Columnists Mick and Lini of the Ecological Cookery for the L.A. Free Press cover food safety issues and how to choose the healthiest foods to eat.
You're concerned about the chemicals, pesticides, preservatives and pollution in your food, and you'd like to do something about it.
Photo by Fotolia/Liddy HansdottirYou know the story: You're concerned about food safety: the chemicals and pesticides and preservatives and pollution in your food and you'd like to do something about it. Maybe even switch to a completely organic diet ... or something. But there's so many sickly looking nuts pushing pet theories over there in the "health" camp that you're not too sure about that either.
What you'd like to see is kind of a good, sensible, middle-of-the-road approach to health foods — one that both worked and tasted good, right?
Well, Mick and Lini — who write Ecological Cookery for the L.A. Free Press — may have that theory. Although I take mild exception to a couple of their blanket statements I think — in the main — they've done one of the better jobs of linking the daily ration to an overriding ecological viewpoint. See what you think as you read Mick and Lini's ... "Food Thing".
Today, every American — from the President to our greyhaired grandmother — knows the meaning of the word ecology. The national media are filled with glaring, glossy feature articles on the subject. Invariably these articles all read the same and the advice they offer is predictable: unless America changes its basic approach to Nature there are grim times in store for us all. Suggestions are offered, commissions appointed to study the matter, laws passed, law suits filed but ... interestingly enough ... nothing really changes.
There is a very good reason for this. So far, all approaches to the problem of Man's ecological relationship to the earth have followed the traditional pattern of Western science: The microscopic classification of objects and events into tiny categories and the inability to form a conception of something without tearing it to pieces. It is precisely this type of thinking that has produced the ecological problems in the first place, and only a re-examination of our most basic approaches to Nature can rectify the crisis that confronts us today.
The ecologists are — for the most part — sincere, dedicated and genuinely concerned with the biological disaster that faces Mankind. Yet they have somehow overlooked the most basic facts and have been unable to find the source of the problems that confront us. They have not realized that the environment, in the fullest sense of the word, begins inside the human body and reaches to infinity. Before we can begin to deal effectively with the problems of the world around us we must go to the source of the problem ... ourselves. The only way to change the world is to change ourselves first.
Everything, including ecology and pollution, begins and ends within us. Everything we love and despise — including pollution and the proclivity for destruction — has its origin in our hearts. Air pollution is not an isolated phenomenon that has been done to us by industry. The blame for the destruction of our nation's health and natural resources rests — at least in part — with every individual.
In the same manner in which we judge a person who lives in a filthy house we must judge the human race as a whole. If our lives and bodies are chaotic, polluted and ugly then we cannot help but produce an external environment of the same nature.
Mankind is an organism composed of individual cells. What each cell does affects the total organism. If one cell becomes sick, physically or mentally, it affects all the surrounding cells. If two cells become ill, the organism grows sicker. If more and more cells fall victim it is an epidemic and the entire organism becomes diseased.
The process works the other way too: As the quality of each individual is improved, the quality of the whole society is improved. If you honestly want to change things in the world, then, change yourself first.
Changing our biological condition can change the world from the bottom up and from the inside out and the only way to change the biological condition is to change the food we eat.
This fact is so simple, so basic, that it is ignored by nearly everyone. America is deteriorating both physically and mentally for exactly this reason. Our diet today consists largely of devitalized industrial food, imported food, and food out of season and climate ... and our society has become so sick that it may not recover. Perhaps it's time we learned to respect and honor the laws of Nature.
You can begin changing yourself - and therefore the world today ... with your next meal. You do not need to be an expert to become healthy and happy. Simply follow the laws of Nature and eat good quality, fresh, natural food and within a very short time your life will be richer.
But what constitutes good food?
First, try to realize that there is no bad natural food. At the same time, however, remember that Nature provides different foods in different geographical areas. There are several very good reasons for this but you'll be hard pressed to find any books that supply reliable information on the subject.
