Tag Archive for health

Fire Cider

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Our homestead has been hit with the first major bug of the season. I’d love to blame this on Little Mister being in preschool, but who knows where it came from. Through the prompting of severe mucus and annoyance, I now have our first batch of Fire Cider steeping in the pantry. It’s only a small batch as it’s my own creation and I want to try a test batch before I go making a larger one.

Let me back up a second to answer the question “What is Fire Cider?” Fire Cider is the name for a tincture of sorts made with various peppers and herbs which have antibacterial, immune system boosting, and inflammation inhibiting properties covered with apple cider vinegar and then steeped for anywhere between 24 hours and ten days, depending on the individual recipe and required potency. Most recipes call for hot peppers (jalapeño and cayenne), horseradish, ginger root, garlic, and onion. The medicinal impact of Fire Cider depends mostly on what ingredients are used, but in general Fire Cider will help with throat and nasal congestion, coughs, and sore throat. The antibacterial properties of the ingredients also have the ability to shorten illnesses. To top it all off, Fire Cider can be used as a preventative as well.

The version that I made today includes:
– cayenne peppers
– jalapeño
– garlic
– dried ginger root
– cinnamon stick

 

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I’ll be honest, I never measure when I make tinctures and teas from scratch. It seems to inhibit me as I get so caught up on the numbers that I completely forget what I’m creating such a thing for. Intuition is my recipe card. Over these five ingredients I poured my apple cider vinegar. Later, when I strain the mixture, I will add a small bit of honey. Ideally I would love to use local honey, but I don’t currently have any on hand, so store brand will have to do.

The best thing about Fire Cider is that you can use it as often as you like. One to two spoonfuls at a time is as most as I would suggest to use. If it seems to strong to swallow on its own, you can mix Fire Cider in with your tea, a glass of water or juice, or some people will add it to their soup. You can also adjust the recipe to be more suited to a child’s palette as well.

GMOs in Brief

***The following is a copy edited excerpt from my thesis work for graduate school. A partial list of sources follows.***

Genetically modified organisms (GMOs for shorthand) are still a recent invention of commercial agriculture. Before the mid 1990s virtually no acreage was planted with genetically altered plants, by 1996 over 500,000 acres had been planted. This number doubled over the next five years. By the end of 2000, GMOs made up 75% of the soybean crop, 30% of corn, and 10-15% of sorghum. Roughly 25 – 30 million hectares worldwide were planted with GMO crops by the beginning of the new millennium.

DNA from any plant, animal, or virus can be mixed into the unadulterated DNA of a plant or animal to meet a desired need. The definition from the Royal Commission on Genetic Modification in New Zealand is even more specific than the broad one provided by the USDA. The Royal Commission’s definition includes four parts: (1) the, deletion, multiplication, or movement of genes within an organism; (2) the transfer of genes from one organism to another; (3) the modification of existing genes or the construction and insertion of “new” manufactured genes; and (4) offspring of organisms modified in any of the previous defined ways classify as a genetically modified organism. Here we’re focusing on just the laboratory variant.

There are three main points for those working against GMOs: health concerns on those consuming the products, environmental concerns, and legal issues.

Since the mass introduction of GMOs in the 1990s, several studies focusing on the possible negative side effects have been released. Many spell out the risk of reduction in the variety of species in the environment – known as biodiversity – through exposure to modified organisms. One of the most influential examples of this in arguments against GMOs is the decline of the monarch butterfly in conjunction with exposure to Bt containing crops. Insect resistance due to over exposure and thus the creation of super insects is another concern.
Both the decline of certain insects and the resistance to over exposure is not a concern tied directly to the GMO crops. In August 2002 a team from the University of Lille (France) found that herbicide resistant pollen seeds from GM canola plants could travel as far as up to 3 kilometers, leaving the possibility of cross-pollination throughout a wide radius. This same research also found that cross-pollination from GM and non-GM sugar beets created a superweed. The combination of plants becoming so resistant to herbicides alters the environment around them as a domino effect is created where less hearty weeds will be strangled out, and in turn, certain insects and animals native to the area will also feel the repercussions through the loss of their ecosystem.

The possibility of DNA transfer from GMOs to human chromosomes through food digestion is something that scientists are concerned about. A study conducted by agricultural biochemistry Professor Harry Gilbert from the University of Newcastle found that genetically modified food can alter the make-up of the human stomach showing the possibility of long term DNA changes and a potential for antibiotic resistances to build. These resistances in turn lead the creation of superbugs which can not be easily overcome by conventional medicine. Even organic raised meats and plants are not a sure-fire way of avoiding the side effects of GMOs if they are in any way contaminated.

Outside of the United States, the unknown use of GMOs is not acceptable for the reasons previously mentioned. Other countries have already installed labeling policies that include minimum thresholds allowed for GMO content. The European Union and Australia have a limit of 1% GMO ingredients before a label needs to be applied, Japan 5%, Korea 3%, and Brazil 4%.

