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Turkey Tracks: I’m in Charleston

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anTurkey Tracks:  May 27, 2014

 

I’m In Charleston

 

Hello Everyone,

 

I’m in Charleston–and will be for the next two weeks.

I’m visiting my two sons, who live two blocks from each other on Isle of Palms–which is just north of Charleston harbor.  AND, I’m staring my visit with my old young friend Tara Derr Webb and her husband Leighton Webb of Awendaw, SC.  They are the owners of the Farmbar project (farm to table food and the products of the most amazing farms and fiber makers) and of Deux Peuces Farm (two fleas–they are the two fleas).  Tara falls in age between my two sons, so I’ve known her almost as long as I’ve known them–minus a decade maybe.

Tara and I are working on her farm–there will be a workshop later today to make lacto-fermented foods and to teach others from the Farmbar community to make them.   And we are off in a minute to round up the food for the workshop.  I came prepared with books (Sandor Ellis Katz’s WILD FERMENTATION, for one) and a handout that includes gut health issues and information about The Weston A. Price Foundation.

This morning we shared this page from Thich Nhat Hanh’s HOW TO SIT:

DOING LESS

Many of us keep trying to do more and more.  We do things because we want to make money, accomplish something, take care of others, or make our lives and our world better.  Often we do things without thinking, because we are in the habit of doing them, because someone asks us to, or because we think we should.  But if the foundation of our being is not strong enough, then the more we do, the more troubled our society becomes.

Sometimes we do a lot, but we don’t really do anything.  There are many people who work a lot.  There are people who seem to meditate a lot, spending many hours a day doing sitting meditation, chanting, reciting, lighting a lot of incense, but who never transform their anger, frustration, and jealousy.  This is because the quality of our being is the basis of all our actions.  With an attitude of accomplishing, judging, or grasping, all of our actions–even our meditation–will have that quality.  The quality of our presence is the most positive element that we can contribute to the world.

Here’s a not-so-great picture of Tara on her porch this morning–in between chores.  I will take pictures while I am here for later–the ipad isn’t so great for the blog.

 

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Turkey Tracks: New Books on Food Issues

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Turkey Tracks:  January 2, 2013

New Books on Food Issues

 

I’ve been waiting for this one to be published:

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Denise Minger is the fiery and very funny young woman who took on T. Colin Campbell of The China Study fame and showed that he is so blinded by his vegan belief system that he is not “seeing” what his data is really telling him about meat protein.

T. Colin Campbell, you might recall, is the bona fide scientist who thinks that meat causes cancer.  Only his data does not support that conclusion.  And, you might also recall from earlier posts on this blog that one of the main critiques of The China Study is that the Chinese doctors did not come to the same conclusions that Campbell did about meat.  Indeed, in the very middle of the film (I will not call it a documentary as it is really an emotional and unscientific appeal to a belief system), the Chinese doctor filmed says that “meat and vegetables” support health.

The takaway here, as Minger notes early on in the book, is that we have to consider WHO is telling us what to eat and to consider their agendas a part of our vetting process.  Sometimes “experts” are not so expert.

Minger, as a teenager, spent a year being a raw food believer and learned the bitter lesson that one’s body needs nutrient dense food.  In that year, as she recounts in her book, she got 16 cavities and her dentist said he had never seen a mouth so badly hurt in one so young.  So, it will be interesting to see how she positions herself around “what to eat.”

She is very clear that there is no “one size fits all” diet that is magic.  We each have to know our bodies and figure out what gives us good health.  Still, she does list some foods that cause a lot of people trouble, and grains are in that mix.  But I will do a more formal review of this book when I finish it.

Michael Pollen’s book Cooked was the gift of Gina Caceci, who knows me well.

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Apparently Pollen spends some time writing about Sandor Ellis Katz’s lacto-fermented foods (Wild Fermentation).  And, with Katz, of course.  (I have several blog posts on lacto-fermenting foods and on Katz.)  Recently I read a Dr. Joseph Mercola post that said the lacto-fermented foods have the power to detox the body.  I don’t doubt it.

Thanks you, Gina!

 

 

 

 

 

 

xxxx

Turkey Tracks: Lacto-Fermenting Project

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Turkey Tracks:  December 7, 2013

Lacto-Fermenting Project

 

I got it into my head that I needed to make a good bit of lacto-fermented foods right away.

