Though it may come as a surprise to some readers, the consumption of processed water poses many verified health concerns for human beings. This article will explore just one form of water processing, that of demineralization, which is the removal of dissolved minerals and trace elements from water through filtration and distillation methods aimed at removing man-made contaminants.
It has been estimated that human beings – the last extant member of the Homo genus – have existed in our current form for some 200,000 years. Of course hominids in general have an extraordinary history that reaches back millions of years before the present. During that time, and until only very recently, human beings drank exclusively of a water that could be described as “whole” or “wild” in that it came directly from the hydrosphere of the earth and was not chemically purified, refined, or “processed” in any significant way before being consumed.
This water would have come from either surface water – streams, rivers, lakes, and dug wells – or from ground water surfacing as springs, whose source were aquifers, deep pockets of stored water beneath the bedrock of the earth. Today, particularly throughout the developed world, the consumption of unprocessed water is rare, as modern humans, even those living in rural communities, rely ever more increasingly upon a kind of “processed water” for their hydration needs.
The term “processed water” has not yet become a part of our everyday vernacular, but I suspect that in time it will become as common as the phrase “processed food”. I use the term to describe both the mechanical processes aimed at cleaning water, such as filtration and distillation, or chemical treatments such as “purification” via chlorination, “supplementation” via fluoridation, or “stabilization” via the use of phosphoric acid and sodium hydroxide treatments designed to reduce corrosion of municipal or commercial piping infrastructure.
Just as it is with food, there exists a variety of water processing techniques, ranging from gentlest forms of filtration to the increasingly more aggressive forms of refinement such as heat distillation. Consider, analogously, the example of the cereal grain wheat. Whole wheat berries represent a minimally processed whole-food form of wheat, while whole wheat flour is a more significantly, though still gently, processed food. On the extreme end would be white flour representing a much more heavily processed form of the wheat berry. While all three forms are, technically speaking, still wheat, the first represents a whole-food matrix of carbohydrates, lipids, vitamins, minerals, and trace elements, the second contains the same though many of the delicate lipids and vitamins have begun to degrade and oxidize, and the third is essentially just the micro-nutrient deficient carbohydrate remnant of wheat.
In keeping with this metaphor, we might consider water from a natural spring source as “whole-water”, a water that has been carbon filtered as a gently processed water, and ultimately a distilled or reverse osmosis water as being the most aggressively processed water of all. The whole water contains a suite of substances – both solids and gasses – dissolved into a matrix of H20 molecules, the second form has had some of these substances removed, and the third represents a highly refined water, being little more than chemically pure H20 molecules. This is the “white flour” of waters.
Most of us were raised and educated with the idea that water is simply H20, two Hydrogen atoms bonded to a single Oxygen atom in what geometrically resembles the silhouette of Micky Mouse’s head. What could be simpler? This chemical – Dihydrogen Oxide – is chemically pure water, found in laboratories, but almost never found in nature in significant amounts. Natural water is far more chemically complex, and is as varied in its composition as is the geology from which it is drawn. Heat distillation and reverse osmosis filtration were developed and used for scientific and industrial purposes respectively, and neither was developed to produce drinking water. Their employment in the creation of contaminant-free drinking water was an after thought.
Of course the contamination of the worlds surface water from industrial, agricultural, and radiological contaminants has lead to the increased need for filtration or distillation in order to remove harmful compounds and radio-isotopes present in surface waters, however evidence has emerged that suggests that the water created thorough these methods may not be supportive to human health.
When people speak of “water”, especially in reference to natural water as found in the biosphere, we are actually referring to an electrically dynamic matrix of H20 molecules in which positively and negatively charged ions (electrolytes) are dissolved. These electrolytes are an important part of the nutritive qualities of a given water, and when they are absent, as in the case of demineralized water, that water becomes less nutritious.
“Demineralized water that has not been remineralized , or low-mineral content water – in the light of the absence or substantial lack of essential minerals in it – is not considered ideal drinking water, and therefore, its regular consumption may not be providing adequate levels of some beneficial nutrients.”
-Health risks from drinking demineralized water, F. Kozisek,
WHO guidelines for drinking water quality
From the perspective of human nutritional needs, the differences between wild water and distilled water can be likened to the difference between whole sugar cane and white sugar (sucrose). While sugar cane contains sucrose, it contains many other nutrients too, such as vitamins and minerals, making it a wholesome and nutrient rich food. When it is refined into molasses and ultimately into white sugar all of these and other critical parts of the whole have been removed, leaving behind chemically pure “white sugar” consisting exclusively of crystalized sucrose. While more “pure” from the chemist’s perspective, we now know – and it has been nearly universally accepted – that the consumption of chemically pure sucrose is not supportive to human health. It’s too pure, lacking the important vitamins and minerals that are essential to our homeostasis and to the metabolism of the calories contained in the sugar itself. The effect is a draw upon our bodies stored nutrients from other food sources and ultimately results in a net loss of nutrients from our bodies. Could the same be true of chemically pure water?
“Recent epidemiological studies of an ecologic design among Russian populations supplied with water varying in TDS suggest that low-mineral drinking water may be a risk factor for hypertension and coronary heart disease, gastric and duodenal ulcers, chronic gastritis, goiter, pregnancy complications and several complications in newborns and infants, including jaundice, anemia, fractures and growth disorders.”
-Health risks from drinking demineralized water, F. Kozisek,
WHO guidelines for drinking water quality
According to the World Health Organization, consumption of demineralized water (distilled, reverse osmosis, deionized, desalinated) poses several health risks that may include damage to intestinal mucosa and loss of minerals due to increased diuresis. They also remind us that chemically pure water should be remineralized before consumption, though they admit it is difficult if not impossible to “reconstruct” natural water. Their report on the topic (a rolling revision of the WHO guidelines for drinking-water quality) entitled “Health Risks From Drinking Demineralized Water”, discusses the fact that while commercially or municipally demineralized water is often “stabilized” with a re-injection of minerals and trace elements after its processing, this is rarely the case when demineralization technologies are employed for household use, and many people continue to drink this demineralized water. They also note that the addition of minerals to these waters has been to improve the organoleptic properties (taste, smell, mouthfeel) since demineralized waters are widely reported to be poor in taste and less thirst quenching than fresh water, or to reduce the corrosive effects that demineralized waters have on pipes and infrastructure. In other words, the aim of remineralization efforts has not necessarily been to replace essential nutrients, but rather to make demineralized water more palatable and stable. Perhaps the choice and form of minerals used and their ratios would differ if it were the health of the end consumer that were the impetus for remineralization. Unfortunately at the time of this writing most water remineralization efforts have been strictly for commercial or industrial purposes.
“Possibly none of the commonly used ways of re-mineralization could be considered optimum since the water does not contain all of its beneficial components. Current methods of stabilization are primarily intended to decrease the corrosive effects of demineralized water.”
-Health risks from drinking demineralized water, F. Kozisek,
WHO guidelines for drinking water quality
What emerges now is a picture of healthy water that seems to parallel that which has recently come to light about food. Just as we are evolutionarily adapted to eating foods in their whole form, so too are we similarly adapted to drinking water in its whole form, as it is found in nature, as it is found in the hydrosphere. This water, something more than the sum of its parts, is a beadwork of electrically charged elements strung throughout a dynamic and constantly shifting hydrogen-bonded tapestry of water molecules, producing something that isn’t easily replicated by simply adding minerals into demineralized water like so many ingredients in a recipe.
Still, remineralization techniques represent an improvement upon demineralized waters when they must be consumed, and are therefore advised. If you are using reverse osmosis or distilled water to reduce chemical contaminants in your water supply, consider employing some water remineralization strategy to reintroduce missing nutrients to your drinking water. An added benefit will be improved organoleptic properties – such as taste, smell, and thirst quench – which in turn can lead to an increased desire to drink water and thus becomes an incentive for remaining more fully hydrated. Additionally remineralization reduces your exposure to the risks associated with drinking demineralized water.
An easy and inexpensive way to remineralize your water is adding small amounts of a whole, unrefined sea salt or land salt and then measuring the amount of minerals with a TDS meter. Unrefined salts contain a natural balance of trace elements in addition to sodium chloride, and a TDS (total dissolved solids) meter reads the content of minerals in water in parts per million (PPM). The World Health Organization recommends drinking water whose TDS begins around 100 ppm and ranges as high as 400 ppm.
Simply place the electrodes of your TDS meter into your water to get a baseline reading, and then begin adding very small amounts of your whole salt and stirring. Once fully dissolved, recheck again until you reach your desired TDS reading. You can find a TDS meter here.
If you are interested in finding a source for whole, wild water that is free from man made pollutants, probably no strategy is as effective as personally gathering water from an aquifer fed spring. A user built data base for springs around the world can be found at www.FindASpring.com and can be used to assist you in accessing wild water where you live. There is a developing community of people who are using this strategy all across the globe, and the momentum is building. This is an excellent way to interface directly with your watershed, with your local ecosystem, and ultimately with nature herself.
