The Aesop Fable of the Ant and Grasshopper has been on my mind a lot the last few weeks as the Federal Furlough of over 800,000 individuals like my husband goes on. I reflected on this story:
“In a field one summer’s day, a Grasshopper was hopping about, chirping and singing to its heart’s content. An Ant passed by, bearing along with great toil an ear of corn he was taking to the nest. “Why not come and chat with me,” said the Grasshopper, “instead of toiling and moiling in that way?”
“I am helping to lay up food for the winter,” said the Ant, “and recommend you to do the same.”
“Why bother about winter?” said the Grasshopper; “We have got plenty of food at present.” But the Ant went on its way and continued its toil.
When the winter came, the Grasshopper had no food and found itself dying of hunger – while it saw the ants distributing every day corn and grain from the stores they had collected in the summer.
Then the Grasshopper knew: It is best to prepare for days of need”.
First, let me say I am not one of the modern “Preppers,” If you must pace a label on me – the closest most days would be that of a “Traditionalist” who sees the value of wise counsel and wisdom from the past. This Aesop’s fable while short holds true wisdom, especially for members of the modern American world.
When I reflect on the young federal employees I know with babies and blossoming lives; I see the two veterans who served their country in the Marines, I see the Postal worker or crew foreman decorated for his or her service to our country. Granted many of the federal employees are not veterans, they may be single parents, or people just like you with responsibilities and dependents.
The fable of the ant and grasshopper and the lesson it shares, I can only hope has been taken to heart by not just those on furlough but also by you the readers of this column. We need more than money in the bank to get us through the storms and winters of life, and those who plan for the short payday, seasonal lay off or rock slide benefit from lower incidence of stress-induced illnesses.
Hypertension, type 2 diabetes, migraines, anxiety, insomnia, and cancer are all chronic illnesses that increase with stress. Food insecurity for the elderly and low-income members of our communities compounds stress and anxiety. Now I like many of you think stress gets a bad rap in today’s world to often the word “stress” is used as an excuse. Stress is a fact of life and necessary – the difference is how we cope and teach our youth to prepare for its inevitability. My Grandmother, Aunt, and Mother-in-Law all, by example, shared the importance of having a full pantry, and store of paper products – No one wants to be without toilet paper, trust me!
Taking advantage of local produce when it is in season is an excellent place to start. Canning fruit was one of the first things I learned. Glass jars are reusable, safe and easy to use for food storage. It was years before my parents were able to afford a freezer; canning allowed venison, fish, vegetables, and fruit to be available year around. Home canned foods fill the gaps for when fresh produce is unavailable, poor quality or as to frequently the case today – recalled for contamination.
Dehydrating of fruit and nuts, at first was done with screen racks over the floor furnace vent or in the sun in the yard. Today we can purchase efficient food dryer/dehydrators for home use that can be used to make far more than apple slices. Dried foods are lightweight and easy to transport. Additionally, even if you live in a tiny house, apartment, dorm room or RV, a food dryer can be found to fit the space you have.
A small 7 cu. Ft freezer may be all you have room for, but it provides storage for extra meat, vegetables or fruit available from local farms, ranches or seasonal grocery sales.
Just like the ant of Aesops fable the effort we spend on storing food for the winter, yields security and peace of mind during those times of high stress and uncertainty. While money may come and go in our lives, I know the pantry is full, and we can make it to summer.
To Traditional Food and Wisdom of Old
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 efficientt 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!