Mushrooms: meaty, mighty, medicinal

November 2, 2011



Having quality mushrooms in your repertoire will add new dimensions to your vegan life. Savory and grounding, they give you that satisfied feeling that some seek when replacing meat. And having been used in natural medicine for thousands of years, we reap multiple rewards for having mushrooms in our diets—immunologically, neurologically, energetically, and even spiritually. Mushrooms are complex organisms—no roots, seeds, or leaves, they seem neither plant nor animal, but otherworldly.

The studies on each variety are deep and fascinating. Medicinal varieties are known to have a dual-directional "special intelligence" when it comes to their healing properties, an ability to "know" how they are needed in our bodies, for example, either to be stimulating to a weak immune system or to subdue an overactive nervous response. And with DNA 80% identical to our own, medicinal mushrooms like reishi, shiitake, cordyceps, maitake, and chaga are used very efficiently by our immune, nervous, and cardiovascular systems.

David Wolfe and Paul Stamets are mycologists to follow to learn more about supplementing with medicinal mushrooms. General mushroom benefits include:
•Vitamins B2, B3, B5, B6, D.

•Quality (bio-available) essential amino acids (aka proteins).

•Iron, potassium, selenium, phosphorous, copper.

•Increased immunity against viruses, bacteria, pollution, and molds.

•Energy balancing, increased endurance. •Antioxidants, anti-cancer, anti-inflammation.

Okay, nutritionally beneficial, CHECK. Now on to eating and taste. I was recently craving something "meaty," but stood grossed out at the processed faux-meat selection at the store. I don't like single item foods that contain 1,000 ingredients. I waited out the craving and a few days later took a photo of this amazing mushroom bloom near a friend's house. That week, I found the same mushroom at the Hollywood Farmer's Market booth LA Funghi (did the universe bring it to me?! Is this the spiritual effects of mushrooms?!). It's called "Chicken of the Woods." WHOOOOAAAA. Check out that texture, right? We marinated it in a little olive oil, lemon juice, rosemary, salt, and mustard, and sauteed it in a bit of water. Craving 100% satisfied.

It's in season, so it's a staple in our fridge right now. Last night, I made a chicken-of-the-woods noodle soup:



A google search for "gourmet mushrooms" and your zip code will find you the real "mycophiles" in your hood. And your local grocer will carry at least brown and white caps or portobellos (great for grilling and sandwhiches) and shiitake (easy addition to miso soups). Pick only the ones that look fresh and free from wet spots and mold. You can even buy grow-at-home kits now.

Happy eating, happy living!

I Only Eat Grassfed Bison

September 12, 2011

Years of study has led us to the following rule: Whether it’s a feather hair extension or grass-fed bison you’re buying, whenever and wherever animals are exchanged for money, you can bet it’s dirty business. Switching from factory-farmed meat to grass-fed bison, for example, doesn’t eliminate environmental degradation, water and energy waste, water-deprived truck rides to the butcher, slaughter, or lowlife politics. Switching meats often just changes the set of problems.



For example: 
•Many bison ranches are adjacent to natural parks where wild bison and wild elk roam. When wild animals carrying brucellosis (an infectious bacteria transmittable to humans and other animals) cross park boundaries during their winter migratory routes, they can infect ranched herds—the common consequences being that the rancher must kill his entire stable. So in the interest of cattle farmers, the state of Montana, under, for example, the Interagency Bison Management Plan, drives back its wild bison herds using helicopters, hazing, slaughter, and penning. In 2004 at Yellowstone National Park, 264 wild bison were rounded up and slaughtered in order to protect 180 cows grazing on land nearby. Another 198 were rather corralled until the following season, but for lack of space in the pen, 57 were killed without even testing for brucellosis. In 2008, 1,616 bison were driven from park borders and slaughtered.

•North America used to be home to 50 million bison. Now, the last free-roaming, genetically pure herd—descendents of 23 wild bison that survived mass slaughter— exist in Yellowstone National Park, numbering 3,000. Wildlife advocates have been working to restore Yellowstone’s bison populations for relocation onto protected areas nationwide, but ranch lobbyists around the country stand in the way. Because of ranchers’ fear of brucellosis spreading to their cattle, wild bison may never be allowed to repopulate public land again, especially because the competition against livestock owners for cheap grazing land is fierce.

•Even if your grass-fed bison is “organic” today, it still may have been genetically modified and bred in the past. Being that the only pure herd exists in Montana, the many ranched bison across America are not as natural as a consumer might hope, but rather mixed with cattle genes.

So think about it: Are organic grassfed bison farmers the people you want to be giving your money to? What side of politics do you want to be on?



  

Sources: LA Times1, LA Times2, and Save the Buffalo Campaign.
Photos from: Photos from www.buffalofieldcampaign.org

Blue Zones and Cold Spots

August 26, 2011


Photo © David McLain, National Geographic

In several places around the world, termed "blue zones," people live with mobility and vigor into their 100s. And in the "cold spots" of the world, there is little to none of the disease or chronic conditions that "plague" the West.

No, these areas are not full of the rich who can pay for the best food and medicine. In fact, most of these people are financially poor. They can't afford a herd of animals and they don't have refrigerators. So they eat plant-based diets and bury their food (before the age of appliances, fermentation was a standard way of preserving food). They commune with their families and neighbors, they feel a sense of connectedness and purpose, and they've made moving their bodies a priority in life.

Sounds rich to us—this is about quality of life. What do people from the blue zones and cold spots have in common? Here's what we can learn:

•Eat a plant-based diet:
These people eat little to no meat. Instead, the bulk of their diet is simple whole foods, deep greens, healing herbs, and spices.

•Eat small portions:

it's a documented fact that the less one eats, the longer one lives. The heavier your meals—especially food unnatural to the human system, the more wear, tear, and burden on your energy and every cells in your bod.

•Eat good raw fats:
Coconut, olive oil, chlorella, avocado, raw cacao (omega-6), omega-3 (hempseed, chia, flax, AFA blue green algae). Healthy fats seem more important than protein in these diets, demonstrating a few interesting things.
A) If you eat food, you get enough protein.
B) Fats contain more calories than protein (9:4 cal/g), which means longer sustaining energy.
C) When you think you're craving protein, you're most likely in need of good fat.

•Eat fermented foods:
Kimchee, coconut kefir, kombucha, sauerkraut, these foods contain billions of "good bacteria" (probiotics) that promote health in the gut—thought to be the core of the immune system.

•Socialize:
B
e part of a community. Show up, have someone's back, and let others get yours, too.

•Keep it movin':
Dance, walk, garden, shake it...at least sit on the floor and stretch while you're watching TV!  

 

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