Brad and his friend Maz Compton show what effect beer and coffee instantly have on your blood measured using Dark Field Microscopy. If you really love beer and coffee perhaps you shouldn’t watch this! If you do watch it, I think you’ll question how regularly you will now consume it, if at all!
Brad has made several other videos with Dr Ranga Premaratna in the past outside of this beer and coffee video.
– Watch here, the previous video made showing the effects of a 5 minute meditation on blood quality. It’s amazing!
– Want to stop eating sugar? Watch this video showing the effects of eating jelly beans!
The next video in this series will show the effect of a supplement I’ve spoke of before called ‘Recovery’ by a company called 7.2. You’ll be astounded to see what taking 3 small tablets did to our blood after drinking our beer and coffee respectively.
Subscribe in the above right subscription area to be alerted when it’s available!
July 2016 – Brad Rasmus – How Beer and Coffee Affect Your Blood Quality
After a good 8-hour night’s sleep, it’s 7:30 am and you’re headed to the kitchen to ‘grab’ breakfast before running off to work. You’re trying to eat well, so you have a new ‘healthy’ selection of breakfast cereals to choose from. Names like ‘Just Right’, ‘Sustain’, and ‘Weetbix’ make you feel like you are sustaining your body with just the right amount of wheat or grains for a ‘healthy’ start to the day. You even have soy milk or low-fat milk to pour over, as everyone has said those are the ‘healthiest’. During your morning commute, you are feeling proud of your new diet, but soon after you arrive at work, you are craving banana bread and muffins from the cafe next door, and are dying for your morning coffee. By mid-morning, you are feeling sleepy and can’t concentrate, already watching the clock for a lunch break. By lunchtime, you haven’t finished much of your morning work and are so famished that you gorge yourself on fast food. What went wrong?
Aren’t many breakfast cereals healthy?
Contrary to what the slick marketing would have you believe, boxed breakfast cereals provide little to no nutrition, are extremely indigestible, and are therefore not fit for human consumption. Cereal is made through the extrusion process, in which little flakes and shapes are formed at high temperatures and pressures. This processing destroys many valuable nutrients in grains, causes the oils to become rancid and renders certain proteins toxic. And this is what we are attempting to fuel our bodies with first thing in the morning.
Breakfast = BREAK the FAST
The 8-12 hours between your last meal of the day and breakfast is the longest period your body goes without food. This daily ‘fast’ is required so our bodies can rest, repair and grow during sleep. However, soon after sunrise, our bodily systems ‘wake up’ by releasing cortisol hormones to get us ready for daily physical and mental activity, and we need nutritious food to sustain this, just as a car needs petrol to run. If we break the ‘fast’ with indigestible, nutrient lacking breakfast cereals, our bodies will still be hungry for real food, lacking physical energy and mental clarity.
It Gets Worse…
On top of that, the body may store existing fat to prepare for famine, as it continues to go without proper food. We throw down pills for the headaches, depression, anxiety, moodiness and muscle aches that are actually just symptoms of our growing lack of vitamins, minerals and nutrients. And all the while, the digestive system is taking a beating, getting more ineffective and bogged down with indigestible food until things like Bloating, Constipation, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Parasites and Bowel Cancer finally show us what’s going on inside.
But my breakfast cereal is fortified with iron!
What if I told you that your cereal was fortified with metal iron shavings? Does that change things? Science is amazing, but it is still a far stretch to think that we can replicate the vitamins and minerals that naturally occur within our plant and animal foods, and simply add them to a de-natured over-processed food like cereal to get proper nutrition.
Our children are suffering
I have heard several mums tell me lately that their toddler just wants to eat all morning, and never seems satisfied until lunch. I have seen too many school-age children struggle to learn or be labelled ADHD because they can’t concentrate during their morning lessons. We all know children who have allergies, ear infections, sinus problems and other symptoms of poor nutrition. Could one answer to all these problems actually be as simple as a proper breakfast?
Then what should I eat for breakfast?
Whatever other nutritious foods you eat the rest of the day! Who decided we could only eat ‘breakfast foods’ in the morning? Oh yeah, the giant companies that sell packaged breakfast foods. Why not steak, potatoes and vegetables? Why not real, whole foods comprised of protein, fat and carbohydrates that come from plants and animals and have not been processed?
What about my 4-5 daily serves of whole grains?
The short answer is that the people who created The Food Pyramid are the same people who decided we could only eat packaged breakfast foods in the morning. Think Kellogg, General Mills…
For decades, it has been ingrained into our thoughts that breakfast = cereal. We are addicted to the ritual, the crunch, the variety, the convenience. And we are suffering the consequences. It may take time to get used to a breakfast of whole, real, unprocessed food, but it will be a habit worth changing.