Here’s an interview I did recently with Angela Stokes-Monarch, check it out below!
Fire By Toothbrush!
Hey Friends! This is a guest blog from my good friend Brian Smith. When he sent me over his initial images, I knew I had to share it!
It is common with surthrivalists to steer clear of items that have only one use when putting together their go-bags (aka bug-out-bags) and EDCs (every day carries). Usually a toothbrush makes it in as an exception. This no longer has to be the case.
Recently Daniel Vitalis, a friend and mentor of mine, released an all natural, 100% biodegradable toothbrush, constructed of bamboo, available through his company, Surthrival, provider of some of the highest quality products available in the health industry today.
Being of similar mind to Daniel in many ways, one being our shared enthusiasm for Earth skills, aka primitive survival skills, I knew that bamboo is a commonly used material for a friction fire starting method called the fire saw. This knowledge, coupled with noticing the dimensions of the new toothbrushes when I received my own, I immediately suspected another potential use for them, as hand drill hearths. The hand drill (spinning a “stick” between one’s hands on a stationary “stick”, called the hearth) is the most common friction fire method used by indigenous humans worldwide, and my personal favorite. When I decided to retire my current toothbrush, I proved my theory true, giving these awesome toothbrushes yet another use before tossing them into the compost pile.
Here’s what my process looks like:
Using the hand drill spindle (the stick that’s being spun, which is usually about pinky thickness & arms length), in this example the dry flower stalk of prickly lettuce (Lactuca serriola), I press the end of the spindle into the toothbrush in the spot where I’m going to attempt to spin an ember from, just hard enough to make an impression. I then take the tip of my knife and make a “dot to dot” pattern around the impression, like so:
Then, I use my knife to pop out the center of this circle:
I then use my spindle to do a little bit of preliminary drilling in this hole, just enough to “burn in” the hearth, seating the drill:
Next, I carve a notch in the side of the toothbrush, who’s purpose is to collect the dust created from the friction of the spindle being spun on the hearth (toothbrush). The notch looks like this. Notice it is just shy of the center of the circle and squared off:
Now, I’m ready to go for an ember. When the dust in the notch reaches ~800 degrees F from the friction created via speed of rotation & downward pressure on the spindle, given that it is getting enough oxygen (and is dry!), it should spontaneously ignite, becoming an ember:
Here’s a video demonstration:
For those interested in learning more about the floating technique mentioned in this video, here is a recent video of me giving a more detailed explanation and demonstration.
Here is an article Daniel wrote on friction fire a while back.
Thank you for reading! If you use Google+, please add me to your circles if you’d like to be updated on future blog posts & Youtube videos.
“Obstacles don’t have to stop you. If you run into a wall, don’t turn around and give up. Figure out how to climb it, go through it, or work around it.”
For several years now I have been active on the internet sharing health and nutrition strategies that are specifically aimed at the ReWilder.
This post is the first in a slightly different, though I think very complimentary, approach to the ReWilding concept. It approaches the obstacle course as a field on which we can ‘exercise’, or better yet train, our bodies to function at something resembling our full capability.
ReWild Your Body!
I have been participating in Obstacle Course Adventure Races this season and am training daily to become better equipped and more proficient at navigating these obstacles and barriers with ease. It is more than just physical training, it is a metaphor for living!
My girlfriend Ali Schueler, and our good friend Frank Giglio have formed Team SurThrival, all with the goal of running the Tough Mudder this October! Its been a great opportunity to put ourselves, our Vibram Five Fingers, and SurThrival’s nutritional supplements to the test! My appreciation for our Immortal Velvet Elk Antler formula has really deepened in the last couple of months. It has become my go to pre-training, post-training, and all around recovery formula.
For the next few weeks, I will be sharing videos about my obstacle course training, as well as posts about how this relates to the philosophy of ReWilding. This first installment, shot in July of 2012 at the “Tough Mountain Challenge” at Sunday River, Maine, gives an overview of our training philosophy.
I’d really like to hear what you think of the video in your comments below! These events really inspire me, and I hope that this video can inspire you too!
Greetings Friends! I wanted to share an article by my good friend Morgan Maher, the host of the my upcoming online workshop on “Visionary Nutrition”. I think it is an inspired and poignant summation of the plant medicine path, and especially the synthesis of food, medicine, and the realm of entheogenic plants in the human ecological niche. If you are interested in joining us for this online workshop just click the banner below.
Enjoy the article and let us know what you think!
Food Medicine Life
by Morgan Maher
“As we begin (once again) to naturalize ourselves – both nutritionally and medicinally – we may begin to discover that there is far more to a plant than just its chemical composition, more than just its list of constituent phyto-nutrients, vitamins and minerals. Rather, and more vital to our personal healing – as well as to the continuation of life as we know it – is our becoming acquainted with the organism producing the food or medicine itself. With the life-form, the being.”
Visionary Nutrition. This is a path of uniting stories. An open source invitation into deeper relation with the many things that fuel, heal, and energize us; that which is alive all around us, co-creates with us. This a path of dissolving separation. A path of connectivity.
It is the strengthened engagement with the harmony of humanity – the beautiful songs we’ve sung and are singing, our peak performance, the best of the best – that boils down to our collective necessities – food, medicine, life – from which can be drawn ever-expanding analogies, inter-elated metaphor, and metamorphosis.
It is here all around us; Eden, Heaven – find it in an apple. Got Demons? Join forces with a vine. Eat garbage conjured and sold by the darkest magicians – become “Stay Puft Marshmallow Man”; your ill-conceived nightmares. Invite the forces of nature, say an orange or a mushroom, and with the right kind of eyes – grow further infused with infinite ecologies of everlasting spirits.
“What ayahuasca teaches is that right now, at every moment, we already live in the magic forest.”
Dig around a bit, and you might observe the root of our crisis as being humankind’s long, drunken lust for separation – mind/body, human/nature, food/medicine, physical/spiritual. Simultaneously, it is these elements which unite our species, and always have. We all participate, we all dance with these elements – and it is these elements that, by and large, make up our world. We create worlds, as worlds creates us.
But we are new here – sometimes awesome, but ultimately amateur, and we’ve been grasping. We simply cannot believe it. Timelapse the situation and it’s like we appeared only yesterday – instantaneously – in ever-changing form, on a particular planet.
Growing in size, staring at our hands, finding our feet, rubbing our eyeballs, mind boggled – immersed, surrounded, and face to face with an overwhelming presence perceived, at times, as threatening.
We dash for the door, or some way out. We invoke separation, like children covering their ears – convinced it’s not happening. Running in circles, making mirages, chasing dragons, ouroborically awestruck, deaf, blind and dumbfounded by this life, the afterlife, reality and its alternatives, ghosts, dreams, philosophy, the powers that be, the secret life of plants – all this raging intricacy.
Yet we appear now to see eye to eye with the storm. This quiet, ripping whorl, where time is in question, and of its essence. Where the consensus amongst the conscious is that we are indeed all one, we are nature, there is no separation, and it’s all changing dramatically. Be it homo nexus, homo luminous, neo aboriginalis, or Sylvapolitans – it’s on, and it’s your choice. Merge with the Maelstrom, let Gaia absorb you. Produce solutions – dissolve.
“The fiction that supports the culture-nature separation is rapidly failing under the weight of its own inconsistencies. It is becoming obvious that what we do to nature we do to ourselves, what we do to ourselves we do to nature.”
All plants are psychoactive. Everything has a spirit. You can learn a lot from Arugula – even more from Cacao, or from an elder like Maize. What we place inside ourselves, transforms us. Eating and drinking is intimate communication. Daily comm-union, even telepathy, most often one-way, where a plant invited into the human body as food or medicine can “see what you mean”. From it nothing is hidden and it knows what’s what – so it provides certain answers in the form of nourishment – literally; “bringing (you) up, raising, fostering, supporting, preserving”.
Be it food or information – we become what we consume, and we produce from the inside out. When we eat and drink – we practice relationship with different forces, with spirits and sentience. We are what we eat, and what we eat runs the show.
Plants, fungi and bacteria are significantly adept at piloting humans. Michael Pollan, for example, explores this extensively and convincingly in his work, posing the question: “What if we are all just pawns in corn’s clever strategy game to rule the Earth?”. Further, Pollan suggests, in his “Plants-eye view” Ted Talk, that “Looking at the world from other species’ points of view is a cure for the disease of human self-importance.”
If plants – specifically Teacher Plants – convey anything, it is that they have the upper hand, the higher branch. They can throw you down, clean you up, send you out to space, thrust you on a new paths, make you change your ways, whisper advice, keep you warm, dry, sheltered, alive, and in some cases, even kill you.
Essentially, plants can do whatever they want with humans, and with near-absolute impunity. Our species’ “ultimate verdict” is the concept of death. But to a plant, death is laughable. A sentiment reinforced in a recent New York Times Magazine article describing the plant take-over of New Orleans’ Lower Ninth Ward, where “For six and a half years, the neighborhood has undergone a reverse colonization — nature reclaiming civilization.”
