A few years ago, I served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Senegal, West Africa with the specific task of implementing agroforestry practices. Before this position, I was only vaguely familiar with agroforestry, but since then, my eyes have been opened to it, and I see it quite a lot. Whether done unintentionally through home gardens with shade trees or purposefully with live fencing techniques, it is a common and useful practice and a relatively simple concept to grasp.
Before we go further, let’s look at a brief overview of agroforestry as “… a mixture of trees, crops, and animals on the same parcel of land …” — Elizabeth Buttram, Insteading.
The utilization of crops and livestock is optional, but trees are an essential part of agroforestry. Trees usually provide multiple services when integrated with agriculture whether through shade generation, shelter, erosion prevention, natural borders, green manure, fodder for livestock, or windbreaks.
This article will serve as a specific approach to implement live fencing, a very common agroforestry practice.What Is Live Fencing?
Live fencing is the use of woody species that are planted in close proximity to create a natural, living border.Goals and Objectives
Privacy, natural borders, wildlife habitat, containment of livestock/keep out pesky wildlife species and other agroforestry functions such as windbreaks and soil conservation.Pros of Live Fencing
- It is durable for multiple generations (i.e., longer lasting), more economically feasible, provides wildlife habitat, may provide wood, and is more environmentally friendly and sustainable.
- Living fences offer biological and agricultural functions that a manufactured fence cannot. It is a greener (both ecologically and aesthetically) option.
It is time consuming and requires excess maintenance like pruning/watering and is sometimes hard to establish.
Your specific objectives behind live fencing will dictate what species you use. If your goal is to keep out (or in) livestock/wildlife, you will want to use thorny species. However, if you simply want a natural border, lower maintenance, or a privacy wall, your species choice will change.
Check this link for more ideas on what species to use for your live fencing a goals.Live fence hedgerow // Elizabeth Buttram
After you have decided what species you would like to create your live fence, you will need to further decide if you would rather cultivate a tree nursery, or buy young trees that are ready to be planted. This decision depends on your time limitations and the amount of personal effort you would like to put into the project. If it isn’t obvious, creating a tree nursery will take more time and care than simply buying young trees. However, it will be more economically feasible to go this route.Creating a Tree NurseryRequired Items
- Healthy soil
- Grow bags (cloth or plastic)
- Partially open-sun/shaded area
- Water unit (automatic or manual)
- Tree species seeds
- Official grow bags (These can be purchased, however, most of the time you can recycle items to make grow bags. Old sandwich bags can be used. Just make sure you poke a few holes in the bottom to allow excess water to drain. Old socks can be used in the same way and don’t need to have holes poked in the bottom.)
It is important to note that the size of the seeds you are planting will dictate the size of the grow bags you use.
It is also important to know the dimensions of the area you would like to live fence. It will dictate the amount of grow sacks that need to be filled/seeded, and the number of seedlings that will need to be outplanted.Steps
Steps to creating a tree nursery can dramatically differ depending on the resources you have available on your homestead. For example, if you have healthy soil at your disposal, you will not need to either amend the soil or buy more. If the soil you have available is not healthy, it is highly recommended to either amend or buy soil.
1. Locate a flat area that has partial shade and sun throughout the day.
2. Dig a shallow trench (1 to 2 inches) in which the grow bags will be placed after they are filled. Line the edges of the trench with soil that has been dug out to help create a small wall. This creates a designated area for your tree nursery and helps them stand in wind and avoid being top-heavy once they start growing.Tree nursery with walls of shallow trench pushed against grow bags to help keep them from shifting // Elizabeth Buttram
3. Ensure the soil you plan to use to fill the grow bags is loose (not clumped together) and moderately moist. A good rule of thumb to know that soil is moist enough is if it sticks to your hand a bit when squeezing it, but does not clump together from excessive wetness.
4. Fill your grow bags with soil, making sure the soil is firmly packed in the bag with no air pockets, but not so firm the soil is impenetrable — which will make it difficult to plant the seeds, for water to penetrate the soil, and for seeds to sprout and root.
When placing the filled bags into the shallow trench, pack them closely together within the trench to help prevent them from falling over or tilting.
