Except: Empty Plate: Food~Sustainability~Mindfulness By Tammera Karr and Kathleen Bell
In an equally real sense, researchers know that elasticity and adaptability during challenging events like pandemics, and life transitions; are a combination of how well-nourished the brain and body are — through mindful choices about nutrition and other behaviors. The conscious decisions to eat healthy foods, get quality sleep, spend time in nature, limit the ingestion of disrupting or harmful media/substances, or to take a moment of pause for gratitude — all constitute nourishment for our bodies, minds, and spirits.
Whole-brain perspective leads to renewed skills
Critical and whole-brain thinking, along with common sense, are often referred to as being not so common. The reality is that our modern education can be sorely lacking when it comes to past generations’ skills. Often, we are out of practice in using skills of common sense. Although we can look at history for clues on how ancient peoples survived and thrived, it doesn’t give us their expertise, nor the luxury to take the time to live as they did.
As we begin a new decade, our world is entirely different than ever before. Even if we might have the skill, time, and environment that supports a romanticized lifestyle of bygone days — we have to ask ourselves. Do we really want to work that hard? Can we give up the many facets of our modern world that define us now?
The incorporation of mindfulness and sustainability into the broader idea of nourishment for modern lives isn’t about turning back the calendar, politics, environmental agendas, or religious beliefs. It is about owning the choices we make and being the best version of ourselves, along with helping the next generation view their empty plate with open eyes of wonder and possibilities.
Bringing calm to chaos
Expanding ones perspective through the combined lenses of mindfulness; tradition, and science, it can allow for the best of all views to guide; and bring a balance between modern and traditional approaches to health, lifestyle, and nourishment.
Mindfulness is not solely limited to the practice of meditation; mindfulness also includes the ability to discern and make choices based on knowledge, facts, and intuition. Mindfulness is that moment of pause to recognize and acknowledge the present moment before moving forward, which may allow us to see both obstacles and the possibilities before us.
It is easy in the modern world to view ancient cultures and people with either idealism or disdain; believing modern society is somehow more advanced and superior to past cultures without pizza delivery, electronics, and central air. However, biases are not limited to only those of the past. There are times we pooh-pooh someone who lives in a metropolitan area for eating industrial fast-food instead of selections labeled organic; or roll the eyes over a modern homesteader making cheese and canning. How we view food, in particular, and the way people eat, is all about perspective.
The same is true about where diet and food fall into one’s thoughts about health. Clients may feel reading labels and buying health food is a waste of time and all a scam. Equally, clients can become so obsessed with the health and cleanness of their food they are practically paralyzed in the market; worse yet, it becomes almost impossible to enjoy a meal with them. This last part is so important because, as a species, we have shared a meal with others since the beginnings of evolution. This need to commune with others while eating plays a role in why restaurants are popular, especially for singles; eating with others allows for sharing ancient memories tucked deep in cellular mitochondria.
First, let’s be honest; the American food culture has been pretty messed up for over eighty years. There are real reasons to be concerned about food and water (we will look at water more later), especially where safety and quality are concerned. Part of the difference between the current generation and one’s great-grandparents began with the Industrial Revolution of the 1800s. By the 19th century with the assembly line’s initiation, canned and frozen foods began taking society from the farm or backyard to the Piggly Wiggly. It wasn’t until the end of World War II and the Agricultural Chemical Revolution that mega-corporations opened Pandora’s box of newly available chemicals for food crops and food manufacturing.
The late 20th century brought first-world countries (as defined by the UN following World War II) to a roundabout in healthcare approaches. The 21st century views on health care are a blended version of allopathic, integrative, traditional, and holistic models. These varied approaches can be at odds with each other, adding to consumer confusion and frustration. However, the silver lining of this moment-in-time is a growing acknowledgment and understanding of the priceless value that food from traditional and cultural sources provides.
Twenty years into the new millennium means four to five generations of individuals simultaneously alive today on the planet; some of whom have been taught to believe the Doctor Knows Best, Science is Good, Traditional Medicine is Quackery, and Better Living Through Chemistry. Additionally, the tech-industry is influencing food trends in ways that resemble bad science fiction. Bland or flavorless meal replacements like Soylent® are being touted as foods to prevent climate change — and better for the environment than eating livestock. Neither of these claims can stand up to fact-checking. The pandemic of 2020 revealed that airplanes, many industries, and fossil-fuel-powered vehicles were far more at odds with global climate conditions than cattle.
Thankfully, the younger generation of Millennials is embracing traditional agriculture, homesteading, gardening, and animal husbandry: along with artisanal and traditional food preparation. The authors cannot know for a certainty that generations following the Millennials will embrace and value sustainable lifestyles in the same manner — but we hope they do.
The pandemic of 2020 also brought about a return to the kitchen. With stay-at-home orders in place for months on end, individuals reacquainted themselves with the once mysterious room and unfamiliar activities of kitchen. The developments of 2020 gives hope that the growing challenges of food insecurity in the United States (due to affordability, availability, mobility, and multi-national food manufacturers controlling the type of foods available in many areas) can be ameliorated. A study released in 2018 on food insecurity in older adults found food insecurity was significantly associated with economic factors. The findings showed higher values for the prevalence of chronic diseases, poor management of chronic diseases, and decreased health-related quality of life in older adults living in communities. The cycle of food insecurity and chronic disease begins when an individual or family cannot afford enough nutritious food. The combination of stress and poor nutrition can make health management increasingly challenging.
Additionally, the time and money needed to cope with these health conditions strain the household budget, leaving little money for essential nutrition and medical care. This causes the cycle to continue, increasing the risk of worsening existing conditions. When food insecurity is present, sustainable health and mindful living are unattainable.
In the fall of 2020, the Wall Street Journal reported on the growing food insecurity in Latin American countries. It is easy to compartmentalize our thinking about food into what we see in the local market and be blind to the multitude of areas where food is affected by seemingly unrelated events in global economies. One area involves fossil fuels and transportation, as the Wall Street Journal article titled “Venezuela’s Food Chain is Breaking, and Millions Go Hungry” outlines. When gas, diesel, or canola oil-based fuels are unavailable or production is limited or halted, farmers are unable to fuel tractors or farm equipment to plant and harvest. When transportation of food falters due to fuel shortages, millions of tons of food spoil in depots, fields, and aboard cargo ships. What increasingly becomes available to consumers in countries like Venezuela are “junk” foods and non-edible items. Ana Nunes, a sixty-two-year-old retired municipal worker in western Venezuela, shared in the Journal article her meals consisting of a few corn-flour arepas (pancakes), and continued to say “instead of quality foods, the markets sell garbage like animal hides and rotten cheese.”
