Join the Real Food Revolution!


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There’s a growing community of people who are concerned about our food, our health and the health of the next generation. Avoiding pesticides and other harmful chemicals in our foods, avoiding “food” that may be tasty and convenient but is killing us slowly, avoiding harmful processing that strips the nutrients from food, and treating the land and animals with the respect it all deserves all plays a big part in our health.

I recently had the opportunity to interview several professionals on this topic. This short video helps explain some of the importance of such a community, showcasing some personal journeys to health via Real Food (traditionally-prepared, nutrient-dense, minimally processed natural foods), with a focus on one person who has made enormous contributions in this field.

One of the champions of the Real Food movement, Elaina Luther, formed Pasadena’s Culture Club 101 in 2008. It is unique in its offerings of traditionally-prepared, health-promoting Real Food and ancestral cuisine, as well as being a community where people can purchase traditional foods, learn about healthful food preparation, and just talk with others about this topic and grow in understanding.

Elaina then went on to organize the Real Food Symposium series, which shares 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.

She has a goal of reaching and helping even more people, opening a retail business and cafe with space for educational classes. 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.

And we’re so excited to see that construction has begun on the new facility!

But she needs some help. If you, like us, feel strongly about the importance of Real Food, please join us in helping this cause. You can join us and become part of the Real Food Revolution through the CC101  Go Fund Me Campaign that will help realize this goal.

If you are new to Real Foods and want to learn more about how food affects health, I would highly recommend the Real Food Symposium DVD sets. As each symposium helped me put the puzzle together, the knowledge on each DVD would also help you on your journey to optimal health.

Until next time~

P.S. One important question (and answer!) from CC101: I don’t live in Pasadena or even Southern California. Why should I donate to save Culture Club 101?

CC101 was much more than just a small private culinary club in Pasadena.  It was an important grassroots seed and model that was creating change in our much corrupted commercial food system from the ground up.  It taught its members what was possible in nutrient dense foods free from chemicals and additives that negatively impact health.  As it is one of many change agents around the country that are intent upon creating enough market demand to make changes to our commercial food system.  Already that impact is being felt by the increased demand for Non-GMO and organic foods.  By its very existence CC101 impacts this kind of change throughout the country.  It is a model that can be duplicated.  Interested folks can come here for mentoring and to experience what is possible.


US Clears Genetically Modified Salmon for Human Consumption

US health regulators on Thursday cleared the way for a type of genetically engineered Atlantic salmon to be farmed for human consumption—the first such approval for an animal whose DNA has been scientifically modified.

Are you ready for this? After decades of back-and-forth with US health regulators, it’s finally here. Oh, it sounds good on the surface: fish that grow twice as fast, thereby conserving resources and feeding the masses. But like so many other things we have done to our food supply, we have no idea of the long-term consequences.

Researchers wondered what would happen if a fish or two escaped and mated with wild trout, so they cross-bred them and studied the results. (These were published in the July 2013 Proceedings of the Royal Society.) The hybrid fish grew even faster than their GM parents and ate up the available food faster than their non-GM siblings.

The study authors warned, “These results provide empirical evidence of the first steps towards introgression of foreign transgenes into the genomes of new species and contribute to the growing evidence that transgenic animals have complex and context-specific interactions with wild populations. We suggest that interspecific hybridization be explicitly considered when assessing the environmental consequences should transgenic animals escape to nature.”

The good news? The hybrid fish seem to be sterile. Concerns about the environmental effects  resulted in the company only marketing sterile female GM salmon.

Although it will be a while before it’s actually available commercially, it’s important to note that with current labelling laws, the fish does not have to be labelled as GM. This means that consumers may not know when they are eating it.

How to avoid it? Look for wild-caught salmon (and other fish).

More on this subject (from Reuters) below:

AquaBounty says its salmon can grow to market size in half the time of conventional salmon, saving time and resources. The fish is essentially Atlantic salmon with a Pacific salmon gene for faster growth and a gene from the eel-like ocean pout that promotes year-round growth.

