My friend, Elli, has been healing her rheumatoid arthritis for years with the Nourishing Traditions diet and has recently begun her GAPS journey. She has found a more complete healing with GAPS than she had been experiencing previously and has become a big believer in the GAPS solution. Her kids will soon be going on intro and hopefully I'll get her to write up a few posts sometime soon!
In the meantime, she has become a local cheerleader for GAPS. She is our local Weston A Price chapter leader and teaches cooking classes in her home so you could say she has somewhat of a "following" already. The other day she sent out a rah-rah-GAPS notice to her e-mail list and I guess someone responded with doubts. In particular, doubts about the need to eliminate potatoes. I particularly enjoyed the storytelling nature of Elli's response (to the full listserv) and thought I'd share it here.
Although you may not be eating potatoes today you may want to add them back in later and this will give you some things to think about when that time comes!!!
My friend Sam responded to my email about GAPS in this way, "Those Peruvians have 3,000 different kinds of potatoes, and can outwork any white man. Explain that with GAPS."
What a fabulous question!!! I thought you might appreciate his question and my response below:
You are awesome!!
Those Peruvians started out eating potatoes with dirt. They watched the llamas, who dug up potatoes with their hoofs, rolled the potatoes around in mud, and ate them. The dirt has enzymes that helps neutralize the toxins in the old breed of potatoes. When Peruvians started eating wild potatoes, they copied the llamas, serving potatoes in a mud sauce, taking advantage of the enzymes available in the dirt.
Once the Peruvians started growing potatoes, they breed them so there were less and less toxins over the years. Even though there were less toxins in the potatoes, the Peruvians continued to ferment potatoes prior to eating.
We find that all over the world in cultures where people live close to the Earth - complex carbs get fermented prior to eating. Sourdough bread, fermented oats, and yes, fermented potatoes. Fermenting breaks down the complex carbs into simple carbs so your gut doesn't have to try to do that incredibly complex job.
Because our standard American diet does NOT require fermenting carbs, we've got gut problems and health issues that the ancient cultures lacked.
GAPS gets all of the complex carbs out, until the gut is in much much better shape. This usually takes 2 years or longer. Once the gut is healed, a person on GAPS can, if they want to, try out fermented carbs - sourdough bread, fermented oats, fermented potatoes, etc. If those fermented complex carbs agree with the healed gut, then the person on GAPS can include them in their diet. If not, the gut may still be fragile and require more healing first.
Here's an article in the Smithonian Magazine about the history of potatoes. Read it with your Weston A. Price glasses on.
I've pulled the paragraphs out about the way the ancients prepared and ate potatoes. Here they are:
Wild potatoes are laced with solanine and tomatine, toxic compounds believed to defend the plants against attacks from dangerous organisms like fungi, bacteria and human beings. Cooking often breaks down such chemical defenses, but solanine and tomatine are unaffected by heat. In the mountains, guanaco and vicuña (wild relatives of the llama) lick clay before eating poisonous plants. The toxins stick—more technically, “adsorb”—to the fine clay particles in the animals’ stomachs, passing through the digestive system without affecting it. Mimicking this process, mountain peoples apparently learned to dunk wild potatoes in a “gravy” made of clay and water. Eventually they bred less-toxic potatoes, though some of the old, poisonous varieties remain, favored for their resistance to frost. Clay dust is still sold in Peruvian and Bolivian markets to accompany them.
Edible clay by no means exhausted the region’s culinary creativity. To be sure, Andean Indians ate potatoes boiled, baked and mashed, as Europeans do now. But potatoes were also boiled, peeled, chopped and dried to make papas secas; fermented in stagnant water to create sticky, odoriferous toqosh; and ground to pulp, soaked in a jug and filtered to produce almidón de papa(potato starch). Most ubiquitous was chuño, which is made by spreading potatoes outside to freeze on cold nights, then thawing them in the morning sun. Repeated freeze-thaw cycles transform the spuds into soft, juicy blobs. Farmers squeeze out the water to produce chuño: stiff, styrofoam-like nodules much smaller and lighter than the original tubers. Cooked into a spicy Andean stew, they resemble gnocchi, the potato-flour dumplings in central Italy. Chuño can be kept for years without refrigeration—insurance against bad harvests. It was the food that sustained Inca armies.
Even today, some Andean villagers celebrate the potato harvest much as their ancestors did in centuries past. Immediately after pulling potatoes from the ground, families in the fields pile soil into earthen, igloo-shaped ovens 18 inches tall. Into the ovens go the stalks, as well as straw, brush, scraps of wood and cow dung. When the ovens turn white with heat, cooks place fresh potatoes on the ashes for baking. Steam curls up from hot food into the clear, cold air. People dip their potatoes in coarse salt and edible clay. Night winds carry the smell of roasting potatoes for what seems like miles.