Yours in health,
P.S. My favourite breakfast: Leftovers from dinner reheated under the grill. Just as quick to prepare as breakfast cereal, and the flavours are even better the next day!)
What’s your favourite breakfast? Comment below…
– Nourishing Traditions; Sally Fallon. Washington DC: New Trends Publishing, 1999.
Leeks Season: Spring / Summer / Autumn
Cooking: Saute / Bake
Tips: Trim off ends before cooking. Split lengthwise for baking. Finished when tender.
Season: Summer / Autumn
Tips: While dried lima beans are a legume, the fresh beans are a vegetable. Hull your own or buy frozen. Put frozen or freshly hulled beans into boiling water and cook for about 8 minutes or until tender. Drain and serve.
Cooking: Saute / Grill / Bake / Raw
Tips: Must be very fresh. Delicious idea is to remove stem and stuff with butter, cheese, herbs, bacon, etc. Can serve as a hot veg or cold salad veg.
Cooking: Saute / Stir-fry / Bake / Slow-cooker / Raw
Tips: Usually partnered with other veg, but also tasty on its own! Use butter, olive oil and/or water to caramelise onions when sauteing or baking. Red onion is nice as a raw salad veg.
Season: Autumn / Winter
Cooking: Boil / Saute / Bake / Slow-cooker
Tips: Trim, peel and cut into sticks or chunks before cooking. Boil and mash with butter and cream just like potatoes. Or bake or saute just like carrots. Oven-baked parsnip sticks look like French fries!
Peas (Garden or Shell / Sugar Snap / Snow)
Season: Spring / Summer
Cooking: Raw / Grill / Stir-fry
Tips: Peas belong to the legume family and can be eaten fresh or dried. Shell your own fresh peas or buy frozen. Put frozen or freshly shelled peas into boiling water for a few minutes, until just tender. Drain and serve. Chinese or Sugar Snap Pea varieties can be trimmed and steamed for one minute and do not need butter as they are naturally buttery.
Cooking: Bake / Saute / Boil / Slow-cooker
Tips: Don’t peel, as most of the nutrients are just under the fibrous skin. Brush the skin with oil for crispy baked potatoes. Alternatively, wrapping in foil helps bake nicely. The smaller the potato chunks in the slow cooker, the mushier the finished potato. Can also slow-cook potatoes whole.
Pumpkin ( many varieties including butternut [see winter squash])
Season: Autumn / Winter
Cooking: Bake / Steam / Grill / Slow-cooker
Tips: Cut in half, chunks, wedges or slices and scoop out seeds before cooking. Easier to remove skin after cooking or scoop cooked flesh out of skin, though skin can be cut off beforehand. Butternut pumpkin can be served as a hot veg or cold cooked salad veg and makes wonderful soup. Roast seeds for a delicious snack: toss in oil and salt and bake on a baking sheet at 120 C until dry.
Season: Autumn / Winter
Cooking: Boil / Saute / Bake
Tips: Great lower-starch/lower GI alternative to potatoes. Dice, grate, or mash like you would a potato. Like other root vegetables, roasting in the oven brings out the sweetness.
Season: Spring / Summer / Autumn
Cooking: Raw / Saute / Bake
Tips: Always have some of this versatile leafy green in the fridge. Baby spinach best for salad and throwing into mixed dishes. Saute like kale. Mix into stuffings, quiches and more for baking.
Summer Squash (Zucchini, Yellow)
Cooking: Saute / Bake / Grill
Tips: Seeds and skin are edible. Never steam or boil. Easily overcooked, so finish cooking when just soft.
Sweet Potato (Kumara/Yams)
Season: Year-round or cooler months
Cooking: Bake / Saute / Boil / Slow-cooker
Tips: Don’t peel, as most of the nutrients are just under the fibrous skin. Cook like potatoes. Roasting (baking) brings out the sweet flavour. Be sure to eat with butter (or egg yolks or cream) for highest fat-soluble nutrient absorption. Related to the morning glory family, not the potato! Comes in yellow, white and purple flesh, in addition to the popular orange variety.
Season: Late Spring / Summer / Early Autumn
Cooking: Raw / Saute / Bake / Grill
Tips: Technically a fruit but usually eaten like a vegetable, tomatoes are incredibly versatile. Can be served both hot and cold.
Season: Autumn / Winter
Cooking: Boil / Saute / Bake / Raw
Tips: A cousin of the rutabaga (swede). Lower-starch alternative to potatoes and can be cooked similarly. Baby turnips can keep their skin, otherwise tough skin can be peeled or cut off. Can also be grated raw in salads or sliced and eaten with dip or nut butter.
