Tag Archives: Raw food

The Placenta Cookbook

For a growing number of new mothers, there’s no better nutritional snack after childbirth than the fruit of their own labor.

By Atossa Araxia Abrahamian 

Published Aug 21, 2011 

A fresh placenta simmers with ginger, lemon, and a jalapeño pepper.

(Photo: Kathryn Parker Almanas )

 

Jennifer Hughes’s placenta was delivered ten minutes after her first child, just before midnight on March 31. It was on the large side, with a liverish texture and a bluish tinge; it measured nine inches in diameter and weighed a pound and a half. Placentas are considered biohazardous waste by the medical Establishment and are usually disposed of accordingly. Some hospitals send the afterbirth in formaldehyde to a pathology lab for analysis before it is carted off by a tissue-disposal service; others toss it out with bloody miscellany in special containers.

 

 

But in the birth plan that Hughes brought with her to Beth Israel Medical Center, she specified that she wanted to keep her placenta, for cultural reasons. Complying with New York State health regulations, which says that hospitals “may, at the request of a patient or patient’s representative, return a healthy placenta for disposition by the patient,” the hospital allowed her to take it home, and even packed it up for her.

In some cultures, it is customary to bury the placenta and plant a tree over it.

Hughes had other plans. She was going to eat it.

Early the next morning, a 28-year-old woman named Jennifer Mayer is driving a Subaru from Manhattan over the Brooklyn Bridge with an opaque takeout container in the passenger seat. Inside the container is a gallon-size Ziploc bag, and inside the bag is Jennifer Hughes’s placenta.

Mayer—an upbeat, blue-eyed blonde from upstate New York—is a professional placenta-preparer. Her job is to transform placentas into supplements that are said to alleviate postpartum depression, aid in breastmilk production and lactation, act as a uterine tonic, and replenish nutrients lost during pregnancy. Her clients are mostly middle-class, like Hughes and her husband, Doug, who are college-educated, in their thirties, and live on a gentrifying street in Crown Heights. On this dreary April morning, Mayer is driving the afterbirth to their apartment to begin preparing it.

 

“It’s the freshest placenta I’ve ever worked with!” she says, glancing over at the container as the car lurches through traffic. Mayer speaks about the organ in tones most women reserve for newborns: “perfect,” “beautiful,” “precious.”

 

Her enthusiasm isn’t unfounded. The placenta feeds the baby until birth, filtering toxins while letting in vitamins, minerals, oxygen, and other nutrients from the mother’s bloodstream. It even helps reduce the risk of transmitting viruses, including HIV, from mother to child.

Mayer, who also works as a massage therapist and doula, first became interested in placentas as a student at the University of Colorado. After reading up on the purported benefits of consuming one’s afterbirth and learning that a client was planning to try it, Mayer decided that she wanted to offer her customers placenta capsules: dried, ground afterbirth packaged into a clear pill no bigger than a regular vitamin supplement.

The technique, called encapsulation, was not widely practiced in Colorado and, until quite recently, was practically unknown on the East Coast. But Mayer found a doula who conducted training sessions with donated placentas, and started her business, Brooklyn Placenta Services, shortly thereafter.

“They’re happy pills,” Mayer says. “They’re made by your body, for your body. Why wouldn’t you want to try?”

 

In 1930, the researchers Otto Tinklepaugh and Carl Hartman described a female macaque monkey eating her placenta. “After licking the afterbirth, she begins the grueling task … of consuming this tough fibrous mass,” they wrote. “Holding the organ in her hands, she bites and tears at it with her teeth.” Tinklepaugh and Hartman could not determine the precise reason why macaques—and virtually every other land mammal—eat their own placenta. To this day, the reasons remain unclear.

Mark Kristal, a behavioral neuroscientist at the University of Buffalo, is the country’s leading (and quite possibly only) authority on placentophagia, the practice of placenta consumption. He has been researching the phenomenon for twenty years, and concludes that it must offer “a fundamental biological advantage” to all mammals. What this advantage is, he writes in one of his papers, “is still a mystery … in fact, a double mystery. We are not sure either of the immediate causes … nor are we sure of the consequences of the behavior.” But placentas have carried a special spiritual significance in some cultures. In ancient Egypt, it had its own hieroglyph, and the Ibo tribe in Nigeria and Ghana treats the placenta like a child’s dead twin. In traditional Chinese medicine, small doses of human placenta are sometimes dried, mixed with herbs, and ingested to alleviate, among other things, impotence and lactation conditions. And in modern medicine, doctors often bank umbilical-cord blood to treat genetic diseases with harvested stem cells.

