Journal, Summer 2001, The Scourge of Soft Drinks

Wise Traditions, Volume 2, Number 2

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President’s Message: Having a Drink

by Sally Fallon

Our focus this issue is on beverages. You, as members, know that soft drinks contribute nothing good to the American diet and plenty that does us harm. Nothing exemplifies the challenge we face as much as the presence of vending machines in our public schools. Most of us wince when we see someone with a soft drink can in his hand–whether a child or a businessman in a three-piece suit. How long will it be before drinking soft drinks (the kind of soft drinks sold commercially today) is seen as the epitome of vulgarity, like spitting tobacco juice or getting drunk?

Consumers are becoming aware, albeit slowly, that soft drinks should be avoided, but most people would be surprised to learn that soft drinks can be a healthy, even a necessary, part of the diet. Traditional peoples produced a variety of refreshing lacto-fermented beverages that were nonalcoholic or very low in alcohol, and these were consumed in preference to water for quenching thirst. This type of drink was valued as a digestive aid, a source of quick energy and a protection against pathogens. Lacto-fermentation is a process whereby friendly bacteria transform sugars and starches into beneficial lactic acid, which acts as a preservative of the food or drink undergoing fermentation. Alcohol is also a preservative, produced by the action of yeasts on sugars, but the end result has very different effects on the body.

Lacto-fermented beverages were very important in areas where the water was not safe to drink–such as in Africa or in crowded cities of the early industrial era. Today our water is free of pathogens, but still not necessarily safe. For while we know how to exclude large numbers of pathogens from the water, we deliberately add substances that science reveals to be harmful. Concerned citizens are fighting attempts to fluoridate the water in a number of communities. In this issue, we’ve printed an excellent summary of fluoridation issues which you can use as a tool to educate members of your city or town.

But there is some good news on the beverage front. Real Milk is becoming more available. The story of Michael and Dorothea Schmidt should inspire other dairy farmers. In Wisconsin, the MilkDirect program is forging ahead. And most of our local chapters have been able to find a source of Real Milk in their communities.

While we are lifting our glasses, let’s give a toast to all the folks who worked so hard to make our conference Wise Traditions 2001 a success, including our wonderful speakers Julia Ross, Krispin Sullivan, Tom Cowan and Mary Enig. We have had great feedback, particularly from practitioners who are putting their new-found knowledge to use in their practices.

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