Letters to the Editor – November 2013

Reader Hankering for Spicy Fermented Ketchup

(Re: Preserve Your Harvest the Old Fashioned Way, by Linda Gabris; Oct. 2013)

I am looking on your website for Linda Gabris’ recipe for Spicy Fermented Ketchup and not finding it. Can you please send it to me? Linda’s article is very interesting and there are several recipes I would like to try. I make my own kefir and several other ferments. This is very nutritious food and absolutely delicious.
Susan Stewart, HnBSc, MSc, MBA, CNC, CCH

Vitality magazine responds

Dear Susan,

Yes, you’re right; we did promise to put the Spicy Ketchup recipe in the extended online version of ‘Preserve Your Harvest the Old Fashioned Way’. Unfortunately, we got preoccupied with production on the Whole Life Expo showguide and so Linda’s article never got posted to our website. Our sincere apologies! Here is the missing recipe:

Spicy Fermented Ketchup

For this recipe I use homemade tomato paste rendered from my own garden tomatoes, but you can make this out of store-bought tomato paste too.

Put 4 cups tomato paste into a large glass bowl. Add 1/2 cup unpasteurized honey (or dark maple syrup for a smoky, sweet ketchup). As well, you’ll need 1/2 cup of whey in total. Whisk the first 1/4 cup of whey into 4 Tbsp apple cider vinegar. Add 1 Tbsp sea salt, 1 Tbsp allspice, 1 tsp cloves, 1 Tbsp crushed dehydrated garlic, 1 tsp finely ground chili pepper flakes, and 1 Tbsp black pepper, and whisk until smooth. Blend mixture into the tomato paste. Taste and adjust sweetness and spiciness to suit your own taste.

Transfer the ‘ketchup’ to a quart jar. Next, pour the other 1/4 cup whey over top of the ketchup and do not stir. This whey will start the ketchup working. Cover with a cloth and let ferment at room temperature for 4 to 5 days. Open and stir well. Put on lid and store ketchup in fridge where it’ll keep for months.

Postcard from a Fan in the Amazon Jungle

(Re: Sacred Vine of the Amazon, by Dr. Brian Rush; Sept. 2013)

I am writing to you in response to the article ‘Sacred Vine of the Amazon.’ I want to expand the discussion further to touch on the subject of Ayahuasca outside of the context of mystical tourism.  I would also like to tell you about our work at the Canto Luz Center for Research and Cultural Preservation; a project dedicated to environmentalism, support of traditional healing practices, and sustainable living.

Our goal is to help preserve the largest tropical rainforest in the world by restoring the balance between modern humans and their surroundings. By reconnecting ourselves to our hearts through the traditional plant spirit shamanic work of the Amazon, and by creating educational programs that explore the value of rainforest preservation, we hope to inspire others.  We aim to teach, by example, a more sustainable form of living, and thus help to preserve the ancient knowledge and culture of the indigenous peoples in our region.

Canto Luz offers unique tree-house living as a way to re-connect with nature and experience the magic of life in the jungle. We support the local community in several ways: by developing sustainability projects; through active participation in the movement to protect the region from the destruction wrought by gold mining; and by hosting various research groups exploring and researching the virgin rainforest surrounding us.
By visiting Canto Luz, not only will you reconnect with your inner self through our shamanic practices, but you will also become part of the movement to preserve the largest rainforest on Earth. Please visit us at https://www.cantoluz.com, email: cantoluzperu@gmail.com

Mariya Garnet,
Madre de Dios, Peru

Leader of a Not-So-Quiet Revolution: Julia Indichova’s Low-Tech Infertility Cure

I was glad to read the article by Julia Indichova a couple of years ago on the possible link between fertility drugs and cancer. As you might know Julia is also the creator of the Fertile Heart™ Ovum mind body program. In the piece I’m submitting I profiled Julia Indichova in the context of the increasing push toward quick fix high tech solutions. Her story is also a story about women’s bodies, and how to respect and trust them more deeply. We could all use another lesson in that. Bethany Saltman

Louise Lawson had her first miscarriage at 40. After months of failed attempts to get pregnant, she became so despondent that she couldn’t sleep. Eventually, Louise began attending a Mind/Body fertility support group, which helped her insomnia, but not the infertility. Someone she met in the group told her about an ‘over 40’ fertility study looking for subjects, and she signed up. After her first free round of IVF, she became pregnant, but then miscarried again.

All in all, Louise received five free rounds of IVF and had three miscarriages.

Feeling deeply discouraged, she stumbled upon Julia Indichova’s book Inconceivable: A Woman Triumphs Over Despair and Statistics (Broadway Books 2001), which she says offered “unbelievable hope.”

It wasn’t long before Lawson attended one of Indichova’s workshops at her Fertile Heart Studio in Woodstock, NY. Louise knew it was a life-changer. “When Indichova announced to the group that infertility is a gift,” Lawson recalls, “my friend looked at me like, this woman is nuts. But I got it.”

A few months after the workshop, Louise conceived naturally. Her son Daniel was born nine months later, when she was 44 years old.

Infertility affects some 7.3 million people in the U.S. It is defined as the inability to conceive after a year of unprotected, “well-timed” intercourse. Because confronting the possibility of never having a child is so painful, women who have been given this diagnosis go to any lengths to overcome it. And so, the infertility industry’s medical solutions are difficult to resist.

Sadly, these seemingly sure-fire solutions don’t always work. In fact, according to the most recent report by the Center for Disease Control, the IVF success rate for women under 35 is 41%, and it plummets to 12% once a woman turns 40. Still, these poor odds don’t stop women from getting hooked on the promise of the quick fix.

