Friday, August 29, 2014

Radically Natural Giveaway: Ina May's Guide to Childbirth

To celebrate the successful completion of my first academic round of midwifery studies, I am giving away a copy of homebirth guru and midwife extraordinaire Ina May Garten's book, Ina May's Guide to Childbirth.

This book is fun, educational, inspirational, and necessary for all pregnant and hope-to-be-pregnant ladies.  I can attribute my least painful and easiest birth to a bit of wisdom I garnered from reading it.  (I'll give you a hint...OPEN...visualize it, say it, be it...)

To enter, just sign in to the Rafflecopter entry below and answer the question...tell me one reason to plan a homebirth.  Thanks for participating and enjoy!


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, August 8, 2014

Radically Natural POV: Avoiding GMOs Isn't Enough

I've noticed a little trend of late, at our local farmer's market and natural food store.  I'm hearing inklings of a new twist on the search for clean food.  "As long as it's non-GMO, you're OK...just avoid the GMOs."  I have been told that customers are less willing to pay for organic...they only care that the choices are non-GMO...a less expensive option.  It seems like in the careful consumer's search for "affordable" food, GMO avoidance has taken the spotlight and the chemical soup that we have been so ardent to avoid for so long has begun to fade from our fears.


Image from Wikipedia...Gives new meaning to "food safety," eh?
The GMO scare has become such a prominent focus in the Real Food realm that I wonder if we have lost sight of the bigger picture.  Of course we should avoid GMOs, of course they are not safe, of course they are not Real Food.  But the dangers of GMOs are only one part of the picture.  We can't let the GMO spectre overshadow the reality of toxic chemicals in our soil and our food supply.  The use of pesticides (insecticides, herbicides and fungicides) and synthetic fertilizers is the cornerstone of industrial farming.  These are the dangerous chemicals that health advocates warned us about so fervently in the past decades (how can we forget Silent Spring?), and we should not lessen our resolve to avoid them now.  Research continues to show that exposure to these chemicals can have serious and lasting health consequences for generations (with an emphasis on negative endocrine effects...ie infertility).

We used to have chickens and ducks.  We currently have goats and pigs.  We know firsthand the costs of organic inputs.  My husband's recent search to find local, less expensive, clean grains to feed the animals we raise for our food has been disheartening.  Most of the growers in our area are using the toxic Agent Orange component, 2,4-D, a carcinogenic and endocrine disrupting herbicide.  One farmer my husband spoke with was quick to claim that his grains were non-GMO, but he admitted he did use 2,4-D...the dangers of which he side-stepped with a bit of spin that sounded like a page out of the county extension agent's handbook.

The move to 2,4-D does not bode well for the future of food.  That herbicide is gaining popularity because it works when Roundup does not.  Yes, you heard me correctly.  We know how toxic Roundup is...but 2,4-D is apparently worse.  (And sold for "home" use as well...let us not forget the toxic lawns that American children play on regularly...2,4-D is one of the most popular lawn herbicides used.)  In fact, Dow and Monsanto have already been seeking governmental approval for their next wave of chemical brews to combat the ever-growing "weed" and pest resistance.  As they all do, this widely used herbicide will contribute to the proliferation of "super weeds," which will herald Big Ag's cry for even stronger poisons.  Where does it end?!


Image from heartlandbeat.com...BigAg food prep.
Perhaps I have an overactive imagination, but I can't help feeling that while the heretofore chemically cautious consumers are being distracted by the evil that is GMOs, the chemical companies are laughing all the way to the bank (as they continue to spread their ever-worsening poisons across America).  Of course, big chem and big biotech go hand in hand, as the increasing use of stronger chemicals is being touted by said industries as necessary for their GM crops.

We need to be wary of losing our original zeal for clean, organic, Real Food.  And because commercial (certified) Organic growers are allowed to use some pesticides (yes, even the synthetic kind), we need to be avid about finding clean food sources or growing our own.  If we become lulled into a false sense of security by focusing solely on GMOs, we will return ourselves to the days of eating poison and paying the piper with our physical demise and our children's compromised health future.  The costs of complacency are too high.  