When individuals have access to community gardens or live close to food production; accessibility allows people to harvest and store foods while the nutrient content is at its highest. The availability and use of fresh foods provide quality nutrition, not empty calories. Historically, it has always been true that when humans have access to abundant food supplies; advances in culture, intelligence, and adaptability happen. When changes in local area economies involving increased availability of fresh foods occur, the population has a high capacity to produce positive, healthy changes that influence sustainability. This is a key component of humanity’s sustainability that involves the greater or lesser availability of fresh food. When vacant lots are revitalized into community gardens in large cities, people come together; and food insecurity in the elderly and in impoverished areas lessens, with the addition of countless other benefits.
During clinical practice, Tammera has had many clients who were children during the Great Depression of the 1930s and World War II. A recurring comment from these elders pertains to food and hunger; “we knew we were poor, but we never went hungry; there was always a garden and food to eat.”
Something to think about.
by Tammera J. Karr, PhD, BCHN, CDSP, CNW, CGP
Over the years, clients have asked many questions, but the questions on cookware safety seldom come up. It is generally the clinician interviewing the client that most frequently asks the question about what kind of cookware was in use. Now with the internet and social media, questions like – “Are nonstick pans toxic?” “Can aluminum cookware cause dementia?” “Are my dishes full of lead?” and “Are my scratched pans still safe?” seem to be everywhere. Frequently, the responses and answers are based on outdated information. So if you are shopping for new kitchenware and are uncertain, begin by reading the chapter Gizmos and Gadgets for the Kitchen page 51, in Our Journey with Food Cookery Book 2nd edition, you’ll find there’s a wide range of choices in cookware material; such as cast iron, stainless steel, copper, glass, and ceramic. By and large, they are all safe when purchased in a mindful manner. Keep in mind when it comes to cookware, your experience, comfort, and enjoyment of “all things cooking” is determined by the quality of the tools you use.
What tools are selected will depend on the type of cook you are, your kitchen area, and your level of experience. Not on the health risks from the tools used. As someone who cooks inside, outside, on an electric range, gas stove, barbeque, and wood fire, I can assure you the heat-producing surface determines what pot or pan is used as much as the quality. World over, individuals prepair meals each day in cookware Americans would refuse to use – yet America and other western cultures have skyrocketing dementia numbers.
In 1965, scientists discovered that feeding rabbits very high levels of aluminum produced changes in the rabbits’ brains resembling Alzheimer’s. This was later proven to be incorrect. Aluminum is a naturally occurring mineral found in water, plants, fish, and animals. Aluminum plays a role in cell formation, especially skin cells. Broccoli, a proven health food, also contains aluminum. So what about the argument over organic and inorganic aluminum? To be honest, most of us are guessing and relying on theory and interpretation. Aluminum cookware has been in use since 1807. Just like cast iron; aluminum is released from pans when acidic foods are cooked. The acidic properties of food interact with the metal affecting the protective coating or finish on the cookware. Lightweight aluminum is an excellent heat conductor and highly reactive with acidic foods like tomatoes, vinegar, and citrus juice. Such items can cause aluminum to leach into food, imparting a metallic taste and leaving the cookware with a pitted surface. These are the same foods that leach iron from cast iron and can damage poor-quality stainless steel.
There have also been reports aluminum is present in the brains of people with dementia and Alzheimers. This can be found in the early work done on Alzheimer’s when an autopsy was the sole avenue of determining Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. Now with the availability of CAT and MRI scans, the location, development, and the “cause” is far more complex than one thing. Overall health plays a role, including diet, diabetes, the microbiome of the mouth, the environment and genetics. A groundbreaking text by Russell L. Blaylock, MD, in 1997 called Excitotoxins, revealed the damage to brain cells when MSG and Aspartame, along with naturally occurring glutamates in high levels, are present in the diet. These chemicals affect the cell’s ability to regulate fluid, resulting in the cells bursting and leaving behind trace minerals like aluminum. While this research has been pushed to the shadows in favor of designer therapies, it still has value. Over the last 3 decades, research on Alzheimer’s has linked a wide range of causes, only to be disproved and only looking at the brain as a single organ, not part of an amazingly complex life form. Today we face a new paradigm in Alzheimer’s research linking oral bacteria and its effect on tao proteins. Now the question has changed to a different “what if”.
Lifestyle may be your biggest protector.
The tools we use for the preparation of food are important, but they are only one element of our lifestyle that supports well-being and longevity. When we narrow our focus to one thing as a cause, we also miss dozens, if not thousands, of other elements contributing to health. A narrow point of view assumes everyone is affected by a potential toxin or gene expression in the same way. Yet, as our technology opens the window to more information, research finds our bodies are capable of achieving homeostasis even under extreme challenges. Our bodies have been living with heavy metals and naturally occurring toxins from the beginning. When an individual cultivates well-being from a broader perspective, incorporating all aspects of nourishment- risks diminish along with the burden, confusion, and fear over what kind of food, cookware, water, air, or medicine to use.
In our book Empty Plate: Food~Sustainability~Mindfulness; Kathleen Bell and I share volumes of science supporting how our daily lifestyle choices make the difference in disease rates and longevity. A literature review expands the concept of nourishment and how more than food is necessary for health.
Expanding the definition of nourishment to include lifestyle and environmental sources beyond diet.
Tammera Karr, PhD, BCHN™, CNW®, and Kathleen Bell, RN, MSN, CNM, AHN-BC™
National Association of Nutrition Professionals and American Holistic Nurses Association
Published February 13, 2022
The purpose of this literature review is to expand the limitations of the common scientific definition of Nourishment to a broader holistic understanding relating to health. Is Nourishment limited to nutrients extracted through digestion? Or does Nourishment also include elements ingested from exposures to environment, culture, beliefs, social, connections, wavelengths, and smells as well as calories? To Nourish is to provide food or other substances necessary for growth, health and well-being. Well-being is a positive outcome that is meaningful for people and society. The authors demonstrate evidence that food alone is not sufficient to sustain human health and vitality.
