28 February 2011

John Durant on Raw Feeding for Dogs

John Durant of Hunter-Gatherer has posted some interesting posts, including photos and videos, of the raw diet:

It is good to see others are coming to the realization our pets are suffering, much like we are, from diets consisting primarily of processed grains and unnatural man-made products.

27 February 2011

Spring On The Way

Although freezing temperatures are not out of the picture here in Maryland, every day brings us closer to Spring. With the daylight hours lengthening and a few days of 60 degree temperatures, I have started gearing up for the warm weather I love so much. With my knee injury my plans and priorities have changed. To keep focused on my 2011 Resolutions, I have been taking advantage of every warm day and ever additional minute of daylight.

In preparing for having a garden this year I have started doing the necessary yard work. I have turned all outdoor chores into exercises and soaked up all the sun I can. The change in my energy and mood is astounding! I feel supercharged after getting a decent amount of sun. The dogs do too. While I am out raking leaves they are chewing bones. After a day of that the dogs are far calmer and sleep far better. It bugs me that so many days are spent working in a cubicle while the dogs are crated. Weekends leave me craving for more.

As I type this the sun is setting and f.lux has started to transition my computer screen. Truthfully I am getting tired... and it is only 6pm! The one thing I tried this past winter was to follow camping rules, going to bed shortly after the sun sets and get up when the sun rises. While I have not religiously stuck to this, as my social life would crumble, I have done this enough to no longer need an alarm and sleep better than ever. Although I've come to appreciate the long hours of slumber, I am looking forward to the longer days and shorter nights of summer.

In preparation of my plans to take the dogs for a 3 week backcountry camping and hiking trip I have been working with the dogs. I have started getting them used to walking in their packs and have even started adding some weight. I have also started working on Cyprus' off-leash training, which is bound to have its entertaining moments. She loves running and on most off-leash moments she runs at least 20 times to what I walk. Other than a few instances of disobedience, things go incredibly well. One kink I've seen in my plan is that my time off with my knee may eat all my vacation time. Either way, I will be far better prepared to take the dogs camping whenever and wherever.

Enjoying the sun despite the cold weather

11 February 2011


Happy Friday everyone! I have been quite busy these past few weeks and have some updates I thought I would share.

  • Intermittent Fasting has many benefits. I IF'd yesterday until the evening where I competed in a wing eating competition. I guess frequently gorging myself on meat (no homo) kept me prepared for an event like this. I tied for first place, losing in the final round. In the top 5 people I was the only one that looked remotely fit or healthy. It was a good chance to explain to people the benefits of paleo.
  • My coworker and friend Nick who I turned on to the paleo/primal diet and who has been doing CrossFit workouts told me that in the past year he dropped 40 lbs! Dude is now lean and fit. Congrats Nick! The funny (yet highly disconcerting) thing to note is that on his yearly follow-up with his doctor where his physical stats and blood results showed vast improvements, the doctor didn't even bother to ask how he did it.
  • I have returned internet to my house. One of the things keeping me busy is that I've decided to rent the rooms in my house and the average person isn't willing to go all monkish like me. What this means I will have more time to update this site.
  • Tomorrow, Saturday February 12 is Darwin Day! How are you celebrating?
  • The no-egg, no-coffee, no milk, more randomized breakfasts have been going well. I've been eating an assortment of liver, heart, and other offal from cow, lamb, and pig sources all grass-fed/pastured. So far I have not noticed any major changes. The no-alcohol has not worked out so well. I'll just say the underdog, 2nd place wing eating competitor, was bought several shots last night.
  • One of my new roommates has a little mix-breed dog that definitely has a strong drive to herd. It has been quite amusing watching my dogs run around while this little dog tries to herd them. Like herding lions, it is easier said than done.
  • Lastly, the hounds seem to enjoy the copious amount of snow more so than I:

03 February 2011

Breakfast Rethought, Redefined, Randomized

Everything in moderation, including moderation.
Oscar Wilde

Having been intrigued by the randomization and extreme event ideas posted by De Vany in the New Evolution Diet and further mentioned by Nassim Nicholas Taleb in the Afterword, I’ve started taking a look at my lifestyle to find areas that I could add some randomization. From a fitness perspective I am taking it easy with another surgery on the horizon. Once I’ve healed I can pick up a CrossFit/MovNat style workout and incorporate an ever-changing fitness plan. From a sleep perspective, I am doing great. I have been getting quality sleep in a mostly blacked out room. Having the dogs sleep in the room provides plenty of randomization, as they sometimes wake during the night with the need to go outside or wake growling to alert me of a noise they heard. When I looked at my diet, I notice my lunches and dinners are ever changing in both the time I eat, what I eat, or if I eat. My breakfasts however have become quite consistent in certain aspects.

