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Saturday, November 30, 2013

Our November 2013 Potluck Dinner Meeting: A Review of the 2013 International Wise Traditions Conference

by Karen Voelkening-Behegan

A small group of energetic souls braved a cold dark rainy evening in the canyon to attend our November potluck dinner meeting.  I missed the dinner portion myself, but when I arrived, about 8 people were gathered at the table listening intently to stories from the 2013 Wise Traditions conference told by fellow member Rolf Hastrup.

The conference which took place this year in Atlanta, Georgia, was an inspiration to many.  As always, it offered an amazing assortment of local foods, vendors, speakers, classes, special events, and field trips.  If you are among those from our area who could not attend the conference this year, you may be interested in ordering conference recordings. Just check in regularly to keep track of when the recordings are posted.

Though your Pasadena chapter leaders Karen Voelkening-Behegan and Aaron Zober could not attend the conference this year, we did share some highlights from the conference at our local meeting.  Read on for some important announcements from the conference, the latest news from the Farm To Consumer Legal Defense Fund, and a link to some interviews with 8 prominent conference speakers.

Here are the announcements I shared from the conference:

1) The Weston A. Price Foundation (WAPF) is coming out with an app of their Shopping Guide.  It will give the WAPF more visibility and enable everyone with a smart phone to carry the guide wherever they go.    One very generous donor funded the development of the app which is scheduled to be available at the App Store on December 10th.  In the meantime, if you'd like to order a hard-copy of the Shopping Guide, just go to the main Weston A. Price Foundation website and click "Order Materials" in the side menu of any page.

2) The Weston A. Price Foundation is working towards establishing a food research lab at the University of Illinois to serve as a resource for accurate information about the nutritional value of nutrient-dense foods.  The Foundation needs donations of $300,000 per year to make this happen.  Today when most funding is profit-driven and geared towards patenting drugs or selling highly-processed nutrient-poor synthetic foods, we need to find a way to scientifically test the real foods that no one can patent.  Finding donors who stand nothing to gain from funding the research can be quite difficult, so the Weston A. Price Foundation has taken the Public Radio approach by asking the public for their support.  Just as we make donations to public radio because we want accurate news, we also need to fund nutritional studies if we want accurate information about the food we eat.  In order to be truly non-biased, scientific studies need to be supported by individuals and groups whose only agenda is to discover the truth.  So please help spread the word, go to the Weston A. Price Foundation website, click the biggest button on the homepage, and donate whatever you can!  Then Chris Masterjohn, PhD and the esteemed Dr. Fred Kummerow can continue the work of Dr. Weston A. Price and lead the nutritional studies we’ve been waiting for. 

At our November potluck dinner meeting, I also spoke about the latest news from the foundation’s sister organization, the Farm to Consumer Legal Defense Fund (FTCLDF).  The FTCLDF is spearheading the effort to defend farmers, vendors, artisans, and consumers who produce and consume sustainably-raised nutrient-dense foods from government harassment, both local and federal.  Every year on the eve of the conference, the WAPF holds a fundraiser dinner and special program for the FTCLDF.  A recording of this year's 1-hour-45-minute-long program is available online at:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bv_oydmwVls.  If you don't have time to watch the whole thing, here are some of the highlights:

At the fundraiser, FTCLDF president Pete Kennedy spoke about the Fund’s latest accomplishments and goals.  There are now 35-40 states where consumers have access to raw milk, up from 25 just a few years ago, the most recent additions being North Dakota, Arkansas, and Michigan.  Close to ¾ of the states in the USA have passed cottage food bills for the unregulated sale of a variety of homemade foods, while other states have allowed for small-scale on-farm cultured processing, which is mainly unregulated.  Also, in most states people can produce and sell eggs without a permit. 

Pete Kennedy, President of the Farm To Consumer
Legal Defense Fund
Pete’s most passionate message was about the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (aka FSMA) which puts unreasonable burdens on small farmers, and would essentially put them out of business and establish a 2-tier food system in the US:  one that offers regulated food produced by factories and factory farms, and unregulated, highly processed, imported food.  Pete encouraged everyone to contact their representatives and ask them to preserve the Tester-Hagan exemption, which would protect small farmers from crippling over-regulation.  Pete’s ultimate goal is to establish an alternative 2-tier food system, one that protects consumers' rights to obtain the food of their choice from the source of their choice, whether regulated or unregulated, and one that encourages the growth, development, and consumption of sustainably-raised nutrient-dense foods. 

