Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The Dirtiest City on Earth (Mac)

Here is a video series showing the results of unchecked human expansion. I just shake my head. How long can pollution on this scale this be kept up before ultimately changing the planet and our ability to live on it.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Straight Razor (Mac)

As I was using up my last Mach III, disposable razor blade the other day I got to thinking that using these things is a huge waste. They are brutally expensive and end up in the landfill so I am now looking into the idea of using a good old straight razor. I found a link to a site that appears to have some good info on the topic so I am going to browse around there for a bit and see if straight razoring might be something I could get into. I can certainly save some money over the long term and knock one more consumable off my list. We need to look at the things we purchase that are merely for convenience sake, more than likely ending up in the trash, and if there is a viable, sustainable option then I think that option warrants a looking into.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Calgary Bans Urban Chickens (Mac)

So, Calgary has decided to scrap the pilot project for raising chickens. I am dumbfounded by the fear mongering and ignorance displayed by the city and further more that a committee of seven people can decide what is good for a million people. What a crock of shit. "The Heart of the New West", eh? It is OK to waltz around with a cowboy hat on, but forget actually living the heritage. Noooo, that would not be urban and chic now would it? That wouldn't suit Calgary's new, modern image.

I get a kick out of all these municipalities and their sustainability rhetoric as it seems when it comes time to put the responsibility where it truly lies - with the individual citizen - all bets seem to be off. As far as I am concerned, I am a human animal on this planet and I have every bit of a natural right to provide for myself. I have not taken kindly to having my rights to protect myself and my family, choose to provide my own food, food safety, own my land, etc. placed in the hands of an utterly incompetent, selfish, greedy group of people that we like to call the government - at every level.

Obviously we need some sort of guidelines to live in a world that has way too many opinions, but to have five morons, and they are clearly morons, decide based on pure ignorance not to go ahead with the pilot project is too much especially when hundreds of municipalities in North America allow urban chickens. The ultra modern city of Vancouver allows chickens so what is up with Calgary? Why is it OK to have walking paths littered with dog crap and people having to listen to dogs incessantly bark throughout the night or some neighbor's cat pissing on people's porches?

I am going to go over to Paul Hughes' house to lend my hand at providing some photography for marketing purposes. I have a keen interest in the precedent set by the city as I intend to raise my own birds out here in Black Diamond. I haven't checked with the town yet to see if the rulers of Black Diamond will allow us lowly serfs to keep chickens. I am just not quite in a position to set up a chicken operation yet, but I will certainly lend a hand in the fight with Calgarian chicken farmers.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Here's A Thought (Mac)

What "food" does the meat industry feed its animals to make them grow as fat as possible in the shortest amount of time?  I'll give you a hint - Special K is made out of it.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Jeremy Irons is With Me (Mac)

Well, it looks as if I am not the only one who thinks the world has too many human beings leaching off of it - Jeremy Irons is in the same boat as me when it comes to our thoughts on human population.  I am looking forward to seeing his upcoming documentary.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Radical Homemakers (Mac)

"We have lost the innate knowledge and traditional crafts essential to countless functions for our daily survival, with the end result being a disconnection from our communities and our natural world.  So complete is this detachment that we are unaware of the ecological and social damage created by mass production for our daily needs.  Screened from the production process, we buy chicken breasts without considering the workers in poultry factories who must breathe toxic fumes, or the loss of topsoil from irresponsible grain production.  We purchase our detergents and cleaners without considering the ingredients that might be poisoning our families and our water supply.  We buy inexpensive clothing, never considering who must produce the fiber, weave the cloth and sew the garments for paltry wages, or what country must have its rivers polluted with dues.  No matter where we live, we expect fresh tomatoes in December and iceberg lettuce in January, regardless of the fact it took more calories to grow and ship them than they deliver when we eat them.

This is not to say that every homemaker must start weaving cloth and hand-washing their family's clothes: with few exceptions, most of us will always rely on the broader industrial system for something.  But for each daily need that we re-learn to provide within our homes and communities we strengthen our independence from an extractive and parasitic economy.  As we realize the impact of each choice we make, we discover ways to simplify our demands and rebuild our domestic culture.

When we regain connection with all that sustains us, we regain creative spirit.  We rediscover the joy that comes with using our hands and our minds in union to nourish, nurture and delight in our families; we tap the source if true creative satisfaction, the ecstasy that accompanies a home that lives in harmony with the earth's systems, and the certitude of a life guided by principles of social justice and nonexploitation."