Still eating bread in this photo.

Bread replaced with fruit.

10 eggs prepped to dump into the cast iron

The surface of the earth is soft and impressible by the feet of men; and so with the paths which the mind travels. How worn and dusty, then, must be the Highways of the world, how deep the ruts of tradition and conformity!
Henry David Thoreau

I am fine with using my cast iron frequently, but when I think about foods like eggs, I’ve probably eaten eggs for breakfast since I started transitioning to paleo. If I had to guess I would say at least 3 solid years of eating eggs for breakfast. Starting with 2 per day, sometimes I would eat as many as a dozen if it were the day after a strenuous workout or ultra-marathon. Before I demonize my egg consumption I should add that I’ve put in the effort to diversify where I get my eggs… typically pulling from 5-6 different flocks of chickens with the periodic addition of the more expensive, but far richer duck egg. Looking back, I even posted about my issue of what to do with all the egg shells I have been accumulating. Realizing this, I’ve decided to redefine breakfasts.

Breakfast Without Eggs
Having had eggs with so many breakfasts, I find it hard to imagine a breakfast without them. That being said, I will eat my last four tomorrow morning and plan to go a month or two without purchasing more. My future breakfasts will probably just include more of the other varying items: bacon, liver, heart, and scrapple. I am also planning to add more meats like ground beef and sausage and possibly an avocado once in a while. Maybe I will skip a few breakfasts and have a hearty dinner. I am not completely sure how my breakfast will evolve in the coming months, or what I will take away from this egg excommunication, but I feel this will be a good move.

As a side note, I’ve also sworn off coffee, milk, and alcohol for this same general timeframe. My thought is that as I recover from the next surgery I will reintroduce and ramp up various foods in an attempt to build muscle and achieve strength gains. Until that time, goodbye eggs.

01 February 2011

Paleo Books and a Budget Paleo Rant/Ramble

The health benefits of eating paleo, or feeding your dogs prey-model, can and will speak for themselves. One thing I have noticed recently is the seemingly plethora of paleo/primal/hunter-gatherer books that have either been published or are in the works. I have just finished De Vany's New Evolution Diet that I picked up in NYC a few weeks ago. Having read Sisson's Primal Blueprint and Wolf's Paleo Solution, I find De Vany's book adding little wood to the fire. Although I really like the momentum another book brings to the masses, which I will touch on later, I am starting to feel that once you know paleo, you know it. You know you don't eat the processed crap found everywhere and instead you should model your lifestyle (or any animal's lifestyle) after how we evolved to optimize health and fitness. Before I continue, I would like to say I did find benefit in De Vany's exercise randomization concepts.

Of course I speak from the experience that I've not only read several books but follow many blogs and websites on the subject and have done a lot of self-experimentation. For the first-timer I think any of the books would be a good starting place, and with the ever increasing amount of books on the subject there is a better chance paleo goes mainstream. I believe that to tackle the obesity epidemic having paleo go mainstream and challenge the poor conventional wisdom head-on would be a good thing. One of the things I like about paleo is the idea that not all meat is created equal and that the closer the animal comes to its natural, wild diet and lifestyle the better it is. Cows should be eating grass outside, not fed corn and antibiotics in confined conditions. But to do this it costs more to eat beef. This is a stumbling point for many people I talk to... they see the price tag and give up. I try to explain that if your (or your children's) health is a priority, your food quality needs to be a priority. And if the demand for quality, grass-fed beef increases, more and more farmers will move towards this. This move would be better not only for us and the bovine, but for the planet as a whole. As paleo touches the mainstream however, I've started hearing some disconcerting things.

