[3:46] Mvmnt Watches
[5:34] Introduction to this Episode
[8:25] About Dr. Tom Cowan
[10:13] What is Anthroposophical Medicine
[16:26] What is Digitalis
[25:07] What Brought Dr. Cowan to Africa
[27:05] Swazi Family
[29:29]How Foods as Beans and Grains are Actually Good and a Crucial Part of an Ancestrally Appropriate Diet
[29:57] What is Dr. Cowan’s Take on Grains
[37:28]Why You Should Seek Out and Learn to Eat a Vegetable called “Ashitaba”
[41:38] The Plant That Can Lower Blood Sugar More Powerfully Than Drug Metformin
[44:35] Density of Food Forest Vs. Density of Modern Agriculture
[51:49] How Light Affects the Energy of the Food
[52:43] Why Dr. Cowan Uses Miron Jars for Vegetables
[56:35] Whether We Should Eat Vegetables in Their Raw Vs. Cooked Form
[59:38] How Dr. Cowan Make Vegetable Power and Why Put Vegetables Into a Powder, and How Does One Use Them
[1:03:40] How Much is the Actual Vegetable Powder Form in a Teaspoon or Tablespoon
[1:10:49] End of podcast
Ben: Hey everybody, it’s Ben Greenfield, and I hope you are ready to talk about vegetables. I figured if we’re gonna talk about vegetables in today’s podcast and not just any old vegetables, we’re gonna blow your mind with some of these little known super food vegetables and how a plant is like an upside down human, and little many, many other topics that I learned in a book that I recently read that blew my mind.
Anyways though, if we’re gonna talk about vegetables we better also talk about nuts. I was exploring the website of today’s sponsor, nuts.com and I discovered that you can create your own custom trail mix. This is pretty cool. You basically begin with basically it’s like an empty bag, and then you scroll through and you get to choose which nuts, which dried fruit, which chocolate, sweets. Don’t do the sweets. They do have gummi bears and gourmet fruit slices that you can add to your trail mix but I would recommend go nuts, throw a little dark chocolate in there hmmm, some Brazil nuts, maybe a little bit of Turkish figs and some coconuts and maybe some seeds for good measure, like some papitas. I just like to say papitas because coz it makes me sound fancy. It’s the word for pumpkin seed. The ancient word for pumpkin seed.
Anyways though, here’s the deal with nuts.com. If you order anything from them including that custom trail mix and you enter my code which is code ‘fitness’, that’s nuts.com and enter my code ‘fitness’ you get 4 free samples with your order. So you can make your custom trail mix and get some free sample options too over fifty options to a fifteen dollar value. Go to nuts.com/fitness or nuts.com and use code ‘fitness’. I don’t know what’s gonna happen if you go to nuts.com/fitness. Your computer will explode.
Next, I wanna tell, you about a study. They did this study at Texas A&M. A&M. And they showed at Texas A&M a 46% increase in productivity in employees who use a standing desk. They also found that standing led to engagement of more core muscles and proper spinal alignment so you don’t look like Quasimodo, the humpback. He wasn’t a whale. Quasimodo was the hunchback not a humpback whale. He was a hunchback. You don’t wanna be a hunchback or a humpback.
Standing increases heart health. It lowers blood sugar literally just standing instead of sitting during the day. It lowers your blood sugar. They’ve also found that people who stand are more energized, more focused and can burn an extra 650 calories per week. And if a pound of fat has 2500-ish calories, you can do the math. I’m not going to. It’s too early in the morning. You’ll burn a lot of fat if you stand for 4 hours a day, 5 days a week, rather than plant your butt in a chair. And here’s the deal Varidesk. V-a-r-i desk makes these different models of standing workstations that just pop up like a pop-up book. Anywhere you want, so you could stand anywhere, your kitchen, you can put a standing workstation in your bathroom if that’s your thing. I guess if you have irritable bowel syndrome that could be handy. You could put your stand-up desk in your bedroom. You could put it in your garage and use your car as a stand-up desk.
Anyways, though Varidesk makes all these possible because I know you’d lay awake at night dreaming about typing away on the hood of your car. You go to varidesk.com v-a-r-i-desk dot com and they have a 3-day risk free guarantee, a ton of different models to choose from. And they’re extremely affordable. They start at $175 for a piece of freaking furniture that makes you healthier. So check ém out Varidesk as in variable desk. See what they did there?
And the last thing I wanna tell you about, I didn’t really think I would be telling you about coz I’ve never really been into this, but lately I have been wearing a nice watch. Like a really good looking watch that people actually have complemented me on. I put it on whenever I wear my big boy clothes like when I go to conferences or when I’m flying in an airplane, or I got a nice polo or when I’m out and about with the fellas. That was a horrible accent. I’m wearing this watches, I don’t wear multiple watches. I just wear one but it’s a watch made by a company called M-V-M-T as in movement. Movement watch and what they have is this new way of giving you high-end fashion, what they call a high quality minimalist product at a very revolutionary price. The reason for that is because they sell online. They cut out the middle man and the retail mark up and you can choose from over 500,000 watches.
I got this one that starts at just 95, and it looks really good my wife even likes this color, this nice leather. What do you call it a watch band in the face, it’s like big and kinda white. So it looks really cool. I’m cool. I could go to the Oscar’s with that thing on. You get 15% off of any watch with free shipping and free returns if you just go to mvmntwatches.com/ben but it’s spelled like this m-v-m-t watches dot com/ben just go to mvmntwatches.com/ben get 15% off a watch, they’ve got a really clean design. And seriously I’ve been getting complements on it ever since I put it on. People won’t leave me alone about my freaking watch. So step up your watch game, mvmntwatches.com/ben. And now let’s go talk vegetables.
In this episode of the Ben Greenfield fitness show:
“So that was that really key part of me being behind doing vegetable powders because if they’re not in a miron jar they’re not worth doing. So I would much rather give my patients Okinawan spinach as a diabetic medicine along with low carbohydrate diet et cetera than give them the drug metformin. I wanna eat the food that looks the best, tastes the best and smells the best. Though cooked first raw is dependent on the vegetable. ”
He’s an expert in human performance and nutrition, voted America’s top personal trainer and one of the globe’s most influential people in health and fitness. His show provides you with everything you need to optimize physical and mental performance. He is Ben Greenfield. “Power, speed, mobility, balance – whatever it is for you that’s the natural movement, get out there! When you look at all the studies done… studies that have shown the greatest efficacy…” All the information you need in one place, right here, right now, on the Ben Greenfield Fitness Podcast.
