18th Century Cooking

We stumbled across these great, family friendly videos from Jas. Townsend and Son, Inc. illustrating so many of the cooking techniques that have been otherwise lost as a result of the invention of fast foods and modern cooking techniques. Recent findings have shown that much of the research that showed how much healthier cooking with things such as hydrogenated vegetable oils is over more traditional animal fats was driven by money and profit goals of big corporations and not real science.

In fact, numerous authoritative studies have shown that people who often live the longest around the world, consume the most traditional foods and the least amount of processed foods. If readers have other helpful links on heritage cooking and self-reliance, please send them to us so we can share them on our website.

Partially Hydrogenated Poisons in Your Cookies

What if you found out that every week your local grocery and convenience stores sold poison mixed in with your food that has been repeatedly proven to shrink your brain, increase heart disease, increase autoimmune disorders and diabetes, disrupt cellular balance, double cancer rates, and significantly decrease your IQ and brain size? That is what Partially Hydrogenated Oils and Fats, known as trans fats do–and guess what, they are sold in Spring Grove, MN–sold to us and to our children.
Now 99% of our population has never taken Biochemistry, so they really aren’t going to understand at the molecular level why these chemicals are horrible to ingest. Our stores are selling these because people buy them who don’t understand that trans fats aren’t a natural food, like other oils and fats, but are a synthesized chemical created by chemists. Trans fats do not exist in nature, and have only been fabricated in the last century. Since then, they have a proven track record as killers, but again, most people remain ignorant of this, and millions of people in the US live less healthy lives and thousands will die prematurely because of them.

What can you do? Write your congressman and ask him or her to ban trans fats as food additives in your state.

Exercise Motivational Quotes

A foreign lady once remarked to the wife of a Spartan commander that the women of Sparta were the only women in the world who could rule men. “We are the only women who raise men,” the Spartan lady replied….-Plutarch, Lycurgis

[E]xercise and recreation…are as necessary as reading. I will rather say more necessary because health is worth more than learning. -Thomas Jefferson

The number of kids affected by obesity has tripled since 1980, and this can be traced in large part to lack of exercise and a healthy diet. -Virginia Foxx

To resist the frigidity of old age, one must combine the body, the mind, and the heart. And to keep these in parallel vigor one must exercise, study, and love. -Alan Bleasdale

So many older people, they just sit around all day long and they don’t get any exercise. Their muscles atrophy, and they lose their strength, their energy and vitality by inactivity. -Jack LaLanne

I really believe the only way to stay healthy is to eat properly, get your rest and exercise. If you don’t exercise and do the other two, I still don’t think it’s going to help you that much.-Mike Ditka

Training gives us an outlet for suppressed energies created by stress and thus tones the spirit just as exercise conditions the body. -Arnold Schwarzenegger

If we could give every individual the right amount of nourishment and exercise, not too little and not too much, we would have found the safest way to health. -Hippocrates

Exercise is really important to me – it’s therapeutic. So if I’m ever feeling tense or stressed or like I’m about to have a meltdown, I’ll put on my iPod and head to the gym or out on a bike ride along Lake Michigan with the girls.-Michelle Obama

Some people start a sport just to reduce weight, or some say, ‘My doctor ordered me to run and do exercise’, and for others, they run for completely different benefits. But it is not like that with sport. We need to eat, we need to rest, but also we need to run. -Haile Gebrselassie

Childhood obesity is best tackled at home through improved parental involvement, increased physical exercise, better diet and restraint from eating. -Bob Filner

Some of the best ideas I get seem to happen when I’m doing mindless manual labor or exercise. I’m not sure how that happens, but it leaves me free for remarkable ideas to occur. -Chuck Palahniuk

In general, any form of exercise, if pursued continuously, will help train us in perseverance. Long-distance running is particularly good training in perseverance. -Mao Tse-Tung