Nutrients in food become information and control aspects of human biology and physiology, but Nourishment is not derived solely from food, Nourishment enters the body through multiple pathways. For example: Research shows that taste develops in the womb before birth as the fetus is introduced to foods the mother consumes. Fetal growth and development proceeds without the physical ingestion of foodstuffs; Nourishment is provided through the mother. Additional research illustrates health of both mother and child are affected by multi-faceted environmental, cultural, and biochemical factors.
Wellness can be viewed as an active process of becoming aware of (mindfulness) and making choices that support the dynamism required to maintain homeostasis. Holistic health and well-being are outcomes of constant interaction between and among many dimensions of human life. Balance is achieved via devoting significant attention to each of the interrelated elements that comprise Nourishment. Lack of attention to one or more of these elements results in imbalances that may lead to deterioration and disease. By redefining the concept of Nourishment the reviewers’ intention is to illuminate the deficiencies of remaining within the confines of a reductionist paradigm, and to highlight possibilities available in the quantum era for persons to develop and regenerate health.
From this abstract, we have now written a full paper due to be published in the Acupuncture and Integrative Medicine Newspaper through Pacific College of Health and Science.
There are so many resources on fermenting, but the basic easy concept is often complicated.[i] The HN4U Journey to Health group consists of beginners to advanced in the art of fermenting. That is why it is good to refresh on the how to do ferment process with vegetables once in a while.
Easy Vegetable Fermenting Steps Guide
1) you can ferment just about anything, so don’t feel like you have to buy foods you are unsure of. Start with those that are affordable, easy to clean and prep and familiar. The more color the better, probiotic bacteria need the polyphenol compounds present in colorful vegetables to thrive.
(this is not an exhaustive list)
Purple cabbage ~ Green cabbage ~ Sweet onion ~ Purple onion
Garlic ~ Kale ~ Rainbow chard ~ Bok choi
Spinach ~ Peppers, sweet ~ Chiles, mild-hot ~ Leeks
Cilantro ~ Celery ~ Carrots ~ Daikon Radish
Radish, red ~ Beets ~ Turnips ~ Potato
Ginger ~ Cucumber
2) Tools can be fancy or simple
3) Celtic Sea salt, coarse (has a high trace mineral content) from Selina Naturally.
4) Filtered water (fermenting will fail if chlorine is present in the water).
5) A selection of 1-5 organic vegetables for fermenting. Wash vegetables in a vinegar water solution to remove residue, dirt or wee bugs.
1 C white vinegar
1 Gallon cold water
6) Starter – we use Bubbies naturally fermented sauerkraut and dill pickle relish. Once we have our own fermented vegetables, we reserve 1-2 cups with liquid as the next batch starter.
Easy Fermented Kraut or Veggie Slaw (Tammera and Michael Karr)
1 small organic cabbage
1-2 organic carrots, grated
3-6 cloves of garlic, minced
1-2 tsp minced fresh ginger
1 small purple or sweet onion
1-2 mild-hot chiles, sliced into thin rings. Seeds add to the heat, remove if you want a mild heat.
1 red or orange sweet pepper, sliced into thin strips about the thickness of a spaghetti noodle.
2 tbsp coarse salt
½ cup Bubbies Naturally Fermented Kraut with juice, starter
1-2 cups filtered water
Place washed veggies on a towel to absorb water while you begin thin-slicing (shredding or julienning) vegetables. It is easier to cut cabbage, onions, radishes, turnips, and beets in half, then do thin slices (flat side down). A food grater or mandolin can be used but it isn’t necessary.
Once vegetable slaw is in your mixing bowl, add starter and 1 tablespoon of salt and massage or burse the vegetables with your hands while mixing thoroughly; this allows the salt and ferment starter to start working. Were gloves if your hands are sensitive.
If using dill relish and wanting a more traditional sauerkraut – add 1 teaspoon of Fennel or Carraway seeds.
Now that everything is mixed begin filling the fermenting vessel, or jar. Pack the vegetables in tightly, pressing out all the air. Fill to within 2-3 inches of the top and cover with brine water made with 1 tablespoon of coarse salt and 1 cup of filtered water. Make sure the vegetables are covered with water, and place a loose-fitting lid on the top.
You will want your jars or containers in a plastic tray or on a plate to prevent any escaping liquid from making a mess. Place in a cool area out of direct sunlight.
1- 2 times daily uncover vegetables and press slaw/kraut matt down (they begin to float right away) under the liquid. By day three a froth of bubbles should come to the surface when you compress the kraut or slaw.
If not, move to a slightly warmer area with good air circulation. When it is cold, fermentation may take up to 6 days. Take a small sample of your kraut for a taste, when it reaches the tangy taste pleasing to your pallet, pack into glass jars (if using a large fermenting jar) seal plastic lids down tight and place in the back of the fridge.
Will keep in the refrigerator up to 6 months.
[i] Our Journey with Food Cookery Book pages 273, 292
By Tammera Karr PhD
The cacao tree, aptly named Theobroma cacao, by the famous botanist Carl Linnaeus. The cacao tree only grows within twenty degrees of the equator in the tropics’ damp conditions. Once mature, the tree will produce small, white flowers that can only be pollinated by midges, a fly no larger than a pencil’s tip. When cacao pods are mature, they are harvested by hand using a machete. Each pod is broken open to expose the beans and white pulp and collected into a pile. The beans and pulp remain outside in the heat and high humidity to undergo fermentation.
What is fermentation?
Fermentation is a metabolic process that occurs with microorganisms. Bacteria and yeast thrive in hot, moist climates, and the cacao pulp is an excellent nutrient source. In this case, the bacteria and yeast are needed to produce the precursor compounds necessary for chocolate’s characteristic flavor and aroma. Bacteria do this by eating some of the sugar and acid content, converting it into other molecules. Fermentation typically lasts for about a week. Once fermentation is complete, the farmers will separate the beans from the pulp, used as a nutrient source during fermentation. Next, the beans are left to dry in the sun.