Thursday saw me buying a huge bag full of cabbages (red and white), leeks, turnips, rutabegas, and parsnips.  I already had a big bag carrots.  And the garden is full of kale.

Veggies to Lactoferment

Here’s the spread:

Veggies on counter

And the kale from the garden.  I also brought in handfuls of the last of the sage, which is a bit more winter hardy than the other herbs:

Kale from garde

On Friday, I started food processing.  I had two projects:  to make a new batch of the root veggies I LOVED over the past few months.  The first batch was just turnips, carrots, garlic, and sage.  This batch would have also parsnips (very sweet) and rutabegas and red onion.

I don’t know how to describe the taste of this turnip mixture.  It does not taste like turnip.  It does have a bright, fresh taste that is delightful–much as Sandor Ellis Katz promised in his book WILD FERMENTATION.

The second project was some mixtures of cabbage (red and white), leeks, onions when I ran out of leeks, kale, carrot, one had a turnip, more garlic, and sage.  I decided to do at least two mixtures of just cabbage, carrot, and caraway seeds–the traditional mixture from NOURISHING TRADITIONS (Sally Fallon Morell and Dr. Mary Enig of The Weston A. Price Foundation) with which I started this journey.

The project went rather well:

Lactofermented veggies, 4 gallons

There is a gallon of fermented cabbage in the crock.  I transferred it to jars this morning.  So I have almost 4 gallons of delicious food.

The orange is the root veggie mixture.  The cabbage mixtures will turn bright rosy pink in a few days–from the red cabbage effect.

The kitchen was a mess when I was done.  (You should have seen the floor.)

veggies, kitchen wipeout

But it cleaned up quickly as no grease was involved:

Kitchen clean-up

Hint:  the jars will be so pretty with a red ribbon and a Christmas Card attached, don’t you think?

Shhhhhh…..

And I’m not giving away the big root veggie jar or the jar with the hinge.  They’re for ME!!

Books, Documentaries, Reviews: Sandor Ellis Katz at Cornell

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Books, Documentaries, Reviews:  November 6, 2013

Sandor Ellis Katz

Cornell University

April 2, 2012

I finally slowed down to listen to Sandor Ellis Katz–WILD FERMENTATION–at Cornell Univerity.  The U-tube video is 90 minutes.  So, grab some handwork, settle in, and enjoy an interesting, thought provoking lecture that discusses, in part, how the standardization of food has drastically altered our ability to enjoy the full power inherent in heritage foods–even when so-called “heritage” foods are made and sold–something Katz thinks is false advertising.

Such changes have altered the “culture” in every sense of that word–the way we live, the cultures we use in foods (yogurt, kombucha, breads, beers, etc.)

So, do you ever try to make yogurt?  And have you noticed that you get really good yogurt for a few generations, and then you…don’t?

Well, the reason is that a culture is a community of many different organisms–thirty or more– that work together to keep the culture stable.  But this kind of community is very hard to standardize–so industry only uses part of the community–which means that what is being advertised is not really the genuine thing.  For instance, the dried powder we buy to start a yogurt culture does not contain the full community of organisms.  And, commercial kombucha only uses part of the SCOBY colony to make its product.  (A SCOBY is a symbiotic community of bacteria and yeasts.)  The same is true of yogurt, cheeses, breads, beer, and so forth.

Cultures for yogurt, kefir (pronounced ke-fear, I’ve learned), kombucha and so forth used to be passed down in families and communities–and they retained their full components in the process.  What we have now is NOT the full biodiversity of a heritage culture.  So the loss, the reduction, is enormous–and is a loss of the culture (the social grouping) as well.

The yogurt culture one can buy can only sustain itself for a few generations–because it isn’t complete.  Standardization killed it.  Food safety laws have limited it.

So, Katz’s main message is that we need to reclaim our food as mass production has been an abject failure in that this food lacks…cultures…and has changed our culture in unhealthy ways.  Shifting how we eat begins to reclaim our culture–so that we once again nourish our bodies and regain our health.

Take some time for yourself to understand what has gone wrong, what the limits of industrialization are, what you can do.

And, maybe try to locate a heritage culture for yogurt and/or kefir.

And, make some lacto-fermented foods for yourself.  They are so delicious!