Winter Squash ( Butternut Pumpkin, Acorn Squash, Spaghetti Squash)
Season: Autumn / Winter
Cooking: Bake / Grill / Slow-cooker
Tips: Cut in half, chunks, wedges or slices and scoop out seeds before cooking. Easier to remove skin after cooking or scoop cooked flesh out of skin, though skin can be cut off beforehand. Butternut pumpkin can be served as a hot veg or cold cooked salad veg and makes wonderful soup. Pumpkin seeds can be dried or roasted to eat as a snack.
Arugula (Rocket) Season: Spring / Early Summer
Cooking: Raw / Saute
Tips: Great for salad and throwing into mixed dishes. Saute like kale. Mix into stuffings, quiches and more for baking.
Season: Late Spring / Early Summer
Cooking: Steam / Saute / Stir-fry / Grill / Bake / Raw
Tips: Must be fresh; don’t buy if the tips have gone mushy. Before cooking, snap off hard ends and discard. Steams quickly (about 5-8 minutes). Finished cooking when stalks turn bright green. Can serve as a hot veg or cold salad veg. Makes nice soup.
Season: Summer / Early Autumn
Cooking: Steam / Saute / Stir-fry / Bake / Raw
Tips: Before cooking, trim ends and discard. Steams quickly (about 8 minutes). Finished cooking when tender. Can serve as a hot veg or cold salad veg.
Season: Spring / Summer / Autumn / Winter
Cooking: Bake / Boil / Raw (grated)
Tips: Baking takes a bit longer but retains more nutrients and flavour. Finished cooking when sharp knife or skewer goes through easily (1-2 hours depending on size). Skin peels off easily after beets are cooked and cooled. Can serve as a hot veg or cold salad veg. Great with drizzled olive oil. Leaves are slightly bitter but can be prepared and eaten like kale (below).
Bell Peppers (Capsicum)
Season: Summer / Autumn
Cooking: Raw / Grill / Saute / Stir-fry
Tips: Great raw as a snack or in salads. Skin peels off easily after char-grilled and cooled. To keep fresh longer, store remaining cut pieces wrapped in paper towel in fridge drawer. Grilled or roasted bell peppers (capsicum) can be used to make sauces.
Season: Autumn / Winter / Early Spring
Cooking: Steam / Stir-fry / Raw
Tips: Cut into flowerets. Cooks quickly (about 5-8 minutes). Finished cooking when flowerets turn bright green and tender. Can serve as a hot veg or cold salad veg. Makes nice soup.
Season: Autumn / Winter
Cooking: Steam / Saute
Tips: Cut off ends and remove loose outer leaves. Make a little cross in the end to help cook evenly. Steams in about 5-10 minutes. Or steam for 1-2 minutes then saute to finish. Finished when tender.
Season: Late Summer / Autumn / Winter
Cooking: Steam / Raw
Tips: Remove outer leaves and hard core. Shred or grate cabbage finely for best results (food processor makes it easy). Steam with minimal water for about 5 minutes. Finished when just wilted. Can serve as a hot veg or cold salad veg (slaw).
Cooking: Raw / Steam / Saute / Boil / Stir-fry / Bake / Slow-Cooker
Tips: Most convenient raw snack veg as doesn’t need cutting. Peeling skin off does not remove nutrients. Finished cooking when tender. Can serve as a hot veg or cold salad veg.
Season: Late Summer / Autumn / Winter
Cooking: Steam / Bake / Raw
Tips: Cut into flowerets. Steams in about 10 minutes. Finished cooking when flowerets are tender. Makes nice soup, or mashed as an alternative to mashed potato.
Season: Late Summer / Autumn / Winter
Cooking: Raw / Slow-Cooker
Tips: Convenient raw veg snack; nice with nut butter or homemade dip. Breaks down nicely in slow-cooked meals. Leaves and top of stalks can be used in making stocks, broths and soups.
Season: Summer / Early Autumn
Cooking: Steam / Bake / Grill
Tips: Remove husks (shuck) before steaming. Steam covered in small amount of water for about 5-10 minutes until just tender. When baking, corn is finished when green husks turn straw colour. Cold cooked corn works well as a salad ingredient or as a snack.
Season: Summer/ Early Autumn
Cooking: Grill / Saute / Bake
Tips: Easiest cooking method is to slice lengthwise or into rounds, put under grill until hot, rub on butter, then grill until golden (one or both sides). Eggplant slices make nice layers in veggie stacks, or used to pile meat and veg on as an alternative to bread.
