Kitchen Terroir


Until a few generations ago, most humans walked and slept in direct contact with the surface of the earth. Our modern life style involves wearing insulating shoes and sleeping in buildings that electrically isolate the body from the ground plane. While some people intuitively sense that they feel better when they walk or even sleep directly on the earth (as on a camping trip), most of the population is more or less permanently isolated from the earth’s electrical influences. The earth’s surface is electrically conductive and is maintained at a negative potential by a global electrical circuit.

When humans are in direct contact with the earth (barefoot), free electrons are conducted onto the skin surface and into the body via the mucus membranes of the digestive and respiratory systems. The body is thereby maintained at the same electrical potential as the earth (6,9). This has been the natural bioelectrical environment of the human body and of other organisms throughout most of evolutionary history. 

Previous research (12) showed that connecting the human body to the earth during sleep normalizes circadian cortisol profiles and reduces or eliminates various subjectively reported symptoms, including sleep dysfunction, pain and stress. We therefore hypothesized that earthing might also influence other aspects of physiology. Fifty-eight healthy adult subjects (30 controls) participated in a double blind pilot study. Earthing was accomplished with a conductive adhesive patch placed on the sole of each foot. An earthing cord led outdoors to a rod driven into the earth. A biofeedback system recorded electrophysiological and physiological parameters. Upon earthing, about half the experimental subjects showed an abrupt, almost instantaneous change in root mean square (rms) values of electroencephalograms (EEG) from the left hemisphere (but not the right hemisphere) and all of them presented an abrupt change in rms values of surface electromyograms (SEMGs) from right and left upper trapezius muscles. Signal variance in rms muscle potentials also increased significantly. Earthing decreased blood volume pulse (BVP) in 19 of 22 experimental subjects (p < 0.001) and in 8 of 30 controls (p ≅ 0.1, not significant); heart rate (HR) was not affected. From these results, it appears that earthing the human body has significant effects on electrophysiological properties of the brain and musculature, on the blood volume pulse, and on the noise and stability of electrophysiological recordings. Taken together, the changes in EEG, EMG, and BVP suggest reductions in overall stress levels and tensions, and a shift in autonomic balance upon earthing.

From the California Institute for Human Science, Graduate School & Research Center, Encinitas, CA

I often get the feeling there just isn’t enough dirt in my life, although my mother might disagree. My friend and I often discuss a mutual acquaintance who constantly cleans everything. With bleach. Even when she is camping.  She is constantly sick.

The generation before mine was the first to really be removed from their natural surrounds. Although we can make arguments that people have lived in non-agricultural environments for a long time, had ‘modern’ houses even by the 1500’s and have eaten food prepared out of the home since modern cities began, we can also argue that never has our disconnect from our natural environment been so sweeping and pervasive. Just take a look around your house. Is any of your furniture made from natural fibers? How about your floors – wood or pergo? Your walls? What do you clean with – vinegar or bleach? What do you cook with? Teflon or copper? What do you eat?

I’ve decided I’m going to make a concerted effort to add more nature back into my life. It sounds easy, right? Just get outside. But I spend 8 hours a day in a windowless office working on a plastic key board and a particle board and laminate desk with my ass in a plastic chair. Then I go home and I do school work. Granted it is a better place. My chair is leather, it sits in front of the window, next to the fire place. My floors are wood, my walls are plaster, my plants are all around, my food is real. And, although I would say that my home life is more ‘real’ than 75% of Americans, still, it seems so disconnected from the natural world.

What to do? What to do? I’ve decided to consider in my kitchen first. Of course. I’m going to start by adding this:

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I thought about adding a permanent fixture or shelf, but this is brilliant. It is portable, low profile, easy to clean (just take out the pots and throw it in the wash), and affordable. And I’m not just going to grow herbs. I’ll toss some lettuces in there, some peppers and maybe even some tomatoes. Just think of how easy it will be to water them when they are a few steps from the sink. How easy it will be to cook with them when I can just turn around and pick what I need.

It all sounds smart and we’ll see if it really works out the way I intend. In the mean time, I made some yummy soup with home made croutons this weekend. I altered this recipe by roasting my carrots first in a little brown sugar and apple cider vinegar. When you think about the ingredients you are adding, ask yourself, what kind of dirt did this grow in? Terroir is one of the tastiest ingredients you can add to your food.

Sweet & Spicy Carrot Bisque

2013-02-24 16.00.44

oil for the pan
1 medium yellow onion, diced
1 teaspoon plus a pinch of salt
2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
1 tablespoon curry powder
1 pinch cayenne pepper
4 large carrots, peeled and sliced into 1/4″ rounds
1 ripe banana, sliced
1 14oz. can coconut milk, divided
juice from 1 lime, to taste

Heat the oil in a large saucepan and add the onion with a pinch of salt. Cook over medium heat for 5 minutes, until the onions are soft. Add the ginger and continue cooking for a minute until the ginger is fragrant, then add the curry powder, the cayenne and 1/4 cup water. Stir the mixture so that the onion is well-coated with the mixture.

Add the carrots, the banana, 1 teaspoon of salt and 4 cups of water. Bring the liquid to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 25 minutes, uncovered. Carrots should be soft enough to pierce with a fork. Take the soup off the heat. You can purée your soup in a blender, or, if you prefer a little texture and less clean-up, use an immersion blender. Return the soup to low heat, and stir in 1 cup of coconut milk and lime juice to taste.

In a small saucepan, simmer the rest of the coconut milk over medium-high heat until reduced by half. This should take about 10 minutes. Ladle the soup into bowls and swirl in a spoonful of the coconut milk reduction. Serve.

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