FAQ-Miscellaneous Food Questions

  • Does cooking eggs harm them/oxidize the cholesterol?
  • Sucanat vs. Rapadura
  • Baking soda and minerals
  • Need for salt
  • Claybed salt
  • Purpose of salt in crispy nut recipes
  • Fermented foods for beginners
  • How long do fermented veggies last
  • Raw honey instead of Sucanat or Rapadura when fermenting beverages
  • Kefir whey for lacto-fermentation
  • Raw foods and enzymes
  • Carrot juice
  • Frozen liver
  • No access to pasture-fed products?
  • How much fish should I eat?
  • Botulism in lacto-fermented vegetables
  • Redmond’s salt
  • Slow cooking
  • Making whey
  • Mercury in fish stock
  • Mung beans
  • Coconut juice and coconut flour
  • Pima culture
  • Agave
  • Chocolate
  • Chicken liver
  • Pork broth
  • Pork
  • Liverwurst
  • Recommendations for increasing vitamin D to a normal level
  • Mercury in fish
  • Minerals in read meat
  • Stock bone scrapings

Miscellaneous Food Questions

Q. Does it harm raw eggs to scramble them or cook them? Does it oxidize the cholesterol?

A. Not at all. The whites should mostly be eaten cooked, as raw egg whites contain enzyme inhibitors that can cause digestive problems. Oxidation only occurs during commercial processing when the eggs are forced out of a tiny hole at high temperatures and pressure.

Q. I’m confused as to which type of sugar is better, Sucanat or Rapadura?

A. Both are fine; both are made by dehydrating cane sugar juice. For a while Sucanat changed the way they made it and were using white sugar, so we stopped recommending the product. But they are now making Sucanat the old fashioned way, so we can recommend it again.

Q. I have read that baking soda in baking destroys minerals. Can you respond to this?

A. There was a theory that baking soda destroys B vitamins (not minerals) but research indicates that this is not the case.

Q. Do we need salt in our diet, so many say we do not?

A. Mary and I discuss the subject of salt in our book Nourishing Traditions. Salt is essential to life, that is why we have salt taste buds. Without salt, we die. We need salt for protein digestion, carbohydrate digestion, adrenal function, cellular metabolism and brain development. Unrefined salt provides us with many trace minerals.

Q. I wonder whether salt collected from clay beds of coastal areas would actually be pure or not. There is a lot of pollution in the ocean especially around the coasts of industrial nations, I would think. I looked on the WAP site to find info on salt and couldn’t find any. What do you know about possible pollution in this type of salt? Also, a friend of mine who is a nutritionist did her own research on salt and found Himalayan mountain salt. She says it is purer than sea salt because it is mined deep in the ground. It seems even more expensive than the Celtic salt, but she is convinced it is purer. Can you shed some light on this for me?

A. I think both products are fine; the ocean near Brittany is quite pure. But the Himalayan salt is also wonderful.

Q. When soaking nuts, why is the salt needed?

A. The salt helps activate enzymes that de-activate the enzyme inhibitors. For grains, we soak in an acidic solution to get rid of phytic acid. Nuts do not contain much phytic acid but do contain high levels of enzyme inhibitors. The method imitates the way the native peoples in Central America treated their nuts and seeds–by soaking them in seawater and then dehydrating them.

Q. Do you have a brand or type of fermented beverage or condiment that would be good for the first time user – one that would be a little subtler to the taste buds?

A. Try sauerkraut. The recipe in Nourishing Traditions is really great. Beet kvass is a wonderful beverage, really nourishing. But some of the fruit beverages or fruit chutneys might be better for first timers.

Q: How long do fermented veggies last?

A: It varies. The cabbage will keep up to a year and I have found that some of the fruit chutneys will keep almost that long (although to be cautious I say to consume within 2 months). Pickles have a relative short life- about 3 months, and the ginger carrots are the shortest; they sometimes start to go bad after about a month.

Q.  A recent article states that fermented pickles allowed to sit on the counter to ferment might contribute to esophogial cancer.  The say there are more rates of this in Asian contries where they use alot of fermented food.

A.  The most likely cause of esophogial and stomach cancer in Asian countries is talc powder added to the rice.  There is an association with Asian pickles because Asians get a lot of these kinds of cancers and Asians eat lacto-fermented pickles.


Q: Can raw honey be used instead of Sucanat or Rapadura in fermenting beverages?