Have you ever seen plants happen? Plants, and plant-time, are like crop circles (which of course are made of plants in most cases) – like magic, they appear, leave traces, clues, fruit, messages. In the New Orleans “Jungleland” – behind climates of chaos and the media newsfeed, burnt cars and dead bodies are consumed by tall grass.
Side with the plants, learn plants, eat plants, become plants – let food be your medicine, let medicine be your food – and begin to synthesize entirely different dimensions of time, technology, communication, and potential.
“In order to live a magical life, you have to eat magical food”
Several years ago, during dieta with Ayahuasca, the plants suggested to me that “ayahuasca would go best with raw food”. Plants, I’ve found, often speak in terms of one’s present perception – in shapeshifting symbols that change as you follow them, conversations to discern and decipher. With this in mind, I set forth exploring a raw food diet – with sharp eyes and a healthy aversion to dogma and definitions. However, the heart of this guidance was clear: Ayahuasca, once drank, prefers to live in, and works better with; clean bodies.
I eventually engaged and evolved my raw food/living diet path as a kind of inverted version of a Plant Dieta. Something I could practice daily as a way to learn from, and build relations with numerous “common” plants like Kale, Chard, Chia, Blueberries, Tomatoes, Pears, for example. As though I was, or have been, turning myself into some kind of garden. Into which, ayahuasca digs deep, purging junk, transforming thoughts, composting things, creating soil from soul, turning the stomach into a womb, encouraging conditions right, good, and fertile – so it can root, grow, and flower.
Raw, living diets take many forms. From my perspective it’s a kind of plant artistry. Plant-based edible living sculpture with vibrant living beings who in return sculpt you. Essentially though, it is process of healing and strengthening. Significantly, it’s a cleanse – of body, of mind – and by extension, environment.
From yet another direction, the “higher reflection” in a sense the Mother of raw, living diets, can be seen in the traditions and disciplines of Plant Dietas. Commonly referred to and often mistaken as “the ayahuasca diet” - Plant Dietas are, in very general terms; a discipline and process of cleansing, purging, healing, learning, and building right-relationship. During Plant Dietas, one is isolated, eats very little, and/or very simply, in order to remove distractions, sensitize one’s body/mind/spirit to the subtleties of the spirit world, to become transparent, lucid and focused in it. A student-teacher relationship emerges as one sits with a plant, drinking it exclusively over a period of time.
Working safely and respectfully with Ayahuasca and other Teacher Plants, alongside raw food/garden-variety plants, the Teacher’s Assistants so to speak, leads, of course, to many physical and spiritual benefits. The plants led me out of concrete jungles, cured any concrete ideologies and crumbling health I might carry – hold my gaze and engage my commitment to unfolding endeavors of evolutionary advantage – wild foods, living water, permaculture, forest gardening, medicinal mushrooms, herbalism, synaesthesia…
Yet perhaps most importantly, the process has opened, and continues to expand, a certain grand permeability – pathways and bridges between common ground and the sky – between day-to-day and ceremonial nights.
“I think that once a person is aware of the life in everything, they can begin to access the spirit of everything. And once they can do that they can interact with those spirits. I’m talking about the spirit of the creek, the bricks in your house, the hundreds of spirits roaming your kitchen.
This universe is full full full of life and life force. The roll of shamanic knowledge for us westerners introduced to those spirits is to spread that knowledge, make communication easier. And if we can do that–a big task, no doubt–then the way people interact with the world and the spirits of the world and universe will change, automatically, from one of dominance to one of cooperation. And when we, mankind, begin interacting with the world, rather than trying to dominate it, well, I think mankind will be better off. The world and its spirits don’t really care if we do, for the most part. Trees will be here long after we’re gone, and so will stones and bricks and clouds and the moon. So it’s really up to us to take an interest if we are to make the friendship of those spirits.
And thus far, for most of us throughout mankind’s short history on this planet, that effort has not been made. Which has left us losing out on so much we might have learned. Who knows what we have missed simply by not asking a plant what benefit it might have for mankind, rather than saying “tree, chop it and burn it for fire.”
I think the universe has all the secrets of the universe. And our arrogance in trying to continually conquer the universe rather than communicate with it, has kept us from being taught those secrets. And how delicious they might be!”
It was a tremendous honor to be a part of the new documentary film “Hungry For Change”. Click here to see the full length film for FREE between now and March 31st! The film exposes the myths and mistruths that the diet-fad and processed food industries have perpetrated on a mis-educated populace for so many years. We are now awakening from the last few decades of over-fed / under-nourished slumber and collectively reclaiming our Sovereign Health! This film is a beautiful depiction of how that is happening. I really feel that this movie has the potential to make some real change in the lives of people you know, so please turn your friends and loved ones onto it as well!
Join me on my upcoming radio show with Patrick Timpone on March 29th at 10 am EST. I will be talking about everything from the “best foods available in the super-market” to the “worst food that people are eating today“. We will also be talking about footwear, and why I am such a fan of five-toed shoes! This will be a fun call, and Patrick is never shy about taking me into edgy and interesting territory! You can check out lots of my past interviews with him (as well as hundreds of other amazing guests) in his extensive audio archives.
Also, special thanks to my friends at Evolver for inviting me to be a part of the Visionary Nutrition project, beginning on April 8th with my interview, where I will be teaching about the role of psychoactive plants in the human ecological and dietary niche. Homo sapiens have a long and rich history with psychoactive plant medicines, and they have always been a part of our traditional diets. What role do psychoactive’s play today, and if they are no longer represented in our food supply, is it possible that we can become “alkaloid deficient”? This online workshop will delve deeply into human domestication and the affects of an alkaloid-poor diet. Click here to learn more about this upcoming online event.
I will be speaking in Washington, DC at the Take Back Your Health Conference on April 14th and 15th! Please come visit me and the SurThrival team, and support this important East Coast event! I will be talking about ReWilding and Transcending Human Domestication, and how we can stay strong, healthy, and actively-fit for a lifetime in a world that constantly pushing us towards a deeper state of domestication. Come learn how this April!
Please take a few minutes to check out the “ReWild Yourself” skills event that I am hosting in Maine in the late summer of 2012! This is going to be a very special weekend, featuring talks by both Arthur Haines and myself, as well as introductions to several earth based SurThrival skills. My close friend Frank Giglio will be creating all of our meals throughout the weekend using the freshest local, organic, and wild-crafted ingredients.
The last two weekend events we hosted in Maine turned out to be game-changers for nearly everyone involved. Not just for the participants, but also for the facilitators. After years of hosting events and retreats, we have learned what powerful transformational tools these kinds of workshops can be. We strive to put on events that can nourish the body, inform the mind, and touch the spirit. I really hope you make the commitment to join us there!
Because we will be teaching actual skills on the land, we must limit the class size in order to ensure that each student experiences an attentive learning environment. If you are thinking of coming, secure your space soon because this workshop will fill! You can find all the details and register here.
But Wait… Theres More!
Check out my coming events page to see more of what I am up to in 2012, and how you can come be a part of it!
If you know anyone who might be interested in these events, please share this post with them!
Thanks for taking a moment in your day to read this. You are appreciated!
I am really excited to announce the release of the new book “Pine Pollen, Ancient Medicine for A New Millennium”, by Stephen Harrod Buhner. I had the privilege of both publishing this book as well as writing the foreword, and am very excited to see it added to the existing herbal literature.
This project began a few years back when I read Stephen’s outstanding book “The Natural Testosterone Plan”. Actually, I was reading a few of his books and found myself particularly spellbound by the section on Pine Pollen and its incredible androgenic effects. My company, SurThrival, became the first to bring a fully developed Pine Pollen product line to the natural foods market place in North America. I had met Stephen at a workshop he gave in British Columbia (here is an interview I did with him) and having become friends, asked if he would be willing to collaborate with myself and the SurThrival team on a Pine Pollen herbal-monograph. Stephen, having studied Pine Pollen extensively, had much to share on the subject. The results are his latest book which you can find here.
Stephen was sure to include extensive sections on the historical use of Pine Pollen in various traditional medicine systems, its chemistry, as well as its androgen profile, dosages for use, and yes… Even how you can harvest your own! The entire book is extensively footnoted so that you can access the scientific literature from which so much of this information has been compiled.
The following is a short excerpt from the opening pages of the book:
“Although the Western world has been undergoing its greatest herbal renaissance in over a century the medicinal actions of trees are often overlooked, perhaps none more so than pine. Given the drive for new plant medicines and the continual search for a new herb-of-the-day that will simulate excitement in the general populace (e.g. rhodiola, maca), it is astonishing that pine has been unrecognized for so long. This is particularly perplexing since the pollen of pine trees has been used for millennia in China and Korea as both food and a particularly powerful tonic and adaptogen, especially for the elderly.
