GAPS, Kefir, Fungus and Raw Milk
Please note that this article was written in early 2011. Some of the details have changed. My health is much improved although I still have to be very careful to get massive amounts of probiotics and plenty of sleep. Today, Health Canada is more terrified than ever of BC’s raw milk. British Columbia is the only place in the world to declare their own milk a hazordous substance. Any time I mention consuming raw milk it is not BC or Canadian milk.
Today I finally got around to posting this amazingly detailed information about kefir put together by www.bovinity.webs.com. I had a couple of lovely ladies come by on Monday to adopt a kombucha and kefir culture, which helped motivate me to spread the good news about kefir 🙂 There is a lot of great information at the above mentioned site about raw milk as well as the details and history of how our cowshare began.
I started making raw milk kefir around a year ago when we finally took the plunge and went on the GAPS diet. Around the same time a place finally opened up for us to join our local cowshare, which is now Our Cows. These days if I don’t get my daily kefir, my digestion just isn’t happy. We use the kefir as an anti-fungal skin cream. It works wonders, much better than any other anti-fungal I have used. This was an incredibly useful discovery, because the GAPS diet can push pathogenic micro-organisms from your gut out to your skin, in it’s fight to maintain it’s foothold in your system. We had quite a few serious problems with that the first six months of the diet, which are mostly cleared up (some things reoccur cyclically on the diet, every three months or so as you get to a new level of healing). When I look back, and think about the condition I was in last year I can’t understand how I managed at all. I still have a ways to go, but my health is now improving exponentially–the worst is hopefully behind me.
Most of you know my story by now–my digestive system got infested with a toxic mold while living in slum conditions in New Zealand, after leaving my alcoholic husband. My normally invincible and healthy system’s defence systems were violated. I had diarreha for about three months straight and was getting my period every 10 to 14 days–with severe cramping and exhaustion (normally all I experience is a bit of crabbiness). My partner was getting night sweats so bad, we were woken every night at 4 am with our air mattress, sheets and blankets completely drenched. Soon after that, we moved to Myanmar (Burma) and I stupidly ate a melted popsicle at a pagoda and gave myself typhoid. I was put on a powerful antibiotic for about two weeks. This destroyed any remaining protective micro-organisms in my body, allowing the mold to have free reign. I was in a very bad state, I could barely walk up stairs on my own steam. I had a hard time realizing I wasn’t invincible anymore, and whenever I felt a little better, I tended to overdo it and give myself a relapse. We moved to the Catskills of New York for about a year and a half to recover. We lived on raw goats milk and free range eggs which we got directly from local farms. We also ate a lot of beans and bone broths.
Despite the good food, I was getting migraines that would devolve into cyclical vomiting syndrome every so often as well as vicious bleeding hemorrhoids (don’t worry no photo of that) if I ate any yeasty product such as bread or alcohol. When we moved to Vancouver in 2008, I spent about a year and a half moving between Seattle and Vancouver, helping my sister with her pregnancy and the home-birth of her little girl, while I waited for my residency to come through. During this time my cyclical vomiting syndrome worsened considerably–I would get it every 7 to 10 days and it would last 1-3 days. It was pretty much the worst things I have ever experienced. I was quite depressed as well, trying to come to terms with feelings of guilt over my failed marriage. Since I was so unstable I couldn’t maintain a regular job, although I managed to write for a couple magazines in LA and New Zealand.
I honestly feel very fortunate for having gone through all of this, as not only do I have a much better understanding of my body and micro-organisms in general, but I have had a chance to develop this website, which I really enjoy. This whole process has been so clear, I had such incredible health prior to the mold getting into my system. I have just been fortunate that I only went on the one course of antibiotics. If I hadn’t known where my health problems had come from, and gone to the medical system to figure it out and cure me, I could have easily ended up with less understanding of my condition and would probably have been declared to have some incurable disease, and given some drug to cover my symptoms. I have heard many people’s stories over the past few years of this happening to them, only to FINALLY discover, when it was nearly too late, that they have a toxic mold in their system and the drugs have actually been destroying the remaining defences their probiotics were struggling to provide.