A: Yes.

Q: Can whey from kefir be used in lacto-fermentation?

A: Yes.

Q. Should I consume only raw foods so I don’t kill the enzymes?

A. What the enzymes do is help digestion in the upper stomach, where there are no digestive fluids. But most foods are not good sources of enzymes. You need to lacto-ferment the foods to get a lot of enzymes. So the lacto-fermented foods eaten with cooked foods more than compensate for the loss of any enzymes in the food you cooked. Lacto-fermented foods are ‘super-raw’ foods. Lacto-fermented foods also provide lactic acid and good bacteria, which do survive the digestive process.

Q: What do you think of the many fruit concentrate drinks like Mona Vie that are being sold?

A: They are often sold as panaceas for everything from heart disease to ingrown toenails.  They will be high in fructose, without the fiber.  Read labels carefully, often they contain citric acid, which can contain MSG.  In general, these are not part of our dietary principles.

Q.  Is popcorn, whether air-popped or oil-popped, healthy to eat?  Is there any way to remove or reduce phytic acid from popcorn?
A.  Corn is fairly low in phytic acid so popcorn in moderation is probably fine.  Also, when it is eaten with melted butter, the saturated fats help mitigate the effects of phytic acid.

Q: If the proteins in milk and in grains become toxic when subjected to high heat such as when milk is pasteurized and when cereals are extruded, then why wouldn’t the proteins in meat react the same way when cooked? And why is wheatena an exception to the extruded cereals as they are also subjected to high heat? Wouldn’t all the grains even whole grains like oats also be damaged when cooked?

A: The proteins in meat are much stronger than the proteins in milk and grains and in fact might be more available after cooking.  But even for meat, it should not be cooked at temperatures that are too high, or for too long.  By the way, I understand that some brands of cornflakes are not made by extrusion–I think they are instead roller dried, so this would definitely be better.

Regarding the cooking of grains, this is not a damaging process as extrusion is.  In fact, grains need to be cooked for humans to digest them.

Q: My sauerkraut develops a moldy-looking substance on the top if I leave it in the refrigerator too long.  Can I freeze it, will that kill the enzymes in sauerkraut?

A: The enzymes will survive, but I am not sure about all the bacteria, and I am not sure how the texture would be after freezing.  You can just lift that mold off carefully.  Sauerkraut should really last about a year.

Q: Is hemp appropriate for human consumption?
A: Hemp was not traditionally used as a food except during periods of starvation as seen in the book, The Year 1000: What Life was Like at the Turn of the First Millennium — An Englishman’s World, by Robert Lacey. In a chapter called “July: The Hungry Gap,” he writes about the period of near starvation that would occur every summer for poor people before the August harvest was ready. You’ve probably heard of the LSD-like mold that grew on rye. But he also writes, “This hallucinogenic lift was accentuated by the herbs and grains with which the dwindling stocks of conventional flour were amplified as the summer wore on. Poppies, hemp and darnel were scavenged, dried and ground up to produce a medieval hash brownie known as ‘crazy bread.’ So even as the poor endured hunger, it is possible that their diet provided them with some exotic and artificial paradises. ‘It was as if a spell had been placed on entire communities,’ according to one modern historian.” (p.102)

Q. In “Nourishing Traditions” it is not recommended to drink juice.  However, in the “tonics” section, one of the beverages is carrot juice with cream, made with a juicer.  How do you recommend using tonics? If the author is recommending them for medicinal use, isn’t this akin to a promotion of juicing?

A. The carrot juice is one exception, and that is because it has added cream–I consider it more like a smoothie.

Q.  How long can you freeze liver and what is considered ‘fresh’ liver?

A.  I’m not sure about how long you can freeze it, maybe one year.  Fresh means uncooked.

Q.  I have NO access to pasture fed animal products, cows, lamb or chickens, do you still recommend we follow the advice of consuming their livers, organs, meats and fats along with using them for bone broths. I do have access to raw milk.
A.  I would purchase calves liver but not beef or chicken liver from the grocery store, along with regular fresh meat and eggs, especially beef and lamb.  Most calves (not raised for veal) in the U.S. spend the first part of their life on pasture.The raw milk will go a long way to protect you.

Q.  I had a question about how many servings of fish the indigenous populations usually eat per day. Also, how many servings would the Weston Price foundation recommend per day?

