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Friday, June 28, 2013

Our June 2013 Potluck Dinner Meeting - An Introduction to Kombucha with The Kombucha Mama, Hannah Crum

by Karen Voelkening-Behegan

It was nice meeting everyone after a hot summer day under the cool green canopy of the patio at Nature Friends Lodge in Sierra Madre.  We had a relaxing dinner at dusk with about 15 people attending.  As our group gets more and more knowledgeable about traditional foods, the meals just seem to keep getting better and better.  The day after our monthly potluck dinner meetings, I always feel my best and most energetic!   You just can't beat the variety and quality of the fresh, organic, pastured, nutrient-dense and homemade foods that everyone brings!

Last night, feeling good started right with dinner.  Our guest for the evening was Hannah Crum aka The Kombucha Mama and founder of Kombucha Kamp who brought us some refreshing and delicious samples of kombucha to accompany our meal.  I had the blueberry, lavender, and rose flavored "Love Potion" which was smooth, fruity, refreshing and not too sweet.  Best of all, it made me feel great and was good for me too!

After dinner and announcements, Hannah went right to her presentation.  We learned about the history of kombucha, which many have yet to agree on.  Did it start in China or Korea or Japan?  Did Genghis Khan drink it?  How did it spread across Eurasia?   Hannah believes that a Chinese origin is likely since the brew requires actual tea which originated in China.  One of Hannah's dream is to do an anthropological study of the origins, uses, and spread of kombucha across the globe.

For those who don't know what kombucha is, Hannah explained that it is a fermented sweet tea, produced by a culture created with a SCOBY, which stands for "Symbiotic Colony of Bacteria and Yeast," and traditionally used as both a beverage and a health elixir.  The discussion then turned to the concept of consuming bacteria- and yeast-infused foods and the Human Microbiome Project.  As we're finding out more and more about our microscopic co-inhabitants (who live in and on our every surface of our bodies!), it is now known that we co-evolved in a symbiotic relationship with our flora.  In fact we not only can't live without them, but we have more microflora in our bodies than our own cells!  Our personal micro-biomes are as individual as our fingerprints and have a huge influence on our health, our moods, and even our personalities!  Replenishing our healthy micro-flora populations on a regular basis is key to not only great health but a great life.  As Hannah pointed out, some of the healthiest and longest lived peoples in the world consume lots of cultured foods, kombucha being one of them.  Hannah even mentioned a study showing that throughout human history, our most creative and inventive periods have always coincided with the times when we consumed the most fermented foods, thereby keeping our systems and societies functioning at peak level!

From there the discussion turned to a Question and Answer session covering topics ranging from how to make kombucha, the best temperature for brewing your "booch," how to experiment with different flavors, kombucha's use as a tool to ween from coffee or alcohol, the book Hannah is writing, new products Hannah and her husband are inventing to facilitate the brewing process, and much more.  We discussed topics as diverse as SCOBY hotels, the use of the SCOBY as a bandage to aid in the healing of wounds, and the many uses of old SCOBY mothers and the plentiful babies they produce.  We even tried one of Hannah's sweet and sour homemade fruit roll-ups formed out of fresh fruit and an old SCOBY.  Delicious!  In addition, Hannah showed us some SCOBY soap prepared by a friend of hers in Oregon, for which The Kombucha Mama is the sole distributor.  SCOBYs have so many purposes, they've even been dehydrated into leather and used to make clothing.  

The Kombucha Mama is truly an Ambassador for Kombucha, as she calls herself, and is on a mission to educate people about its many tasty, healthful, and versatile uses.   And apparently the word is spreading.  In some establishments, you can even order kombucha cocktails.  Imagine having a delicious health elixir mixed in with your martini!  

Thank you, Hannah for an inspiring presentation, and best wishes on your mission to spread the word about this delicious and health-giving beverage.  For more information about kombucha and the many related products and lessons Hannah offers, see the Kombucha Kamp website or contact Hannah.

Thanks to my new co-leader Aaron Zober for inviting Hannah to speak at our meeting, and thanks to all those who attended and shared in the potluck.  If you missed this meeting but would like to join us in the future, please check out our Meeting Schedule.  Summer is a great time to participate as we sit outside enjoying the cool summer evenings on the beautiful patio under the trees in the canyon.  Next month our special guest will be Paul Grieves of Primal Pastures talking about Backyard Chickens!

Have a great month of July, and we'll see you on the 30th!

~ Your Chapter Leader,  Karen

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Our May 2013 Potluck Dinner Meeting - Intro to our Chapter & the Work of Dr. Weston A. Price

by Karen Voelkening-Behegan

Our May potluck dinner meeting included plenty of homemade entrĂ©es and side dishes, all made from organic or home-grown ingredients.  With over 20 in the crowd and about 6 "newbies" among us, we introduced ourselves over dinner and told how we found the Weston A. Price Foundation.  Common threads were our health concerns and everyone's improvements since adopting a traditional diet.  After a friendly and relaxed dinner on the patio under a canopy of trees, we moved upstairs for a slide show presented by fellow member, Sam Cooper.
Our Speaker for the Evening, Sam Cooper, the Urban Forager

Sam gave a lively presentation based on Sally Fallon's introduction to traditional diets and the work of Weston A. Price. Incorporating his own experiences, he did a great job condensing Sally's all-day talk to 1.5 hours, presenting with both passion and humor.  It was a perfect night for beginners to get an introduction to nutritional and health aspects of selecting and preparing food in a traditional manner.  Favorite topics included healthy fats, fat-soluble vitamins, sprouted nuts, seeds, and grains, raw and fermented foods, grass-fed and wild meats complete with organ meats, and plenty of pastured dairy, both raw and cultured.   We also reflected on the damages to our health caused by the highly processed and denatured Standard American Diet (SAD) with nutrient-poor foods, chemical additives, and improper preparation techniques.  Sam's personal experiences also highlighted the dangers of MSG, and how he was able to achieve a much healthier weight after he dropped processed foods and adopted traditional ones.  Sam's take-home message:  Don't be a food evangelist, just shoot for a ratio of 80 percent to 20 percent traditional foods to nontraditional foods, and you'll see a huge improvement to your overall health!

Thank you, Sam, for taking ownership of Sally's presentation and bringing to life the valuable messages of Weston A. Price.  As one inspired participant put it, "I like real good food that's good and real!"  

Best wishes to Sam as he moves back to Arkansas with plans to start another chapter of the Weston A. Price Foundation.  With his experience, enthusiasm, and great presentation, he's sure to be an excellent leader.

Don't forget to mark your calendar for our next potluck dinner meeting on Thursday June 27th, when we'll learn all about Kombucha with Kombucha Mamma, Hannah Crum.

~ Your Chapter Leader, Karen