Today’s Food: Kombucha and Rice Burgers

This Kombucha stuff has 0.5% alchohol! Kombucha

Let me tell you about my first alcoholic drink: kombucha. This is the black tea from a fermented mushroom. Because it is possible to contaminate a fermentation—which may sound strange to even beer-drinking, mushroom-loving Americans—kombucha gets a bad rap as something very dangerous. As far as I know, kombucha is as dangerous as the funky people who try to make it, package it and sell it. I would not drink your hippie friend’s kombucha—unless she is an ordained Tibetan monk.

Here in the rasx() context, kombucha is related to probiotic nutrition. It is said that drinks like kombucha improve immune function and prevent infections. Of course probiotics are in opposition to antibiotics—and most of us Americans should know how much we love their overuse… My mother is suffering today in part from her decades-long relationship with antibiotics.

What may still be strange to my mother (and likely yours) is that bacteria can be useful—what is off the charts of bizarre for my mom is that human beings are deeply related to bacteria—and we should consider some of them our cellular ancestors. Instead of declaring yet another war on bacteria—holding a stance of complete opposition with a false sense of purity—we need to compose bacteria instead of oppose bacteria.

Let me state tentatively that there is a relationship between me drinking kombucha (moderately) and avoiding catching the common cold. I get the impression that a slightly scratchy throat can be made un-scratchy by drinking probiotics like kombucha—so I am suggesting that probiotics are preventative. Your results may vary…

Sunshine Burger Logo Rice Burgers

It is appropriate to explore the world of rice burgers in the context of people who are already eating soy-based burgers. My strong suggestion—as mentioned in “Steady Hempin’ and Hawing: Dropping Soy Milk”—is that you drop soy burgers completely and try rice burgers. Just like when I got down with soy meat, I use rice burger patties in these areas:

  • I break them up for taco meat.
  • I use them as “sausage” patties (with potatoes) for breakfast.
  • I break them up into large chunks (with quinoa pasta) for the “meat balls” in spaghetti.

And, of course, rice burgers and French fries make a tasty meal. Now I have tried the Bahama Rice Burger, “the first rice based burger meat alternative,” but I prefer the Sunshine Burger. It is all a matter of seasoning. There is a glycemic-index concern with rice-based products—so eating too many high-glycemic index things at once is not cool.

Steady Hempin’ and Hawing: Dropping Soy Milk

I was never comfortable with the imposed accusation that I am a “health nut” that’s on a “special diet”—accusations usually made in condescending laughter by members of my family. But I know that my peoples—many of them devout Americans—know when we meet at the funerals, many of our beloved relatives died in no small part due to the effects of eating habits. The big ones for us include diabetes and circulation disorders related to cholesterol levels. When the father of my father died after his stroke that was enough family talk for me…

I can tell you two reasons why I am not comfortable with suggestions that I am some kind “expert” in the field of nutrition. My intake of sodium remains too high and, for years, I was ingesting massive amounts of soy. An article by Mary Vance Terrain is revealing:

Epidemiological studies have shown that Asians, particularly in Japan and China, have a lower incidence of breast and prostate cancer than people in the United States, and many of these studies credit a traditional diet that includes soy. But Asian diets include small amounts—about nine grams a day—of primarily fermented soy products, such as miso, natto, and tempeh, and some tofu. Fermenting soy creates health-promoting probiotics, the good bacteria our bodies need to maintain digestive and overall wellness. By contrast, in the United States, processed soy food snacks or shakes can contain over 20 grams of nonfermented soy protein in one serving.

I trust my feelings and take action because of them. I was not measuring those grams of Soy in my diet—but I could feel that something was wrong. There’s no way I can prove that soy was the cause of:

  • Problems with maintaining solid stools. You don’t really need any more detail than this…
  • A lack of balance—I had serious trouble riding with no hands on my bicycle. After I stopped the high soy—after a few weeks—my sense of balance improved.
  • Strange feelings in the “breast” area—but I don’t have breasts!

Buy this Book at Amazon.com! Keep in mind that these subtle effects took years to reach levels that provoked me to change. Here’s a terrifying sentence in the Mary Vance Terrain article: “In men, soy has been shown to lower testosterone levels and sex drive, according to [clinical nutritionist Kaayla Daniel].” You know… I was eating crazy amounts of soy when I was shackin’ up with the mother of my third child years ago… hmm… this explains a lot…

Now for those of you who are deep, deep into soy like I was—consider my first suspect, soy milk. Get rid of this entirely. Mary Vance Terrain warns us that, “Soy milk is second or third level in terms of processing…”—so we might agree that soy beans are not evil. We need to be wary, however, of processed soy.

Buy this product at Amazon.com! To keep the story short, let’s just say that my “step one” was replacing soy milk with almond milk and hemp milk. Yes that’s right, you weed-smoking young ladies, I drink hemp milk. This is the first move to steady hempin’ (and I will never smoke weed unless you pull it right out of the soil on your palatial estate and I am somehow deeply infatuated with you). And this milk can be the nastiest shit in the world when you are not choosing brands carefully (unsweetened soy milk—and almond milk—can surprise the uninitiated as well). The only way you can ‘defend’ your use of cow (or goat) milk with me is when you know the name of the cow (or goat) that was milked for your tall, cool glass—otherwise don’t waste your time.

Actually, now that the memory has come back this is how my milk transition went (over almost two decades): industrial cow milk > skim milk > “vitamite” > soy milk > hemp or almond milk. For those of us who ate Cap’n Crunch, we may recall how special and sweet the milk tasted at the bottom of the bowl. This is what the ‘right brand’ of hemp milk tastes like to me (but I respectfully warn you that my sensitivity to sweetness and saltiness may be too much for your taste).

“Syphilis epidemic in China” and other links…

Buy this book at Amazon.com! The Lancet, Volume 369, Issue 9556, Pages 132–138, 13 January 2007: “During the first half of the 20th century, China experienced one of the biggest syphilis epidemics in human history. But the introduction of mass screening, free treatment, and the closure of brothels was highly effective, and resulted in the virtual elimination of syphilis and STDs by the 1960s, and for the next 20 years. However, long-term control of syphilis has proved difficult, and recent sporadic reports have provided clues to the magnitude of the spread of syphilis throughout China.”

“Japan: The price of normalcy”

John Feffer: “It sports new and sophisticated hardware like tanker aircraft for in-air refueling, and has tried to purchase the latest US fighter jets. Despite widespread public resistance to many of these undertakings, Japan’s neo-nationalists have grander designs. With strong encouragement from Washington, they have set in motion a process to revise the Japanese constitution, while seeking to boost military spending and make Japan a fully ‘normal’ military power.”

“Whole Soy Story The Dark Side of America’s Favorite Health Food”

Kaayla T. Daniel: “Contrary to popular belief, neither soy milk nor soy infant formula is traditional in Asia. Soy milk originated as a byproduct of the process of making tofu; the earliest reference to it as a beverage appeared in 1866. By the 1920s and 1930s, it was popular in Asia as an occasional drink served to the elderly. The first person to manufacture soy milk in China was actually an American—Harry Miller, a Seventh Day Adventist physician and missionary.”

Over the past few days one of the ongoing problems associated with my “healthy diet” is really, really starting to bug me: soy overdose—which is the intake of too much soy-based estrogen. I think I’ve been disrespecting my testosterone for too long…