Thousands of Chinese herbs have entered the Western pharmacopoeia; the earliest and best known is perhaps ginseng. Pine pollen, given its potency, its similarity to ginseng in some of its actions, and its status as, perhaps, the premier phytoandrogen on the planet, should have been recognized long before now as the powerful medicinal it is. This monograph is intended to remedy that oversight and help establish it as one of the most important medicinals in the herbalist’s repertory.” - Stephen Harrod Buhner
I suspect you will all enjoy this book as much as I have enjoyed being a part of it. Stephen, in addition to being a prolific writer on herbal craft and lore, is a poet and word-smith par excellence.
To your health and prosperity,
Greetings Friends & Welcome to 2012!
This past autumn was a really exciting time for my team and I, with so many of our projects coming to fruition and our message of ReWilding, Spring Water, and Indigenous Nutrition spreading around our community and beyond, faster than we ever imagined.
I want to extend a big thanks to the Longevity Now Conference for all they have done to make this happen. Check out this 12 minute video clip (click on the image below) of the talk I delivered in Costa Mesa last October titled, “Developing Sovereign Health: The Path of Rewilding Ourselves”. If you would like to see the rest of the talk, as well as those presented by the rest of the Longevity Now speakers, it is available here.
I also want to share this quick video clip of my good friend Shailene Woodley’s appearance on the Late Night With Jimmy Fallon Show (check out that clip right here)! She was so kind as to mention my name and the work I have been doing the last several years! Shailene has become a tremendous ally, helping to share the message of ReWilding, Spring Water, and Indigenous Nutrition with the world. Recently, she also appeared on the Ellen Degeneres Show carrying a mason jar of spring water which she promptly shared with Ellen!
Here is a recent interview with her in Black Book Magazine titled “Eating Clay and Super Humans”! She talks about foraging, spring water and her daily clay consumption!
If you don’t know Shailene’s work, check out her latest film, The Descendants, where she co-stars alongside George Clooney. Shailene, from all of us, Thank You for all that you are doing!
Lastly I want to share the link to the newly rebuilt SurThrival website! It’s a great place to stock up on great winter immune system supplements, such as Medicinal Mushroom Extracts and Colostrum. I am so proud of SurThrival as a project, as a company, and as a team! Thanks to all of you who have supported us! We are constantly working to serve you better!
Thats all for now!
Keep on ReWilding Yourself!
How is your sinus hygiene?
After 14 years of using a neti pot on a regular, almost daily basis – I must admit, I am amazed how overlooked this basic bit of personal hygiene is.
Most of us brush our teeth and we usually expect the same of others. In fact, when someone neglects this important bit of personal cleanliness, the rest of us can be easily turned off.
How about bathing? What if you knew someone hadn’t showered or bathed in months, years, or worse still, never at all… How would you feel about getting… um, close to them?
Well, how about our sinuses? Each day we are all breathing the many stow-away particles (read: pollutants) that free float amongst what was once, some pretty fresh air here on planet earth. Today our air is loaded with everything from dust (which is mostly dead skin cells) to heavy metals, from car exhaust to radioactive isoptopes. These particles are constantly lodging in and congesting our upper respiratory tract, creating an environment for infection and/or being drawn still deeper into our lower respiratory tract (our lungs). The neti pot gives us the ability to clean our upper respiratory tract, in much the same way that a toothbrush cleans our mouth or a shower washes our skin, before these particles can accumulate or be drawn deeper.
Otherwise, we simply carry this debris around, haphazardly sneezing or blowing it out, or letting it drain back into our throats… Blah!
Want to see what a truly clean upper respiratory tract feels like? Try using a neti pot!
After a few days, to a few weeks, of implementing this practice it will become immediately clear why I am recommending it. My experience has been that you can only truly feel the chronic congestion after you have cleared it. It is the open, clear, and relaxed sense of breathing; the ability to fully utilize your respiration that makes you conscious of its importance. In other words, once you have tried it and felt what clean and clear sinus cavities feel like, you won’t want to go back.
As for the technique and specifics, I will let this video explain the rest.
My company SurThrival recently started carrying what we feel are the most beautiful and durable ceramic neti pots available anywhere, and you can get one for yourself right here on our newly designed website (we are pretty excited about this)! We were sure to get them in several different colors so that you can choose one thats right for you. These are made right here in the State of Maine (where we are based out of) and I have personally tested them now for almost a decade and a half, so I can honestly tell you they are the best around. Watch the video above where I compare some of the features against other design-styles.
If your looking to smog proof your sinuses, help to prevent sinus issues in general, and improve your respiratory health, give the neti pot a try. Better yet, take some time to develop mastery of this skill by making it a regular practice!
My hope is that our community will immediately see the value of this handy little device and add it to the tool-belt of practices and skills that are helping us to thrive in, and adapt to our modern environment. I promise if you give it just one week of consistent practice, not only will you easily master this skill, but you will have a life long practice that will contribute to your health and personal detoxification strategy.
I have used this strategy, along side others, such as regular sauna use (check out Clearlight Saunas, it is the brand of infrared sauna that I have in my home), a clean whole food diet containing lots of wild foods and herbs, drinking natural spring water, implimenting regular functional exercise, all combined with and tied together with time spent in nature. The goal is to create a kind of Invincible Health that allows us to thrive in this mad, mad, world!
To your health and adaptation!
P.S. Though saline water is what people usually put in their neti pots, I have heard of many other solutions. Quick question: What is the most exotic thing you have ever put in a neti pot? Go ahead and leave a comment below, and please… Don’t be shy
Tune into Daniel’s next interview on the One Radio Network on November 10th called “ReWilding, Tips & Tricks for Strengthening Our Epigenetic Health”! This is a FREE interview – Call in to listen live at 10 a.m. EST (9 a.m. CST & 8 a.m. PST). Click the banner below to tune in or listen to the recorded version!
On this interview, Daniel will be speaking about his latest research into the reclassification of modern humans as a new subspecies. It is a wild new idea that comes from the effects our modern lifestyle has had on our epi-genome and our health. Because our epi-genetics are influenced by everything in our environment, the lifestyle we have lived has shaped us into some new and all together different creature. The concept of “rewilding” is about recreating or replicating some of our natural conditions to make us healthier and more robust. Daniel will be sharing tips on the kinds of things a person can do to rewild themselves and what it could mean to our health.
Welcome (or welcome back) and thanks again for stopping by. My last few videos have been focused on sharing some Sovereign Self-Healthcare strategies that I have been developing and employing for some time now. It has been really exciting to share these with you all, and for me it feels like a timely message, given the considerable distrust and dissatisfaction so many of us have been feeling for mainstream “medicine” in recent years.
Many of us have taken our diets and nutrition into our own hands, though when it comes to personal health care, few of us have really stepped out and away from the entrenched medical system’s doctor/dentist treatment, and the role we play in it as “patient” (from the Latin meaning “suffering”).
This current video is a 6 part dental health and maintenance strategy that has replaced the role of dentistry in my life. It has been many years since I have seen a dentist (I was 12 the last time I can remember having an appointment with one), and as it is with so many aspects of living, I have found it far more rewarding to take care of myself, rather than turning my health over to others. Especially those “quacks” – originally a term reserved for dentists who employed mercury amalgam fillings – with less than shiny-white histories (e.g. fluoride, mercury, etc).
The world of “modern medicine”, to include modern dentistry, seems far less interested in our health than it does in furthering its quasi-scientific agendas, human experiemention, and profit driven procedures. For this reason I will continue to promote Sovereign Self-health Care Strategies here at DanielVitalis.com.
ReWild Yourself! This doesn’t refer to behaving wildly, or giving up your standards of personal conduct, rather it means “Shed your Domesticator“!
This video is for all of you who celebrate being grown-ups, and are unafraid to raise yourselves up and out of the near ubiquitous neoteny that is now standard in the epi-genome in our “modernized” population.
This video comes on the heels of the last video we released, which details how to make the toothpaste that is used in this dental care strategy. Please keep in mind that this toothpaste, in addition to providing the mild abrasive qualities we have become accustomed to in our commercially available toothpaste preparations, is designed to pull toxic cations out of the body, and to be an aid in our overall radio-protection strategy (protection from radioactive isotopes).
For those of you who are interested in going deeper, I would highly recommend an e-book by my good friend Nadine Artemis called “Successful Self-Dentistry, how to avoid the dentist without ignoring your teeth”. This e-book is very comprehensive, and empowers us to take our dental health into our own hands for a lifetime.
We are now getting ready for Ancestral Ignition, a workshop that myself and some good friends are hosting here at my home in Maine, September 16th – 18th, 2011. The main focus of this retreat is to share the ancient and ancestral skill of aboriginal friction fire with all of those who attend. We really believe that stewardship of this ancient fire-craft is valuable for many reasons, not the least of which is the carrying on of what is one of our most ancient and fundamental human technologies.
Our ability to generate and maintain fire is a powerful thing indeed, so it is our intention to pass on not just the skill, but the ethics of stewardship as well.