Season: Autumn / Winter
Cooking: Steam / Raw (in shakes/juice)
Tips: Remove stems and tear leaves off ribs. Steam with minimal water for about 8 minutes until wilted. Then squeeze out liquid in a strainer before serving. Can be used raw in green shakes or veggie juices.
The conflicting information is driving us all mad!! On the one hand we hear: Milk Does a Body Good!. It’s essential for calcium requirements, Vitamin D, strong bones and healthy children. On the other hand we hear: Milk causes mucus. It leads to lactose intolerance and ear infections. It’s too fatty. It contains Bovine Growth Hormone. Our societal response to this confusion is low-fat milk, skim milk, no-fat milk, soy milk, rice milk, almond milk, oat milk, organic milk, BGH-free milk, no milk. Just more confusion. So what’s gone wrong and where do we go from here?
Once Upon a Time…The Milk Was Raw
As far back as 9,000 years ago, cows, sheep, goats, water buffalo and camels munched exclusively on the rapidly growing green grass of early spring and fall. Milk was squeezed from the healthy animals udders, then drunk fresh by humans. The fresh milk these animals produced provided animal protein and fat, a rich supply of vitamins and minerals, and other life-giving enzymes and nutrients to the healthy nomadic and agricultural societies of some parts of the world. When the milk sat out for too long, it didn’t go off, but instead, it simply soured and became cream cheese and whey. Many of these traditional societies further fermented or soured the milk to produce yoghurt, cheese, buttermilk, kefir and sour cream… foods full of friendly bacteria and digestive enzymes.
Today the Milk is Diseased and Processed
In today’s industrial society, dairy cows have little or no access to their proper diet of green grass. Instead, they are fed high-protein soybean meal which stimulates them to produce more milk but in turn leads to high rates of mastitis, liver problems and other illnesses. The cows are given genetically engineered growth hormones so that they will produce huge amounts of milk, but too much growth hormones leads to growth abnormalities and possibly tumour formations and cancers. With her new diet and hormones, today’s cow is prone to so many diseases that she almost always excretes pus into her milk and needs frequent doses of antibiotics. Needless to say, her milk is just as diseased as she is.
Pasteurisation: Processing the Milk
So in an attempt to protect himself against disease, man pasteurises the diseased milk, subjecting it to extremely high heats. This actually further degrades the milk in numerous ways:
Pasteurisation is no guarantee of cleanliness: In recent decades, all outbreaks of salmonella (and there have been many) have occurred in pasteurised milk.
Pasteurisation destroys all the enzymes in milk, including lactase, which helps digest lactose (contributing to lactose intolerance), and numerous enzymes which help the body absorb calcium and other minerals. This puts a strain on the pancreas to produce digestive enzymes.
Pasteurisation destroys friendly lactic-acid producing bacteria in milk which aid digestion and protect against pathogens (making it vulnerable to rancidity and salmonella).
Pasteurisation promotes rancidity of milk’s fatty acids and alters the amino acids (proteins).
Pasteurisation promotes destruction of vitamins. Vitamin loss is usually 50-80%.
The milk is not quite ready for the supermarket shelves yet. Next, chemicals may be added to suppress the bad odour and bring back the normal taste (both a result of the pasteurisation). Synthetic vitamin D3 is added, which is hard for the body to absorb, and synthetic D2 is added, which has been linked to heart disease among other things. Powdered skim milk is added to certain varieties, which contains rancid fats harmful to the arteries, nitrate compounds that are potent carcinogens, and a neurotoxin called free glutamic acid. Lastly, the milk is homogenised, which has also been linked to heart disease.
Which Types of Milk Should We Drink?
Non-fat and Low-fat Milk: Diseased and Pasteurised. Plus, these are the varieties that powdered skim milk is added to, which I just described in the last paragraph as a toxic mess.
Soy Milk: Most soybeans are genetically modified. Unfermented soy can greatly disrupt the hormonal and digestive system. Most soy milks contain sugar.
Oat Milk, Almond Milk, Rice Milk: Processed and/or unsoaked grains and nuts strain the digestive system. The extrusion process used to get milk from grains or nuts often involves high heat and pressure which renders the food rancid and devoid of nutrients.
Organic Milk:Healthy cows, healthy milk but then what a shame pasteurised! If you absolutely must have milk and can’t get it raw, this is the better bad choice.
Raw Milk:Healthy, life-giving milk like our ancient ancestors drank. The bad news: thanks to pasteurisation laws in Australia and America, it is illegal to sell raw milk as food. The good news: you can buy delicious raw milk sold as bath milk for cosmetic purposes. Contact me to find out where!
No Milk:If you don’t have access to good quality raw milk, remove milk from your diet altogether. Milk’s main partners in crime cereal and coffee aren’t doing your health many favours either.