5. Plant the seeds! Another good (really great) rule of thumb to follow to make sure you are planting the seeds at an appropriate depth is to plant them twice as deep as they are wide. For example, if you are planting avocado seeds (which for live fencing would be highly unlikely), plant them twice the depth of the thickness of the seed.
Depending on the seeds you use, they may need to be presoaked and notched to help encourage faster germination, sprouting, and growth rates. Small, dainty seeds will grow easily without being presoaked or notched, but larger and thicker seeds generally will need at least one of these steps.
6. Cover the seeded holes and water your tree nursery. Most tree nurseries (depending on heat and weather conditions) benefit from being watered twice a day: once in the morning and once in the evening. Push your finger into the soil within the grow bag about knuckle deep to see if you have sufficiently watered (it should be wet that deep if it has been watered enough).
Live Fencing // FlickrHow to Know if Seeds Need to Be Presoaked or Notched
- If the seeds have a hard, protective coating on the outside
- If the seeds are larger than a watermelon seed, they generally will benefit
Leave seeds in a clean container and clean water for 24 to 36 hours, depending on the size of the seeds (the larger the seeds, the longer they should soak).How to Notch Seeds (Also Known as Seed Scarification)
Notching seeds should be done with a clean tool, and the tool can differ from nail clippers to scissors to knife. After choosing the best tool, make as shallow a cut as possible on the seed. The depth should be just deep enough to cut through the seed coat, but not so deep as to penetrate the embryo inside the seed. If you cut too deep, it will damage the embryo and could prevent the seed from sprouting. Most seeds have a hilum (the scar left from where the seed was attached to the ovary inside the fruit/nut). Try to cut opposite and as far away from the hilum as possible to avoid damage to the seed.
Once your tree nursery begins establishing and growing, you will know it is time to outplant your seedlings when the grow sacks begin bulging from the roots trying to find more room. Usually, the seedlings will be about a foot high (this is not precise because it truly depends on the species you are using). You do not want the grow sacks to be so compacted from the roots that they are extremely firm and/or breaking the grow sack open, but firm enough to see the roots are trying to find more room and have begun expanding outward as well as down.How to Outplant Seedlings
1. Dig a hole 3 to 4 times larger than the grow bag or seedlings container
If soil in your area is of low quality or arid, it can be helpful for seedling establishment to amend the soil where you will be planting the seedlings before the planting takes place. To do this, dig the hole as already described and add amendments. Mix the amendments, water the hole, and allow it to sit for a day or two before planting the seedlings (to allow amendments to absorb into the soil).
Soil amendments can include compost, tree ash, manure (cow, goat, bunny), silica, etc.
2. Carefully remove the seedling from the grow sack, ensuring the roots are not damaged or broken in the process.
3. Ruffle the soil around the rootstock to help decompact it and allow roots to easily grow outwards.
4. Place seedling in the center of the hole being conscious to not plant it too deep. The depth should be enough to completely cover the soil encasing the roots, but not so deep it covers more than an inch of the seedling stem.
5. Fill in the remainder of the hole and pack soil down enough to discourage the seedling from shifting within the hole.
6. Continue watering freshly outplanted seedlings until they have become adequately established.
The proximity/planting distance between the seedlings directly coincides with the species you decide to plant. This is personal research that should be done after you decide the species you would like to use for live fencing. Generally, the seedlings will be planted in a row about 1 to 2 feet apart (again, this depends on the species you use).Live Fencing // Iyarkaiodu NaamAfter-Planting Care
After the live fencing seedlings have been outplanted and begun growing, the pruning and weaving process begins. Your objectives for having a live fence will dictate what exactly this process looks like for you in terms of the height, thickness, shape, etc., of your fence. Here’s a list of general steps for after-planting care:
- Trim to the shape and height you desire with clean pruning shears (or a tool that works the same).
- If your objective is to have a tall live fence that acts as a windbreak, leave the top of the seedling alone and only trim the side branches.
- If the objective is to have a short, squat live fence that acts as a privacy barrier or to keep livestock in or wildlife out, trim the top of the seedling to help promote side branching, and therefore make the tree grow thicker, creating a natural privacy barrier and making it difficult for animals to break through.