To understand why Nature provides a differing variety of indigenous foods in different climates it is necessary for us to take a quick, simplistic look into the fascinating world of chemistry.
All life processes are based upon the complementary biochemical polarity between sodium and potassium. Animal cells generally contain more sodium than potassium and the reverse is true with plants. In addition, the ratio of the two chemicals in both plants and animals varies greatly according to the climate in which they live. Tropical fruits and vegetables contain a great deal more potassium than fruits and vegetables grown in a temperate or semi-arctic climate. There is a definite natural purpose for this: potassium balances tropical heat. Conversely, the inhabitants of arctic climates eat a great deal of animal food, since the high proportion of sodium in meat produces a constriction in the body which helps counteract the cold.
This simple yet all-encompassing relationship between food and climate is one of the most basic laws of Nature. Only when these laws are broken do diseases and unhappiness occur. Unfortunately, man has violated these laws almost constantly since the beginning of recorded history.
While it is very much in accordance with Nature to eat meat in an arctic climate, it violates the natural order to eat meat in a temperate or tropical climate. When a person ignores this order curious changes take place in his body and his mentality is altered. He becomes narrow-minded, materialistic, aggressive and preoccupied with gold, possessions and machines that kill. This is no idle speculation or fantasy. If you doubt it simply eat nothing but meat for a month and observe what happens to your mentality. A friend tried such an experiment and at the end of three weeks he had degenerated into an animal. All he could think of was sex and violence.
If this seems a bit incredible, by all means try the experiment suggested above. It is very practical and much more convincing than anything we can say. And stop to realize that the average American diet consists of 48% animal food and we are the most war-like, aggressive nation on earth.
(The per-capita consumption of meat in Australia and New Zealand is much higher than in the United States yet neither country is particularly aggressive nor war-like. - JS)
One of the most highly pitched battles in nutritional theory is the conflict between the vegetarians and the advocates of eating meat. In order to develop a real understanding of what constitutes a good diet it is necessary to take a moment to survey this conflict more closely.
The advocates of meat-eating insist that, in some as yet unexplained way, the human race has differentiated itself from all other animals by losing the ability to manufacture protein from the raw material it consumes. What this means is that Man was created deficient and is incapable of performing the basic biological functions that most other animals perform with ease. On the other hand, the vegetarians maintain that quality vegetable food is superior to animal food in every way and is all that is required for health. This is correct, to an extent, but it fails to comprehend the true nature of Man.
It is a mistake to assume that Man can subsist only on vegetables, fruits and nuts and still fulfill his highest potential. Although these items play an essential role in any good diet, they are not made to be eaten exclusively. When people consume only these foods they inevitably become passive and spiritually oriented. India is a classic example of this thinking carried to an extreme; it is one of the few nations on earth where a man can see God and at the same time remain oblivious to the misery of his fellow man.
It is essential for us to find a balance between the two extremes and this balance can be found in grains. If an individual makes that first all-important decision to stop eating animal food it is necessary for him to replace meat with another principal food.
Grains and beans supply as much protein as meat, are more easily digested and of a much better quality. All the major civilizations of the past have used grains as their principal food, supplementing them with vegetables, nuts, beans, fruit, seeds and, occasionally, small amounts of animal products. It is in this exact proportion that foods occur in Nature and the cultures of the past followed this ratio intuitively. The Egyptian, Chinese, Hebrew, Aztec, Mayan, Inca, Japanese, Russian, Roman and Greek civilizations used grains as their principal food during the highest and most enlightened periods of their culture.
Only by once again turning to grain, the true food of Man, can we attain happiness and health and develop a true comprehension of the orderly workings of Nature.
As Michio Kushi, one-time professor of Oriental philosophy at Harvard, has said, "Grains are a unique product of the vegetable kingdom which combine the beginning and ending, the seed and the fruit, into one compact unity. Some say that eating grains develops an embracing view of life which includes everything because of this wholesome structure. Perhaps this is really true, for all great religions and cosmologies were born in countries which depended on grains."
