestors called milk, or the white stuff that comes out of cows.  Much of the current organic milk is almost exactly the same as the industrial product it has replaced, sans antibiotics and hormones:  Cows in horrid conditions, penned, fed via feed troughs a diet of mostly (organic) corn and a slew of synthetics (allowed under USDA certified organic standards) that help the wet mixture slide down into the now obsolete four-chamber ruminous cavern of the beast's abdomen.  No grazing, No grass.  Bear in mind that cows are Ruminants, they eat grass with the joy of millions of years of evolution behind them.  Corn is not digestible by cows unless it is genetically altered.   These are unhealthy animals producing a product that will be lobotomized by ultra-pasteurization, a process that will strip the milk of the very enzymes that make it digestible by Humans.  This is not the pattern for all organic milk producers, but for the largest and most far reaching ones.
Horizon, the most available product on the market, is a key offender.  Notice the obvious lack of the words "grass-fed" or "pasture razed" on their containers.  These words are absent largely from the Organic Valley Label also, I have been looking at their website and they talk a good game at least, more research to follow if I think of it.  But the basic idea is this:  if the container does not say "grass-fed, pastured cows"  then you can bet the extra 2-dollars you are spending that you are getting a shit product.  I like these guys, personally.

back to Pollan:
He visits this super-cool farm - Polyface Farm -  in Virginia which is NOT certified organic, but instead follows the original rules of "organic" farming, they call it "Beyond Organic".
Check out some of their basic principles here.
Then check the links below,  the second farm I discoverd via search engine (I am trying to arrange an April Visit, which will bring a nice post, I hope):
Polyface Farm
Sunrise Farm

Sadly, I now have to get into some real reading, looking at the sources of Organics: 
and Leo Marx

working it through, slowly...Be Well.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

rangy foods

those who know me well(which is everyone who will ever read this, but hey, let's continue the charade) know that I delight in list making. 5 best movies, 10 best albums, etc, from the best to the worst to the mediocre, I love listing everything. Compartementalization is key to my homeostasis.

So it is grapefruit season. I am struck again by the disparity of this sinewy fruit. It can be bitter and watery, stringy, disgusting. Or it can be richly, sensually sweet, gently yielding so that a grapefruit spoon is unnecessary. The range of this wonderful fruit is wide indeed. Some other foods have wide ranges - the Oyster of course, which commands a wide geographical diversity of flavor. The tomato of course, ranging from repellent in the offseasons, to Godlike in August on a Jersey farm.

However, this is not about best, I am struck with the question: What is the narrowest of foods? What food has the least disparity? Is it the chunky calliflower? The always reliable, but never spectacular potato? White Rice? Iceberg lettuce?

Tell me what you think.

Be well.

Divine Tapestry

Just read this terrific article by Charles Eisenstein on the Ethics of Eating Meat Here is an excerpt:

"There is a time to live and a time to die. That is the way of nature. If you think about it, prolonged suffering is rare in nature. Our meat industry profits from the prolonged suffering of animals, people and the Earth, but that is not the only way. When a cow lives the life a cow ought to live, when its life and death are consistent with a beautiful world, then for me there is no ethical dilemma in killing that cow for food. Of course there is pain and fear when the cow is taken to the slaughter (and when the robin pulls up the worm, and when the wolves down the caribou, and when the hand uproots the weed), and that makes me sad. There is much to be sad about in life, but underneath the sadness is a joy that is dependent not on avoiding pain and maximizing pleasure, but on living rightly and well."

Be well.

The trouble with raw food.

Let's first look at the Raw-Foodists. these folks make a strong argument against cooking and meat eating. I don't want to hit below the belt, but their argument is completely un-sourced. That said, I must now source all the crazy shit I am going to say...oh well.

anyway, let's take a look at a bit of the fruitarian's ideas:

"The body struggles for years to stay healthy, despite the fact we keep putting devitalised food into our mouths. When the body loses this struggle we begin to develop disease."

What on earth is this assertion based on? I am going to have to refer to my healthy friends, the French again on this one.  They cook everything they touch, and they are damn healthy, in general.
how about this:
"Cooking causes the inorganic elements to enter the blood, circulate through the system, settle in the arteries and veins and deaden the nerves."

If they are talking processed foods, foods high in trans fats, HFCS, aspartame and other sweeteners, etc, then they are probobly right, though sourcing is difficult. here is a bit about high fructose corn syrup (HFCS). In terms of deadening the nerves, they are curiously out on a limb. The process of deadening a nerve internally is usually demyelination - or the withering of the sheath surrounding our nerve bodies - a process that is almost always auto-immune.  
More on that here.  I have heard that HFCS also breaks down the myelin, but I have still not found an adequate source on that.

"human beings are clearly not carnivores by physiology or anatomy and the digestive system shows that humans must have evolved from millions of years living on fruits, nuts, grains and vegetables."

