Thursday, February 17, 2011

Revolutionize Your Survival Food Strategy Part II

Revolutionize Your Survival Food Strategy Part II
by Rich Loomis (

The excerpts below, documenting these suggested claims, are drawn from: “The Magic of Chia” by James F. Scheer. Please consider supporting the author by purchasing his excellent book, which goes into much more detail.
As archaeologists have discovered, chia seed was buried in the graves of Aztec and Mayan emperors, just as favorite foods were placed in the tombs of Egyptian pharaohs. Chia seeds were so important to the Aztecs that they served as an offering to their deity Chicome Coatl.

Use of chia seed by Native Americans helped point the way for two southern Californians— Bob Andersen, of Valley Center, and Hal Neiman, of Santa Monica—to spend nearly twenty years cultivating the most health-beneficial forms of chia seed and growing them in vast amounts so that, for the first time, there is enough chia seed to meet the mounting world-wide demand.

A few years ago Ciraldo Chacarito, a fifty-two-year-old Tarahumara Indian from the Copper Canyon region of Mexico, was among the top finishers in a 200-mile race. This was phenomenal, because Ciraldo competed against the world's best young endurance runners with daily access to the latest training facilities, leading trainers, and scientifically designed running equipment.

Ciraldo hadn't conditioned himself. It was just "come as you are" to him. His competitors wore ultramodern running footwear designed for speed, rather than native, hand-made sandals like Ciraldo's.

Could the secret to Ciraldo's success have been something known for more than eight hundred years by his people: chia seeds eaten before and during the race? Teams of Tarahumara Indians are now training on chia seed, including Ciraldo, who won this race in 1998.

After he had eaten chia seed and was amazed at his physical response to it, Bob Andersen, a health food distributor in Valley Center, California, told himself, "Somebody ought to domesticate chia seed, develop a cost-effective way to harvest it, and assure a steady market supply for the world." Nobody did it, so Bob Andersen became that somebody, along with his friend Hal Neiman.

Many sensational stories about chia seed are repeated by Native American tribes in the great Southwest, as recounted by Harrison Doyle. Most of them relate to the strength and endurance imparted by chia. It was nothing for tribesmen to run for an entire day on a handful of chia seeds and a gourd filled with water.

Harrison Doyle, who for years lived among the Native Americans near Needles, California, on the Arizona state line, has many cherished memories of these times. As a youth he often ran races with young tribesmen. Usually he would break in front of the group. However, after a few hundred yards, they all passed him. After about a mile, winded and exhausted, he fell far behind. He asked his competitors how they were able to beat him every time. They cast knowing glances at one another, laughed, but refused to answer.

No matter how much he pleaded, the Native Americans never revealed their secret. Frustrated and determined to find the answer, Doyle carefully observed his competitors during entire days. Eventually he noted that on most mornings they would take seeds from pouches attached to their waistbands and chew on them. Clyde Hogan, of Paso Robles, California, a man who had spent much time with Doyle and interviewed him in-depth, told me:

"They turned out to be chia seeds. Harrison Doyle began chewing on them each morning, or soaking them in water for thirty minutes to an hour and drinking the mucilaginous product. Then he challenged the Native Americans to a long race. This time he stayed even with them and, before the finish line, surged ahead and won. Rather than feel disgruntled, the young braves just laughed. They knew Doyle had discovered their secret."

Doyle remembered a common sight: tribesmen filling pouches with chia seeds (often the only food taken, along with a gourd with water), strapping on a backpack, and running for days, covering 300 rugged miles along the Mojave Trail from Needles through the Cajon Pass to the California coast. There they traded blue and green stones (malachite copper and turquoise), chips of flint or obsidian lava, arrowheads, and sometimes ochre paint.

Among many tribes it was common for men to eat a tablespoon of chia before spending a day hunting for game. A story is told of young, chia-fed Apache braves, stationed long distances apart, chasing after a deer for extended periods of time. Outdistanced at the start, they showed amazing endurance and energy in the pursuit. Finally the deer became exhausted and was easy prey. Then they carried the animal for miles back to the village, showing no signs of overfatigue. This legend challenged my ability to believe, but it was verified by Clyde Hogan, with whom Harrison Doyle discussed the subject. Doyle was an eye witness to several such hunts.

Adolph Bulla was a hard-rock desert miner in his seventies who was legendary for his physical stamina. Some years ago he was the subject of a feature story in the Los Angeles Times. After reading it, Harrison Doyle drove out to Randsburg, California, to interview Bulla.

"It was indeed astonishing to find a hard-rock miner at that age drilling, blasting, mucking, and hauling for six sunup-to-sundown days a week," he told Bob Andersen. "Crediting his remarkable physical stamina to chia seed, which grew up and down hills near his home, Bulla generously presented me with some, explaining that he mixes a teaspoonful into hot- cake batter—sometimes a little more for an especially hard day—and this fortifies him for work without another meal." And despite constant exposure to the burning, skin-aging desert sun, Bulla "looked and acted a good twenty years younger than his actual age," according to Doyle.

Doyle claims that numerous Native Americans were sustained by only a tablespoonful of chia and a gourd of water on a twenty-four-hour forced march.

I attended many nutrition lectures, including one by pioneer nutritionist Paul Bragg, and learned more exciting facts about chia seed. Bragg referred to the legendary physical feats performed by chia seed eaters down through history and related the absorbing story of how he had been introduced to this fabulous seed.