AquaBounty developed the salmon by altering its genes so that it would grow faster than farmed salmon, and expects it will take about two more years to reach consumers’ plates as it works out distribution. AquaBounty is majority owned by Intrexon Corp, whose shares were up 7.3 percent at $37.55 in afternoon trading.

Activist groups have expressed concerns that genetically modified foods may pose risks to the environment or public health. Several on Thursday said they would oppose the sale of engineered salmon to the public, while some retailers said they would not carry the fish on store shelves.

Kroger Co, the nation’s largest traditional grocery chain, has “no intention of sourcing or selling genetically engineered salmon,” spokesman Keith Dailey said. Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods Market Inc also confirmed that they do not intend to carry the product.

Target Corp eliminated farm-raised salmon in favor of wild-caught salmon in 2010, which spokeswoman Molly Snyder said was the first step in a long-term commitment to improving the sustainability of our seafood assortment. “We are not currently planning to offer genetically engineered salmon,” Snyder said.

AquaBounty Chief Executive Ronald Stotish said the approval is “a game-changer that brings healthy and nutritious food to consumers in an environmentally responsible manner without damaging the ocean and other marine habitats.”

The approval for the fish, to be sold under the AquAdvantage brand, requires that the salmon be raised only in two designated land-based and contained hatcheries in Canada and Panama, and not in the United States. All of the fish will be female, and reproductively sterile, to prevent inadvertent breeding of the genetically modified fish with wild salmon, FDA officials said.

The agency on Thursday also issued draft guidelines on how food manufacturers could identify whether the salmon in their products are genetically modified. The guidelines state that such labeling would be voluntary.

Stotish said in an interview that AquaBounty will follow the FDA’s rule for labeling and currently “there would be no requirement for labeling.”

See on Scoop.itreNourishment

Want to Know What’s the “Wurst” In Your Hot Dog?


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For many consumers, dietary restrictions—some self-imposed, some medical, some religious—mean that food labels can make the difference between whether a sausage  makes it into the shopping bag or not. Vegetarian, Kosher, all-beef, turkey, chicken, lamb—there are innumerable categories and combinations of meaty and meatless sausages available today. With something as pulverized and reshaped as a sausage, how can one ever know what really lurks within that casing? And is the casing actually collagen, or is it pork or sheep intestine? Until now, consumers have had no option but to trust the labels.


Recently, Clear Labs, leaders in the field of molecular food quality testing in the global food industry, introduced Clear Food, a consumer guide to food that is based on actual DNA analysis. The point is to analyze food at the molecular level with genomic analysis technology, then report the findings in a friendly format to help consumers differentiate between the quality of different top brands of commercial foods. Clear Labs has been collecting a database of food genetic markers, and believe that they have the most extensive collection in the world. Now they have tackled their first project: Hot dogs.

The results are a bit unsettling. Clear Food published an easy-to-read, informative report that starts with some facts and figures about hot dogs and sausages, describing how they are made, geographical variations, and yes, hot dog statistics.

Clear Labs, led by a team of some of the best scientists, genomicists and big data experts around, took 345 hot dog and sausage samples from 75 brands and 10 retailers, and performed high-level analyses of the contents. The results may make you want to  . . . well, lose your lunch.

In short, you may not be getting what you think you’re getting. And that goes beyond the fillers and “variety meats” we’ve all been warned about.

Upon examination, Clear Food found that 14.4 percent of the samples were adulterated with substitutions (for example, pork added to chicken and turkey hot dogs) and hygienic issues. In most cases the hygienic issues involved human DNA. Vegetarian products were particularly problematic, with 4 of 21 samples (about 20 percent) having hygienic issues. Two thirds of the vegetarian products contained human DNA, and their protein counts were sometimes padded by as much as by 250 percent. This means that when the label reports 25 grams of protein, the consumer may actually be getting only 10 grams.