Well, this one is just silly. It is hard to watch, but this video of a chimpanzee hunt shows us everything we need to know about our evolutionary ancestry.

Chimps hunt with some frequency, here is a nice piece about their predatory habits.

Jean-Louis Tu, biologist, mathematician, put together a massive paper on the subject, which can be read here.
 an excerpt on meat and our ancestry:
"The paradox of relatively high cholesterol intake and cooked meats vs. rarity of heart disease in hunter-gatherer groups. It is also worth remarking that many other factors than lipid peroxides influence the development and/or prevention of atherogenesis, such as the amount of saturated fat, amount of mono- or polyunsaturated fat, amount of carbohydrates and insulin response, etc. Of particular note here is the example of hunter-gatherer societies, where the incidence of heart disease is extremely low (perhaps the lowest that has been seen among human groups), despite the fact that relatively large amounts of cooked meat are consumed."

but there are the detractors, they just don't source:   here

then again there are those on my side of the fence, and they provide ample sourcing.  Like this guy.

What I discovered in reading the available material online is this:  The Raw food folks base their findings on assertions that have little scientific basis.  They often blame cooked food for health problems, when their health problems are more likely due to additives and processed foods, the elimination of which brings a misleading and temporary healthier state.  

So I will bring out a non-scientific theory of my own.  Well, not my own, exactly.  This theory was transmitted to me in class by Jeffrey C. Yuen  last semester at The Swedish Institute:

Human Beings are bipeds.  None of our primate relatives or mammalian neighbors  are the same.  In Chinese Medical and Dietary theory, the body takes in Qi in three ways:  Through respiration, through food intake and through the earth.  Because we are bipeds we only have contact with the earth through our feet (and in this concrete age, even that is a stretch).  This means that we take in half the Qi from the earth that other mammals do.  This earthly Qi, over the millions of years of evolution has helped build the digestion mechanism.  In humans, the lack of earthly Qi has led to a less robust digestive system (in terms of raw foods).  The method of overcoming raw foods is cooking.  We break down the thick proteins of meat, the toxins, the over-whelming (see this guy. again) enzymes of vegetables by cooking them.  This balance has allowed us to divert vital energy away from our digestive systems.  Our other systems, in turn, endocrine, nervous, lymphatic, and musculoskeletal, have ascended to heights undreamt of by the most intelligent of beasts.

Like any other subject, there is a balance to be struck.  Some food (read: OYSTERS) is best when consumed raw.  But that is for another post.

That is enough for now...be well.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008


We are so terribly muddled. Pulled every which way by food system producers, pharmaceutical companies, FDA Incompetence, Dieticiens, Holistic Health Practitioners, Ayervedic Gurus, Vegans, Freegans, Veggies, Carnivores, Omnivores...where does it end?  The steady stream of contrary information is enough to give a healthy person metabolic syndrome

There is no map, no clarity, no rationale, no theory to follow. What should we be eating? Some terrific work has been done on the subject, by Michael Pollan, the slow food people, and my fellow brooklynites who prophetically call us to the table for some grub

I have spent the last few years crawling, inch by inch toward some basic principles:

1. Get down to the ground. Victus Terra means literally: Food of the Earth. The food chain that was handed to us before the industrialization of food was the culmination of millions of years of development. Since the Neolithic Revolutions our minds and bodies have changed dramatically. Our populations have exploded, our bodies have grown, our minds have expanded into ever more abstract environments; science, mathematics, philosophy, music, visual art, political organization, all are products of the Neolithic Revolutions. The return to the diverse and healthy diets of our most recent ancestors is a necessity, particularly as our improved hygiene, a problem throughout the history of human diets, has become a less pressing concern. There are some who still adhere to the old ways: fresh farmed fruits and vegetables; pastured and grass fed Steer; naturally raised livestock; un-pastuerized dairy.  The return to these foods provides a full and balanced diet that is free of supplements, processed ingredients,  and industrial tinkering.  Additionally we can take an ethical high ground in terms of local farming, sustainability, and animal mistreatment. The problem with eating this way is obvious: the cost is high.  Many will state that the cost is prohibitively high, but as with anything else in this massive marketplace, it is all about choices.

2. Cook EVERYTHING! Steam, Sauté bake, roast...whatever, just cook your food. I won't get too far into it now, but the Raw Food diet scares me a bit. Many people associate the benefits they discover on the Raw Diet with the Diet itself. They contrast their relative gains in health with their previous unhealthy processed diet. But it is the abandonment of the processed foods that is allowing for better health, NOT the raw diet. (more on this later).

3. Eat Oysters. Raw. O, the beauty of contradictions. More on this later also.

4. Possibly the most imoportant: when you eat, Eat. Sit down, breath for a good 30 seconds before eating. Eat slowly. Chew, alot. Savor. Other then the air we breath, food is our fundemental source of life. The number and amount of nutrients we take in is directly related to our peace of mind while eating. Give your body the calm and deliberate state it needs to properly digest.

that's all for now...be well.