It is vital for us to develop a concept of whole food. Choosing a part of any food and discarding the rest is unwise since it is not only an unsound ecological practice, but is also detrimental to health. Nature provides food in whole form and it is in this manner that it should be eaten.
A classic example of the failure to comprehend Nature's workings is the milling of grain, a process which robs the cereal of much of its nutritional value. Grains are Nature's most perfectly balanced foods when eaten in whole form and they provide a complete nutritional package. The hull of all cereals, for instance, consists of six separate layers, each of which contains minerals and vitamins. The inner core is composed mostly of carbohydrates, yet one of the outer layers is designed to aid in the digestion of carbohydrates. If grain is stripped of its rich outer layers and bleached, the resulting product is a totally inferior food.
The ideal should be to use foods in the same proportion in which they occur in Nature, and in the form that Nature provides. Since grains are the most abundant food, they should make up at least 50% of our daily diet. Twenty-five to 30% of our food should consist of well-cooked vegetables. The remainder can be raw vegetables, sea vegetables, beans, nuts, seeds and fruits.
If animal products are desired they should only compose about 10% of the total. It is preferable to choose fish rather than meat or dairy products, since many fish — especially small fish and shellfish — contain unsaturated fats, are more easily digested and — therefore — less detrimental to health.
As long as food can be stored naturally, it is good to eat. Grain will keep indefinitely without spoiling if it is kept dry and cool. Rice 4,000 years old, discovered during archeological excavations in Asia, sprouted when planted. It is natural to eat grain at any time of the year.
Most green vegetables, providing they are fresh and in season, can be eaten during the spring, summer, fall and well into the winter ... providing they have been stored under natural conditions. Squash, pumpkin, Brussel sprouts, carrots, onions and cabbage are good winter vegetables since all that is necessary to preserve them is a cool, dry storage area.
Perishable vegetable, such as sweet corn, string beans, sweet peas, beans, spinach, cucumbers, radishes, celery, cauliflower, broccoli and kale are primarily meant for spring, summer and early fall use. Dried beans and split peas, of course, can be eaten year around.
Fruits that are especially suited to a temperate climate include apples, cherries, strawberries, chestnuts, plums, currants, peaches, pears, apricots, and the indigenous North American berries such as blueberries, blackberries and raspberries. You can eat any of these in season, cherries in June and apples in late summer and fall. If fruits are desired during the winter the best ones to choose are those, such as apples, which will store naturally for a very long time.
Although modern transportation methods have made it possible for us to import tropical fruit and vegetables, these foods are not at all suited to a temperate climate and are usually extremely high in potassium. Certain varieties of such foods are cultivated in temperate zones but they should be avoided or at least used very sparingly. These foods include avocados, eggplant, peppers, potatoes, sweet potatoes, taro, tomatoes, yams, bananas, carob, all citrus fruits, dates, figs, guava, kumquats, mangoes, papaya, passionfruit, pineapples and pomegranates.
The purpose of this article is not to frighten you or tell you that you should not eat any of the above foods which you may dearly love. It is simply to help you become aware that these foods do not occur naturally in your area and they are specifically designed by Nature to be eaten in the climate in which they do grow. If your goal is to become healthy and happy it is best to choose foods that grow in a climate similar to the one in which you live. If you eat imported foods ... and who doesn't these days ... it is preferable to choose those that are imported from east and west, not from north and south. This important concept was practiced by most civilizations in the past and cannot be stressed too firmly.
Why do we cook our food?
Cooking facilitates the transformation from plant to animal within our bodies. Chlorophyll is transmuted into hemoglobin soon after it is ingested and the heat of cooking aids in this process. Vegetarians and raw food eaters claim that cooking destroys the nutritional value of food and " kills" whatever life it may possess. This claim overlooks the fact that, once picked, food is "killed" and that our present mental and physical development is due to our ancestor's use of fire and salt to cook food. Throughout history the majority of mankind has cooked food ... and thrived!