The reports ends with ratings and recommendations: not surprising that they recommend known brands like Hebrew National (Kosher, of course), and Trader Joe’s received high marks for their vegetarian offerings.

As someone who has been sickened (literally) by mislabeled food, I find this to be of particular interest.

How do they test these products, and how do they calculate the results? That is at the bottom of the report, with links to more information. You can read the report here. And here’s a video that summarizes the results.

This report is only the beginning, and this type of testing could grow into something much bigger in scope. Testing for food-borne contaminants, like botulism in produce from massive commercial operations, or tainted CAFO meat, could be in the future and could save lives. Pesticide levels? The effects of chemical additives? The possibilities are intriguing.

Such thoughts certainly are a good reminder to know your farmer, and know your food. Sourcing well is extremely important, and if you can grow and make it yourself, so much the better. Mass production is no guarantee of food quality, safety and security, and we are learning that we need to turn away from the unsustainable practices behind much of what we consume today.

This testing is one important tool that can help individuals avoid the dangers of mislabeled foods, but it also has the potential to help educate consumers about what they should be eating, and how it should be produced.

I look forward to Clear Food’s next report.

~Until next time . . .

Researching Which Cod Liver Oil Weston A. Price Recommended


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Who knew cod liver oil could be such a hot topic? Mud-slinging and accusations, organizations splitting, and a lot of confusion. Fermented cod liver oil or . . . ? Most people involved in this uproar seem to be floundering because the bigger question is being completely overlooked. What did Weston A. Price actually have to say on the subject? What did he use himself, and what did he recommend for others?


I have a special interest in this because of a wonderful opportunity I was given to research the topic using Dr. Weston A. Price’s own unpublished material. His numerous studies related to cod liver oil spanned several decades, and many of these documents are safely housed within the archives of the Price-Pottenger Nutrition Foundation (PPNF).

Some of my work involves research and writing on nutrition and health-related topics for and for PPNF. In 2014, I was asked by PPNF to research some material in Dr. Price’s unpublished manuscripts. The project is on-going, and spending months poring over his work has been quite revealing for me, raising some important questions. And yes, some of those questions lie at the heart of the current cod liver oil debate.

But the story really began years ago, when I attended my first Culture Club 101 Real Food Symposium, heard the discussions about fermented cod liver oil and met the person behind it. The reasoning seemed sound on the surface, so I looked into it a little and even took the fermented oil myself.

Never one to swallow something “hook, line and sinker,” though, I wanted to learn more about it. I began to cast a wider net, looking more deeply into the issues.

A few things along the way made me wonder, and now with these priceless PPNF resources at my fingertips, suddenly I was privy to more information than what I could find before. And it was eye-opening.

One obvious question that kept surfacing was this: “What kind of cod liver oil did Dr. Price himself use and recommend?” With the research I was doing for PPNF (with original material from Dr. Price), I was able to delve into the task of finding the answer. “Just the facts” became my mantra. I wanted to know the truth. It became a bit of an obsession as clues from across the centuries appeared, and the archivist and others at PPNF found more related information, sometimes penned by Dr. Price himself. And then one day it all came together. I couldn’t believe it—this was huge. Now there was no more doubt about what kind of cod liver oil Dr. Price recommended.

Yet I kept seeing well-meaning bloggers and others claim that Dr. Price recommended this or that—and I knew first-hand that these comments were somewhat misleading . . . well, okay, some were dead wrong.

I had also studied enough of Dr. Price’s unpublished work to know that the right kind of cod liver oil in the right amount was good . . . very good. But the wrong type and the wrong dose can cause headaches, paralysis, heart problems and even death. And all this misinformation being put forth—again, by well-meaning but misinformed commenters and others—could have serious health consequences for those who innocently followed bad recommendations.

Clearly, it was time for a much-needed article on this very important subject. Those at PPNF gathered all the data from Price’s documents and other works, and PPNF has published this information in the Summer 2015 issue of the Price-Pottenger Journal of Health and Healing.