A. We don’t have any specific recommendation–some groups had seafood every day, some had none.  But a good recommendation is 2-3 times per week.  Shellfish and fish eggs are the most nutrient-dense seafoods.  Of course we recommend cod liver oil every day.

Q.  Have there been any reported cases of botulism that have come from consuming the lacto-fermented vegetables or fruits? The book said that if they were spoiled that it would be obvious. Isn’t botulism odorless?

A.  A USDA scientist was recently quoted as saying that lacto-fermentation was the safest way of preserving food there is (http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2009/06/07/FDS617UQKF.DTL).  I have only heard of one person getting sick (just a tummy ache) from some lacto-fermented vegetables and that was using a recipe that had no salt.

Botulism does not occur in anything that is sufficiently acidic.  If you are unsure, you can get a pH meter and test the pickles.  If the liquid is under a 4.0, you can be assured that they are safe.

Q.  I have recently read in an article on your website that underground mined salt may contain radioactive elements because of leaching from radioactive/nuclear sites underground.  I have tried in vain to find out whether Real Salt is included in this concern.  Do you have any comments on this?

A.  I am afraid I do not know the answer to your question.  The only way to resolve it is to test the salt with a Geiger counter. However, there is another concern about Redmond’s and that is the high iron content.  It should not be used by those with iron accumulation problems, or for livestock in areas where there is a high iron content in the soils.

Q.  If one slow cooks meat and vegetables in a crock pot or slow cooker for an extended amount of time (ie more than 10 hrs), will that still effect the levels of amines?  Dr Mercola’s website site suggests to slow cook food by using these methods but does not discuss the duration of slow cooking.

A.  This is a good question and I am not sure of the answer.  I know that glutamic acid is freed up by the long slow cooking and some people are sensitive to this.  However, long slow cooking was the way almost all food got cooked in the past, so I am sure that it is fine for a healthy person.

Q.  I attempted to make whey, but after 5 days the separation has not occurred.  Can you give me advice?

A.  Yes, it is more difficult to make the whey from fresh milk.  You really have to leave it a long time, until you see definite separation into curds and whey.  I would start with milk that is a little old to begin with, and keep it at room temperature.  You could add a few drops of lemon juice or a spoonful of yoghurt to make it separate more quickly.

Q.  Is there a danger of mercury in fish stock?

A.  Not unless you are using carcasses from tuna or swordfish.

Q.  How do I soak mung beans?

A.  The soaking technique for mung beans will be similar to other legumes. The simple idea to remember is that a very warm water temperature plus time will allow for the greatest reduction in phytates.  Aim for about 140 degrees F for your soaking water (this maximizes the activity of the endogenous enzymes) and keep the covered beans in a warm place in your house at least overnight and 12 or so hours is even better.  I pour water over the beans in a pot, add enough boiling water from the tea kettle to make it very warm to the touch and then set them on the heat vent overnight (in the winter, of course).  Remember to drain this water off and thoroughly rinse the beans before you cook them the next day.  For a longer period of soaking (more than 12 hours) you will want to change the water somewhere in the middle of the soaking period.

Q.  Should the mung beans be in slightly acidic water for soaking?

A.  Sources debate this, some say the beans are less permeable to flavorings and are harder later in cooking when whey is used, but more important is the close-to-hot water and the length of soaking time.  Sprouted mung beans actually retain more phytates than beans soaked in very warm water for approximately 12 hours.

Q.  Is coconut juice (or water) okay?  What about coconut flour?

A.  Coconut water is an excellent beverage.  It is very healthy – good for the kidneys and a good sports drink.

Coconut flour is fine to use unless you are sensitive to salicylates.  Coconut is fairly high in salicylates and can cause problems in some people.

Q.  What is a source for pima cultures?

A.  Piima:  GEM Cultures (called Fil Mjolk) (253) 588-2922 http://www.gemcultures.com/dairy_cultures.htm or
Moonwise Herbs (920) 452-4372 http://www.moonwiseherbs.com/piima_culture.htm
These are listed in our Shopping Guide.
Q. In a recent article, WAPF stated that agave is not a good sweetener. I think agave is okay as it has a low glycemic index.
A. Our article does not argue that agave and HFCS have a lower glycemic index; but these highly processed products are detrimental for other reasons, mainly the very high levels of free fructose, and an isomer of fructose that is not found in nature. Those selling agave “nectar” tend to change their stories frequently.  The product is not natural and does not have GRAS status.

