I’ve been thinking a lot lately about a connection between some of the foods that I am most drawn to. When I think of the foods that I have some kind of deep attachment to, that speak to me almost on a soul level… these foods are bone broth and soup, organ meats and fermented foods of all kinds including sauerkraut, kimchi, kefir, kombucha and all the rest. From the moment I learned of these foods and began to make them, I just “knew” that these were special.
What these foods have in common is that they are the “left behind” foods, the ones that come from what most people would consider the throw aways or the junk. When you look at a big blob of bones like this, be honest are you not just a bit repulsed? What good could come of this, right?But after a nice long simmer, these bones can make this beautiful broth.
Which in turn if given some loving other vegetables, can turn into a beautiful, delicious, nutritious soup like this:
And this soup can aid in your digestive process, provide warmth and comfort and bring such joy to your life. Sally Fallon writes about how rich chicken broth, which she says is sometimes called Jewish penicillin, was actually prescribed by a 12th century physician Moses Maimonides as a treatment for colds and asthma.
When we think about organ meats, most people cannot connect how this admittedly somewhat repulsive looking big ‘ol honkin’ beef heart…
Could possibly be the secret ingredient that turns mundane meatloaf into a powerhouse nutritional force. At the LiveStrong web site, they mention that beef heart contains all essential amino acids, zinc, selenium and phosphorus. It has more than double the elastin and collagen than other cuts of meat and a highly concentrated source of coenzyme Q10, also known as CoQ10.
And don’t even get me started about liver…..
This is a photo of Chef Monica Corrado of Simply Being Well holding a gorgeous pork liver during her cooking class that I attended in Baltimore, Maryland this past winter where we made stock and pate’. I admire Monica’s mission to teach others how to cook traditional diet based food and she is someone who has inspired me as well. Monica is treating this liver with the respect it deserves because she knows that the phosphorus, iron, zinc, copper, Vitamin B2, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin B6 and B12 counts are off the charts when you look at an ounce for ounce comparison between liver and other “so called” nutrient dense foods such as apples, carrots or red meat. For example, there are 113.3 mg of vitamin B12 in 100 grams of liver compared to 0 mg in the same amount of apples or carrots and 1.84 mg in the same amount of red meat.
And then we get to our lovely fermented foods, a place where I could percolate myself for years and years. Some may see simply this humble radish when looking at this vegetable…
But with just a little sea salt, ginger, garlic, coriander seeds and the gift of TIME, these radishes jump into a new category of crunchy, tangy, and kicky and full of probiotics.
So while the masses are rushing for the steak and the other “popular” foods, I find myself drawn to these marginalized, less sought after foods and I see that beautiful things can be made from them. Beautiful things that have the power to nourish, replenish, renew and bring more to the table than they were before. I especially love this about fermented food– that you can take something ordinary like a radish or a cabbage and through cultivating beneficial bacteria during the fermentation process you can actually make them even more nutritious.
There’s a song called “Beautiful Things” by Gungor with some lines in the song that make me think about these “marginalized” foods and also “marginalized” people. Some of the the lines like “Could all that is lost ever be found, Could a garden come up from this ground at all? You make beautiful things, You make beautiful things out of the dust. You make beautiful things, You make beautiful things out of us. All around, Hope is springing up from this old ground, Out of chaos life is being found in You.
Even though I doubt this has crossed Gungor’s mind in just this way, I interpret that he’s saying people can “ferment” as well and somehow grow out of their suffering to be better than they were before. When I think about my life, some of my lowest points were times that I felt marginalized, dismissed, tossed aside like yesterday’s trash. There’s a quote by Audrey Hepburn that I just love that says “People, even more than things, have to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed; never throw out anyone.” And while it is even more important for people, I think it applies somewhat to food as well. I think if you can take something that is ready for the trash, like a bag of bones, and restore them to create a bone broth that nourishes, then you have done something beautiful. And I want to do beautiful things. I want to make beautiful food that nourishes people.
When I think how this applies to people, I have become more aware that there were times that I, too, have marginalized others and I understand better now how hurtful that is. I keep trying to see in both people and in things, the hidden beauty that is just waiting to come out if given the right ingredients… whether it is salt, or time, or in the case of people maybe just listening better.
So today I give you no recipe. Just food for thought and a glimpse of why these foods speak to me not just on a body level but also on the level of the soul. I’ve called this blog my journey in food and I have made some mention of the fact that it actually was through a very personal painful experience for me when I was marginalized by the western medical model that I came to embrace my love of real, unprocessed food. I believe food, and specifically these kinds of “marginalized” foods have played a huge role in my recovery. Because this fall marks the ten year anniversary for me to be on this journey, I am feeling sentimental about it and I want to do something beautiful for someone else with everything that I have learned.
And that’s how I found my way to Heifer International, a wonderful organization that provides people in need with animals that can help them both nourish themselves and develop some economic security. I am seeking supporters as I do this 200 mile relay run in a few weeks and donate funds to Heifer. I have set up a page on this Heifer giving site if you want to join me in helping to bring quality food to people in need.
You make beautiful things, You make beautiful things out of the dust. You make beautiful things, You make beautiful things out of us.
Also posted at Real Food Wednesday, Fight Back Friday