Enter Budget Paleo
Seemingly what I mentioned above is a common problem. People want to go paleo, they want to be healthier, eat healthier, but they see the price of a local grass-fed steak and it is significantly more than the Walmart equivalent. It is here they begin to bitch and moan. And in response to the bitching and moaning, I see the term 'Budget Paleo' arrive and say one can eat paleo with shit meat. Robb Wolf says all you need is to take some fish oil to counter the overload of omega-6 fatty acids that come with grain-fed animals. Instead of people making a real change, they seek ways of skirting around the real issues. It is exactly like getting no sun and simply taking a vitamin D pill every day and thinking it is the same. The conventional, industrial system needs to change for both human and animal welfare purposes. To tell people that eating grain-fed animals is even remotely paleo is an injustice to them. By purchasing grass-fed meat from my local farmer I am not only supporting the farm and keeping money in my local economy, I am also getting some of the highest quality meat available, I can see the animals are happy and healthy, and I’ve built some great friendships with the people that grow my food. Instead of buying some plastic wrapped package from unknown origins and slamming some fish oil pills, I am making a difference. I am voting with my money.

I suggest you check out Eat Wild and also ask around. You will be surprised by the healthier options that exist. When you buy the dirt cheap meat at the grocery store you truly get what you pay for. Food, Inc. touches on the industrial raising of animals and is one way to see the conditions and downright abuses that the system supports. And instead of boycotting meat and going vegetarian or worse, a dirty vegan, you can spend your money and invest in the people that do things right, taking proper husbandry into consideration. If the farmer is raising heritage breeds you will also be protecting lines of animals that provide diversity that is ever decreasing. All of this because you’ve decided to devote a larger portion of your money into food. There are ways to make eating this way more affordable and I hope to illustrate a few.

The Offal Truth
Organ meats are a diamond in the rough. From heart, liver, kidneys, tongue, ears, tails, and so forth, you can find nutrient dense grass-fed/pastured offal for a small fraction of the price of a rib-eye. If you do a little digging, you will find recipes galore. Liver has now become a staple in my kitchen… in fact, I probably rival the dogs in my love of liver. I find it hard to pay upwards of $12-15/lb. for a steak when I can stock up on liver and heart for $1-2/lb. Still, the idea of say a tongue sitting in your kitchen may be a bit much for some people. While one blog post is not going to break any phobias, as stupid as they may be, you should give it a chance. If you do, you are one step closer to nose-to-tail eating, utilizing the entire animal, wasting nothing. Having dogs is a key part of this strategy for me, as I know whether the bones go into a stock or become a chew toy for Shaman, we are benefiting from this animal. The moral issues that may arise for me about taking an animal’s life to feed myself as quieted and comforted knowing nothing went to waste.

Group Up
Another way to bring down the increased cost of grass-fed/pastured meat is to buy a whole animal. I will presume that like me, you do not have the money (and space?) to buy a whole cow. This is where you find some like-minded people and split the beast. By buying a whole animal the cost per pound will drop, and by splitting with others you will be able lower your upfront cost. With the investment of a chest freezer (or borrowing space from a friend or family member) you can stock up with meat to last you for a good amount of time. The beauty of buying a whole animal also comes in the form of the ability to have the animal butchered to your specifications. And with the parts that are hard to split several ways, why not just have a communal meal with your friends. Enjoy quality meat with quality people, win-win.

Turn Off The TV
The last item I would like to mention is the examination of your priorities. When I did this, I found I was paying over $100 each month for TV and internet. Given my active lifestyle I found I was only watching TV when I should be sleeping. And with a plethora of Wi-Fi hotspots near where I live and work, did I really need instant access to my email? By cutting out this bill, I had one less payment to worry about and more money to put towards quality food. I am quite happy with this decision and I know the dogs are too… more time can be spent playing tug with Cyprus. Sure I miss watching the Colbert Report, but I can always watch it later online. I eat better, sleep better, and spend less time sitting down at home. I am sure you can find expenses that can be cut, simplifying your life and freeing more income that can be devoted to higher quality meat.

Budget paleo and fish oil pills are no solution. I’ve listed three ways above that can be utilized to help anyone afford the meat they need to be eating. We can make huge changes in how our food is grown and raised by simply investing our time and money in sustainable and respectful practices rather than looking for a way around.