Yes, truly organic food is more expensive, but what is your health worth?  Your children's health...their brain function, immune function, future fertility?  Why are we fooling ourselves into accepting the industry's chemical brews?  Perhaps we need a reminding nudge about what we are turning a blind eye to...maybe a "light read" of the many legal chemical pesticides available to food producers.  (Lists are published state by state...check out this one for New York).  We need to remind our friends, our families, our neighbors, ourselves that the chemical toxins in the food supply have serious and lasting deleterious health affects.  

Nontoxic food costs more to produce; it costs more to purchase.  But...Pay now or pay later.  Such is the reality of dealing with poisons in our food.

Revival of Highly Toxic Herbicide
Pesticide Action Network: Pesticides on Food
2,4-D Fact Sheet
Farmer Speaks Out Against 2,4-D
Big Ag Doesn't Want You to Care about Pesticides
Pesticide Exposure Linked to Adverse Affects Three Generations Later
Beyond Pesticides (Consumer Safety Organization)



Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Radically Natural Recipe: Vanilla Ice Cream

The intense summer heat, combined with no air conditioning, means one thing around here:  Ice cream for dinner!  Vanilla ice cream requires no use of heat, so it is our crowd's current favorite.  An all-cream (or mostly all cream) version helps keep kids full until morning.  The extra spices enhance the vanilla flavor.  Sometimes we make an eggnog version, sometimes a Mexican vanilla.  Here's our latest iteration.  It is quite rich, so start with small servings.




Real Vanilla Bean Ice Cream

4 cups raw grass-fed cream
1 cup raw grass-fed whole milk
1/4 to 1/2 cup honey (to your taste, we prefer less sweetness)
4 egg yolks
2 tsp. organic ground vanilla beans (purchase pure vanilla powder from Mtn Rose Herbs or Amazon)
Generous sprinkles of cinnamon and nutmeg

Gently whisk all ingredients (you don't want to blend or beat, this adds air/foam), then chill mixture for a few hours.  Pour chilled mixture into your running ice cream maker, follow instructions for your unit, and Enjoy!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Radically Natural Recipe: Gelatin Jigglers

Who needs more gelatin in their diet?  We all do!  Gelatin builds collagen in our bodies, and collagen builds our tissues...bone, flesh, cartilage, etc.  Our gut lining needs collagen, our fascia and skin and joints need collagen, our brains need collagen.  We need to be consuming more gelatin, and soups made from homemade broths are not the only way to do it.  

Gelatin makes a wonderfully refreshing, jiggly summer treat (sure, we eat them all year long).  Who needs sugar-ladened, artificially flavored and colored jello?!  Instead, grab some good quality gelatin and make some Real Food jigglers!





Coconut Vanilla Bean Jigglers

2 cans coconut milk
2 Tb. gelatin
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp. vanilla bean powder
~1/4 cup honey (or less...honey to taste)
optional cut fresh fruit

In a saucepan on low heat, warm the coconut milk and add all the ingredients (except the fruit), whisking vigorously.  Don't let the mixture simmer strongly (if at all), you just want it warm enough for the gelatin to dissolve...this preserves the nutrients of your ingredients.  If you use Jensen's gelatin, this should work without producing clumps.  Great Lakes gelatin works better if you dissolve it in liquid first before adding it to the entire batch for mixing.

Once all ingredients are dissolved and well combined, pour the mixture into a pyrex dish and refrigerate until the gelatin sets (about an hour).  Add your fruit before putting the jiggler mix in the fridge to set.


Hot Cacao Jigglers

(aka "Mama Medicine" Jigglers because of the addition of maca, a wonderfully adaptogenic botanical that helps our adrenal system)

2 cups raw grass-fed milk
2 Tb. raw honey (or honey to taste)
1 1/2 Tb. raw cacao powder
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. vanilla bean powder
1 Tb. maca powder
1 1/2 Tb. gelatin 

Same directions as above.