Ben: Hey folks, its Ben Greenfield, and I have to admit it’s not that often that I will read a book that is less than 100 pages long and still wind up folding over and highlighting nearly every page. It can be a source of frustration for me. I’ll admit when I read a book that’s so jam-packed with information, and I have the opportunity and the honor to be able to interview the person who wrote the book that I have so many things that I want to talk to that person about and not enough time in the day to do it, but today is one of those cases.
I recently read this relatively small book called “How (& Why) To Eat More Vegetables”, and that’s a book of course with a very simple title, but what I discovered was a really wide range and a very practical, plant-eating information that I really haven’t seen published elsewhere including things like little known superfood plants, and why humans are like an upside down vegetable, and how to make really nutritionally-dense vegetable powders and a whole lot more. One of those books that tends to present information that is tough to find elsewhere which I love, and the book was written by today’s podcast guest of course whose name is Dr. Tom Cowan or might be Cowan. Dr. Tom is that Cowan or Cowan?
Dr. Tom: Cowan. Cowan. Cow.
Ben: Like the cow. There we go. And what were gonna talk about today is this topic of vegetables, and don’t tune out if you think you know everything there is to know about vegetables because I can guarantee you that you do not, and you’re going to discover quite a bit from Dr. Cowan. Who is Dr. Cowan? Well, he is a doctor of course but also vice president of the Physicians Association for Anthroposophical Medicine and a founding board member of the Weston A. Price Foundation. He studied nutrition, homeopathy, anthroposophical medicine and herbal medicine. I’m gonna have to ask you, Dr. Cowan by the way what anthroposophical medicine is and whether I’m even pronouncing that correctly. And Dr. Thomas is also the author of the book the Fourfold Path to Healing. He’s the co-author of the book “The Nourishing Traditions book of Baby and Childcare” and he lectures all over the place to the US and Canada and around the world specifically on ancestral nutrition and the healing arts specifically when it comes to using food to heal the body, and he lives in San Francisco. So Dr. Cowan, welcome to the show.
Dr. Tom: Thank you, and just one thing it’s fine to call me Tom and just one minor correction is I actually am no longer the vice president for the Physicians for Anthroposophical Medicine that was some years ago.
Ben: Oh well, you’ll have to remove that from your bio because there’s lies being spread about you all over the internet and that actually leads me to ask you the first question for today’s episode which I’m sure everyone is scratching their heads about what is anthroposophical medicine?
Dr. Tom: So anthroposophical medicine is essentially means the wisdom of man which is a pretty highfalutin kind of title, but the best simplest way to describe it is it’s the medicine that was inaugurated by Rudolf Steiner who is perhaps better known by his inauguration and founding of the Waldorf School Movement which is the second largest private school movement in the world now, and biodynamic agriculture of which depending on who you listen to something between five and twenty percent of the vineyards in Europe actually grow their grapes biodynamically.
Ben: Yeah, that’s interesting. I actually drink biodynamic wine. I’ve had a podcast about it. It’s called old world style wine in which the filtration methods, and the organic nature of the way that the grapes are grown actually is termed biodynamic farming.
Dr. Tom: Right. So Steiner was neither a doctor, nor a farmer, nor a gardener nor a [0:11:44.9] ______ school teacher, or any of those things. He was a philosopher of [0:11:49.8] _______ basically by training, but he was a pretty gifted guy and that’s an understatement (chuckles). And so he came out with essentially a way of seeing the world and then he gave talks to different groups like physicians, or gardeners, or farmers, or school teachers, and that led to the creation of these different applications of his philosophy. So anthroposophical medicine is just the same philosophy applied to the practice of medicine which I have studied and I would say to a large extent branched out of because there are certain things that I maybe don’t exactly agree with these days, but it’s still has made a huge impact on the way I think about the world, and you mentioned the Threefold Plant, and that is a concept that’s very central to anthroposophy.
Ben: Okay, got it. So it’s basically almost like a wholistic treatment of medicine in which you’re kinda trying to treat not just the disease but the whole body. Would that be a way that you would describe anthroposophic medicine?
Dr. Tom: In a way it’s a little bit more specific than that. Steiner had a very specific philosophy about how the world is organized, and the world including the plant world and the human world, and out of that and I can give examples if we wanna get into that but you come out with a) some novel approaches to medicine or b) you can actually understand why historically people use chamomile flowers for stomach aches or things like that. You take it out of the realm of, well those people must have done it by trial and error which is not the case and kind of an imaginative understanding of the world which Steiner in some ways recreated, and so we can start to understand at least from his point of view how the world is organized and therefore what we can do about it to make it better for us and plants, and animals, and everybody.
Ben: Okay. So not to press this matter too much but let’s say I walk into your office, and I have a sinus infection, how would one be treated anthroposophically for something like a sinus infection in contrast to the alternative medical treatment of an antihistamine or something like that.
Dr. Tom: Right. So there’s 2 options I can do now or I can just rattle off the things that I would do, or I can give an explanation of why which I think is more fun.
Dr. Tom: Let me do the second. So in the world view of Steiner anthroposophy, the world of the plants and the world of the human beings are organized in a three-fold manner. Which is to say that your head or the nerve sphere is a sphere, and then you have the chest which is between the head and the diaphragm which is a transitional area, so the head and then we have the heart and the lungs, and then we have the metabolic reproductive system below the diaphragm. In other words the abdominal organs, the metabolic system.
The first thing to note about that is the plant is exactly the opposite. So the roots which are the sensing organ of the plant in a sense is always actually a sphere even a carrot, the whole plant system, and its job is to sense the environment it lives in. And then it has a breathing and a circulation which we call the stem and the leaves which corresponds to the heart and the lungs. And then it has a reproductive metabolic system which we call the flowers and fruits. The first thing that’s of note is a lot of the plant medicines for the heart, the primary example is digitalis, is actually from the leaf and the stem. So you can see that when you give a leaf and stem preparation, it improves people’s breathing and circulation i.e. digitalis is an example.
Ben: And what is digitalis?
Dr. Tom: Digitalis is a conventional medicine. It’s been used as a primary heart medicine for hundreds of years, and it’s basically a leaf preparation.
Ben: Okay. So that comes from like the leaf stemmy area of the plant, and what you’re saying is that because that’s the middle part of the plant, that’s the medicine that you would apply towards the middle part of the human like the breathing circulation, lungs/heart portion of the human.
Dr. Tom: Exactly.
Dr. Tom: So you can also course because there’s different functions like the nerve system, the head is supposed to be clear, and cool, and still. Whereas, the metabolic which is also correlated with the limb system is where the heat and the activity, and et cetera come from. They even have 3 different fluids of the human being like the cerebral spinal fluid is crystallined still and clear. That’s the nervous system, and we have the blood, of the heart, and the lungs. And then we have the lymph which is full of proteins and sulfur et cetera is in the metabolic system.