According to Kristal, the first recorded placentophagia movement in America began in the seventies, when people residing in communes would cook up a placenta stew and share it among themselves. “It’s a New Age phenomenon,” he explains. “Every ten or twenty years people say, ‘We should do this because it’s natural and animals do it.’ But it’s not based on science. It’s a fad.”

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Cultured Almond milk?

So… I’m working to ween myself of of animal products and by-products gradually.  A few days ago I discovered that you can purchase non-dairy yogurt (aside from the soy yogurt that has been out for a while) and I was super excited! Yogurt has been a part of my daily mourning breakfast routine since 2008 (before that I hated yogurt!  And anything else white and creamy…think what you will lol), when I learned the benefits it has for digestive and vaginal health:-)  But when I decided to embark on a new lifestyle that includes less of the animal stuff and more of the raw, fruity and leafy stuff, I was kind of devastated…

Now I learned of a couple other options to take the place of the dairy yogurt I had grown to love: cultured almond milk and cultured coconut milk!  I bought some of the cultured almond milk, and umm.. I can’t get with it.  Now it was my first time today, so I shouldn’t rule it completely out, but I do NOT like the way it feels.  The consistency is like gelatin, but it’s creamy and opaque (not a good combination).  I haven’t tried the cultured coconut milk yet, and probably will next, but does anyone know of a yogurt alternative (besides soy yogurt) that is vegan but has the same consistency as regular yogurt and all the above noted benefits?  Perhaps it’s just the brand I purchased? (Amande – you have to scroll down a bit to find it).

Please help!!


A trip to the Farmer’s Market!

It’s that time folks!  Pretty soon, if not already, farmer’s markets or open air markets all over the nation will open their doors, gates, roofs, fields to visitors!  It’s a time to celebrate!  Natural, organic, and handmade items will be available to you in an irresistibly fresh quality and at irresistibly cheap prices (sometimes 😉  This is a time when Farmer’s and venders come together and bring you the items that they’ve harvested or created just for you!  You should know, most markets operate on a summer schedule (unless it’s indoors, or year round), and typically run on Saturday, in the morning to early afternoon.  Sometimes, the same market will be open one day a week, but have less items to sell.  If you are lucky, your city or town will have multiple markets, and the once-a-week schedule allows them to rotate so that visitors can check out various vendors, or makes it easier for vendors to schedule a time to sell that’s best for them.  If you are unsure of a market in your area, or if you want to check a market schedule, simply research online and call your local chamber of commerce.  There should be plenty of information available!  Farmer’s Markets allow you the opportunity to help with sustainability!  You get to buy fresh, and it helps local farmers!

People who should definitely visit a farmer’s market:

If you love fresh veggies

If you absolutely detest veggies, or your children do

If you are living/interested in an “alternative”  or healthy lifestyle (vegatarian, raw, organic, vegan, gluten-free)

If you love MEAT

If you are an herbalist, or like fresh herbs and flowers

If you like natural remedies for ailments

If you are a tea connoisseur

If you love chocolate or handmade candies

If you like candles, bath salts, or other beauty items that are homemade

If you like finding things you can’t buy in a store (non-branded or non-commercialized items)

If you’ve never been to a farmer’s market

If you frequent farmer’s markets

If you know of a wonderful market in your neighborhood, town, or city, please post a comment with the location, hours/schedule, and your favorite things to buy!  This will help others decide if they would like to travel to your market, and give those new to the concept an opportunity to hear from you, the expert!

Check out these links for popular markets in:

Indianapolis

New York City

Philadelphia

Cincinnati

Los Angeles

Happy Marketing:-)


More than Just Uncooked: Hair, Body, Spirit and the Raw Food Revolution

Over the past couple years, it seems as if I have been on a journey backwards; to the most basic and fundamental characteristics of being human.  It started in 2009, when I finally decided that I was tired of being unhappy, unhealthy, and unmotivated.  It’s like one day, I just snapped out of it!  I can literally mark the exact moment when I decided that change was in order, so I had to cut the drama out of my life.  And that’s just what I did!

I ran to the kitchen, grabbed the shears, and proceeded to chop away 23 years of confusion, superficiality, and matter than had previously defined my identity.  My hair.  Now you may be thinking, “Wow!  Is this person serious?”  But oh yes!  I am ever so serious.  For too many women (and men) of color, specifically black/African/American women and men, hair is what sets us apart, and often times, groups us together.  With that said, anyone can be a prisoner of their hair.  I, however, was tired, tired of being concerned with how others would view me if I had a bad hair day, had too much new growth (a.k.a needed a relaxer), or switched up my style unexpectedly.  I was irritated with “rocking the wrap”, and my hair not growing past its predictable length.  I was annoyed with “running from the rain”, and “avoiding the sweat” because water, moisture, or humidity was not my hair’s best friend.  And boy was I fed up with spending all I had (time and money) on hair products or salon visits that did more damage to my hair, or keep me dependent than actually helping me.  I was a captive of the strands on top of my head, and furthermore my confidence in myself was based on filamentous biomaterial and others’ perception of beauty.  Now that’s ridiculous!

