Tag Archives: book reviews

Salt of the Earth

Artist's concept of Aquarius

At 7:20 AM (west-coast time), NASA finally merged two objects of my affection: astronomy and sea salt. With the launch of the Aquarius satellite, NASA will study sea salt around the Earth.

I, of course, like to eat sea salt.

Now NASA is not, unfortunately, going to study the health benefits of sea salt outlined in Nourishing Traditions. Salt is mentioned in the subject index 21 times, but a good discussion of it’s health advantages starts around page 48. The unrefined variety of sea salt, such as Celtic type farmed in the salt marshes of Brittany, frequently contain traces of marine life that carry minerals in a bio-available form. It is the trace minerals that give sea salt one of it’s primary benefits, but the sodium chloride (largest component of sea salt by percent) is also important to the health of our brain, nervous system, and vital to digestion. Of note is the necessity of chlorine (the chloride part) to the making of hydrochloric acid, a favored tool of the stomach.

Alas, the science geeks (like me) are in fact searching for variations in the concentration of salt in the water of our oceans. Salinity traces the currents of water in the oceans, giving researchers a tool to understand how the water moves, or does not move, around the globe.

Even if NASA is not yet blasting rockets into space to investigate traditional cooking methods, at least they’ve taken one small step in that direction. So here’s to the salt of the Earth!

(Now go put some on your food)

*Image of salt taken from Celtic Sea Salt® brand website, as it is the source of salt I currently use. Artist concept of Aquarius spacecraft property of NASA, all rights reserved.


Review

Nourishing Traditions, Revised second edition by Sally Fallon, NewTrends publishing, Inc.

A review.

With a fashionable, new age-y cover (courtesy of Kim Waters Murray), Nourishing Traditions projects the appearance of a cookbook. Which it is. And yet, so much more. Not only does Nourishing Traditions provide a comprehensive series of recipes, the author includes advise on obtaining healthy ingredients, methods of maximising the nutrition content of food, and occasional commentary on the inner workings of the western world’s food production (‘politically correct nutrition’ -front cover)

1. Pros.

I’m an optimist; except in the morning, which officially ends at 2 pm. So I’ll start with the positive aspect of Nourishing Traditions.

Fat.   Sally Fallon makes fat cool. You can cook with it and you can eat it. It’s even required! Mind you, you need to be careful to eat the right kind, but I like fat. It’s tasty.

Salt.   Salt is good for you??! Yep, heart attacks are caused by, um, other stuff. Salt is good. Eat more of it or you will die. Oh, make sure it’s sea salt, or your wasting your time.

Tasty ‘health food’.   Food that is good for you and tastes good. Rather than giving you a dry, low fat, bran muffin, Fallon gives ‘Mexican Eggs,’ complete with 4 eggs, 4 corn tortillas, 2 tablespoons of lard, and 2 cups of salsa. Oh yeah, and you get to fry the tortillas. (Page 438).

Lamb.   29 recipes are listed under lamb. One of the best red meats available to a thickly bearded scottsman is lamb. Showing a resurgence in the meat industry, eating lamb is cool.

Red Meat.   Are you a man? Do you like red meat? You will find sufficient inclusion of recipes for the heartier palate within the covers of Nourishing Traditions.

2. Cons

Though I enjoy a great deal of the methods employed by Sally Fallon, there are a few things which irk me:

Raw meat appetizers.   There is a whole chapter on making raw meat sound good. It’s not. It may be healthy, I’m not sure, but it  is gross. Thanks, but, uh. no thanks. Sadly, this reduces the number of available red meat recipes. Oh, well.

Time.   Got time? A former math teacher of mine informed me that each of us has precisely the same number of hours in each day. (That’s about 24, or so). I always feel like I get cheated out of a few. Sally Fallon’s recipes take a great deal of planning and preparation. It is a lifestyle. Once you adopt the life, it is pretty easy, but until then it’s rough.

Biology experiments.   I love science. I even enjoy dabbling in a little biology, you know, like dissecting the pigs and such. But I cannot tell you how many jars of fermented this and that have gone terribly wrong. Some of them are still in the back of my refrigerator since I’m afraid the EPA will lock me up if I flush them down the drain. There is a lot of instruction about fermenting your own foods, but it’s way harder than it sounds.