Dr. Tom: So when somebody has a sinus infection from an anthroposophical point of view, they have too much metabolism in their head. The head is supposed to be clear and cool and still, and sometimes they say if people don’t believe me spend an entire day moving your head back and forth all day. And obviously, that doesn’t feel good because the head doesn’t like movement, and it doesn’t like pus, and it doesn’t like sulfurous fluid, and when that happens for instance, we call it a sinus infection.
Dr. Tom: So you have to essentially move the energy down into the metabolism, and you can do that with a medicine for instance that stimulates the bioflow. The bioflow essentially makes things move down and the classic example of that is an herb called golden seal. Seal stimulates the bile, it looks like bile and it’s a…
Ben: That’s like a dark orange-ish color?
Dr. Tom: Dark orange, yeah. Bitter fluid which stimulates that drainage, in Chinese medicine they say you drain the swamp, so you drain the swamp of the sticky metabolic fluid in your head which is what we call a sinus infection, and that restores balance which is essentially the definition of health.
Ben: Interesting. Okay, so if we follow this analogy of a plant being kind of like an upside down human, what you’re saying is the middle part of the plant will be like the middle part of the human, the lower part of the plant which would be like the roots would be the part of the plant that would be most beneficial for like the upper part of the human, or like the head or the neck area, and that would be like underground roots, tubers, I guess even… what about things like carrots and potatoes and things like that, would those be considered nourishing for the head?
Dr. Tom: Right. And in fact that comes out in science and in folk medicine. For instance, everybody knows, not everybody, but that you eat carrots to nourish your eyes.
Ben: That’s true.
Dr. Tom: So that’s a classic example of a plant, the plant is supposed to be or the so called imaginary or perfect plant should be equal in those 3 spheres. In other words, the color should be in the flowers. But a carrot being an individual with a unique personality says, no I’m not going to put the color in the flower like a normal plant. I’m gonna put all the color in the roots. I’m gonna put all my say, color energy, metabolic energy into the roots. Which 1) allows you to predict some interesting things like that the color of the carrot flower is gonna be white. Why? Because the color is in the roots. (chuckles) It’s got no more color energy or whatever you wanna call it to put it in the flowers.
Ben: Yeah. It’s a good point. Although what about, and not to play devil’s advocate too much here, but what about plants, you know, like I have organ grape growing outside my house which has dark orange –ish yellow roots, very much like golden seals. As a matter fact, it acts biochemically I believe a little bit similar to golden seal and that it can be helpful for colds and flus, and things like that, but the grape itself and the leaves are like dark green, and the grape is like a bluish purple, and you know it seems colorful both on top and down below as well. How do you correlate that to the fact that like a carrot has a white flower but a colorful root?
Dr. Tom: I would correlate that as a great question by saying that plant has decided to do color everywhere. The plants are like they’re own special beings which we have to learn to read the book of nature. We don’t have to, but that’s the job of a doctor as far as I can see. So that plant is telling you essentially, I’m all about color. Not only am I all about color, I’m gonna put my color on every part of the plant even the parts that are not supposed to be colored like the roots. And so you might end up with a plant that actually addresses because colors suggest there’s an anti-inflammatory role, we know even the chemicals that are correlated with these colors. So that plant might have an anti-inflammatory role for the entire human being which organ grape to a certain extend does.
Ben: Interesting. So it would be a very powerful plant. So we’ve got the top part of the, or I’m sorry the bottom part of the plant being good for a human’s head upper body area. The middle part of a plant like you talked about with the leaves and the stems, and things like that being potentially good for like the heart and the lungs, and areas like that. What about for that third part of a human that you brought up like the reproductive sphere. You know, the gonads and the area down in the crotch, like what area of the plant would be good for that section then? The very top area?
Dr. Tom: Yeah, and so not the top area which we we’re talking about flowers, fruits, and we’re talking about seeds. And then we’re talking maybe even about the oil and the seeds. So the plant makes oil usually in the seeds which is the warming part of the plant. So that correlates with the part of human being that generates warmth which is the abdomen. Which is why Japanese, they don’t clip their big bun on their head to keep their head warm, like that’s not right. They clip their thing whatever that thing is called on their abdomen to keep their abdomen warm. We use hot compresses like castor oil packs, hot packs on the abdomen, and a cool pack on the head. Not the other way around, and that’s correlating with the coldness of the root, and the warmth of the flower, and the seed.
Ben: Interesting. Now you get into this stuff in pretty hard core detail in your book, “The Four Fold Path to Healing”, is that correct?
Dr. Tom: Yes.
Ben: Ok cool. I need to add that one to my next list to read ‘cause you talked about this a little bit about how plants are like an upside down human, and this book that I read that gave me the [0:24:34.1] ______ to get you on the show today. The How (& Why) To Eat More Vegetables book, but it’s really a fascinating concept. It sounds a bit woo woo but it does make sense in that we talk about what’s it called, the signature of nature more like walnuts are good for your brain, or avocados are good for your testicles, and you know, nature gives us clues like you know, celery and carrots I suppose, I’ve heard that they can be good for erections and there are all sorts of interesting clues that nature gives us, and I suppose this is just kinda like an extension of that. Super interesting.
So in terms of where you got started looking into all these let’s back up a little bit. I know that you spent a lot of time in Africa learning a little bit about how traditional ancestral cultures ate over there. What brought you over to Africa in the first place?
Dr. Tom: You know, it was basically I would say groomed and grew up to be a doctor, and I didn’t like it ‘cause I didn’t like how medicine was practiced. I didn’t like how they thought. I didn’t like the philosophy et cetera. So, as soon as I could graduate from college and get out of there, I wanted to do something to see if I could do something besides being a doctor. I was already very interested in food, so I decided to join the Peace Corps and teach gardening in Africa, and that’s how I ended up I Swaziland.
Ben: So, you at that point already had a little bit of a background in gardening if you’ve gone over there to teach gardening?
Dr. Tom: I could say (chuckles) a little bit. I learned while I was there from one of my students named Patrick, actually. And actually the town that I was sent, not really a town it was a village, it wasn’t even really a village, the only other expatriate person within 50 miles actually was a refugee from a biodynamic gardening in Rhodesia at that time. So, the first real gardening I did was biodynamics with Chris.
Ben: Interesting. Ok, got it. So you also mentioned that you were groomed to be a doctor. What do you mean by that?
Dr. Tom: I mean my parents, my father was a dentist, and most of their friends were doctors, and it was always like Tommy’s gonna be a doctor without really asking me because I was a part of it. I got the vibe from them.
Ben: Okay, so you spent a couple of years over in Africa living with what’s called a Swazi family. What’s a Swazi family?
