28 March 2011

Omnivores and Vegans Unite Against Factory Farming?

A friend emailed me this link: Introducing... the Vegan/Omnivore Alliance against Animal Factories. The author Tom Philpott argues that both vegans and industrial-meat-critical omnivores stand in opposition to the way the majority of meat in this country is raised. My playful response to her email:

I have heard suggestions that the two sides team up... however us paleo people do not see the need to partner with people with smaller brains and pathetically weak bone structures. 
Hell, I would advocate eating vegans if it were not for their high omega-6 content due to their pathetically inferior diet.
All that being said, I guess if we wanted to see results, it wouldn't hurt to form an alliance... but as soon as one of them mentions a veggie burger being delicious, game over man, game over.

I have always advocated for a grass-roots (figuratively and literally) movement where demand for quality, appropriately raised foods is increased through education at the local level. However I constantly hear how new USDA regulations are hindering and hurting the local, smaller farmers I support. Maybe we do need a larger voice to wrest the USDA and other governmental organizations out of the hands of Big Ag lobbyists. I am thinking it would be worth working with the dirty vegans on this one.

26 March 2011

Locavore Lit Fest Visit and Hound Update

Last night I met up with my brother and two friends and attended one of the talks of the Locavore Literary Festival at Washington College in Chestertown, MD. We got to listen to Lierre Keith talk about her book The Vegetarian Myth and how the world is going to hell, followed by some local foods and booze, and then got to ask her questions. Lierre was attacked by vegans awhile back, so I had my brother on the look out for nutritionally inferrior people with an agenda. Our chance of smacking around vegans never came unfortunately.

That being said, I can completely see why vegans would get upset. I felt like I was at a Take Back The Night rally. As if someone took an ultra-liberal activist, shook them up, and then unleashed them on their own people. Do not get me wrong, I enjoyed the talk very much, I just thought Lierre came across a little abrasive and very much against agriculture and civilization. A little too idealist for my tastes. That being said, her answers during the Q&A session were down to earth and I really liked how she responded when I asked her thoughts on the economic challenge of getting people, say college students and people on minimum wage, eating grass-fed/pastured meat. She touched on everything from sourcing your foods, to rasing your own animals (i.e. Chickens), to eating offal and hunting. Later in one of the questions she went in to how periodically she will eat raw liver. Hell, this morning I had lamb heart and kidneys with my bacon and eggs, however I do not know if I am ready (or willing) to go at it raw like the dogs do.

Lierre touched on population control (introducing incentives to keep from having too many kids) and women's rights and education (educated/powerful women also have less kids) as steps in the right direction. She has been working on a book that will layout a plan of restoring the earth. I highly doubt I will read it, as I know enough about human nature and therefore I think we are f**ked. Still, I think she is generally fighting in the right direction, so have at it Lierre! The dogs and I may sit this one out. If you get a chance to listen to her speak, I recommend it. Be sure to know that when she attacks agriculture as a scourge upon life itself, she is talking monocultures and other forms that degrade topsoil and are unsustainable. It was hard to grasp this at first, and I was thinking she was attacking my near and dear Greenbranch and Polyface style farming, but it was in the Q&A this got fleshed out.

In other news, Cyprus was gone for about a week with a professional handler that I intend to use to obtain her Champion title in the AKC conformation ring. Shaman and I got to have a lot of one-on-one time and truthfully I could not tell if he even cared his little sister was missing. I forgot how easy it is to travel with only one dog, so Shaman and I went everywhere together. Upon Cyprus' return, I was alerted that my diva was quite the dominant bitch with the other dogs and only drank cold bottle water. Knowing Cyprus though, it sounded as if she went from Bear Grylls to Ke$ha overnight. Both dogs were glad to see each other, so maybe Shaman did miss his sister a little.

Like old times, The Sham and I

22 March 2011

Dieting so easy...

... a caveman could do it! (Thanks GEICO)

I overheard two coworkers discussing weight loss recently and just had to chime in. One was touting a half-pound weight loss over a week... and the other brought up the Twinkie Diet. I realize I've decided to be less militant this year, however I just had to say something to these people. I skipped my usual comment that the weight-loss was probably just water weight and went right for the throat of the Twinkie Diet comment. I explained that being healthy is not just about weight loss and the twinkie diet did not take into account other health markers or the fact it is not sustainable (and I've since found out he didn't just eat twinkies, "He also took a multivitamin pill and drank a protein shake daily. And he ate vegetables, typically a can of green beans or three to four celery stalks."). I also added that cancer makes you lose weight, so does that make it good? It was then I heard the usual remark: "It is too hard to eat the way you do." Not that I believe for a second they know fully how I eat, I think they are just making excuses to simplify things. And simplifying things, such as simply looking at a scale for progress, is setting yourself up for failure.