A strong body makes the mind strong. As to the species of exercises, I advise the gun. While this gives moderate exercise to the body, it gives boldness, enterprise and independence to the mind… Let your gun therefore be your constant companion of your walks.  -Thomas Jefferson

No man has the right to be an amateur in the matter of physical training. It is a shame for a man to grow old without seeing the beauty and strength of which his body is capable.  -Socrates


Barneløpet -Kids’/Family Ski/Walk Loop

Barneløpet Children’s Ski/Walk Event at Decorah Prairie
DECORAH, Iowa — Help your kids shake off their cabin fever at the twelfth annual Barneløpet Saturday, February 5, at 10:00 a.m. The event is sponsored by Sons of Norway Valdres Lodge #503 in Decorah, Iowa, Sons of Norway Heimbygda Lodge #376 in Lanesboro, Minnesota, and Sons of Norway Valheim Lodge #364 in Spring Grove, Minnesota, along with Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum.
    Barneløpet is a non-competitive ski or walk event for children ages 3-13. It is open to girls and boys of all skill levels and is a great event for the entire family to get out, get involved, and enjoy winter.
   The event will take place at the Decorah Community Prairie, which is accessed by car at the south end of Ohio Street, near Aase Haugen Nursing Homes. The trail will be in a loop, with the start and finish at the site of the butterfly garden. Participants will have three different loops to choose from. Along with the main loop for skiing, there will be a shorter one for younger skiers and a specific loop for walkers.
   In the absence of snow, children will walk the course. “The only type of weather that will keep us from holding the event is an ice storm or temperatures that are 0 degrees or below,” said organizer Darlene Fossum-Martin. If in doubt about weather conditions, listen to local radio stations for cancellations.
   The terrain is flat and the trail is groomed. Caregivers can walk or ski the course with the children, or may choose to stand along the course and cheer. 
   Participants register the day of the event between 9:40 and 10:00 a.m. After completing the course, participants are welcome to hot chocolate and cookies. Special thanks to Sons of Norway members for providing the cookies.
   Everyone’s a winner! Each registered participant will receive a printed bib for the event and a medal. This event is modeled after the American Birkebeiner race held in Hayward, Wisconsin.
   The entry fee is $3, and participants must provide their own skis. There are a limited number of children’s skis for rent at Decorah Bicycles, and you can call them to make reservations. For more information about the Barneløpet event contact Vesterheim at (563) 382-9681.

Becky Idstrom
Editorial Assistant, Publications Office
563-382-9681, ext. 115
Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum
523 W. Water St.
P.O. Box 379
Decorah, IA 52101

Speaker from Norway Nov 18th

Norwegian Roar Moe speaks at Spring Grove Cinema Nov 18 at 715 pm v2 poster

Roar Moe, teacher, historian, sailor .. the last husmann?

November 18th, Thursday night at 7:15 Spring Grove Cinema shares with the public his concerns and successes – Here in SE MINN, NE IA, SW WI—Spring Grove and Norwegian Ridge, Minnesota
As technology develops, we ignore the traditional skills and practical problem-solving abilities of our earlier and immigrant ancestors?  Do we always buy a new one or call someone to fix everything? Are we in front of a tv too often?
Follow the trail from the past of Norway’s fishing and farming coast through a story in pictures of self-sufficiency and practical skills without the engine or computer.  Discuss where this story is heading and what it means to students attending Roar Moe`s Litle Færøy Coastal Academy.

See the attached flier and please forward this invitation to friends.  Please post in any local bulletin boards.  Students will enjoy this engaging presentation as well.  Invite them to dinner in Spring Grove (Ivy Grove, Doc`s Blue Moose, The Skyline) before the program and free coffee and goodies afterwards with Sons of Norway Valheim Lodge at Giants of the Earth Heritage Center next to the Cinema at the Ballard House.  You can see the new renovation and Sigmund Årseth’s artistic depiction of the immigration from Norway and early days of Spring Grove and Norwegian Ridge.