A little history
In Greek, Theobroma translates to food of the gods. Chocolate connoisseurs know there is more than a gustatory pleasure to be found in this food of the gods. In 1753, Carl von Linnaeus, a Swedish scientist, thought cacao was so important he named the genus and species of tree Theobroma cacao, which means cacao, the food of the gods. This food dates back to prehistoric times and was extensively cultivated in Mexico, Central, and South America for centuries before Europeans’ arrived. 173 The Mayan Indians began cultivating cacao about 600 AD. The indigenous populations ate only the fruit, which contains numerous health benefits. The seed or cacao nib was set aside for a psychedelic brew, called ayahuasca, and for medicines. According to Aztec myth, the cacao awakened power and wisdom. When the explorer Cortes brought cacao back to Spain in 1528, it was sequestered and enjoyed only by nobility and the wealthy.
The many uses of chocolate
In medieval times, chocolate was viewed as a luxury item and an indulgence. In modern times chocolate is used as gifts for mothers and sweethearts. It is made into cocktails, cold and hot drinks, candies, powders, wines, and lotions. The Spanish are widely responsible for the introduction and development of chocolate foods and beverages.
The making of chocolate foods
The most critical step is roasting. Roasting generates hundreds of the flavor compounds associate with chocolate. The beans are roasted at high temperatures for roughly one hour. There are many chemical reactions responsible for cacoa color, flavor, and aroma. Cacoa naturally has a strong, pungent/bitter taste, which comes from the flavonols. Without roasting, the cacao beans would never obtain the flavor profile we associate with modern chocolate. Cacoa nibs are crushed to form cocoa butter and cocoa liquor. There are several processing steps involved in reducing cacaos bitter taste. Cocoa liquor has a very concentrated, chocolatey flavor with a trace of bitterness and acidity. Other ingredients like sugar, milk solids, vanilla, and emulsifiers are added to the pure cocoa liquor. The addition of these ingredients to the liquor results in a coarse, heterogeneous mixture that still must be further processed. The more chocolate is processed (through fermentation, alkalizing, roasting, etc.), the more flavanols are lost. 174
What science tells us about the health properties of chocolate
Flavonoids are naturally-occurring compounds found in plant-based foods that offer specific health benefits. They are part of the polyphenol group (chemicals found in plants). Flavanols are a type of flavonoid found explicitly in cocoa and chocolate. More than 4,000 flavonoid compounds are found in various foods and beverages, such as cranberries, apples, peanuts, chocolate, onions, tea, and red wine. Most popular commercial chocolates are highly processed, providing little if any health benefits.
Dark chocolate contains a large number of antioxidants (nearly eight times the amount found in strawberries). Flavonoids also help lower blood pressure nitric oxide production; they can also balance certain hormones. The fats in chocolate (1/3 oleic acid, 1/3 stearic acid, and 1/3 palmitic acid) do not impact your cholesterol. Dark chocolate helps restore flexibility to arteries while preventing white blood cells from sticking to blood vessels’ walls. Both arterial stiffness and white blood cell adhesion are known factors that play a significant role in atherosclerosis. Scientists found that increasing the flavanol content of dark chocolate did not change this effect. Research published in the March 2014 issue of The FASEB Journal.
The effect that dark chocolate has on our bodies is encouraging not only because it allows us to indulge with less guilt, but also because it could lead the way to therapies that do the same thing as dark chocolate but with better and more consistent results,” said Gerald Weissmann, MD, editor-in-chief of The FASEB Journal. Until the ‘dark chocolate drug’ is developed, however, we’ll have to make do with what nature has given us! 175, 177
Benefits of dark chocolate
Chocolate is a complex food with over 300 compounds and chemicals in each bite. Look for pure dark chocolate or dark chocolate with nuts, orange peel, or other natural flavorings. To enjoy and appreciate chocolate, take the time to taste it. Most studies used no more than 100 grams, or about 3.5 ounces, of dark chocolate a day. One bar of dark chocolate has around 400 calories.
Enjoy moderate portions of chocolate (e.g., one ounce) a few times per week, and don’t forget to consume other flavonoid-rich foods like apples, red wine, tea, onions, and cranberries. Your best choices are dark chocolate instead of milk chocolate (especially milk chocolate that is loaded with other fats and sugars) and cocoa powder that has not undergone Dutch processing (cocoa treated with an alkali to neutralize its natural acidity).
Caution: According to the National Hazardous Substances Database: In large doses, theobromine may cause nausea and anorexia, and the daily intake of 50-100g cocoa (1.5 g theobromine) has been associated with sweating, trembling, and severe headache. Occasionally, people (mostly the elderly) have needed hospital treatment for a theobromine reaction.
By Tammera J Karr PhD
What are your must-have gizmos, gadget, tool, or appliance in your home or RV kitchen?
This question had come before me frequently of late and got me thinking about all the tools we have available today, designed for one form or another of food preparation. It is quite overwhelming when you do a small search on Amazon, Overstock, or Wayfair for Kitchen tools and appliances. As a food historian, I have seen kitchen tools from colonial days to the present, some have lasted over the centuries, and others came and went. The one tool every kitchen has at least one of is a knife. History and archaeology can show us blades of every shape and material dating from man’s earliest forays into tool making.
When reading about pioneers coming west and what individuals started with, then left along the trail; the list is long from furniture to wood cook stoves, books to rugs, copper pots, and pans to bone china. But the knife always seemed to make the list of must-haves. When families packed up their belongings and moved during the dust bowl, the kitchen knife was secured in the load once again. So what about today – does the humble knife still have relevance with food processors, electric carving blades, mincers, blenders, and more?
Ohh, Ya, our fascination with knives is still very real. Each time I open one of my social media pages, an ad for Damascus steel kitchen knives with wood, ceramic, bone, and composite handles of every size and color greets me. I feel like a magpie drawn to shiny – wanting this one and that.
Unlike the pioneers or my grandmother, I have to consider the requirements of another kitchen appliance that rules supreme – the dishwasher. My grandmother never had to weigh the acquisition of her mixing bowls, hand tools, dishes, and knives against Dishwasher Safe. Ok, many folks don’t have dishwashers, but what about microwave ovens?