An interesting thing happened last year when our cowshare’s Agister, Alice Jongerden was given a contempt of court order. For a week we didn’t have access to our cow’s delicious, nourishing milk and I had to resort to organic pasteurized milk. I immediately reacted to the kefir and yogurt I made with that denatured milk, and had to go back on the Intro phase of the GAPS diet (basically chicken and carrot soup, with maybe a soft boiled egg and an avocado every now and then). My system couldn’t handle the dead milk. Most people on the GAPS or SCD diets cannot add milk or even yogurt into their diet for 4-6 months.
With raw milk, we were able to start consuming dairy products after the first month! We ate yogurt and kefir every day, and were even able to drink raw cream in our tea. On this diet, which is very similar to an elimination diet (used to determine what foods you are allergic or intollerent to) your system becomes very sensitive to foods that don’t agree with you. It is fascinating and empowering to be so in tune with your body. I think I have an added dimension of body awareness from my biodynamic craniosacral therapy training as well. Therefore, it became blindingly obvious how completely different real fresh raw milk from happy grass-fed cows is from pasteurized milk whether it is organic or not.
Even for me, who has been involved in this movement since 2000 and have devoted a lot of time researching intellectually the incredible benefits of raw vs pasteurized milk, to have it embodied in this way was a real jaw-dropper for me. I remain horrified and disgusted by the BC law that declared all raw milk to be a hazardous substance in 2009, which was more than a year after Home On the Range had been producing raw milk. When I think hazardous substance I think of those horrible chemicals I was made to use to clean greasy hoods and dirty ovens when I first started working in commercial kitchens. It is clearly uninformed obtuse ignorance, fueled by politics and the profit-driven milk industry. I thank god every day for Alice Jongerden who is taking this issue to the supreme court and defending our basic right to put into our own bodies what we choose to.
Please support us in our fight for food freedom by donating to the Real Milk Legal Defence Fund.
Our food freedoms are clearly under attack. Just the other day I read an article about how JP Morgan is making money off of food stamps! In fact, over the past couple years, with the crashing US economy, the profits they made from that initiative has more than doubled and is steadily on the rise. On top of that the debit cards they use are generally only accepted at such places as Walmart and other large chains, that rely on factory farms for their inventory. These sorts of arrangements are absolutely insane. Profit-driven food systems are incredibly foolish, encouraging corners to be cut on nourishing our bodies while at the same time disrespecting the animals and earth we rely on for survival. To be honest I don’t doubt there is a conspiracy to cull the masses here, but it could be just as likely be that it is simply greed and the lame-ass way we have set up our world to encourage these sorts of behaviour and attitudes. Either way it doesn’t matter. The results are the same and we no choice but to take a stand before it is too late.
Personally, I think the people who should be determining the economy of our nation are responsible chef’s and farmers like Alice Waters and Alice Jongerden. These people work in the real world, thinking about cost, waste and how happy their staff are on a daily basis. They do not make up some theories about how the economy runs, and start speculating on derivatives and whatnot. No. Every day they have to have that food on the table for their animals or for their customers. This is practical, down to earth accounting that we need to get back to. Not some fantasy world that greedy people exploit for their own benefit at the cost of humanity, the earth and every single thing that lives on it.
Well, I better get going. I didn’t expect this rant to be so long. I was gonna try out a new recipe for kefirkraut tonight, but it may have to wait ’till tomorrow–I sure hope I see you at the Milk War screening Feb 6th. It is also the Chinese New Year weekend–we are moving from the year of the tiger (my year!) to the year of the rabbit. I hope we have good things in store for us and will begin to make real inroads on bringing down the bloated corporations 🙂
Photos of animals from Our Cows cowshare, aren’t they adorable? Don’t they look happy? So much better than supporting factory farms!