- Begin weaving branches between the live fencing trees. Weaving essentially allows the trees to grow together as one, without there being gaps and spaces between the tops of the trees.
Some important things to keep in mind depending on your objectives:
If you desire a privacy barrier, ensure you plant evergreen species so you don’t have an unwanted surprise when winter comes, and your privacy barrier suddenly loses its leaves and becomes see-through!
If you want a live fence that is designed to keep livestock in and wildlife out, use a thorny species to discourage the animals from breaking through the fence and discourage animals from eating the fence!
If you’re are creating a live fence in an area that has a lot of animal activity, make sure you protect the fence during the establishment process so it is not mowed down via animals eating it and destroyed before it is established.
If planting the live fence close to a sidewalk, paved road, or driveway, make sure you choose a species with roots known to grow downward versus outward, otherwise you will deal with a cracking sidewalk, road, or driveway from the roots growing under it.
Have a plan in mind for entrances and exits for your live fence (you can’t move the trees in and out of place as you would a doorway).
Know your allergies! It would be terribly unfortunate to create a live fence with annual flowering cycles that trigger allergic reactions.photo courtesy of bob vilaConclusion
After establishment, live fences are relatively low maintenance and beautiful to have around. They are long lasting and generally damage-resistant. The environmentally friendly aspect is a huge attraction, especially knowing you are providing wildlife habitat for birds and small critters.
“How can you believe that? I mean, look at your source. It’s an alternative news site. According to my TV, the truth is the polar opposite.”
How … Read the rest
The post Why Alternative News is America’s Last Hope for True Journalism appeared first on The Organic Prepper.
“Lead poisoning still occurs in the United States despite extensive prevention efforts and strict regulations.” Ayurvedic supplements specifically marketed to pregnant women, for example, exceeded safety levels by up to 4 million percent, making Ayurvedic medicine use and lead poisoning “a continued concern in the United States.” In fact, “heavy metals are added intentionally to several Ayurvedic medications,” though Ayurvedic practitioners claim that practice shouldn’t cause worry because the “process of detoxifying heavy metals…includes the use of…cow’s urine” among other substances.
We’ve known for about a half-century now that calcium supplements can be an additional source of lead contamination. Those made from bone may have the highest lead levels, but regular calcium supplements, including a number manufactured by national brands, were also found to be contaminated.
In terms of our diet, the greatest contributor to the lead intake of children and their parents may be dairy, but the most concentrated source may be wild game shot with lead-containing ammunition. Concerns have been raised by hunters, though, that lead-free bullets wouldn’t have the same “wounding capacity.” However, CT scans of kills show they inflict just as much damage, “demonstrat[ing] that lead-free bullets are equal to conventional hunting bullets in terms of killing effectiveness,” even against ballistic soap, which evidently has a similar density to vital organs.
Workers in battery plants, for instance, can be exposed to a lot of lead, but the number one nonoccupational exposure is from shooting firearms. It isn’t eating lead-laden meat—just taking target practice in indoor firing ranges. Indeed, 75 percent of target shooters have elevated lead levels in their blood, as you can see at 2:02 in my video How Much Lead Is in Organic Chicken Soup (Bone Broth)?. Even outdoors, airborne lead released by the friction of the bullet against the barrel or lead-containing primers can cause substantial lead exposure both in people and local wildlife, as well as contaminate the soil. Lead levels in the soil by a firing range were higher than those found next to an industrial lead factory. However, most lead in urban soil is from decades of use of leaded paint and gasoline, raising concerns about urban gardens. Though most of the lead in soil doesn’t get taken up by plants, it can stick to their leaves and roots. This is bad news since even crops from raised beds using clean soil may get contaminated in an urban environment, but, the good news is that, presumably, the lead can just be washed off. The health benefits of gardening and fresh produce “are likely to more than fully compensate risks at most sites.”
What about eggs from backyard chickens? They should be tested for lead because the lead gets inside the eggs and therefore can’t be washed off. As you can see at 3:22 in my video, most of the lead ends up in the birds’ skeletons, which raises the question: What happens when you try to make chicken soup?
