This blog is about the intersection between evolutionary biology and food. But also about practical applications, sustainable agriculture, and general tasty things. I originally started eating this way to heal from chronic health problems and...it worked!
Cheeseslave wrote a post titled Top 10 Reasons I'm Not Paleo. Not surprisingly, it upset a lot of people. Which is funny, since it didn't exactly bother me. I'd love to see that furor directed against woo-bearing charlatans who call themselves "paleo" and mainstream media publications that make anyone who doesn't eat garbage look like a weirdo.
Either way, I don't need to write a long post about why I'm not paleo. I just need one bullet point. So here it is: the Top 1 Reason I'm Not Paleo:
The Paleo diet was a tool I used to learn about applying evolutionary biology to modern health problems. It doesn't define me as a permanent lifestyle that focuses on identity and demonizing so-called "neolithic non-foods" like grains, which distracts from the real enemy, the processed industrial food industry that churns out nutritionless garbage designed to be addictive with no consideration for human, animal, or environmental welfare. I'm not "paleo," though I eat in a way informed by our evolution as a species.
I think defining your identity based on a diet is a bad idea. I had enough of that as a vegetarian and a vegan. And absolutism means your diet doesn't degrade gracefully. In web development, the concept of graceful degradation is an important one. It means you can develop fancy widgets for websites that are snazzy in the latest best web browser, but designed in a way that they are still functional even in an older or less capable web browser. Being committed to real whole food is a better rock to stand on than adherence to a "diet." It means that if I go out to eat I order home-made tamales or tacos rather than binging on processed pizza, soda, and candy.
Plus, I end up eating meat, fruits, seafood, and vegetables most of the time anyway. My favorite thing to say to people who say "Well, people have been eating bread for thousands of years!"
Most of the time, the bread they have is store-bought and made with industrially processed bleached flours and tons of additives. Not healthy, not delicious, not worth it. Of course, I make exceptions. I suppose the 80-20 rule has fallen out of vogue, but for me it works quite well. Given I have none of the alleles associated with Celiac, do not test positive for it, and self-experiments show that gluten per-se has no effect on me, I do indulge in so-called "bad" food sometimes. But it's not a staple of my diet and I'll generally only have it if it's at a nice restaurant or in a foreign country.
My father was an ethical man. He had integrity, was honest and loathed needless cruelty. He was also a meat-eater’s meat-eater...His habit killed him in the end: the first sign of trouble came with gout, then colon cancer, heart problems and strokes, but he enjoyed meat for decades before all that "wretched bother" in a time when ethical issues were raised only by "a handful of Hindus and Grahamists."
In vitro meat is real meat, grown from real cow, chicken, pig and fish cells, all grown in culture without the mess and misery, without pigs frozen to the sides of metal transport trucks in winter and without intensive water use, massive manure lagoons that leach into streams or antibiotics that are sprayed onto and ingested by live animals and which can no longer fight ever-stronger, drug-resistant bacteria. It comes without E. coli, campylobacter, salmonella or other health problems that are unavoidable when meat comes from animals who defecate. It comes without the need for excuses. It is ethical meat. Aside from accidental roadkill or the fish washed up dead on the shore, it is perhaps the only ethical meat.
Wait, so it's a really unhealthy substance that causes cancer, heart disease, strokes, and gout, so we should grow it in the lab? Sure it might not have "misery" or e. coli, but as they said, it's still meat. At least doctors like Campbell, Fuhrman, Ornish, etc. make sense when they say we should go meat-free, because they say that meat is bad for you and you just shouldn't eat it. I'd personally take lentils any day over lab-grown meat, considering that plain-protein grown in the lab is going to probably be as flavorless as textured vegetable protein (and will need additives in order to taste decent) and at least lentils have been bred for flavor. The inclusion of this essay makes the contest seem even more insincere than it already did.
While I've been acused of doing otherwise, I did not chose to become an omnivore again because of taste. In fact, I had no idea how to cook meat and it took me several years to really get into it and like it. I LOVE hummus, falafal, sambar, dal and all kinds of veggie dishes. I was always perfectly happy eating those things, but my stomach was a wreck all the time. I still love them and have to be careful when I do eat them. In NYC I maintained an expensive addiction to Organic Avenue's raw falafal, which at least didn't seem to cause the inflammation the conventional fried falafal seems to trigger for me.