Vegetable quality food is created by photosynthesis: the sun's intensive heat imparts energy to the food. Man uses fire to develop this energy even further: We cook our food to extend digestion beyond our bodies.
It is good practice to eat organically grown foods whenever you can. If you cannot obtain them, use the produce that is available and - if you eat well - the effects of chemicals and sprays will be at least partly negated.
There is no escape from pollution and few truly organic foods are grown today. The world is too small and we cannot avoid coming into contact with the poisons disseminated by civilization. Even penguins in Antarctica are contaminated with DDT. Ideally, one should eat organic vegetables and grains whenever possible, but you should strive to become so healthy that pollution has a minimal effect upon you.
You can conduct simple tests to determine if what you eat is really organically grown:
Take a small amount of food and place it in a bottle barely covered with water. Seal tightly and keep in a dark place for a month.
When you open the bottle you will be confronted with one of two distinct odors. A putrid odor indicates that the contents of the bottle is definitely not organic. If, on the other hand, there is a fermented smell it is organic.
Try this experiment with the so-called organic food that is available today and you will be surprised to find that much is of very poor quality.
Man is a free being who can eat whatever he wants. He should be wise enough, however, to choose foods that contribute to his health and happiness. The following list of commonly used American foods cannot be recommended.
Coffee is a tropical bean that is not indigenous to temperate zones. It produces a highly acid condition in the body and this in turn leads to many ailments. Excessive consumption of coffee leads to nervousness, heart palpitations, headache, insomnia, digestive disorders, diarrhea and vomiting. According to the French encyclopedia Larouse Medical Illustre', even a moderate amount of coffee (3-4 cups per day) can cause the following symptoms: perspiration, hallucinations, dizziness, shaking, convulsions, fumbling actions, loss of weight, fatigue, cramps, nightmares, prostate trouble, inflammation of the sex organs and depression.
After a period of prolonged use, coffee causes anemia and produces sweating and rapid heartbeat. This leads to arteriosclerosis and cachexia (general ill health and emaciation.) Even when taken in moderate amounts it produces accelerated heart beat and excites the nervous system. Caffeine has an effect similar to tanic acid and thus has adverse effects on the intestines. It is especially dangerous for children.
If you feel that you must drink coffee, why not try some of the tasty natural grain and herb coffees available in the stores that carry quality food? Not only do they taste like ordinary coffee but they are good for you.
Since many of the dyes used are carcinogenic all teas containing them should be avoided. There is no reason for dyeing or otherwise altering the appearance of any natural food. If you are in doubt as to whether tea is dyed or not, put a clean dish towel into a freshly brewed cup of tea. After a minute, remove it. If there is a stain on the cloth the tea is dyed and should be discarded.
Foods selected for canning are invariably of poor quality and lacking in nutritional value, taste and aroma. Minute amounts of lead from the can may have entered the food, and — even in small amounts — lead is highly toxic.
Nearly all canned products and pre-packaged foods contain preservatives and additives. They are also packed with so–called "flavor-enhancing" substances such as Monosodium Glutamate, which is a known carcinogen. In addition, many canned foods are overcooked which results in the loss of valuable vitamins.
It is not within the scope of this article to delve into the dangers of chemical additives, nor is it our intention. Adequate information is already available in many fine books, the best of which is The Poisons In Your Food, by William Longgod.
Chocolate is manufactured from the tropical cocoa bean. It contains theobromine which is a substance similar to caffeine. This substance forms colorless crystals that, although not as toxic as caffeine, are powerfully diurretic. This in turn produces constipation, arthritis, rheumaticism and hepatitis. Chocolate also contains an acid which leaches calcium from the digestive tract. Further, much of the chocolate available contains artificial coloring and sugar, since pure chocolate is extremely bitter. It is best to avoid chocolate completely.
Excessive consumption of cola drinks leads to palpitation, insomnia and constipation since they contain caffeine, theobromine, tanic acid, glucose, starch and sugar. All of these substances interfere with the internal working order of the body, especially the heart and nervous system.