I’m grateful for the opportunity I’ve had to look into this using the original sources, and I’m grateful that the wonderful people at PPNF are willing to share this information with the general public.

Concerned, health-conscious people are asking a lot of questions about this. If you want PPNF’s free e-book on what Dr. Price had to say about cod liver oil, just sign up on their home page:

If you would like to read the entire article in the Journal online, here’s the link for PPNF members:

And here’s the article in a blog post dealing with this topic (accessible by non-PPNF members):

Well, there’s the story behind the article. Hope it helps you make informed decisions about what to share with your loved ones.

Until next time~

Supergrain Kernza Could Save Our Soil and Feed the World . . . But Is it Helpful—or Harmful?


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Kernza’s arrival has been a long time coming. The new grain variety from the Land Institute is derived from an ancient form of intermediate wheatgrass, a perennial that is actually a distant relative of wheat.

Sourced from:

Kernza is a perennial grain, meaning it can be grown year-round, with roots that live on in the ground through winter. Corn, wheat, and most of the other grains we eat, on the other hand, are annual crops, which must be replanted anew every year, and “require” seeds, fertilizers, and pesticides for each planting. But Kernza’s most important difference–and the reason so many people have been waiting for its arrival–is the way it interacts with the soil.

Because its root system is dense, growing down into the earth up to 10 feet, Kernza can respond to shifts in soil and temperature quickly, taking in water, nitrogen, and phosphorous. Annual wheat doesn’t live long enough to develop thick roots, and requires soil tilling before each planting. But Kernza’s roots hold soil in place, preventing erosion. This is especially crucial in the farm belt, where rain washes significant quantities of soil and dissolved nitrogen into waterways, and eventually to the Gulf of Mexico. The Environmental Working Group estimates that 10 million acres of Iowa farmland lost dangerous amounts of soil in 2007.

That’s not all. Kernza also “builds soil quality and takes CO2 out of the atmosphere, which may help with mitigating climate change,” says Land Institute scientist Lee DeHaan, the driving force behind Kernza.
But will this nutrient-dense, high-protein and lower-gluten grain be an answer to all the problems with today’s grains, or will it prove to be another idea that “seemed good at the time?”

See on Scoop.itreNourishment

In Hono(u)r of Canada Day

It’s Canada Day! We’re celebrating with a lot more than maple syrup (but there’s maple syrup on this list, too).

For those of us who grew up in Canada but live elsewhere, this day brings on a bit of nostalgia. Memories of the food of one’s childhood can be a big part of that, and this article (and its accompanying recipes) made me pause (and drool just a little). Much of what’s on this list does not fall within any category of healthful, but even reading about the butter tarts, Nanaimo bars and poutine (without imbibing!) brings warm memories. I might just go cure some salmon, though—that one sounds particularly good right now!

Here is the article, courtesy of Food 52.

Today in Canada, it’s all parades, festivals, concerts, and fireworks: It’s Canada Day! Whether you’re in Canada now, a Canadian expat living elsewhere, or just looking for something to celebrate, fête the country’s national day with a lot more than maple syrup (though there’s maple syrup on this list, too). Here are recipes for 8 Canada-inspired snacks—some national dishes, some nationally inspired.

Grandma Joan’s Butter Tarts by crepesofwrath

Butter tarts

Maple Cream by Carey Nershi

Maple cream

Vegetarian Poutine by Heather Hands


Beet-Cured Salmon by Derek Laughren


Homemade Bagels by Kenzi Wilbur


Ridiculously Easy Macaroni and Cheese by mrslarkin


Maple Sorbet by HCR


Nanaimo Bars by buttermeupbk

Nanaimo Bars

Happy Canada Day! What’s your favo(u)rite Canadian food?

See on Scoop.itreNourishment

Why You Should Leave the Lime Out of Your Guacamole |


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Lime is an integral part of a great guacamole—or so we thought. Turns out, American cooks put the lime in. And now it’s time to take it out.