~Shannon Hayes
Radical Homemakers

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The Scale (Mac)

Out of curiosity, I have been tracking my caloric intake for the last week or so just to give me an idea of what I am eating, how much energy I am consuming, as well as what my nutrient intake is like.  So far, my average intake of all known essential nutrients are above the RDA except for calcium. Am I worried about that?  No, not really because I think the bigger issue is about calcium balance - not losing more than you are gaining.  I wonder how the government and nutritional wizards out there can explain how I manage to get all of my vitamins and minerals without eating grains, tiny amounts of fruits and veggies and a rare smidgen of dairy here and there.  I am hazarding a guess that all the information we hear about needing to eat bread, cereal, fruit, and dairy is driven much more by the slick marketing of the companies that sell these products than about the reality of human nutrition - much like the current media bombardment of yogurt and probiotics.  Pretty soon everyone will be bending over backwards to make sure they get their daily does of probiotics and all to the benefit of the yogurt manufacturers - wake up and smell the damn coffee, people.  I wonder what healthy-must-have-gonna-die-without-it, mass-marketed food product  is coming at us next?

Anyway, last week from Monday to Thursday I averaged 1,723 calories and my weight on Thursday was 187 lbs. Friday I ate 3,160 calories and weighed 186 lbs. Saturday I ate 3,176 calories and weighed 188 lbs. Sunday I ate 3,258 calories and weighed 193 lbs. Yesterday I ate 1,845 calories and weighed 188 lbs and this morning I weigh 186 lbs. and will eat my usual 1700-1800 cal for the rest of the week. So the couple days over the weekend where I ate a lot more than I usually do didn't do anything to my weight over the long term in fact I ended up right where I was from before eating more.

So from Friday to Sunday I "gained" 7 lbs.  Most people would be horrified, but you will see that come this morning I didn't end up gaining a single pound despite eating almost twice what I normally eat and tomorrow morning I'll probably be down to 185 lbs.  I think the idea here is to control consumption of carbohydrates (sugar) and don't overeat every single day of every single month - we didn't evolve to have 3000 calories a day every single day of our lives.  Overeating (proper foods) here and there won't do any harm and daily fluctuations of the scale do not mean you are gaining or losing fat.  The body is in a constant cycle of water, waste, and food so the scale can easily vary 2-3 lbs daily or in my case, 7 lbs over the weekend.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Cauliflower Crust Pizza (Mac)

I came across a link to what looks like a great low carb pizza crust.  We will be giving this a try on Saturday night!  This also looks quite yummy.  The cheese doesn't live up to paleolithic standards, I know, but occasionally we will eat full fat (organic when possible) cheese on something like this or like my version of KFC's Double Down which I made for a Friday dinner a few weeks ago (pictured above).

On a side note, I ordered up some casings to try my hand at making pepperoni.  Pepperoni is a fantastic snack, but I'd like to be in charge of my own ingredients and food safety.  I am looking forward to making a batch :-)  I also purchased a decent meat slicer to allow me to make larger quantities of jerky with a reasonable amount of prep time.  My current favorite recipe is simply some hickory smoke flavor and black pepper.

We are planning to go to a BBQ hosted by Linda at Trail's End on May 22 where I hope to pick up some roasts for sausage and pepperoni making as well as some steak to tide us over until our cow is ready in August.  I am also a little closer to finding some locally raised chicken for meat.  I cringe every time I buy factory made, Lilydale garbage.  It is difficult to find a location that is close and can provide me with two chickens a week as all of the places I have found so far are a 2-3 hour drive away.  I am also on the search for some local lamb - love me some lamb!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Wood Burning Furnace (Mac)

We had a spring snow storm last week and we lost power for a day and change.  The impact wasn't too bad relatively speaking.  Our fridge was still down and we currently have no meat in the freezer - our 1/4 cow won't be ready until August so we didn't have to worry about food going bad.  At the point of the storm we had already been living fridge-less for almost two weeks.  The power outage did leave us without heat and water though.

We are on a well and septic system even though we are in the town limits and without power we have no water or heat.  We have been long wanting to become free from the utility companies for times when the power goes out as well as the fact that I simply don't trust these huge companies and how they operate.  I also have a huge problem with the province of Alberta allowing these companies to exploit my resources and then sell them back to me at outrageous prices.  We have bills in some winter months of $400-$500!