There may be an upswing in people boiling bones, which is “encouraged by advocates of the paleolithic (or ‘paleo’) diet,” but the problem is that lead is a neurotoxin—but not just a neurotoxin. Lead also adversely affects the bone marrow, digestive tract, kidneys, circulatory system, hormones, and reproduction. Symptoms of too much lead exposure include impaired cognition, anemia, abdominal pain, kidney problems, high blood pressure, miscarriages, memory problems, constipation, impotence, depression, poor concentration, and more. What’s more, we know from human studies that lead is sequestered in bones. When there is a lot of bone turnover, for example, during menopause or pregnancy, lead levels in the blood can go up. This bump can be minimized during pregnancy by getting enough calcium and lowering sodium intake, though. When astronauts lose bone in space, the lead is released into their bloodstream. Ironically, since they’re no longer being exposed to all the lead on Earth, their overall lead levels may go down. Bones are so good at sucking up lead, they can be sprinkled on firing ranges to prevent lead from leeching further into the environment.
Researchers concerned that the boiling of farm animals’ bones might release lead into the broth made three types of organic chicken broth—one using the bones, a second using meat without the bones, and a third using the skin and cartilage without the bones. All three of the broths exceeded the maximum allowable dose level for lead—even the one made without bones. Surprisingly, the skin and cartilage broth was the worst, exceeding the safety level per one-cup serving by about 475 percent.
- Leading poisoning is a concern in Ayurvedic medicine and calcium supplements, not only those made from bone.
- Dairy may contribute most to our intake of lead dietarily, but wild game shot with lead-contaminating ammunition may be the most concentrated source.
- Shooting firearms, including at target practice in indoor ranges, is the top nonoccupational exposure to lead.
- Airborne lead released from shooting can expose people and wildlife, as well as contaminate the soil, and levels in the ground by a firing range have been found to be higher than those next to an industrial lead factory.
- In urban soil, most lead is from decades of use of leaded paint and gasoline.
- Eggs from backyard chickens should be tested for lead as it may get inside the eggs and cannot be rinsed off.
- Lead is sequestered in bones, and boiling the bones of farm animals may release lead into the broth.
- Lead exceeding the maximum allowable dose level was found in broths made from organic chicken bones, organic chicken meat without the bones, and organic chicken skin and cartilage without the bones.
Did you just experience a little déjà vu? About two years ago, I produced a video about this very same study. Then, while researching for my extensive series on lead last year, I ran across the paper again and created the video for this article. Once I realized I had double-dipped on the same study, I had fun going back to see how such a different video can be produced around the same science. You can check out the first video at Lead Contamination in Bone Broth.
- How the Lead Paint Industry Got Away with It
- Lead in Drinking Water
- How the Leaded Gas Industry Got Away with It
- “Normal” Blood Lead Levels Can Be Toxic
- The Effects of Low-Level Lead Exposure in Adults
- How to Lower Lead Levels with Diet: Thiamine, Fiber, Iron, Fat, Fasting?
- How to Lower Lead Levels with Diet: Breakfast, Whole Grains, Milk, Tofu?
- Best Foods for Lead Poisoning: Chlorella, Cilantro, Tomatoes, Moringa?
- Best Food for Lead Poisoning: Garlic
- Can Vitamin C Help with Lead Poisoning?
- Yellow Bell Peppers for Male Infertility and Lead Poisoning?
- Lead Contamination in Hot Sauces
- The Rise in Blood Lead Levels at Pregnancy and Menopause
- Should Pregnant Women Take Calcium Supplements to Lower Lead Levels?
- Lead in Calcium Supplements
- Can Vitamin C Help with Lead Poisoning?
Interested in the paleo diet? Here’s the science I could find on it:
- Paleolithic Lessons
- Paleo Diets May Negate Benefits of Exercise
- The Problem with the Paleo Diet Argument
- Low-Carb Diets and Coronary Blood Flow
- Lose Two Pounds in One Sitting: Taking the Mioscenic Route
- Paleopoo: What We Can Learn from Fossilized Feces
- What’s the Natural Human Diet?
- Paleo Diet Studies Show Benefits
Michael Greger, M.D.