Dr. Tom: Swazi lived in extended families, so the family that I lived with was the chief of the village, and he interestingly made a remarkable decision to only have one wife which ‘cause he said that’s enough. And so, I lived with them and basically ate with them most of the time for the 2 years that I was there. That’s where I really had firsthand knowledge of what a traditional diet really looks like although that was a very modified traditional diet. It’s not really what I would call an ancestral diet, but the components were still there.
Ben: What are the components?
Dr. Tom: Well, my contention is that the components if you look at whether it’s a Paleo or Weston Price, or whatever, there’s 3 food groups if you look at diet properly.
Dr. Tom: The first is animal foods which are full fat, local wild fish, free range buffalo, insects, grubs, eggs, pigs, whatever you can get that’s local full fat properly grown etcetera. And I will also contend that because of a lot of factors, we now have similar animal products as traditional people did. You know, you can get grass-fed meat and wild fish and it’s not quite as good as a thousand years ago but it’s pretty good. So that’s food group 1. Food group 2 is what I call the seeds and nuts group which is everything from tree nuts, acorns, pine nuts. That was the traditional seed food of Native Americans, and then on up through more modern non hybridized like ancestral even perennial grains. So that’s a whole separate group which we get proteins and fats from the first, we get carbohydrates and certain fiber, and other nutrients from seeds and grains, and all traditional people have some of the 2nd group in their diet.
Ben: Before we turn to the 3rd group. You’ll see for example like in paleo circles that grains and beans are the forbidden evils, but you’re telling me that those are part of an ancestral diet?
Dr. Tom: What I’m saying the seed category is part of an ancestral diet.
Ben: Okay, and then when you say seeds you’re including things like grains, and quinoa, and beans, and things like these?
Dr. Tom: Yeah, but I’m also including things like nuts and seeds.
Ben: Ok gotcha. So what’s your take on grains, do you consider grains to be healthy, do you consider them to be defense mechanisms of plants that are harmful to the digestive system, or what did you discover in South Africa, or what do you consider yourself to be kinda like the take on healthy grains?
Dr. Tom: Fundamentally, I personally with my patients and what I write about, I would like people to be able to eat everything, but not everything like McDonalds and…
Ben: Or deep fried Twinkies.
Dr. Tom: Right. And there are a huge number of my patients who I put on a sort of a classic paleo diet without grains because it helps them rehabilitate their health, and specifically their gut flora. So there is definitely a case to have people do grain-free, bean-free, more of a classic paleo diet and I do, do that. I do think though that when people are better that trying the traditional grains like quinoa and wheat before was hybridized and traditional [0:31:12.2] _______ corn. That’s at least a possibility for some people.
Ben: Got it. Ok yeah. I’m on the same page as you, I believe. Are you speaking at the Weston A. Price Foundation Conference, by the way this year?
Dr. Tom: Yeah.
Ben: Ok yeah. I’m gonna be speaking there as well, and I would say that from the excellent cookbook Nourishing Traditions to a lot of the teachings that are put out by the Weston A. Price Foundation, I’m kind of on the same bandwagon as you I suppose, and that if it’s a real food that my great grandparents would’ve recognized for example, I’ll eat it, right. So we have goats and we do the milk fr0m the goats, and my wife purchases like a local red wheat berry, like a non-GMO red wheat berry from the Palouse and makes bread, but at the same time I’ve run into a lot of people whose guts would be destroyed by even raw dairy from goat, or my wife’s sourdough bread because they’ve got leaky gut or gut inflammation from years of food abuse. And so, they have to eat like a restricted diet, like a paleo auto-immune diet or something like that, until they get to the point where their gut has kind of like been restored to a level to work and handle the more intense workouts of the digestive system, so to speak. So yeah, I’m on the same page as you.
Dr. Tom: Do whatever’s at stake.
Ben: Okay, cool. So we’ve got the first component being like your ancestral meat, your animal meats, organs, fat, marrow all those type of things. The second component being maise, corn, grains, beans, seeds, nuts, et cetera. And then what is the third component?
Dr. Tom: So in the third component I think the one that is most misunderstood especially by the paleo community, and that is plants meaning vegetables and fruit, and of that it should be about 80% vegetables, about 20% fruit. And what I discovered from a) living with the Swazis and b) then reading about it like a book called Tending the Wild which is about the diet of native Californians, is that the traditional plant vegetable part of the diet included about 120 different plants per year, and somewhere between 15 and 20 per day, and of these 120 or 15.
Ben: Wait, 15 to 20 different types of plants per day?
Dr. Tom: Per day.
Dr. Tom: So I heard about this almost 40 years ago, and the plant types include the three fold plant, you know roots, leaves and flowers, fruits includes all the different colors. So red vegetables, green, yellow etcetera, purple, white and wild vegetables, perennial vegetables, annual vegetables. All the different kinds of diversity you can imagine. So, being who I am which is kind of a food nut, I decided 30 some years ago with my gardening knowledge to eat 15 to 20 different vegetables a day, and perennials etcetera, and 120 a year and I can tell you that it was (chuckles) kind of a big job and kind of unsuccessful because it’s just hard to cook 15 vegetables a day.
Ben: Yeah, that’s why god made the Vitamix.
Dr. Tom: Right. So, but I kept plugging away and growing more perennial vegetables, tree collards, ashitaba, genera, c-kale, perennial walking onions, and trying to get wild vegetables, foraging. It wasn’t a doable model for people even for me. And if it’s not doable for me living in California and having garden access, it’s not doable for the masses by any means.
Ben: So you mean, it’s not doable for the labor required actually go out, and find out dozens and dozens of different types of plants that you could put into your body each day. Just too much time.
Dr. Tom: Too much time. I got convinced that perennial vegetables like tree collards, or ashitaba they actually mine the soil, they get more nutrients, they have better defense mechanisms, so they have better phytonutrients and protective chemicals, but if I told…
Ben: What do you mean? You mean perennials versus annuals have higher nutritional content?
Dr. Tom: Yes.
Ben: And is that because the perennial if I understand correctly, and I’m not as much of a gardening ninja as my wife but these are the plants that you plant, and they continue to grow a harvest year after year rather than needing to be replanted. And so they grow more hardy and more nutritionally dense and higher in anti0xidant content etcetera from year to year?
Dr. Tom: Yes. Exactly right.
Ben: Ok, got it. And you use a lot of words and descriptions of plants there that I actually haven’t heard of, I know you get into a few of them in the book. But were there specific perennial plants that you found to be extremely nutritionally dense like the eighty twenty of the vegetable world?