We also feel privileged to share the basics of fire-craft with our friends and clients because so many of us were never taught how to properly or efficiently build or maintain a fire. I certainly wasn’t, growing up in the 1980′s American Dream. In fact, learning to properly construct and burn a fire has meant far more to me than just having another survival skill. It has connected me with one of the essential practices that makes us human.
This workshop will be fully catered with organic, local food, prepared by Chef Frank Giglio, who is one of my best friends and a truly culinary mentor of mine.
Check out the video below to hear more about Ancestral Ignition, and to see acclaimed botanist, author, and my foraging and aboriginal skills guide and all around friend, Arthur Haines, make a fire with a primitive tool known as the bow drill.
If you are interested in joining us, or learning more about Ancestral Ignition please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
As always, we would love to hear from you, so please let us know what you think of this recent post, video upload, and what you would like to see in the future by commenting below.
Your readership is truly appreciated,
Greetings Friends, thanks for stopping by.
Would you like to make your own toothpaste for self-dentistry and detoxification?
The video below is an installment in dental health sovereignty. It has been working very well for me, and it just might work for you too.
For years I have been looking for the right toothpaste for my home self-dentistry, and have experimented with a great many things. From “organic” store-bought toothpaste brands, to tooth soaps and powders, and even aboriginal “chew sticks” – Nothing has been the right fit for my self-dentistry needs.
I have now arrived at a strategy that is really working wonders for me, and I feel could really work for you too. This video is the first part of that strategy, the rest of which I am eager to share with you in full over the next few weeks.
How I arrived at this…
As I began experimenting with tissue detoxification using Zeolites and Clay, it dawned on me that these, when rendered into a fine flour-like powder, have just the right amount of abrasiveness to take the place of the toothpaste I had grown up with.
This video details how you can make your own, and at a very low price at that. In fact, if you know where to look, you could get everything you would need for making all the toothpaste you would use for the rest of your life for probably under $100!
Best of all, you can swallow this toothpaste, which yields all of the amazing health benefits of these detoxifying earth compounds. In particular I am referring to zeolites ability to perform cation exchange - CEC or Cation Exchange Capacity is the term used in physics- which is its ability to electrically bind positively charged ions (heavy metals, radio-isotopes, etc) whilst trading out (in exchange) beneficial cations like potassium or calcium. The toxic cations are then transported out of our bodies, along with the zeolite powder in our bowel movement. The case with clay is very similar, though the phenomena in this case is referred to as adsorption, which is also an electrical binding, but in this case to the surface of the clay particle and without the accompanying exchange of a cation.
Keep in mind that this practice, consuming clay and other earth compounds, is perhaps one of the oldest of all human behaviors. It has been practiced around the world and is present in virtually all pre-industrial populations. Evidence for this has been found in archeological sites that predated our current human form, and anthropological surveys have found that it lives on in societies around the world today. Actually, it is common to nearly all mammals, and in particular to broad ranging herbivores. The behavior is termed “geophagy”, and is unquestionably part of the species-specific diet of human beings. From my perspective, it appears that a diet that lacks the geophagy pattern could not be called a “natural diet” at all, as it would essentially be deficient in these all-important compounds. Below is a link to one of the best books I have read on the subject.
Most of us were taught to spit our toothpaste out, which, given the host of less-than-beneficial ingredients (particularly fluoride) is pretty sound advice. With this home-made clay or zeolite toothpaste, the goal is indeed to swallow it, moving it into the intestine where it can go to work mopping up industrial and nuclear debris that has bioaccumulated in our tissues.
When this clay or zeolite consumption is combined with sauna therapy (this dual approach is the subject of my last video), we arrive at a very effective life-long detoxification strategy that really works, and is easy to implement.
This second video is about my August 4th, 11 day tour of Peru, for which I have just a few openings left.
If you are looking for a riveting adventure, are interested in Peruvian shamanism, amazonian biology, visiting Machu Pichu, or just wanting to soak in a rain forest hotspring, this trip might be for you. We are less than a month away, so if you would like to join us – by us I mean the very amazing and interesting group of people who have assembled for this trip – contact Jeannette at email@example.com, and check out the 11 day 10 night itinerary here. It is exciting to see who takes the plunge and comes along!
Please let us know what you thought about the video above, and if there are any subjects you would like to see covered in the future.
Until then, please know that your readership is appreciated.
Enjoy the summer sunshine!
Ok, so of course Maine hasn’t got any coconuts, but we do have something that tastes just as good – maybe better – and is just as nutritious.
Its the sap of the Maple tree.
There are not many wild foods that taste particularly sweet here in New England, but Maple Syrup is certainly the exception. Whats more, the flowing sap of the maple tree is the first wild food to emerge after a long and cold snow covered New England winter.
This video is a quick peek into my spring cleansing strategy which is most welcomed after a lengthy season of living indoors. The fresh Maple sap is so refreshing, so hydrating, and tastes so good that it is almost shocking that more people aren’t taking advantage of this delicious, abundant, and free late winter/early spring drink! In the second half of the video I’ve included a recipe that I have been making with fresh maple water, chaga, and a bit of cream. I wish there was some way to convey flavor through the internet! Is there an app for that yet?
To compliment and expand on my video, I have also included a video with botanist Arthur Haines detailing how he taps his maples, and prepares his maple syrup. With childlike enthusiasm, we have been texting back and forth each day to see how much sap the others trees have produced!
The experience of procuring food directly from wild nature is truly, for me at least, one of the great joys of living! As each season goes by and my skills in this area increase, not only have I developed a strong sense of food security, my direct relationship to the Earth as an abundant and loving provider continues to increases. To say that I am grateful would hardly do justice to this exuberant emotion.
For those of you who are interested in developing more wild food identification, harvesting, and processing skills, please consider joining Arthur and I for our Ancestral Plants workshop here in Maine, May 6th – 8th, 2011. Be sure to contact us soon, as the class size is very limited. We have chosen the intimate class size to ensure that each of you gets the close personal attention you need, and to ensure that we don’t trample our wild foraging grounds. The class has been filling up rather quickly these last few weeks, and we are getting very excited for the spring foraging to begin!
I have a few more days of maple sap harvesting before heading of to Los Angeles for the Longevity Now Conference, April 1st -3rd. I have just finished preparing my presentation, called “Habitat, Your Guide to Intentional Lifestyle Design” which will focus on specific strategies for more than just vigorous health, but epi-genetic wealth. In other words, we can use our environment and lifestyle to activate our genetic potential for a more robust experience of life on Earth! The newly emerging scientific field of “epigenetics” is rapidly confirming the obvious fact, our habitat and lifestyle choices, from what we eat and breath to what we wear and think not only impacts our health but actually influences our gene expression! Many of you are already planning on being there, and those who would like to join can get your tickets here. If you can’t make it to the event, but would like to watch the video stream, here is the link where you can sign up to watch at home.
I am so enthusiastic about this upcoming foraging and touring season. I have events planned around the US, Canada, and even in Peru. Keep checking my current events for more details, and I hope to meet you somewhere out there soon!
The Brazilian Pink Peppercorn
Tampa Bay was the site of another example of an urban forage, and this time with an exotic invasive that produces more food than I could ever hope to harvest.
Branches bowed under the weight of pinkish-red berries as I sped across the highway on a recent trip to Southern Florida last December. Hour after hour I burned to know and meet the species who’s berry drupes splatter painted pink the otherwise indistinguishable wall of sub-tropic greenery that lined the highway 75. Was it edible, and if so could I make the time to harvest some of it before my flight home? Finally curiosity got the better of me, and I decided to do what any avid forager would – I pulled over to have a taste. I know what your thinking, shouldn’t I identify the plant before I taste it? Probably, but I didn’t. I have a good sense of the tastes of poisons, and this strategy has rarely failed me ( I will spare you the tale of the time I tried a taste of “Jack-in-the-pulpit”. Ooops!) The exotic sweet and spicy aromatic flavor of these brittle pink berries was well worth the risk, and I was certain I was on the trail of a new wild food ally.
It only took a few moments of internet research to discover the identity of this wildly successful invasive. It was Schinus terebinthifolius, the Brazilian Pink Peppercorn, and while not a true peppercorn, it is the pink berry we all have seen in the high end peppercorn blends and fancy see-through peppermills.
This plant, once planted ornamentally is now Southern Florida’s most noxious invasive, and today is illegal to plant, sell, or transport within the state! It is quickly claiming more and more habitat for itself, displacing native species from their long held habitat.
And while this presents ecological issues in Southern Florida, it produces a tremendous surplus of wild food for the keenly aware forager. One of the great things about a plant like this, is there there is no concern of over harvest. Due to its status as Florida’s floral-enemy-number-one, we can harvest its berries with a kind of impunity that is rarely experienced by the modern forager.
Having harvested several pounds of these beautiful pink peppercorns, they are now dried and jarred, and have become a staple of my ever increasingly wild food rich diet. They provide an exotic spiciness to any dish, from sweet to savory, and they come with the added percieved benefit of being from my own personal harvest.
While I hadn’t had personal experience with this plant before, I do have plenty of experience with the principles of wild food identification, harvest, and processing, and each of these skills translate well from biome to biome, from one eco-system to the next.