SEE YOU THERE 7:15 November 18th.. NEXT THURSDAY!  Meet Roar after the program at The Ballard House.

$20,000 genomic sequencing–FREE

Dr. John Storlie recently received word that he was officially accepted into the Harvard Personal Genome Project, which means that their genomes will be completely sequenced, a $20,000 value, for free.

“This not only is an exciting opportunity for us, but it will increase the value of all those genetic results already received by individuals in the community who share genetic material with us as identified by our 1 million SNP chips, since we can infer from our sequencing the actual sequence of those sections of their chromosomes which are identical to ours as identified by the kits given out by Giants of the Earth,” said John Storlie. “Further, as of October 15, 2010, the Harvard Personal Genome Project began signing people up for the next round of sequencing, in which they will sequence 10,000 individuals. I highly recommend that anyone with an interest in this sign up for this opportunity. I recommend that you sign up now, because the wait time could be considerable and the interest will be great.

Sign up for Harvard’s Personal Genome Project–its FREE

Local residents have been amazed at Giants of the Earth Heritage Center’s recent genetic discoveries. Using advanced autosomal genetic analysis, which can identify long stretches of identical DNA segments, Giants of the Earth has been able to confirm not only that most residents of the town of Spring Grove are likely related within 6 generations, but how they are related, even in cases where there was no preexisting family tree to search. “The interrelatedness of the town opens up numerous possibilities and makes us a desirable location for genetic analysis, such as has been performed on the population of Iceland,” said Storlie.

Currently, residents who have joined Giants of the Earth Heritage Center at a Giant ($250) level receive a free comprehensive ancestry and health genetic test kit. The kit contains a small saliva collection tube. The member’s genome is extracted from the cells in the saliva and the genomic data is generated and compared to tens of thousands of others around the world who have taken the test. When a large amount of your genomic data is identical to another person, it can be inferred with a high degree of certainty that that person is your relative, and, based on the size and number of the identical regions on your chromosomes, the relationship can be estimated out to 10th cousin.

“This information is coming in fast and it is incredibly helpful. It is allowing me to merge family trees with scientific confidence. All too often, there have been cases where I have merged individuals within two family trees only to find out later that there were actually, for example, two Ole Olsons born in 1862 in Spring Grove, and those Ole Olsons were actually not even related. Genetics comes to the rescue and will save genealogists a lot of time and also improve the accuracy of the trees. Further, I use the genetic analysis to find the relatives in Norway, who then connect me with the numerous farms from which they come. People don’t realize how many ancestral farms they may have and how their written record, without the clues of genetic analysis, is usually only a small snippet of their actual ancestry. A lot of times people will come in and tell me, ‘I have all my ancestors traced back to the 1600s.’ They don’t realize actually how many ancestors they should have in their tree if they actually had done that.” For example, if we assume that each generation averages 30 years, which is actually pretty conservative, then about 13 generations would exist between a young person today and the 1600s. If someone had no ancestors who married their relatives, then a complete family tree going back to the 1600s would include the names of over 16,000 individuals. In fact, there was a lot of marriage between distant cousins, which decreases the overall size of the family trees, but increases their complexity. Further, it opens up an increased probability for finding organ and stem cell matches within our community and in Norway. This means that Spring Grove is an excellent community in which to begin studies using regenerative stem cell therapy.

“Initially, I was only hoping that we could get funding for 1,000,000 SNP genomic analysis of a large portion of the town. Now, in addition to that it is actually possible for a large number of individuals within the town to get completely sequenced for free. This opens up enormous possibilities, since we are genetically just different enough from the Icelandic population to have a few new genetic variables, but we don’t have so many new variables that analysis would get bogged down. Further, we are largely from the same stock of genetic material as those individuals who have contributed to the immense Norwegian Biobank, but our residents are exposed to different environmental variables. This variation in environment with a relatively constant genomic background might help us better understand the role of the environment in the creation of the phenome from the genome.”