Indichova, a pioneer on the low-tech road to parenthood says, “Luckily for me, my diagnosis was so bleak that high-tech was not an option. Otherwise I, too, might not have been able to resist it.”

The fertility chapter of Indichova’s story didn’t begin until she was 42 years old. She was living on the Upper West Side of Manhattan with her husband Ed, walking around with her baby strapped to her body, eating bagels in that slow mommy-baby time warp, checking out double strollers and gearing up for baby #2, who was sure to arrive any day. After all, she and her husband had conceived their daughter, Ellena, on their first try.

The fact that things were taking a little while didn’t scare them.

Just for good measure, Indichova made an appointment with her OBGYN who did the usual workup, discovering her Follicle-Stimulating Hormone of 42, which the doctor described as an indication that her  “ovaries are not working as well as they should be.”

He added, “With an FSH of 42, there is not much I can do for you. You’ll need to see a fertility specialist.” The first specialist they called wouldn’t see her, the receptionist explaining that the doctor, “doesn’t think he can help you.” The next specialist recommended IVF with donor eggs, or adoption. The psychologist in the practice told the couple that, “there is no documented case of anyone conceiving with those numbers.”

In the high-stakes field of fertility, patients want answers and, for better or for worse, often receive them. However, Dr. Jamie Grifo, Director of the NYU Fertility Center, says that, “A doctor who uses the word ‘never’ is overstepping our bounds. We’re not that smart.” When talking to patients, “We use data to play odds, while managing expectations. We want patients to be optimistic, but realistic. The person who doesn’t listen feels victimized. When you’re a victim, you never recover.”

And that is at the center of Indichova’s work: to ensure that people dealing with infertility don’t become victims, and that this becomes a life-affirming mission, no matter what.

During Indichova’s personal fertility journey, she introduced herself to what we now consider widely-accepted “alternative” fertility treatments such as yoga, acupuncture, exercise, cleansing, and attention to diet, and she continues to encourage making smart choices in these areas.

However, her Fertile Heart Ovum method goes deeper than that. Developed through years of counseling and teaching, the carefully crafted tools of the Fertile Heart practice include brief visualizations, movement sequences, food recommendations and other mind-body techniques designed to reveal the hidden obstacles that might be blocking conception on a physical or emotional level.

The program, validated by an increasing volume of studies, is meant to empower each person to fully engage in their own treatment process. Sometimes the barrier is pain linked to the person’s own birth or to a belief such as, “I don’t deserve to have a baby.” Other times, it’s endometriosis, or impaired thyroid function, that inhibits a full-term pregnancy. Regardless of the nature of the problem, the Ovum work is about choosing the most health-enhancing path toward parenthood.

This is powerful medicine which, as in the case of Lawson and hundreds of others, has succeeded where the medical model has failed. In the Fertile Heart retreats, Indichova’s compelling combination of earthiness and wit makes it clear that this material is serious, but the mood in her workshops is often light, and even funny. And, hopeful. In one New York City support circle of 13 women, 8 conceived after years of failed attempts. In another workshop, 8 out of 11 women conceived within five months of attending.

Watching a group of women and men in the Fertile Heart studio in Woodstock standing in a circle, eyes closed, swaying from side to side as they sing one of Indichova’s many original tunes – a lullaby – to the child of their dreams, is like seeing an energy that knows no bounds. Dr. Christiane Northrup, the author of Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom, in her Foreword to Inconceivable describes what can happen when we learn to listen to our own deepest truth. She writes, “All the rules change, and so does our biology. Statistics no longer apply to us. We enter the realm of possibilities.”

Amy Smearsoll, who traveled from Switzerland to attend one of Indichova’s all day workshops, was diagnosed with early menopause at the age of 38. “I was told that my only chance at motherhood would be through egg donation or adoption. Every doctor seemed to give me a fruit analogy…the apples at the bottom of the barrel. The bad berries that stick to the basket.” Smearsoll, like Indichova, had not qualified for IVF, her eggs so unviable. The physicians she worked with “gave me no hope.” But after attending Indichova’s workshop, her view of the diagnosis changed. “Everything I learned that day felt right to me. I said, this is it, I am not a statistic. I didn’t know if it would happen, but after the workshop I felt that pregnancy was possible for me.” Three months later she conceived naturally. A year after the workshop, at age 39, Smearsoll gave birth.

An Israeli study reported in the 2009 issue of Fertility & Sterility showed that women who “let go” and “relinquish their control” during their IVF cycle are about twice as likely to get pregnant as women who are less able to deal with the pressure of treatment. True as this may be, it doesn’t amount to much more than the infuriating advice to “just relax”. Julia Indichova and her Fertile Heart work can help those wanting a baby to learn what it is they need to let go of and how to do it. But more than that, she offers the women and couples who seek her guidance a path to fully live their longing in a way that leads to fruitful lives regardless of how they resolve their fertility challenges.

And what if it doesn’t work? What if the baby just doesn’t show up? Suzanne Guest, a London based psychotherapist who has participated in Julia’s international teleconferences puts it this way: “No matter what, I will keep birthing myself and using my fertility and mothering in other ways in my life. I have grown and learned so much through Fertile Heart and continue to embrace this challenge with every part of my being. At the end of the day I feel incredibly lucky because not everyone gets to live their fertility journey in this way.”

Bethany Saltman

www.BethanySaltman.com is an editor and writer whose prose, poetry and interviews can be seen in national magazines and journals such as Parents, The Sun, Shambhala Sun, Whole Living, Witness, NY Quarterly, and many others. For more info on Julia Indichova’s workshops visit www. FertileHeart.com, write: P.O. Box 767, Woodstock NY,  USA, 12498, call 845-679-5469, email:  info@fertileheart.com

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