Sunday, 23 January 2011

Country file

So I have been feeling like a one trick pony for quite a while now, blabbing on and on to patients and friends alike about how grain free is the way to go.
I'm feeling SO relived that one of the reasons I give, was given main-steam viewing on country file tonight and it helps to make me feel a little less black sheepy and trust the inner voice that is screaming at me to "stop eating so much grain based carbohydrate and start eating more self sufficiently veg and healthy naturally reared or wild meat and fish"
Not just for financial reasons (£150 minimum for a family of four weekly shop) but for health reasons too(too much carb=too much blood glucose=increased fat storage plus a whole cascade of metabolic adaptations/inflammations that cause an ever increasingly realised range of modern health problems)

My weekly shop at the farmers market costs me about £30 for 2 of us at the moment. I probably spend about another £20 in the coop on coffee, oddments and regretably pet food although I'm working on that one.(and I don't mean I'm going to eat my dog or my cat. The ducks however are another matter)

It makes so much sense to me to grow as much veg and fruit as you can squeeze into any patch for growing that you have access to. It makes you really consider the meals that you cook each day using what you have grown yourself and you waste no food at all. I quite often make 3 different types of vegetables and then have a small amount of protein to go with them. They will usually be cooked in butter or pork lard/bacon fat so the energy supply is good as fat burns for a long time. If you are keeping your blood sugars low by limiting your carbohydrate intake to vegetable and fruit sources to about 150g(max) a day then your body will burn fat first for energy. You will loose weight.

I am lucky that I was reared in a thrifty family. My parents were vegetarian, so even though I eat meat now, I am quite happy with an offensively large pile of vegetables as a meal.
My favourite stall in the farmers market these days is the non certified organic but more importantly, free range, wild diet, reared meat stall. They have such a huge range of meat for sale from the choicest cuts to the oddments that are really affordably priced - like a huge Ox heart for £1.50 or ribs/shin for £2.50. Then there's the box full of bones for stewing - a regular purchase for me is 2 duck carcasses for the princely sum of £1. I take these home and simmer them in the pressure cooker, just covered with water, on a low heat for 12+ hours with a little home made cider apple vinegar, bay leaves and rosemary. First thing the next day I strain the liquid through a sieve and pick the fat (for the dog) and meat(for breakfast fried with onions, garlic and fried duck eggs for us)off. The stock goes into the fridge in a large bowl until the fat sets on the top and can be skimmed off and put aside for cooking and the lovely jelly, vitamin and mineral rich liquid gets used for cooking every meal for the remainder of the week: soups, stews, steaming stock for  stir fries, vegetable cooking liquid and so on. Here is a wonderful piece about the benefits of bone broths from Weston Price:

What you find when your body stops being used to depending on grain carbs for energy and starts getting use to a status quo of lower blood sugars is that your energy is sustained for much longer, moods are more stable, appetite is level and many general health nags gradually fade.

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Tree work

Mid January and the weather is finally agreeable to get on with some work on the land I bought in the Autumn.
 I have been incredibly blessed by this 2.3 acres. Divided into 3 fields with stock proof fencing and solid gates. There is a small entrance field with a fallen but productive cats head apple tree and overgrown at the edges with blackthorn and brambles. There are also huge nettle patches from old manure piles. The adjacent field contains 3 poly tunnels, vegetable beds, fan trained cherries and a tree line of birches, hawthorn, hazel and something else I haven't ID'd yet - it is being overgrown with brambles.
The land slopes upwards to the South from these fields into a small meadow with a small orchard of 10 year old fruit trees to the East.
There are 11 ancient apple trees scattered over the site, lasting from the days when the entire valley was orchard. Tree number one ominously fell down during the week onto the table I had been serving mulled cider from the Wassail 5 days previously. I don't think it liked the cider offering or our wassail song It had been dying for a few years though and the roots were rotted through. We planted a Coxes Pippin in it's place.

This week I am working my way round the field margins cutting back brambles and doing gentle tree pruning to open the ground area up ready for underplanting with medicinal and edible ground cover.
I am planning to put in wintergreen, Nepalese raspberries, ground ivy, wild garlic, hedge mustard, crow garlic, wild leeks and golden seal.
There were the most enormous delicious blackberries on a huge bramble growing over about 10 meters and drowning a mystery apple that looks like a strawberry with a delicate scent of cinammon spice and tinged pink stripes through it's flesh. The "experts" at the apple days were unable to ID it so I will send a sample to Brogdale in the Autumn. and cough up the £12 to find out what it is.

Today is day 2 and my hands look like they are covered with a rash of red spots where I have been picked a thousand times by the vengeful brambles. My scalp is sore in a few places from spiking it with thorns while crawling around under branches. My hair is infused with scent of bonfire  - I could smell it all night and I'm sure everyone at yoga could smell it too last evening! I had help to prune out a large silver  birch trunk to use for Shitake mushrooms and I will tap the others for birch sap come April.

Little Owl in an old apple tree.

The aim is to prune and clear gently and sensitively, clearing what is impinging on the fences, maintaining areas for wildlife but with a view to clearing space for more useful permanent growth. The robin at least is grateful for the soil and leaf mould I am churning under foot and I know I will return this morning to see the leaves tossed about by the blackbirds. The little owl retreats up the meadow to a distant perch and looks on disapprovingly.

Thursday, 13 January 2011

It's gonna be Heaven in 2011

So here I go with writing a blog. Finally I feel like I can find a daily 20 minutes spare to write some of the stuff I read, write and run about doing everyday....well at the moment anyway.

I will make some records of what I eat and recipes. Hmm.....not so interesting you think but I don't eat grains and I need to make a record of how it is so I don't keep having to refer people to other blogs about the benefits of a grain free life. I'm mainly eating a primal diet these days, I think about what types of foods we would have had available to us as hunter gatherers and stick fairly rigidly to that about 90:10 of the time. I have come to this from a variety of different reasons.
1. We evolved for about 150,000 years eating leafy greens, nuts, seeds, shellfish, fish, wild free ranging meat that ate a natural diet, eggs, roots that we worked hard to dig up, berries and seasonal fruits(smaller and sharper than todays fruit). Grains would have been scarce and only available for a short season.
2.We only started farming grains about 8000 years ago - roughly 200 generations. Not long in evolutionary terms.
3. Carbohydrate from grain is eventually sugar and the longer I study medicine and health and the more research reveals how high blood glucose causes a cascade of metabolic adaptations that cause all kinds of diseases.
4. Grains now are highly genetically bred to contain much higher levels of gluten and starch than traditional varieties. The way that we prepare them is also very different so the bio-availablity of nutrients is reduced and there is a higher content of potentially irritant substances.
5. I cannot grow grain in large quantities. I would like to be as self sufficient and low carbon in my needs as possible. Grains require HUGE quantities of petro chemicals for their production. Ploughing, sowing, ferilizer, herbasides and pestisides, harvesting, processing, transport etc etc It's already rising rapidly in price because of oil prices and climate problems in Russia and America the 2&3rd biggest global producers and it isn't going to get any better.

I'm sure there are more reasons that I will come back to and elucidate on another time but for the moment if you want to read more about Grains in general here is a link to a brilliant article looking at it all much more in depth.

Today I ate and drank:
1st thing
Hot water and lemon
Black real coffee
Handful of nuts(walnuts, almonds and brazils) and an apple

Mid morning post walk
Left over beef rib and vegetable stew made with stock from duck carcass.
Hot water and lemon
Baked mushrooms with garlic butter and herbs
Stewed Leeks
Mushroom and onion duck egg Omelette
Half glass homemade elderflower wine.