The microwave oven made it big in the mid-1980s when the once expensive countertop high-tech oven became affordable to the masses in North America. A whole new approach to cooking took the states by storm. Candy, bacon, rice, and potatoes in minutes, and soon freezers were filled with not the functional aluminum oven TV dinner but the snazzy plastic dish quick meal. I admit that this is one electric appliance short-lived in my kitchen and RV. After three years of not even using the microwave’s timer function in our RV, we removed it and turned the space into convenient storage for those kitchen tools used almost daily. I enjoy cooking and find it as fast as ready-made meals. The motions involved with preparing a meal are timeless and allow one to slow down and take stock in the day’s events while flavoring the food with intention and care. On the practical side, I’ll admit at home and in the RV counter space to use those nifty knives on will always win out over another electrical gadget.
Did you grow up with Pyrex? Pretty much every wedding from the 1940s to the present has had at least one set of Pyrex mixing bowls if festive or retro colors. Countless batches of popcorn, salads, mashed potatoes, and pasta have been offered up to family members in Pyrex over the decades, and they were the first freezer to oven to tableware of the modern age. There are downsides to grandmothers stoneware and Pyrex. The heavy metal content and exposure from ceramics pre-2015 are serious considerations, especially if children eat from these dishes. But will this champion of the kitchen be replaced with Silicone? Maybe, but there is a lot we don’t know about silicone cookware – remember how Teflon took over the kitchen in the 1970s and 80s? Today we know there are health dangers from cooking and using Teflon, so much so that the US government banned its use. Ok, they may have excluded it more for the threat to the ozone than your health, but we will take this win any way we can get it.
There are still more appliances filling the cupboards; electric frying pans, instant pots, hand benders, ice cream makers, popcorn poppers, and more. When it comes down to it, just how many of these appliances do we really need, or even use more than once a year? If we were loading a wagon to head west today, how many of these would be left behind? There is something to be said for simplicity. When we use the knife, rolling pin (reminiscent of the mortar and pestle), and spoon, we are using tools that have passed the test of time. The physical motions we do of slicing, chopping, ladling, pouring, rolling, and pressing are little changed from that of the pioneers or ancient peoples who first settled our world. When explorers of old went forth, simplicity ruled due to practical needs. Today millions of people in other parts of the world still use rudimentary kitchen tools to prepare their daily meals; these tools may have been passed down through generations or fabricated from available materials. Why they are still in demand comes down to serviceable, dependable, and portable.
Consider the appliance invasion that may have been going on in your kitchen. Before buying the newest gizmo, pause and ponder how much space it takes up, and if its value is real or just because everyone else has one. Keep those tools that increase the enjoyment of cooking, that connect you to family and friends – the rest pass them by in favor of less stuff to weigh you down.
To read more on the modernization of the kitchen by Tammera Karr
by Tammera J. Karr, PhD, BCHN, CNW, CGP
In my home, we had canned and pickled sugar beets with a side of greens. For me, the beet greens were (and sometimes still are) the only edible part of the plant, but many people love beets in all their forms.
The first significant benefit of beets is that they are vasodilators. This is because they contain nitric oxide, which acts on the blood vessels to widen them. Imagine your veins and your arteries becoming wider.
While that might sound a little scary, what it means is that blood and oxygen are more easily able to get around the body. This then means that you get more energy to the parts of the body that need it and beets area considered incredibly useful for athletes. Another benefit of nitric oxide is that it encourages blood flow to the brain. This is important because it can help to boost attention, memory, and mood.
Betalain red-colored pigments are found in other foods like the stems of chard and rhubarb, but the peel and flesh of beets offer an unusually high concentration. An estimated 10-15 percent of U.S. adults experience beeturia (a reddening of the urine) after consumption of beets in everyday amounts. While this phenomenon is not harmful, it may indicate problems with iron metabolism. Individuals with iron deficiency, iron excess, or particular issues with iron metabolism are much more likely to experience beeturia than individuals with healthy iron metabolism.
Beets have been shown to help lower the amount of glucose in the blood as a result of the soluble fiber called inulin.
A little history
Like many fresh vegetables, beetroot was first cultivated by the Romans. In the 19th-century, it gained significant commercial value when it was discovered that beets could be converted into sugar. The Amalgamated Sugar Company was founded in 1897 in Logan, Utah, and is now located in Boise, Idaho. The company markets its sugar under the White Satin brand. By the 1950s, White Satin sugar was in every grocery store in the Pacific Northwest.
Beets are in the same family as chard and spinach, and both the leaves and root can be eaten. The leaves have a bitter taste, whereas the round root is sweet. Beets come in a variety of colors, including white and creamy yellow.
How and What
Beets can be eaten raw, cooked, or pickled. Beets are exceptionally healthy, especially the greens, which are rich in calcium, iron, and vitamins A and C. Beetroots are an excellent source of folic acid and a splendid source of fiber, manganese, and potassium. Beets help the liver to detoxify harmful chemicals from the body. The greens can be cooked up and enjoyed in the same way as spinach. A unique source of phytonutrients called betalains are found in beets. Betanin and vulgaxanthin are the two best-studied betalains found in beets, and both have been shown to provide antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and detoxification support.
Inulin is a dietary fiber that may benefit gut health.
Inulin is a type of soluble fiber found in beets and is a fructan. Like other fructans, it is a prebiotic, meaning that it feeds the good bacteria in the gut. Fructans are chains of fructose molecules. The molecules link together in a way that the small intestine cannot break down. Instead, they travel to the lower gut, where they feed beneficial gut bacteria.
The gut bacteria convert inulin and other prebiotics into short-chain fatty acids, which nourish colon cells and provide various other health benefits. Plants containing inulin have been around for thousands of years, and some early humans consumed much more inulin than we do today.
The gut microbiota is the population of bacteria and other microbes that live in the gut. This community is highly complex and contains both good and bad bacteria. Having the right balance of bacteria is essential for keeping the gut healthy and protect the body from disease. Inulin can help promote this balance. Studies have shown that inulin can help stimulate the growth of beneficial bacteria.
Increasing the amounts of healthful bacteria can help improve digestion, immunity, and overall health.
Here is to real foods that build our health.
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Let’s Begin the Journey of a Lifetime!
by Tammera J Karr, PhD, BCHN, CNW, CGP
So often we forget about the nutrients that have been around for decades. Zinc is one of those minerals that have a multifaceted nature. Forty years ago the essential nature of zinc and human health was first reported in the Middle East. It is required for cellular enzyme function, the formation of hormones, and it provides the immune system with a unique skill – zinc is used by the immune system to strengthen the T-helper cells. The current estimate is that over 2,000 transcription factors may be zinc-dependent.