If you are interested in developing this skill set as well, or if you have experience but are ready to go deeper please check out my Ancestral Plants workshop this May in Southern Maine! It is 3 days long, catered by Chef Frank Giglio with all local organic and wild food, and taught by myself and wild food expert Arthur Haines. It is the wild food apprenticeship you have been waiting for! I hope to see you there!
In the meantime, check out the video below to see the harvest and processing of these beautifully blush bunches of berries!
Finally, a Wild Food and Medicine book that really delivers!
My good friend Arthur Haines has just released his new book Ancestral Plants, and I must say, it is amongst the best wild food and plant-use book I have yet to come across. People are constantly asking me to recommend a book on the subject, and there just haven’t been many that I have found particularly helpful. Either the pictures weren’t clear, the text wasn’t informative enough, the author was lacking real experience, or the book just wasn’t laid out in a user friendly way (ok, Samuel Thayer’s books are an exception to these criticisms, and are excellent wild food references).
Ancestral Plants is different, this book just seems to have it all. Arthur writes from a place of profound understanding of the nutritional and medicinal actions of wild foods, as well as the important uses that these 95 plants held for the native people of this continent (and still do for the “neo-aboriginal” today).
Since I received my first copy (just a couple of weeks ago on the Winter Solstice) I haven’t been able to put it down. Thats not hype, I have literally been taking it everywhere. This book has become part of my everyday kit. And even though it is winter here, I have been studying up on the plants I want to learn in the next growing season, as well as using the calendar in the back to determine when I will be harvesting the key plants I intend to use throughout the year of 2011!
One of the things I really appreciate about it is that it is written as more than just a wild food guide, it is a plant medicine guide as well, detailing herbal uses of these plants in addition to their uses as foods. More than that, it also lays out which plants may be useful as a fire resource (for friction fire, tinder etc), for cordage (plants that contain fibers that can be removed and braided in to cord), archery uses (woods that are optimal for making bows or arrows), and even uses like dyes, glues, and basketry.
Ancestral Plants uses a series of icons to denote the possible uses of a plant (a little fire icon for plants with fire uses, an arrow for plants with uses in archery, etc), and then the text details how, when, and which parts of a plant can be used in this way. The photos are very clear and the descriptions have been written by someone who has actually used the plants to the ends described therein (believe me, this is not the norm).
This is the go-to book for understanding wild plants of the North East, and the one that will accompany me into the field this year and for years to come (mine is getting dog-eared already).
Also, I want to let you know that though this book was written for plants of the North East, dozens of the plants here will be found throughout North America, and even beyond. I think that foragers of all skill level and in a variety of eco-ranges will benefit from this work. Also, this is an excellent resource for herbalists or those interested in herbal medicine, as each plants pharmacology and mode of action are broken down in a very explicit and comprehensible way. It has already become one of my most valued herbal references.
This book was published by Anaskimin, (the Penobscot native word for “acorn”) a nonprofit organization here in Maine, who’s purpose is the protection of open and wild spaces through public and private education. Not only is this book the most useful and user friendly I have seen on the subject, but by purchasing it you are directly supporting the preservation of remaining wild places in a radical new way, by educating people how to care for and interface with wild nature.
Also, as a heads up, Arthur and I will be leading two weekend workshops together this year in the North East, one in May called “Ancestral Plants” and another in September called “Ancestral Ignition”. The first will be a three day wild food education, identifaction, gathering, processing, and preparation workshop! The second will focus on the creation of fire from friction, using natural materials from the landscape, the way it was done for the last 400,000 years. I am very excited about both of these classes, and will be posting the details shortly. Stay Tuned!
Check out the video interview below to learn more about the book, and click here to get your copy now! You will gain tremendous knowledge and be supporting a wonderful and important cause.
Today is the first blizzard of 2011 here in Maine, and I am off to enjoy the snow! Thanks for visiting and please let me know what you think of the book!
For those of us who are developing or returning to our ancestral health through traditional and indigenous nutritional practices, few food preparation skills are as valuable to possess as lacto-fermentation.
Imagine for a moment living without a fossil fuel driven infrastructure to deliver us our “fresh” veggies in January and an electrically powered refrigerator to store them in, and its importance and relevance becomes clear. Storing vegetables for the winter is a critical skill, and lacto-fermentation has some advantages that are hard to beat.
For instance, Lacto-Fermentaion actually increases the amount of nutrition that was present in the vegetable alone (by converting sugars into protein rich bacterial bodies, B vitamins, and omega 3 fatty acids), increase the bio-availability of the existing nutrition (by breaking down cell walls by predigesting the vegetables cellulose, and removing anti-nutrients) and all the while preserving the inherent nutrition better than freezing, canning, or drying!
Lacto-fermentation, the kind of vegetable fermentation that produces foods like sauerkraut (as well as kimchee and brined pickles), preserves our food in lactic acid, and was one of the dominant preservation techniques used by our ancestors before sugar and preservatives became the norm. The primary fermentative organism present in these kinds of preserves is lactobacillus acidophilus (who’s name means “acid loving milk bacteria”) one of our bodies primary microbial symbionts.
Not only does lactobacillus acidophilus allow us to preserve and even increase the amount of nutrition in our vegetables, but it also aids in digestion and increases our immunity too! Lactobacillus takes up residence in our small intestine, creating a kind of probiotic bio-shield in the gut, where it aggressively out-competes other dys-biotic organisms that can cause us to fall ill.
Ok, so forgive me here, but I am going to interject a few definitions and a quick mathmatical formula. Trust me, it will help.
Prebiotic + Probiotic = Synbiotic. Easy right? Here is what it means.
The thing we intend to ferment is known as a “prebiotic” (I am using this term loosely, don’t tell the scientists), this is the food source (sugars) for the organisms that will be converting the food into a fermented-food (in our case cabbage). We add to that the “probiotic” organism (these are healthy, symbiotic micro-organisms) that will be performing the fermentation (here it will be lactobacillus). Ok, a little caveat, we might not actually add the probiotic, but rather let it colonize itself, in what is called a “wild fermentation”, as is the case here with sauerkraut. Organisms native to the area where you are fermenting, or – as is the case with cabbage – are indigenous to the food itself. Through the alchemy of the fermentative process something new will be created, and that new thing is known as the “synbiotic”. I want to emphasize, the synbiotic is a new food, not the sum of the original parts, this is why sauerkraut is not “cabbage”, and wine is not “grape juice”.
Synbiotics like sauerkraut have long been used by those before us to fortify their immune systems, assist in digestion (their acidity helps to lower the pH of the stomach increasing the effectiveness of our hydrochloric acid), and to maintain healthy levels of the probiotic organisms that colonize our digestive lumen. While many people use probiotic supplements in an attempt to achieve these ends, most often lacto-fermented foods perform these tasks better, can be made at home from whole, fresh, local foods, are inexpensive, and add a considerable amount of quality nutrition in the form of highly absorbable predigested, living food. Oh, and they taste great too!
For me, lacto-ferments like sauerkraut are one of my primary ways of preserving and consuming local vegetables through out the long Maine winters. Aside from the occasional Whole Foods splurge, I don’t suspect I will be eating very many fresh green vegetables until the wild spring shoots emerge after the thaw. Aside from the vegetables that keep in my cellar (onions, squashes, garlic) and the vegetables I have frozen (wild fiddle heads, japanese knotweed) lacto-ferments are my main source of “living” vegetation.
If you have never made a fermentation like this at home, take heart! It is easy to do, and requires very little work or know how. Simply follow the steps in the video below, and in a couple of weeks you will have your first batch ready to eat!
For those who would like a deeper look into the biological processes that take place in the fermentation of cabbage into sauerkraut, check out this link!
I love to hear from you, so please leave me comment below to let me know what you think of this post, the website, and what you would like to see next!
Did you know that fermented beverages, specifically ethanol containing beverages were a crucial componant of most indigenous and traditional health strategies? Or that those who drink a moderate amount of ethanol live longer than those who drink heavily or don’t drink at all?
Of course the beverages fermented by native peoples and by our traditional cultural forebearers were much healthier and nutritionally viable than those of today, created with local ingredients and wild yeasts, and were not filtered and pasturized like the ones that most of us were raised around. Turning simple sugars into ethanol, amino acids, and B complex vitamins, not to mention a culturally and ritually significant inebriant is a nearly ubiquitous human behavior, and part of what holds the fabric of traditional societies together.
Earlier in the year I had the culturally enriching experience of imbibing some of the traditional fermented beverages of South America, specifically Chicha (from Maize) and Masatao (from Cassava), both traditional ferments of the people of Peru. These wonderful drinks were both relatively low in alcohol, with probably just a bit less than a modern beer, and loaded with nutrition and calories, making them as much a food as a drink. I was immediately impressed with the way that these were built into the nutritional and spiritual systems of the area. They were not viewed as guilt laden pleasures or sources of immoral behavior and debauchery, but rather as sacred and vitally health supportive. And while we use the term “intoxicant” to refer to drinks that contain alcohol, these people didn’t associate their sacred beverages with “toxicity” at all.
