I'm sharing about a huge book today called Nourishing Traditions, because it's been such a help for me. By "huge," I mean HUGE, almost 700 pages and large to hold.
First off, I have to say that I resisted buying it for a long time. To begin with, I don't care for the cover as it has a sort of creepy "Eastern religious" feel to it. (Some people actually like that Eastern thing, but as a Christian I am of course wary of anything based upon eastern religious traditions.) So, even though I'd seen the book, I had no thought of purchasing a copy.
Then, in January, my sister Christine stayed with us for two weeks and she had a copy. She taught me how to ferment oatmeal using a method found in the book. (Which I've already shared with you. See this post for details.)
Then, when I found out about a small organic foods market in my area, I browsed the store, and, despite it being owned and operated by Christians, they displayed a copy of Nourishing Traditions on a shelf.
And when I was with a bunch of moms from my church one night, my friend Steph mentioned that she was using this book for recipes on fermenting vegetables and other neat stuff. I realized that it affirms the food ideology of the Weston-Price Foundation--ie., natural food and food preparation. That was enough: I caved. I got a copy.
I started reading.
The first section of the book, almost 80 pages, is general information on the food and cooking traditions that are truly nourishing, as opposed to current trends of fast food and artificial foodstuffs you find in boxes and cans and all sorts of packages in the supermarket. The subheading of Nourishing Traditions is "The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats," and it does this with a vengeance. Frankly, it is fascinating and compelling to see how easily the authors debunk the current "health" food fads, such as avoiding fats and keeping cholesterol very low. I read page after page, happily underlining as I went. Some of it was nothing new to me: I know about how bad modern day "fake" food is for the human body. But I also learned new things as well as finding affirmation and renewed motivation to maintain the dietary changes I've already embraced.
There are in-depth explanations of all the major food groups as well as minerals, enzymes, vitamins, spices, and beverages. There are tips on selecting food, on choosing the best equipment for the kitchen (and what not to use) and literally tons of references and appendixes with links and more resources. And it's interesting! It's not boring like a textbook.
Let the Recipes Begin
Once the recipes begin, each page is sandwiched between excerpts from all kinds of literature: historical, periodicals, fiction, non-fiction, scientific or medical journals, etc. There are well-chosen quotes, excerpts and more, to give context to the usage of the very foods the recipes are for, and so these extra features range from fun and sweet to eye-opening or even amusing. (For example, there was a short excerpt from Willa Cather's Neighbour Rosicky--a surprising pleasure—because it mentioned how children flourished when fed raw milk and raw milk products.)
I am a great fan of including supplementary references such as these, and so I find this is a book after my own heart—except for:
One thing has stood out to me as lacking regarding the traditional "wisdom" in this book, (and it is common to most Paleo-food websites and cookbooks, too), which is, the authors are ready to embrace all ancient wisdom, it seems, except for that of biblical origin. Now, having said, that, it remains true that most ancient food "wisdom" is affirmed by Scripture; but they never go there. This is a great mistake, and an error.
First of all, no book EXCEPT the Bible goes as far back in time as the beginning of man, of agriculture, of food history. They talk freely of our "hunter and gatherer" ancestors, ignoring the fact that agriculture is not a new development—after all, Cain killed Abel because his "fruit of the field" was not accepted by God the way Abel's animal sacrifice was. This is revealing for two reasons:
One. Since Cain offered produce he had farmed, it shows that planting and sowing is as old as mankind after the Fall; and,
Two. Even God turned his nose up to plant food when compared to animal sacrifice! (OK, that's sort of a joke. The point of Abel's sacrifice being "superior" to Cain's was that Cain was proud of what HE'D cultivated, but Abel offered a blood sacrifice—necessary for the atonement of sin—and having nothing to do with his own ability. It was the humbler sacrifice. And it was according to God's revealed word on what a sacrifice should be. Later on, in Deuteronomy, we see that grain sacrifices are implemented, but Deuteronomy hadn't been written, yet, at this time.)
Now, the point could be made that many indigenous peoples lost the knowledge of how to use agriculture to support their food needs; or didn't have the right environment, soil, etc. (It only takes ONE generation to lose some truth.) In any case, it is ludicrous to exclude the God who created ALL food, and our human bodies. The garden of Eden was no doubt a great model of successful planting, as well as having good pasture for cattle. God walked with Adam, the Bible says, and only an idiot would fail to see that He, the Creator of the earth, shared lots of the secrets that gave ancient man this "wisdom."
Sally Fallon, the primary author of Nourishing Traditions, says, "Each person's ideal diet is usually discovered through a combination of study, observation and intuition, a process designed to replace that mysterious infallible instinct that guided primitive man to the foods he needed to keep him healthy and strong." (Italics mine.)
A "mysterious infallible instinct?" I don't think so.
Despite this weakness, I am nevertheless enjoying the discovery of the almost lost art of providing truly nourishing food for my family, as opposed to stuff that fills the body but doesn’t nourish the cells. (Now you know what I'm doing instead of working on my next novel!) As one documentary on American dietary habits says, "Americans are overfed, but undernourished. We feed the body full of calories but there is little nourishment for the cells. ["Hungry for Change"--available on Netflix.]
The recipes here, by contrast, are for making basic foods that really nourish as they feed. Different than your typical cook book! It also happens to be an excellent value, if you get it from a discount seller such as Amazon.
What about you? Are you trying to wean yourself or your family from fake food? Feel hopeless about making the effort? Share your thoughts.
UPCOMING NEXT WEEK: I'll share my homemade foaming hand soap recipe with you. It's a cinch to make and works as good as the commercial stuff!