Starter Cultures

You may have noticed that a lot of my posts recently are about the role food plays in my life. I like food 🙂 Ever since attending the early childhood/biodynamic workshop with Sandra Frain in the beginning of the year I have been getting interested in starter cultures. Experiments with sour dough and yoghurt have meant that little containers of cultures have been sitting in my kitchen, full of future potential. Unfortunately I am once again (or probably have been all this time) sensitive to gluten and dairy – so the exciting and flavour-some experiments with sourdough breads and yoghurt have come to a bit of a stand still. I could continue them for my family … but I’m still looking into alternatives because I consider my family to be gluten and dairy free by default now :). Which means, essentially, that I can’t be bothered preparing meals based on two different diets, and right now I am looking into what is possible and healthy for ME.

I have found a recipe on the Weston A Price Foundation website for sourdough rice bread, so I will begin playing with that in the next few weeks, and I have come to learn about other cultures such as kefir and kombucha. I did come across them in my Nourishing Traditions cookbook, but I didn’t really understand what they were. I have to say they sound SOUR, but the comments I have read from people who enjoy these foods are positive. I guess it is about shifting your expectations of taste – which is a shift one has to make when embracing a diet that has many restrictions. Once you stop comparing the taste and texture of your food to the food you are used to then you can begin to appreciate the special qualities of the food you are currently eating (I have yet to learn how to love polenta but I’m coming to grips with buckwheat!).

But I am running off track – my thought this morning was about starter cultures … and like most of my thoughts, this one has started with one idea, then grown into another that is seemingly unrelated after it has been tumbling about in my mind for several weeks before forming into some kind of idea that I can write about.  When I was attending Sandra Frain’s workshop we were given a starter culture for COMPOST from a local intuitive gardener – that is right! COMPOST! Mine is still lovingly wrapped up and waiting in my temple room for the day we move into our next house so that I can prepare it properly (it needs to be buried for a year). As the weekend went on and we played with the idea of saving something in order to create more of it later, my thoughts began applying the idea of starter cultures elsewhere.

All cultures begin with a ‘mother’. The starter culture for kombucha is reverentially referred to as a mother, and people tend their Big Momma cultures lovingly because the babies they produce can be used to make more culture, or can be used to make a health-giving probiotic drink. It is all born out of love. Cultures can be grown and literally kept forever – a few changes here and there, and an ‘essence’ of each ‘generation’ is left behind each time the culture is fed and used and put aside to rest and regenerate. Cultures will change over time, but when treated with love they continue to produce indefinitely, with an essence of the original culture kept alive. When they are neglected they will die.

I am entranced with the idea that growth is born out of love. Love cannot help reproducing itself.

And here is another idea I was treated to last weekend. We were present at out mother’s birth. Yes, I was there as an egg in my mother’s ovary. Not only that, I was within my grandmother as an essence of myself and I carry an essence of her and an essence of my mother within me. In fact I carry an essence of ALL my past generations within me! Not only that … if I am carrying a daughter within me right now, then an essence of my granddaughter is also present. I’m not sure if the same thing works for sons – are they born with all their sperm just as girls are born with all their eggs? If so then I could be carrying my grandson as well 🙂 Each generation is a starter to the next. We are created from love, cared for through love, brought into life through love and then we continue the cycle. If love is present we thrive, if not then we do not thrive, but either way the potential to continue the culture is still there, and what a shame to waste it.

This thought has sure changed the way I think about what I pass on to my children – what cultures do I want them to continue in their lives, and in the coming generations?


2 thoughts on “Starter Cultures

  1. We have a saying in Iridology that “what is seen in your eyes was given to you from 3 generations before you, and what you do in this life will affect the 3 generations in front of you”.

    So the damage we do to ourselves, we also share with our children, grand-children and at the very least our great grand-children…..who knows how far down the line that may go really.

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