A while back, in the midst of mincing mounds of garlic and cilantro, mi amiga and co-chopper (who makes a killer ceviche, BTW) chastised me for even thinking about adding red onion to the dish I was making, saying, “My people don’t use anything but white onions” (although she doesn’t like beans or spicy foods, so that brings up other questions in my mind!). So I started chopping the white onions instead while she told me that the real pico de gallo is made from fruit, and other culinarily interesting facts about authentic Mexican food.

In the grand scheme of things, this may seem like a trivial topic (well, yes, it really is). But sometimes it’s good to take a look at the original intent of something to understand it. (With guacamole, it’s all about the avocado.) Then you can get creative with it without losing sight of its origins.

Frida Kahlo added chipotles? Mmm, sounds delicious! But she first understood what guacamole was all about, then added her own brand of creativity to take it to the next level. And now that I understand the original, I might be able to slip a little red onion into my next pico de gallo with a clean conscience.

When I saw the title of this article from, I was reminded of my lesson about the white onions, so I had to read on:

Twenty years ago, I asked a server at Mexico City’s legendary El Bajío if there was lime in their exceptionally rich, deep guacamole. She tsk-tsked me with her finger. “No, no,” she said. “Lime masks the avocado.”

In retrospect, it seems so obvious. But at the time, I, like most Americans, ceremoniously squeezed fresh lime juice into my guacamole, a finishing touch that I believed accentuatedor balanced the flavors. It wasn’t until I started spending time in Mexico that I found guacs that, in whatever form they took—drizzled over empanadas, slathered as a base for ceviche tostadas, served chunky-style piled alongside thin grilled steaks—tasted like avocado concentrate, with only a wisp of citrus acidity, if any.

I felt as if I had uncovered a big secret: Avocado with lime doesn’t taste like a better avocado—just a limey one.

The richness of limeless guacamole can be revelatory, like French fries with mayonnaise instead of ketchup

Of course, limeless guacamole isn’t a secret at all. Looking through cookbooks from some masters of Mexican cooking, I found a common thread. Diana Kennedy all but forbids it in The Art Of Mexican Cooking, saying it “spoils the balance of flavors.” InHugo Ortega’s Street Foods Of Mexico, Ortega writes, “the secret to a good guacamole is to respect the avocado flavor and not drown it in lime juice” (he adds a scant 1/4 teaspoon for two large avocados).Susana Trilling skips it in her thin Oaxaca-style guac; Patricia Quintana only adds it when it’s accompanying a dish with no other acidic element, or conceding some Northern chefs’ taste for it. The guacamole in Guadalupe Rivera’s book about culinary life with her father Diego and Frida Kahlo, Frida’s Fiestas, is given punch with chipotle chiles, not citrus. And in 1917’s Los 30 Menús Del Mes, from influential culinary academic Alejandro Pardo, there’s no lime in the huacamole—though there are roasted tomatoes. (In pre-Columbian Mexico, guacamole likely consisted of avocado mashed with wild onion, chile, and maybe tomato or tomatillo—cilantro and limes arrived with the Conquest.)

But in the 1970s, when guacamole’s popularity in the US rose alongside trends like “California Cuisine,” none of those traditional recipes mattered. The trend was bright foods, and because sodium fears were at a peak, lime was deployed to provide flavor. Suddenly, guacamoles were citrusy (and also undersalted, which is a shame, because avocados can handle big doses of the stuff).

This isn’t to throw shade on guacamole with lime or anything. A citrusy guac is good stuff. But it’s not as good as it could be. As a dip with chips, the richness of limeless guacamole can be revelatory, like French fries with mayonnaise instead of ketchup. And you’re likely combining the guac with an acidic component anyway—a salsa maybe, or the ubiquitous lime wedge served alongside tacos of grilled meat. Chiles and onion provide textural and flavor contrast without obscuring the avocado (which is why you should only use white onion rather than yellow or sweet onions, which muddy the flavor). And if you really need a hit of acid, tomatoes can always be thrown in. (Though this is easier done in Mexico, where vine-ripened tomatoes are more readily available. With ripe tomatoes so rare in the U.S., I generally leave them out.)