Dr. Tom: Yeah, but like tree collards and this one called ashitaba which is called tomorrow leaf, and one called Okinawan spinach, not that annual vegetables are nutritious, and especially when you’re looking for different plant hearts, roots, leaves and flowers, different colors etcetera. The trick was to get from all of that spectrum different colors, different parts, different growth habits, annuals, perennials all in a daily diet. And most people just can’t do it because even if I told them to eat perennial vegetables there is nowhere to find them. They’re not available in the Bay Area, and so that was the dilemma that I set out to solve basically.
Ben: Ok, got it. And I wanna talk about that in a little bit like how you figured out how to prepare like vegetable powders and things of that nature, but I actually want to ask you about this one vegetable that you mentioned ashitaba. I found that one fascinating in the book. Can you explain what the perennial vegetable ashitaba is? And how somebody would eat it, and why you consider that to be one of the vegetables that you really devote a lot of time to in the book?
Dr. Tom: So ashitaba is called in another word which is tomorrow leaf, and it’s always interesting to look at these names of these different plants because they often tell us a lot. It is indigenous to Japan and the Philippines, but we have it growing in our garden in Napa in a biodynamic friend of mine, also is growing it for us. You know, plants are gestures. They’re living beings with their own story to tell. So, the ashitaba is a member of the angelica family of which its famous cousin is angelica archangelica which believe it or not means the gift of the archangels to the angels. It was a very revered plant in middle Europe in the middle ages. It’s supposedly was the only medicine for plague and other infections, and ashitaba is a relative, a cousin of that. Angelica archangelica is way too bitter to eat, but ashitaba has a more celery-like taste. So, the first thing is if you do a nutrient profile like manganese, magnesium, B6, etcetera, it’s about twice as much or so than kale.
Dr. Tom: So just on wanting a nutritional analysis you would say, wow kale, not that I have anything against kale. It’s a very nutritious vegetable but it’s not like ashitaba. So that’s the first thing. The second thing is looking at the plant as a gesture, and why is it called tomorrow leaf. The reason is because if you cut off a stem tomorrow you’ll have a new leaf growing in its place.
Dr. Tom: And so it has this incredible vitality which means it’s like a lizard, you cut off its tail and it grows a new tail. So you cut off a stem of tomorrow leaf and tomorrow it has a new leaf. So the question that I would post to ashitaba if it could talk, and it does talk in its own way is, how do you do such amazing vitality and not get cancer? Like how do you have such robust cell growth, but you’re able to control it? Because obviously the plant doesn’t get cancer.
Ben: Yeah, it makes sense.
Dr. Tom: And so the answer is it puts this yellow sap in its stem which has a chemotherapy drug in it.
Dr. Tom: Which as I say, if I was the plant that’s what I would do. I would say it’s good to have good vitality ‘cause then you could grow like crazy, but you gotta control it, so I’m gonna put a cell differentiating substance which is called chalcones c-h-a-l-c-o-n-e-s into the stem so my increased vitality goes into producing a new ashitaba leaf not an undifferentiated cancer growth.
Dr. Tom: And so when we eat the ashitaba leaf and stem which when we make the powder, we powder the leaf and the stem, and we get this yellow fluid and actually when you go on our website, you can see that oozing out of this yellow fluid from the stem. So we’re giving people increased vitality and the chemical/energy to control this vitality into a healthy way. And so, that’s an amazing plant.
Ben: That’s really cool. You talked about another one, I think you said it was called Okinawan spinach?
Dr. Tom: Yeah, there’s another one called gynura procumbens, otherwise known as Okinawan spinach, and that one has a different story to tell. And that one is more of a biochemical story because it has a substance in it which produces an almost identical effect as a diabetic drug called metformin which means it helps with a metabolic syndrome, it lowers blood sugar, all the things we try to do with a low carbohydrate diet. And again I’m all for low carbohydrate diets, but when you add Okinawan spinach you’re protecting yourself against essentially the metabolic syndrome. So one could also say, well why not just take chemotherapy drugs and why not take metformin? You know, my whole career has been saying with the theory, and I don’t know if I can prove it but I certainly believe it, you’re always better eating ashitaba or gynura than you are taking metformin or chemotherapy vincristine. It has no side effects, its more health producing rather than having a toxicity. So I would much rather give my patients Okinawan spinach as a diabetic medicine along with low carbohydrate diet etcetera, than give them the drug metformin.
Ben: But when you concentrate something that’s good from a plant, sometimes it allows you to get more of that concentrated chemical than you would ever be able to like physically be able to get from a plant without any damage to yourself, or I mean, like wine for example, resveratrol’s really good for you but you would have to drink copious amounts of wine and produce a bunch of acetaldehyde and ammonia by product and all sorts of nasty stuff to be able to get all that resveratrol, or you could try to get it from red grapes but you’d have to eat copious amounts of fructuous sugars to be able to get as much resveratrol as you’d wanna get if you hadn’t concentrated that resveratrol into say like a supplement or a capsule or something like that. Where do you draw the line in terms of choosing to do the whole plant food versus the extract from the plant?
Dr. Tom: Yeah, I mean, that’s a great question and to answer that as a doctor because I treat people with diabetes. It’s fairly simple, we do the diet and gynura and there’s other plants that have similar effect first, if that works we’re good, and if it doesn’t we have to think about metformin or some other alpha lipoic acid, or some other concentrated thing but that’s never the first option.
Ben: Okay. Got it. Now, what about the actual nutritional density of some of these vegetables that you talk about. Can you kind of compare and contrast the density and why the density would be greater in say, like a traditional what you call a food forest versus a modern agriculture. Like what is a traditional food forest and how does it differ from the way that we get of a lot of our plants and vegetables nowadays?
Dr. Tom: Right. Which gets into this question of why I think the paleo people have the vegetable part wrong. So again they have the animal food right, and the seed part right, they eat nuts and seeds. The plants are supposed to be 15 to 20 a day, and 120 a year, and perennials et cetera, and you have paleo people now eating broccoli and romaine lettuce as their 2 main vegetables which neither of which were even around before the 1800s. So those are not paleo foods. Those are modern hybridized foods.
Ben: Really, broccoli is a modern hybridized food?
Dr. Tom: Yeah, absolutely. I don’t know when it was first “created” hybridized but not in the paleo period.
Ben: So broccoli is a food that’s been genetically created?
Dr. Tom: Not genetically modified. It’s been hybridized in the traditional way that farmers selects.
Ben: Yeah. Plant breeding-based, selective plant breeding to create some kind of a new plant?
Dr. Tom: Right. I have nothing against that. I eat broccoli, I eat romaine lettuce, I plant it in the garden, and we grow it and sell it as powders. So the first thing is we’re always looking for the beat that came before the modern beat, so we try to look for beats that have been around for thousands of years. The same varieties. We look for hoppy blue pumpkins that are… I always figure that native Americans knew the most about pumpkins so I’m gonna grow the pumpkins, and put those in our powders as opposed to modern selected pumpkins. The nutritional density is stronger et cetera.
