I’ve been seeing so many posts being so very excited for spring, and a rather common talking point is how much the sunshine gives you vitamin D and how healthy that is for you. And it makes me wonder how many people understand how vitamin D even works in the body.
Sunshine does not, in fact, provide you any vitamin D whatsoever. It’s an interesting fact that sunshine actually converts the cholesterol in your skin into Vitamin D.
According to health.howstuffworks.com;
“When UVB rays hit your skin, a chemical reaction happens: Your body begins the process of converting a prohormone in the skin into vitamin D. In this process, a form of cholesterol called 7-dehydrocholesterol (7-DHC), naturally found in your skin, absorbs the UVB radiation and gets converted into cholecalciferol. Cholecalciferol is the previtamin form of D3. Next, the previtamin travels through your bloodstream to your liver, where the body begins to metabolize it, turning it into hydroxyvitamin D, which is also known as 25-hydroxyvitamin D or 25(OH)D. The kidneys then convert the 25(OH)D into dihydroxyvitamin D, also called 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D or 25(OH)2D — this is the hormone form of vitamin D your body can use”
Which basically means that UVB rays (or, unfiltered sunlight) reacts with cholesterol in our bodies to make a substance that enters our blood, which our organs then process into vitamin D!
Additionally of interest, Vitamin D is really important in doing certain things in the body like absorbing calcium, fighting infections and generally keeping your blood flowing and your muscles healthier. Perhaps, though, the most exciting thing about vitamin D is it’s potential to prevent cancer when found in high levels. It tends to line up surprisingly well with what we’ve seen in increased cancer rates in a modern world (we spend much less time in the sunshine than we used to as a species), and while correlation is not causation (and many factors including genetic contribute to cancer), many cancer research institutes are taking it very seriously.
Interestingly, we can see exactly how this effects our bodies in chickens and eggs that we eat. There’s a reputable and highly-cited study done by Mother Earth News that used an independent lab and tested dozens of egg samples from pastured poultry. Their findings made complete sense with what we know about how bodies process sunlight. Chickens exposed to more sunlight produced eggs with significantly lower cholesterol and 3 to 6 times as much vitamin D as CAFO style eggs.
So it only makes sense that chickens raised in sunshine produce better eggs. It’s the same reason we try to get sunshine ourselves. And the same applies to other animals as well, like pigs or cows. Animals raised outdoors in full sun have higher levels of vitamin D in their bodies and lower levels of cholesterol, which they pass on to their byproducts (milk, cheese, eggs, even their offspring) and their meats (ham, bacon, steaks).
So if you ever wonder why your great-grandpappy lived to be 95, worked like a horse until the day he died, all the while eating eggs and bacon for breakfast every day and never getting cancer… You may only need to look up at the sky. The answer could have been right above you the whole time!
Last month there was a major historical moment that passed in the blink of an eye. I doubt most of you know it, but this year our global average temperature exceeded 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial era average temperature.
(And if you’d like to ignore this fact, please feel free to be an ostrich and just scroll down to sausages. Truly, sometimes we just need some tasty food, not a morose look at our reality.)
Most people don’t even flinch at a two degree difference because it’s such a tiny number to us. For those of us in America its about a 3.6F difference. What harm could a few tiny degrees of temperature do? Well, as it turns out, a lot since it’s not like we’re going from a high of 90F to 93.6F in the summer. That number (2C or 3.6F) is the global SURFACE temperature, but what typically controls the weather is ocean and atmospheric temperatures (such as El Nino) where a change of 3.6F surface temperature can translate into changing the temperature of whole oceans, even well under the surface. That comes back up to the surface later, and with so much more warm water, absorbing even more of the sun’s energy it has an exponential effect on our surface temperatures in hot areas, translating to an actual change far greater than that of 3.6F. In truth, the gap between where we are now and a global average climate change is exponential. For example, an increase of 9F is not going to translate into Nebraska going from an average high of 88 to an average high of 97… It is going to take Nebraska from an average high of 88 to an average high of 130F or higher.