All diet drinks are detrimental to health and should be avoided. They contain a great deal of sugar or artificial sweeteners, carbonated water and many harmful chemicals. If you pour cola on concrete it will eat a hole in the surface. If a tooth is placed into a glass of cola and left overnight it will partially dissolve. Try to imagine what such liquids do to your stomach and intestines.
There are three varieties of natural sugar:
Although the body eventually breaks down all sugars into monosaccharides it is dangerous to eat monosaccharides in pure form. Of all the foods we eat, sugar is one of the most harmful.
Industrial white sugar is not a whole food, but rather the extract of a tropical variety of cane or beet. All of the vitamins and minerals have been removed and the remaining pulp is 99.96% sucrose which is potentially dangerous when taken into the body. Although sugar produces a burst of energy it does so only by disrupting the metabolism. It also produces hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) and several other ailments.
Almost all sweets available in the so-called "health food" stores contain brown sugar, yellow-d-sugar or Kleenraw sugar. There is an erroneous belief among health-minded people that these sugars are in some way superior to refined white sugar. In reality brown sugar is simply refined white sugar mixed with molasses to give it color. Sugar is sugar, and all brands are equally harmful.
Manufacturers claim that frozen foods are as fresh as anything from the garden, but carelessly overlook the fact that nothing in the Universe is constant and that everything changes. When food is frozen it contracts and this produces a change in the quality of the food and a loss of important nutrients.
The majority of the spices used in cooking are of tropical origin and should be avoided or used sparingly. Spices that can be used in moderate quantities include cinnamon, bay leaves, ginger and thyme. Chemical seasonings and flavoring agents, such as Monosodium Glutamate are synthetic and must be avoided since they are both unnecessary and detrimental to health.
Molasses is nothing more than the pulp that remains after sugar has been refined. It is filled with chemicals left over from the refining process.
Baking soda or baking powder produces a rapid reaction similar to yeast and interferes with digestion by stimulating the production of gastric acid which unnaturally shortens the period of time that food stays in the stomach.
During the past few years science has gradually become aware of the direct relationship between meat eating and heart disease. Saturated fats (large molecules which are difficult for the body to break down), such as those found in animal products, gradually accumulate in the arteries and around the heart. Unsaturated fats, which occur in vegetable quality food and in some fish, are more easily digested and do not accumulate in the body to any great extent.
Meat also contains more protein than our bodies can utilize. This excess protein is stored in the muscles, which become hard and inflexible. Since we don't really chew it, meat reaches our stomach in large chunks. The stomach makes attempts to digest these chunks by secreting an overabundance of gastric acid but the meat is passed on to the large intestine largely undigested.
At this point two things happen: The large intestine secretes uric acid which produces a fermentation that putrifies the entire body ... but still leaves the meat undigested. Since minerals neutralize acid, the body is forced to draw on reserves in the bones and teeth and a mineral deficiency results.
Uric acid that has become putrified produces an effect similar to caffeine, and anxiety is usually the result of eating meat over a long period of time. The mentality becomes constricted and materialistic, and invariably, we become angry. In addition, putrification produced by the uric acid causes body odor. When you have stopped eating meat you will find that body odor disappears.
Most meats available today are virtually saturated with antibiotics, hormones, tranquilizers, pesticides, dyes, deodorants and radiation. It is common practice for ranchers to inject the female hormone, stilbestrol, into the necks of meat and poultry animals to produce abnormal growth. The animal swells up with water and therefore weighs more at market time. Even though this drug is said to be assimilated before the animal is butchered, significant traces often remain in many meats.
The law prohibits the use of food coloring and deodorants in meat but there is no way of preventing an unscrupulous butcher from using them to brighten discolored or stale meat. The majority of processed meats — such as hot dogs and cold cuts — contain preservatives, stabilizers, dyes, plastic residue and other harmful substances.
Even though poultry should not be eaten for the same reasons as meat, poultry is more easily digested and is therefore preferable. Whenever possible, try to obtain wild fowl rather than chemically or even organically fed birds, since these will seldom be as heavily contaminated with chemicals and poison as domestic birds.