Another important mission of Pete Kennedy and the FTCLDF is to inspire all of us to work towards passing Food Freedom legislation at the state level in all states.  As an example, the Commonwealth of Virginia has just passed two Food Freedom bills, and is currently working towards 5 more:  the creation of zoning regulations which support the production and distribution of real foods, the protection of on-farm sales with no regulation, the protection of home processing, the legalization of the sale of raw milk, and the protection of consumers’ rights to obtain the food of their choice from the source of their choice.   Everyone needs access to sustainably-raised nutrient-dense foods, unhindered by over-regulation.  In Pete's estimation, the health and well-being of all our children and grandchildren depends on it!

Vernon Hershberger receiving the "Never A Doormat"
award from Pete Kennedy and the
Farm To Consumer Legal Defense Fund

At the end of his talk, Pete gave out the 2013 “Never a Doormat” award, given annually to the individual who stands up against government harassment to carry on providing sustainably-raised nutrient-dense food to their community.  This year the award went to Vernon Hershberger of Wisconsin, who paid the price for his beliefs when he stood up to the government during 3 raids against his farm and farm store, and still kept the raw milk flowing to his consumers in spite of being charged with 4 misdemeanors generating 7 thousand pages of documents.  Mr. Hershberger was acquitted of 3 out of the 4 charges, and Pete is confident that they will succeed in having the 4th charge dropped in appeals.  To see Mr. Hershberger’s response to receiving the award, you may want to forward through the video of the fundraiser program.

The main feature of the evening was “the GMO debate of the decade” between Natural Health Expert Dr. Joseph Mercola and American Farmer, Lecturer, and Author Joel Salatin.  In the "Joe versus Joel" debate, Dr. Mercola argued for the urgency of implementing GMO-labeling to save lives and improve the health of our nation.  Based on the number of chronic debilitating diseases he has seen in his practice and the number of patients who get well when they remove GMOs from their diet, Dr. Mercola sees GMO-labeling as a form of triage to help the ill and dying have a chance at healthy lives.  Joel Salatin, to the contrary, argued against GMO-labeling as a form of government interference, and that we don’t want the government telling us what to do, defining our labels, or regulating us.  Joel’s philosophical position is that we should all take the responsibility to educate ourselves on our food choices, and not rely on the government to do that for us.  The debate was definitely a lively one that gave us much food for thought.  Tune in to figure out where you stand and see Sally Fallon's response to the debate.

Finally the president and founder of the Weston A. Price Foundation, Sally Fallon addressed the attendees of the annual FTCLD soirée.  Besides praising the work of the Farm To Consumer Legal Defense Fund, Sally also gave us a list of the top 5 goals she'd like to see realized before she dies “at the ripe old age of 105.”  Sally would like to be able to buy non-GMO Kombucha at a ballgame in National Stadium and at any airport in the country; she would like to see butter recognized as a healthy food everywhere, and reach the point where everyone laughs at anyone who speaks out against butter; she would like to see a wide variety of legumes eclipse soy in our food supply, see soy considered a cruel and unusual punishment in prison meals, and see it banned from school lunches and baby fomulas; she would like to see the memberships of the WAPF and the FTCLDF reach 100 thousand members each; and finally she would like to see raw milk available in every state in the USA.

Sally Fallon, President and Founder of the
Weston A. Price Foundation
To finish up the evening, Sally said she was very proud of the FTCLDF and the difference it has made in the availability of nutrient-dense foods in the USA since its founding in July 2007.  Though she gives considerable credit for this trend to consumer education, increased demand for real food, and a growing numbers of small farms, Sally truly believes that the Farm To Consume Legal Defense Fund is making the biggest difference.  The main reason we are able to get more sustainably-raised nutrient-dense foods now in more states, according to Sally Fallon, is that the FTCLDF is leveling the playing field, and federal government agents are thinking twice before harassing small farmers.  In Sally's words: "They think about it first before they mess with us."

At our November potluck dinner meeting, we also learned about 8 prominent conference speakers from our Chapter Co-leader Aaron Zober.  Aaron runs a radio show called the Appropriate Omnivore in which he explores the growth, preparation, distribution, and health benefits of nutrient-dense foods.  For the past couple years now, Aaron has made it a tradition on the Appropriate Omnivore to interview a number of conference speakers during the weeks preceding the annual Wise Traditions conference. This year, Aaron interviewed: 


Dr. Joseph Mercola - Osteopath, Mercola.com

Joel Salatin - Farmer, Polyface Farms

Chris Masterjohn, Phd - Researcher, University of Illinois

Hannah Crum - Owner, Kombucha Kamp

Sandeep Agarwal - Owner, Pure Indian Foods & Curator, Butterworld

Joann Grohman - Author, "Keeping a Family Cow"

Pete Kennedy - President, Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund

Sally Fallon - President, Weston A. Price Foundation

As a service to our chapter, Aaron created a Power Point presentation illustrating the highlights of each interview, complete with sound bytes.  To see Aaron’s presentation and listen to portions of the interviews, go to:  The Appropriate Omnivore Wise Traditions 2013 Speaker Series.   To read Aaron's blog and hear the full interviews, go to the Appropriate Omnivore. Thank you, Aaron for putting together this presentation and finding some key sound bytes for us to listen to.

