Nourishing Broth: An Old-Fashioned Remedy for the Modern World
by Sally Fallon Morell, MA and Kaayla T Daniel, PhD, CCN
Grand Central Life & Style Hachette Book Group
I’m sure many of our readers have spent long sleepless nights pondering the age-old question: why can’t you buy chicken feet in American supermarkets? Where have all the chicken feet gone? Now we have a book that answers the question so you can finally get some rest. It seems that all the chicken feet have done more than cross the road, they have crossed the Pacific Ocean to China. We consume literally billions of chickens per year in the United States. Since most chickens have two feet, that’s billions times two. That’s a lot of chicken feet. Funny, Colin Campbell doesn’t seem to mention anything about chicken feet in The China Study. What do the Chinese want with all those chicken feet? Well, as everyone in China knows, chicken feet are great for making broth.
Many traditional cultures highly valued broth. I know from watching old TV shows that here in the United States, the health-giving qualities of broth were recognized at least till the 1960s. Even Campbell’s Soup used to be good food with traditional ingredients for their soup until the mid-twentieth century. Since then they have replaced traditional ingredients like broth with MSG. Those moves were supposed to improve profits. Apparently that is not working and Campbell’s has lost half its market value since then. In the spirit of continuing to stick with a failed paradigm until it works, they are cutting the chicken out of chicken noodle soup.
While there is still much scientific research to be done on broth in general, this book fills several chapters detailing the importance of various components in broth to robust health. You will find almost nothing out there that is a better source of nutrients. There are numerous cofactors like marrow and amino acids needed to make collagen, Goo, GAG, and HA. Those last three may take a little explaining. HA goo is the key to broth that gels. GAGs are all over the human body and then there are proteoglycans, which are valued for their mucopolysaccharide content. Got all that? That’s OK, neither do I, so let’s continue. HA stands for hyaluronic acid which is a type of proteoglycan. HA lubricates and cushions joints, muscles, bones and moving parts in general. GAG (glycoaminoglycan) is a protein sugar that gangs up by the thousands to make HA. Defects in the GAG layer of the intestine lead to autism, Crohn’s, rheumatoid arthritis and other fun things.
There was a lot of inconsistency in some of the old studies, probably due to the fact that gelatin can be very different depending on how it is made and what it is made with. One very good researcher who saw very positive results from his studies was Dr. John Prudden. He presented his findings on how cartilege could help with cancer to other scientists and then made another discovery. When presented with innovative, simple and inexpensive solutions to problems, mainstream science greets these revelations with the sound of crickets, banging shutters and tumbleweed. We are still very much in the world of Galileo when it comes to scientific openmindedness. At one point Prudden said, “ I find it interesting but very sad that sub-lethal amounts of toxic drugs are approved for use with a minimum quantity of preliminary evidence, but nutritional therapies such as cartilage are expected to wait for some sort of ‘final proof of effectiveness’ before they can join the mainstream of modern medicine.”
On an interesting, related side-note, he and others found bovine cartilage far more effective than the often-hyped shark cartilage for treating cancer.
Other common questions we often get are answered, including concerns about MSG or lead in broth. The lead scare was apparently started by a poorly done study in the UK, which found lead in broth made from organic chickens. Many details were missing from the study like what kind of cookware was used, what chicken feed was used, what water was used, living conditions for the chickens, etc. It turned out one critical detail of the study was wrong—the chickens were not, in fact, organic and may even have come from China. So all the study proved is that you have to be careful where your ingredients come from. Testing on real organic broth done shortly after that study revealed no detectable lead. Another question is what is the difference between stock and broth? The answer is in the book. You may be frustrated after you read it because experts differ slightly, but there it is if you really want to know.
Components of bone broth play vital roles in gut health, immune system support, blood-sugar balance, muscle building, healthy bones and joints, smooth skin and overall healing. It is apparently also helpful for mental health. Once again the Chinese know this. Broth is a key component of many brain therapies in traditional Chinese medicine.
If the answer to your question is not in this book then probably nobody knows. There are several helpful pointers on what you may be doing wrong if you are trying to make broth and it does not turn out the way you expect – a common problem. The last section of the book contains broth recipes from all over the world, including the not-so-vegan China and Asia in general. Just between us chickens, the thumb is UP for this book.
This article appeared in Wise Traditions in Food, Farming and the Healing Arts, the quarterly journal of the Weston A. Price Foundation, Fall 2014