And then to get to your question, modern agriculture is about choosing the varieties that work the best for modern processing, and in monocropping which creates disease problems and lowers nutrient density, and what you really wanna do is grow the most nutrient dense which are the most flavorful and the most nutritious which is often the hardiest, and you wanna grow them in groups so that they all help each other do as well as possible.
Ben: So you would take a bunch of wild plants that you’ve researched to be plants that haven’t necessarily been bred for say, like sweetness or high yield crop or beauty and perhaps like the ugly more bitter versions of wild plants. You would hunt down these perennials that you talk about in your book. You’d plant those in a garden or on your patio like a vertical tower structure something like that, and you would plant then altogether so that their helping each other to grow?
Dr. Tom: Yes. And it’s not like you have to go out and hung out the wild ones. I mean there’s actually people who do that. You can grow it in a whole variety of ways, but yes you’re exactly right. That’s the way of the future of gardening for taste and nutrient density not ease of storage because it has more sugar than the other one.
Ben: That’s the crazy thing, is like you don’t notice until you start eating real wild plants. How sweet like the more modern plants are. I mean, everything from kale to tomatoes like actually last night, and maybe I did this because subconsciously I know I was gonna be interviewing you today, but I took my kids on a plant foraging walk. And yeah, I know that not everybody listening in has access to nature out in their backyard, or out their front door like I do. But we went out, and we got a bunch of greens to make a salad. So we found a spot where the deer had been bedding and there were giant stalks of wild nettle out by where the deer were bedding ‘cause the deer love to chew and eat the nettle, so we got a whole plastic bag full of nettle, and then we had another little plastic bag with us that we reached down and we picked a bunch of plantain. I told my kids to grab all the plantain that had been chewed a bit by the insects because it releases antioxidants as like a defense mechanism when it’s been eaten by predators.
And so we had plantain and nettle, and then we gathered a bunch of wild mint which has like almost like a bitter sweet flavor compared to the peppermint that you’ll find grown or sold at the grocery store. And we took all that back, and we dressed it with avocado oil, and then we added some salt and a little bit of raw honey, and some feta cheese, and some pumpkin seeds, and made a salad, but you could taste when you eat the salad that bitterness. It’s almost like you have to eat the salad more slowly because it doesn’t taste as sweet as say, like an iceberg lettuce or romaine lettuce, or even like a modern kale salad but the nutrition density is through the roof.
The antioxidant density is through the roof when you’re eating like a wild plant like that, and the cool thing that I like is that I didn’t have to do a thing, like in that case we didn’t have to go to the garden or anything like that. We just walked down to the forest where all these stuff was growing for us without us even having to tend it or to care for it. So it’s mind boggling not only how simple it can be to forage for some of these plants, but also how much more nutritionally dense and how much more like bitter and less sweet, and less pretty they actually are.
Dr. Tom: Yes. It’s exactly what I’m talking about. And then you can recreate that. You can do that, you can also recreate that to a certain extent in a garden setting, and then you make it actually doable for people these days to have access to the kind of diversity that you had last night.
Ben: Yeah. I wanna talk about diversity a little bit ‘cause I know you have special methods of creating these plant powders that you’ve hinted at a couple of times. I’ve tried some of those as well, and you even have a recipe in the book for how to make your own. I wanna pick your brain about that in a little bit, but I wanna also delve into the energy of some of these plants. I try personally to eat plants as fresh as possible you know, after they’ve been exposed to wavelengths of a light from the sun, after they’ve been kind of super charged so to speak with energy from the planet and from the sun, and exposed to negative ions outside and all this type of thing, but there’s also this concept that to a certain extent want to actually protect the plants from excessive light. Can you get in to how light whether too much light or too little light affects the energy of the food?
Dr. Tom: Yeah, that’s a pretty complicated subject that I can’t say I’m an expert on that. There’s some interesting research on different plants that some of them have higher phytonutrients antioxidants if you eat them right away, and some of them have if you leave them say sitting out for twelve hours, some of them if you put them in the refrigerator, and yeah, I’m trying to incorporate all that information a) in my life and b) in our making of these powders.
Ben: Well, when I bought like powders from you for example, they came in very dark jars. I think you call them miron jars?
Dr. Tom: Yes.
Ben: Can you explain why that is?
Dr. Tom: Yeah, and it’s crucial to what you’re just saying, and to making this viable because the problem was… so we for instance, we will take kale. And kale to me does the best if you process it right away and if you blanch it, or steam it for about 1 to 3 minutes first which breaks down the cellulous and makes the nutrients more bio available. So the first step is blanch it or steam it, and then right away we dehydrate it, and then right away after it’s dehydrated we put it into a… I’m not sure the pronunciation exactly. Some people say miron, some people say miron jar, and these were jars that seemingly have been around since the pyramids. That’s at least the urban myth where they found oil in them that was actually fresh after thousands of years, and then this Swiss company reversed engineered them, and they’re deep purple at a certain thickness, and they only lack very specific wavelengths of light in especially UVA.
And the story is that therefore not only do things not degrade in there, but they get more energized the longer they stay in the jar. Now we decided you know, you can’t believe anything, so let’s test it out. So last year, we put 2 identical more or less cherry tomatoes. One in a mason jar and one in a miron jar, and just put it on the counter in our kitchen and in 2 months, the one in the mason jar was all mush and moldy etcetera, and in 6 months the one in the miron jar is you could still eat it.
Ben: I actually saw a photo of that on your website, and the one that’s in the glass jar which is just a regular glass jar, which frankly like a lot of people listening in know you’re not supposed to store stuff in plastic, and so they store in like these amazing glass jars, but the tomato in the glass jar is almost looks rotten. The tomato in this miron almost like a violet black type of glass seems to be like a plump fresh red tomato. You mentioned that that’s because the miron light lets in the UVA rays, and I think it also lets in infrared rays, and so that’s somehow blocking excessive UVB radiation or excessive wavelengths of light that might cause something to age more excessively?
Dr. Tom: Exactly. It blocks out the UVB and the UVC which are the degeneration aging frequencies, and so it basically, I mean, I don’t know if this is exactly true but our hope is the longer you keep it in the miron jar the better it gets. I have things right now had in a miron jar like mint powder or horseradish powder that smell exactly the same as the day that we put them in the jar maybe not quite as strong. Now, in some powders the smell goes away after a while. Some powders seem to just stay there for years, and that was a really key part of me being behind doing vegetables powders because if they’re not in a miron jar they’re not worth doing.