Zinc affects multiple aspects of the immune system. Zinc is crucial for the normal development and function of cells mediating innate immunity, neutrophils, and NK cells. Macrophages also are affected by zinc deficiency. The ability of zinc to function as an anti-oxidant and stabilize membranes suggests that it has a role in the prevention of free radical-induced injury during inflammatory processes.
The role of zinc in modulating oxidative stress has recently been recognized. Oxidative stress is an important contributing factor in several chronic human diseases, such as atherosclerosis and related vascular diseases, mutagenesis and cancer, neurodegeneration, immunologic disorders, and the aging process.
In studies of zinc deficiency, researchers found when zinc intake was insufficient it resulted in; decreased serum testosterone level, oligospermia, severe immune dysfunctions, hyperammonemia, neurosensory disorders, and decreased lean body mass. It appears that zinc deficiency is prevalent in the developing world and as many as two billion subjects may be growth retarded due to zinc deficiency. Besides growth retardation and immune dysfunctions, cognitive impairment due to zinc deficiency also has been reported recently. Our studies in the cell culture models showed that the activation of many zinc-dependent enzymes and transcription factors were adversely affected due to zinc deficiency.
For viruses to anchor to cells, we have to have a week immune system, which is a result of poor diet, sleep and heightened stress. Zinc is pivotal in the effectiveness of the anti-malarial drug function being used for COVID-19, and it is responsible for loss or off-taste and smell being reported by those who have recovered from COVID-19.
A lack of zinc can make a person more susceptible to disease and illness, along with increased risk for macular degeneration and infertility. According to a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, “zinc-deficient persons experience increased susceptibility to a variety of pathogens.”
According to the European Journal of Immunology, the human body needs zinc to activate T lymphocytes (T cells). T cells help the body in two ways: controlling and regulating immune responses and attacking infected or cancerous cells
Zinc is responsible for a number of functions in the human body, and it helps stimulate the activity of at least 100 different enzymes. Only a small intake of zinc is necessary to reap the benefits. The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for zinc in the United States is 8 milligrams (mg) a day for women and 11 mg a day for men.
Vegetarians may require up to 50 percent more than the recommended intake of zinc because of the low bioavailability of zinc from plant-based foods.
Foods with the highest reported zinc content are:
raw oysters (Pacific),
beef, lean chuck roast
baked beans, canned
King Alaskan crab,
ground beef, lean
Zinc supplements are also available in the form of capsules and tablets. However, the tolerable upper limit for zinc is 40 milligrams for males and females over 18 years. It has been proven time and again that isolating certain nutrients in supplement form will not provide the same health benefits as consuming the nutrient from whole food. First, focus on obtaining your daily zinc requirement from foods, then use supplements as a backup if necessary.
To a Healthy Spring, Real Foods and Resiliency
Prasad, Ananda S. “Zinc in human health: effect of zinc on immune cells.” Molecular medicine (Cambridge, Mass.) vol. 14,5-6 (2008): 353-7. doi:10.2119/2008-00033.Prasad
by Tammera J. Karr, PhD, BCHN, CNW, CGP
Our grocery stores have changed a lot over the last 20 years. Gone in many areas are the local specialty grocers like seen in films from the 1950s, replaced by mega Walmarts or warehouse stores. The hardest part about this change is the overwhelming volume of food products. In these vast stores, you may feel like you need a GPS and a sleeping bag before you find your way out of the jungle of shelves, freezer cases, and focus-grabbing end aisle displays.
When you are tired and stressed from work or family needs, trips to the market are even more problematic. This is prime time to be tempted by those cleverly colored and displayed industrial foods. Market researchers fully understand what is happening inside your overwhelmed brain; they know what colors, flavors, and even sounds will attract you to buy. Just like a skilled hunter knows how to find and lure the food sources in the wild – so do modern food marketers and retailers in the wilds of the grocery store aisle.
Shopping the outer rim
For decades we have told clients to limit their shopping to the outer edge of the grocery store – the problem is marketing experts know what we are telling folks trying to regain control of their diet. With increasing frequency, ultra-processed food items are making their way into the produce area. Additionally, now produce can be divided up by companion ingredients such as salad dressings and dips, croutons, and shredded cheese interspersed with vegetables, colored sugar glazes, and caramel dips and chocolate with fruit.
When pandemics take over our lives, it is even more critical than ever to be resilient. Now is a perfect time to turn to local farmers’ markets and butcher shops for our food. Not only does it support the businesses in our communities, but it also increases the nutritional value of the foods we consume. This is a win-win when we are looking at cost; our communities are a big part of who we are, so keeping the local economy healthy involves more than supporting franchise chains. The closer the food is to us, the higher the immune-boosting nutrients.
Where to begin?
Plan your excursions into the grocery stores just as you would a family camping trip or vacation. Planning ahead, buying dry goods, and staples in bulk saves money and frustration.
Change the frequency of trips to the market. We are far more prone to spontaneous unhealthy purchases when we shop for food daily or even weekly. Limit your weekly shopping to fresh produce, make an event out of farmers’ markets or farm stands over the added exposure of megastores. Don’t be afraid of blemishes on fresh produce at farm stands or markets. Save money by buying seconds; produce that has defects are called seconds, they may be too large or small, have bruises or scars on the skins or be older. Seconds work great for smoothies, hot cereal, compotes, desserts, and salads.
Buy in bulk: flour, rice, beans, lentils, pasta, oatmeal, sugar, tea, and coffee
Take advantage of sales on favorite canned goods and condiments. Depending on the best buy dates, these items may last 6-12 months, saving you trips to the store and allowing for creative flexibility in the kitchen. Limit the food-stuffs that are a specialty; it is better to have tomato sauce over spaghetti sauce, for example. A simple base food such as tomato sauce can be used in meatloaf, soups, sauces, and made into tomato soup.
Buy large cuts of meat: by buying a whole chicken, turkey, fish, and roasts, you can downsize your purchase into a multitude of meal options and save money. One turkey thigh in an instapot with vegetables and water makes several meals for one or two people. A pork loin can be cut into chops, roast, stirfry, and ground meat. One pork loin 3-pound roast can produce up to twenty meals. A whole chicken can be boned and sectioned, the bones and trimmings make broth, breast meat shredded for tacos, thighs for pot pie, and so forth.
