Health & Wellness

Fearless’ broths and soups

September marks five years since the Eugene Natural Grocers store openedWow, has it been an amazing few years?
One category that has exploded in popularity in our store (and everywhere) is collagen. When we opened in 2014, there were a couple of options – mostly gelatin – which was in our baking ingredient section. We now have 40-plus collagen options, all sorts of flavors and many pasture-raised sources – the latest “sexy” nutrient everyone is adding to their diets.
Growing up, I remember my mom always had the stockpot on the stove. There was a bone broth component to many of the wonderful dishes my mom and dad prepared for our meals.
Part of the reason we are looking to collagen powders to support our health is because of the absence of broth in our diets. Now, we can find collagen products and many bone broth products in the store, but why not make them at home? This is covered in a book by my colleague, Craig Fear, NTP called “Fearless Broths and Soups.” The book reminds me of an old axiom: Just as we suggest that it is not a great idea to go grocery shopping hungry, it is best to read this informative cookbook with a cup of soup or broth nearby!
What started out as a trip to Burma to deepen Fear’s meditation practice turned into a passion for the many broths and soups enjoyed worldwide. As we peruse this cookbook, we get to vicariously travel and enjoy a Portuguese kale soup or an Italian meatball soup – but the initial culinary intrigue for this reader started with the author’s tale of Mohinga.
Mohinga is Burma’s national dish and led Fear down some dark alleys in pursuit of the best bowl of this traditional fishbone-based soup. Every culture has its “mohinga,” and these bone broths are rich in collagen, which consists of proteins that form the flexible connective tissue in our bodies such as joints, cartilage and ligaments.
The author recounts his years of work as a nutritional therapist and his uncovering of the nutritional deficiency he most encountered in his practice – not vitamin D or omega-3s as we might guess, but “hypokitchenemia.” Fear describes this malady as “a deficiency in knowledge for how to cook or prepare nutrient-dense foods in one’s own kitchen.”
Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? He suggests we opt out of the “industrial food system” and learn the basics of broths, which can become the basis of many nutritious meals.
I have often heard folks say they feel uncomfortable in the kitchen – men and women alike. They are intimidated by intricate recipes and find it easier to eat out, even though that is a less healthy and more expensive choice.
In my early days of kitchen explorations, I relied on cookbooks such as the renowned “Moosewood Cookbook,” and I remember that the recipes were long and complicated, and often intimidating. In “Fearless Broths,” the author often reminds us that we can prepare simple, inexpensive and nutritious pots of soup; we don’t even have to follow a recipe. He offers many chapters of recipes with an international flair, with the goal of empowering the readers to do their own thing.
As I often say in class, do try this at home.
Broths and soups are truly gaining popularity, and Fear emphasizes this evolution by suggesting we can stop at a broth takeout shop. In Eugene, we can get that cup of broth at Vanilla Jill’s. Maybe, just maybe, we can replace that morning coffee with a steaming to-go cup of broth prepared by an inspired chef.
As Bob Dylan intones in his verse, “The times, they are a-changin’.” We truly are returning to our traditional food roots.



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