Monday, 6 July 2015

Paleo and the Dairy Debate

Aside from the blessed Sourdough, let's look at one of the most popular forms of lacto-bacillis bacteria; fermented dairy products.

Purists argue that, as with grains, man should not eat dairy products because the keeping of herds dates back only a few thousand years – a drop of time in the so-called evolutionary bucket.

Creation vs evolution debates aside, there are and have been many healthy milk-drinking populations – including disease-free traditional Europeans, Americans up to WWI, Greeks and other inhabitants of the Mediterranean, Africans, Tibetans, the long-lived inhabitants of Soviet Georgia and the hearty Mongols of northern China. Even today, the use of relatively processed milk products is associated with longevity in countries like Austria and Switzerland.

Modern milk, however, is denatured through pasteurisation and homogenisation, stripped of its valuable fat content, filled with antibiotics and pesticides, laced with additives and synthetic vitamins, and comes from cows that are bred to produce huge amounts of milk and which are fed everything under the sun except what cows are supposed to eat – green grass. There is evidence to link such milk with a whole gamut of modern ailments, including heart disease, cancer, diabetes, osteoporosis, autism and allergies. (Fallon in The Ecologist, 01/07/2003)

Other practices common to traditional groups throughout the world include: the use of animal bones, usually made into broth that is added to soups, stews and sauces; the preservation of vegetables, fruits, grains and even meats through the practice of lacto-fermentation to make condiments, meat products and beverages; and the use of salt. In areas where salt is not available, sodium-rich grasses and other plants are burnt and added to foods. Familiar lacto-fermented foods include old-fashioned sauerkraut and yoghurt. But almost any food can be preserved by this method, which encourages the proliferation of beneficial bacteria. The lactic acid these bacteria produce is an excellent, natural preservative that prevents spoilage in plant foods as pickles and chutneys, meats as sausage and haggis, milk as a variety of soured products and grains as chewy breads and thick sour porridges. Lacto-fermented beverages are ubiquitous in traditional cultures – from kaffir beer in Africa to kvass and kombucha in Slavic regions. Lacto-fermented foods are artisan products (instead of mass produced items preserved with vinegar and sugar), taste delicious and confer many health benefits. They add valuable enzymes to the diet, and enhance the digestibility and assimilation of everything we eat. Gelatin-rich broth also enhances digestion and provides the gamut of macro-minerals in easily assimilated form. Broth-based soups are snack foods in Asian countries, usually prepared in ‘mom-and-pop’ shops, and they form the basis of both peasant and gourmet cuisines throughout Europe.