I know what you’re about to ask. “But what about oxidation?” While lime is touted as a way prevent avocados from browning, it takes a lot of lime for that to work—and it’s generally a bad idea to transform a dish’s taste for aesthetic reasons. The easy fix: Avoid oxidation altogether by making your guacamole—a 5 minute process at most—right before serving. I promise, it won’t last for long.

See on Scoop.itreNourishment

Mindfulness and the Easter Bunny


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Do we ever think about why we do what we do? It’s so easy to fall mindlessly into the comfort of old habits, because that’s what we’ve always done. The food we eat, the water we waste, the chemicals we use—do we just do what everyone else does or are we mindful of our actions?

Understanding the origins of ideas or concepts can help us make intelligent, informed decisions—renourishing our thinking, our minds and our lives. Even concepts as deeply entrenched in our culture as the Easter Bunny are worth looking at from an historical viewpoint. It comes as a surprise to many that this icon has a history that goes back to Isis and Osiris and beyond; a trail laced with pagan fertility rites that predate modern Christianity.

So what exactly what do rabbits and eggs have to do with the resurrection of Jesus Christ? And was He really resurrected on Easter Sunday?

The article below addresses some of these questions. I researched and wrote it for (shared with permission), where you can read more on the subject if you’re interested.

Ostara and her Hare (by Johannes Gehrts, 1884)

Ostara and her Hare (by Johannes Gehrts, 1884)

On the Trail of the Easter Bunny

It’s a short hop from Egyptian hare god to Easter bunny

Easter is considered one of the oldest and most sacred Christian holidays; thus it would seem that a symbol as iconic as the Easter bunny (or, in some countries, the Easter hare) would carry a pedigree deeply rooted in the Bible. Yet there is, perhaps surprisingly, no mention of the rabbit or his relatives throughout the ancient canon except as animals not to be eaten. Other early sources, however, show that rabbits or hares and eggs do play a role in the pre-Christian rituals and festivals that were later absorbed into the celebration we know as Easter.

The earliest histories of Europe and Asia include allusions to rabbits and eggs as important fertility symbols in the spring festivals of rebirth that were embraced by ancient polytheistic religions. Beliefs centered around this season of new life, renewal and regeneration spawned religious ceremonies and rites to ensure the fertility of flocks and fields. Some of the earliest written records of these rituals come from ancient Egypt.

The Egyptians’ cosmogonic beliefs were complex and full of mystery. Attempts to explain the origin of the universe often included the idea of the world springing from an egg—half of the shell became the sky, the bottom half became the earth, and the yolk symbolized the sun. Similar tales have the god Ra (or Re) emanating from an egg and rising as the sun, with his offspring procreating to form the sky (Nut) and the earth (Geb). Osiris, the slain and resurrected god of the underworld, shared symbolism with his great-grandfather Ra. According to the Encyclopedia of Ancient Egypt, “the hare was a divine creature called Weni, or Wen-nefer . . . an insignia of  Re’s rising as the sun and also of the resurrective powers of Osiris.”

Written records of these symbols—a convergence of hares, eggs, death, sunrise services and resurrection with striking similarities to today’s Easter celebrations—date from as early as 2300 B.C.E., though the oral tradition behind the writings began even earlier.

One such record is the Book of the Dead, important Egyptian funerary papyrus scrolls. These were indispensable in the elaborate funeral rites of monarchs and menials alike throughout centuries of Egyptian history. The scrolls reference Ra, Osiris and Horus in conjunction with eggs, hares and resurrection.

Some of the spells from the Book of the Dead show just how strong the connections were between the symbols and the gods: “I have arisen from the Egg which is in the secret land. . . . I am Osiris” (Spell 22). “I seek out that great place which is in Wenu, I have guarded the Egg of the Great Cackler. If I be strong, it will be strong; if I live, it will live; if I breathe the air, it will breathe the air (Spell 56).”

