By Lindsay Courcelle
We recently took a honeymoon trip to Puerto Rico. We were excited, and having talked to a Rutland chef with roots in PR, we felt sure that we’d find tasty food. But coming from our home, with a winter’s worth of vegetables and a freezer full of well-raised meat, we were unsure how easy it would be to find food that would truly nourish us while we were in the Caribbean.
In our “be prepared” mode, we packed some food items in our suitcases. One, a bag of carrots and four potatoes. Two, a huge head of garlic. Three, a jar of homemade kim chi, fermented vegetables to encourage a healthy balance of beneficial bacteria in our digestive tract. And four, a flask filled with apple cider vinegar.
Apple cider vinegar has been used for ages to ensure optimal health and prevent illness. We in Rutland are lucky to have local sources for apple cider vinegar, including Yoder Farm of Danby, VT. As farmer Ryan Yoder said, “Our whole society is based around trying to play catch up, so instead of maintaining good health we have to fight illness when it comes.” He declares proudly that apple cider vinegar is the perfect preventative that challenges the way we approach health.
This was our primary reason for bringing a flask of vinegar to the tropics—to maintain our good health while eating foods that might be unfamiliar to our bodies. We had recently rediscovered a 1958 book by D.C. Jarvis, M.D. called “Folk Medicine: A New England almanac of natural health care from a noted Vermont country doctor.”
Dr. Jarvis was a fifth-generation Vermonter, trained as a medical doctor in Burlington. When he began practicing medicine in Barre, he realized that he needed to learn the folk medicine of the Vermonters living “close to the soil” on back-road farms.
The book delves into a variety of health topics, including a chapter on the medicinal benefits of apple cider vinegar. Titled “Potassium and Its Uses,” this chapter explains how critical potassium is to our health. Apple cider vinegar associates many minerals with potassium, carrying forward all of the health-giving minerals from the original apple.
Dr. Jarvis writes about many common ailments that apple cider vinegar helps, including chronic fatigue, headaches, and high blood pressure. In treating sore throats, Dr. Jarvis discovered that gargling and swallowing a solution of cider vinegar in water could cure a streptococci sore throat in 24 hours, often before he’d even received the test results from the laboratory to know whether his patient was infected with such.
“If a woman whose dress fits tightly will sip two teaspoonfuls of apple cider vinegar in a glass of water at each meal,” he writes, “generally she will find at the end of two months that she can take her dress in one inch at the waistline.”
And our favorite part of the book suggests preparing for a “weenie roast” or potluck by sipping cider vinegar in a glass of water. Dr. Jarvis describes a community meal in Barre featuring, unfortunately, spoiled lobster salad. One of the twenty diners brought a flask of vinegar and drank some in his water before eating. He particularly loved lobster salad and had two extra helpings, but even still, he avoided the diarrhea and vomiting that plagued the nineteen other members of the group.
Besides adding a couple spoonfuls of cider vinegar to your glass of water, you can incorporate it into salad dressings and other cooking. Here’s a salad recipe that we got from a friend and have shared far and wide. Many people who say they don’t like kale love this salad. Give it a try!
Massaged Kale Salad
- 1 lb. Kale, any variety
- 1/4 c. apple cider vinegar
- 1/4 c. olive oil
- 1/4 c. maple syrup
- 1-2 cloves garlic
Cut kale into thin strips. Remove any kale stems if you desire. Dice garlic. Mix vinegar, oil and maple syrup. Add garlic and pour mixture onto greens. Using your hands, “massage” dressing into the greens until they look slightly wilted.
Dressing quantities can be altered depending on preferences. Drain any additional dressing before serving. This salad is good for several days.
Lindsay and her husband Scott own Alchemy Gardens, a farm business growing vegetables, herbs, and starter plants. Learn more at http://www.AlchemyGardensVT.com.
Originally published in the Rutland Herald.