Eggs are an animal food and while not as detrimental to health as meat and dairy products, should only be used infrequently and sparingly. Eggs cause putrification in the intestines in a manner similar to meat and sugar. This, in turn, produces constipation. According to the French encyclopedia Larousse Medical Illustre, many individuals cannot tolerate eggs. In such individuals, eggs may cause the following symptoms: Skin eruptions, nausea, vomiting, liver trouble, enteritis and kidney stones.
Raw eggs should be avoided at all times since raw egg whites go through the stomach very rapidly and produce a reaction with pancreatic acid in the intestines. When raw egg whites break down they form a mild poison and this can lead to feelings of fatigue or mild intoxication.
Eggs should only be used infrequently in cooking. Soft boiled or poached eggs are the least harmful. If eggs are cooked for a long time they lose whatever value they may have. When purchasing eggs look for shiny, heavy, full eggs that make no noise when shaken. The yolk should not break and the white should form a circle around it when you crack a fresh egg gently. If the egg is light and dull it is old and should not be used. When an old egg is cracked the yolk spreads and the white is watery and thin.
If you must use eggs, purchase only those laid by organically-fed hens. These birds have been fed naturally on the ground rather than stuffed with chemical laying food. The best eggs to purchase are organically-fed, fertilized eggs since these are a whole food from the biological standpoint.
Man is the only animal that continues to drink milk after it has been weaned and has developed teeth. Milk is a good designed by Nature for infants. All arguments in favor of milk disregard this basic fact, and are indicative of a mentality which sees nothing amiss when humans suckle on a biologically inferior animal.
Cows' milk is not only poor quality food, but "progress" has succeeded in making it worse. Pasteurized milk is subjected to two processes that destroy what little value it has. It is sterilized to destroy the coliform organism by heating it to 140 degrees F. This also destroys lactobacilli, a valuable enzyme that is found in milk.
Lactobacilli assist in decomposing sugars, producing lactic acid, causing growth in children, producing vitamins B1, B2, B3 and B12 and preventing food poisoning and various diseases. When preservatives are added to pasteurized milk, they destroy or paralyze lactobacilli action. Even if lactobacilli are added to the milk afterwards the preservatives kill them. Recently the Department of Agriculture conducted an experiment on calves, feeding them only pasteurized milk. The calves died within three months.
Milk is highly praised by nutritionists because it contains calcium. The amount of calcium is small in comparison with other foods such as some land and sea vegetables. Milk contains 100 micrograms of calcium per hundred grams. Sea vegetables, on the other hand, contain from 2-1/2 to 14 times as much calcium as milk and are a more ecologically balanced food.
Butter, yogurt and cream contain a high amount of saturated fats, as well as dyes, artificial flavoring, sugar and preservatives. Cheese generally falls into the same category with the possible exception of goat cheese made from raw milk. The saturated fats in these dairy products interfere with digestion and produce acne, eczema, obesity, heart disease, hardening of the arteries and many other ailments.
If you must drink milk, it is preferable to drink raw milk purchased from a local source. Goats' milk is more easily digested than cows' milk.
All commercial table salt has been refined and baked at high temperatures in kilns. It is of very poor quality. When salt is dehydrated and purified by filtering through a soft water solution, only the sodium chloride remains. All of the other trace minerals — so vitally important to health — are lost.
Use of refined salt produces a retention of water in the tissues of the body and around the joints. This inevitably leads to discomfort and disorders of the vascular system, eyes, kidneys, heart, digestive organs and skin since the forced retention defeats the purpose of natural elimination.
The best salt to use in cooking is pure sea salt. Ground quarry salt should be avoided since it contains gypsum. When purchasing sea salt, avoid fancy names and labels. Try to get the grey variety which is commonly called bath salt and is sometimes labelled "Not for human consumption". Do not be disturbed by the message on the label. This is a regrettable indication of our country's mentality when a fine, natural sea salt cannot be sold without restrictive labeling.