Which essay is your favorite and why? What do you think of the contest so far? I liked the holistic ecological view of Sometimes It’s More Ethical to Eat Meat Than Vegetables. Of course mathematically, the likely winner is the vat-grown meat essay because it will get all the anti-real meat votes, whereas people without that agenda are likely to fragment amongst the somewhat similar other five.
Today I got a spate of seemingly random animal rights trolls. Fly by night nonsense? Nope, apparently I was featured on the Freakonomics blog. Normally this would be an honor, since I was a fan of Freakonomics when I was an economics major in college, but nope, they let James McWilliams write another animal rights nonsense piece on their blog, one that references a post I made over a year ago. What does that have to do with economics? Hilariously enough, one of the major objections I have to magazines and blogs billing McWilliams as an agricultural writer is that he doesn't seem to know anything about agricultural economics. He is a historian who ruffles feathers because he condemns the locavore movement. Some troglo-free marketers only see the latter and are just happy to have someone pulling the hippies down to Earth, while forgetting that animals play an essential and irreplaceable role in our agricultural economy. When I saw McWilliams speak on a panel with real farmers, I saw him ignoring what they said, cherry picking quotes to rationalize his fantasy-future utopia of magic robot vegetable farms where they is no death (hilariously, growing mechanization of agriculture often leads to more deaths).
In my case the plight of nonhuman animals at human hands became the great preoccupation. I could think of no greater atrocity than the confinement and slaughter of untold billions of innocent creatures for sustenance that can be provided through other, more humane diets.
In my most recent published book, I defended a particular moral theory – my own version of deontological ethics – and then “applied” that theory to defend a particular moral claim: that other animals have an inherent right not to be eaten or otherwise used by humans. Oddly enough, it was as I crossed the final “t” and dotted the final “i” of that monograph, that I underwent what I call my anti-epiphany.
A friend had been explaining to me the nature of her belief in God. At one point she likened divinity to the beauty of a sunset: the quality lay not in the sunset but in her relation to the sunset. I thought to myself: “Ah, if that is what she means, then I could believe in that kind of God. For when I think about the universe, I am filled with awe and wonder; if that feeling is God, then I am a believer.”
But then it hit me: is not morality like this God? In other words, could I believe that, say, the wrongness of a lie was any more intrinsic to an intentionally deceptive utterance than beauty was to a sunset or wonderfulness to the universe? Does it not make far more sense to suppose that all of these phenomena arise in my breast, that they are the responses of a particular sensibility to otherwise valueless events and entities?
So someone else might respond completely differently from me, such that for him or her, the lie was permissible, the sunset banal, the universe nothing but atoms and the void. Yet that prospect was so alien to my conception of morality that it was tantamount to there being no morality at all. For essential to morality is that its norms apply with equal legitimacy to everyone; moral relativism, it has always seemed to me, is an oxymoron. Hence I saw no escape from moral nihilism.
The dominoes continued to fall. I had thought I was a secularist because I conceived of right and wrong as standing on their own two feet, without prop or crutch from God. We should do the right thing because it is the right thing to do, period. But this was a God too. It was the Godless God of secular morality, which commanded without commander – whose ways were thus even more mysterious than the God I did not believe in, who at least had the intelligible motive of rewarding us for doing what He wanted.
Unfortunately, complete moral relativism is just as silly as believing that it's immoral to kill animals. Morality does come from somewhere, and the evidence is that it comes our ancient tribal past where we evolved a moral sense in order to be able to cooperate with other humans beings as a community. Morality is about making our lives together better.
James McWilliams totally misses the point I was making in that post and in later posts that animal husbandry is something we have a tough time with because it's not part of our evolutionary heritage. I've been watching Human Planet, the gorgeous documentary about diverse human lifeways around the globe, and one of the most striking scenes is of a South American Indian woman breastfeeding a baby monkey. They ate that monkey's mother for dinner, but this baby monkey is a treasured pet. They don't eat the animals they raise, those animals are part of their tribe. The idea that eating meat is wrong because eating babies (argument from marginal cases) and our pet dogs is wrong is the kind of idea that only someone totally detached from innate human morals would put forth. We don't ban eating/killing babies because babies are sentient!
I was also making a point in that post that I didn't agree with how that farm was raising their animals, since they were perpetuating a breed that doesn't even have a sense of life and would die young even if you brought them to some kind of farm sanctuary. That's an industrial system dressed up in free-range clothing.