Ben: Now what about whether or not the vegetables specifically has been cooked versus whether it’s raw. What’s your take on that, because I’ll hear a lot of times folks will say, well don’t eat raw vegetables because they’re more difficult on your digestive system, other people will say that cooking will reduce the nutrient density of vegetable. What’s your take on the whole raw versus cooked debate when it comes to eating plants?
Dr. Tom: So the thing that I believed in most deeply is my own experience of taste and smell of the food. I think it’s fine to do nutrient analysis etcetera, but I wanna eat the food that looks the best, tastes the best, and smells the best. So, they’ll cook it first. Raw is dependent on the vegetable. So for instance kale, if you eat raw kale versus if you blanch it for about a minute or two, it gets greener and sweeter because it’s breaking down the cellulous and making the nutrient (inaudible). So, I guess I wouldn’t say never but I have no interest in eating raw kale. All the kale I would eat would be cooked for a minute or two to break it down so that it’s more available, so that’s how we do the powders.
Ben: You said that you blanch it? What do you mean blanching just for people who don’t do that?
Dr. Tom: You put it in boiling water for about a minute or so.
Ben: Ok, got it. Then you just take it out and then you would prepare it in a smoothie or a powder or whatever you’re gonna make with it?
Dr. Tom: Yes.
Dr. Tom: Similarly, I’m not interested in eating (inaudible) it doesn’t taste good, it doesn’t smell good but baked pumpkin is wonderful.
Ben: Love baked pumpkin.
Dr. Tom: So that’s how we prepare the pumpkin powder. Now, there are some vegetables, like I wouldn’t cook lettuce because lettuce doesn’t have much cellulous and it doesn’t need to be cooked, and so there’s no point in cooking it.
Ben: I don’t know, man, have you ever barbequed like a romaine lettuce with some salt and black pepper?
Dr. Tom: Yeah. I know what you mean.
Ben: Or a grilled lettuce. I guess it would be like barbeque grilled lettuce.
Dr. Tom: Right. They are sophisticated, but yeah, that’s a good point. But generally speaking, so like leeks are better raw for us. The smell is better, the taste is better. Tomatoes are raw, peppers are low heat but the greens are all cooked, blanched or steamed. Pumpkins, squash, carrots are better cooked a little bit. So it totally depends on getting to know your vegetable. It’s like getting to know a different child. You have to know. Carrots do best. Carrots and beets definitely like to be cooked.
Ben: So, tell me about these vegetable powders that you’re talking about. How you actually make them, and why you actually put the vegetables into a powder, and then I’m also curious how you actually use them because I got some of these vegetable powders from you with the ashitaba and Okinawan spinach, and some of these other things in like a dry powdered form but it was really the first time that I’d seen them, and I had some friends over actually and had them out on the table, and they were kinda scratching their heads too in terms of like how are these vegetable powders actually made, and how does one use them?
Dr. Tom: So they’re made and the process is we either grow them ourselves, and we use way beyond organic techniques. So some of them we grow ourselves. We use the oldest best varieties. But actually not always the oldest because in our tomato salt, there’s an indigo apple tomato, and the reason I chose that is a) it tastes like bacon and b) it has the highest lycopene content of any tested tomato.
Ben: The tomato tastes like bacon?
Dr. Tom: A little bit.
Dr. Tom: It’s a little stretch but that’s its reputation, and it definitely has a tomato baconey kind of thing going there. Anyways, so we choose the varieties to either grow them or we source them from local Northern California organic farms. So the idea is a person out there can’t get all these diversity, so we’re gonna provide it for them. Help them. Not that they’re not supposed to eat fresh vegetables ‘cause they are, but this adds to the diversity. So we take whatever it is, like kale we harvest it, blanch it, dehydrate it, powder it, put it into miron jars. Pumpkins we bake them. We use these hoppy blue pumpkins, we use other heirloom varieties, bake them, dehydrate them, grind them, put it into miron jars, so and etcetera. Ashitaba is raw because that brings out the flavor the best. Just dehydrate it, ground, put into miron jars.
Ben: So you could theoretically, not to put you out of business, ‘cause I know you make these vegetable powders, and it sounds like you’ve got the process down to a science, but you could theoretically, or I could’ve taken the nettles and the mint, and the plantain that I just talked about. I could have taken that back, put it into my wife’s food dehydrator, dehydrate it at low temperature, and then put it into like a Vitamix, and then I could put it into jars and actually have like a dehydrated powder like this?
Dr. Tom: Absolutely. In fact, if you put it into miron jars that would be a great thing to do. So the next day if you just come to making your salad, and no, we just don’t have time to go foraging in the woods, you put a quarter of a teaspoon of that powder with those 3 into your salad dressing and now you’ve eaten instead of 3 vegetables with lettuce, tomatoes and radishes, you now have 6.
Ben: Okay. So I’m looking at for example, like your three-fold blend powder and that one has carrots and leeks, so you’ve got the roots of the upside down human. It’s got Swiss chard and kale, so you’ve got the leaves/stems of the upside down human. And then you’ve got bell peppers and zucchini in there which I guess would be like the fruits or the parts that would be good for your reproductive or your metabolic system.
Dr. Tom: Exactly.
Ben: So that’s kinda cool how you’ve worked in those 3 components, but in this powder let’s say, I were to sprinkle like a teaspoon of this powder onto a salad or on a soup or a stew or something like that. How much would the actual vegetable be in like a teaspoon or a tablespoon? Are we talking about getting like a whole salad in 1 spoonful or how much can you squeeze into one of these 4 ounce jars?
Dr. Tom: Yeah. So not only do we have all the parts, but we did it partly for flavor but also partly for color. So we have red vegetables, green vegetables, white vegetables and multi-colored vegetables all in there with all the antioxidants and phytonutrients that that implies. And so we’re still trying (chuckles) to get exact numbers, but if you take like 4 large stocks of kale, that’s about a teaspoon of kale powder. So if you take 1 zucchini, that’s about a quarter or so of a teaspoon of zucchini powder, 1 large beet is about a half to 3 quarters of a teaspoon of beet powder.
So the other thing about diversity is if you’re gonna eat 15 vegetables a day, we’re not talking about like a huge big bowl of kale or romaine lettuce. That’s not how traditional people did it. They ate small amounts of a lot of different ones. So in that teaspoon of threefold blend, you get a significant serving of all the nutrients in the leeks, and in the beets, and in the kale, and in the chard, and in the zucchini, and in the bell peppers.
Ben: So you’re getting that huge amount of plant variety that you’re talking about earlier that our ancestors would have eaten?
Dr. Tom: Yes. All at 1 teaspoon, and you use it. You can sprinkle it over fish to make broiled fish with threefold blend, but you can put it in soup, you can put it in salad dressing.
