Real Food Culture Kitchen Project


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Our good friend and mentor Elaina formed Culture Club 101, which was unique in its offerings of traditionally-prepared, health-promoting Real Food to those near Pasadena. She then went on to organize the Real Food Symposium series, which shared valuable information with the public on various topics like “The Skinny on Fat” (the importance of good fats in the diet), cheesemaking, raw milk, brewing, fermentation, the GAPS diet, organic gardening, beekeeping, and the importance of pasture-raised animal products.

Elaina has now paired up with Real Food Devotee, with a goal of reaching and helping even more people. Plans to license and build the Real Food Culture Kitchen are now underway.  This will be a resource for traditional, nutrient-dense Real Food:

a commercial kitchen for traditional Real Food preparation;

a store where you can find all your Real Food pantry essentials, supplies and equipment-advice and troubleshooting included;

a training, mentoring, and learning center;

a cafe and tasting room for pop-up dinners;

expanded product offerings and home deliveries.

Yes, this is a lofty goal, and they need our help.

With that in mind, they have launched a Kickstarter Campaign that runs through the month of November. If you, like us, feel strongly about the importance of Real Foods, please join us in helping this cause. There are valuable rewards offered for different levels of pledges, and I would highly recommend the Real Food Symposium DVD sets as rewards. As each symposium helped me put the puzzle together, the knowledge on each DVD would also help you on your journey to optimal health.

If the Kickstarter goal is not reached, they get nothing. So if this is something you believe in, make sure to pledge your help in the next few weeks and become part of the Real Food Revolution.

See on Scoop.itreNourishment

Los Angeles Turf Removal Program Part One: Application and Qualification


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When we moved to our current home, there was a broad swath of green lawn across the front and, to keep it that bright green color, a sprinkler system that evoked visions of the Las Vegas Bellagio fountains. Even though we were not in a drought at the time, I knew this was completely wrong for this area.


So out came most of the lawn and in went roses and other plants that did well enough for a few years but were beginning to suffer in the current drought.


 Once established, the garden looked lovely for a few months in the moist winter and spring, but under our harsh summer sun, it became more like potpourri on sticks than the lush paradise I saw in my mind.


We did have some struggling turf that remained, a favored lounge and play area for our canine companions.


But bit by bit we had been removing it (and the dogs really didn’t mind), most notably by replacing part of it with a rain garden showcasing California native plants. This project whetted my appetite for more natives and California-friendly plantings.

Duck and blue-eyed grass

And when we heard about the generous rebates offered by the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power for removing residential turf and replacing it with California-friendly plantings and permeable paving, well, that was just the push we needed.


We measured the lawn and drew up a plan. Even though the maximum amount allowed for rebate was 2000 square feet, we wanted to remove about 3500 square feet of grass (not a problem to remove more, of course, but there’s no cash incentive after the limit).


Next we picked California-friendly plants to cover 40 percent of the former lawn area and permeable paving materials to cover the rest. I was disappointed that no plants that formed anything like a turf were allowed, because there are appropriate plants that I would be happy to use (like dymondia or carex) but they do form a type of turf once established. Artificial grass is allowed, but because it heats up in direct sunlight and becomes extremely hot to the touch, and because it holds smells and needs to be washed down when cleaning up after dogs (and we have very large dogs), this wasn’t an option for us.

Approving the project

Besides, I’d rather have something real.

After completing the plan, we made sure all requirements were met: five or more color pictures of the existing grassy areas to be redone, with at least one of each specific location showing permanent fixtures (house, fence, street, etc.) as reference points, a planting list, a sketch of the area showing square footage, and a copy of a water bill.


Sprinklers were to be removed and replaced with drip systems on timers, and a few other details. The requirements may have changed a bit since then. (For anyone interested in the details, the requirements are viewable after beginning the application process.)

We mailed in the application in early May (applicants can now apply online), hoping to hear good news soon. We couldn’t begin the project until it was approved, so we waited. And waited. I was concerned about the timing, with summer right around the corner—the worst possible time to plant in this area.


I had already shopped around for someone who could do the work. There is a contractor-direct rebate option, but I couldn’t find one who would do the work for the amount of the rebate—most estimates came in at about three times that or, in a few cases, about ten times that amount. Although there are companies who will remove the lawn in exchange for the rebate, their cookie-cutter designs, sparse plantings and stark pavings didn’t match my lush Mediterranean visions. It seemed that those who understood the difference between “desert” and “Mediterranean” and who could make the landscape in my mind come to life simply could not make it happen within our budget.


So on to plan B. I’ve always enjoyed DIY projects, so why not tackle one more? I shopped around for pricing on decomposed granite as the main paving material, started collecting “urbanite” (really just broken concrete) to use as paving stones, and began the hunt for someone who was really good with a Bobcat to remove our turf and artfully spread 24 tons of decomposed granite. Bobcat Mike came highly recommended, and he was on standby.