We know that we want to get a wind turbine to generate electricity and I think we will be successful since it is quite windy here assuming I don't have a battle with the town.  If we can obtain a turbine to generate electricity we will be halfway to our goal of telling our monopolized utility industry where to go.  To replace natural gas I have been looking into a wood pellet burning furnace or boiler.  Wood burning technology has come a long way in the last few years and it looks like a very self-sustainable way to go- at least as long as there is a supply of pellets.  It sure beats being robbed by Fortis and Atco.

Here is a link to more information on wood pellets as a source of fuel.  I have found some local suppliers of pellets as well as a dealer for the furnace up in the Athabasca region who apparently deals all around Alberta, BC, and Saskatchewan.  We have a few things on our list ahead of a new furnace like new windows, siding, and a roof conducive to harvesting rain water, but it is good to begin the research ahead of time so all bases can be covered before investing time and money.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

So...This is Me (Mac)

I figured I should put up a photo of myself to give you an idea of who is behind the posts here.  I snapped this photo this afternoon.  I am currently 185lbs down from 215lbs in mid-February of this year although I have been as high as 220lbs in previous years.  I am 5'-9 1/4" and, yes, the 1/4" counts and just turned 36 years old in April.  This is me living primally - the way my genes want me to be.

I am just a regular guy, I am not huge, I don't live in a gym, and I don't think I will ever have ripped, six pack, Calvin Klein underwear model abs - I am too lazy.  I do, however, have some decent muscle mass and that is my main goal.  I want to be strong and maintain as much muscle as I age which I believe helps to slow the inevitable degeneration that comes with aging.  Heck, if I look like this throughout my forties, fifties and sixties I am going to a very happy guy!  I don't think I will have much trouble keeping up appearances while living my current lifestyle which brings me to the topic of today's post which has to to with the amount of effort you are willing to give to achieve your ideal body.

One thing that you have to understand is that what ever you are doing dietarily or through exercise to create your ideal body you will need to continue that regimen for as long as you want to look that way.  In other words, your body will reflect your efforts - genetics not withstanding.  The reason I will probably never have a six pack is I am simply not prepared to do what it takes to get them and keep them.  I don't have the genes to be effortlessly super lean and I am not prepared to slog away on the treadmill, scrutinize my diet to the nth degree, etc. to achieve a purely aesthetic look.  I would certainly like to have less body fat, but I know that I won't maintain the effort indefinitely so I see no point.  If I continue to lean out as time progresses while following a predominantly paleolithic diet and lifestyle then, yay for me, but I want to live my life and not worry about single digit body fat levels.

To achieve my current state I am lifting weights for about half an hour Moday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday.  Here is my current schedule:

bench press - 4 sets of 4-6 reps
incline dumbbell press - 4 sets of 4-6 reps
weighted dips - 2 sets of 4-6 reps
cable press downs - 2 sets of 4-6 reps

weighted pull ups - 4 sets of 4-6 reps
bent over barbell row - 4 sets of 4-6 reps
dumbbell curl - 4 sets of 4-6 reps

back squats - 4 sets of 4-6 reps
dead lifts - 4 sets of 4-6 reps

dumbbell push press - 4 sets of 4-6 reps
lateral dumbbell raise - 4 sets of 4-6 reps
barbell shrugs - 4 sets of 4-6 reps

That's it - that's all.  I am able to do those workouts in the time it takes to watch a half hour of "My Name is Earl" (love that show!).  I walk when ever I need to go anywhere in town and I will walk to the neighboring town 3km away once or twice a week and on those walks I will occasionally throw in 6-8 sprints.  This is a workout schedule that I can easily maintain and commit to over the long term.  This may not be the "best" workout plan in the world, but I enjoy lifting heavy weights, I enjoy brief, intense workouts, and I am pretty happy with the effort/result trade offs.

The one thing I hear and see on a constant basis is this notion of "temporary".  People think they can go on a particular diet or exercise scheme, lose some weight, and then go back to the way they were doing things before ad maintain the results.  It doesn't work like that.  Your results are based on a certain level of effort and if that effort changes - for the good or worse - so do the results.  This is a concept that is totally lost on people.  If you have experienced results with any number of the diet plans out there then you have to stick with them indefinitely if you want to keep the results.  Of course these plans fail because they are going about fat loss completely wrong - their premiss of "eat less calories and do more exercise" is a miserable way to live and is wholly unsustainable.  Just look at the long term failure rates of these programs.