Utilize leftovers for breakfasts, lunches, and snacks
Buy organic quality cooking oils and butter – the healthy fats we consume are worth the extra money.
All of these suggestions save you money, time, and frustration, especially when local stores are having a hard time getting shipments. When you keep a well-stocked pantry and freezer, hoarding and unscrupulous purchases driven by fear, are kept in check.
To a Healthy Spring, Real Foods and Resiliency
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Let’s Begin the Journey of a Lifetime!
by Tammera J. Karr, PhD, BCHN, CGP, CNW
St. Patrick’s day and many other hallmark holidays may feel like frivolous events to celebrate – but it is during times of high stress and fear that the perfect prescription is a “Lightening of the Mood with a Wee Measure of Frivolous.” In truth, life goes on; most of us have deadlines, work, and responsibilities. Yet during quarantines, we may be working from home or navigating the prickly world of board spouses and kids. The weight of events is heavy, and silly celebrations lighten our feelings of isolation, fear, and boredom. It activates our immune responses and improves our brain chemistry.
You know where I’m going with this, my point is there is far more we can do during this pandemic then snip at each other, bing buy, be rude to grocery clerks or fellow shoppers, or post stupid toilet paper comments on Facebook. Now is when we call on our pioneer heritage and help those in our communities. Our combined know-how is stunning, and when there is a will, some humor and ingenuity amazing things blossom. Thank goodness we have a growing number of farmers’ markets, local butchers, and food sources. Being able to produce and procure local foods, resources, and more is what kept the 1918 Spanish Influenza outbreak from decimating so many rural communities.
Time in nature, fresh air, and sunshine are also gifts from the Creator that help us stay healthy. There is a reason we have a spring cleaning bug. It motivates us to clear away the dust and throw open the sash, letting in light and air. Which medical staff learned in 1918 had an anti-viral activity. Clearing away the dust mites, lint and dander, helps our immune systems, at the same time keeping our hands busy.
When we “put on the green,” it isn’t just about the Irish. It is about new beginnings, spring, bursting forth new life, and those foods rich in nutrients that help us stay healthy. Even though we are still in the “hunger months” for fresh food production, there is a fantastic wealth of produce available in stores and markets. Albeit some of the bounty is due to our aversion to vegetables. The sooner we put the green on our plates, the faster we will pass through the current pandemic.
Current infectious disease models are projecting the coronavirus pandemic that may last well into 2020. If that model is accurate, then we have every reason to order garden seeds and become proactive in helping our neighbors. Our faith will and is being tested, can we practice the good works on our own without the audience? I hope so.
Taking back the control
As much as I see the uselessness of many of the precautions being mandated by state governments (ineffective face masks, wearing them improperly, hand sanitizers that damage immune systems, unnecessary closure of businesses, and general paranoia) I do believe in the potential for a fall rebound of COVID-19.
Please keep in mind this rebound virus will not be the same as what circulated in January and February, just as the virus present in May or June has two or more generations of adaptation to that found in China. Therefore any effective vaccine is very unlikely. Viruses are sneaky little bastards, changing and using our normal body systems to hide from the immune system. THAT IS WHY we should be doing everything we can to strengthen our immune systems. This is not done overnight by a magic pill with a prescription label.
Our best recourse is those tools provided by nature that viruses are unable to mutate or adapt or mutate beyond.
1. Clean all the processed foods out – go with local vegetables, fruits and meats. Now is not the time to be eating sugar or processed foods. As much as I love bread, the increase of carbohydrates that increase inflammation, congestion, and blood sugars should be limited. Bread even naturally fermented sourdough does little to improve our ability to fight off viral infections.
2. Get your hands dirty – yup our immune system depends on microorganisms- they make up 85% of our immune response. We are intimately connected to the wee bugs in our soil, water and air. Our pets and homes share a common microbiota with us, it is the wee bugs that act as our front line defense against infections. We keep our microbiome healthy with the inclusion of fresh vegetables, ancient grains, and fruits. When we are constantly wiping down surfaces with bleach, vinegar, and alcohol disinfectants we are also damaging the microbiome of our environment. If you are worried about getting the COVID-19 virus from fresh vegetables – STOP, as with bacteria if in doubt steam, saute, fry, blanch, boil or bake the vegetables and fruits.
3. Get plenty of quality sleep – cut your alcohol consumption as it interferes with sleep quality, and lowers immune function. Turn off the WiFi at night, put your phone on airplane mode, cover blue light indicators, go to bed at the same time to ensure normal sleep hormone levels, keep your bedroom 60 or lower for temperature.
4. Utilize nature’s antiviral foods and herbs – garlic, ginger, elderberry, blackberries, black and green tea, onion, thyme, oregano, nettle, citrus, goldenseal, olive leaf, free-range protein, natural fats,
5. Old school – high-quality silver solutions are still used for third-degree burns, viruses are not able to hide from quality silver. (Please buy from a reputable company like Designs for Health or Quick Silver, pretty much all of the brands found in health stores are useless.)
6. Time in nature, research supports the multitude of health benefits from time in nature. Nature immits negative ions that stimulate hormones that support immune function. From just sitting and meditating, enjoying the view or hiking a trail; time in nature stimulates digestion, detoxification, circulation, vitamin D synthesis, and endorphins.
7. Turn off the news and Do Not Believe most of what you read, hear, or see. Now is when I’m seeing a big uptick in fake, incomplete, and poorly understood information. If you are healthy, doing the right things; “Falling Victim To Fear” will increase the risks of becoming ill. Fear suppresses our immune function.
8. Above all think ahead, plan, and be sensible.
Plan for the worst, hoping it never happens. Prayer, meditation, journaling, dance, sing, and laugh to improve immune function and brain chemistry.
Consider “putting on the green”; as a smile on your face, a song in your heart, and helping hands for those in your neighborhoods who are frightened, alone, isolated, and even hungry. Busy hands make for light hearts, so if you know an elder or disabled person is alone, drop off a jar or pot of soup, fresh bread, or bag of produce. Ask if you can weed their flower beds, trim bushes, chop firewood, or mow their lawn. Calling and checking in on friends and family, having actual conversations dose wonders. How about choirs sharing mucic as if they where caroling? All of this can be done from a safe distance. Rural communities have always come together during trying times and now is no different than 1918.