PS: If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my free videos here and watch my live presentations:
- 2019: Evidence-Based Weight Loss
- 2016: How Not To Die: The Role of Diet in Preventing, Arresting, and Reversing Our Top 15 Killers
- 2015: Food as Medicine: Preventing and Treating the Most Dreaded Diseases with Diet
- 2014: From Table to Able: Combating Disabling Diseases with Food
- 2013: More Than an Apple a Day
- 2012: Uprooting the Leading Causes of Death
This Easy Pickled Jalapeños Recipe has become our favorite recipe to preserve a small batch of jalapeños. Often times when you look for recipes to preserve fresh garden vegetables, you …
The post The Best Pickled Jalapeños Recipe – Quick, Easy & No Canning Required appeared first on Old World Garden Farms.
Ida barreled through, giving us some wind and lots of rain, but all is well here.
Some of the transplants I was growing under the magnolia tree for our fall garden got pounded pretty badly, and some of the beans out in the garden don’t look too hot, but we got off lightly. New Orleans looks like a mess – tough times over there, and our hearts go out to everyone.
The rain did hold back our YouTube filming this weekend. We spent Friday putting in poles for a grape vineyard, then the rains came and kept us from running the wires for the grapes. I hope to get that done in the next couple of days.
I’ve been hitting the gym regularly since March of this year and deliberately putting on muscle bulk. Moving those huge poles was a good test and it felt awesome to throw them around.
On Friday evening I was a guest at The Black Sheep Summit and had a good time participating in their evening panel discussion of cryptos, self-sufficiency, technology and some of the scary stuff that may be coming down the pike.
In other news, my brother Brian and his family closed on their new homestead in rural Virginia and were able to get moved in. He’ll have some great videos coming soon.
On Saturday I got the final draft of Waterwise Gardening (Revised and Expanded 2nd Edition) from Steve Solomon and have started getting it ready for print. Good Books is fortunate to have him on board – the book is going to be life-changing for many people. We hope to release it in the fall.
I also got a new song written and roughed in that I’m very happy with. Once the final recording is done, we’re going to film a music video and release it on the David The Good Tunes channel. I have it storyboarded out already, and it should be a work of art. At least, that’s the goal.
Also, unrelated, I love this song and have been listening to it again this week:
This evening the rain finally stopped and Rachel and I filmed a video comparing annuals and perennials. She filmed it on the USSR-made 44-2 Helios lens, which is her new favorite. I should have that up on YouTube tomorrow morning. See you at the premiere.
Chances are you have heard that probiotics are good for you. What are probiotics? WebMed.com tells us that: “Probiotics are live bacteria and yeasts that are good for your health, especially your digestive system. We usually think of bacteria as something that causes diseases. But your body is full of bacteria, both good and bad. Probiotics are often called “good” or “helpful” bacteria because they help keep your gut healthy.”
You need those good bacteria in your belly, and eating certain foods — fermented foods — can help your gut maintain balance. In fact, probiotics have been shown to help with serious gut ailments, like IBS and leaky gut syndrome. But, there are also many everyday benefits of probiotic rich foods that can help us all. Probiotic side effects include a range of things from supporting the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, preventing inflammation, boosting immunity, reducing stress, improving your mood and alleviating conditions ranging from allergies to diarrhea.
Dr. B.J. Hardick, founder of the Centre for Maximized Living in London, Ontario notes: “Conventionally, when people hear about probiotics, they typically think of yogurt or supplements. Most people are unfortunately unaware of several other incredible — and typically better — sources of healthy gut bacteria.” Among those sources is a wide array of cultured and fermented foods.First Rule of Probiotic Foods: Go Raw
As Kristina J. Campbell, MSc wrote in A Tale of Two Pickles: The health benefits of fermented foods:
A pickled product that does not list vinegar on the label is a good probiotic candidate, provided it has not been heat-processed during production. Since cooking kills off the good bacteria, be sure to consume probiotic foods raw.
Bottom line: Fermented foods — if not made with vinegar or heat-proceed (aka. cooked) — will be rich in probiotics. That means you need to eat your probiotic foods raw.