Anyway, I just thought I'd put a physique behind the posts to give you a better idea of what I look like and the results of this lifestyle Jody and I are living.  Just keep in mind before you get all gung-ho about a diet or exercise plan that if it gives you the desired results you will have to keep doing it for as long as you want the results - period.  Grapefruit, water, and coffee enemas for life, eh?  LOL  Have fun with that - I'll be over here chewing on some home made, 100% grass-fed beef jerky ;-)

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

What Did I Eat Today? (Mac)

Wednesday is usually the day I do my weekly fast which starts on Tuesday the with my last meal around 6 pm not eating until Wednesday at 6 pm for a 24 hour fast, or occasionally, Thursday morning for a 36 hour fast.  Wednesdays work nice for a fast since it is my day off from weight lifting and nothing much socially happens on Wednesdays so it works nicely, but I didn't feel like fasting today.  Not a big deal as I generally just let my fasting and dietary regimen float around where it wants to go.  I think forcing oneself to stick to a rigid dietary schedule is not much fun as I did that sort of thing for seven or eight years when I was into  serious bodybuilding.

Today I ate the following:
Breakfast: 4 fresh farm eggs, 2 pieces of pepperoni, coffee with 35% whipping cream (not strict paleo its a treat!)
Lunch: a can of sardines in spring water, coffee with coconut milk
Dinner: 4 beef sausages, a handful each of steamed Brussels sprouts & cauliflower

Not a lot of food today as I wasn't really hungry. I find that eating a very low carbohydrate diet allows me to eat less and more sporadically without feeling deprived or with ravenous hunger.  Despite what you hear in the media humans don't need to eat every two hours to avoid metabolic disaster.  Well, you do if you are cramming yourself full of sugar then you need to eat often to get your fix much like a smoker needs to smoke frequently to keep nicotine levels up.  Ditch the sugar and you can actually go a day or more without eating with relative ease.  Try doing that while eating conventionally...I dare you ;-)

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Thanks Agriculture! (Mac)

I just finished watching a fantastic show on the Discovery Civilization channel called Out of Egypt and it was about our (human beings) journey from millennia of hunting and gathering to living in cities less than ten thousand years ago and all the modern ills that followed.  The program pretty much summed up my beliefs in the destruction of human health and longevity, sustainable and responsible living, human suffering, concentration of wealth and power, and disease all caused by the advent of agriculture and urbanization.

What really struck me was the fact that most ancient cities collapsed.  From Africa to South America, most great cities crumbled under their own weight.  The technology at the time allowed cities to grow unchecked and eventually the massive growth outstripped its ability to supply, sustain, and protect the people.  The striking feature for me was that if many of these once grand cities ceased to exist from the massive, unsustainable growth (among other factors) what makes us think we are any different?

What happens when our current technology fails to provide and sustain as it did in ancient times?  There are signs of failure everywhere.  The gap between rich and poor widens, infectious disease, violence, and competition for dwindling resources is on the rise.  More than half the world lives in urban areas as small towns, villages, and rural communities  continue to decline along with the skills and knowledge to live off the land - if those abilities aren't already completely gone.

Why do we think our modern lives and cities are any different than the ancient ones?  Why do we think we can avoid the fate of so many ancient cities?  Why do we never learn from history?  I can say for sure, as I said in my first post on Wake Up & Smell The Damn Coffee, that we are headed for a disaster. It may not be in our lifetime, but it is coming.  The unprecedented growth of the human population since the Industrial Revolution, a mere two hundred-ish years ago, will not go unchecked and much like the massive, never-seen-before cities of the past we will follow on the path to destruction, displacement, and an uncertain future.  Continued growth cannot be the answer.

Pessimistic, I know, but it is the reality.  We can continue to think we are more advanced than our ancestors, that we are separate and above the laws of nature, and that we can never suffer the fates of those before us, but I can guarantee the inhabitants of those failed, ancient cities felt exactly the same way about the preceding generations of hunter gathers.  The modern citizens of the day thought they were more advanced and knew it all - just like we do today.  But it will be different this go around.  Right.