To finish up the evening, Aaron announced the location of next year's 15th annual International Wise Traditions Conference: The conference will take place in Indianapolis, Illinois in November 2014.

Thank you to everyone who attended our November potluck dinner meeting, and thanks again to my Co-leader Aaron for helping me share some important messages from the 14th annual International Wise Traditions Conference.

I hope everyone had a Happy Thanksgiving with plenty of good food and harmony among family and friends.  Enjoy the rest of this holiday season, and please join us for our upcoming Holiday Potluck Dinner Meeting in December.

Your Chapter Leader, Karen

Friday, November 1, 2013

Our October 2013 Potluck Dinner Meeting: An Introduction to Organ Meats, Their Health Benefits and Preparation Methods

by Karen Voelkening-Behegan

Tuesday night's meeting brought 25 participants and a vast array of hearty winter soups, stews, sauces, and accompaniments.  Unlike our summer meals which tend to favor side dishes, salads, and cold foods, this repast was a literal banquet of warm dishes and entrees, many containing delightfully prepared organ meats.  The sides included fresh garden kale, sauerkraut, homemade gluten-free mini-muffins, and even a tasty gluten-fee lemon custard pie.

As a nutritional therapy practitioner and founding chapter leader, I initiated our Introduction to Organ Meats before dinner with a quick demonstration of a red wine Dijon mushroom sauce sautéed with beef kidney, liver, and heart, and served over freshly baked butternut squash.   The recipe was a modification of one I found by Clotilde Dusoulier at chocolateandzucchini.com.  It had great reviews online, so I hope the crowd approved of my alterations.* Considering that the dish was all but gone by the end of dinner, I think they liked it!

After dinner and announcements, I proceeded with a Power Point presentation that highlighted the health benefits of offal.  The photographs shown in this article came from the presentation.  To give credit where credit is due, I've linked the photos to their original sources.

Unlike most other foods, organ meats contain high concentrations of many important essential nutrients.  These nutrients happen to be the ones that most Americans are seriously deficient in, including vitamin C, many B vitamins, especially vitamin B12, a variety of minerals, and some very important fatty acids and fat soluble vitamins.  It is no surprise that nationwide deficiencies have emerged and grown to alarming levels ever since organ meats went out of fashion, along with the depletion of our soils, the rise of factory "farms," aka confined animal feeding operations or CAFOs, and the decline of traditional agriculture.

The nutrients found in organ meats are the very same nutrients so widely recommended in supplement form by doctors and nutritionists. They're the same nutrients found to be deficient in numerous common health conditions, including blood sugar problems, digestive problems, hormonal problems, mental health problems, and many more. It is certainly no coincidence that many chronic ailments have been on the rise ever since we abandoned these important foods, once considered sacred.  Though what doctor has ever prescribed pastured organ meats like tripe for irritable bowel, liver for reactive hypoglycemia, PMS or infertility, heart for depression, or skin, bones and brain for aggression?  I hope this presentation brings home the point that organ meats, when sourced from healthy pastured animals, are among the most nutrient-dense foods in the human diet, and rather than optional, they are truly essential for good physical and mental health.

Fig, Liver & Onions
The importance of procurring your organ meats from pastured sources can not be understated. Since most meat in our country now comes from factory "farms," the organs from that meat tend to be of poor quality, due to the inappropriate feeding of the animals, inherent deficiencies in their diets, lack of fresh air and sunshine, over-crowded conditions, tendency towards infection, and overuse of antibiotics. Organ tissue is more sensitive to the damages of toxins and tends to absorb toxic overload, which is plentiful in overcrowded, unsanitary conditions.  The most nutritious and flavorful, freshest, highest quality, and safest organ meat comes from grass-fed animals raised at local sustainable farms.

Blood Sausage
To culminate the presentation, I showed published photographs of lovingly prepared organ meats in mouthwatering presentations.  My goal was to use some attractive and enticing images to illustrate just how appetizing organ meats can be, and take the mystery and fear out of consuming them.  At the end, the presentation provided links to a number of local sources for good pastured organ meats, as well as a list of resources on how to prepare them.

Fortunately, our education was not just visual and auditory. Given the adventurous and generous spirit of our participants, the appetizing smells and tastes of locally grown pastured offal abounded throughout the evening and into the final presentation by Dr. Rosann Volmert.

