Friday, May 25, 2012

Hiatus Over. It just is. I really liked using this vehicle to put my thoughts down for anyone who might be/become interested. And one of those New Year's Resolutions I made was not to sacrifice having a life and doing things I care about for the goal of "accomplishment." I've been living for some perceived, glorious future (as many of us do) and I will not continue.

The future matters. Humans are unique in our ability to prognosticate. This is an essential skill of the way humans hunt, separate from all the rest. Chimpanzees use tools. Dolphins use language. When a dog tracks a scent, he's not putting a story together, he's following a scent that he's currently able to smell.

What makes us different is that we view everything that happens in the world in the context of a story. Our lives are a story, and we sometimes make the mistake of never living in the moment. I've been sacrificing too much in order to fulfill a certain goal, and I'm no longer willing to give up the rest. That's all there is to say about that.

Now, the actual subject at hand today. I have made time to read and look at a lot of what's said out there in the world of Primal/Paleo/Whatever dieters. The one thing Adam's Big Five always stood for is not letting the perfect be the enemy of the good.

The concept of "cheating" has to go. What I advocate (I don't claim to speak for Mark Sisson, Kurt Harris, Robb Wolf, or any of my other sources of information and inspiration) has always been to understand the reality and truth behind what you're eating and to choose accordingly.

There's no such thing as eating 100% ________ (fill in the blank. Paleo. Primal. Archevore. Whatever). Unless you are eating grubs and worms from rotting trees grown in non-depleted soil between feasts of massive amounts of mastodon brains, you are "cheating" every time you eat, breathe, sleep on a bed, inhale the air, etc. It's not about perfect adherence to some set of standards. It's about choosing based on real information.

Some people love to delve into the minute details of biochemistry. Personally, I find it interesting to a point, then it gets unintelligible and generally boring. Do I know the difference between arachidonic acid and palmitic acid? Not really, but I know who does, and can readily look it up.

The concept here, the general rule of thumb, is to stay as close to that ideal as possible. What ideal? The EM2, basically. That's all you need to know to get started, and to be successful. That eating the foods most similar to those we had access to as we grew into our current form (which has changed very little in the past few hundred thousand years) will yield better health than foods which are novel.

So, I'm going to start making a list of novel foods. There's a few items I try really hard to never eat. I'm going to try to hit 1 "avoid" food per post and go through some of the various dangers so you can decide how often (if ever) to include it in your life.

1. Vegetable, nut, and seed oils. There's things we all recognize as unhealthy. Food colorings and blatant chemicals. But the worst thing most health-conscious people eat on a daily basis are these rancid polyunsaturated oils. If you cut just this one thing out of your diet completely, you'd be way ahead of most people. This includes Canola, soybean, cottonseed, linseed, safflower, sunflower, rapeseed, grapeseed, peanut, and many other oils.

It is beginning to be suspected that these play a role in all the "diseases of civilization." These include the cancers, diabesity (diabetes & obesity), metabolic syndrome, many of the autoimmune disorders, gout, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, and heart disease.

Once again, Kurt Harris

Okay, twice

Seriously. I'm not going to point you to too much research. You can use google as well as I can. I'm trying to make this easy. So here it is, easy as pie:

The most dangerous food in modern diets is probably seed/nut/vegetable oils. They're everywhere. Get the diner to cook your eggs in real butter. Don't eat anything deep-fried unless you deep fry it yourself. If you're going to eat food that has nutrition labels, scan vigorously. Do all you're able and willing to do in order to avoid these harmful frankenfoods.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Avoid Poisonous Soy

Been promising a few people that I'd provide a bit of info on the dangers of soy, especially in an unfermented format.

Googling "dangers of soy" brings up too many links to even scan my eyes over, but fortunately the very reputable and respected Dr. Mercola has weighed in on the issue. My less informed opinion is that we should go back to thinking of soybeans as a useful legume for crop rotation for its ability to fix nitrogen, and soybean oil as a useful ingredient in industrial chemicals and paints.

Monday, August 1, 2011

The Kool Aid

Okay, obviously I'm not about to advocate Kool Aid or soda or any other sugar-laden death juices. Just happened to find a guy who drinks the stuff from the same metaphorical cup as I do. But maybe you'll listen to him because he's a doctor. Or maybe your know-it-all aunt will listen to him because he's a doctor. Or so he claims. I don't really know. I'm just trying to help someone or someones here.

Here's the link (a co-worker forwarded it to me)

It looks suspiciously like a book report on Good Calories, Bad Calories. Which is basically what Gary Taubes's new book, Why We Get Fat is. Which is great, because most peoples' grandmas aren't about to work their way through GCBC from start to finish. In either case, I recommend both the website and the book to your grandmas and uncles. Or your dad.

On other fronts, I'm back from vacation. I put on a few pounds through force-feeding myself delicious treats and forced sloth. I normally wouldn't, but I got several months' supply of vitamin D.