Economies are collapsing (Greece and many to follow) and global recession is still in full swing.  I blame these things, fundamentally, on the inability of individuals to provide for themselves.  Government social programs cannot sustain massive populations on the backs of a few - the writing is on the wall.  Any population in nature that outstrips its environment's ability to sustain said population will collapse and as much as we humans like to think we are immune to such happenings we are in for a rough ride down the road when the proverbial pavement runs out - and it will.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Asparaginase (Mac)

So, the Canadian government wants to add asparaginase to numerous food products.  Click on the link above for more details, but in brief, asparaginase is going to be added to food products to help prevent a potentially toxic compound from forming when manufacturing products like potato chips, french fries, cookies, breakfast cereals, and bread.

Why does the government feel it is OK to add an enzyme to make something that is toxic and shouldn't be consumed in the first place edible?  Here's a thought...don't eat potato chips, french fries, cookies, breakfast cereals, or bread in the first place!  Having to add yet another substance just to render a food product "safer" is absolutely mind boggling to me.  I shake my head - eat food not food products.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Sausage! (Mac)

I finally tried my hand at sausage making on the weekend deciding to make chicken, feta (not paleo but what the hell), spinach sausage for my very first attempt.  While the overall process is quite simple I found getting the sausages to be the right fullness and size a bit of a challenge.

The process was very simple.  I cut three pounds of skinless chicken thighs and one pound of skinless chick breast (skin may clog the grinder) into one inch chunks, mixed in some feta, spices, and shredded spinach.  I then popped the mix in the fridge (to cool it down for easier grinding) while I readied the casings.  I used ~1" hog casings which I let soak in water for an hour or so before I started the whole shebang.

When the casings were rinsed and ready I pulled the meat mix from the fridge and started grinding and stuffing.  Right away I discovered that with a power grinder this is a two person job.  One to control and stuff the sausage and one to feed the grinder.  I suppose this could be a one man show using a hand cranked grinder whereby a little more control can be afforded to how much meat is coming out, but two people most certainly make an easier go of it.

So, Jody and I stuffed away only bursting two sausages out of the thirty we made.  Not too bad methinks, however, I think the casing had a hole in it leading to the burst.  After I placed the sausages in freezer bags (that's me above and my high tech vacuum device!) I popped two sausages in a frying pan right away to give them a test.  Well...they blew up!  I think I over stuffed the casings.  Hey, it was my first attempt so there are bound to be some trials and tribulations.  I'll tell you, though, the explosion sure didn't ruin the taste.  Yummy!  We will be having some home made sausage and steamed asparagus for dinner tonight.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Chicken or Egg? (Mac)

Last night we took our first step towards raising chickens.  I contacted Calgary's pioneer urban chicken farmer, Paul Hughes, to see if he would entertain my request to bring my family to see what he is doing and how he is doing it - Paul gladly agreed to have us over.

Paul has six chickens running around freely in his backyard and I was quite surprised how benign they are - almost invisible.  These six chickens were far more innocuous than many neighborhood dogs with their incessant barking and feces littering the ground that their owners refuse to pick up.  I was also surprised at how simple they are to maintain.  Paul says a few minutes a day making sure they have water and feed and a little bit of time on the weekend sweeping out the coop and that's about it - I can handle that.  For his efforts Paul is rewarded with three eggs every day - his other three are too young to lay as of yet.

Our next step will be consulting with our town to see what, if any, rules there are about chickens.  I looked online and couldn't find anything so I will make a call to see if I can dig up some more info.  I hope our town is amiable to the idea of raising chickens and if not I fully intend on fighting for my right to grow my own food. Safeway, Sobey's and Superstore do not need to dictate where my food comes from and I shouldn't be forced to use them when I can responsibly and sustainable grow my own possibly with surplus for friends and neighbors...kinda like it used to be a mere fifty years ago.

On  side note, my sausage casing finally arrived and I can begin making my own sausage to compliment the jerky I have been making for years.  Very cool :-)

Monday, April 19, 2010

On Carbohydrates (Mac)

To sum up carbohydrates (sugar, glucose, dextrose, maltodextrin, complex or simple) in a few words: unnecessary, unhealthy, fattening, addicting.  You are probably laughing at my words right now and thinking what a nut I am.  How could a potato or whole grain bread be all of those things?  You are saying.  How can the Canadian Food Guide be wrong?  You ask.  But aren't vegetarians so healthy? You ponder.  Well, to be blunt, you have been lied to about the role of carbohydrates and how they relate to human health.  In this post I am going to bring up a few of my observations about carbohydrates and their source, plants, that may get you scratching your head about the need for carbohydrates and how they are totally unnecessary and even harmful for optimal health.

