The benefits of bone broth

Growing up I was embarrassed that my family ate food like cow’s tongue and pig’s feet. They would never pass my lips at all, never ever. I would skin up my nose and poke my index finger in the pot of soup simmering on the stove. Like so many immigrant families, Mum and Dad never wasted anything. Not even meat bones.

When my father was under the weather, he would throw beef bones into a pot of water and boil them down into broth. He claimed that the broth was therapeutic. Years later when I think about those pots of broth, I don’t recall my father having too many colds.

Turns out there may have been something in that cure-all remedy. Across the U.S., from San Francisco to New York, people are lining up at broth bars for their daily dose of nutrient-rich liquid gold. Broth bars are the newest health craze thanks to claims that the drink can boost your immune system, give you energy, heal a leaky gut, aid in digestion, clear up your skin and even make your hair shiny.

In Edmonton, Bo & Marrow started serving up the broth craze this summer at the City Market Downtown, Southwest Edmonton Farmers’ Market and the St. Albert Farmers’ Market. Owners Diane Huynh and Jonathan Williams use beef and chicken bones as the basis of seven different products.

There are classic beef and chicken broths infused with sage, rosemary and garlic. Then there are two Chinese versions fortified with Asian herbs, such as astragalus that is said to act as an anti-inflammatory and stress reducer. There’s even a Bo & Marrow product for babies made from celery, carrots and parsnips that is said to be good for muscle and bone growth, and helps their immune system. Your canine can even get in on the broth action. Ruff Life is a beef broth made with sweet potatoes.

So why beef broth? Having grown up in a Vietnamese household, Diane knew first-hand about the therapeutic benefits of broth. “I always drank it as a child when I was sick. If I had the flu or came down a fever, my mom would boil bones for days and we’d drink broth,” says Diane. “Every culture had an old remedy. It’s like chicken soup.” The former dental hygienist shuns Western medicine and is a adamant believer of Eastern practices that have been around for thousands of years.

For business partner Jonathan, his a-ha moment came months after being hit by a vehicle when he started to experience knee problems. His knees were so inflamed that he couldn’t sleep at night. Diane suggested he start drinking bone broth and within a few weeks there was a noticeable difference in his knees. According to some medical articles, bone broth is an excellent source of glucosamine which aids in reducing inflammation, arthritis and joint pain. “Broth is not a health trend. We’re just bringing back an aged-old tradition,” says Jonathan.

Though you can make soup with the broth, Diane and Jonathan stress that the idea is to drink it like you would coffee or tea on a daily basis. My first taste of Bo & Marrow was at a pop-up event at Prairie Noodle Shop. Chef Eric Hanson’s menu featured the classic beef broth with a truffled mushroom sachetti with raw leek oil, edamame beans and a green onion and lemon puree, and that was just the starting dish. I have to admit now that I know about the healing properties, I wouldn’t make a meal from the broth. It’s good enough as a morning or mid-afternoon paleo boost in a coffee mug. I’m looking forward to seeing the success of Bo & Marrow and hope that if the idea takes off In Alberta, as it has in the states, we’ll soon see a Bo & Marrow broth shop.

Purchase Bo & Marrow products online or buy them at Blush Lane, Organic Box, Spud (Edmonton) and Glow Juicery.

A final note, the word is still out about the healing powers of broth, but the one thing that isn’t  disputed is that broth does pack one powerful punch of protein and vitamins. Drink a mug of broth every day and nourish yourself.

Photo by Cindy Nguyen