What About Calcium?
Many of us are determined to drink milk because we’ve been led to believe that it is the only way to get enough calcium in our diet (by the dairy companies marketing). However, hasn’t anyone noticed that Western nations with high dairy consumption still have high rates of osteoporosis and tooth decay? Reasons for this include:
Pasteurisation thwarts all the body’s chances of absorbing calcium from milk.
Sugar consumption and stress (both rampant in our society) both pull calcium from the bones.
Phytic acid in unsoaked grains (consumed recklessly in our society) inhibits calcium absorption.
Sufficient Vitamin D is needed for calcium absorption. Yet we shy away from some of the best sources of
Vit D: the sun, organ meats, eggs, and butterfat.
Magnesium, Calcium, Vitamin D, Vitamin K, Potassium and other nutrients need to be obtained in proper balance
to provide optimal bone health (the average Western diet is often lacking).
In many Asian countries and other societies where dairy is not consumed, bone broth is a diet staple. This is a highly nutritious addition to any diet.Other good sources of calcium include leafy greens, nuts, oranges, broccoli, sweet potatoes, sardines and wild salmon.
Other Dairy: Yoghurt, Cheese, Butter and more
Only in the West is milk consumed in an unfermented or uncultured state. Pre-industrial societies consumed milk as yoghurt, cheese, butter, sour cream, buttermilk, kefir, curds and whey. If made properly from good-quality dairy, these foods have tremendous health benefits. Raw is still best, but these foods can still be beneficial when pasteurised. The process of fermenting or souring milk partially breaks down lactose (milk sugar), predigests casein (one of the most difficult proteins for the body to digest), and increases vitamin content. Adding a culture to the milk (such as with yoghurt) restores many of the enzymes destroyed during pasteurisation and provides friendly bacteria and lactic acid to keep pathogens away, guard against infectious illnesses and aid in digestion of all food intake.
Your Final Decision
Since we have veered so far from our ancestral ways, food choices are an increasingly confusing and stressful issue. After all you have read here, you will also find lots of articles and people telling you that raw milk is unsafe and pasteurisation is very safe. My advice: instead of following the pack or stressing (both detrimental), do some reading, gather some information and make the right choice for you. If you need guidance in doing this, just give me a shout !
Yours in health, Bex
– Nourishing Traditions; Sally Fallon. Washington DC: New Trends Publishing, 1999.
– The Primal Blueprint; Mark Sisson. California: Primal Nutrition, Inc. 2009.
– How to Eat, Move and Be Healthy; Paul Chek. California: C.H.E.K. Institiute. 2006
– The Bovine: Freedom of Choice. http://thebovine.wordpress.com/
Rebecca Rasmus – How Milk Became So Dangerous – July 2012
I remember when I first started challenging my university education, attending my first courses provided by the CHEK Institute. One of my colleagues who became a business partner, was of Welsh descent (both parents) and always tested as a ‘Protein Type’ using William Willcott’s Metabolic Typing Diet. It made a lot of sense. Someone with ancestry from a cold country for thousands of years, who has genetics more in tune with higher amounts protein and fat, than carbohydrates. He started testing the effect on himself. As an avid triathlete, this was certainly challenging the çarb loading’dogma that had been around and taught for decades. The result was pretty clear to him though. When he switched from a diet laden with starchy carbs, sports drinks and power bars, to fat and protein, he proclaimed the change was amazing! Finally a movie dealing with this exact subject. A must movie for high performance athletes. Here’s the description of the movie from Yekra: “Run on Fat charts world class triathlete Sami Inkinen’s transition from pre-diabetic sugar burner to a faster, healthier, fat fueled endurance athlete under the guidance of New York Times bestselling author Dr Stephen Phinney. When Sami embarks on an epic anti sugar crusade with his wife Meredith – rowing 4,000 kms unsupported from California to Hawaii – their remarkable journey reveals the astonishing performance benefits and pitfalls of successful fat fueling strategies for athletic performance. As more and more evidence emerges of world class athletes adopting a similar protocol – with remarkable results in some cases – “Run on Fat” challenges the very foundations of sports nutrition.”
Run on Fat charts world class triathlete Sami Inkinen’s transition from pre-diabetic sugar burner to a faster, healthier, fat fueled endurance athlete under the guidance of New York Times bestselling author Dr Stephen Phinney.
When Sami embarks on an epic anti sugar crusade with his wife Meredith – rowing 4,000 kms unsupported from California to Hawaii – their remarkable journey reveals the astonishing performance benefits and pitfalls of successful fat fueling strategies for athletic performance.
