First Food and Health Group Meeting

The first of the Food and Health Group meetings was held on Sat 27th Oct and was a huge success. Thank you to all those who made it run so smoothly.

Keir began the afternoon with a fascinating presentation about the evidence he has gleaned from reading stacks of published papers on palaeontology, anthropology, archaeology and modern tribal evidence regarding food choices. For example, he showed how one hour of work hunting a large game animal could provide on average 25,000 calories (which is enough to feed a family of four for three days) compared to say one hour of work gathering nuts which only provides sufficient calories to feed one person for one day! That is a massive difference, and is part of the evidence for why hunting large animals was the way our species evolved and survived.

Keir also spoke about the value placed on the eating of organ meats in indiginous cultures, and amongst animals. Since the organs contain significantly higher nutrient and energy density, it is no wonder that offal has been the most valued of foods the world over. He ended his talk with a beautiful image of an Australian aboriginal man, of indeterminate age, throwing a spear (not a boomerang, though it could have been). The perfection of his physique, and the fact that it is perfectly fitted to its needs, is still with me.

I then took the stage and presented the first two of my Four Pillars of Traditional Cuisine. The first of these pillars is the eating of meat cooked on-the-bone, as the nutritional value of the dish is far greater when tissues like bone, ligament, collagen, marrow, and fat are cooked together. After a meat on-the-bone dish is finished one of course makes a bone broth from the bones and any inedible parts, such as trotters. It a very economical and thrifty way to feed a family, and is common practice all over the world. Making a broth extracts highly valued minerals from the bones, and dense tissues which our bodies desperately need. Minerals serve as catalysts and essential components of a vast number of biochemical reactions. Most enzymatic reactions require minerals, and certain vitamins can require specific minerals to be present for their absorption. These reactions are going on every minute in every cell of our bodies. We know that modern agriculture has reduced the health of the topsoil and has to add artificially produced minerals back in (as NPK) but this is nowhere near as rich and fulsome as truly healthy soil, soil grazed and replenished by hoofed animals, so the food grown on our soil is generally quite depleted of these minerals. Subsequently we humans tend to be deficient in minerals and vitamins too, which can cause all sorts of problems to develop. I will be presenting more on these problems in future meetings, so do come along. You may discover that you could be suffering from a mild (or worse) mineral or vitamin deficiency that no one has picked up.

I too discussed the value of eating offal, how 100g of liver provides vastly more B vitamins (for example) than either 100g of apple or 100g of broccoli. It became clear that a vegetarian diet leaves a great deal to be desired, and I introduced some important books for people to read, such as ‘The Vegetarian Myth’ by Lierre Keith, and ‘Deep Nutrition – why your genes need traditional foods’ by Dr Catherine Shanahan, both of which are superb reads.

I finished off with some photos and information from the local organic meat and game suppliers who are local to this area. I hope that at the next meeting (Dec 2nd, 10am, same venue) you will all come back with tales of the wonderful grass reared meat, eggs and game that you have enjoyed, where you bought it, how you cooked it and what you thought of the farm who supplied it.

We then were truly inspired by watching a superb demonstration of how to make a bone broth by Caroline. She brought with her some bones supplied by her organic butcher, and she showed us the inside of the bones, the cartilage, the sinews and the bone marrow. She even had one pig’s trotter, and a tail! wielding sharp knives, a hammer, and a very large stock pot she showed the whys and wherefores of how a great bone broth is made (animal bones and tissue, with remnants of meat on them , water, vinegar, sea salt, a large carrot (whole and unwashed), a stick of celery (unwashed) an onion (not even peeled) some garlic (also not peeled) all chopped into a few large pieces and bunged in the pot, and a small handful of whole peppercorns). And then, like any celebrity chef, she produced ‘one she’d made earlier’ in an even larger pot. This she proceeded to strain, discarding the bones once she had retrieved the meaty bits and added them to the resulting stock. She poked out (or, with relish, sucked out) the marrow and we were then all served a cup of this amber delight. The audience had been on the edge of their seats throughout, and now reached forward, almost drooling with anticipation, for their cup of broth. No one was disappointed! It was marvellous.

The incredible thing about bone broth is that is probably provides the most absorbable form of micronutrients you can get, and when drinking it, only relatively small portions (e.g. a tea-cup size) are needed. How this nutrient density contrasts with the modern manufactured ‘foods’ that are extremely thin on nutrients.They trick the eye and the taste buds into thinking that something worth eating has been ingested, with their fancy packaging, colours, artistically created sear lines, MSG and aspartame, when it was nothing of the sort, but in fact empty calories. No wonder people have to eat so much. They are trying to get adequate nutrients, but to do so have to take in large amounts of padding.

Resources

  • My Mutton on-the-bone recipe here.
  • Bone broth recipes here.
  • History and benefits of bone broth, including recipes here.
  • Organ meat recipes here.
  • Local animal foos producers list here.

NEXT FOOD AND HEALTH MEETING
2nd Dec at 10am, Bassil Shippam Centre, Chichester.

Our main theme is fermented foods, and will incluyde a demo on lacto-fermenting your own vegetables. We are hoping to have a talk by a local man who has recently lived with pastoralists in Kenya and has fascinating insight into their health and diet. We look forward to seeing you there, all welcome, £4 per head, including refreshments. For further information contact me through the contacts page.

2 thoughts on “First Food and Health Group Meeting

    • Hi Annabel, I am so glad you made it to the second Food and Health Group meeting. Not sure I saw you leave. How did it grab you? Interesting? We are enjoying putting these talks together, and then writing them up afterward. I am glad you found the first one was written up well enough to inspire you to go to the second one! The third will be on the evening of Jan 11th, a Friday, at 7.30pm at the same venue, so I hope you will be able to make it. The subject will be ‘The Trouble With Grains’. Should be good….! Lots of love and have a really happy Christmas, if I don’t see you before. Afifah x

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