How can you tell what is raw and what isn’t? The Healthy Economist has an excellent post, The Crucial Difference Between Pickled and Fermented in which they spell out what to look for. In short, as Alex Lewin, author of Real Food Fermentation explains not all fermented foods are pickled and not all pickles are fermented.
Foods that are pickled are those that have been preserved in an acidic medium. In the case of various types of supermarket pickles on the shelf, the pickling comes from vinegar. These vegetables, however, are notfermented (even though vinegar itself is the product of fermentation) and hence do not offer the probiotic and enzymatic value of homemade fermented vegetables.
Home fermentation of vegetables preserves without the use of any pressure or heat unlike supermarket versions of the same foods. It allows the ubiquitous and beneficial lactobacilli present on the surface of all living things to proliferate creating lactic acid which not only pickles and preserves the vegetables, but also promotes the health of those that consume it in the following ways:
- Enhances the vitamin content of the food.
- Preserves and sometimes enhances the enzyme content of the food.
- Improves nutrient bio-availability in the body.
- Improves the digestibility of the food and even cooked foods that are consumed along with it!
So don’t be fooled by unhealthy supermarket pickled versions of homemade fermented foods. These modern foods are the product of high heat and pressure which destroys nutrients and do not in any way enhance health. The one exception to this rule are the various fermented foods in the refrigerator section of many healthfood stores. These products are actually fermented and pickled. The only drawback is that these gourmet items are rather expensive compared to the pennies per ounce it costs to make them yourself.
My colleague here at EatDrinkBetter.com, Becky Striepe wrote a fabulous post 5 Best Fermented Foods for Your Health (and why you should eat them!) that pretty much covers it all. Becky points out that fermentation used to be all about preserving foods, but it turns out that this process also yields some great health benefits. Fermentation basically means letting beneficial bacteria digest some of the carbohydrates and sugars in food.
A few other things to consider. According to Harvard Medical School, “health benefits [of probiotics] are strain-specific, and not all strains are necessarily useful, so you may want to consult a practitioner familiar with probiotics to discuss your options.”
So, how can you eat more fermented foods? Here are 10 probiotic-rich foods — other than yogurt — to try:Raw Sauerkraut
Sauerkraut is fermented cabbage, and like the name suggests, it has a pleasantly sour tang. Most store-bought sauerkraut is not raw, so make sure you read those labels carefully. The brands found in the refrigerated section of the market are likely to be raw so check the refrigerated section of your market for local and artisanal brands of sauerkraut. You can also ferment your own sauerkraut at home.
Of course, sauerkraut is the perfect accompaniment for pastrami, on a hot dog, or alongside beer-braised brats. But, it also is great on sandwiches (other than the obvious reuben). It’s like shredded cabbage but with a sour kick. Martyna Angell, author of The Wholesome Cook has a great blog post naming six things to make with sauerkraut other than a reuben that includes several raw sauerkraut recipes for sauerkraut kiwi smoothies, sauerkraut slaw and nori rolls.Kimchi
Another fermented cabbage condiment, kimchi is both spicy and slightly sour. Bon Appétit Magazine has saved us all a lot of trouble by finding their 8 Favorite Kimchi Brands from Across America. Note: Not all are raw, so read the label carefully. Most Korean restaurants serve kimchi.
Stir a spoonful of kimchi into your soups, salads, or even pasta dishes just before serving. Or just take a fork, grab the jar, and go for it. In fact, you can swap out pickles for kimchi in most recipes. Bon Appétit Magazine suggests serving it alongside this ultimate Korean barbecue menu or with one of these 12 dishes that just taste better with kimchi.Pickles
We all know what a pickle is, but, like sauerkraut, not all pickles are created equal. Most store-bought pickles are not raw, so make sure you read those labels carefully. Raw pickles will be well labeled and brands found in the refrigerated section of the market are likely to be raw. Or, ferment your own. Anna at Green Talk has a great video showing you how.
