by Tammera J. Karr, PhD
Cultures throughout the ages have celebrated the return of spring after a long, harsh winter by eating the first new greens they can find. Native Americans took advantage of fresh, wild plants to supplement their winter diets of dried foods; foraging in woodlands or near streams could bring in an entire meal in some cases.
Mushrooms often sprouted with the renewed moisture of spring; experts had to hunt for this very nutritious, but dangerous food. Women hunted dandelions, wild onions and leeks, ramps, chickweed, poke, and wild mustard (or a related plant called “creasy greens”) as soon as possible since many of these plants get more bitter as they grow older. Even young, tender leaves and shoots can be bitter, but these wild plants are very nutritious and have long been considered a tonic to wake up the liver and kidneys after a long winter diet of dried starches (like beans and pumpkin) and meat.
Traditional (Algonquin) Green Salad: One-part wild onions or leeks, chopped, and one and a half parts dandelion leaves, to four parts watercress. Add a small amount of sheep or wood sorrel, and then flavor to taste. Add a bit of maple syrup for sweetness, or use other traditional flavorings like salt, along with enough oil to coat the leaves.
Spring Food locally available
Purple Sprouting Broccoli, Broccoli, Cabbages, Curly Kale, Rhubarb, Leeks, Spring Greens, rabbit, lamb, Wild Salmon, steelhead, Crab, Oysters, Cauliflower, Celeriac, Chicory, Cockles, Cod, Hake, Parsley, Mint, Spring Onions. Lettuces, Radishes, Spring Greens, Sea Kale, Watercress, Morel Mushrooms, Wild Garlic, Sorrel, Rhubarb, New Potatoes, Halibut, Sea Bass, Lemon Sole, Spinach.
All and many more of the foods listed here are available in our local farmers markets. Eating seasonally provides us with a opportunity to rebalance our immune systems, restore vital nutrients, control blood sugars and weight, reduce heart disease and cancer risks and improve digestion and cognition.
Here are a few reasons to spend your food dollars at local Farmers Markets or CSA’s when it comes to your health.
The Science for Seasonally Eating
According to research studies, nutrient content changes in foods depending on which seasons they were produced in. For example, in a study conducted by the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food in London, England researchers found that nutrient content was different in milk harvested in the summer versus winter. Because of the change in the cow’s diet to less fresh plants in the summer, these cows produced nutritionally different milks. Japanese researchers also found tremendous differences in the nutritional content of spinach harvested in summer versus winter. , 
A Stanford study backs seasonal eating for healthy Microbiome; published in the Science journal; researchers found that the microbes in the members of the Hadza tribe in Tanzania change dramatically with each season, in sync with seasonal changes made to their diet.
The study showed that certain gut microbes that reside within the gut in one season may almost disappear in the next – suggesting there are dramatic changes taking place in the microbiome from one season to the next. The researchers concluded that the Hadza tribe’s gut microbes and their digestion is cyclical, and in sync with the precise bio-rhythm of nature. , , 
A study published by the University of Missouri confirmed availability of local food as key to improving food security. This is so very important for the low income of every community which are made up in large part by elderly and children. Most strategies to assist the hungry, including food banks and providing food stamps through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, are short-term, emergency solutions. Those who rely on these programs face daily shortages of fresh and healthy foods, which lead to poor diet choices, nutritional deficiencies, and health problems. An expert at the University of Missouri says the production of sustainable, locally grown foods is key to providing long-term food security for communities.
“We have to recognize that access to food is a human right,” says Michelle Kaiser, researcher in the School of Social Work in the College of Human Environmental Sciences.
So Let’s head out to a local Farmers Market, or CSA – our health will be better for it.
by Tammera J. Karr, PhD
An effective detoxification program will not ask you to make any dramatic lifestyle and dietary changes. Healthier food and lifestyle choices are generally made on a subconscious level. Once the body begins to eliminate toxins, it will naturally start craving foods that will nourish it at an optimum level. That said, there are undoubtedly many things you can do to maximize the benefits of the cleanse you’re on from day one, and certain foods will help maintain the benefits of the detox for much longer.
A detox diet is a short-term diet, often 3- to 21 days, focused on removing toxins from the body. Although detoxification is ongoing in the body, toxins and stress prevent us from doing it optimally, which eventually affects our health. A detox diet allows our bodies to focus on self-healing, with the goal being to raise energy levels, stimulate digestive health, clear headaches, remove bloating, improve concentration and mood, avoid getting allergies, regain our natural ability to ward off colds and flu and prevent premature aging and disease.
In natural health writings from the 1900’s, it was common to see articles on digestive cleansing with tonics, enemas, fasting, and herbs. Detoxification has been practiced for centuries by many cultures around the world — including Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine.
The sad but undeniable truth is many are living in an environment toxic to their bodies, take a look at the following information:
How does detoxification work?
Basically, detoxification means cleaning the blood. It does this by removing impurities from the blood in the liver, where toxins are processed for elimination. The body also eliminates toxins through the kidneys, intestines, lungs, lymph, and skin. However, when this system is compromised, impurities aren’t properly filtered, and every cell in the body is adversely affected.