As more and more evidence emerges of world class athletes adopting a similar protocol – with remarkable results in some cases – “Run on Fat” challenges the very foundations of sports nutrition.
GUEST AUTHOR – This article was provided by a contributor. Looks like a fun idea. Thanks Lily!
When creating meal plans to eat a primal diet, it can sometimes be difficult to come up with different recipes, especially when you’re under the mindset that your diet has limited your choice of ingredients. As this great bingo game will show you, however, often all you need to be able to stay on the diet is a helping hand.
Just like the primal diet, bingo has been around for centuries, and it’s often gone overlooked. Recently however, it’s seen an unprecedented resurgence, with the BBC reporting that the number of online bingo sites in the UK had grown from merely 20 in 2004 to over 350 in 2012. UK retailer Iceland Foods joined the pack in 2012, launching Iceland Bingo after realizing that the game has become quite popular, and the Food Standards Agency has also used the game to promote healthy eating with Eatwell Bingo. Today, bingo can lend you a hand as you try to create a primal meal plan.
To start, gather a list of 25 of your favorite primal recipes. Next, use an online bingo card generator like the one on osric.com to create your Primal Recipe Bingo card. Following the instructions, you should have something like this:
Next, number each item on the card until you have five rows of items numbered 1-5. To play, at the start of the day, roll a die for each row of the bingo card, and take note of the item that corresponds to the number you rolled. The challenge now comes in being able to use the items that you chose during the game in your meals throughout the day. If you roll a 6, feel free to choose any of the recipes in the row you were rolling for. Before you know it, you’ll have mastered a collection of recipes without even realising it!
After reading this, I’d hope you feel the same! As a an advocate of all things Primal, eating organic food is by far my favourite tenet I preach to people. Bex, Kaiya and I traveled through Greece for a month June 2014 and Couchsurfed for several days with a lady Natalia Merekoulia who co-managed an Organic Co-op called ‘ΣtoA’ (translates: ‘Store’) in Napflion, southwest of Athens. Natalia was a wealth of knowledge about all things Organic or ‘Bio’ as they say in Greek (short for ‘biologic’). It was a great introduction into the world of organic food in Europe, and how serious Greek people are about the quality of their food. We bought lots of Primal food from her shop, cooked lots of delicious meals together and our time together with her started our love affair with Greek food! It’s been several months since then, and yet I still dream of Organic Food in Greece! Learn why we love the food and why you should plan a holiday there sometime soon!
Brad: Why did you start this shop and why is it important to you to sell organic food?
Natalia: It’s not my personal business, it’s a cooperative shop. I was inspired by a cooperative working style of business as an answer to this financial crisis. In Greece, capitalism is changing the way we are connected with our jobs. So instead of opening a business, I thought it’s better to start a collective work.
So with 20 people we started 3 years ago. In the meanwhile, some people found their paths in other towns, and some people went into other types of cooperatives, like making tomato sauce as a product of Greece. We now have 7 people. Two are busy running the shop, and the others are producers. We have a member who is a honey bee collector, an olive tree farmer, and a lawyer to support us in this chaotic bureaucratic country we live in.
I am very interested in the local varieties (of food). I believe it is a kind of culture that the nation of Greece has, and has to keep in contact with because it’s very important for the DNA of the people who live here, to respect the cultivation of the earth. In this type of cooperative, we built a network with the farmers to the south with a fair trade base, with respect to the struggle of the producer or cultivator and the difficulties of the Greek consumer with lack of money, to make an honest price for both of them, the cultivator and the consumer.
Personally, it is very important for me to realise the power of the consumer. Consume means I am involved with a bigger capitalistic system. So how I consume points me out as an individual against this system. So this shop keeps out of the door the huge multi-national companies and the big monopolistic companies of Greece, which we had in Greece with milk, for example. So what we do is we trust small cooperatives from around Greece. We try to find the producer, speak with him, go to the farm to see how the cultivation is, and then organise a cooperation.
Brad: What organic food and foods in general do you sell here?
Natalia: Locally grown food and fair trade foods from Latin America, India, third world countries. We cooperative with a fair trade company in Athens that imports the fair trade products.
Brad: In Greece, organic food is known as ‘Bio’ food, yes? With a symbol and certification?
Natalia: There are 2 companies that certify organic food in Greece: ‘Biolas’ and ‘Bio’, as far as I know. There may be some small ones too. But if a farmer owns a small property, it costs a lot of money to get the certification.
So what we believe in is traditional cultivation, as well. So go back to our roots and find out how our grandparents were cultivating with no chemicals, and try to be more organic, traditional and primal.
