Many of us have heard of cod liver oil, perhaps through a story of childhood woes related by our grandparents or great-grandparents that went something like: “Every day my mother would make me take a spoonful of cod liver oil before I walked the five miles through the snow to school.” What this story doesn’t tell you is how lucky they were to have been given this historical super food. Yes, cod liver oil has been around for a long time.
You could even say it is the stuff of legends or, rather, the stuff legends were built on. The Roman soldiers were known to take fermented cod liver oil, Garum, on their marches across Europe. In the same vein, every Viking family had a barrel of cod livers fermenting by their front door and would take a spoonful of the oil upon leaving the house every day because they recognized its contribution to their vitality.
It wasn’t until the 20th century that the benefits of cod liver oil became better understood. Doctors in the 1920s recommended feeding children cod liver oil in order to prevent rickets (a crippling affliction caused by vitamin D deficiency, most notably endured by President Franklin D. Roosevelt). Studies have shown this nutrient-dense food (it is really more of a food, though we take it supplementarily) to contain high concentrations of naturally occurring vitamin A and D. DHA and EPA, two essential fatty acids particularly important for brain health and hormone production, respectively, are also found in cod liver oil. The importance and inherent practicality of consuming a food like this as a supplement is in the synergism of the components. Since vitamins A and D are fat-soluble, our bodies require fat to absorb them. The natural fatty acids in the cod liver oil act as the liaison for the absorption of A and D in your body, much as they did for the cod.
Although there has been some research indicating the possible toxicity of vitamin D and A that can occur from consuming large quantities, many cases are attributable to supplements created from synthesized A and D. This basically means the vitamins are not quite usable by the body (take D2, for example) and require your body to convert the supplement to a more usable form. Taking a supplement that requires your body to do more work seems counterproductive when there are nutrient-dense foods and supplements that can give you what you need without the extra bodily hassle. In addition, the unconverted portion of the synthetic supplement has nowhere to go but to build up in your body fat and create toxic concentrations that will lead to other problems.
As to the benefits of a daily dose of fermented cod liver oil, there are many. Research has shown that daily consumption of cod liver oil in northerly latitudes (particularly in the winter time when sun exposure is reduced) can improve vitamin D levels (thereby attenuating the Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) that plagues so many of us), as well as increase bone density. A study in the Journal of Neurology looking at people living in the Arctic, found that supplemental cod liver oil taken during childhood may be protective against developing Multiple Sclerosis later in life. In addition, breastfeeding mothers taking cod liver oil show significantly higher levels of DHA and EPA in their breast milk. These higher levels have been shown to greatly benefit the developing fetus and baby. In “a double-blind, placebo-controlled study showed the use of cod liver oil during pregnancy and lactation to increase the child’s IQ at the age of four years. In this study, the control received the same amount of fat-soluble vitamins as the cod liver oil group, so the effects are most likely due to the DHA. In Norway, use of cod liver oil during pregnancy was associated with a 70 percent reduced risk of type 1 diabetes.”
I am an avid believer in the benefits of fermented cod liver oil because I have been using it myself over the last few years. At the beginning, I was not consistent, and although I suspected some benefits, I couldn’t be precise about what they were. During the summer, when I am outside more often, I take less simply because I feel that I get enough sun exposure and do not want to over-do my vitamin D levels that are already being accommodated by the sun and my skin. When the days get shorter and I am more bundled up during the cooler months of the year, I increase my intake, and make sure I am consistent. This Fall and Winter were the first that I have been consistent with my daily dose, and it is also the first year that SAD has not knocked on my door.
As a nutritionist, I believe that eating real foods, prepared using time-tested traditional methods is the only way to eat for vital health and well-being. In my ideology, fermented cod liver oil is an important part of building vital health, particularly for people who do not live in tropic zones of the world, where sunlight exposure is high. My preferred brand is Green Pasture because of the high quality of the livers (only wild caught fish livers from fish caught in clean Arctic waters are used), the high quality processing of the oil (using traditional fermentation methods), and the efforts in sustainability the company employs (they only work with companies that are certified members of the Marine Stewardship Council)
Luckily, this product is available at Rebecca’s, and costs less than ordering it online from Green Pastures or Dr. Ron’s. But, no matter how you get it, I highly recommend you do and start your daily dose of what your great-grandmother always knew was best!