Here is Katz’s video on how to make a sauerkraut–which bear no similarity to that limp stuff you get in a can:

Written by louisaenright

November 6, 2013 at 11:29 am

Turkey Tracks: How to Feed Your Gut

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Turkey Tracks:  October 15, 2013

How to Feed Your Gut

 

More and more information is appearing daily about the importance of keeping your gut healthy.

You may recall from other postings on this blog that I compromised my gut health over the years–and have paid a pretty hefty price for doing so.  It turns out that I have a genetic sensitivity to gluten–tested by a reputable lab sanctioned by the government with a fecal test.  (Blood tests don’t often catch these kinds of food allergies.)  The hefty price is that when I harmed my gut by eating gluten and other foods that let the opportunistic gut flora and fauna we all carry get out of control–read sugars and too many carbs here–they perforated the walls of my gut and food particles began to escape into my bloodstream–which, in turn, created conditions where my body thinks it is being attacked and produces a classic histamine reaction.  My blood pressure drops, I lose all muscle control, and I pass out and have to be hauled off to the hospital where I recover in time.  It takes days to get my brain fully functioning again.

This falling domino sequence did not happen overnight.  It took years.  And I ignored all the warning signs:  reactions to red wine, allergic runny nose and sneezing after eating a food my body did not like, irritable bowel reactions that could strike without warning, the yo-yo effect of constipation followed by diarrhea, weight gain, and on and on.  I didn’t stop until I started passing out and my list of foods that would set off the reaction began to grow and grow until I was afraid to eat anything for fear of setting off an attack.

You can’t take a pill to “fix” this kind of thing.  The only way out is to heal your gut.  And to do that, you have to stop eating any kind of processed food and to start eating nutrient dense whole clean foods that nourish your body.

So, guess what is one of the very best things you can do?  Eat lots of lacto-fermented foods EVERY DAY at EVERY MEAL.  This food has more probiotics and enzymes than any probiotic product you can buy in a store.  Lacto-fermented foods are changed in ways that make them even better than they were when raw.  It’s how people used to store foods before canning and freezing came along.  And, note that canning kills foods and freezing is an energy drain.  I reserve freezing real estate for things like meat, local fruit, and roasted tomatoes, where it takes many tomatoes roasted down to fill a pint jar.

But, first, let me explain that “lacto” is from the wild ingredient that lives in the air, lactobacillus.  Cultured milk products also contain lactobacillus, so that’s where you might have first heard that term.  And I learned all that and how to make sauerkraut first from The Weston A. Price Foundation’s Sally Fallon Morell and Dr. Mary Enig’s book NOURISHING TRADITIONS (a must have in your library).  Then, I built on that knowledge after a few  years with Sandor Ellis Katz’s book WILD FERMENTATION.

Katz was the Maine Organic Farmers’ and Gardners’ Association keynote speaker at the Common Ground Fair this past September.  He has a new book out that is more comprehensive than WILD FERMENTATION.  The new book, I think it’s called THE ART OF FERMENTATION, includes fermenting meats–like corning beef, for instance–which is something I really want to try.

Thus, Katz was in our region, and that sparked other programs on lacto-fermentation.  One such was given by Ana M. Antaki at the Belfast Library–and Margaret Rauenhorst and I went.

Here’s Margaret outside the library–we got to the program a bit early.  Belfast had all sorts of clever benches done by various local artists and placed all over town.

lacto-ferm, Margaret, Belfast library

Margaret is important here because her recipes differ a little from mine–and it’s important to realize that there are different ways to lacto-ferment foods.  For instance, I first learned to lacto-ferment cabbage into something we call sauerkraut (which bears little resemblance to cooked cabbage that’s fermented) from NOURISHING TRADITIONS–the excellent book from Sally Fallon Morell and Dr. Mary Enig of The Weston A. Price Foundation.  That recipe uses some whey drained from yogurt along with a bit of salt, whereas Katz does not use whey.  And Margaret, who does not refrigerate her sauerkraut at all, says the whey makes it go softer quicker.