Dr. Volmert who regularly prepares organ meats as part of her family's dietary regime, spoke in detail about bone marrow and heart meat.  She began her presentation by demonstrating how quickly and easily you can prepare some mildly nutty-flavored and health-giving bone marrow.  Simply lay it in a baking dish, add salt and pepper, and bake at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes, depending on the thickness of the cut.

While the bone marrow was baking, we learned about its mono-unsaturated fatty acid content, most certainly associated with some important fat soluble vitamins, according to Sally Fallon and many other nutrition professionals.  (Once the Weston A. Price Foundation develops its research facility for testing the nutritional value of real foods, we will finally have the non-profit scientific studies we need for validation!)

Roasted Bone Marrow
For anyone who needs some serious digestive healing, bone marrow is a traditional cure which, according to Dr. Volmert (and Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride, author of the GAPS diet) should be consumed every day for optimal results.  Whether you eat it plain, as a spread, or even as a sauce drizzled over meats, it is an indispensible tonic for digestive health, and just like a medication, should be taken every day at regular intervals to stimulate adequate healing.

The next part of Dr. Volmert's presentation addressed the nutritional value and preparation methods of heart meat.  We learned not only about its high concentrations of B vitamins, minerals, and omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids, but also about one of its star nutrients, Co-enzume Q10.  Of all the organ meats, the heart has the highest concentration of Co-enzyme Q10.  The reason for this is that Co-enzyme Q10 aids the production of ATP in the mitochondria of the cell.  ATP or adenosine triphosphate, is the molecule in our body that stores energy and releases it as needed.  The heart muscle, which never rests as long as we live, has the greatest requirement for energy and one of the highest concentrations of mitochondria, Co-enzyme Q10, and ATP in the body.  Our lives literally depend on the heart not running out of fuel, and Co-enzyme Q10 is the catalyst that makes fuel production possible.

Grilled Deer Heart with Peppers
The Co-enzyme Q10 molecule is so important in the production of energy, that we can actually build our own supplies when we don't consume enough, assuming we have the appropriate building blocks from eating a nutrient-dense diet. But to avoid risking deficiency, we would be well advised to consume more Co-enzyme Q10 to keep our energy levels up and keep our hearts beating.  This is especially important for those taking statin drugs for high cholesterol, which deal a devastating blow to the internal production of Co-enzyme Q10, resulting in low energy and depression for many statin patients.  If medical doctors in this country received any meaningful education in nutrition, then prescribing heart meat with statins (if not finding and correcting the actual cause of high cholesterol) would be standard protocol.

Dr. Rosann also discussed how to prepare heart meat, and recommended some recipes from Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon.  One of Rosann's family favorites include heart kabobs, followed by a delectable red meat chili with beef heart (from Nourishing Traditions' South of the Border section) which she shared during our potluck dinner. For preparation, Rosann noted that it helps to soak the heart in a solution of olive oil and apple cider vinegar for 24 hours before cooking, to help soften the flavor.  But whether or not marinating is needed depends primarily on personal preference as well as the type, age, and feeding habits of the animal it came from.  Hearts, like other organ meats, tend to be milder in flavor when they come from younger pastured animals.

For her grand finale, Rosann pulled the baked bone marrow out of the oven to share. We all had a chance to taste it, and most of it was gobbled up by the happy crowd, even the rare pieces.  Thank you to my co-presenter Rosann for some valuable information and a demonstration illustrating just how simple it is to add some important nutrients to our diets.

Veal Sweetbreads
I hope that as a team we successfully inspired you to add pastured organ meats to your regular dietary regime.

Come join us now and take The WAPF-Pasadena Offal Challenge: Treat yourself to one meal of pastured organ meats per week, and in doing so realize the benefits of not only improving your physical and mental health, but also helping your budget, and mindfully supporting sustainable farming, animal welfare, your local economy, and the environment. There's a reason these foods were once called sacred, and it's time we pay forward our karma to restore our collective health and repair some of the greatest ills of this nation.

Bheja Fry
I hope to see you next month when we kick off the holiday season with a lively discussion about the 2013 annual international Wise Traditions Conference which takes place in Atlanta Georgia, November 8-11, 2013.  Until then, enjoy experimenting with some delicious and nutritious offal!

~ Your Chapter Leader, Karen

* The only changes I made to the recipe were: 1) sauté the ingredients in ghee or lard instead of olive oil, 2) add some baby portabella mushrooms to the ceps (porcinis), 3) add 3x the garlic and 3x the crème fraîche, 4) use 1/3 the amount of kidney, and equal parts liver and heart (about 250-300g each), and 5) slice and marinate the liver in milk and the heart in olive oil & apple cider vinegar a couple hours before sautéeing.