Cutting my hair was my way of ridding myself from two decades of social pressure and diminishing self-esteem.  It wasn’t a way to prove myself to anyone other than myself.  It was something I had to do to promote self-love.  And it worked!  Cutting the chemicals out of my hair opened the doors to something new, a new level of consciousness and respect for my whole body, and I have been moving in a seemingly retrogressive direction ever since. Or have I?

As the year(s) advanced, so did my understanding of the need to take care of my body, the environment, and the world around me.  I soon became an avid label-reader, realizing that I can’t trust everything that’s put on the shelves for our consumption.  Words like paraben, organic, bio-degradable, and speciesism entered my vocabulary.  Soon my approach to life became holistic, and although I am not at a place where I feel like I’ve reached the apex of my consciousness, I do feel like I’ve grown so much and there is no turning back.

Marcus Patrick eats a raw food diet!

My latest revelation has to do with the raw food movement.  I recently stumbled upon a website one day as I was researching an actor by the name of Marcus Patrick.  I had been talking about him with someone I thought resembled him physically, and googled him to get a closer look.  One of the first results to pop up in the search was a website called Raw Edge Radio, which had a feature podcast of the actor and his raw food diet.  The feature discussed the myths associated with those who eat a vegan or raw diet.  Now, I want to share with you that I am not vegetarian, vegan, or raw, but have chosen to abstain from beef and pork, and I try to eat healthy and balanced and exercise regularly.  But what this website revealed to me is that I have even more research to do about the effects of what we put into our bodies.

I’m still not completely clear on what it means to be raw, but what I do know is that eating raw vegetables is most certainly a benefit.  But I think most of us know this, and still don’t quite know how to incorporate raw veggies (fruit is probably easier) into our diets, and may even be intimidated by the prospect.  There are numerous books and studies on the raw food diet, and I would definitely encourage everyone to, at the very least, become aware of the various lifestyle choices and choose a way of living that makes the most sense to the individual.  By so doing, your physical, emotional, and spiritual health will begin to improve, and apparently the results will add on some years to your life!  The following is an excerpt from Rawvolution.com, a raw food delivery service that sells prepared raw foods, so you don’t have to!  The facts are simple, but give you an understanding of why raw foods are important:

Why Raw?

The top 3 things that are sapping your energy & compromising your health.

Dehydration

Your body is over seventy percent water, shouldn’t your food choices mirror this? A great way to get a head start on becoming hydrated is to consume food that has not had the natural water removed from it through cooking. Cooked food does nothing to provide your body with much-needed water and dehydrates you further in your bodies attempt to digest it. Everything you put in your stomach needs to be turned into liquid to be digested. How easily is your current diet liquefied?

Malnutrition

Recent data shows that nutritional deficiencies are most often caused by what we eat rather than by what we do not eat. Your current diet may be robbing you of precious vitamins and minerals. A well balanced diet of consciously prepared raw plant foods contains the full compliment of essential vitamins and minerals, while food prepared using conventional methods destroys over 80% of that foods nutrition. Can you afford 80% less nutrition than is naturally found in your food?

Lack Of Enzymes

Enzymes are responsible for every metabolic process that takes place in your body from digestion to healing. Most prepared food is served with up to 100% of the natural enzymes destroyed. One hundred percent! When the lipase and amylase enzymes are destroyed, the body cannot digest fats or carbohydrates and they are stored in the body, causing you to gain weight. When you consume living, enzyme rich food, it practically digests itself. This leaves you with a surplus of energy to play harder, work more efficiently and do more of what you love!

In a world where lifestyle trends wax and wane out of control, it’s extremely crucial for us to be aware of ourselves, if nothing more.  Your body and your spirit knows itself, even if YOU don’t.  Listen to them.  If you are not feeling your optimal best, do something to change it.  Pay attention to the signs: sickness, disease, constant unhappiness- all of which are alarms your body and your spirit emit to let you know attention and care is needed.  This entry only touches the most basic level of awareness.  There is a whole world out there many of us are blind to.  Natural or holistic health is important, especially now since these are times of great uncertainty, your humanistic instincts, your most natural/basic understanding of the world around you may be your only hope for survival…

Suggested Sites:

Raw Vegan Radio

Earth Clinic

Educate Yourself

Google

Your Local Library 🙂


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