And Ana Antaki uses glass jars with a bailer and rubber seal (Fido jars) to lacto-ferment, whereas Katz uses mostly crocks.  Ana likes the bialers and seals as she says they let out gasses that form but do not let in outside air.  I use, in addition to jars with rubber seals and bailers (FIDO jars) and crocks, half-gallon Mason jars because that’s what I have on hand and because I have the refrigerator room to store them so they stay cool.  The crocks require a bit more attention to keeping liquid levels high enough.  The Mason jars maybe need to have the gases inside let out from time to time if the jars are in places that are not cool enough.   I do have questions about the glass Fido jars not letting in enough “wild” organisms not so much to help ferment the foods, but to let even more of the “wild” of nature do even more work.

Ana and her husband Roy put up ALL of their produce from their Weeping Duck Farm every year using methods like lacto-fermentation and dehydration.  They do not buy any fresh produce all winter.  And it’s important to realize that the food inside the jars/crocks stays as fresh and bright as the day you put it into the container.  Ana has kept lacto-fermented jars for as long as five years before eating the contents.

Lacto-fermentation takes only two ingredients:  salt (real sea salt please) and water (no added fluoride or chlorine).  How simple is that?

And there are two methods:  one for foods you want to cut or grate into small pieces and one for foods you can preserve in larger chunks.

Both methods could not be simpler to make and are delicious.

Sauerkraut and Sauerruben (a mixture of grated root veggies) put grated veggies into a bowl.  One then adds salt and whatever spices or herbs one wants.  (Ana adds less salt than Katz, but Katz says to use salt to your own taste.  Ana adds 3 tablespoons of sea salt to about 5 pounds of veggies.)  NOURISHING TRADITIONS adds 4 tablespoons of whey dripped out from yogurt and 1 tablespoon of salt.  (I don’t know if the whey from commercial, processed yogurt would work–it is a dead food.)

Here’s a bowl of grated cabbage with bits of carrot–you could also fine-cut the cabbage with a knife.

Lacto fermented cabbage started

I started using a pestle to bruise the cabbage enough until it started rendering its liquid–until I saw a 6-minute video Katz put on utube that showed him using his hands to squeeze the cabbage.  That seemed to work a bit better.

Once the cabbage renders enough liquid, one just packs it into a jar and lets it sit.  I turn mine upside down a few times a day and refrigerate it after a few days as that slows down the fermenting action.  I still use 4 tablespoons of whey and maybe only one tablespoon of salt, but I don’t stress about it.  I add things like some caraway seeds.  Garlic is good in anything.  You could add some herbs from the garden.  Use what sounds good to YOU.

You can start to eat any of these foods after a few days.  But the longer they ferment, the more they “develop” interesting flavors that are richer and deeper.  Refrigeration slows the reactions.

Here’s the sauerkraut packed into a jar:

Lacto fermented cabbage

After after a few days, I was able to put the contents of the half-filled jar into the full one…

If you use a crock, you need a plate you can push down over the top of the veggies  to make the liquid rise and cover them–and a weight to keep it pushed down–like a Mason jar filled with water–and a clean dish towel or cheesecloth over the top–tied around so fruit flies that are very present this time of year don’t get inside.  You want this food to be able to breathe.

The other method involves cutting up veggies, adding spices and or herbs (I put whole garlic cloves into everything as it is a great immune builder–and I eat them as I go along) and pouring some brine over the mixture until the jar is full.  Ana uses wooden popsicle sticks pushed down into the neck of her jars to keep the liquid covering the food–and that works really well.

The brine is simple–you can mix in 3 tablespoons of sea salt to one liter of water.  Katz uses about 6 tablespoons for about 8 cups and replenishes evaporated liquid with a mixture of 1 tablespoon salt to one cup of water.  You just put the salt into cold water, stir it around, and pour it over the veggies.

Here are my mixed veggies:

lacto-fermented mixed veggies 2

This batch has eggplant cut into chunks, carrots, beans, salad turnips, green peppers, red peppers, and so forth.  Green beans are delicious done this way.  And, of course, Katz has a recipe for New York garlicky pickles that is delicious!  I can’t get enough of them.

It’s wise to always put a fresh jar/crock into a pan or a container so that if there is overflow, it won’t ruin anything.  Especially with the crocks and especially if they are fullish.  With the jars, you will see bubbles rise to the neck of the jar and when you see a ring of bubbles–or bubbles rising if you pick up the jar and shake it–you know all is well.  Again, putting a jar into a cool place slows the reactions.

