The Lybbaverse / wellness  

Microbes gone wild

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Microorganisms: friend or foe?

Friend.

That's the gospel according to Sandor Ellix Katz, a.k.a Sandorkraut, whose mission in life is the natural process of fermentation. Katz is a food activist and self-identified "fermentation fetishist" who lives, breathes, teaches, and preaches the benefits of fermented food (sauerkraut, anyone?).

In Wild Fermentation, Katz's recipe-rich book dedicated to same, he explains that microbial cultures are essential to health, promoting good digestion and boosting immunities. Human lives have been interdependent with microbes since, like, forever. So what's his message?

Eat fermented food. And try making 'em, too.

A few familiar examples: yogurt, wine, beer, cheese, sourdough, and pickles. Then there's rising star kombucha, a sour (seriously) tonic made from sweetened black fermented tea. It's cultured with a mother—a live yeast culture that looks a bit like an oozy pancake. A friendly oozy pancake.

Somewhat less likely to appear on your radar: injera (Ethiopian sponge bread),ogi (African millet porridge), and chicha (Andean chewed-corn beer).

Whether it's familiar (chocolate) or not (Nepalese rice beer), you're bound to find something worth a little DIY fermentation in Katz's book. And if your starter cultures aren't bubbling quite right, you can always consult the helpful Q&A on Katz's website—or, for something really fresh, email him directly. He'll answer.

Your fermentation elation begins at wildfermentation.com.

Reprinted from TuttiFoodie with permission of the author.

Peakfoods: a new way to know local

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Yesterday while browsing the vast knowledge networks of Quora I discovered a brilliant new site called peakfoods, shared in response to the question “Where can I find information about what produce is in season and where it is grown?“ peakfoods turns out to have a rad story behind its design. But first, what is peakfoods? It's a visual database of foods that are in season now where you live.

The site automatically detects location (if not, type in your location). Mouse over or tap the food of choice to explore nutrition info populated by USDA data and recipes you can archive. Recipes can be filtered for low sodium, no gluten, diabetes, low carb, and no nuts.

peakfoods is yet another side project success story. It is created by Pete Petrash and Rick Sharp as a part of HiDef Inc’s CauseLabs Program, a platform for employees to try out new ideas with the potential for positive impact. We see such creative outcroppings frequently these days in the form of Google’s 20% time (responsible for gmail) and 3M’s 15% time. Perhaps peakfoods will be the side project that inspires you to take action on your ideas.  Either way, this useful Farm to Table resource is an exciting find.  Let us know what you think and share your favorite local food hacks in the comments.

Reblogged from Sterling Health with permission of the author.

What happens when you quit pre-med to work on a farm?

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Arianne McGinnis is a co-founder of Hope Grows Farm.

While working on my thesis (on the impact of Slow Food chapters in the Southern United States), I began to ask myself, who or what is really the foundation of the Slow Food movement?

The answer, which should be obvious, but frequently isn't, due to our endemic disconnection with where our food comes from, is our food producers: those incredibly ambitious, fearless, hard-working individuals who commit their everyday lives to growing, raising, and harvesting nature's sustenance.

I recently had the opportunity to spend a humbling afternoon with two young farmers from Hope Grows Farm in Sylvania, Georgia, about an hour northwest of Savannah. Arianne McGinnis and Elliott McGann started Hope Grows about two-and-a-half years ago, after meeting while working for Americorps in post-Katrina New Orleans, where much of Arianne's family is based. Consisting of 6.5 acres of pasture-based farm, Hope Grows is home to chickens, pigs, and turkeys, as well as vegetable gardens, berry patches, and orchards.

While I loved wandering the pastures, photographing the new chicken coop Elliott was building from an old cotton trailer, and making friends with the pigs, what I really wanted to know was how a 25-year-old and 27-year-old with no family history of farming ended up becoming farmers themselves.

Arianne explained that Hurricane Katrina was a life-changing experience. She lost her grandmother and witnessed the devastating effects it had on other members of her family.

