WFP: Being well

Being well. I’ve been thinking about it lately. Why is it so difficult for us these days? I feel like I so often read about chronic conditions and digestive issues, and yet it’s like our species is far behind in terms of our instincts in these areas. I think, while temporary sickness is sometimes inevitable and hard to avoid, it’s lack of everyday health that is the real epidemic here. I just learned that 80% of all Americans are on at least one prescription drug. 50% are on at least two. Americans are 5% of the world population, and yet we’re taking 50% of the drugs. What the hell is going on? Why are we so sick? Why are 80% of us living sick? I think a big part of it has to do with the environment, but a huge part of it comes down to what we put in our bodies.
My friend and I started talking about this because we were discussing soy. It’s a controversial subject, but basically soy is a food that is simply not good for us. It’s just a little bean, but this little bean has learned to do it’s job of propagating so well, that it’s defenses are such that they are hard to get around. Basically, it’s full of toxins- natural defenses that are meant to deter animals from eating it! Phytic acid, trypsin inhibitors, nitrosamines– all toxic substances that can inhibit the absorption of nutrients and actually cause nutrient deficiencies. I read that in the wild, animals will avoid soy. They have actually linked fertility problems and cancer to animals who are fed soy feed. It’s been linked to a host of fertility and thyroid problems in humans, as well as cancer. Yikes! From the research that I’ve done, the only really safe way to consume soy is after it’s been fermented (miso and tempeh are good examples). And yet, this cheap food is thrown in practically EVERYTHING. We could have a basically identical conversation about sugar/corn syrup, but I won’t get into that. Anyway, those are just the details, but my friend and I were wondering why people don’t seem to be able to avoid toxic foods, and yet animals’ instincts seem to remain intact when left to their own devices. We decided that perhaps our instincts are still good, we just don’t know what it’s like to feel well anymore, and we aren’t given the option to do so when we think we’re buying one thing, but it’s full of a million other things. 

The reason we have this theory? Because we’ve stripped most of the toxic stuff out of our diets and we feel better. I have a dear friend who teases me about how my health is really just going to screw me in the end because I’ve lost my ability to cope with all the toxic stuff. We laugh about how he’s built up immunities to all the crap, and I’m just going to whither away because of it. But honestly? I think I started becoming more sensitive to this stuff because I finally knew what it was like to be well. I have a decreased tolerance, but it is one that protects me. Just like for thousands of years our ancestors have known how to soak their grains, seeds, and nuts before eating them. It’s simple. It’s because they knew that they couldn’t digest them well otherwise. But in our culture, it’s plastered all over the media- "Not feeling well? You’re normal! Take this!" For the record, I don’t think it’s normal not to feel well. Our bodies are incredibly resilient, as is shown by our ability to consume loads of toxic stuff and merely have it slowly kill us.

Ultimately, our ignorance of our own bodies and well-being puts us in a world of trouble- not only in terms of our environments, but by causing everything from cancer, heart disease, diabetes, allergies, etc.  Obviously there are exceptions to the rule, but overall I think these things are avoidable, and they are killing most of us. I know it’s kind of complicated to change everything at once, but I really think that if the health of our bodies isn’t a priority, then we’ve gone a little crazy. Anyway, I came across this website and thought it was great- it’s basically an outline of what to eat/ what not to eat. I love it.

Anyway. That’s the end of my rant. On to my food accomplishment this week. It’s a big one. LIVER. I hate liver. It tastes really bad to me. It’s very good for you, but ew. I’d rather not. Recently though, I tried this chicken liver pate at a potluck lunch, mostly to be polite. It was actually good. So this past Thursday we got together and made it. I’ve actually been eating it over the past week and it’s… dare I say it… delicious! Granted, it doesn’t have that gross liver taste because it’s mostly mushrooms and butter… but the liver is there, for sure. Vera eats it up and says "Deeeeelicious!" That’s something. So, I don’t think there will be much in the way of liver in our lives, but this recipe is here to stay. I’m glad to be able to get such a nutritious food into our diets, too.

