Danggit! Not Another one!
Yet another sour-brick!
I could build a small house with all of the sour bricks I have baked in the past few years...
I SUCK at making sourdough bread... I have been trying for years to make the perfect loaf and the soft, bubbly, loaf of my dreams still evades me.
But you know, I seemed to be able to procure eggs and bacon in the middle of winter this year- somehow...
That got me thinking.
A lot of the books I have read recently have talked about the concept of reciprocity. That for everything we take, we must give back in some way.
In the book Braiding the Sweetgrass, the author sums it all up in "The Honorable Harvest"
Here is what it says:
"Know the ways of the ones who take care of you, so that you may take care of them.
Be accountable as someone who comes asking for life.
Ask permission before taking, abide by the answer.
Never take the first.
Never take the last.
Take only what you need.
Take only that which is given.
Never take more than half.
Leave some for others.
Harvest in a way that minimizes harm.
Use it respectfully.
Never waste what you have taken.
Give thanks for what you have been given.
Give a gift, in reciprocity, for what you have taken.
Sustain the ones who sustain you, and the earth will last forever."
I love this!
It truly makes me feel a bit better about my shortcomings- like my inability to make bread- because that opens up the opportunity for me to use my strengths to serve someone else who has strengths I am lacking.
My friend Maureen brought me this beautiful sourdough loaf the other day.
It truly was the loaf of my dreams; fluffy, bubbly, plenty of crevices to catch some golden home-made butter or olive oil and balsamic vinegar, with a golden crispy crust, and a hint of yeasty sourness.
It was heaven, for so many reasons most folks may not realize.
I don't eat a whole lot of storebought bread because it has really weird stuff in it, like Soy Lecithin...
Why does it even need that???
Well, soy lecithin serves as an emulsifier- aiding in keeping mixtures of fat and water from separating. It also works as a preservative, and it is added to things like vitamin-supplements to increase fat and protein content.
But soy contains these chenicals called phytoestrogens, which your body can confuse for the same estrogens it produces... Because of this percieved estrogen, your body thinks, "Oh look, we produced enough estrogen already! Nice work crew, lets close up shop and head home for the day."
This leads to estrogen imbalance, reproductive-system disruption, and maybe even cancers- like breast cancer.
Keep in mind that this is theory.
Studies haven't 100% linked soy consumption with cancers, some sources even claim soy lecithin actually has several health benefits!
But in my brief research-session, I did learn that Soy Lecithin is a byproduct of raw soy processing. It is extracted using a solvent called hexane, it is then "degummed," and dried.
This is a red flag in my opinion. It doesn't go along with "take what is given," from the Honorable Harvest- for one...
If you trace soy consumption back through it's history as a staple food in Asian cultures, it was never consumed raw. Soy was always fermented like it is in Tempeh or Tofu- which was also the case with other traditional foods around the world, like sourdough, kefir, kimchi, and sauerkraut.
Hard-to-digest foods that were commonly consumed were historically prepared in ways that made them easier to digest.
As a country, we didn't start producing and consuming Soy, Corn, Barley, and Wheat to better our health... these increased with mechanization of agriculture, and because these crops were easy to grow in large quantities. There is a lot of collusion and corruption that went on in between (there is a whole book written about this called Against the Grain, which is worth a read, but for the sake of keeping this email a reasonable length, I'll skip those details for now!) Add in government subsidies, namely the Farm Bill, which stilited up agriculture and the economy and caused an insane overproduction of these commodities in the US. We were left with a massive problem of how to use this mountain of over-produced commodities created with tax-payer dollars. So into livestock feeds these products went, and into fuel production, and into all kinds of new processed foods.
Did you know that the original food pyramid was actually built to encourage more grain consumption to add value to these over-produced commodities, rather than to encourage US families to eat a more balanced diet?
The Farm Bill still designates millions of tax-payer dollars to subsidies for the production of commodity crops like corn, soy, wheat, and barley- even though these crops are not the most efficient, profitable, or environmentally-friendly crops farmers could be growing. These subsidies (see the categories titled: Crop Insurance and Commodities, totalling 68.1 Billion Dollars, in the figure below) keep farms stuck growing the same crop rotations over and over, depleting soils, and then applying increasing amounts of petroleum-based fertilizers and herbicides to make up the difference...
You can read more about the Farm Bill HERE.
This sounds about like the Honorable Harvest, doesn't it BJ???!
So, with all of that in mind... and the fact that heart disease, cancer, diabetes, infertility, and other health issues have been on the rise in our country since this major mechanization and subsidization of agriculture changed our food industry, I have decided to not to eat things with Soy Lecithin (and many other additives and preservatives) whenever I can help it. It just isn't necessary, and it supports industrial practices I am ashamed of and disgusted by in our country.
I'm not perfect and I certainly still have some work to do, but it's a start!
All of this factors in to how I felt about my disappointment with my incapacity to make enjoyable sourdough bread, and the deep gratitude I felt when Maureen graciously handed me that loaf to feed my family with.
What A Gift.
I later delivered a dozen eggs to her door in hopes I could help nourish her family too- my attempt at the Honorable Harvest and a Heart of Reciprocity.
We need our shortcomings, to tie ourselves to each other in community.
Trading and gifting are really something I haven't felt the full value of until recently, and I hope to do a lot more of that in 2023.
I'm not giving up on baking altogether though!
I found some pretty helpful and FREE resources from the University of Wyoming Extension, and I thought they might also be of use to you!
I can tell you from experience, that trying to follow recipes at high-altitudes can be pretty dang frustrating.
These guides on conversions and altitude-friendly recipes are just fantastic!
I hope they help you with your culinary endeavors.
Speaking of giving BJ...
Valentine's Day is coming right up!
Do you have a special someone you would like to give a neat gift to?
We have Funny Farm Valentines paired with our awesome Beef Snacks to help you out!
Order One or Two for a Friend,
Four for a Sibling,
Send a Whole Beef Bouquet of 6 Valentines to a very Special Someone!
Each Valentine Pack includes FREE Shipping and is shipped in a 100% recyclable reinforced-kraft-paper mailer.
You can even send a custom message to your friends, family, and loved ones- just specify what you want to say in the notes section when you place your order!
Keep your peeps full and happy, and let them know you are thinking of them this Valentine's Day.
There are still a few more days to get your Winter Sampler Bundle before bulk meat deposits open up this Spring.
Get your Beef, Lamb, or Pork bundle HERE.
Or try all three at once HERE.
That's all we've got for you this week.
-BJ, Peter, and the Taste of the Wind Crew