Fallon and Enig are co-authors, with Patricia Connolly, of a book that should be in any well-stocked health library:  Nourishing Traditions:  The cookbook that challenges politically correct nutrition and the diet dictocrats(ProMotion Publishing, San Diego, CA: 1995).   In a nutshell, these are some of the basic concepts in this book:


▪    Nourishing traditional foods include those that our ancestors ate:  fresh, organically raised meats, fowl, eggs; organ meats such as liver and kidneys from healthy animals;  seafood from deep sea waters; fish eggs; fermented soy and milk products;  raw, cultured butter and cream from healthy cows; extra virgin olive oil, small amounts of flax, coconut, and other unrefined tropical oils.  Fats from healthy, organically raised animals are prized because of their essential fatty acid and fat-soluble vitamin  content;  many studies show that in traditional natural food diets animal fats are associated with a lower rate of heart disease.


▪   To inactivate the phytates, whole grain products and beans should be soaked for eight hours in acidulated water before cooking.  They recommend adding two tablespoons of whey to each cup of soaking water, but I found that one tablespoon raw balsamic vinegar or umeboshi vinegar also work.  Nuts should be soaked the same way and dried in a very low oven rather than consumed raw or toasted.


▪   Mineral-rich gelatinous stocks and broths should be an integral part of our cooking repertoire.  This used to be common, as when people ate jellied dishes like aspic, calf’s foot jelly, oxtail stew, bird’s nest soup, pig’s head, and the like.  While our current dietary customs rarely include these, it would not be difficult for us to make sure we always have a supply of vegetable, chicken, fish, or meat stocks in the freezer, and use these to enrich all our soups, sauces, grain, and bean dishes.  The fanciest chefs in the most high-toned restaurants always use scraps and leftovers to make nutritious, mineral-rich stocks just like our grandmothers did.


▪   Naturally fermented vegetables such as pickles and sauerkraut are recommended as regular side dishes to aid in the digestion of grains, beans, and protein.


The most controversial aspect of Fallon and Enig’s work is that they recommend the regular consumption of butter, tropical fats like coconut oil, full fat milk products, fowl, game, beef, and organ meats.  However, they do make a very strong case about the importance of organically and naturally raised animals, and that the poor diet, crowded conditions, antibiotics, steroids, and other drugs of the commercial animal industry makes commercial animal protein and fats as unhealthy as claimed.  Fallon and Enig do have a point:  cancer, heart disease, osteoporosis, immune disorders, and other degenerative diseases have been rising during this century, when the consumption of refined, processed, chemicalised, commercially produced foods and animals raised on mega-farms has increased dramatically.  When Dr. Price Pottenger studied traditional societies that lived on natural meats, fats, fermented grains, and vegetables, he did not find any of those health problems.


I believe there are a lot of valuable ideas in Fallon and Enig’s work.  Even if you are a vegan, the practice of soaking and fermenting grains, beans, nuts, seeds, and vegetables, and cooking with vegetable stocks, can only increase the digestibility and nutritional content of your meals.  I found that adding a piece of kombu to the stock, or a tablespoon of agar to the soup, will add valuable minerals without the need for animal products.   Try some of these techniques, and see for yourself.  Soaked and dried walnuts are an unexpected treat!

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