Q. Please tell me why cocoa (chocolate) is or is not a good food.
A. Chocolate is a tough one.  I do not want to tell you that you should never eat chocolate, nor will I say that I have never eaten chocolate myself.  But it should not be consumed habitually.  It is somewhat addictive, enhances the sensitivity of endorphin receptors (thus can cause a let down afterwards), contains a caffeine-like substance and also needs to be sweetened.  So try not to make a habit of it.  We do not allow products with chocolate at our conference or in our shopping guide.

Q. If the liver is an organ where most toxins build up, why is the chicken liver so good for us?
A. Chicken livers from pastured animals are rich in vitamins A, D, K, E and B12; also a wonderful source of iron.  Baby needs all these nutrients for optimal growth and adults benefit too.  Of course the livers should be from organic and, preferably, pasture-raised animals.  The liver is not the most toxic organ in the body.  It is not a storage organ and would not contain any more toxins than any other part of the animal.

Q. Can you make stock/broth from pork bones and is it nutritious?

A. Yes pork neck bones, etc make good stock.  You can even add bacon and ham rind. If you can include some skin from a ham or bacon–this provides wonderful material for our own skin.

Q. Why is pork not included in Nourishing Traditions?

A. It was left out in deference to co-author Mary Enig, who is Jewish.  But she agreed to include some pork recipes in Eat Fat Lose Fat.  I think pork needs to be carefully prepared by soaking in something acidic–usually vinegar–this is how it is done in China–or curing in some way, tantamount to fermentation.

Q. Do you have a recipe for liverwurst?

A. There are many online.  Here is one that looks good, but leave out the nonfat milk powder.  http://homecooking.about.com/od/porkrecipes/r/blpork27.htm

Q.  My wife has many food and chemical sensitivities.  She can consume raw milk and pure foods.  She cannot take cod liver oil.  Her vitamin D levels are below average.  Do you have any recommendations for increasing her vitamin D to a normal level?
A.  You will need to stress vitamin-D rich foods, such as fish eggs, shrimp, egg yolks from pastured hens, chicken and pork liver.  Also, spend plenty of time in the sunlight during the warmer months.

Q. I am concerned about mercury, is it still safe to eat wild caught fish from the ocean, or fresh waters such as in Alaska?

A. I think we should still eat fish. Studies show that women who eat fish while pregnant have smarter offspring, in spite of the mercury.  And in general, only the very large fish have mercury accumulation.  PLUS, if you have good gut flora, they bind with mercury and prevent its absorption.  A much bigger threat than mercury in fish is mercury from amalgam fillings

Q. Are the calcium, phosphorus, vanadium and silica actually biologically available in red meat, or do you have to get those from dairy, bone, grain, legume and veggie products?

A. I don’t think there is a lot of calcium and silica in red meat, but what’s there should be available.  Meat is a good source of available phosphorus, and I imagine that vanadium would be there if it is in the soil.

Q.Last week I accidentally simmered my stock bones for a total of 36 hours. When scooping out the marrow I noticed the bones were much softer than usual and as an experiment I scraped and shaved off as much of the bone as I could. I have about a cup of shaved bone dust now.  Does this bone dust contain nutritionally useful minerals and, if so, should I consume it in the broths?

A. These bone scrapings sound just great–I would add them to soups or stews.  The minerals are in the bone until the bone disappears–the longer they are cooked, the more minerals will come out.  But some people are sensitive to long-cooked broth because glutamates are also released with the long cooking.

Q.  I’ve noticed that after I make my stocks, the bones crumble easily- I am wondering if they are safe for consumption?
 A. Yes, in fact some people put the soft chicken bones in the blender to make a bone paste and eat that.  Primitive people ground up small bones and added them to their food.

Tim Boyd was born and raised in Ohio, graduated from Case Western Reserve University with a degree in computer engineering, and worked in the defense industry in Northern Virginia for over 20 years. During that time, a slight case of arthritis led him to discover that nutrition makes a difference and nutrition became a serious hobby. After a pleasant and satisfying run in the electronics field, he decided he wanted to do something more important. He is now arthritis free and enjoying his dream job working for the Weston A. Price Foundation.

© 2015 The Weston A. Price Foundation for Wise Traditions in Food, Farming, and the Healing Arts.