1) Humans are made of protein and fat.  But for a very few carbohydrates in certain molecules, and the body can manufacture that carbohydrate from dietary fat and protein - we are not made of carbohydrate.  How do you build and maintain an organism that is composed almost entirely of proteins and fats with foods virtually devoid of those two nutrients?

2) Vitamin D and vitamin B12 are absolutely essential to human health and they are only found in animal products, and in the case of vitamin D, the body can make its own.  The essential vitamins A, D, E, and K require fat to be absorbed by the body - plants do not have appreciable amounts fat in them.

3) Large and chronic amounts of carbohydrates create massive swings in hormonal response in the blood.  Insulin is secreted in order to remove the glucose from the blood stream to get the body back to normal or homeostasis.  There are many hormones that are adversely affected when insulin levels are high and uncontrolled.

4) Animals have very much the same nutrients in their bodies that humans need - much, much, more so than vegetables.  It makes sense to me to shop at the store that has the materials you need, in other words, eat animals.

5) Humans and animals store excess energy as saturated fat.  If fat is so unhealthy why would it be the body's preferred storage method as well as fuel source for most daily, low level activity - including pumping your heart.  Plants store excess energy as starch.  We store a small amount of energy as animal starch or glycogen, but not very much.  Glycogen is used for short bursts of energy such as lifting a heavy object or a full out sprint - when was the last time you did that?

6) The body needs a very small amount of carbohydrate for fueling a few organs and maintaing glycogen stores and that small amount can easily be made from dietary fat and protein.  The body cannot make the essential fats and proteins from carbohydrates they must be obtained from the diet and, you guessed it, animal sources are by far the most complete and useable.

7) Ingested carbohydrates that are not immediately required for energy production are stored as fat especially in the presence of insulin. Fat cannot be mobilized for fuel when insulin levels are up.

8) Human beings do not have a digestive system optimized for large amounts of plant material.  Our digestive systems are much more closely related to carnivores than herbivores.

9) Grain products need to have vitamins added to them during the product manufacturing process because grains are essentially devoid of human required nutrients.  How healthy is a food that needs fortification to be of any use to our bodies?

10) Look at the destruction unchecked glucose does to the bodies of diabetics.  Insulin's job is to prevent that damage by quickly clearing the blood of glucose - in other words, glucose is toxic in the blood and needs to be promptly dealt with to avoid death.

These are just a a few observations I have made that illustrate how carbohydrates are inferior at providing anything but energy to the human body.  Animal products provide as much and quite often more vitamins and minerals than a comparable serving of plants and the animal-derived micronutrients are far more readily absorbed by the body not to mention the needed fat, protein and energy that comes along too. In short, there is virtually nothing that carbohydrates and their sources can provide the body that animal fat and protein can't.

Several experts recommend a daily average of no more than 100g carbohydrates and this should be obtained primarily from non-starchy vegetables and a little fruit.  But don't take my word for it, please track down and read some of the books in our list to the right that have the hard science to back up my observations and most certainly check out this video.  Your health and pant size will thank you.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Refrigerator Died (Mac)

Well, our three year old Kenmore refrigerator decided to stop working some time last night and the repair guy can't come until Friday - lovely.  I guess we will really get to know what an incredible convenience a refrigerator is as we attempt to live for the next week without one.

Honestly, I don't think it going to be that difficult since we have lots of frozen meat in the deep freeze and I can get what little veggies we need from the store every other day so they won't need refrigerating.  We have no condiments to speak of and other than keeping leftovers and eggs we could survive without a fridge if we really wanted to - we haven't used a microwave in three years and we are still alive:-)  I might actually talk to Jody about the idea of going fridgeless depending on how this week goes.  It is one less power-using appliance, one less thing to clean and maintain, and not having a fridge encourages more fresh food use - just a thought.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Paleo What? (Mac)

The basic premise behind paleolithic nutrition is modeling food choices based on what humans would have eaten pre-agriculture i.e. hunting and gathering.  For the vast majority of human evolution we ate meat (insects, too), fruits, and vegetables.  There are loads of books and interpretations of paleolithic principals out there for you to research so I am not going to give an exact breakdown here.  Some proponents advocate higher fat than others, some more protein, etc but for the most part they all stick to the common theme of meat, fruits, and veggies - no breads, no grains, no cereals, no starchy vegetables, no processed food products and no dairy (depending on who's book you are reading).