"Early in this century, two friends and I decided to climb the rugged and uncharted San Jacinto mountain that towered 10,831 feet above the then small southern California desert community of Palm Springs. This is one of the world's most spectacular mountains, inasmuch as it is situated in flat desert country and goes straight up. In our packsacks was food for three days. Starting at dawn, we struggled up to the top just as the sun was setting on the western horizon.

Too tired to do anything else, we ate our evening meal and then crawled into our sleeping bags. Early next morning, a tremendous thunderstorm broke over the mountains. It was like being pounded by a waterfall. Drenched, we quickly ran under an overhang of rocks. When the cloudburst subsided, we were upset to find that our packsacks of food had been washed down the mountainside—along with our trail maps and guiding compass. Our situation was desperate. It is not easy to go down a mountain— miles and miles of wilderness— with thick underbrush and sheer dropoffs.

Afraid of starving to death, we started downward on the wet, slippery, and rocky terrain. Of course, the trail was washed out. Just when we thought we were making progress, we came to a cliff with a dropoff of several thousand feet and had to start all over again.

A long day of hiking through the underbrush and stumbling over rocks exhausted us, especially because we hadn't eaten a morsel of food. We were thankful we had canteens of water. We slept under a big Ponderosa pine that night. Our next day was almost a duplicate of the previous one. So were the following three days. Discouraged, apprehensive, and exhausted on the morning of the sixth day without food, we found that we were back where we had started on the first day.

While we tried to figure out what to do, an Indian of the Agua Caliente tribe appeared out of nowhere.

He had a remarkable body—tall, lean, symmetrical—and he moved with such power that I was amazed. He carried a rifle, and there was a leather pack on his back. His bronze skin almost glowed. I judged him to be middle-aged.

He spoke excellent English, telling us he had been on a nine-day hunting trip looking for a mountain goat. I wondered how he had fed himself during that period. He showed us. His leather pack contained seeds which he called chia. He had lived on several teaspoonfuls daily. Seeing that we were lost and famished, he shared some with us.

Within a short time, the three of us us felt a supercharge of energy. Never in my life had I experienced such a sharp change. That was my introduction to chia seed and to its remarkable powers to invigorate a person. Equally remarkable was the fact that this Indian, a powerful specimen of manhood was seventy-nine years old and lived mainly on chia seed.

That top-of-the-mountain experience was one of the most trying of my life, but I wouldn't have missed it for anything. From that time on, I made a point of going to the desert to gather chia seed or to buy it whenever it was available in health food stores.

Although I had eaten chia seeds for some time and, as an athlete, had gained strength and stamina in the process, I wanted more evidence that chia was the reason for these gains. After all, I ate a number of great health foods. I remembered something from the Bible, a quotation from the Apostle Paul to the Thessalonians: 'Prove all things.'

That was what Paul Bragg did. The test came about almost by accident. In a chat with a group of young men and women athletes at his athletic club, he checked each person to find out which foods gave them the most energy, vitality, and endurance for winning performances. Responses ranged from wheat germ, wheat germ oil, brewer's yeast, desiccated liver, blackstrap molasses, royal jelly and soy foods, to individual supplements such as vitamin C, vitamin B-complex, magnesium, and mineral complexes.

"Then my turn came," said Bragg. "I quickly told the group I seemed to get my greatest go power from chia seed, which has been my old standby for energy for years—just as it has been for various American Indian tribes. Inasmuch as I was considered more or less a guru of the group, one of the young men said, 'Paul, why don't we test chia seed on some weekend?"

There was almost unanimous agreement, and Paul Bragg structured the experiment, actually a competition—a grueling test of endurance, a thirty-six-hour hike to the top of Mount Wilson and into its wilderness back country. He divided the volunteers into two groups. "Members of one group were to eat only chia seed during the climb, and the others were to eat whatever foods they wished."

"I took the chia-seed-eating young people—eight men and four women—and another fellow led the eat-as-you-wish group. On a sunny yet nippy morning we started out. We in the chia-eating group took in several teaspoons of chia seed in water as soon as we arose. During the entire outing, we chewed on chia seeds or took them in water.

"For the first few hours, there seemed to be no difference in our ability to climb. However, as the terrain got rougher and the slopes steeper, things changed. Our chia-eating group started to pull ahead of the others. Initially, we were ahead by a quarter of a mile, then a half mile, and soon there was more than a mile between our group and the other. As we munched on the chia seeds, we negotiated the rough upgrade almost effortlessly. No one felt tired or recommended that we rest. Actually, we appeared to gain momentum as we covered the miles."

Soon Bragg's group was on the home stretch toward the agreed-upon goal. At the end, everyone in his group appeared recharged and even ready to go farther. Out of the other group of twelve, only five finished—three men and two women—and they dragged in four hours and twenty-seven minutes after Paul Bragg's chia-eating group. All of them were exhausted, their faces drawn and their feet dragging. They were almost too played out even to talk. None of them needed to be convinced that chia spelled the difference between winning and losing the Mount Wilson competition.

"Even before that contest, I suspected that chia seeds were one of the greatest foods I had discovered to help refuel my body engine," Bragg told us. "Our Mount Wilson competition convinced me of that fact.

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