The Body Ecology Diet Cultured Vegetables- Fermented Foods Provide “Good Bacteria”
I have previously written a hub overviewing the basic principles of The Body Ecology Diet (BED). I have also written hubs on some of the specific recommendations of the BED:
Basic Principles of the Body Ecology Diet
The Body Ecology “diet” was developed by Donna Gates to improve health, with weight loss as a pleasant side effect. This statement appears on the cover of The Body Ecology Diet: “A must-read for anyone who wants to be healthy or who is exhausted, overweight or has digestive problems, candida, viral infections, cancer or neurological disorders such as ADD, Autism, Alzheimer’s, and Multiple Sclerosis.”
Making Cultured Vegetables
What Are Cultured Vegetables?
One of the cornerstones of the Body Ecology Diet (BED), is cultured vegetables, which Donna recommends eating daily. She refers to cultured vegetables as “signature…super foods”. Cultured vegetables are vegetables naturally fermented by friendly lactobacilli, which are present on the surface of all living things.
Cabbage is commonly used, or a mixture of vegetables including cabbage, although “marinara style” cultured vegetables are mixtures of mostly root vegetables. One of the basic BED cultured vegetable recipes calls for 3 heads of green cabbage and 6 large carrots to be shredded in a food processor. Also included are 6 cloves of garlic and a 3 inch piece of ginger.
Although the primary ingredient of cultured vegetables is cabbage, smaller quantities of dark, leafier greens can also be included, such as kale, collards, mustard green, or turnip greens. I like the contrast of the crunchy cabbage and chewy dark green.
Other common ingredients added to cabbage-based cultured vegetables include onions, squash, beets, broccoli, cauliflower, lemons, limes, celery, peppers, and Granny Smith apples. Many cultured vegetable recipes include fresh herbs such as basil, thyme, marjoram, lemon balm, and oregano. Herbs add not only taste, but additional nutrients. Another way to boost the nutritional value of the cultured vegetables is to add sea vegetables such as wakame, hijiki, arame, and dulse.
Vegetable mixtures are tightly sealed in glass or stainless steel containers, with a rubber ring seal and clamp down lid. Vegetables are kept at room temperature, about 72 degrees, for about 3 days.
Lacto-Fermentation Process and Benefits
Starches and sugars present in vegetables and fruits are converted into lactic acid. The lactic acid acts as a preservative and deters bacteria that would decay or rot the produce. When clean shredded or chopped vegetables are kept at room temperature for several days, in a sanitary, airtight container, the lactobacilli and enzymes naturally present on the vegetables will multiply.
Sally Fallon and Mary Enig, in Nourishing Traditions, seem to agree. She notes “The proliferation of lactobacilli in fermented vegetables enhances their digestibility and increases vitamin levels. These beneficial organisms produce numerous helpful enzymes as well as antibiotic and anticarcinogenic substances. Their main bi-product, lactic acid, not only keeps vegetables and fruits in a state of perfect preservation but also promotes the growth of healthy flora throughout the intestine.”
Donna recommends the addition of Body Ecology culture starter to ensure you are beginning with robust strains of healthy bacteria. Many recipes for cultured vegetables on the web and in books call for BED culture starter. Many websites besides the BED site sell the BED starter.
The resultant cultured vegetables are super foods rich in vitamins, minerals, and enzymes, and “good bacteria”. Fermented foods such as cultured vegetables aid digestion, get rid of toxins, eliminate yeast, and restore and maintain a healthy internal environment in our bodies. Cultured vegetables are crucial in alkalizing the body, making it a less hospitable environment for diseases, including cancer.
Nourishing Traditions Perspective on Lacto-Fermentation
History of Lacto-Fermentation
The Greeks recognized the changes that took place with lacto-fermentation, and called the phenomenon alchemy. The Romans described lacto-fermented sauerkraut in ancient texts, praising taste and medicinal qualities.