The city of Hermopolis was near an ancient religious center known as Wenu (or Wenut), devoted to worship of the hare god Unnu (Weni, Wen-nefer, “the Springer-up”) and his consort, a hare goddess. Worship of this hare god, the animal form of the creator god Ra, involved resurrection and the rising of the sun. Both rebirth and the rising sun related to the god Ra, who according to legend was born of a golden egg laid by a celestial goose (“the Great Cackler”).  According to the Encyclopedia of Ancient Egypt,“the hare was an insignia of Re’s rising as the sun and also of the resurrective powers of Osiris.”

The stories of Osiris (the sun god and judge of the dead, who granted life and rebirth) and his sister/wife Isis (the moon goddess) are some of the best known among tales of the Egyptian pantheon. The murder of Osiris, Isis’s role in stitching together the body, the post-mortem conception of Horus and the subsequent resurrection of Osiris come together in an astounding tale that remains an important part of Egyptian cosmology. Variations of the Isis and Osiris) courtship, death and rebirth tales dance around the globe through the ages with similar divine couples, including Inanna and Dumuzi, Ishtar and Tammuz, Aphrodite (Astarte) and Adonis, Cybele and Attis. Themes and symbols from their earliest worship rituals reappear in new guises, usually linked with fertility, rebirth and renewal of life. (See “Cupid’s Disheartening Past.”) Some of these are evident in symbols and practices (eggs, hares, sunrise worship services), others in names (Astarte, Ishtar, Easter).

Bede, the eighth-century monk and historian, wrote of the origins of the term Easterwhen describing the Old English words for the months of the year in his De Temporum Ratione.

“Eosturmonath has a name which is now translated ‘Paschal month’, and which was once called after a goddess of theirs named Eostre, in whose honour feasts were celebrated in that month [April]. Now they designate that Paschal season by her name, calling the joys of the new rite by the time-honoured name of the old observance.” Eostre (Anglo Saxon), or Ostara (Teutonic) is often pictured with a hare at her feet, as her symbols were the hare and the egg.

The Catholic Encyclopedia acknowledges Bede’s contribution and adds a caveat: “The English term, according to the Ven. Bede (De temporum ratione, I, v), relates to Estre, a Teutonic goddess of the rising light of day and spring, which deity, however, is otherwise unknown.”

Eleven centuries later, Jacob Grimm acknowledged some debate over the veracity of Bede’s assertions yet felt they were accurate enough for him to build upon Bede’s foundation. In Grimm’s 1835 Teutonic Mythology, he connected long-standing Germanic traditions with the Teutonic goddess and Easter celebrations.

Grimm also commented on an earlier discussion of eggs, a hare and Easter. In 1682, physician Georgii Franck von Franckenau wrote an essay “De Ovis Paschalibus” (“On the Easter Egg”) in his Satyrae Medicae XX, describing the Alsatian tradition of the Easter hare leaving colored eggs in “nests” and explaining how to help children who became ill from eating those eggs. Grimm posited that this was the first known written account combining the two symbols.

Jacob and his brother Wilhelm are best known as the romantic nationalist story collectors behind Grimms’ Fairy Tales, their phenomenally successful venture to preserve Germanic culture via folklore (see “The Moral of the Story”). Jacob’s later work (Teutonic Mythology) delved even deeper, exploring the mythologies and religious beliefs of their ancestors. He linked their ancient traditions with those of his contemporaries, deducing from the similarities that the Roman Catholic Church had readily adopted deeply-rooted ancient practices to encourage participation in their own newly created religious festivals. Ostara, like Eastre, wrote Grimm, “must in the heathen religion have denoted a higher being, whose worship was so firmly rooted, that the Christian teachers tolerated the name, and applied it to one of their own grandest anniversaries.”

In the early 1800s, as Grimm was telling his tales of Germanic Easter traditions, German immigrants were bringing those traditions to the United States.