An alternative white sun-dried salt which has been dried naturally is also good. These salts contain all the trace minerals that remain after sea water has been evaporated including magnesium, calcium, phosphorus, iron - all of which are vitally important for health. Natural unrefined sea salt also helps the body produce hydrochloric acid which aids in digestion.
Dry roast the unrefined salt in a frying pan over a medium high flame for at least 10 minutes, while stirring occasionally, to expel excess chlorine. Then grind the salt into a fine powder in a stone maize grinder or mortar and pestle. Use sea salt sparingly in your cooking. It will give a much better and more natural taste to your food.
Hydrogenated oils should be avoided since the heat of the hydrogenation process destroys the oil's nutritional value. In addition, the body is incapable of digesting hydrogenated oil.
The best oil for cooking is sesame oil. It contains sesamolin, a natural antioxident which acts as a natural preservative. Breads baked with sesame oil keep a long time without turning rancid. Sesamolin also contains vitamin E and F. All vegetable oils have a flash point at which they change into saturated fats. Sesame oil has the highest flash point (500 degrees F) and will thus withstand very high cooking temperatures. When rendering, after the oil is removed, the sesame seeds that remain can be made into sesame butter. This is a sound ecological practice because the whole food is utilized. All other grains and seeds that are used to make oil must be discarded or fed to animals after the oil has been extracted, and this results in unbalanced, devitalized food.
In its raw state sesame oil cannot be used for deep frying since it will foam when heated. It must first be heated until it begins to smoke and then cooled. It is now ready for deep frying.
Corn oil should be used in deep frying only where the high cost of sesame oil prohibits its use. You can add a small amount of sesame oil to corn oil to improve the flavor.
Corn germ oil is a rich, dark yellow oil used in pastries and in sauteing. When fresh it has a delightful aroma and is delicious but it is not a satisfactory oil for deep frying.
When purchasing oil, accept only unrefined oil, since the refining process removes the lecithin and vitamins from the oil.
Now that we've covered some of the reasons for eating natural food, it's time to get more specific. The remainder of this article will be devoted to discussing the properties of various natural foods, listing methods for cooking them and giving a few samples of the many delicious recipes that are possible with grains and vegetables.
Rice is the staple food of the majority of the world's population and more arable land is devoted to its cultivation than any other crop. The cultivation of rice is older than recorded civilization.
Brown rice is one of Nature's most perfect foods. Yet, paradoxically, a large percentage of the population who depend upon rice as a staple food are suffering from malnutrition. This is not due to some inherent deficiency in the rice but rather to the loss of nutrients that occur when the rice is milled. Fifteen percent of the protein, 90% of the calcium, 80% of the thiamine, 70% of the riboflavin and 68% of the niacin is lost when rice is milled.
White rice consists of an undigestible pulp of carbohydrate that is lacking in protein, vitamins and minerals. For this reason, only unrefined brown rice should be used. organically grown, of course, is best.
When purchasing rice, pay close attention to its appearance. It should be of the best quality available and the short grain variety. The smaller the kernel the better. The grains should be uniform in size and color and free from cracks, chips and black discolorations.
There are virtually hundreds of delicious ways to cook and serve brown rice. Its hearty flavor combines well with many other foods. Not only can brown rice be served as a main dish, but it is equally good when used in soups, breads, cakes, cookies, puddings and teas. It can be boiled, baked, fried, pressure cooked, roasted, steamed and even popped.
When cooking organic rice it is necessary to add more water and increase the cooking time. It should usually be pressure cooked for at least 1-1/2 hours.
This species of rice is quite different from ordinary brown rice, and is sometimes known as "glutinous rice". Its origins lie in the Far East where it is used as a special holiday food. The flavor is sweet and it is used mainly in desserts and baking.
Corn is a member of the cereal family and is a close relative of grass and bamboo. It has played a vital role in the history of the ancient American civilizations. Geographically originating in tropical America, its use spread to the entire Western Hemisphere. When the first settlers from Europe arrived they found corn in full cultivation.