I never considered myself part of the "compassionate carnivore" movement. There is nothing special about my engagement with my food. My desire to slaughter my own animals doesn't have to do with reducing harm, but achieving independence from a dying industrial food system. And yes, that means using and eating animals. Fertilizers based on mining un-renewable resources aren't going to last forever.
If you are a visitor interested in learning more why I gave up veganism and debating animal rights, I suggest you head over to let them eat meat, a truly excellent site on the subject.
Hominin ancestors ate only lean meats and little saturated fat
A paleolithic diet is characterized by plenty of cultivated nuts
A paleolithic diet has plenty of sweet fruit year-round - fruits that did not even exist until they were artificially bred a few hundred years ago
A Hunter-gatherer diet always had a precise balance between “acidic” and “basic” foods and failure to maintain this precision would lead to calcium being “leached” from your bones, resulting in osteoporosis.
A paleolithic diet has plenty of grilled salmon and skinless chicken breasts.
Eating fish is essential to brain growth and general health.
Milk and cheese are causes of cancer.
Eggs can be eaten, but you should throw away the yolks to avoid too much cholesterol.
I agree, but I'd add a few more:
leaky gut is the case of most illnesses
X neolithic foods cause leaky gut
X food is bad because of some botantical "fact" like it's from the "new world"
I've noticed this quite a bit since Chris Masterjohn has two new posts on Gluten Sensitivity which attack the first two bad ideas:
Maybe I am sensitive because Chris is my boyfriend, but mostly I am amused by the comments he gets. I have thus dramatized a few of them from various authors in this video for your amusement:
As for the last point, I will just say that every time I read a blog post by a paleoautomaton recommending "yams" (sweet potatoes) and condeming the evils of white potatoes, I just chuckle at the botanical ignorace.
Overall, at this point I'm annoyed enough with the whole thing that I'm almost embarrased when people call me paleo. When I think about things that are important to me, are they really paleo? Is it worth being associated with this whole nonsense? But then I remember that Chris isn't even paleo and he still has to endure it :)
So, what's important to me at this point?
Grass-fed local meat from good farms
elimination of crap ingredients like soybean oil
that people stop fearing good fats
And these three things, while they have been shaped by my involvement in paleo, aren't paleo per se.
As per the last post, here is a paleo diet for those of us that have trouble getting calories and aren't always able to cook a giant pork roast to eat at home. This is a diet for the real world, where salads have tiny amounts of meat and ordering a burger without a bun is bound to lead to hunger later. This is about doing your best and getting the calories you need to fuel an active and happy life. This is the way I make my eating decisions. Paleo foods are my TOP choice, but I don't think the other foods on the chart are bad and I think they can support great health, particularly for busy people. I call this the paleo priority diet. Notice we avoid choosing insulin-crashing technically-paleo foods like Larabars and fruit salad here. Sure, also not bad, but also the path to an irritable late afternoon for me.
If an orthodox paleo approach is what you REALLY REALLY need to support your serious goals, by all means rearrange your life to make sure you can get fuel from meat, fish, and vegetables only. For the rest of us, this is a pretty damn good diet.
I was getting quite disappointed today reading Art De Vany's new book, which is out on Kindle. He's one of the godfathers of the paleo movement and it was though his essay and blog that I discovered this way of eating. A couple of years ago he put his blog behind a paywall and as a poor undergrad I didn't have the money to spare for it. I keep meaning to subscribe now that I have a "real job," but haven't gotten around to it. Apparently since our parting, my conception of this diet has diverged. Reading his book and Cordain's new cookbook I can't help but think "I don't eat like this at all...am I even paleo?"
The food section of Art's book kind of breaks my heart and make me not want to read the rest:
"Red meat is fine, in moderation, but (white-meat) poultry is generally healthier."
"because the truth is that no fat is particularly good for you."
"But most common kitchen oils—canola, vegetable, corn, palm—are unnecessary. If you must cook in oil and want to do so at a higher temperature than permitted by olive oil, then use canola oil (made from rapeseed but called “canola” because it is a more felicitous name)"
"The occasional beet or raw carrot is fine, too."
"It goes without saying that butter and lard should be avoided completely."
"Make four hard-boiled eggs, but don't eat two of the yolks. Eggs are healthy, but you should skip the yolks now and then."
