Almost everyone, of whatever age, knows and loves carrots. To introduce our new Carrot Powder today, I'll share my most memorable encounters with carrots, which came decades ago as I was learning to garden and to become a doctor.
From my earliest gardening days, I realized something that I believe to this day: The ability to grow carrots separates a really good gardener from the noncommittal gardener. Carrots are extremely sensitive to both the quality of the bed preparation and the care one uses to tend the young seedlings.
First, the bed must be completely level and a uniformly fine texture. Rocky or clumpy beds will produce poor results. Second, how you seed the bed matters. I’ve heard other gardeners say, if you sprinkle the seeds on the surface too thickly, they all grow, but if you sprinkle them too thinly, none grow. How this happens is anyone’s guess, but that has been my experience as well.
Third, once the seeds are sown, they must be watered AT LEAST once a day. Miss one day, and the seeds won’t germinate, and the ones that have germinated will die. Then, if all goes well and the carrots sprout, the bed must be carefully watered and the carrots thinned to produce a weed-free, properly spaced stand of carrots. This is truly a labor of love, but the rewards are one of nature’s most nutritious and flavorful foods.
In the early 1980s, I joined the Physicians Association for Anthroposophical Medicine. The president of the group was a young family-practice physician who, soon after I joined the group, contracted testicular cancer. Rather than undergo conventional chemotherapy, he used the Gerson Diet, with its 8 to 10 glasses of carrot juice a day, as his main therapy. He went into a full remission, which lasted about a decade. At that time, he had a recurrence, which he attempted unsuccessfully to treat with conventional therapy. It was a difficult time for our entire close-knit group of young doctors, but it drove home for all of us the life-long lesson that disease can be treatable through dietary changes. The experience was such a profound lesson for me that one year later, when I graduated from medical school, I asked my parents for a Norwalk juicer as my graduation present. My intention was to lend it to my cancer patients to make their own carrot juice. Thirty-three years later, that juicer has made untold gallons of carrot juice for me and my patients.
Although dietary suggestions for cancer patients have changed through the years, especially with the finding that low-carbohydrate diets can be very effective, I still always remember the power of carrots in my friend’s recovery. We used to think it was either the enzymes or the beta-carotene in carrots that were the active agents, but new research has identified an interesting chemical called falcarinol, which is found only in the root of the carrot plant.
Falcarinol is a natural “pesticide” and also protects the plant from fungal attacks. Falcarionol seems to have important anti-cancer effects in both prevention and treatment; in one study, rats fed falcarinol had one-third less cancer incidence than similar rats not fed falcarinol. Furthermore, falcarinol seems to become more bio-available through either mastication (i.e., juicing in a grind-and-press juicer, like the Norwalk) or through gentle heat (like blanching and dehydration).
Our Carrot Powder, made from organically grown orange carrots from local Northern California farms, was made with the bio-availability of the important nutrients in mind. Even though some of the beta-carotene is lost through cooking, this is an easy nutrient to get in our daily food. More important are carrots’ unique chemicals, like falcarinol, where the actual medicinal benefits might lie.
Our carrots are blanched, dehydrated at low heat and then ground and put into Miron jars or mixed into our Threefold blends. The Carrots Powder works well with both savory dishes, as in the chili we had last night (below), or sweet foods, such as Orange-Carrot Muffins (below). Carrots deserve a special place in the annals of medicinal food and should be included in virtually everyone’s daily diet.
Tom Cowan, M.D.
The other day I was asked what I do most days. My initial response was that I see patients two days a week and go to the garden two days a week. The obvious follow-up question was, what about the other three days? After giving it some thought, my answer was, I go for a walk on the beach twice a week, but mostly I process food. That is especially true this time of year.
Our Powders Easily Add Nutrients to Soups and Stews
My good friend and co-author Sally Fallon Morell used to say that her rule with her four children was that they had to eat the breakfast and dinner she served them, and then they were free to eat what they wanted during the day. She was banking on them getting enough nutrient-dense foods during those two meals to keep them well nourished and even well fed enough so that they wouldn’t be looking for junk food.
We’re Looking for Growers!
This past weekend we hosted a small group of people who are interested in working with our company to help us create new products. We toured the Napa garden and spoke about new and innovative approaches to using plants as medicinal food. I had many ideas and examples of plants for them to see, feel and even taste, but I focused on five that I am particularly excited about and that will help us fulfill the dictum “let thy food be thy medicine.”