It was my desire to begin wild fermenting a local sugar of low to moderate alcohol content that could be drank unfiltered and unpasteruized. I wanted to recreate this often undiscussed and overlooked aspect of traditional human diets and bring it into my home and my life. While I have also been fermenting honey with some success (a beverage called Mead), I wanted to brew something with a milder effect (mead has the alcohol content of wine, upwards of 16 % or more) that could be done with very little labor or input, just the way our ancestors had done it.
Through this quest I have become enamoured by Cider, which is the proper name for the fermented alcoholic draught made from the fresh pressed juice from apples. Today we often refer to “Hard Cider” as the fully fermented version, and “Cider” as the unfermented, unfiltered juice of apples, which is a departure from the traditional meaning. Cider is usually defined as having an alcohol content of 2 – 8.5 % or higher, though my experience is that it tastes great and is incredibly refreshing even during initial fermentation when the alcohol content is negligible like that of Kombucha.
You can imagine that prior to the widespread use of refrigeration, areas of the world with large apple yields would have had quite a bit of Cider on hand, as the juice of fresh apples ferments quite readily. Perhaps you have bought fresh apple juice from a local orchard before and had it begin to ferment on you!
The apple juice I have worked with begins to ferment almost immediately after it reaches room temperature, and in truth gets better each and every day that it sits. The initial fermentation stage is wonderful, as the Cider develops its sparkling effervescence. I love drinking it this way throughout the day, and like saving the older, dryer, and “harder” Cider for the evenings with dinner and after.
Fermentation can seem a bit intimidating when you haven’t tried it before, and that is why I am posting this video. Cider is so easy to produce at home a cave man could do it!
I hope you enjoy this two part “Wild Fermented Hard Cider” video. Please give us your feedback by leaving a comment below!
P.S. Your probably wondering what “a moderate amount of alcohol” is. Studies indicate that 1 – 3 drinks ethanol drinks per day seems to extend lifespans! Here is a review from the Journal of Clinical Epidemiology showing the effects of alcohol on life span!
P.P.S. I understand the many detrimental effects that alcoholism and alcohol related accidents have had on us as individuals and as a civilization. I have personally been witness to it in my own life amongst people that I love dearly. This blog is in no way supporting reckless or irreverent use of ethanol. Alcohol consumption goes further into antiquity than can be accounted for, in other words it is part of the human story. Each one of us must determine how we will responsibly relate to it as a substance, and how we will steward it with health and safety in mind.
(The actual video of harvesting wild rice is at the bottom of this blog post!)
I have had the opportuntiy to forage wild foods for a few years now, with each season yielding greater and greater amounts of food. No harvest yet has supplied me with the amount of food energy that I was able to gather this September when I learned the ancient art of “Ricing”.
Most of the wild plants that I have been learning to use are incredibly nutritious (as well as delicious) but a bit low in calories. Many wild foraged plants are eaten like vegetables (stinging nettle come to mind) but lack the energy density that we get from meats, grains, oils, concentrated sugars. This means that as a forager I am still largely dependent on my local agricultural system to provide me with calories that I need to live out my daily life.
Wild rice however, is a complex carbohydrate (macro-nutrient), and unlike the mono-cropped and refined carbohydrates of the average American diet, is a rich whole food grain loaded with vitamins and minerals (micronutrients) as well.
Today, most of the worlds citizens are living with an inverse relationship between micronutrients (vitamins, minerals, etc) and macronutrients (calories). We have become overfed and under nourished. Our ancestors ate extremely micronutrient dense diets when compared against our own. Their constant quest instead was securing the macronutrient (carbohydrate, lipid, and protein calories) that they required for their huge daily energy expenditures.
Of course today it is nearly the opposite, where most of the (over) developed world has calorie rich diet composed of overly processed and refined food – think white sugar, white flour, high fructose corn syrup, etc – that is deeply lacking in micro-nutrition. Most Americans are deficient in micronutrients even to the RDA standard (recommended daily allowances of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences) which is surprisingly low when compared against the nutrient intakes of so called “primitive peoples”.
Now that I am moving away from “novelty foraging” toward a subsistence that includes Wild Foods, I am acutely aware of this nutritional crux. There are plenty of micronutrients in the foods that I forage from my ecosystem, but most of my actual caloric needs still come from my local farm.
That is all changing for me now that I have learned to forage a few key items, perhaps the greatest and most important, of which is Wild Rice.
Zizania palustris is an aquatic grain occurring widely throughout the Eastern United States (like Maine where I live) and Canada. It inhabits the shallow waters of lakes, ponds, and slow moving rivers. There is a long and rich historical record of its harvest by native peoples of this continent and is to this day still harvested by existing native populations of North America, and in particular the Great Lakes region.
Before trying truly wild rice, I was familiar only with the store bought, paddy cultivated wild rice which, though wonderful in flavor and rich in nutrition, just simply pales in comparison. Hand harvested, sundried, fire parched, foot treaded, and wind winnowed wild rice is so soft and delicate in flavor that it simply has to be tasted to be understood. The softness is like that of the most perfectly cooked white rice but with all the nutritious nutty flavors of a wild intact grain. This is because of a curing process used with commercially prepared “wild rice” that causes the grains to become very hard and locks in some of the unpleasantly strong flavors.
In contrast to many wild foraged plants, wild rice requires a more considerable amount of know how and equipment to locate, access, harvest, and process, so to show this in its entirety is simply outside the scope of a blog post. Instead I have prepared this short video to highlight the experiences I had ricing this season.
I am hoping that in the future some of you will have the opportunity to come to Maine to learn the art in person.
What a wonderful feeling to know that this winter I will be eating more of my calories from foods that were sustainably harvested from my local landscape.
I am grateful to the abundant Earth.
This video below is part 2 of the Stinging Nettle Root harvesting video that I put up a couple of weeks back.
I put this up to demonstrate how simple it is to produce your own wild nettle root tincture for use as an herbal medicine.
Stinging Nettle (Urtica dioica) is an herbaceous perennial flowering plant known by many of us for the painful stinging hairs (they are actually called “trichomes”) that inject histamine into our skin like micro hypodermic needles.
Despite this, and even because of it, Nettle has been used as food and medicine by many cultures and is an important species for those of us who practice foraging, herbalism, or primitive outdoor skills.
While the aerial parts of the plant (the parts that grow above the ground) are most commonly eaten as a pot herb (cooked) or made into infusions (teas), it is the roots from which we can extract its potent androgenic substances. If you are woman reading this pay close attention. While you may not need Nettle root as a medicine for yourself, its highly likely you know a man who does. Be sure to read on.
Nettle root supports male health in a few different ways. There is a globulin in human blood called Sex Hormone Binding Globulin (SHBG) which binds to testosterone, rendering it unavailable to the our cells. Nettle root contains compunds that bind to SHBG taking the place of testosterone and thereby keeping free testosterone in the blood.
More than this, it also prevents the conversion of testosterone into a metabolite known as dihydrotestosterone, which has been implicated in benign prostate hyperplasia and even male pattern baldness.
If this wasn’t enough, phyto-chemicals in Nettle root further work to prevent Benign Prostate Hyperplasia (BPH) by stopping the binding of DHT to the prostate membrane.
Since the prostrate is the endocrine gland thats responsible for male orgasm, taking care of it for a lifetime is probably a good idea!
Nettle Root is an herbal ally that seems almost designed to ensure the good health of a mans reproductive system into longevity (wives and girlfriends may want to take note).
Making your own Nettle Root tinctures at home can be easy, and only takes few minutes.
I encourage you to give it a try, and to get out into your local ecosystem to commune with your landscape. This is truest expression of environmentalism I can think of!
If this post (or any other) has inspired you, please leave a comment below!
For the last several years I have talked more about Chaga (Inonotus obliquus) than any other wild foraged food or medicine.
For those who don’t know, Chaga is a fungal sclerotium with notable anti-cancer terpines (such as betulinic acid) and immune system modulating sugars (called beta glucans). More than any other medicinal mushroom, this has been my number one herbal/fungal ally. In fact, for much of the year I use it almost daily and have for several years now…
Chaga is normally decocted (boiled in water to produce a broth or tea) for about two hours, yielding a very mild vanilla like flavor (it contains vanillin as one of its components) which is great to drink on its own, with added cream and a sweetener (I like maple syrup) to create a drink much like coffee. It is also an excellent blended drink or soup base.
This video post is about peeling Chaga, which is its traditional preparation method in Siberia (it is from their folk medicine that we have learned of Chaga). For years I used this fungus without peeling it, which yeilded wonderful results, but now that I have included the traditional preperation method, it would be difficult to depart from. De-barking Chaga yields a far more mild, pleasant tasting, less medicinal and more tonic tea.
There are of course wonderful uses for Chaga with its bark on as well, particularly as an anti-neoplastic medicine. Still for my daily use this is now my preferred method.