After leaving Louisiana State University, where she was studying pre-med, in search of something more meaningful, Arianne became an activist for Greenpeace. Ultimately, for her, that seemed to be more reactive than pro-active. She really didn’t want to make better corporations, or to be constantly at odds with a corporate structure, so she moved on and went to work for Americorps as a volunteer coordinator in New Orleans.

During that time, two important things happened: she met Elliott, and she went to visit a friend who was living and working on a farm in Bahia, Brazil, where was introduced to the concept of farming as activism. She recalls that, "Unlike my job interests up to that point, which were about fixing some part of the system or opposing some part of the system, I realized, 'Oh, we can make our own system!'"

In 2009, Arianne returned home to nearby Statesboro, Georgia, discovered land in need of farming, and called on Elliott to join her in this new adventure. Today, part of what they're doing is demonstrating that you don't need a large amount of land to make a living and produce a high amount of quality food for a good number of people. With 6.5 acres, Hope Grows is able to supply roughly 150 families on the food they produce, all of which is grown with no antibiotics, no chemicals, and no heavy machinery. The biggest piece of equipment Arianne and Elliott have is a truck that is used for hauling and to take them to the farmers' market at the weekend.

I think what they're doing is remarkable. And I couldn't be more proud to support them in their efforts. It's not an easy, slow life. It's hard work, but it's so rewarding, and the results taste amazing! These are the individuals that are supported and celebrated by Slow Food.

This article orginally appeared in GOOD and is republished here with permission of the blogger.

DO SCHEDULE A CHECKUP BE WELL

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Head into 2012 equipped with the right knowledge to take control of your health. Bring along your personal medical record and any important information from your family's health history, and prepare a list of questions to ask your doc. While you may think a trip to the doctor is only necessary when you don't feel well, an annual visit is a critical preventive measure, a true investment in your health. A new year is on the horizon, and therefore, plenty of opportunities for a new start - so take down the barriers and open up to your physician. Honestly is definitely the best policy when it comes to the exam room. Typical checkup activities may include: blood pressure measurement, examination of the heart, lungs, abdomen, and reflexes. In some cases, your doctor may suggest lab work, such as a cholesterol measure, measure of glucose and hemoglobin concentrations, urinalysis, or tests to determine liver, renal, and thyroid functionality. 

There is, however, more to the annual exam than routine tests and a pat on the back for a good health report. It helps to create a therapeutic relationship with your doctor that is based on trust and confidence. Physicians usually schedule a little extra time for the annual exam, so take that time to make sure your physician has an accurate picture of your state of health. Write up those questions and make the phone call to your physician's office. It's the perfect start to a New Year's resolution - better health.

The Lybbaverse presents 31 DAYS of DO GOOD BE WELL, our December wellness campaign, with little reminders to take better care of ourselves and others through the hectic holiday season and beyond.

DO DRINK MODERATELY BE WELL

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It sounds like a mixed message: drinking alcohol may offer some health benefits especially for your heart; on the other hand, alcohol may increase your risk of health problems and damage your heart. So which is it? The Mayo Clinic cites the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which recommends that if you choose to drink alcohol at all, do so in moderation — up to one drink a day for women or two drinks a day for men.

Popular research has shown that light and moderate drinkers score better than heavy drinkers and those who abstain entirely on a range of health indicators. A summary of the results of many such studies over the years can be found here. While recent studies have highlighted the health-giving properties of wine and some other alcoholic drinks, drinking modest amounts of alcohol does not necessarily maker you healthier, reports the Telegraph. Often those who enjoy alcohol without indulging to excess tend to be wealthier and more successful than average – the sort of people who look after other areas of their health. 

That said, regardless of status, it’s easy for all of us to slip from moderate to heavy drinking in an evening, so let's exercise caution, for ourselves and others, as we enter the New Year!

The Lybbaverse presents 31 DAYS of DO GOOD BE WELL, our December wellness campaign, with little reminders to take better care of ourselves and others through the hectic holiday season and beyond.