The key to jiggler success is remembering that 1 Tb. of gelatin gels a pint of liquid.  Results may vary depending upon your ingredients and the ambient temperature in your home.  Experiment with your own flavor combinations and have your kids help.  It's fun and easy to make jigglers, which is nice considering how quickly they get devoured!!  

Friday, June 20, 2014

Radically Natural POV: Teach Your Children the Three Rs

I once heard a wise man say that if you have children, you are a parent.  It's more profound than it sounds, isn't it?  Being a parent is your number-one, full-time job...it is your life's calling.  Everything else is secondary to it.  And the beautiful privilege and weighty responsibility of any parent is to raise adults...to make people...intelligent, creative, caring, thinking, balanced, self-sufficient, happy, healthy people.  When our children leave our nests, they take with them the bodies we have made for them, the spirits we have nurtured in them, the perspectives we have imparted, and whatever education and indoctrination they received during their formative years...from us and from others.

We parents desire to see our children master the basics of education...the three Rs of Reading, wRiting and aRithmetic...as well as the other subjects that add enrichment to their understanding of life and the world in which we live.  Should we not also desire that they excel in the basics of healthy, nourishing life skills?  If we send our children out into the world without full knowledge of health and wellness, are they truly educated and ready to care for themselves and their future families?  It is essential that we actively teach our children the three Rs of healthy natural living:  Real Food, Real Medicine and Real Birth.

I used to believe that my children would just absorb, as through osmosis, the knowledge and lifestyle my husband and I model for them...that they would seamlessly adopt our nourishing and healing lifestyle.  But if we expect children to grow in wisdom and understanding, we must instruct them.  Anything worth knowing and worth doing is worth studying.  Children need to be actively taught so they will be firmly established in correct knowledge and practices.  Whether it be faith, academics, arts, music and craftsmanship, or nurturing health habits, instruction is key to developing worthwhile skills and lasting principles.

There is a war on for our children's minds and their future consumerist habits.  The industrial models of food and medicine reign supreme as the established default position in our modern culture.  If our children are not firmly entrenched in truth, which path will they choose?  If we don't equip them with the tools of knowledge and skills, they may fall prey to our society's "trust the experts" conventional mindset.  We don't want our children to be intellectually illiterate...neither should we allow them to be "healthily" illiterate.  If we don't actively choose an alternate path...seek ancient and traditional and sensical and natural (and somewhere-buried instinctual) wisdom...we all end up on the Standard American Diet and our culture's standard of health care and birth practices.  It is simply the truth of cultural influence, conventional education, and the prevailing established industries.  [For example: Despite a cornucopia of evidence to the contrary, we still live in a society where most conventionally trained dietitians and medical students are still taught the lipid hypothesis and the S.A.D. basics of macronutrient theory.  They don't distinguish between high fructose corn syrup and honey, hydrogenated soy oil and butter...they play a numbers game.  If the label shows the right percentages of fat, sugar, protein, and a sundry list of vitamins, that's all that matters.  Food source and preparation technique is largely irrelevant.  They remain willfully ignorant of the fact that industrial, synthetic, refined, processed edible goods are not Food.]

Why would we sacrificially and lovingly invest our time and effort for the benefit of our children (from conception)...to protect their health and work to establish a strong physical foundation for their future lives...only to have them leave our home and go on to poison themselves with a conventional industrial life of synthetic food and medicine and fear-based practices?  It is our duty to make sure they fully comprehend the principles of genuine health and nourishment on which we raised them.  If we neglect to actively educate them about the benefits and value of traditional healthy living, can we assume they are invested in pursuing the right choices?  They need to understand...before they are autonomous...the why and the how of nourishing and healing.  If we care about our children, we desire for them good and not ill.  We want to make sure they care and that they are capable and that they desire spouses also "in the know."  Because we will certainly want the same good for our grandchildren that we desired for our children.