In the meantime, we quit watering the lawn and summer’s heat took its toll. One day in late July I heard a knock at the door, and there on the crispy brown landscape stood a DWP representative. “I was nearby and thought I’d stop by for a pre-inspection.” Apparently they had been overwhelmed with requests and it was taking longer than expected to process applications. Anyway, I was very glad to see her. I showed her the now-dead grass, and we compared it with the photos of the verdant fields from a few months earlier. I explained that we had stopped watering, hoping that our water bill would drop (it didn’t, but that’s another story). We looked over the plan, which covered the entire property. She made sure I understood that we would only get a rebate for the maximum amount allowed by the program—which we did, but we wanted to remove the rest of the dying grass as well.


I had to explain one area that I had listed as “edible garden.” A traditional vegetable garden was not allowed in this project, because they use too much water. (Water well-used, in my opinion, but I understand the intent of the program.) The edible garden I had planned, however, did fulfill the requirements.


This one was bordered by established fig trees and grape vines one side, with new olive trees planned for the other, and included other unthirsty plants like California currant, artichokes, sage, thyme and rosemary, with an open rectangular area in the center where I imagined spending leisurely afternoons sipping Pastis and playing petanque.


The LADWP representative and I discussed some of the existing plants as well as the ones I planned for the project.

Low-water-use succulents

I had been propagating some and sprouting others, and showed her pots of those that were waiting in the shade for their day in the sun.


She seemed particularly intrigued by the euphorbia, the leucadendron and the more unusual succulents, then she was off to the next location. A letter of approval would be on its way, and we would have 120 days to complete the project.


But by now it was the middle of summer—a very hot, dry summer. The absolute worst time to think about planting. How would we meet the deadline and keep the new plants alive?

~Until next time!


Agafia’s Taiga Life: Alone in Siberia


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In 1936, a family of Russian Old Believers journeyed deep into Siberia’s vast taiga to escape persecution and protect their way of life. The Lykovs eventually settled in the Sayan Mountains, 160 miles…

Click here to see the thought-provoking video (and don’t let the name scare you off! It’s okay, I promise!):

This video tells the tale of a remarkable woman who is truly living “off the grid” under conditions most of us can barely imagine. Everyone who dreams of homesteading needs to watch this. Seeing her tenacity and fortitude, along with a glimpse into the harsh reality of her everyday life, has given me much to think about since I first viewed this a few days ago. Who among us could survive as she has?

See on Scoop.itreNourishment

These People Turned an Abandoned Stable Into Their Dream Home – Village Green Network


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Here’s an inspiring story about turning an old dilapidated shelter into a gorgeous off-grid home. Full of great ideas!


Working with the sun, water, gravity and nature, appreciating and building upon the knowledge of the farmer who sited the original structure, these two created what may be the perfect home. The brilliance of the project unfolds as the video progresses.

Everything New Is Old Again

See on Scoop.itBon Vivant

Jewish-American deli food is suddenly the rage, as younger cooks mix tradition and reinvention.

Alice Ruxton Abler‘s insight:

Although this article didn’t touch upon the health benefits of traditional foods, it did address the deliciousness of the cuisine of their ancestors. Glad some are rediscovering and preserving this important knowledge for future generations. And by the end of the article, I was salivating! Be sure to enjoy the pictures in the slideshow.

From the article: 

The chefs and artisans behind these new enterprises are embracing the quickly disappearing foods of their grandparents — blintzes and babka, kasha and knishes — and jolting them back to strength with an infusion of modern culinary ideas. Those foods became punch lines in the 1970s, when the health consequences of a steady diet of meat, salt, bread and cream became apparent, and when strong, smelly foods like garlic dill pickles and herring with raw onion seemed dated, even embarrassing. “Food rejection was part of the assimilation process,” said Devra Ferst, editor of the food blog The Jew & The Carrot.

But now, as the values of the food revolution (fresh, local, sustainable, seasonal) have inspired a whole generation of young Jewish-Americans, they have found ways to bring the two camps together. “Kosher food didn’t reflect our generation or our tastes,” said Mr. Yoskowitz; he and his partner, Liz Alpern, are 29. “And modern food didn’t reflect our history.”

. . .

Their goal is preservation, closely followed by improvisation. They are learning to smoke fish, ferment pickles and bake pumpernickel bread in the ways their ancestors did. They are holding pop-up Sabbath dinners on Friday nights, where the challah might be swirled with Cheddar or drizzled with harissa oil. And in kitchens and social media, they are building a hive of relationships, skills and ideas that can be described as a virtual shtetl.

Continue reading the main story 

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Never Thought A Billboard Could Be Used This Way!

See on Scoop.itreNourishment

An innovative way to supply potable water in an area where there is only .51 inches of rainfall annually.