Caitlin Howell, MS (Human Nutrition)
Assistant Grocery Manager
Rebecca’s Natural Food, Charlottesville VA
“Plants have the ability to synthesize a wide variety of chemical compounds that are used to perform important biological functions, and to defend against attack from predators such as insects, fungi and herbivorous mammals. Many of these phytochemicals have beneficial effects on long-term health when consumed by humans, and can be used to effectively treat human diseases. At least 12,000 such compounds have been isolated so far; a number estimated to be less than 10% of the total. Chemical compounds in plants mediate their effects on the human body through processes identical to those already well understood for the chemical compounds in conventional drugs; thus herbal medicines do not differ greatly from conventional drugs in terms of how they work. This enables herbal medicines to be as effective as conventional medicines, but also gives them the same potential to cause harmful side effects.
The use of plants as medicines predates written human history. Ethnobotany (the study of traditional human uses of plants) is recognized as an effective way to discover future medicines. In 2001, researchers identified 122 compounds used in modern medicine which were derived from “ethnomedical” plant sources; 80% of these have had an ethnomedical use identical or related to the current use of the active elements of the plant. Many of the pharmaceuticals currently available to physicians have a long history of use as herbal remedies, including aspirin, digitalis, and quinine, opium.
The use of herbs to treat disease is almost universal among non-industrialized societies, and is often more affordable than purchasing expensive modern pharmaceuticals. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 80 percent of the population of some Asian and African countries presently use herbal medicine for some aspect of primary health care. Studies in the United States and Europe have shown that their use is less common in clinical settings, but has become increasingly more in recent years as scientific evidence about the effectiveness of herbal medicine has become more widely available.” –Wikipedia
While you can certainly find many herbal remedies in your local store, some of the national brands may contain unwanted ingredients such as binders, fillers, preservatives, coloring agents and plasticizers (ugh!). The origin of the herbs themselves are almost never disclosed, sometimes coming from countries with lax health and safety laws (think herbicides, pesticides and a host of other contaminants).
Another area of concern is that some compounds degrade quickly. How much time elapses between harvesting, shipping, processing and warehousing before the capsules get to the store where they may sit for many more months?
Lastly, these compounds are expensive. Sometimes outrageously so.
For all of these reasons, I have started making my own remedies at home using strictly organic ingredients. I try to buy my herbs in whole form, grinding and encapsulating as needed.
Here’s what the process looks like..
A seasonal, Franco-Italian dish of fresh cauliflower, EVOO, homegrown garlic and thyme and the zest & juice from a Meyer lemon. Topped with sea salt, cracked pepper and local sprouts. Slightly crisp on the outside, with a luxurious, creamy interior. Look for the recipe in the comment section at the bottom of this post..
Cauliflower has a long history. François Pierre La Varenne employed it in Le cuisinier françois after it had been introduced to France from Genoa in the 16th century. Cauliflower is featured in Olivier de Serres’ Théâtre de l’agriculture (1600), as cauli-fiori “as the Italians call it, which are still rather rare in France; they hold an honorable place in the garden because of their delicacy”, but they did not commonly appear on grand tables until the time of Louis XIV.
Cauliflower is low in fat, low in carbs but high in dietary fiber, folate, water, and vitamin C, possessing a high nutritional density.
Cauliflower contains several phytochemicals, common in the cabbage family, that may be beneficial to human health.
Sulforaphane, a compound released when cauliflower is chopped or chewed, may protect against cancer.
Indole-3-carbinol, a chemical that enhances DNA repair and acts as an estrogen antagonist, slowing the growth of cancer cells.
Boiling reduces the levels of these compounds, with losses of 20–30% after five minutes, 40–50% after ten minutes, and 75% after thirty minutes. However, other preparation methods, such as steaming, microwaving, and stir frying, had no significant effect on the compounds.
A high intake of cauliflower has been associated with reduced risk of aggressive prostate cancer.
100g of cauliflower contains the following nutritional information according to the USDA:
Calories : 25
Dark red kidney beans in a curry of fresh ginger, onions, garlic, tomatoes and chilies with toasted cumin and coriander, turmeric and cilantro, served over a bed of green tea-germinated brown rice..