Imagine for a moment the north pole. This past December the temperature at the NORTH POLE reached nearly 0C. That seems like a low number, but that is 32*F. The point at which water freezes. Now do you know what’s under the ice at the north pole? Ocean. Ocean that absorbs heat from the sun and air, rather than reflect light and cool air the way ice does. You know what else is under the ice (or more specifically IN it)? Methane, which absorbs more heat from the sun than other air particles. So you know what happens if that ice starts to melt? A chain reaction, where the ice melting causes MORE heat to become trapped on earth, which makes more ice melt, which makes more heat become trapped…
Well, I’ll let this guy explain the very scary reality of it to you;
This is an older video, four years in fact. Average global temperatures will probably reach +1.5*C in the next decade and we’re close to that now. Now what this guy doesn’t mention is the SOCIAL impacts of these problems. And if you think they won’t happen you’re kidding yourself; we’re already seeing them.
And that incredibly shocking number, that so many people claim is just people being silly liberal naysayers but is actually well documented science, is a symptom of a much larger problem which is the drought in the middle east. The lack of water in the middle east has become a huge problem and if you think that the whole “not having food thing” has nothing to do with people getting angry, revolting, and killing each other, one needs only look back on every war ever where people started starving and revolting and killing each other. Just imagine adding to that the concept that both sides think THEIR God is punishing them for allowing the other side to live or some other religious nonsense and the fact that the US and other countries have been exploiting the middle east for petty power struggles, money, oil and world dominance for 100 years and it becomes a no brainer that people there are violent, angry, aggressive, extremists who just wanna destroy the whole world and take everything they’ve been denied for decades for themselves. Is it right? No, but it is definitely real.
And if you think “Well they’ve always had their silly religious wars and they have always been a desert. That won’t ACTUALLY reach America.”, think again. We feel the effects of those conditions every day through recessions from wars, terrorist attacks, TSA searches and oil prices as it is. Those effects spread, they have a butterfly effect. The recession put my dad out of work, no money meant my mother wouldn’t go see a doctor as she got sick, it means cancer had a chance to run amok in her body for years, and it means that on March 15th I will be honoring the day she DIED because some guys I never met dozens of years ago decided America needed more money and oil and set the precedence for our foreign policy in the middle east and our environmental policy of “ignore everything”.
And if the effects of foreign bodies reaching into the US and having chain reaction events aren’t enough or are too vague, remember that people are killed and threatened for not following a particular religious belief in the US rather frequently as it is. One only needs to look at our current presidential election to witness divides between frustrated people in a poor economy. And the droughts and aberrant weather patterns? They’re here,they have been here (for quite some time),and they will get much, much worse in the future. We are HOMESTEADERS. What happens when we get so little rain that we can’t grow our plants and animals any more? What will YOU do when your farm dries up to a crisp or is flooded under a foot of water for nine months of the year from these conditions? What will you do when people get fed up with being shot at for being different than “the norm” and don’t even have food and shelter and they decide to start picking up guns of their own? What will you do when it’s YOUR family being threatened by that instability?
The future is scary. It’s terrifying. I never thought I’d see the day when the conspiracy theories that my parents used to listen to on college radio would seem not so far fetched after all.
So what am I doing about it? Well, I’m trying to found an egalitarian Ecovillage here in Northeast Ohio, a project I feel like Wiki does a fair job of explaining. We’ll live sustainably, we’ll form communal supportive bonds, we’ll rely on each other, and try to live well and respect other people without the discriminatory, violent, hateful, exploitation that permeates our current societal structure… Care to join us? (No, seriously, if you’re interested, please let me know!)
But beyond that, global change is out of my hands. I can change myself, but after that it’s not really up to me. It’s up to all of YOU folks out there. Like the TEDx video says; if you see this, it’s now your mission to make the impossible possible. Because without it we’re all screwed.
And in the meantime… I will show you some delicious sausages.
I had some friends over recently to help me prepare some rabbit sausages that, I must say, came out rather deliciously. I did my digging and my research and here’s how we did it. Your results may vary.