Alice Ruxton Abler‘s insight:

Lack of clean, potable water is the cause of disease and death worldwide, and some engineers at U-Tec in Peru have been working on ways to help. This U-Tec project may look like an ordinary billboard, but it is actually an innovative way to supply potable water to villagers in a desert area with almost no annual rainfall. Of course, it would only work where the humidity level is high enough, but perhaps this could be duplicated in similar areas and save untold lives. 

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Mothers’ Milk: More Than Meets the Eye?


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See on Scoop.itreNourishment

Alice Ruxton Abler‘s insight:

I attended a symposium on the safe production of raw milk recently at Chico State University and was fascinated by the presentations of each of the speakers. A common theme relating to health is that raw milk has undeniable health-promoting qualities that we don’t yet understand. Dr. Bruce German,  a well-respected, widely-published researcher (one that I’ve quoted in other articles) and founder of the International Milk Genomics Consortium, detailed ways that raw milk is responsible for all human life on the planet. One of his associates, Dr. Danielle Lemay, was also at this meeting. Some of her words inspired this article about a surprising quality of human milk. Click through to read more!

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Indigenous diets can help fight modern illnesses, say health experts

See on Scoop.itreNourishment

Traditional food consumed by rural communities contain nutrients that are lacking in high- and middle-income countries

Alice Ruxton Abler‘s insight:

Indigenous food systems – gathering and preparing food to maximize the nutrients an environment can provide – range from nomadic hunter-gatherers such as the Aché in eastern Paraguay, the Massai pastoralists in northern Kenya, and herding and fishing groups including the Inuit in northern Canada, to the Saami of Scandinavia and the millet-farming Kondh agriculturalists in eastern India.

But the trait these groups share is a keen knowledge of how to eat nutritiously without damaging the ecosystem. "Indigenous peoples’ food systems contain treasures of knowledge from long-evolved cultures and patterns of living in local ecosystems," says an FAO-supported study on indigenous food systems, nutrition, and health co-authored by Kuhnlein in 2009.

In recent years, grains such as quinoa, fonio and millet – long harvested by indigenous and rural communities in developing countries but increasingly overlooked by a younger, richer generation that prefers imported foods – have instead grown in popularity in developed countries.

Research, marketing and donor-funded financing have helped raise awareness of the ability of these high-protein grains to reduce cholesterol, provide micronutrients and lower the risk of diabetes. "Because of the many health benefits of these forgotten, or until [recently] unknown foods, valuing the wisdom of indigenous cultures [and] earlier generations is vital for reducing disease and inflammation." 

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“Expired” food is good for you: A supermarket exec’s bold business gamble

See on Scoop.itreNourishment

Trader Joe’s’ former president wants to sell you the food that other stores throw out. Will it work?

Alice Ruxton Abler‘s insight:

Last September, a major report from the Natural Resources Defense Council and Harvard Law School squashed the long-standing myth surrounding “sell by,” “best by” and “use by” dates on food. It revealed how those dates, which are mostly unregulated and surprisingly arbitrary, tell the consumer next to nothing about how long a product will stay fresh. Yet 90 percent of Americans are under the mistaken impression that they do – and that they are inviolable – causing us to needlessly throw away food.

The problem, however, begins even before such food reaches people’s refrigerators: It’s against most supermarkets’ policies (including that of Trader Joe’s) to sell food once it’s aged past these mystical dates. Dana Gunders, who co-authored the NRDC report with Emily Leib, sees Rauch’s project as the logical next step in freeing us from the tyranny of date labels. “Just the fact that he’s doing it, I think is a huge proof point to indicate that what we’re calling ‘expired food’ is in fact still good to eat,” she told Salon.

Rauch isn’t the first to look at the vast storerooms of perfectly good produce, bound for the trash heap, and see an opportunity. Stanley’s organization, Lovin Spoonfuls, also serves the Boston area, and New York’s City Harvest, to take a prominent example, has been “recovering” surplus food from supermarkets and restaurants and redistributing it to food pantries and soup kitchens since 1982. And as Rauch himself pointed out, a number of high-end retailers already repurpose their unsellable produce as hot, prepared food.

But Rauch’s focus differs from that of other nonprofit organizations, which are mainly concerned with fixing the broken link between excess food and empty stomachs. For example: Stanley’s ultimate goal for Lovin Spoonfuls, she said, is to put herself out of business – in other words, to solve hunger. “We must never forget that food’s not only a commodity,” she told Salon; more important is its role as a life force. But like it or not, our culture does treat food as a commodity – as something to be coveted and indulged in. Rauch sees that as an advantage.

Rauch, a capitalist first and foremost, is looking for a market-driven solution to food waste. The store is a nonprofit, but after an initial round of funding gets it started, he intends for it to be self-sustaining. And he expects that supermarkets will work with him, “not just because it’s the right thing, not just because they feel bad about throwing it out. All those are true, but also because it’s an underrealized asset”: There’s a federally enhanced tax deduction on the books for restaurants and grocery stores that donate their surplus, which allows them to recover up to 50 percent of their lost margin.

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