Of course, pickles are a great condiment for sandwiches, but there are so many other ways to enjoy them. The ever hip folks at Thrillist.com have come up with 15 ways people are going insane over pickles that include places to find pickle juice cocktails and pickle and peanut butter sandwiches.Miso
Miso is fermented soybeans. it is very salty and a little goes a long way. It is widely available in the refrigerator section of supermarkets and health food stores and Asian markets. It is available in several varieties, the most common of which are (in order of intensity):
- White or kome miso, made from soybeans and rice, which has a light, slightly sweet flavor
- Yellow or mugi miso, made from barley and soybeans
- Red or hatcho miso, made from soybeans alone
A good way to use miso is as a base for soups and stews instead of vegetable broth. But, as the folks at Livestrong.com point out, it’s important to buy unpasteurized miso because pasteurization can destroy the live probiotic cultures in the paste. When using miso in soup, stew or another cooked dish, don’t add it until the end of the cooking process and remove the food from heat immediately since high heat can destroy the probiotic organisms.
That said, a simple and delicious way to consume miso is a simple homemade salad dressing of tahini, miso, lemon, and water (to thin it out). Also, this recipe for nutty Miso Sunflower Seed Sauce is fantastic on just about anything and makes a great dipping sauce for grilled tofu skewers and is also good tossed with pasta or roasted vegetables. For more good information, Andrea at our sister site Vibrant Wellness Journal wrote a great piece on the health benefits of miso.Kombucha
You’ve probably seen bottled Kombucha, a fermented, lightly effervescent sweetened black or green tea drink, in supermarkets everywhere. This is thanks to GT’s Kombucha, a $600 million company in Los Angeles that has brought Kombucha mainstream. An Inc. Magazine article described Kombucha as:
If you’ve never tried kombucha, imagine drinking a sweet-tart cider vinegar that’s carbonated like beer and has a few little chunks swimming around in it. It’s made of slightly sweetened tea–green, black, or both–that ferments for up to a month while a mushroom-looking blob floats on top of it. The blob is the key ingredient. Known as a scoby (for symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast), it essentially eats the sugar, tannic acids, and caffeine in the tea, and creates a cocktail of live microorganisms that many believe to be beneficial. Scobys constantly grow and reproduce, and their offspring are something of a currency among kombucha devotees, who use them in homebrewing.
But, note, not all Kombucha is probiotic rich because some brewers use pasteurization to help control the alcohol content in their products. So, check labels carefully.
So, as mentioned you can get Kombucha in health food stores and major supermarkets around the country. If you can’t find kombucha on the shelf for some reason, try brewing your own kombucha tea. For the more adventurous, wholelifestylenutrition.com has a collection of 50 kombucha recipes that include kombucha BBQ sauce, kombucha mustard and a kombucha margarita.A Note About Dairy
Dairy gets its own sub category since dairy foods are easily fermented. Also known as cultured foods, they contain Lactobacilli, a type of bacteria that might help stop diarrhea and treat yeast infections.
Dairy is an excellent environment for bacteria because the live microorganisms feed on lactose, a naturally occurring sugar in dairy products. Hence, yogurt’s reputation as a great probiotic food. But, as we said, there are many diary based probiotic food that rival yogurt in efficacy.Raw Cheese
Cheeses are excellent carriers for probiotics — their low acidity and high fat preserve and nurture the bacteria while they move through the digestive system. Cheeses that are probiotic rich are either aged or made from raw, unpasteurized milk. If your wondering how cheese stacks up to other probiotic-rich dairy foods, cheddar cheese was evaluated as a food carrier for the delivery of probiotic microorganisms and it was found that mature raw cheddar cheese compares very favorably with fresh yogurt.
But… always buy raw and unpasteurized cheeses if you want to receive any probiotic benefits. Raw cheese — made from raw, unpasteurized cow or goat’s milk — comes in almost any variety. Cheddar, feta and Gouda are common probiotic cheeses as are provolone, Edam, brick, caciocavallo, Emmental and Gruyere. When purchasing cheese, look for the words “raw”, “probiotic,” or “made from raw milk” on the label.
And, remember, no cooking or melting if you want to preserve the probiotic benefits.Kefir
Kefir is another probiotic rich drink, thanks to its high levels of lactobacilli and bifidus bacteria. There are two different types of kefirs: water-based and milk-based. Water kefir is a fermented carbohydrate-containing, nondairy liquid. Milk kefir, on the other hand, is made from goat’s milk, cow’s milk, sheep’s milk and, even, camel’s milk.