We need to keep this knowledge and not let it go to waste, to give the local seeds the local treatment. The old generation knew how to do it so we need to keep up with them, to take the knowledge and carry on doing it.
Brad: We agree Natalia! What’s the cheapest product, most expensive and most popular?
Natalia: We have a white mushroom from the North of Greece which is 12 Euro. Something really rare in Greece is this saffron which is only made in one place in Greece, which is a cooperative. It’s 4.50 Euro for only 1 gram. It says BIO on the front, and that symbol which means they have paid for the certification, but they are a cooperative of farmers, so they can afford to pay for the certification.
The cheapest is the flour which is 80 cents, or the rice which is 1.20 Euro per kilo. They are basic foods which you can have for a daily meal. We don’t have vegetables to be a green grocer shop yet, but hopefully we will do a small cooperative with those cultivators too in the future.
Brad: In our country of Australia, raw or un-pasteurised products like dairy and alcohol are hard to get. In Greece, is this illegal to sell here or there are no problems?
Natalia: It’s no problem at all because we have raw dairy in our tradition, so it’s very odd for someone to come say “You cannot eat this, it’s not healthy for you.” Because we know it’s not unhealthy. It’s legal to sell it. We have raw butter, which we have consumed for thousands of years, so there’s no reason to cut it off. We have heard about the police raids on raw milk farmers and sellers in America and Australia, and we think we have to get a network to protect ourselves from this kind of irrational thinking. We have raw yoghurt and raw goats butter. I don’t have raw milk, only pasteurised cow milk, but I have un-pasteurised beer from a local brewery and un-pasteurised honey. We have local grown wine, two types – one with non bio-certified grapes and one with bio-certified grapes. Because Greece is a very mountainous country, we have plenty of mushrooms and herbs like for Greek mountain tea and Greek mountain oregano. And of course the Greek olive oil that we are very proud of.
Brad: So far in Greece, we’ve noticed that most people have a good mindset or knowledge about the quality of food and traditional organic food. Is this the norm for people in Greece?
Natalia: I think it’s normal. Greece has always been an agricultural country, so all Greeks come from agricultural families, even one’s Grandma and Grandpa. So we are connected with the Earth. But there has been a change since 2000 with all the consuming and fast food. There is also a fast food diet here; more than 20 years of junk food. But people get informed that if they eat like that, they are going to face trouble, so if they want a natural way of getting older, they need to have a natural way of eating food and feeding the family. So we came back to our roots; it was easy because it wasn’t that long of eating that way (the fast food way). Anyway, the Mediterranean diet is well known for the health qualities and a balance between proteins meat, vegetables, eggs, fish, olive oil. So we are somehow still well connected with that. The Greek mother always cooks traditional Greek food, so we have the taste in our mouth of the Mediterranean Greek food.
Brad: What is the typical day of eating for a Greek person?
Natalia: It depends on the weather. We have different products in different seasons.
So now it’s summer, we have lots of fruits: melons, watermelons, apricots, peaches, figs, tomatoes and all the vegetables. So mainly it’s based on this – fruits and vegetables. Fish, because it’s summer time, and we are surrounded by water and have fishermen get the nice fresh fish.
We have a folk festival during the summertime, and we eat meat – goat or sheep – during the period, if people are eating meat. Because there are a lot of people who are vegetarian now in Greece, and that’s because we have a lot of choices. You know, they are near the place where they can eat a lot of vegetables, so they can forget the meat for the summer.
When the weather is warm we don’t need so much proteins. So the summer diet is more based on fruits, vegetables and salads and fish…and less meat. Meat is just on occasion in summer. Of course, the modern Greeks want meats in everyday life, which happens in every country, but I’m talking about more of the traditional way of Greek eating. In the winter, for example, we eat soups, like bean soup.
Brad: Thanks for sharing your wealth of knowledge on Greek organic food Natalia!
We’ve all heard about how healthy the Mediterranean Diet is, but besides lots of fish and olive oil, what actually makes it so healthy? Spending the last month in Greece, we found ourselves in real food heaven and discovered some of the real secrets behind this primal diet.
Traditional, organic food is a matter of national pride
The Greeks are extremely proud of their cuisine, and their cultural knowledge and passion for fresh, local and traditionally made foods is astounding.
The first day we were in Greece, both our young café waiter and middle-aged taxi driver spoke passionately about how foods used to be grown and prepared and how the modern way was inferior and they must not lose their food traditions. And we hadn’t even said anything to provoke these rants! Many people showed their disgust of pesticides and other chemicals used in farming, bewildered why anyone would ‘ruin’ the food and water supply with such things.