Remember that the veggies are in an acid environment–so will not go bad.  And remember if using a crock, it’s entirely normal for the top of the liquid to “bloom” with white bits and blue bits.  Just skim those off.  They don’t hurt anything any more than the white and blue bits in blue cheese.  It’s normal.  It’s WILD.

I just tasted a crock I did two weeks ago of grated turnips (about 4 pounds) and carrots (1 pound)–with added sage from the garden.  It is DELICIOUS!  It has no “turnipy” taste at all–is just clear and fresh and lovely.  I’m going to transfer it to a glass jar and think about doing it again and adding in some parsnips…  And, maybe, rutabega as I have some.  I might have grated in some Daikon radish and I did add garlic…   How healthy is that?

So, here’s a picture of the New York garlicky pickles this summer–lots of garlic, grape leaves to keep the pickles crisp, some peppercorns, and fresh dill:

Sour Pickes in crock

And a summer favorite–a bacon, lettuce, tomato (from your garden), slivered onion sandwich with homemade mayo and with a pickle on the side:

Sour Pickles

Turkey Tracks: MOFGA (Maine Organic Farmers’ and Growers’ Association) Fair, 2013

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Turkey Tracks:  September 25, 2013

MOFGA’S COMMON GROUND FAIR

I went on the first day–Friday.

By myself, as it turned out…

And that was ok…

It was HOT though, so I found myself going home sooner than I might have in cooler weather.

I visited some of my favorite people in their booths, though some sort of inertia set in and I didn’t take many pictures.  The chicken house has been a bit lacking in recent years–not so many types of chickens.  And I confess I would never take any of my beloveds to be gawked at and yelled around for three days.  I continue to admire and think about a cold hardy, dark brown, chicken from Ohio–Buckeye.  Here’s a rooster.

I visited Kelly Corbett of Romney Ridge Farm.  Kelly is now being accepted into major shows up and down the East Coast.  I stopped by The Spinnery booth.  Bill is the most amazing knitter, and his yarns are gorgeous.  I strolled through the craft tents, but I’m not really into buying many “things” these days.  I stopped by Roots, Coops, and More.  Lori and Steven have so many interesting and well-designed chicken coops for people with small flocks.

I didn’t go near the livestock barns–just got too hot and tired.  So, I missed the man who brings ten mules to the fair–ten mules he hitches up together about once a day.  Mules are like potato chips, he says.  You can’t have just one.  Mules, like parrots, live to be VERY old, over 50 years, so getting one is not a small undertaking.

I bought this year’s t-shirt and listened to Sander Ellis Katz (lacto-fermentation–WILD FERMENTATION), who was the keynote speaker.  (He has a new book out, and it does contain a recipe for corning beef, which son Bryan and I talked about when he was here–I think the new book is called THE ART OF FERMENTATION, and it’s meant to be an “everything you need to know” kind of book.)

I stood in line for the lamb shish-k-bob I love to get each year:

MOFGA, lamb vendor

And it was as delicious as ever…

MOFGA, lamb k-bobs

And I always get a “blood” drink from the Solar Cafe–beet, apple, fresh ginger, and lime.

MOFGA Solar Cafe

Delicious!

MOFGA, bull d

I stopped by John’s ice cream on the way home.  I love the way John changes the flavors on a regular basis.  I got Spumoni, which was filled with dates and figs and coconut and chocolate.  Mercy!  It was so good!

I drifted home on a cloud of sugar energy.

Once a year…

Interesting Information: Just Say “NO” to Hand-wash Chemicals

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Interesting Information:  November 11, 2012

Just Say “NO” to Hand-Wash Chemicals

I was looking for a fermented beet recipe in Sandor Ellix Katz’s WILD FERMENTATION when I realized I had marked a passage about using antibacterial soaps, most of which contain Triclosan or Triclocarban.  Katz’s book is all about using organisms of fermentation to create living foods.  As such, he argues that these organisms “play a role in protecting us, as organisms among organisms, from disease” (8).

Triclosan has been classified as a pesticide by the EPA since 1969, though it is more often used in products that promote the “body hygiene,” with which we are obsessed.  Here’s the EPA site since googling reveals that there are a number of internet sites trying to deny this classification of triclosan:  http://www.epa.gov/oppsrrd1/REDs/factsheets/triclosan_fs.htm.   One does not really want to think that one is putting a pesticide on one’s skin or in one’s mouth (toothpaste).