It's like we don't even eat the same diet. My diet is centered around the idea of fat being something good— a bearer of vitamins and good energy. The idea of restricting beets, egg yolks, red meat, or butter is horrifying to me. As is the idea of using canola as anything but a industrial shoe-cleaner (it works OK for this). Besides, where are the mentions of organ meats? If we are going to be orthodox, let's at least go all out. A commenter on my Cordain post posted out a study that Cordain did on game fat content. Sorry, turkey breast and olive oil are a lame substitute for bacon, but they are also a lame substitute for elk marrow.
Luckily for Art, he doesn't seem to follow this diet himself too badly, as he describes many meals of ribs, which aren't a heralded lean meat by any stretch. Whatever he's doing he looks great, but as a woman who is planning to bear children, I think his fat and carbohydrate restriction is unnecessary and I'm going to look towards a diet a little more nourishing. Furthermore, it's hard for me to recommend something unnecessarily restrictive to a newbie. Robb Wolf's book gives targeted restrictions and biochemical reasoning behind them.
In the end his views are colored by how he got into this, which was through a loving effort to help his diabetic son and wife. So carb restriction is probably a residual of that.
But I suspect is that too much interest in our paleolithic past is blinding because we can't know that much about it, so we get locked into just-so stories based on VERY limited datasets and the ultimate premise that we haven't changed much since on a genetic level. But we have.
In the end, my diet is based on my essentially conservative nature, which leads me to put more stock in living traditions than in bones. I'm more interested in Kitavans than I am in cro-magnons. We can learn more, on a holistic level, from them than from our paleolithic ancestors. Yes, "nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution," but I'm interested in evolution as a light to gain more insight rather than as a diet in itself.
Really, how much can you get from paleolithic remains? That we ate animals and fish. What else did we eat? How did we eat them? There are little glimpses here in there in the hearth fires from eons ago, but we mostly have guesses.
It doesn't make sense for carbs to be suboptimal in the light of the Kitavans. Or for red meat, butter, beets, or egg yolks to be suboptimal in light of traditional cultures that eat them. If these things were behind diseases of civilization, we'd see such diseases in traditional cultures eating them. But we don't.
Nassim Taleb rises above this dietary din in his essay in the book, espousing a rather odd diet that seems to be amalgam of evolutionary principles and his own heritage. Apples are OK as long as they are an old variety. "No carbs that do not have a Biblical Hebrew or Doric Greek name (i.e. did not exist in the ancient Mediterrean)." His writing and persona are about the three traditions that formed him: "Greek Orthodox, French Catholic and Arab." His version of the diet seems to meld evolutionary principles to such living traditions, which has always been my own goal. It's interesting because the fasting/feasting traditions of Orthodoxy seem to fit in quite well with intermittent fasting.
As an aside, I love the stubborn complexity of his essay in contrast to Art's writing in the book, which seems to have been watered down for mass consumption by an editor. Taleb's writing has always said to me "I'm not going to dumb this down for you."
A few people sent me this opinion piece from the NYTimes called The Meat Eaters. It's a very interesting piece and I suggest reading it. It's very much the logical conclusion of based a moral system on pain. Luckily, real-world morality is not based on pain. Morals are the invention of humans and they were created to improve the human condition. They were not created to decrease overall suffering in the world.
Animal rights philosophies are morality gone haywire and the conclusions they lead to are fairly suspect. Normally when you bring wild carnivores up to animal rightests they will insist that humans, unlike lions, have a moral responsibility not to cause pain to animals. But then they just admitted that animals are fundamentally different as beings unable to participate in a moral system. Then the animal rightest will bring up human non-moral beings like babies or comatose people. If you think the reason we don't eat babies is because they feel pain...I think we have some basic problems going on here. Either way, we have very good reasons to include babies and comatose people in our moral community for the good of human welfare. There are plenty of arguments about what is human welfare, but I estimate that not ever using animals for any purpose whatsoever is not a good way to improve it.
But I applaud Jeff McMahan for exposing the logical absurdity underpinning animal rights philosophy. If decisions are based on utilitarian calculations including all sentient beings, ridiculous conclusions are a given. Animal rightests who don't support the reduction of predator populations are inconsistent. If animal pain and suffering is bad, then it's bad no matter who causes it. If it's possible to reduce it, even if it means toying with nature, you should do it. Otherwise they are falling prey to the ethical naturalism that paleos are often accused of- "it's OK because it's natural."