The recipe:

Julie Schomp’s New Orleans version of Chicken Liver Pate

12 T. Butter
1/2 c. Scallion or onion
1/4lb mushrooms
1/4lb chicken livers
1 1/2 t. sea salt
1t. lemon juice
1/8 t. black pepper
1/8 t. cayenne ( I don’t use that much)
2 hard boiled eggs
1/4 or more C. crispy pecans/walnuts/etc.

Sauté liver, onions/scallions, and mushrooms in butter until thoroughly cooked. Add to other ingredients and puree in food processor. 

Super easy, and seriously delicious! I couldn’t believe it. I still kind of can’t. I’ll eat some today. Weird.


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Comments (20)

  1. ladyfaith3

    you’re awesome, I love ya…but liver? YUCK sorry I refuse this one 🙁 gag…

    I was really amazed at the stats you posted. WOW! I once read an article that stated that the dementia/ alzheimers rate in Asian people or countries was much higher than in other countries that consume LESS soy. I have tried to stay away from it since 🙂

    1. Gracie (Post author)

      I know! So gross… but seriously, this is good. I’m still amazed that it is. Because I really really dislike liver. But it’s so amazingly good for you, and so this is pretty cool to be able to get it into my family!

      On the soy bit- you’ll hear that Asian countries have been eating it for forever, etc., but I read that it was truly only in fermented forms in any quantity. The rest was used as a garnish really.

  2. purerandomness

    I liked your link about foods we should/shouldn’t eat! The only thing I disagree about is the iodized salt. We need a certain amount of iodine to keep our thyroids happy and although ingesting iodized salt gives us way more than we need, it’s also an overdose the protects us from a potential nuclear disaster.
    (As usual, all my information comes from wikipedia or from remembering hearing/discussing topics a while ago: not very scientific!)
    After the Chernobyl disaster, many of the children/adolescents became ill with thyroid cancers because their bodies had taken up the radioactive iodine from the fallout (no iodized salt in USSR Poland!). There’s a small likelihood that we’ll experience a nuclear fallout of that magnitude, but if the iodized salt will help protect my thyroid I’ll use it in moderation 🙂

    1. pagangoat

      Another source of iodine is kelp. You can get it dried & powdered in a little shaker bottle, and use it in place of/along with sea salt:)

    2. Gracie (Post author)

      If you get unrefined sea salt then there are traces of naturally occurring iodine in it, among many other minerals that have been stripped out in conventional salts. Plus in refined salts you get your anti-caking and preserving crap, which is toxic. Plus I figure I get enough of the iodized stuff when I go out or eat at other people’s houses.

      1. purerandomness

        Exactly! I have heard horror stories of people who take the ‘no-iodized salt’ thing to an extreme, cook all their food with sea salt and ended up with iron deficiencies. If you’re occasionally eating out or eating at other people’s places who use iodized salt, you’re probably totally fine.
        The whole addition of anti-caking chemicals: seriously just add RICE! Will keep your salt from clumping every time.

    3. yayhappens

      Any food product you buy that says it has sodium in it is very likely to be using iodized salt. There is way too much of it in the food already, especially in fried foods and processed meat. Taking iodized salt out of the cooking and exchanging it with sea salt or himalayan will still allow for plenty of iodine in your body through anything you eat that is store-bought.

      our likelihood here of missing iodine in our diets is close to our odds of getting scurvy from lack of vitamin c. chances are really slim.

  3. pagangoat

    that ‘how to eat better’ link is really interesting:)

  4. yayhappens

    I am not a fan of liver myself and I have not tried pate because of it, but your food always looks so inviting, I would totally give it a try!

    Our food is really scary here. If it’s not the hormones in food or the gasses they use to grow vegetables, the stuff they treat the soil with even to grow organic foods and the petroleum-based packaging that leeches chemicals into the food ….all killing us. It is so hard to know what to do, it almost feels like a helpless situation.