We started by testing out the meat grinder that I received for Christmas two years ago. Because of how tumultuous the following two years were, I never got around to using it so this was the first time it had been out of the box. It works very well, so I will endorse it but it does seem to have some clogging issues during stuffing. Not sure if that would be better or worse on a different model. The most frustrating thing about this grinder was the very short cord on it. I sure hope you’re prepared to use this large contraption on a small counter right next to an outlet and not on a tabletop! Or you could, you know, buy an extension cord.
Next, we deboned and cut the rabbit meat into chunks. the best time to do this is when the rabbit is still partially frozen but you can cut through it. Unfortunately this is VERY cold on our wee little fingers and difficult to deal with it. But we persevered and left a carnage of bones in our wake.
This was the hardest part. We also cut up some pork belly into it. Rabbit meat has almost no fat and so it makes a terrible sausage on it’s own. It really needs fat from another source so that it doesn’t turn into rubber when it is fried. Most people say to use half pork-half rabbit like one does with deer meat. Out of 9lbs of ground meat, about 1.5lbs were pork belly, so a much lower pork to rabbit ratio than most people suggest. I really didn’t want to use a lot of pork because I wanted rabbit sausage, not rabbit-and-pork sausage and this ratio of 1.5lbs pork belly to 7.5lbs boneless rabbit worked out just fine. It gave plenty of fat for cooking and retained the rabbit flavor of the sausage. The pork belly came from a local market and was from an Ohio hog.
We ground the meat and mixed the batches together to make sure that the pork was well distributed. For grinding meat, the grinder worked like a dream. Then we split the meat into two bowls and let it rest in the fridge while we mixed seasoning. We made equal amounts of two types of sausage; Italian and maple breakfast links. We got hog casings from our local big-box grocery. They sold what they called enough “all natural salted hog casings” for 25lbs of meat (which is probably accurate) in a tiny half-pint container for about $2.50. It was right in there along with Sugardale bacons, Johnsonville brats and cured box-store hams, so if you’re looking to make sausage, casings may be closer than you think! The maple syrup was 100% pure Ohio maple syrup. My herbs come from a local Italian restaurant supply store where I can get them in bulk for cheap. All around I spent maybe $9 on outside supplies and perhaps $1.50/lb on my own rabbit meat, meaning perhaps $2.50/lb on high quality natural sausage. Is it a good price for the product? Yes. Could I make money on it? Probably nah. Could I have done it cheaper? Probably yeah. Around here, chicken sausage goes for about $4/lb, which I think is a good comparison and it’s not the same quality product at all. Some day we may be able to provide all of these things to ourselves and not have to source anything from off the farm.
For recipes we just looked up recipes online and created an approximation of a mix of them, especially those for chicken sausages. We put more maple in the breakfast than was called for, and used wine as our liquid in the Italian.
We decided to do the Italian as bulk stuffed and the breakfast as links. We would keep some loose from each batch. Stuffing the sausages was much rougher than grinding the meat the first time and so I didn’t get any pictures of the actual process.
Ultimately we had some problems with the sausage meat clogging up the grinder and getting turned into mush. Every time we’d clean it out after this we’d get about 3″ of clean meat before it’d clog again. I suspect that a bit of oil and feeding it a bit more slowly and loosely may have helped with the problem but we were aiming for something with a lower fat content and so adding liquid oil seemed counter-productive and we really had no idea what we were doing. In the future we may add a little less pork and a little more liquid oils during the stuffing process; olive for the Italian and vegetable for the breakfast.
Breakfast links. The ones that stuffed correctly on the right and incorrectly on the left. You can see the difference between the correct “lumpy” texture and the lighter over-worked much texture on the left. Both still tasty.
Tubes of Italian with the same problem. “properly” ground lumps on the inside, over-worked meat on the outside.
Ultimately we cooked it up and had some really high quality sausage and some lower quality but still delicious sausage. I gave some to my friends, helpers and family and kept back plenty for myself. We will not be buying store sausage again for a good long while! Yum!
Some of the over worked breakfast sausages and some loose crumbles cooking in a bit of water as a taste-test. While the texture was wrong, they’re delicious and edible.