The corn commonly cultivated today is much different from Indian corn and is classed as a vegetable rather than a grain. Indian corn is now called "Feed Corn" and is fed to domestic animals or used to make corn meal. When purchasing corn to grind into meal this is the variety you should obtain. Both white and yellow varieties are suitable, but the white variety has a sweeter taste. If you do not have a flour mill, purchase only a small amount of corn flour or meal and use it as soon as possible since it spoils quite rapidly. Avoid purchasing any meal or corn products that contain lime since it is very dangerous to health.
Wheat originated somewhere in Asia and was extensively cultivated by prehistoric man. Kernels of wheat have been discovered in Switzerland amidst Stone Age relics. The early cave paintings in Greece show wheat being grown. The protein content of wheat is relatively high, varying from 9 to 16%, depending on the type of wheat and the locality where it was grown. When wheat is eaten in conjunction with beans it provides a source of protein that is equal to meat and more easily digested. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture: "If the entire calorie requirements had to be supplied by one cereal, wheat alone would provide more than the minimum amount of protein needed". Of all the good food provided by Nature, wheat is one of the most superior, both in nutritional value and in taste.
Southwestern Asia and Russia was the original home of rye. Today this grain is cultivated in all the Northern Hemisphere and is especially prized in Scandinavia. It will grow in any soil if well supplied with water, but — when planted in good soil — it will have a higher food value than wheat. Rye develops strong muscles and is considered a good blood cleanser.
It is important to avoid storing rye for too long. All stored grains eventually become infested with worms and moths, but these can be easily removed by washing. In the case of rye, however, the worms produce a reaction that makes the rye poisonous.
The cultivation of barley is older than civilization itself. Its origins are lost in the dim recesses of prehistoric time, although recent investigations in the Middle East indicate that is originated in Northern Egypt and Syria. Barley represents one of the best sources of vitamins and minerals of all the cereals, and is delicious when prepared with vegetables, mixed with other grains, served in soups or made into tasty breads.
Oats have been grown in Northern Europe since prehistoric times. Kernels of fossilized oats were discovered among the relics of the Lake Dwellers. In modern times the cultivation of this grain has spread to all parts of the world. Oats are a good cold weather food since their fat content is very high. Their protein content is rather high also ... oatmeal sometimes containing as much as 15% protein.
Buckwheat is a strong, vigorous species of grass that is very resistant to blight and, for this reason, it seldom is sprayed. Buckwheat will thrive in almost any soil or location. It is native of Asia, although it has been grown in Europe since the Middle Ages. While not actually a grain, it can be eaten as a principal food.
Buckwheat forms the staple diet of the people of Brittany, Russie and Northern China, where the climate is cold and the winters long. This is an exceptionally good winter food since it constricts the capillaries and produces as much body heat as meat. Buckwheat should, therefore, not be eaten too frequently in warmer climates or during the summer.
Millet is one of the traditional foods eaten by the people of Northern China, Greece, Manchuria, India, Russia, Germany, Austria and Italy. When prepared improperly it can be quite bland and, for this reason, it should be toasted in a small amount of oil to bring out its natural flavor before cooking. Millet blends well with almost any vegetable or vegetable sauce, and that's where your imagination can come into play.
Purchase only small quantities that can be used within 3 months. Flour that is kept longer than this becomes stale, tasteless and, in some cases, rancid. To improve the quality of old or moist flour, toast it over a medium-high flame in a small amount of sesame oil until it is slightly browned and fragrant.
It is also good to roast freshly ground flour when you plan on using it as a thickening agent for soups or when making creams. This improves the flavor by giving it a nutty quality.
When grain is ground into flour the heat of the milling process and the resulting oxidation produces an immediate loss in nutritional value. It is therefore preferable to grind your own flour and use it immediately. If you do not have the resources for grinding flour, purchase only fresh stone ground flour.
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