“Spring Grove’s population is unusually talented and educated for a small town. We have an excellent communications infrastructure and would be a prime location for genomic studies and further analysis of existing databases. In addition, we could serve as a source for controlled studies by regional colleges and university professors and students who would be interested in serious scientific research using the latest high throughput genomic analysis. So, if you are interested in signing up for free sequencing, please do. And if you need help in understanding the process, I can help provide Giants members with resources that will help you to answer the questions involved in the application process.”

Health Secret: Warrior Mentality

Can history reveal the secret to keeping fighting fit?

“…In the course of a long peace, the people relax into sloth and indolence…”-Manners of the Germanic Tribes by Cornelius Tacitus (end of 1st Century CE)

Perhaps the secret to health is recognizing the reciprocal duty and bonds between oneself and ones countrymen–and endeavoring to maintain the health reserves you could potentially need to pull your weight in an emergency.

Consider the lyrics of the Norwegian National Anthem:

“And, as warrior sires have made her

Wealth and fame increase,

At the call we too will aid her

Armed to guard her peace.”


–And the Norwegians take this seriously as evidenced by the popularity of the Biathlon.  Here is a video that shows just how much of an athlete one must be to do well at this sport.

What’s their secret?

Like Rilke's Archaic Torso of Apollo, our ancestors cry out to us through time saying "You must change your lifestyle"

The ultimate purpose of genealogy is to promote an understanding of what it means to leave a healthy legacy so that we who live in the present may behave adaptively. We leave a healthy legacy when we are good stewards of our physical, emotional, spiritual, intellectual, and material resources. Aside from our massive debt, the real elephant in the living room is the poor health of our people and it behooves us to include health as part of our blog discussion-in which anyone can comment.  This organization would do a disservice to its community if it provided only one additional sedentary activity for individuals. But it does more than that–genealogy motivates us for an active lifestyle.

For history, like the archaic torso in Rilke’s famous poem, reminds us that we must change our lifestyle.

“Sonst stünde dieser Stein entstellt und kurz
unter der Schultern durchsichtigem Sturz
und flimmerte nicht so wie Raubtierfelle;

und bräche nicht aus allen seinen Rändern
aus wie ein Stern: denn da ist keine Stelle,
die dich nicht sieht. Du musst dein Leben ändern.”
Rainer Maria Rilke,
Neue Gedichte 1908

My English translation of the above:

Else this stone would stand stillted and short under the shoulders’ insubstantial droop and fail to glisten like the fur of a carnivorous beast;

and would  not brake through all constraints as a star, there is not a place [on this statue], that can’t see you. You must change your lifestyle.

Since our people have been uprooted from our ancestors’ vigorous lifestyle, they need to compensate, or else the sculptures they leave behind will forever stand stunted, covered, and ashamed. Sedentary Death Syndrome is destroying the quality and shortening the length of our people’s lives. All of our appetites were selected under conditions that were very different from those we have today. Our ancestors worked physically in the field all day, and came in to eat natural foods grown organically. They needed to be ever ready to defend their community. In contrast, we sit in a tractor, in a cubicle, at a bench, or in front of a TV and then we stop by MacDonalds/QuickTrip/Kum&Go for our MSG (excitotoxin) laden, trans-fat (cellular signal disrupting, cancer causing) ridden junk food that we wash down with diluted corn syrup or diluted artificial sweeteners.

And so, let’s change our lifestyle by asking the members of the community who manage to stay in the healthy range, what is your secret?

Age Underfat Healthy Range Overweight Obese
20-40 yrs Under 8% 8-19% 19-25% Over 25%
41-60 yrs Under 11% 11-22% 22-27% Over 27%
61-79 yrs Under 13% 13-25% 25-30% Over 30%
Source: Gallagher et al. Am J Clin Nut 2000; 72:694-701