Many of us are pioneers in this real food, real health realm.  When I left my parents' home, I was a "dumb cluck."  I knew nothing about being a wife and mother, about food and health.  My husband and I were blessed to grow together in our knowledge as I was mentored by older women who knew better and lived better.  Before I became enlightened to the truth about nourishment and real healing, I continued to perpetrate the damage to my body that was begun in my childhood.  I know firsthand how terribly difficult it is to reverse long-established chronic health problems.  I know firsthand the effects of industrial food and medicine.  I have suffered "garbage in, garbage out."  When I learned what it meant to heal, how to do the hard work to try to reverse ailments, how to create healthy bodies from before conception, I dedicated myself to a new...a better...way of living.  Would I want any less for my children?  I am creating for them a legacy and I desire to see them carry the mantle forward when they are no longer under my direct care.  I want more for my children, so I do the work for them now.  And I expect more from my children in their future choices because they were raised in this healing lifestyle.  They are being reared with a proper perspective on food and healing...much is being invested into creating for them strong and healthy bodies.  They are being given a foundation for their futures.  They are being given the precious gift of good health.  Their quality of life, their abilities to achieve and to conquer and to create and to enjoy life, depends upon maintaining good health (physically, mentally and spiritually).  Our children need to apprehend and adopt the path of nurturing upon which we have set them.  They don't get to play dumb cluck when they graduate into adulthood and leave our homes.  They are leaps ahead of where most of us were in our youth, and they need to understand how good they have it, how well nurtured they have been, and how grateful they should be to have the opportunity to experience life from a platform of health and wellness.

Whether you homeschool or not, you can teach your children the skills and knowledge they need to sustain the healthy lifestyle you are working so hard to establish for them.  Talk to your children about the choices you have made for yourself and for them.  Explain sowing and reaping.  And when they are old enough, assign your children reading materials that teach the principles of Real Food, Real Medicine, Real Birth.   Our children should be prepared to cook traditional nourishing food for themselves.  They should understand holistic physiology and know basic botanical medicine so they can successfully deal with ailments and minor emergencies.  And should they need deeper assistance dealing with disease or extreme acute trauma, they should know how, when, why and from whom to seek help.  They should understand a nourishing fertility diet, and comprehend the truth behind our profit-driven technocratic birth industry.  They should know why homebirth actually is safer for the majority of women and babies.  They should know how to avoid being victimized by industrial medical protocols.

Teach your children well...train them now, and when they grow older they will be prepared to thrive.  Don't leave it up to chance.  Whatever you want your children to know, give them opportunities to explore and acquire foundational knowledge.  Make them active participants in their own healing and nourishing.  Don't just serve them, teach them to minister to themselves and to others.  Make it fun, make it appealing, and make sure they understand why we do what we do.


Young children can begin to learn the basics of how the body works, how it is amazingly self-healing when treated properly... they can begin to learn about healing plants, and good vs. bad foods.  They can be given the default position that women's bodies were made to have babies and that is not a scary or impossible thing.  By the time they are in high school, children should have a basic food and healing curriculum that includes topics on traditional nourishing foods; how diet affects growth and degeneration, wellness or illness; the truth about fat and cholesterol; basic anatomy and physiology from a holistic perspective; botanical medicine; natural birth; and food and medical politics and history.

We work diligently so our babies and children are spared the devastation that the alternatives to nourishing food and botanical medicine can wreak.  We are protecting our children from the S.A.D life that greedy corporations wish they would live.  Let us not take for granted that our children will vicariously adopt our nurturing guiding principles.  Let us actively instruct them so they will not fall prey to the mistaken elitist notion that they need some expert to take care of them or control them.  Let us teach them that they can and should take charge of their own health and make their own nourishing meals and apply their own healing remedies.  Let us be proactive in giving our children the tools and education they need to understand why and how they should do the rewarding work required to pursue and enjoy the naturally nourishing, healing lifestyle.


Some References for Getting Started