The Oschter Haws (Osterhas), or Easter hare, arrived on the shores of the New World with the Pennsylvania Dutch (who were not actually Dutch at all, but Deutsch, or German). This hare supposedly left gifts of colored eggs in hats, bonnets, plates, nests or around the home of well-behaved children on the eve of Easter. Over the next century, the hare became a more familiar rabbit as Easter celebrations gradually caught on throughout the country. By 1878, Easter celebrations in the United States had become commonplace enough that President Rutherford B. Hayes allowed egg rolling on the White House Lawn—separation of church and state notwithstanding. This tradition continues today under the watchful eyes of both the president and a giant Easter bunny as children race their eggs and search the grounds for special wooden souvenir eggs.

Today’s furry Easter bunny seems to be an important cultural element of the annual festival for those who celebrate it for religious reasons as well as for those who believe they celebrate it as a secular tradition. Although traditional Christianity adopted other pre-Christian symbols in their religious festivals, the Easter bunny and its predecessors have been kept at arm’s length by the religious mainstream (possibly because of the blatant connections with fertility). But the tenacious creature has managed to hop down the bunny trail from its early hare-god origins in ancient paganism to the chocolate, faux fur and paper bunnies of today’s Easter celebrations throughout the world.

Alice Abler

~Until next time . . .


Gerald Massey, Ancient Egypt: The Light of the World (2007).


The Tale of the Easter Bunny
An Empty Shell
Special Report: The Pass Over to Easter
The Moral of the Story

Bought: An Education


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It’s no secret that as a society we have some serious health issues, and try as we might to fix them, we don’t seem to have the answers. Opposing theories abound, with rabid activists on both sides blindly ignoring facts.

Image courtesy of Bought

Image courtesy of Bought

Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) were promoted as the future of food, yet for millions of marching moms, they are dangerous “Frankenfoods”. “Roundup-ready” crops seemed like a boon for farmers, who could plant crops and spray at will without fear of losing the plants. Others warn that the glyphosate in the spray stays with the food, destroying our gastrointestinal flora and with that, our immune systems. Treated seeds grow into pest-free crops, yet we are losing bees at an alarming rate. Food additives prolong shelf life—or do they promote behavioral problems and obesity? Diabetes, psychological disorders, dementias, autism and other debilitating diseases are skyrocketing and we don’t seem to know why. Some point fingers at vaccinations; others point fingers at anti-vaccinators.

Perhaps it’s not so simple—not just one thing, and not the same for each individual. And right now (for the most part), we enjoy the freedom to choose which options work best for us and for our families. But what if those freedoms were taken away?

For those of us who spend time researching what’s best for our families—and again, that may be different for each family—we know it’s often a challenge to hear more than one side of the story. The crowdfunded documentary Bought addresses these topics and more, with commentary from doctors, researchers, and those with personal experience. It’s worth a watch.

And for a few days, you can watch it for free at

~Until next time . . .

Help Save Culture Club 101! (No, not Boy George! This is Elaina Luther’s GoFundMe)

On July 3rd, 2014, the club, licensed by the Pasadena Public Health Department in 2011, was shut down because it was said not to be in alignment with a reinterpretation of the rules with respect to private clubs. At the same time it was inspected and given permission on the spot to operate as a retail location. The only hitch was that it did not meet the zoning requirements for the area. Only zoning restrictions prevent it from re-opening as a retail location, so it needs to move locations. And that costs money. 


Culture Club 101 was a licensed private culinary club in Pasadena that provided its members with a way to buy real cultured foods (like sauerkraut, healthy cultured sodas, etc.) readymade. The club also held educational classes so that its members could learn how to make their own fermented foods, yogurts, keifers, gluten free foods and healthy treats.  Members had access to a library and information nights with speakers and films. The Club vetted other resources such as pasture raised meats, raw milk and sprouted grains so that without having to do their own research, members could purchase real foods from around the US. Elaina was the tireless impresario behind the Real Food Symposium series that helped so many, and now she needs your help to continue her valuable services. Click through to read more!

See on Scoop.itreNourishment


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