Germinated brown rice is approximately 10-20 times higher in protein and amino acids (including GABA) than white rice. Soaking the rice in freshly-brewed green tea adds a pleasing flavor and increases the medicinal value. It also helps to prevent the rice from spoiling during its 18-24 hour germination period.
For more information about germinated brown rice, please see this excellent article at Kitchen Stewardship
What are the bees telling us? Crank it up!
About the film
In 1923, Rudolf Steiner, a scientist, philosopher & social innovator, predicted that in 80 to 100 years honeybees would collapse. His prediction has come true with Colony Collapse Disorder, where bees are disappearing in mass numbers from their hives with no clear single explanation. In an alarming inquiry into the insights behind Steiner’s prediction QUEEN OF THE SUN: What Are the Bees Telling Us? examines the dire global bee crisis through the eyes of biodynamic beekeepers, scientists, farmers, and philosophers. On a pilgrimage around the world, the film unveils 10,000 years of beekeeping, highlighting how our historic and sacred relationship with bees has been lost due to highly mechanized industrial practices. Featuring Michael Pollan, Vandana Shiva, Gunther Hauk and beekeepers from around the world, this engaging, alarming and ultimately uplifting film weaves together a dramatic story that uncovers the problems and solutions in renewing a culture in balance with nature..
What’s up, @WholeFoods, #GMOs got your tongue?
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Save the Date!! May 7, 2011
Third Annual International
Raw Milk Symposium to Highlight
Choice for Producer and Consumer
April 11, 2011–Falls Church, VA—The explosive increase in raw milk consumption—according to CDC statistics, at least ten million Americans now consume raw milk—has created innovative partnerships between consumers and their farmers. By accepting responsibility in their food choices, Americans are paving the way to the next phase of the US local food movement: partnership with producers to ensure we a way of providing raw milk and other healthy foods that our families require for good health.
The Farm-to-Consumer Foundation and the Foundation for Consumer Free Choice will co-host the Third Annual Raw Milk Symposium: Producer-Consumer-Choice in Bloomington, Minnesota. The event will be held on Saturday, May 7, 2011, 8:30 am – 4:30 pm at the Embassy Suites Hotel in Bloomington. It is open to the public. Farmers and consumers are especially invited to learn more about the safety and health benefits of Raw Milk as well as the critical relationship between producers and Consumers
Featured speakers at the event include:
- Ted Beals, M.S., M.D. – He is a retired pathologist with a special interest in the relationship of raw milk to the specific facts surrounding its safety.
- Sally Fallon Morell, M.A. – Author of the best-selling cookbook, Nourishing Traditions and President of the Weston A. Price Foundation.
- David Gumpert – Author, journalist and reporter, and host of the on-line journal, The Complete Patient. His most recent book is The Raw Milk Revolution.
- Sylvia Onusic, Ph.D. – A nutritionist and writer/journalist in the areas of traditional and whole foods and public health with a particular knowledge of the European perspective.
- Michael Schmidt – Trained in biodynamic farming in Germany, he moved to his farm in Canada in 1983 where he won a monumental court decision in 2009 for raw milk access.
- Catherine Shanahan, M.D. – Author of the books Deep Nutrition and Food Rules, she is a board certified family physician trained in biochemistry and genetics.
- Alan Watson – Author of two books, 21 Days to a Healthy Heart and Cereal Killer, which delineates the unintended consequences of the typically recommended low fat diet.
The Farm-to-Consumer Foundation through education and charitable relief, supports farmers engaged in sustainable farm stewardship and promotes consumer access to local, nutrient dense food.
To learn more about the Farm-to-Consumer Foundation, or to make a donation, visit their website, http://farmtoconsumerfoundation.org. The phone number is: 513-407-8899.
Press Contact: Kimberly Hartke, Publicist
A Campaign for Real Milk, realmilk.com
703-860-2711, cell 703-675-5557
Online Version of this Release: http://westonaprice.org/press2/2185-3rd-annual-international-raw-milk-symposium-to-highlight-choice-for-producer-and-consumer
Raw Milk Symposium Official Website: http://www.farmtoconsumerfoundation.org/rawmilksymposium/index.htm
Exhibitor information: http://www.farmtoconsumerfoundation.org/rawmilksymposium/exhibits.htm
Spread the Word (Downloadable Flyer, Web Ads): http://www.farmtoconsumerfoundation.org/rawmilksymposium/flyer/index.htm
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