Many health ailments–headaches, exhaustion, and muscle cramps–are coming from toxicity. Toxins have been implicated in everything from increased risk of Alzheimer’s and cardiovascular disease to mental retardation and cancer.
A detox program can help the body’s natural cleaning process by:
10 ways to detoxify
Eliminate alcohol, coffee, cigarettes, refined and artificial sugars, fake fats found in margarine, and unfiltered tap water all of which act as toxins in the body and are obstacles to detoxifying. Also, minimize use of chemical-based household cleaners and personal health care products (cleansers, shampoos, deodorants, and toothpastes), and substitute natural alternatives.
Stress triggers your body to release stress hormones into your body affecting every metabolic pathway necessary for detoxification. While these hormones can provide the “adrenaline rush” to win a race or meet a deadline, in large amounts, they create toxins and slow down detoxification enzymes in the liver. Consider cutting out the news at dinner and bedtime add music that is around 60 beats per minute to calm the central nervous system throughout the day, all these are simple and effective ways to relieve stress.
People who are exhausted with low blood pressure may have adrenal weakness or fatigue. A detox diet is usually done after the adrenal glands have been replenished.
by Tammera J. Karr, PhD
Recently my husband and I decided late summer was a good time to learn how to ferment drinks and vegetables. A little background: Naturally fermented beverage products called Kombucha, Ginger Beer, and water Kefir are all the rage. Even general purpose markets are now carrying some form of fermented drink. The internet is awash with fermenting kings and queens sharing pictures of their newest delivery, or gadget that aids in your fermenting of kimchee or beet kraut. These predigested or live foods are perfect for the Pacific Northwest, especially Oregon with it’s “Do it Your Self” culture. Don’t confuse pickling with fermenting – they are not the same and do not yield the same health benefits. Fermenting is far older, found in almost every culture and as a live food, the health properties are greater than eating raw, organic or minimally processed foods. Many traditional cured types of meat from Europe are fermented – and not allowed into America by the FDA.
We Oregonians seem to like our independence in several areas but most assuredly in the food department. Part of that comes from the immigrants who built the strong farming and ranching history, of many parts of our state. The Willamette Valley has been producing hops for beer making sense the 1890’s. These same fields also are home to produce, grapes, nut and fruit trees and berries.
In the Oregon Historical Society resides a photo of men in 1950 circ, with their sleeves rolled up shredding cabbage and salting it for fermentation, right in the fields, for sauerkraut. So if they can do it, we thought, so can we…. Not wanting to take on the job of sauerkraut or fist time out, especially as we are working and living in our 29’ RV; we thought this would be an excellent opportunity to save some money on our food budget and learn the art of fermented probiotic drinks. After all, a half gallon glass jar doesn’t take up much room, or require as much space when packed for moving camp to the next job site right? If you haven’t tried any of the fizzy, tangy, and yummy drinks from Dr. Kombucha of Portland or the dozens of others, I encourage you to, and once you see the price on them, you will know why we are learning to make our own.
From past experience we knew sourdough starter could turn into an RV monster, crawling out of the jar, oozing across surfaces, seeping into drains and vents; from the agitation of the RV going down the road. We still have a sleeping bag with white butterfly patterns from sourdough starter escaping a sealed jar, on our pack horse 20 years ago! So surely with our gained knowledge and experience we could contain this next alien life form.
We went to Amazon and ordered a pack of water Kefir grains, assuming all we would need to know would come included with them. Well not really. It seems Kefir does not tolerate metal utensils, likes it between 60 and 70 degrees and takes up to 3 weeks for the grains to become happy in their production of the fizzy electrolyte-rich drink; you had your heart set on. But it is worth it, for the fun, nutrition, and health to be gained by the adventure.
By week 2, we could taste fermentation, but it wasn’t as much as we had hoped for; I went to Amazon again and ordered a book: Delicious Probiotic Drinks by Julia Mueller, a nylon strainer, cheesecloth and more grains. As I write this, I now have 3, half gallon jars at various stages lined up on my tiny RV galley counter – the baby won’t is tasted like we did before, Julia suggests pouring it out as the grains are just beginning to activate. The second jar is our 3-week old grains which are working much faster, and the water kefir is ready to strain and add fruit to after 24 hours. And that is the very bubbly, yummy strawberry lemonade in jar 3. It will be gone by tomorrow afternoon, which is when jar 2 will need to be strained and put on for its second fermentation with fresh fruit. So far we have not had any exploding glass jars, but this adventure is in its early days yet.
Naturally, fermented drinks are cost efficient and beneficial when compared to supplements. They are a simple and tasty way to rebuild your digestive tract from years of eating processed foods, antibiotic and prescription drug use, chlorinated water and stress. AND can be done in an RV galley. If you have IBS, Crohns, or Leaky Gut; these naturally fermented foods are a must, if you expect to heal. The era of eating processed food, using anti-bacterial soaps, and destroying our body’s ability to heal through the wonderful microbiome in our digestive system, is hopefully coming to an end. Traditional foods like these are safe and efficient ways to rebuild the immune function of the body potentially preventing chronic illness and debilitation age-related dementia. As so many knowledgeable natural health care and integrative providers are learning – “all illness begins in the digestive tract.” Sage words from the past.
To fizzy fun and probiotic health