Ben: Yeah, I’ve been putting the leek salt in my smoothie, and then here’s the cool thing. My wife is a popcorn fanatic. So when she has her popcorn now, she’s got carrots, beets, kale, Swiss chard, winter squash and zucchini all as part of the popcorn coz she’s sprinkling the powder on top of the popcorn.
Dr. Tom: Exactly. That’s exactly how we meant to do these.
Ben: Cool. I like it. So these are all prepared using some of the methods that you’ve just described in terms of going into the miron jars, they stay potent for a long period of time ‘cause they’re blocking out the UVB light by allowing the UVA, and the infrared light, and then you just basically pick your poison and put it on a smoothie, stew, scrambled eggs, popcorn, potatoes, whatever you wanna put it on.
Dr. Tom: Yeah, I’m not sure I like the word poisons. (laughs)
Ben: (laughs) Pick your products.
Dr. Tom: Yeah, and you know, we’re hoping to branch out, so we’re gonna offer something called cholla buds which is a native American bud from a cactus, that’s a wild food, that’s dry that you can rehydrate and put in stir fries. So it’s all about a nori powder which is a wild seaweed. It’s all about how I wanna eat 20 vegetables a day, but I don’t wanna spend 2 ½ hours every morning chopping [1:07:10.5] ______.
Ben: Yeah, well I love it, and of course your book goes into a lot more detail although what I wanna do now with what you’re talking about is read this other book “The Fourfold Path to Healing”. But for those of you listening in, I’ll put a link to this Fourfold Path of Healing book but also the shorter easy to read version that I initially read which got me inspired to get Tom on the show today called How & Why) to Eat More Vegetables, and I’ll put a link to these books along with these vegetable powders that we’ve been talking about over on the show notes, and you can access those here. Go to bengreenfieldfitness.com/eatmorevegetables, that’s bengreenfieldfitness.com/eatmorevegetables. And when you go there what I’ll do is link over to all the different vegetable powders, as well as some of the other things that we talked about today such as biodynamic wine, anthroposophic medicine, and even the 2016 Weston A. Price Conference where Tom and I are both gonna be speaking. I’ll be speaking on how athletes can fuel themselves in a more ancestral way. What are you gonna be talking about Tom?
Dr. Tom: I’ll be talking about the heart.
Ben: Oh cool. Yeah, I actually have your book about the heart right here. The other book that hopefully I’m gonna get the chance to interview you about later on this year because that one also blew my mind, and it’s also only about a hundred pages long, amazingly. So I think you have things figured out by the way, I write 400 to 500 page books and you write these little information-dense packed books that seem like they’d be a little bit less of a chore to churn out, but that still have a lot of really good information on them.
Dr. Tom: Well, thank you, yes.
Ben: I love it. Now I’ll link to all these books in the show notes for those of you listening in go to bengreenfieldfitness.com/eatmorevegetables.
Tom, thanks for coming on and sharing all these stuff with us.
Dr. Tom: Thank you for having me, Ben. It’s been great to talk to you.
Ben: If people aren’t inspired to eat more plants and eat more vegetables now, then I really don’t know what to say. We’re just gonna have to start figuring out how to make vegetable smoothies taste like Big Macs I guess, but at least we’ve got tomatoes that taste like bacon, right?
Dr. Tom: Yeah, try an indigo apple tomato. They’re hard to find, but they have a definite baconey flavor.
Ben: That’s officially now on my bucket list. I’ll do it. Alright folks, well, this is Ben Greenfield along with Dr. Tomas Cowan signing out from bengreenfieldfitness.com. Have a healthy week.
You've been listening to the Ben Greenfield Fitness podcast. Go to bengreenfieldfitness.com for even more cutting edge fitness and performance advice.
It’s not often I read a book that is less than 100 pages long and I fold over and highlight nearly every page.
But that was indeed the case when I read the book “How (& Why) To Eat More Vegetables“, a book with a very simple title but a very wide range of practical plant-eating information I’ve never seen published elsewhere, including little-known superfood plants, why humans are like an upside down plant, how to make extremely nutritionally dense vegetable powders and much more.
The book was written by the guest of this podcast: Dr. Tom Cowan.
Dr. Cowan discovered the work of the two men who would have the most influence on his career while teaching gardening as a Peace Corps volunteer in Swaziland, South Africa. He read “Nutrition and Physical Degeneration” by Weston A. Price, as well as Rudolf Steiner’s work on biodynamic agriculture. These events inspired him to pursue a medical degree and he graduated from Michigan State University College of Human Medicine in 1984. After his residency in Family Practice at Johnson City Hospital in Johnson City, New York, he set up an anthroposophical medical practice in Peterborough, New Hampshire. Dr. Cowan relocated to San Francisco in 2003.
Dr. Cowan has served as vice president of the Physicians Association for Anthroposophical Medicine and is a founding board member of the Weston A. Price Foundation™. During his career he has studied and written about many subjects in medicine. These include nutrition, homeoathy, anthroposophical medicine and herbal medicine.
He is the principal author of the book The Fourfold Path to Healing and is the co-author of The Nourishing Traditions Book of Baby & Child Care. He writes the “Ask the Doctor” column in Wise Traditions in Food, Farming and the Healing Arts, the foundation’s quarterly magazine, and has lectured throughout the United States and Canada. He has three children and three grandchildren and practices medicine in San Francisco, where he resides with his wife, Lynda Smith.
During our discussion, you’ll discover:
-Why a plant is like an upside-down human, carrots and roots are good for your sinus and head, leaves are good for your lungs, and flowers are good for your metabolic and reproductive systems…[15:30 & 19:12]
-Why Dr. Cowan believes that vegetables are vastly misunderstood and misused by modern “healthy” diets, such as the Paleo diet…[27:45, 32:50 & 45:00]
–How commonly vilified foods such as beans and grains are actually good for you and a crucial part of an ancestrally appropriate diet…[29:35]
-Why you should seek out and learn to eat a special superfood vegetable called “Ashitaba”…[37:30]
-The little-known plant that can lower blood sugar more powerfully than the diabetic drug Metformin…[41:50]
-The fascinating tale of how the vegetable variety of “ancient Californians” compares to the vegetable variety of modern Californians today…[44:45 & 47:50]
-How the container that you store a vegetable or other food in can drastically affect the energy and nutrient bioavailability of that food…[51:30 & 52:50]
-Whether you should eat vegetables in their raw vs. cooked form…[56:35]
–How to make vegetable powders from tomatoes that taste just like bacon…[60:35]
-And much more!
Resources from this episode:
Do you have questions, comments or feedback for Dr. Cowan or me? Leave your thoughts below and one of us will reply!