Foraging is becoming popular again. Or at least I would like to think so. It’s blackberry season and on an evening walk we have been taking a few pitstops to reach into the brambles for some succulent treats. I wondered just before I picked the ripe juicy fruits, which were being visited by the insects at the time, was I eating more than I bargained for? Had those insects just come from the field next door and brought with them the traces of bovine excrement. (!) How sterile our diets have become to avoid any hint of micro organisms that may potentially harm us! This food sterility is having the opposite effect and autoimmune conditions are a by product of such careful processing of food.
Obtaining food as close as possible to the source is part of the solution. My appreciation for the foods in their natural environment has grown in recent years. Yes I savoured the sweet succulent taste of the seasonal berries there and then. At this stage of my life I am welcoming the extra diversity of fauna and flora. In a world reminding us to be inclusive this may be a good start.
Recent years have seen us bring in more Irish salt on our shelves. We are an island so the idea of local sea salt being developed and brought to market is a joy to see. From an essential food substance that has been overly processed to reduce its cost and maximise its use in industry, sodium chloride (good old Saxa) is millions of miles away from the complexity of real salt. We have internalized the messages that say (processed) salt is bad for us. We need to separate the demonized food from the elixir that enhances our health. Salt is one of those amazing gifts of nature we have learned to harness and appreciate. We see the rising tide of appreciation growing every day. The shelf space dedicated to it echoes this trend too. Move over MSG. Your time is up!
Who does not love ice cream? In the hot weather there is a draw towards the cooler foods that reminds us of Summer days. I will put it out there…a raw milk ice cream would be divine. I went through a regular phase of making ice cream having been inspired by the Murphys in Kerry and their cookbook a few years ago. Over the years I tweaked the recipe to just be eggs, raw cream and honey.
Whisking eggs and honey until thick and creamy. Adding raw cream and then into the icecream maker with vanilla pod seeds. 20 minutes and voila. To say there is no comparison is an understatement. Being nourished by such decadent goodness is really a revelation. No fussy eaters here!!
But this year I cannot find the attachment needed to make the ice cream and we have resorted to shop bought blocks and wafers when the need arises. How far into the Ultra Processed category has this food gone..my taste buds object as the addictive sweetness seduces..!!
I pledge to rip apart the house to find this attachment before its too late… a slippery slope of complacency is too easy to join. Wish me luck and throw in a prayer to St Anthony for me..
You may have heard of the NOVA classification system. It is a simplistic categorization of foods based on their level of processing. We have referred to Ultra Processed Foods (UPF) regularly as problematic not only in terms of our health but the planet too. Rising evidence is mounting on the negative impact of consuming a diet that is made up of mostly UPF. Although the Big Food companies are naturally keen to create these lucrative items, they are understandably not keen on supporting a classification system that shows them up in a negative light. That obvious point aside any new system or idea will not be necessarily embraced with gusto. I do like it though and find it an interesting and useful one. It has helped inform our choices here on foods to bring to the members.
Now that we have the Irish average consumption of UPF at 46% we would like to collate our figures to compare. We emphasize real food but what percentage do we sell? Watch this space.
It is phenomenal here to note the rise in popularity of organic raw milk. In the space of a few years, we have gone from the cautious fear of this local food to an appreciation that is well deserved. The common message we get from customers is the recognition that this is indeed a real food, and it is impossible to go back to the ultra-processed replicas. In truth, this gives us room for hope that there is an innate wisdom we possess to recognise when a food is good for us. In so many ways raw milk is that beacon of recovery.
As the years have gone by though most of the population have been herded into the feedlot of ultra processed foodstuffs to the point that they no longer remember what real food is nor understand why it is important. We have distanced ourselves from where the food originates from and how to prepare it. Little by little we have eroded our ability to understand normal anymore. It affects all of us every day. The ability to access real food is challenging. It is a needle in a haystack at times!
On a positive note, though this innate wisdom is there, and I witness this wisdom coming to the fore particularly when a parent strives to help a sick child. That energy is powerful and latent. The answers are often right in front of us. Real food heals. We need to help each other to access and utilise. When we can harness this energy collectively the potential is endless.
I am looking at the title in front of me thinking about the potential topic and my brain brings me to the reality of where we are. Fake Food for Existing. It is a common theme we refer to with new customers who are trying to find answers for their health problems. Here is the typical scenario.
I get a call from a staff member to meet a new customer who has visited for the first time because they have heard we do something or have some thing that will help them. They tell me about a symptom that bothers them sufficiently they are willing to look at the food route. They are tired of medication and side effects and have reached a crossroads of nothing to loose now.
Its no magic bullet, but with a little engagement and introduction to real foods invariably the person realises themselves that they actually haven’t been nourishing themselves. It is no wonder that they feel ill! I witness the realisation of dawning that Coke zero, red bull, monster, biscuits, cake, sweets are only fueling their own deterioration. When you are surrounded by poison you will consume it whether you want to or not. Our environment makes it so difficult to maintain a decent standard of nourishment. It is easier to heap the guilt of poor choices on the individual. As if we hadn’t enough to carry!!
But when you provide a supportive environment that makes it easier to obtain and use it is quite amazing to witness the transformation that can happen. Healing begins with a supportive environment. We can help each other to achieve it.
It is said that the pen is mightier than the sword. History continues to teach us this valuable lesson and living in the woke times we find ourselves in no doubt someone will have a conniption about that His word and before long we will have Themtory on the curriculum. It appears we can be taught to be triggered by anything and offence is the common language of discourse with real free speech a dwindling thing. Re writing the words of Roald Dahl sets a very dangerous precedence, I fear. Where does this stop? My children adored the awfulness Dahl presented as well as the wonderful life lessons imbedded in his stories. The imaginative food images he conjured up – whippie scrumptious fudgemallow delight, hairy scary beard cups, liquid chocolate mixed by waterfall. Ok, it’s not the healthiest choice I know…
Looking at the words in this context of being sanitised, though I had a moment of pause.
Healthy Food. Heal Thy Food. HEAL THY FOOD…. (Discuss!)
Inspired and driven to heal our children and families are we on the path to healing our food too? Organic farming is gaining traction. The land is capable of recovery with regenerative farming practices. We witness the profound results when people return to real food and recover from poor health. Words can never express the full gratitude we hold to these precious resources we have all around us.
Gary Larson captures life so well and this one is a favourite. Most recently captioned as “If 2020 was a food truck” It’s a love it or hate it thing with liver. But as a real food we have seen a rising appreciation for this superfood at The Urban Co-op. Customers wait patiently for the next batch to arrive from the farms and it sells out quickly. Stories abound on the healing impact this food has. We reminisce on stories of liver coated in flour and fried in butter and onions and cooked by grandparents, urging us to consume for its goodness. That was then.
Our distance from this food into modern eating habits has meant it has been devalued on all stages of the food chain. So much so it is harder to get. Not that it is unavailable but not worth bringing to our table anymore. The cost of processing does not justify the effort. For now, this is a very cheap superfood. It is true I obsess about it, probably more than rationally healthy. But like raw milk it represents something bigger about our food system. A sustaining food in plain sight that we wilfully ignore and undervalue until it is not available to us.
For what it’s worth, I baulked at the idea of eating offal for a long time but have learned to respect its value. Fried liver and onions cooked in butter and served with some tamari and balsamic vinegar is a winner recipe for me. It is like a battery recharge to have this meal. Jacinda in NZ tells us she has no more left in the tank. She wasn’t eating NZ lambs’ liver I’d say.
Recipes from Katie Verling & Jacques