I tend to eat a lot of meat and the fat that goes along with it as well as veggies.  I eat fruit a few times a week and it is mostly berries, the odd small apple, and banana pancakes on Saturday mornings.  I am 36 and woke up this morning laying in bed with a blood pressure of 97/52 and a pulse of 49 and my usual mid day average BP is somewhere around 105/60 - dispelling the notion that eating a lot of meat and fat will give you high blood pressure.  My meals are pretty straight forward, quick to make, and are nutritious and tasty. For example let's take last night's dinner - ground bison stuffed peppers with curried cauliflower rice.

I simply took some ground bison and tossed it in a skillet with some chopped leek, garlic, and coconut oil and fried it all up.  I then cut some peppers in half, added the meat mix, and threw some diced tomatoes on top.  Popped the plates in the oven at 250 for 45 minutes and they were done.

For the cauliflower rice, I started about fifteen minutes before the peppers were done by chopping up the cauliflower into manageable pieces and then using a "Slap Chop" like device proceeded to chop the cauliflower to the consistency of rice (a food processor could also do the job).  After I had the cauliflower cut up I added some curry powder and cayenne pepper and tossed in in the dry skillet (after I cleaned it) and toasted it all up a bit.

By the time the cauliflower rice was ready the peppers were done and it was time to eat.  Yummy!  I forgot to take a photo of the finished dish before we ate, but you get the idea :-)

Saturday Morning Breakfast (Jody)

Blueberry Paleo pancakes with sausage made from grass feed cow.

Paleo pancakes-- one banana per person served, one egg per person served), and a scoop of home made walnut butter (well any nut butter) and a tbsp of cinnamon.  You can adjust amounts to suit after you have tried this once or twice.  Generally for four of us it is three bananas (keeping the carbs down) and four or five eggs.

Directions: Put bananas in a bowl and mash with a fork (or potato masher), then add cinnamon, eggs and nut butter.  Lightly mix with fork-- then take the mixture and put it in the blender until smooth. Pour desired sized pancakes into a pan on medium heat and cover.  Check after a minute or so and when the top is no longer liquidy just flip them over for another minute or so. Heads up: they do not have the fluff of a pancake made with a grain flour.

Sausage --Heads up: cooking in the the oven takes a long time--too long for us. I say fry them. Our oil of choice is coconut oil (we do not have nut allergies); it has a high smoke rate since it is so saturated and is great to cook with.

We like to add organic blue berries to our pancakes-- our kids still have a little 100% pure Canadian maple syrup.

Friday, April 16, 2010

What Did You Have For Dinner? (Mac)

I mentioned yesterday that we were going to have roasted duck and mixed veggies for dinner so I thought I'd share some photos and what I did to make it.  Quite easy, actually.  I simply put the duck in a large roasting pan, added what ever veggies tickled my fancy, in this case it was yellow peppers, mushrooms, asparagus, leek, carrots, and celery.  I was going to add some red beets, but ran out of room as you can see in this photo taken just before popping the bird in the oven at 350 for 2-1/2 hours.  I also rubbed some coconut oil on the duck, added a bit of garlic with some random spices on top and added some home made red wine.  The whole affair took about 15 minutes of preparation.

Once the 2-1/2 hours were up I took the lid off and broiled the duck for about five minutes to make the skin a little crispier.  Despite what the "experts" say about the horrors of fat we ate the skin and didn't feel the slightest bit guilty - fat is not the enemy it has been made out to be.  Anyway, this is how I generally cook whole chickens as well...super simple, super fast, and very tasty.  I am boiling the carcass as we speak to make ground turkey (I ground myself) and vegetable soup to freeze for quick lunches.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Steady Loss (Jody)

I worked out four days a week for a year-- hard core classes lead by certified instructors (certified to kick my ass) and I started a glutten free, dairy free diet. I definitely felt better than I had but the scale was not moving. My family reluctantly bought into eating ancient grains and corn and rice flours (which aren't any healthier) instead of wheat and rye. In the first six months I lost a pound a month. I described it as being licked off (which isn't nearly as fun as it sounds). It wasn't until January 2010 that Mac bought in fully. He took over the cooking, reducing my stress level considerably. He read a number of blogs, sites, books, articles on paleolithic living. I continued to buy lunches at school (I am a teacher) for about two weeks; then we figured if he just made more dinner I would have a prepared lunch.