I'm thinking it's time to take some advice from one of the forefathers of the modern primal/paleo/whatever movement, Art DeVany and try to spend more time doing as little as possible. Which means I have to stop pushing myself to accomplish everything to the point that I feel like I'm rushed from the moment I wake up until the moment I go to bed. I'll post my results as we go.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Grass-fed local meat

Ate some delicious shell steaks last night (I believe this is the cut that looks across the T-bone at the tenderloin. Please correct me if I'm mistaken), with wild caught shrimp & scallops, and pancetta, the ingenious Italian pepper/garlic laden version of bacon.

Other than the few chances I've had to eat game, I think this was the first time I was able to get meat from an animal whose living arrangements I got to see first hand. Despite not having taken part in any activities related to the slaughter or butchering of the animal, I do feel like I'm one step less removed from my food as a result. I've recommended the farm where I got the heritage-breed beef to several people already, and after my first taste, I will be wholeheartedly continuing to do so.

Continuing to read The Butcher's Guide to Well-Raised Meat. Continuing to tell people the knowledge their grandmas knew, that bread and potatoes make you fat, that butter is good for you, that margarine is an abomination, that corn and soy oil belong in paint, not in food, and ultimately that it's better to pay the grocer than the doctor.

Continuing to mystify the bodybuilders at the gym with exercises they can't dream of doing, muscle-ups, ultra-low squats, single-leg squats. (Of course they do things I can't dream of doing as well. Bench-pressing 300 or 400 pounds, among others)  But showing them up in my own mind is sort of entertaining in its own right. And I'm still only mildly tired of explaining the reasons for the Vibrams rather than the cross-trainers.

Vacation's coming up and I plan to get enough vitamin D synthesized to last me until at least Thanksgiving. My refusal to wear sunscreen (other than a large-brimmed hat and long-sleeved shirt) have served me well so far this year. That and the base tan I accumulated in a tanning booth. Of course optimal would be to get real sunlight every day, but a desk job renders that all but impossible.

Navigating the neolithic in a vessel designed for the paleolithic is really the main challenge this blog is devoted to when you get down to it. I don't have logs and rivers available to play with year-round. Or the time. So I pay someone money to let me lift their heavy things and put them back down again. And I pay someone else money to let me use their imitation sunlight. And I pay someone else to raise food the way I would, and they pay someone else to carve it up the way I would. None of it's perfect, but I think I'm doing pretty well considering the circumstances. Hopefully you're reading this trying to make some improvement to how you're doing it. If that's the case, drop me a comment once in a while so I know you're around. I'll gladly tailor the blog to the audience, if I find that I have one!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Great success

Tonight's trip to the farm where I plan to buy most of my meat was a huge success. I got to see where the steers do most of their grass-eating, learned about the Highland Breed of cattle (a heritage breed that originated in Scotland) and found out that the farmer gets her animals from a nearby farm in Pennsylvania.

I also got to meet the next steer to make its way towards my dinner plate (he was scratching himself with his horns and eating tons of green grass), and bring home several pounds of the last one.

I can't wait for the chance to sample the goods. Unfortunately, that's going to have to wait until after this weekend's trip to our nation's capital.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Mystery solved

Okay, it was my very thoughtful father who sent me the books. I'm learning that I wish I had the opportunity to apprentice as a butcher.

Meeting with a local farmer tomorrow who sells meat from cattle she raises on her local (within 25 miles) farm. Extremely stoked about being able to buy meat from a farm where I can actually see how the animals live. From what I understand, they're not 100% grass-fed (it's hard to raise cattle in the New Jersey winter without supplementing their diets somewhat), but they're 100% soy-free, hormone-free, antibiotic-free, and the grains and legumes they are supplemented with are specifically selected not to cause the omega-6:omega-3 ratio issues that typically come with feeding grain to cattle.

Haven't measured body fat percentage too recently, but I'm up a few pounds and I think mostly in a good way. Got a 335-pound deadlift up the other day, raw, probably while weighing right around 140. If I got down to 135 (not a great feat) and kept all the strength, I'd be right at my 2.5 body-weight goal.

Ordered the recent Taubes book. Anybody who hasn't read  his other popular book, "Good Calories, Bad Calories" is missing out. If you need a copy, reach out to me, I'll see if I can dig one up to lend you.

Monday, June 20, 2011


I was surprised to arrive home today and find a box with 2 books addressed to me on my doorstep. I received The Butcher's Guide to Well-Raised Meat, How to Buy, Cut and Cook Great Beef, Lamp, Pork, Poultry and More, by Joshua Applestone, Jessica Applestone and Alexandra Zissu and also Good Meat by Deborah Krasner.

These are brand-new, hardcover books on subject matter I find spiritually and intellectually stimulating. I look very forward to spending some serious time with them both. I'm proud to own them already, after just a cursory flip through each of their pages.

I assume that whoever sent them to me was under the false impression that Amazon would put their name somewhere on the receipt. I would be calling that person with heartfelt thanks right now, but I don't know who to thank. So if you are that person, or know who that person is, please pass along my sentiments.

I will be reviewing and commenting on these books and their content right here at Adam's Big Five.