One thing I'll agree with Jaff McHahan:
If I had been in a position to design and create a world, I would have tried to arrange for all conscious individuals to be able to survive without tormenting and killing other conscious individuals.
Duh? But really in my self-designed world I'm too busy with my seventeen extremely handsome husbands, who spend the day bringing me delights from the Krispy Kreme doughnut tree (doughnuts are healthy in the world I've created), to worry about all that.
Let's get this clear: The Humane Society of The United States is an organization devoted to animal rights. Animal rights does not mean being nice to animals, it means eliminating ALL animal use from pets, to pork, to scientific animal testing that saves millions of lives. Unfortunately, many people associate The Humane Society with being nice to kittens rather than outlawing all meat consumption. While I don't agree with everything they post, Humane Watch has done a great job demystifying HSUS's true intentions.
But many people are still fleeced. Maybe it's just me, but if you want to support small family cattle or other meat farms, why would you ally with a group whose ultimate goal is their elimination? HSUS is being rather sneaky, much to the ire of more honest AR groups, and has participated in "animal welfare" campaigns, but that doesn't change their animal rights agenda.
That was clear last week in NYC when AR groups confronted a backyard chicken keeper at a food event. It's hard to peg an organization that has "sanctuary" or "mercy" in its name. Unlike PETA, such organizations do have a generally positive reputation. But they showed their true colors by bashing small scale farmers and advocating world veganism. I love on the blog post how the Mercy For Animals guy says he is concerned about male chicks and the transportation of laying hens. Get real, even if those things stopped, these organizations would campaign against eggs. The truth is that these organizations and their agenda are very much threatened by nice small farms. When consumers visit these farms they know that not all animal product consumption is anything like what's portrayed in AR propaganda videos.
I think it is kind of silly how people think egg production is better than meat production though. In my experience, grassfed meat production is more respectful of an animal's true nature than egg production is. Chicken farmers typically order their chickens from these factory hatcheries and slaughter their layers at the end of the season. Most free-range chickens don't really range that much. Contrast that with cattle, who are often bred on-farm and often range over several acres. The benefit with chickens is that they are cheap, easy to keep, and are quite efficient at feed converters, though for us paleos they aren't the greatest food because they are almost always fed grain.
As everyone knows, I am a passionate advocate for small farms, but I think allying with organizations like HSUS to punish factory farms is NOT the way. I think that improving the infrastructure for local meat farmers and educating people about the health benefits of grassfed meat is the way to go. I'm pretty disappointed with Chipotle for supporting HSUS's efforts in Ohio for more food fascism. I sometimes used to eat there, as it's a pretty decent and consistent paleo option, but I think I will boycott. Whole Foods got a lot of hate from the local meat movement for pushing a vegan agenda in their stores, but at least they weren't trying to push for laws. Stocking your shelves with The China Study is distasteful, but on a different level than passing regulations that make life hard for your opponents.
Last night when I took off my shirt I was horrified to find a small black speck on my stomach. It was a tick, a souvenir from Virginia, feasting upon my blood. I had showered many times since returning to the city, but perhaps it had hid in my thick dark head of hair.
I had been feasting on blood myself. The blood of a fallow deer, killed for my hunting class with a perfect shot to the head that preserved her still grace in heavy lidded glassy eyes.
Many people who have never really dealt with dead animals much assume it is a bloody affair, but the reality is that unless you bungle some blood vessel, it's possible to wear your nicest suede shoes while you butcher. Each cavity is wrapped with convenient lovely translucent membranes that make the job much easier than you would expect.
Hide preservation expert Fergus was there to teach us how to get the hide off in a way that allows you to keep it for tanning without much work scraping. Later he showed us finished hides, which were warm and silky. Apparently you can tan hides quite easily with the animal's brain, which is rich is nourishing fats that led to a soft, if slightly fishy smelling buckskin. We didn't want to eat the brain anyway because of some concerns with chronic wasting disease, a relative of mad cow disease that has never been found in humans, but I suppose it's a risk not worth taking, especially considering that ghee and butter are a tastier replacement for the nutritional qualities of brain.
The next concern is the digestive system, the potential source of meat contamination. If you do it right, you should avoid being assaulted by the fermenting contents of the stomach and intestines. You "unzip" the stomach with a good sharp knife, preferably featuring a rather useful gut hook that prevents puncturing quite well. Then comes the taste of disconnecting this long path that the deer's food had been taking, so different from mine. The deer's magic stomachs have the ability to take what looks like useless leaves and other woody forage and ferment them into food. A deer is a great way to eat your salad, as they can do more with it than you ever can.
