Real Food

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Having my own blog is a relief to friends and family of mine who have to constantly put up with my gesticulative excitement about things like the health and taste benefits of coconut oil and lard and upcoming local forums on “access to pasture”.  Here I can funnel most of that enthusiasm and not annoy my husband, for instance, about such subjects which he sweetly nods at half-heartedly.  Here are a few things this week that are stirring me up:

Real Food: What to Eat and Why, a new book by author Nina Planck.  I’m nearly done reading this innocent-enough-looking book that is literally loaded with detailed information on whole or “traditional” foods and their health values.  She knocks me out of the water when she explains how important animal protein is to our complete well-being and how a vegetarian diet is only second-best nutritionally, for plant protein is always inferior to animal protein.  A lot of time is devoted to the benefits of grass-fed and pastured meat and poultry.  Did you know that grass-fed milk, cream, butter and cheese are rich in vitamins A and D, omega-3 fats, CLA, and butyric acid, a fat that fights cancer and infections?  Planck describes how lactose-intolerance evolved and that its roots are climate-related.  Ancestors of those who are lactose-intolerant more-than-likely lived in hotter climates and had little means of keeping fresh milk cold.  These adults never developed the capacity to produce lactase (an enzyme which digests the lactose in milk), mainly because they didn’t drink enough fresh milk, and the opposite is true for those who lived in colder climates.  Fascinating.  In her eloquently written book, Planck incorporates a lot of history and science (not terribly light reading) into her argument for the value of whole foods and she carries on about other topics such as raw milk, traditional vs. industrial food processing, red meat and its link to heart disease, good and bad cholestoral, fish as a super-food, and the diet of the nursing mother.  Highly recommended.

Fishing around on the web I found myself poking about the Niman Ranch website which I’ve been meaning to do for a while.  Niman Ranch, for those of you who are as unsavvy as me, is a “consortium” of sorts of 500+ dairy farms and ranches around the country where the meat is raised and maintained according to extremely high standards.  Sounds to me like and Organic Valley but for meat.  I’m curious anyhow, and it appears that a number of farmers in our own state are part of Niman Ranch.  They have farm tours a few times a year and when I hear of one I most certainly will let you know.  Visit their site, it’s a good one, and you can order from them online if you are so inclined. 

Finally, I want to mention a few blog sites I have been visiting a lot lately.  The first is local, called Cool on the Hill, and is really a wonderful source for goings-on in the Cathedral Hill/downtown St. Paul area.  Mostly the blog is devoted to the food of our neighborhood, eateries and markets,  but she is always humorously filling us in on other neighborhood events and sightings.  Another blog I’ve been following is not at all local called The Fanatic Cook.  Here is a brainy, savvy nutritionist from the northeast who has a knock-out blog on food and health related issues.  Also a good writer, concise and interesting.  Check these two out if you have time.

I’d realized this last Sunday that it had been two weeks since I visited my local St. Paul Farmers Market and so I hurriedly grabbed my keys and went.  Now on into September is when I become obnoxiously giddy about all the treats at the market and it is best just to leave me alone to roam or else I will certainly embarrass you by pushing melons into your nose to smell and what-not.  A few things really caught my attention this time.  The Hmong farmers are now beginning to carry these enormous cucumbers, as big as my thigh, in a few strange colors such as rusty-orange.  I asked a seller what he suggests I do with it and he said that he slices it in half lengthwise, scoops out the seeds, chops it up and soaks it in sugar and water and then eats.  The wonderful, eccentric Herb Man is now growing a serious variety of heirloom tomatoes, mostly small in size, but if you ask him about them he’ll talk to you for hours about his thousands of plants.  Wonderful.  And my absolute joy is the appearance of the heirloom melons.  There is a farm, which I haven’t the name right now, that sells a good variety of sweet-smelling heirloom melons.  They are rather small and expensive but worth every penny.  You haven’t lived…