    At least you are aware and can do some things to curb adding toxic or foreign stuff to what you are eating. Naturally grown foods high in antioxidants are what keep me sane and feeling like I have something to fight back with at least. =/

    This country needs a food revolution. (among other things! lol)

    1. Gracie (Post author)

      Yay! Being willing to try things is I think half the battle. That’s how I found this pate!

      Did you watch the show “Food Revolution”?

      1. yayhappens

        lol I have never heard of it. I will go look it up!

  5. david_anderson

    It would not surprise me if you started finding other products to like that contain healthy liver, even if you never develop a taste for “liver”. Most liver that you’ve been exposed to through your life was from CAFO animals, where it was a filter for all those toxins that they were exposed to. It does affect the taste and health of the final product. I’m not going to tell you that “you will like it”, but I think that you should let this recipe open your mind to other possibilities.

    You can eat a steak, or you can grind it up and make meatloaf with it. There is still a central beefy not to the meat, but other than that, they don’t taste anything alike. The same thing goes for liver products. Just because you don’t like liver, doesn’t mean that you won’t like something that is made with liver. Now that you’ve found one thing, be open to trying others.

    Personally, I hate liver and I always have. I love liverwurst and always loved it. Now, I really love liverwurst made with healthy livers, and something tastes wrong with the factory stuff. Same thing with pate. Haggis is the thing that makes the most difference when it comes to the quality of the offal, so it matters even more with the other organs.

    1. Gracie (Post author)

      This is really interesting to me. But now that you mention it, it seems really simple. Of course the flavor is affected! I’m going to have to open my mind some now. I’ve never had haggis, but if I do I’ll make sure it’s really good quality. 🙂

  6. stupidfool

    i did an informal count of me and my friends, and i count one who isn’t on prescription medicine, and 4 of us who are–birth control only. (and then one who’s on several, but his are for mental illness, not physical). i wonder if birth control is being included in the statistic. i definitely don’t claim to be healthy (i eat a TON of processed junk!) but i don’t consider birth control, while technically a prescription medication, to be an indication that i (or any of my 4 friends, who i know well enough to know their medicine habits) am in poor health… for them, they just don’t want to get pregnant, and for me, i’m a wuss and couldn’t take the naseua and cramping…

    i had no idea soy was bad for you! all the vegetarians i know swear by it–soy beans, soy nuts, soy milk… because they generally eat much more healthily than i do, i always just assumed soy was good for you…

    1. Gracie (Post author)

      Good point about the birth control. I have no idea… Definitely good to take statistics with a grain of salt, definitely. Regardless, Americans take a lot of drugs!

  7. malimizu

    I must say, you are probably one of the most well-informed people on nutrition I know. So I’m curious…I’ve read plenty of material that says just the opposite: that soy is OK in it’s natural form (soybeans, tofu) but not the best for us in a processed form (soybean oil, etc.). My sources: Dr. Weil and “The China Study.” I wonder why there is such conflicting information out there? 🙂

    1. Gracie (Post author)

      Sorry I didn’t reply to this for so long! I was in labor when you wrote it… haha! Anyway, I think the conflicting info is honestly because it’s a really really profitable crop. I hate to sound like such a conspiracy theorist, but there are good healthy options out there that just aren’t nearly as cheap and easy as soy. That’s my unofficial theory.