Here is another video from my archive showing how to identify and harvest Chaga if you are interested in trying this yourself. If you are looking for a premier Chaga extract you can find it at my company, SurThrival.
Thanks for watching and I can’t wait to hear your results!
What an amazing Autumn it has been!
This has been, by far, my most prolific year of harvesting wild food and medicine. While I know it is an ambitious goal, it is my personal desire to hunt and gather. Spending time with Arthur Haines has propelled my wild nutrition path forward in ways I am so grateful for. In this video Arthur and I go into the wilds in search of wild stinging nettle roots for our personal homemade medicine stashes!
Now that I am just weeks away from SurThrival’s launch of its new Pine Pollen extracts, I wanted to share a video that is yet one more piece of my natural hormone maintnance strategy.
I hope this motivates you to get out and harvest some food or medicine for yourself. Stay tuned for events that Arthur and I will be putting on where you can learn to harvest your own foods and medicines!
And don’t forget to check out the mead making workshop that I have coming up next week. You can see the details here.
Thanks for watching, and please let me know what you think.
Epic Eden Hot Springs Retreat! October 6th through the 10th, 2010
This is by far the most exciting event of the year for me! There is no other place on Earth that leaves me feeling so connected to the Land and to the Elements!
For many years now I have visited this oasis of the Sonoran desert, and it has been (by far) the most trans-formative location of my life.
Up until now these retreats have been a collaborative effort of my teachers and mentors David Wolfe and Kerri “Dancing Butterfly” . They have facilitated the transformation of the countless people who have attended (myself included!).
This is in fact where my very first YouTube video was recorded, and the place where I began my career.
Now a new generation is taking up the call of stewarding this unique piece of Earth. Joy Light and Rebecca Astara are putting on this year’s event, Epic Eden HotSprings! I will be leading a tour of the Sacred grounds of Eden, visiting along the tour the six geo-thermal hot springs that spot the land. I am honored to share my knowledge and experience of my many years of visiting this land, with all of the retreaters!
When standing on the hill, the high point of the property, surrounded by the 360 degrees of Arizona Mountains, looking down at the valley, the magick of this place becomes clear. The Sonoran desert is one of the harshest, driest environments on the planet. Yet, this oasis is green and lush, surrounded by inhospitable gravel-strewn desert.
It all begins with a small pool known as “The Source”. This sacred spring spills over and runs into the “Guitar Pool”, which is, as you may have guessed, shaped like a guitar! It is also known as the “Goddess Pool”, because the pool imitates the curvy shape of a Woman’s body. This is my favorite pool for soaking, as it is the quietest and most… sanctified. All around it salt crystals grow right up out of the ground, dusting the area like a fresh snow!
This water runs down past a pool known as the “Emerald Pool” which is much hotter than the guitar pool. This pool is brilliantly green with exotic flora, and feeds down into the most popular pool, “Geronimo”! This pool is named after the Apache Warrior who led the final free indigenous natives in the war against the early US!
And yes, he and his warriors really used this spring for healing and rejuvenation!
It is his, and the Apache spirit that is felt so strongly here!
This pool feeds down into the “Goddess Pool”, a hot spring pool the size of an Olympic swimming pool! Swimming, bathing, or even just floating here is a truly unique and indescribable experience! It is less hot and more like tepid bathwater… I enjoy this pool for exercise and play!
This will be a time of powerful healing and lifelong transformation for all who attend. There will be many amazing work/play shop facilitators, body workers, and many new and old friends… Morning Yoga, Sun Gazing, Spring Water…. It is a chance to immerse yourself in the Temple of the Elemental!
Oh, and did I mention the food? The wonderful Chocolatree Cafe, based out of Sedona, will be preparing the food and overseeing the kitchen! Business partners Jen Warr of Chocolatree Cafe and Kelly Johnson of Sedona Superfoods, in combination come together to provide for us at the retreat this fall. They are a business of high integrity, bringing us the most top notch organic vegetarian cuisine! Each meal they serve up is delicious, nutritious, and uniquely prepared. Their cafe in Sedona is definitely the hot spot of the area and is a must visit while going through that town!
The experience of Eden is always hot, sunny, fiery energy… Burning off the old to make room for the new. The springs are so deeply nourishing, and there is always a view of the stars like few have ever seen. Soaking in these waters in the cold desert night looking deep into space is a gift that few ever give themselves!
For me it is a place where I shed yet another layer of domestication and re-member what it means to be human.
And so my Road takes me West….
Join us ~ October 6th-10th, 2010 for this Epic Experience of a Lifetime!
Its the trip of a lifetime….
In the Autumn of 2010, I am am embarking on a most exciting adventure!
I will be facilitating 3 Wild Food Tours in the Jungles of Peru, August 5th, 19th, and September 2nd!
The RawFlora Wild Food Journey in ledgendary Peru!
This trip is so comprehensive that I will only be able to describe a few of the highlights here!
We are traveling into the jungle to explore the Wild Foods and Medicines of the most bio-diverse region of the world, the Amazon!
Native biologists, shamans, and wild food experts will lead us through the most nourishing, exciting and informative eco-adventure of our lives!
Hot springs, waterfalls, coca,cacao, wild food and wild medicine, and yes, even an optional Ayahuasca ceremony! Herbal steam baths, guided hikes through forests and eco-gardens, native markets, and lodging in Peru’s eco-friendly Manu Learning Center!
You will have to view the itinerary to believe it! I am still amazed!
I am also very excited to visit the markets and meet the locals! Peruvian Alpaca garments are the best in the world, and my poncho, hat and gloves all come from there. It is so great to get them locally and for the amazing prices that can only be had on such a visit! Yay, gear!
I will be facilitating this experience, along side Master Shamanic Qi Gong practitioner Jeannette Kielo Dussel, and the team of Shamans, Ecologists, and Native Food and Medicine experts who have been assembled for this once in a lifetime experience! This promises to be a journey into Healing, Education, Sustainability, and Self Discovery! Not to mention communion with Pacha Mama (Mother Earth) right there in the Heart of the World!
This is your chance to meet the Superfoods, Medicinal Herbs, and Psychoactive plants of South America right there where they live and grow!
These retreats are limited to 10 people and they are already filled! Contact info@rawflora to get on the waiting list!
OH, Wait!!! Did I mention that there is an optional trip to Machu Picchu? I almost forgot. There is an option to arrive on the early for a trip to the Ancient Incan City of Machu Picchu! This has been a dream of mine for ages! See you there?
If you are anything like me, you consume enough books that they could be considered part of your diet! Each book is like a tile, great or small, in the mosaic of world-view that we are each assembling.
There is such a joy and satisfaction for me when I discover a critical piece of information that answers questions that I have long held.
And while I love reading, sometimes I get even more (I must admit) out of watching a well crafted video.
One example is the PBS documentary “The Botany of Desire ” with Michael Pollan.
I first came across the work of Michael Pollan when I read (ok, it was an audio book) “In Defense of Food”. His grounded and well researched teachings on nutrition and the environmental and psychological impacts of our diets have earned him tremendous respect as and author and authority on the subject (he’s a professor of journalism at the University of California, Berkeley).
My personal approach to nutrition has indeed been influenced by his writings, and most influential of all was the documentary “The Botany of Desire”. Here are some video extras from the documentary, and the rest is available for purchase or download online.
The theme of lectures I have been giving around the continent this year has been “Indigenous Nutrition and Human Evolution”, and much of the focus has been on the breeding of our modern food supply.
In my own life I have been pursuing a diet made up of (as much as I can) local, heirloom, and wild species. This has proven an interesting and valuable endeavor, and I am constantly amazed to discover the source of the foods that I grew up on. More on this in later blogs.
So much of the The Botany of Desire: A Plant’s-Eye View of the World is focused on breeding, and more specifically the breeding of four plants; apples, potatoes, tulips, and cannabis! While each section is amazing, I was most taken by the segment on the apple.
For instance, did you know that all of the apples in our modern diet are genetic clones? It’s true, the apple tree as we think of it is a grafted plant, and its fruit is exceptionally hybridized. This is so strange because we tend to, as a culture, consider the apple the very symbol of “natural food”. Not so! In fact the modern apple scarcely resembles the true wild apple in taste, size, or nutritional profile.
As an example, most of us find the idea of cloning sheep or humans strange. Many of us, in fact, might even have a moral repulsion to the idea. And yet so much of the fruits we eat are cloned, and few of us are even aware. This is why my teachings have been focusing in on foods that are bred wisely, or when possible, are wild!
PS; more interesting still is the history of the real life character Johnny Apple Seed. This strangely clad and barefoot historical figure was committed to much more than just growing apples. He was committed to planting apples from seed. As strange as it may seem this was and still is a revolutionary concept! Did you know that every seed in an apple (there are 5) will bring forth a different type of apple tree? It is this unpredictability that has led to its cloning!
Watch the The Botany of Desire DVD for the rest of the story, and then comment below to let me know what you think!