By Jeffrey Juran
I can still recollect the childhood evenings when my mom made use of her pressure cooker, especially the sound of the vibrating round weight at the top letting off steam — and excess pressure — two or three times a minute. Little did I think...
The idea behind cooking in pressurized water-as-it-turns-into-steam is this: the increased pressure (which also contributes to better penetration of the water/steam) is accompanied by increased temperature, something experimentally confirmed and made into a usable formula by Robert Boyle and his assistant, Robert Hooke, three-and-a-half centuries ago. The first application of this principle — the first actual cooking demonstration — came less than two decades later. It would be another two centuries before attempts could realistically be made to popularize it, in this first go around, by making the cooker out of cast iron. However, another half-century plus passed — to the mid-twentieth century — before industry, no longer turning out parts for war aircraft, turned its factories towards such mass-fabrication, making consumer appliances such as pressure cookers out of aluminum. Competition proved stiff; design and manufacture were too often done on the cheap; reliability and safety too often went missing, and in the long run, the technology was not adopted. Pressure cooking even fell into disrepute — who wanted a pot blowing up in their kitchen? I don't know how often this might have happened — probably quite rare — but just the idea that it could, with that constant "reminder," the incessant sound of hot steam periodically hissing while it operated, while all very normal, couldn't be very enticing for potential users who weren't sure that there might be an upside.
Author's Name Withheld
I'm not qualified to dispense medical advice. I'm not a doctor, a nutritionist, or a dietitian. And yet, three years ago — when our son was struggling with autism-spectrum–style issues, worsening digestion, incredibly picky eating, autoimmune/allergic symptoms, and all sorts of behavioral and developmental challenges — my husband and I discovered a major problem: nobody else was quite qualified to treat him, either.
Our son was six at the time. I (and my children) had eaten a whole-foods vegetarian diet since birth. I was a vegetarian chef and taught classes on vegetarian cooking and nutrition. I thought I was doing everything possible to ensure the health of my offspring. My son never ate gluten or dairy, I selected whole grains and organic foods, and whenever possible I limited our exposure to environmental toxins. And still, despite holistic and conventional healing attempts, by 2010 his health was deteriorating severely and rapidly.
Sometimes it takes my breath away: my body co-created my child, and now his body re-makes itself, every day of his life, using the stuff we breathe and consume. It was three years ago when I truly began to grapple with the implications of this: Every time I prepare food for my family, I make choices that support or detract from our continual healing and rebuilding. Our bodies heal and rebuild for as long as we're alive. Even a broken femur can heal itself; why not a broken brain?
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