      As for my knowledge on nutrition- I’m really not that reliable a source, but I do my best to link to people who really do know their stuff. I just am really interested and read a lot, and then if it makes sense to me and is consistent with my ethics/feeling of health, and just experience with life and the health of those I know, then I become more of a believer. Most of the Weston A. Price research is really sound stuff, I think, but it’s pretty different from what you’ll come across in a class on nutrition. You should definitely google the Weston A Price Foundation, and also the book “Nourishing Traditions” if you haven’t already- I’d be interested to see what you think. 🙂

    2. Gracie (Post author)

      I also just read the wiki page on that book, and now I’m SUPER interested in what your opinion is of the stuff I sourced. I found these couple of links, too:

      1. malimizu

        Fascinating. I feel like I’m in the middle of a nutrition version of the UofM/Ohio State rivalry 🙂
        I must admit, I did feel as though some red flags went up as I read The China Study, and that Campbell jumped to some conclusions too quickly. The book itself is based on research but the writing is very informal and at times, embarrassing (I remember going back and reading his sentences time and again thinking – wow, this *really* needs some editing)… This in itself put me off slightly (although most of my issues with the book are content-based).
        I took a quick glance at the 2 links you posted and from what I’ve skimmed, it pretty much sums up the “battle” between WAPF and veg folk – a fight I’m fairly familiar with.
        I’m conflicted. I think each group has valid points.
        I hear you on the conspiracy theories – sometimes you have to wonder who is driving these arguments. And soy is a HUGE, HUGE industry nowadays, so in a way I wouldn’t be surprised if industry is behind labeling the food as a “wonder veggie” when really it’s not. I haven’t done much research on adverse effects of soy but honestly, I’ve heard so much conflicting research on soy it’s hard to come up with a conclusion I can believe in.
        From what I’ve read/know about nutrition, it seems to come down to very basic principles: eating plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables. And then also getting a healthy balance of fat (which is the most controversial and confusing part of it all…getting fruits and veggies, not so much). As you well know the farming industry-produced meat has way more unhealthy fats than meat coming from free range, roaming animals. And vegans attempt to get this healthy fat from flaxseeds, olive oil, etc. But really, we’re both trying to do the same thing, just in different ways. Both groups understand the importance of fruits, veggies, healthy fats, and the avoidance of processed foods. I think both groups understand nutrition very well but just come at it from different angles. It’s Sunday, and I’m feeling kind of lazy today, but I do want to read more about WAPF. I think for a young, somewhat financially unstable single woman, going vegan is way easier than adhering to WAPF principles. It would be a pain to have to try to buy all local food at this point in my life. Sometimes I think I’m going vegan because I strive for good health, but I’m lazy 😉 There’s a local meetup group in DC for the WAPF and I’ve been meaning to check it out. I just need to do more research. I also think that what some of this comes down to is not going overboard in one direction or the other. I’ve read books that talk about eating meat/dairy for every single meal, and I’ve read books that say to not eat any meat or dairy, ever. Would it be good to possibly strike a balance between the two? There is excellent nutrition present in animal products, but I’ve also heard it’s very acidic and hard to digest (that’s a whole other can of worms though…). I don’t know. Now I’m thinking I may step away from being completely vegan and simply minimize the animal protein I consume, while making sure the animal products I do eat are high-quality. Anyway ~ it’s so interesting to hear your side of the argument… when I educate myself more on WAPF principles I’ll definitely let you know to bounce some new ideas off you! 🙂 Congrats again on the baby! Hope you had a good weekend 🙂

        1. malimizu

          As if I hadn’t already written a book in my last comment…I wanted to follow up with something else.

          The person in the first link you listed talks about “other factors” affecting Campbell’s results – (i.e. other factors in a person’s diet aside from animal products). I think both WAPF followers as well as nutritionally-educated vegans consciously get more fruits, more vegetables, more fermented products and less processed food products in their diets. This is where the controversy may stem from. So both groups are probably, on average, healthier than the average American. Although they have 2 conflicting theories on diet, they may get much of the same nutrients. Campbell talks about how lab animals exposed to great amounts of cancer-causing agents with generally healthier diets lead FAR healthier lives than those rats who were not exposed to such agents though ate poor diets. So – even if soy or cholesterol or what have you – may not be the *best* thing for a human body, the other parts of a healthy diet may offset this. What do you think?


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