The rest is taking out the cuts of meat, neatly skinning to make a blanket for the deer to rest while you cut. From the back we ate small slivers of the ruby red meat raw. It tasted fresh and slightly chewy, like the woods that were now full of small honeysuckle flowers tempting me as a walked past them with the hot musky summers of Georgia where I grew up. At night I could hear mockingbirds sing. It had been many years since I last heard that strangely haunting sound. I could imagine myself back in the South, despite not missing the rude insects that devoured my food or the Southern Baptist churches that devoured my soul. I liked hearing" y'all" from the mouths of smiling people, I liked the humid languishing mornings cooled by lemonade from the surprisingly bustling farmer's market. I liked the idea that the hunting license allows one to take a bear, something a Virginian in my blood named William Gibson once did back in the 1700s according to some old records I once found.
But Virginia is not the South I remember, the Florida panhandle, Louisiana, Mississippi places my family now lives that are ancient swamps. Virginia is more manicured- in between the primeval of the deep South and the dark Northern cities. Perhaps like I am having been so far from the South for nearly a decade now.
We carved the body cavity through and through, leaving bare ribs skinless so the light could shin through. The digestive system we left for the vultures, as it belongs to them. I read recently about one of the earliest religious sites, Göbekli Tepe, a marvel considering that hunter-gatherers had no cities, but they bothered to build this temple carved with vultures, lions, and other predators of humans dead...and alive. Some theorize that the hunter-gatherers left their dead here to be eaten by these fierce flesh eating creatures. The word for this is "excarnate," which is very beautiful to me, the idea of sharing your body with other carnivores. I think of then as a time when none owned another, except in death when it was an honor to be consumed and melded with others. Some place has called it the "garden of Eden," since it was theorized that this was where the transition to agriculture might have happened as people gathered together in more density. It's funny how the true garden of Eden is a place of lions and vultures rather than lions lying down with the lambs. Et in Arcadia...
But that is just myself extrapolating based on my own experience. I would be quite happy to only consume hunted meat only though, perhaps with some cream and butter from my own cattle. Mary Strange's book Woman The Hunter has much about the philosophy of hunter-gatherers towards animals. The lines are more blurred for them- they are animals and each animal perhaps becomes other animals, and each is intelligent and cunning in its own way.
A common criticism of hunting (and, as in Carol Adam's vegetarian feminism, of meat-eating in general) is that the hunter objectifies the prey, enforcing the split between human and nonhuman nature. According to this logic, one can only kill and eat something one perceives as an inferior "other," an entity worthy of use rather than of love or mutual regard. Yet from all we know about hunter-gatherer worldviews, precisely the opposite is the case for people who rely upon hunting for a significant portion (literal or symbolic) of their sustenance. For them, they animals they hunt and the predator species that are hunters like themselves, are kindred souls, powerful and intelligent. All animals, nonhuman and human, participate together in a web of pulsating life: birthing and nurturing, pursuing and fleeing, capturing, and dying.
By contrast ...the conventional view of nature that has developed in American civilization and, arguably, has reached its quintessential expression in such movements as animal liberation and radical ecofeminism, insists upon two assumptions: that humans are not really part of nature, and that our primary way of involving ourselves with the natural world is to destroy it.
Brings to mind C.S. Lewis when he said "Love is something more stern and splendid than mere kindness."
Speaking of woman the hunter, our teacher Jackson Landers mentioned that women are the fastest growing group of hunters. Our class had three, including myself. I enjoyed the company of everyone on the trip immensely, but was especially heartened to see my fellow females. As I will write in a later post, it's rather unfortunate that so many men see hunting as "reclaiming manliness." I see it as reclaiming our human-ness that has nothing to do with sex. Either way, Woman the Hunter is an excellent book no matter your gender.
The deer itself? The taste was magnificent. Each piece had a different flavor and only a few were gamey. For those who requested the recipe, the heart I prepared the way I prepare every heart- in coconut with red pepper, tamarind, ginger, cilantro, and garlic. Either simmer in coconut milk or fry in coconut oil. A more locavore approach can be found in Fergus Henderson's Nose to Tail, where he recommends marinating in vinegar.