The food is fresh, local and wild
And it didn’t stop there. Restaurant menus boast “village” sausage, which is made fresh from local pigs (with no fillers – just meat, herbs and spices). An asterisk next to a menu item means it has been frozen, and the waiters often confirm this apologetically, “Sorry, that one we don’t have fresh. You still want?”
Every village, town and city proudly sells its own local olive oil, honey, herbs, salt, dairy products, meat and/or produce. Even the wine and spirits are touted as special ones from the local region.
Bee boxes dot the hillsides, where the bees create various types of honey from different plants and trees. The honey is never processed or pasteurised, and for some reason it is noticeably less sweet and more delicious than what we are used to.
Local staples like olives, nuts, beans, yogurt, and cheese are often unpackaged in the shops, sitting in bulk ready for customers to order by the kilo. It’s only been in the past 10 years or so that foods have started to line the shelves pre-packaged.
Food grows everywhere. We ate apricots, plums, figs and nectarines off the trees. Tomato plants covered in juicy fruit sprout up through cracks in the sidewalk. Every terrace, patio, balcony, rooftop and carport is covered not with a roof, but a carpet of vine leaves with bunches of grapes hanging down for plucking and eating. Wild greens, known as horta, are picked from random bushes on the way home, then boiled and eaten for their vast nutritional benefits.
The famous Greek salad of olives, onion, cucumber and tomato is always cut fresh to order, right before it’s eaten. This maintains high nutritional content AND taste. Salad, along with most other foods, is dressed simply in fresh dried oregano, sometimes a splash of wine vinegar (from all those grapes), and of course olive oil.
Not all olive oil is created equal
Olive oil is the most famous component of the Mediterranean Diet, and in Greece it is of the highest quality and taste. Unrefined, or extra virgin, is expected as the norm, and the beautiful flavour is like nothing we’d ever had in other countries. This is probably due to the freshness.
You see, olive trees grow like weeds all over the country, ensuring a plentiful supply of fresh olives. People we stayed with boasted how many olive trees they had on their land, and how in season, they pick their olives and take it to the local press to make their own oil.
Fermented & Raw Dairy
The other famous topping on the Greek Salad is a thick slice of feta cheese, usually made the traditional way from sheep and/or goat’s milk. Unprocessed cheeses are a staple food in Greece, displayed in huge rounds and cut to order, and eaten with other foods or used as a common ingredient in various dishes.
Greek Yoghurt is also made from these animal’s milk, and rarely pasteurised, unlike the greek yoghurt imitations around the world. The taste is incomparable, and as the Greek’s main fermented food eaten with most meals, its rawness ensures a wealth of probiotics.
Meat is not the main event, Seafood is not what you think
I think we can learn a lot from the Greek approach to eating animal foods. First of all, local is king, so you will rarely find beef dishes on all those Greek Islands where there are no cows. Pork, goat, chicken and rabbit dishes are common, as these are usual ‘backyard animals’ which are raised and eaten locally, instead of factory farmed.
Snails are another, lesser known animal food staple of the Mediterranean diet, which you can find wild everywhere, so you know they are fresh. Some diet experts believe this is one of the key components to long, healthy lives in the Mediterranean, as snails are highly nutritious.
Secondly, meat is traditionally an addition to the mainly salad and vegetable dishes, instead of the other way around. And meat is mostly reserved for wintertime meals, when there is not as much fresh produce to eat. In the summer, fruit and vegetables are traditionally the focus, with some fish or a bit of meat sometimes.
And of course there’s plenty of seafood, a famous component of their healthful diet, especially in a country with so many islands and coastline. But instead of farmed salmon and white fish filets like we eat in America and Australia, Greek menus feature plenty of octopus, squid, whole local wild fish, and tiny fish like sardines, which are less toxic and full of nutritious oils.
What about dessert?
It’s true that Greek women pride themselves on their baking skills, and Greek bakeries are plentiful, full of various pastries, cookies, chocolates, ice creams and even candies. If you’ve ever had the famous baklava, you know how sweet Greek deserts can be, the filo dough dripping with honey and sugar syrup.
However, it seems that the Greeks don’t eat a huge amount of desserts. Like the French approach, they savour and appreciate these traditional sweets in moderation, never overdoing it.
Dessert after a meal, especially in the spring and summer, is usually fresh fruit. At almost every restaurant we went to, we were served a free plate of watermelon or honeydew as soon as we asked for the bill.
So are the Greeks really healthy?
However, we were still bewildered by the alarming amount of fully-stocked bakeries and the amount of bread being eaten. Though the Greek people rank high on the list for longest life-span, the average Greek body shape didn’t seem to reflect these tenants of the Mediterranean Diet and some of the lifestyle habits are far from what we’d consider healthy.