The Natural Resources Defense council’s page on the dangers of triclosan is a good place to start understanding how dangerous it is.  Triclosan may cause antibiotic resistance in humans and definitely encourages the growth of “superbugs” and disrupts hormones, particularly in the brain and the reproductive systems:  http://www.nrdc.org/living/chemicalindex/triclosan.asp?gclid=CPyh97ewx7MCFcxAMgod0n4AQg.

I was fairly astonished at the extensive use of triclosan in all kinds of products.  Dr. Ben Kim has assembled an astonishing list of these products: http://drbenkim.com/articles/triclosan-products.htm.  One might expect triclosan in soap, but it’s also in toothpaste and all kinds of cosmetics–and that’s just the beginning.  Do take a look at Kim’s list–it’s in first-aid products, clothing, toys, kitchen equipment…

If the terms “antibacterial” or “antimicrobial” appear on a label, start looking deeper for Triclosan on the main ingredient label.

And, if you’re somewhere where you’ve used a toilet that has one of those hand-wash dispensers that substitute for soap and water–you might want to forgo using it.  What may or may not be on your hands is far less dangerous than the chemical you’re about to use.  Maybe carry “wipes” that are less dangerous?

As I said, Americans are obsessed with germs and body hygiene–which dates back to the divergence between germ-theory proponents and immune-system proponents AND to the market’s ability to make products that seem to quiet our fears about germs and pathogens–a fear the market exploits.  I explored this history in Mainely Tipping Points 8 Essay, with regard to the safety of real milk versus the dead commercial milk, which is on this blog.  (You can get to the essays by clicking on the right sidebar or by searching from the search bottom on the right sidebar ).  And, that’s where Katz and his WILD FERMENTATION come back into play.  It’s worth reading Katz’s take on this whole subject, from which I quote below.  (Note:   Katz cites all his quotes in the text.)

Our culture is terrified of germs and obsessed with hygiene.  The more we glean about disease-causing viruses, bacteria, and other microorganisms, the more we fear exposure to all forms of microscopic life.  Every new sensationalized killer microbe gives us more reason to defend ourselves with vigilance  Nothing illustrates this more vividly than the sudden appearance, everywhere in the United States, of antibacterial soap.  Twenty years ago, mass marketing of antibacterial soap was but a glimmer in some pharmaceutical executive’s eye.  It has quickly become the standard hand-washing hygiene product.  Are fewer people getting sick as a result?  “There’s no evidence that they do any good and there’s reason to suspect that they could contribute to a problem by helping to create antibiotic-resistant bacteria,” says Dr. Myron Genel, chair of the American Medical Association’s Council on Scientific Affairs.  Antibacterial soap is just another exploitative and potentially dangerous product being sold by preying on people’s fears.

The antibacterial compounds in these soaps, most commonly triclosan, kill the more susceptible bacteria but not the heartier ones.  “These resistant microbes may include bacteria…that were unable to gain a foothold previously and are now able to thrive thanks to the destruction of competing microbes,” says Dr. Stuart Levy, director of the Tufts University Center for Adaptation Genetics and Drug Resistance.  Your skin, your orifices, and the surfaces of your home are all covered with microorganisms that help protect you (and themselves) from potentially harmful organisms that you both encounter.  Constantly assaulting the bacteria on, in, and around you with antibacterial compounds weakens one line of defense your body uses against disease organisms.

Microorganisms not only protect us by competing with potentially dangerous organisms, they teach the immune system how to function.  “The immune system organizes itself through experience, just like the brain,” says Dr. Irun R. Cohen of the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel.  A growing number of researchers are finding evidence to support what is known as “the hygiene hypothesis,” which attributes the dramatic rise in the prevalence of asthma and other allergies to lack of exposure to diverse microorganisms found in soil and untreated water.  “The cleaner we live…the more likely we’ll get asthma and allergies,” states Dr. David Rosenstreich, director of Allergy and Immunology at the Albert Einstein School of Medicine in New York (9).

So, just say “no” to Triclosan as an ingredient in hygiene products and all the other products in which it is found.

And think about all the germ-theory hype a bit more…

Work to build up your immune system…