I plan to improve my shooting skills and my family has invited me to hunt deer in Wisconsin this fall. Hopefully I can get all the licenses in order...one thing I learned is that it is very hard to have a real hunting rifle in NYC. Unless you are crazy and willing to hunt with a Civil War musket, it can take up to a year and $250 to acquire the right to have a hunting rifle in the city!
I never asked for to find my twin, but there you are And I never asked for the spools to unspin, but there they roll.
I never asked for to carve your ribs, but here I go
and I've never pleaded for a new skin as i do now
Flowers and blood
Build up a new me of flowers and blood
I'll shoot me a gun made of leaf and branch in this here town and eat me a bowl full of secret and mud, yes, I will if you build up a new me of flowers and blood -- say you will.
I had a great time at Jackson Lander's deer hunting workshop, but I will write a post on it later since I'm still...ruminating...haha! But John Durant already beat me to it and has some great picture, so you should check them out.
But it's really not as simple as non-paleo and paleo. Really, most foods aren't "paleolithic." If a museum curator put a domestic chicken in the prehistoric human diorama in the Museum of Natural History they would be fired. But paleolithic eating isn't about reenactment, it's about emulating the nutritional intake of our ancestors- no African baboon meat required.
That's why I include butter/ghee in my diet. Paleolithic hunters ate the brain, which is very rich in fat. I don't eat that because it's hard to buy and when hunting there are concerns about prion diseases (which I think are largely exaggerated and I plan to do some of Fergus Henderson's brain recipes whenever I finally get ahold of brain). But hunter-gatherer cultures like the Hazda seem to love the brain.
Onwas then reaches into the fire and pulls out the skull. He hacks it open, like a coconut, exposing the brains, which have been boiling for a good hour inside the skull. They look like ramen noodles, yellowish white, lightly steaming. He holds the skull out, and the men, including myself, surge forward and stick our fingers inside the skull and scoop up a handful of brains and slurp them down. With this, the night, at last, comes to an end.
But why are sesame seeds not-paleo on my list and cumin is? Well, it's actually not as simple as that. As an astute reader pointed out, there is evidence that prehistoric hominids ate small amounts of seeds, grains, and even legumes. Note the small amounts- it's pretty hard to gather enough wild grains to make a rice pilaf or tahini. Personally I DO eat sesame seeds. They are a tasty garnish on raw tuna sashimi. I put maybe 10 on. In small quantities they are like cumin, which is also a flavoring/garnish. Both of these used as garnish are tasty, but probably inconsequential either way for someone with a healthy digestive system.
Contrast that with hummus, which contains large amounts of chickpeas and ground sesame seeds in the form of tahini. It's used as a food, but as a food it provides inappropriate nutrition, particularly in the form of excess omega-6 fatty acids. Something people don't think about is that seeds and grains used as foods displace better foods. If I eat a cup of white rice at a Korean place I'm not going to get sick, but it's going to fill me up and I'll eat less blood stew or squid, which are much more nutritious.
When I'm at a nice restaurant sometimes pork will come with a teeny tiny side of beans. I'll eat those. Since my digestive flora has been rebalanced by eating paleo, they honestly don't bother me and beans cooked in pork fat are mighty tasty. I'm ultimately a foodie and taste means a lot to me.
I stick with my guns that your staples should be grass fed meat from ruminants, fish, coconut, and other sources of saturated fat. Go ahead, season with cumin or sesame seeds, but if you eat them by the bag-full, it's just not evolutionarily appropriate.
Sticking with my guns
What about taste? Is our sense of taste a useless piece of baggage that leads us to fruit rollup and fried chicken perdition? No way! Our tastebuds are shaped by evolution to help us survive. It's our environment that messes them up and allows them to be used for choosing crap instead of choosing tasty nutritious fat. Do them a favor and strip your eating environment of junk. The best use for them in a paleo diet is that they tell you when to eat more fat, which particularly if you are doing a meat-only fast, is very very useful.
One thing optimal foraging theory misses out on is that humans have a sense of taste that often trumps "efficiency," which is why you will find cultures all over the world going after things like berries and nuts that provide little in the way of calories but much in the way of flavor. Perhaps they provide something else? Honestly, cutting nuts out of my diet has been easy because I no longer crave them. Perhaps there is something in my offal, seafood, and fat-rich paleo diet that I wasn't getting when I was a nut-crazed (hehe) faileo.
As an aside, I'm more likely to respond to your comments nicely if you use the contact form rather than posting comments unrelated to the post you are commenting on.