The primary fermented food in Europe is sauerkraut. Beets, turnips, and cucumbers are also traditional fermented foods. Fermented lettuces, peppers, and green tomatoes are common fermented foods in Poland and Russia. Lacto-fermented cabbage, carrots, onion, turnip, squash, eggplant, and cucumber are common in the Japanese, Chinese, and Korean cultures. Korean kimchi is typically eaten daily. Likewise, the Japanese usually eat fermented vegetable with each meal.
Modern is Not Always Good
So can’t I just buy some pickles and eat them with meals to cash in on all the great health benefits of fermented foods like cultured vegetables? Actually, no! Commercial products are prepared with salt, and vinegar, and are pasteurized, effectively neutralizing any beneficial bacteria.
Fallon and Enig suggest that the wide-spread practice of pasteurization has contributed to compromised intestinal flora, making us more vulnerable to pathogens and disease.
My Purple Cabbage and CondimentsClick thumbnail to view full-size
My Experience with Cultured Vegetables
I first tried commercially prepared cultured vegetables. I don’t recall where my first order was from. They were in pouches, in a decent variety such as sauerkraut, carrots, beets, and diakon. They were expensive, and I didn’t like the texture. I later placed several orders through Immunitrition. They have three vegetable combinations, and the texture was much crisper. They are about $20 per quart.
That’s expensive in my book, although the Immunitrition vegetables are tightly packed, so a quart goes pretty far. Donna recommends at least ½ cup of cultured vegetables a day. I’d say a tightly packed quart equals about double that in typical food servings.
Ultimately, I started making my cultured vegetables. I don’t know that I would have braved it on my own, but my sister was game, and helped me. Donna goes on and on about how “delicious” the cultured vegetables are, as do other proponents. Okay, I do not think they are delicious. I say not great, not awful. I think of them like medicine. They don’t have to taste great.
I can’t really tell a lot of difference in the taste of the different combinations, though apparently most proponents do. To me, they are all sour. It really helps to add some unrefined apple cider vinegar, stevia, Himalayan or Celtic sea salt, and healthy oil. I usually add ½ to 1 tablespoon of 2 different oils, such as hemp, flax seed, Udo’s 3-6-9, or pumpkin seed oil. The pumpkin seed oil is dark and rich, and tastes really good. I get it from Immunitrition also.
We made some “marinara style” cultured vegetables. They were firm textured, and made with a great variety of root vegetables. So why didn’t I like them? The marinara vegetables seemed too “rich” to me. I know that sounds crazy, since it’s just vegetables. Too dense? Too heavy? I just haven’t found the right word.
This book has 6 recipes for cultured vegetables that are more interesting and diverse than any others I've seen.
The Versatile Vegetable
The best recipes are from The Versatile Vegetable. My favorite is the Ruby Recipe, which has purple cabbage and red beets. With the “doctoring up” above, it reminds me of German purple cabbage. I appreciate the texture aspects of some of the combinations. I like the chewy contrast of the dark greens added in, such as in the “Bitter But Delicious” recipe. I like the crispness of the corn in the “Summer Succotash”, but for some reason, my cabbage was mushy.
I highly recommend The Versatile Vegetable, available on The Body Ecology website. It has great tips for making sure your cultured vegetables retain their crispiness. It covers many vegetable topics with recipes, including sea vegetables.
Recipes for Cultured Vegetables
Spiced Gundruk recipe on food.com features daikon radish, napa cabbage, carrots green onion, garlic, and ginger.
Kimchi and pickled turnip recipes on Care2.com.
Two cultured vegetable recipes from the Body Ecology website. One features cabbage, kale, and dill. The other features cabbage, carrots, ginger, and garlic.
Patty’s Sauerkraut on NaturalNews.com features cabbage, kale or chard, carrots, daikon radishes, and Granny Smith apples.
PennyThoughts blog features Marinara Style cultured vegetables with carrots, beets, onions, garlic, shallots, and fresh basil, oregano, and marjoram. Also garden style cultured vegetables with red and green cabbage, carrots, red bell peppers, cucumbers, onions, celery, garlic, and dill.
Talk to Your Health Care Provider
This article is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. If you think you might want to try The Body Ecology Diet, pick up a copy of the book, and do your homework, including talking to your doctor.
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