Estrogen, A New Cookbook, and What They Eat in the Arctic (Fascinating Articles This Week)

December 4, 2010

Take a look at the crazy flooding in Ithaca this week!


I've just started reading a new cookbook! It's called “Full Moon Feast,” by Jessica Prentice, and last night I adapted the Swedish Meatballs recipe for dinner. They were delicious:

From the forward by Deborah Madison: “... I've...noticed in my travels that the more a culture is intact, the fewer cookbooks it produces. _Full Moon Feast_ ...seeks connection and culture, but it reaches back farther in time to ancient peoples and practices that illustrate a more fundamental relationship to food, and food's relationship to life.”

“...The moons in the title refer to food times, times of the year when certain foods assume prominence, and they make perfect sense, if you can imagine--and with this author's help, you can--a world in which human cultures are exactly in tune with the places they occupy on the planet. This was once a universal human experience, but for modern Americans especially, it is not easy to imagine how it feels to live such a vital connection between season and food, let alone experience it. _Full Moon Feast_ takes us far from the mechanistic bent of our 'everything all the time' culture and shows us how we might see ourselves as members of a human community that ranges far back in time and wide in place...

“..._Full Moon Feast_ picks up the whole cloth of our human world, not just the rag that is our food-as-fuel (but not too much fat, please) approach. Rather than telling us only what's horrific about something, it digs down to those fundamental attitudes that have produced our now-trying relationships to food and shows us what other possibilities might exist, and have existed, for deeper connection and joy in our life...”…


Katie sent me some information about this study, funded by Avon, currently looking for participants:

“...The researchers are comparing differences between the intestinal bacteria of women who were diagnosed with breast cancer within the last 5 years and those who have never had breast cancer. They are also studying the intestinal bacteria of women who have not been diagnosed with breast cancer and have a first-degree relative (mother, daughter, or sister) WITH breast cancer.

“Why are they studying intestinal bacteria to learn about breast cancer? Well, as you may know, exposure to estrogen has been shown to increase breast cancer risk. This estrogen and other female hormones are absorbed through the intestinal tract, and for that absorption to occur bacteria must be present in the intestines. The researchers think that these bacteria and the systems they use to metabolize female hormones may hold clues as to why certain women develop breast cancer and others do not...”


This is a fascinating portfolio of photos of the “oldest living things”:


A speech by Bill Moyers, begins:

“I was honored when you asked me to join in celebrating Howard Zinn's life and legacy. I was also surprised. I am a journalist, not a historian. The difference between a journalist and an historian is that the historian knows the difference. George Bernard Shaw once complained that journalists are seemingly unable to discriminate between a bicycle accident and the collapse of civilization. In fact, some epic history can start out as a minor incident. A young man named Paris ran off with a beautiful woman who was married to someone else, and the civilization of Troy began to unwind. A middle-aged black seamstress, riding in a Montgomery bus, had tired feet, and an ugly social order began to collapse. A night guard at an office complex in Washington D.C. found masking tape on a doorjamb, and the presidency of Richard Nixon began to unwind. What journalist, writing on deadline, could have imagined the walloping kick that Rosa Park's tired feet would give to Jim Crow? What pundit could have fantasized that a third-rate burglary on a dark night could change the course of politics? The historian's work is to help us disentangle the wreck of the Schwinn from cataclysm. Howard famously helped us see how big change can start with small acts. ..”


This is a long, but potentially fascinating resource that I plan to explore someday:

“This report, Iqaluich Nibieaqtuat, Fish That We Eat, honors the traditional Ieupiaq fish food wisdom of northwest Alaska. Each fish native to the study area appears along with its Ieupiaq, English, and Latin names, a sketch, identification details, a brief life history, and associated recipes for gathering, preparation, and use. Each recipe is presented with respect and a genuine appreciation of the food. The directions give as much detail as possible, including background information, enabling readers to continue creating and eating these foods forever. The preparation techniques include raw, boiling, roasting, fermenting, drying, freezing, salting, and pickling. Photos and sketches of fish and processes, plus personal stories, enrich the text, along with Ieupiaq words commonly used today. The vibrant health and vigor enjoyed by past Ieupiat came from eating the whole fish, especially the more flavorful and nutrient-dense liver, eggs, and head. These highly nutritious traditional recipes and preservation techniques remain as delicious and well loved today as they have always been.”


Colleen sent a link to this “Soil and Health” online library. The Longevity and Nutrition section includes many book titles that are out of print and relating to the topic of traditional food and nutrition.


“...In a new $12 million country-wide study, researchers from five universities [in Canada] will take a close look at the dirty diapers of 5,000 babies. ...They’ll map the DNA of the bacteria in the babies stool in hopes of determining if environmental factors, C-sections or antibiotic use increase a child’s risk of allergies or asthma.

“A 2007 study found that children who went on antibiotics four or more times before their first birthday have a 30 percent higher risk of developing asthma. This new study, the largest of its kind, will look at the association between antibiotics and good stomach bacteria to see if antibiotics may negatively affect immune systems, leading to allergies or asthma. Previous research has also shown an association between a higher risk of asthma and C-section births.

“...The findings could have a big impact on how health professions and parents treat early illnesses and raise their children, influencing the health of future generations on a worldwide scale.”