Another factor that complicated the GMO issues is an international law established in 1991 with the signing of the Union for Protection of New Varieties of Plants. This law allow allows exclusive rights to those who genetically modify an existing variety of plant to create a new variety. This “distinct variety” has to carry all characteristics of the original plant variety with the addition of it being genetically modified. This has created “an emerging worldwide practice adopted by GM companies of patenting the seeds and biodiversity of indigenous plantlife and thereby colonizing local nature and wildlife.”

For those that are eating a kosher, vegan, or a clean diet this can mean chaos as there is no way to tell what DNA is in the food that is being eaten. The only true way to avoid the possibility of eating GMO food is to purchase food labeled as non-GMO from the NON-GMO Project, take a risk that companies self-proclaiming to be GMO free are telling the truth, buy from a local source that you know is non-GMO, or, and this is the route many homesteaders obviously take, grow your own food. Each of these methods come with their own pros and cons, but many choose to practice a combination of all three.

Why go through all the work and trouble to grow your own food just to avoid GMOs? Many people feel that GMOs are not safe, and rightly so. Most GMOs are not tested for human consumption before they are released onto the market. The only known study on GMO consumption in humans found potential problems with digestion of the food. The typical response if that if people haven’t become sick in the past ten years eating GMO food, then the food must be safe. This says nothing for the potential long term effects of GMOs. It should be noted that the Royal Commission, focusing on the effects of GMOs, cited that, “It was reported that scientists are often under commercial pressure to produce sanitized research findings that fail to thoroughly investigate all the risks associated with releasing GM organisms into the environment.” Many of these same scientists claimed fear of losing their jobs and research opportunities and the sole purpose for “sanitizing” their findings.

Let that sink in.

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Bailey, Britt. “Preface.” Engineering the Farm: Ethical and Social Aspects of Agricultural Biotechnology. Washington, DC: Island Press, 2002.xiii

Bailey, Britt and Marc Lappe. “Introduction: GMOs, Luddites, and Concerned Citizens.” Engineering the Farm: Ethical and Social Aspects of Agricultural Biotechnology. Washington, DC: Island Press, 2002.

United States Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service. “What are GMOs? .” ARS : What are GMO’S?. http://ars.usda.gov/Research/docs.htm?docid=7205 (accessed March 11, 2013).

Walters, Reece. “Criminology and Genetically Modified Food.” The British Journal of Criminology. 4, No. 2. (2004): 151-167.

Rousu, Mathew, Wallace E. Hufflam, Jason F. Shogren and Abebayehu Tegene. “Are United States Consumers Tolerant of Genetically Modified Foods?” Review of Agricultural Economics. 26, No. 1. (2004): 19-31

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The NON-GMO Project (http://www.nongmoproject.org) is a third party organization that provides testing and labeling for products at the cost of the producer. Any ingredient grown commercially in GMO form most be tested prior to use, any product containing more than 0.9% GMO must be labeled, traceability and segregation practices are established to ensure quality through to the finished product, and verification is maintained through annual audits and onsite inspections for “high-risk” products.

xivSurvey 19

xvWaltrs, 153-154

Natural Hydration

While staying hydrated is something that is vitally important in daily living, sometimes it’s hard to stay on top of such when life gets busy. Every now and then we have minor issues with hydration. Normally this family rectifies it by drinking down a huge jug of electrolyte-added soft drink designed for athletes. When trying to lead a natural lifestyle, this is kind of a sore spot when you think of the added colors, corn syrup (which one family member is allergic to), and the artificial additives that abound in these drinks.

Until now. While wandering through Hannaford, this grocery shopper noticed that there is something new on the market. Something that she was surprised to find, but very happy about given that she already knows it’s something she can stomach.

O.N.E. Drinks, out of California, has started selling packaged coconut water. Potassium, sodium, and magnesium, and calcium are all important electrolyte makers. Coconut water naturally has all four of these.

O.N.E. Coconut Water

Ingredients
100% natural coconut water
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size: 11.2 Fl. Oz.(330ml.)
Servings per Container: 1
Amounts Per Serving
Calories: 60 Calories from fat: 0
Total Fat 0g 0% Daily Value*
Cholesterol 0g 0%
Sodium 60mg 2%
Potassium 670mg 19%
Total Carbohydrate 15g 5%*
Dietary Fiber 0g 0%*
Sugars 14g
Protein 1g
Calcium 40mg 4%
Phosphorus 17mg 2%
Magnesium 25mg 6%

Not a significant source of vitamin A,
vitamin C, calcium, or iron.
* Percent Daily Values are based on a
2,000 calorie diet.

Gluten free
Gently pasteurized

While the flavor is still has that odd bitter after-taste of regular coconut, it was much more pleasing to drink than the tart soft drinks that I have had in the past. It was just dry enough of a feel that it left you thirsty and either wanting more coconut water or regular water.

Add in the concept of a container that contains no BPAs, is recycable, and can easily stack in the pantry, and I think this might become a household stable for “emergency” re-hydration purposes.