We bought Vibram Five Finger Shoes I walked six kilometers in them-- which I don't recommend --the shoes are awesome but like any new shoe you need to start out slowly integrating them into your routine; I ended up with a stress fracture and couldn't exercise at all for three weeks. However, the pro was that I realized that my diet was a 100% responsible for my weight loss. After removing preservatives, grains and most sugars from my diet (I still consume dark chocolate, red wine, all fruits and veggies) I began to loose two pounds a weeks. I have lost 20 pounds since January and I am still loosing. I wasn't even hard!

I am complimented everyday on my body (which is incredibly flattering), but more than that I have a ton of energy, I feel rested in the morning, and often wake up without an alarm. I no longer feel the need to eat three times a day. I eat when I am hungry no matter what time of day it is; I am eating veggies I have never tried before and I no longer have food cravings. I have even chosen to fast once in awhile-- and guess what? I am still alive and kicking. Now that I am eating plenty of protein and healthy fat (avocado, seeds, nuts, coconut milk, coconut oil) I don't feel hungry very often.

My foot has healed, after a few trips to the chiropractor for Active Release, I am now exercising to expend the excess energy I have, or to gain energy at the end of a long day. I don't do it everyday, and I rarely do the same thing. It's not a chore-- I love it again!

Kicking Things Off (Mac)

I am just coming off my weekly 36 hour fast (about my diet here) and started the day with a five egg, tomato, leek, mushroom, and asparagus omelette with a freshly ground cup of Kicking Horse coffee spruced up with some rich coconut milk.  Let me tell you, the first meal after a fast tastes incredible!  Roasted duck and mixed veggies for dinner :-)

My wife, Jody, and I have decided to make some major changes in our life with regards to our impact on the environment and we thought it would be fun to share our progress in hopes of inspiring others to make some changes as well.  I believe humans have made a massive and detrimental impact on the planet since the Neolithic Revolution some ten thousand years ago.  I also believe we have crossed the point of no return.  By that statement I mean that I believe we have damaged the earth so badly that our current ways of life and the current population cannot be sustained - nature will correct itself despite human beings' thoughts to the contrary.

We have lost tens of millions of acres of top soil, destroyed or used up countless fresh water sources, decimated fish stocks, obliterated forests - I could go on.  As the world population continues to expand our demand for food and energy increases with it.  We can't even supply the world now - how are we going to do it fifty or a hundred years from now?  Our reliance on fossil fuels to grow the grains that many vegetarians proclaim is the answer to the world's problems will increase at the same time oil gets more costly and scarce.  Our way of life, especially the North American way of life, is simply going to change.

I absolutely love George Carlin's thoughts on the idea of saving the world (video below...profanity warning for you delicate types).  The world is just fine and will be just fine - it is us with the problem and who will suffer.  Do I think I can save the world by composting?  Not a chance, but I can reduce my participation in the destruction and I can become self reliant and not have to worry about where my food is coming from, what oil prices are doing, etc.  Being able to live without the reliance on other people especially people in other countries for my food makes me feel a lot better.  Not to mention the money we will save by attempting to let nature provide for us as much as she can.

Are we going to become radical, tree hugging, evangelists?  Not likely.  I fully intend on keeping my Ford F150 4x4 and enjoying - responsibly - the fruits of modern life and I think the fruits of modern life can be harnessed to provide a much more sustainable and economical way to live - albeit with a little more effort than we are used to putting in these days.  I think we have gotten lazy.

I think humans have lived irresponsibly and without account for long enough.  We have reaped disease, global destruction, and an unsustainable way of life as a result.  Is life bad now?  No, not really and not for most North Americans, but I think it is time people woke up and smelled the coffee.  Thanks to us the world is going to change - it is changing and we are the ones that are going to be impacted - at some point in the future.  The world will go on with or without us - it doesn't care either way.

I hope you follow along with us on our journey as we aspire to lessen our impact on the planet and attempt to live within the systems nature has perfected over billions of years instead of controlling and abusing them.  We aren't going to "fix" the world, the Industrial Revolution most certainly marked that turning point, but we can all live more cleanly, more locally, and with more health for now and hope that when the Earth corrects herself from the activities of human beings it isn't too unpleasant for us.