Putten on the Green Kale Sauté with Garlic and Lemon
1½ pounds (about 2 large bunches) kale*
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 large cloves garlic, minced (use more if you wish)
Sea salt and black pepper to taste
Juice from 2 fresh lemons
Tear kale leaves into bite-size pieces; place in a large colander; rinse well under cold water.
Fill a large pot with water. Add about ½ teaspoon salt and bring to a boil; add kale and cook for 4-6 minutes until crisp-tender. Drain well.
Heat olive oil in a large cast-iron skillet over medium heat; add garlic and cook for about 1 minute. Add kale; season well with sea salt and black pepper. Cook, often stirring, until wilted and tender, 4-6 minutes.
Sprinkle with fresh lemon juice; toss to combine. Serve immediately.
*Collard or mustard greens work well also, blanch greens instead of boiling
by Tammera J. Karr
The history of essential oils is intertwined with the history of herbal medicine; in most ancient cultures, people believed plants to be magical, and for thousands of years herbs were used as much for ritual as they were for medicine and food. In the modern world, science is exploring the medicinal value of many herbs, and plant extracts in efforts to locate new therapies for antibiotic-resistant conditions. There is a growing pharmacopeia of anti-inflammatory herbs additionally.
The Atlantic magazine highlighted the antimicrobial qualities of plant extracts and essential oils. The article notes that “various oils have also been shown to effectively treat a wide range of common health issues such as nausea and migraines, and a rapidly growing body of research is finding that they are powerful enough to kill human cancer cells of the breast, colon, mouth, skin, and more.”
I reflected and realized I had shared information on this topic during a superbug outbreak in 2015.
Just a little recap of an article from the Alliance for Natural Health – On April 14, 2015 – A New Tool for Antibiotic-Resistant Killer Bacteria: Essential Oils; What should you stock to protect yourself?
Drug-resistant tuberculosis—and antibiotic-resistant “superbugs” in general. These infect at least two million Americans each year and kill 23,000, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
According to Karl Rotthier, the chief executive of a Dutch-based pharmaceutical firm, antibiotics are making their way into rivers and waterways due to lax safety measures. Some of the drugs are flushed directly down the toilet, while others pass through the patients first—and it all ends up in the water supply. Too many drugs come from manufacturing waste.
There is a growing body of research supporting the natural antibiotic properties nutrients and herbs, here are just a few:
Silver, the world’s oldest known antibiotic. (still used in hospitals as silvadeane cream for burns and wound healing)
Vitamin C may be effective in fighting antibiotic-resistant infections.
An article released February 13, 2020, from Orthomolecular Research on the use of vitamin C, Goes on to say – “Viral pneumonia is a dangerous condition with a poor clinical prognosis. For most viral infections, there is a lack of effective targeted antiviral drugs, and symptomatic supportive treatment is still the current main treatment. Vitamin C, has antioxidant properties. When sepsis happens, the cytokine surge caused by sepsis is activated, and neutrophils in the lungs accumulate in the lungs, destroying alveolar capillaries. Early clinical studies have shown that vitamin C can effectively prevent this process. In addition, vitamin C can help to eliminate alveolar fluid by preventing the activation and accumulation of neutrophils, and reducing alveolar epithelial water channel damage. At the same time, vitamin C can prevent the formation of neutrophil extracellular traps, which is a biological event of vascular injury caused by neutrophil activation. Most deaths from viruses are caused by pneumonia. Vitamin C has been known, for over 80 years, to benefit pneumonia patients greatly. In 1936 Gander and Niederberger found that vitamin C lowered fever and reduced pain in pneumonia patients”.
The sited study can be seen at: http://orthomolecular.org/resources/omns/v16n17.shtml
While these studies are not conclusive on the total value of nutrients during challenging health events, they do provide hope for many. The foundation of our health is directly tied into the foods we eat every day, and it is easy for many to add more of the traditional herbs, spices, and foods into their diet during the expected seasonal health challenges.
To Real Foods for Health.
1.University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences. (2015, September 16). Immune system may be pathway between nature and good health. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 19, 2020 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/09/150916162120.htm
2.The antibacterial activity of oregano essential oil (Origanum heracleoticum L.) against clinical strains of Escherichia coli and Pseudomonas aeruginosa. 2012:https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23484421
3.Coriander essential oil and linalool – interactions with antibiotics against Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria.2019 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30471142
4.Antibacterial activity of traditional spices against lower respiratory tract pathogens: combinatorial effects of Trachyspermum ammi essential oil with conventional antibiotics. 2018 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30187508
5.Inhibitory effect of Allium sativum and Zingiber officinale extracts on clinically important drug resistant pathogenic bacteria. 2012 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22540232
6. University of Melbourne. (2020, March 17). COVID-19: The immune system can fight back. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 27, 2020 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/03/200317103815.htm
7. University of Virginia Health System. (2020, March 19). Understanding how COVID-19 affects children vital to slowing pandemic, doctors say. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 27, 2020 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/03/200319125201.htm
8. Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center. (2020, March 23). ACE inhibitors and angiotensin receptor blockers may increase the risk of severe COVID-19, paper suggests. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 27, 2020 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/03/200323101354.htm
9. University of Maryland School of Medicine. (2020, March 23). Anxious about COVID-19? Stress can have lasting impacts on sperm and future offspring: Study identifies biological mechanism by which stress alters sperm and impacts brain development in next generation. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 27, 2020 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/03/200323132410.htm
10. Stanford University. (2020, March 26). How to identify factors affecting COVID-19 transmission. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 27, 2020 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/03/200326160759.htm
11. Stanford University. (2020, March 26). How to identify factors affecting COVID-19 transmission. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 27, 2020 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/03/200326160759.htm
12. Semantic Scholar Free access to COCID-19 Research https://www.semanticscholar.org/feed/create?name=COVID-19&paperIds=4adf89030bb59f9cd97a55af21b419aad9045287%2C272c530d8b3a2daae3af01fa4a59b350f3a5398b%2Ca42902bc3f4d92b72f46775420be6569d19e3f73
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