Both water and milk kefirs are loaded with beneficial bacteria but have different characteristics. Milk-based kefir is loaded with tryptophan, an amino acid affectionately known as “nature’s Prozac,” because of how it soothes the nervous system. Milk sugars are broken down during the fermentation process, so kefir naturally contains less lactose than milk, and goat and sheep milk kefirs have even less.
Kefir also contains active lactase enzymes, which is why even some people with lactose intolerance can digest it with ease. Milk-based Kefir is also a good source of protein as well as calcium and potassium. Kefir can be found in health foods stores and major supermarkets as a fermented milk drink (typically in the yogurt aisle), you can also find products with kefir used in ice cream, cheese, popsicles, oatmeal and even veggie-based drinks.Dark Chocolate
You might not think of chocolate as a dairy product, but it is. And, if you needed any more reasons to eat it, the fact that dark chocolate can be produced to be rich in probiotics is a good one. Using low processing temperatures to keep them intact, manufacturers are able to add probiotics to dark chocolate at up to four times the amount found in other forms of dairy. The resulting chocolate is rich in both quantity and quality of probiotics. A 2010 study published in the International Journal of Food Microbiology found that probiotics in dark chocolate survived the passage through the stomach and small intestine better than those added to liquid milk.
Chocolate probiotic bars are often kept in the refrigerated section of your grocery store (in some stores, they are kept in the refrigerated yogurt aisle). Brands that can be found in health food stores, Whole Foods Markets and even Sam’s Club include Attune and Healthy Delights.
I’m sold. Who needs another reason to eat chocolate?Green Peas
Green peas are one of the newer probiotic discoveries to come to light. In December 2013, Japanese researchers found that green peas contain Leuconostoc mesenteroides, a strain of probiotic bacteria. What does that mean? The good bacteria inside green peas may raise the level of antibodies in your immune system. These types of antibodies are often found in the lining of your airway and digestive tracts, according to the study. Translation: green peas may be able to help fight off infections and colds thanks to their inherent probiotic bacteria.
As before, do not cook your green peas. Add them raw to your salad, eat as a snack, try raw green pea and almond dip on crackers, with veggies chips, or on top of tacos or try this delicious raw food recipe for sprouted wild rice with pistachios and spring vegetables.Umeboshi Plums
Umeboshi pickled plums have a long and impressive history. Samurai warriors used to eat them to stay strong during battle and okayu (rice congee) with umeboshi is a standard Japanese folk remedy for colds and flus.
This salty, sour treat, known for its supreme alkalizing ability, has become a common staple in bento boxes. Eat them in the traditional way, in small quantities as a side dish for rice or eaten on rice balls (often without removing the pit) for breakfast and lunch. Umeboshi may also be served as a complement of a green tea or a drink with shochu and hot water. Asian candy shops sometimes carry karikari ume, or prepackaged, crunchy pickled ume. For a modern twist, try them in a salad of pickled napa cabbage with umeboshi plums. “Consume 2 to 3 per week for optimal results,” says Apona Healing Arts founder and macrobiotic expert Lidia Kuleshnyk.Ginger Ale
As our friends over at Wellness Mama note, soda hasn’t always been the high fructose corn syrup and artificial flavor concoction in an aluminum can that we know today.
For hundreds of years (and probably much longer) cultures around the world have made various forms of naturally fermented “sodas” from sweetened herbal teas or fruit juice mixes. These natural fermented drinks contained beneficial enzymes and probiotics to boost health and were a far cry from the unhealthy versions we have today.
Wellness Mama has a great blog post on making your own natural probiotic rich ginger ale (also called ginger beer). This natural recipe for ginger ale uses fresh ginger and a cultured ginger mixture called a ginger bug to create a naturally fermented and naturally fizzy ginger ale. Drink alone, with gin and juice or in a classic dark and stormy. Not a bad way to get your probiotics on.
Image Credit: Probiotic-Rich Foods photos via Shutterstock.com
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