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6.29.2011

Books I Can't Live Without: Nourishing Traditions

I really like the internet.  Via a little screen and keyboard I have access to almost limitless information on  anything I want to know.  And it's free (no, the internet isn't free, but the information is...).  So why buy books?

For starters I just love books.  I love they way they feel and smell.  I love the way they don't crash or go slow when it's raining (stupid satellite internet...).  Plus, in the case of an emergency, when I may need to access survival or homesteading information, I probably won't be able to use the internet.

Furthermore, I think that books often reach a depth and focus that the internet often lacks.  When I want to read in depth on Fermentation, for example, I may browse articles on the web and come up with several recipes and snippets, perhaps an article on the benefits, but it will be scattered and possibly inconsistent.  Plus I'll be distracted by related but not quite relevant topics... like I'll find a blog with some good fermentation recipes and get distracted by their other non-related topics.  But when I crack Wild Fermentation I get nothing but a focused (well, mostly) consistent take on fermentation, how it works, how to do it, and how it should fit into our lives.  By the way, have patience, I will talk about Wild Fermentation in the near future:)

But today I figured it would be appropriate to start with THE book- Nourishing Traditions.

I may have mentioned this book a few times before (a couple hundred times).  This book changed my life, and the life of my children, and I recommend it to everyone I know who will listen.  I have always felt that fat (particularly animal fat) and cholesterol were healthy, particularly for small children, but I never had anything to back that up.  When my children were diagnosed with food allergies after being sick for 9 months I did some research and stumbled across this book.  I read it from cover to cover and almost everything in the book rang true with me (there are a few small things I either ignore or don't agree with, like her disregard for drinking water and her disapproval of coffee, chocolate, and alcohol).  Her emphasis on healthy fats from healthy sources (grass fed meat and dairy, wild fish, roe, cold pressed coconut and olive oils, BUTTER!), the combination of said fats with vegetables to increase nutrient absorption, the importance of fermented foods, the limiting of all sugars and then only using natural sweeteners in their purest form, the importance of bone stock, the soaking of grains... it all made sense to me.  So I eliminated my kids' allergens from our diet and started following most of the basics outlined in the book.  After six months my kids' allergies were no longer symptomatic, and they can now eat whatever they want.  In order to keep them healthy I still follow most of the recommendations in the book most of the time.

But something else happened during this period.  I realized that I had been miserable my entire life and I didn't even know it.  As long as I can remember I have been tired and plagued with anxiety, mild depression, and headaches ranging from back of the head tension headaches to migraines to bad sinus pressure.  Once I started following Nourishing Traditions my headaches stopped, I had energy, and my anxiety and depression almost completely disappeared.  By healing my children I had unintentionally healed myself.

I do have a few criticisms of the book.  First of all, the current edition is ten years old, and I know that the author is still active in the field of traditional foods.  I don't see why she doesn't put out a new edition, mostly because there are a lot of tiny problems in the book.  The specific recipes, beyond the basics (soaking grains and beans, dairy ferments, veggie ferments, etc) aren't that good either because they poorly written or give wrong times/temps/amounts.  It would be a truly amazing book if she would have testers evaluate each recipe for improvements and change the recipes accordingly.  Plus I am sure there is more information she could add after 10 years.

But overall, despite it's shortcomings, I couldn't live without this book.  I mean that in the truest sense of the word "live"- I probably wouldn't die without it, but I wouldn't be living to the fullest either.

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