I learned to ditch the scale early in my life. In my freshman year of college, while home on summer break, I was introduced to the Adkins diet that a coworker was following. I read nothing on the diet, I just simply ate low carb. Combining that with some strength training, I lost about 25 pounds. My goal was to drop 30 pounds, to get from 200 down to 170. As I approached my goal, I started losing the ground I conquered. My time in the gym was adding weight, keeping me from hitting 170. I was strong but not lean and realized that my focus should be more about fat loss rather than weight loss. I should also add my coworker that followed Adkins properly lost nearly 60 pounds, but also had her hair start falling out. Again, simplifying things such as just going low to no carbohydrate was not the way to go.

Having learned to eat smarter and work out smarter, it really is easy to go paleo. I f**king love what I eat (bacon and eggs, steak, fresh veggies, coconut milk, etc.) and feel a thousand times better and more focused than I ever was before. Having trashed my scale several years ago, I weighed myself at a friend's place while on the road this past weekend. 156 pounds. And I know for a fact I am stronger than the 175+ pound version of me I mentioned above. And hell, I am not doing anything. I am not running, or lifting, or doing anything special. In fact, since I hurt my knee, I've leaned up further by focusing on my diet and going from 80/20 to more of a 90/10. I've also been focusing on getting sun whenever I can and making sleep a priority. But truthfully, I know some people would rather hear they could eat nothing but twinkies and lose weight. And as that half pound of weight loss turns into 5 pounds of weight gain, they will probably not even wonder what happened because that is how it always happens to them. Little do they know (even with me telling them!) that with a little legwork, understanding human physiology, they could become healthier in a simple fashion.  

03 March 2011

The Devil Hounds of Kenya: Canine Persistence Hunting

Several years ago I was emailed these images from a 1958 Adventure magazine. Besides being solely about my favorite breed, the Rhodesian Ridgeback, the article was the first one where I got to see photos of dogs being used to hunt large game and the first time I’ve read about dogs hunting in a persistence fashion.

“Their teamwork is instinctive. One hound will dart out of the pack, put on a burst of speed, outdistance his confreres, and overhaul the target. When he draws near the fleeing animal, the ridgeback alternatingly snarls and snaps at the victim’s legs, occasionally coming off with a piece of flesh as a reward for his intrepidity. When he tires, another of the dogs shoots out, replacing the lead animal who drops back with the rest of the pack. In this way the prey has to keep up a bristling pace to stay ahead, and this can’t be done.”
Imagine that instead of dogs we have athletic human hunters with spears. Sure the speed of the dog is one of its attributes, but the throw of a projectile can cover significant ground in a short amount of time even if the thrower cannot. A near hit spear throw would startle prey similar to the snapping of a dog’s jaws, forcing it to run faster and further. That hunter goes to retrieve his spear while the others keep after the prey at a decent pace. The next hunter sprints ahead and makes his throw when in range and so forth it goes until the prey is too tired to dodge or run away.

So while there are some out there who may argue against the theory we evolved as persistence hunters, I think there is a good chance we did it. I am sure our ancestors did, or at least tried, everything to survive. Maybe this endurance style of hunting is not the most efficient or healthy method to mimic for optimum fitness, but I am sure no type of hunting was ever done with fitness in mind. It was all about securing food and simply what worked, worked. So I’m thinking if you want to keep your endurance training fairly paleo you would follow these general guidelines:

  • Don’t Do It Every Day – Even if we did evolve as persistence hunters, we sure as hell didn’t do it every day. Maybe once or twice a week?
  • Ditch The Shoes – Although barefoot is ideal, minimalist shoes work well and protect your feet from that random piece of glass or prickly leaf.
  • Trail Run – From dodging roots to tromping through mud, you are bound to get a better workout on this uneven terrain. And your feet and knees will enjoy getting away from the hard pounding that comes with running on roads or sidewalks.
  • Mix In Sprints – I usually try to sprint up any inclines and would rather randomly pick an object ahead of me and try to beat the dogs to it. I must say that the times I felt most alive have been when I am sprinting along a dense trail with the dogs at my heels.
  • Take A Break – Periodically stop, catch your breath, and take in your surroundings. Just zooming through the woods isn’t enough for me. I like to experience the tranquility or take in an amazing view. If you’ve got dogs running with you, let them stop and sniff.
  • Bring Something Back – Grab something big and drag it. Toss a big rock or log. Mix in some squats and lunges. If I were on a trail that looped, I would sometimes grab a log and carry it on my shoulders until I worked my way back to that same spot where I would put it back.
Maybe I just had too good of a time running the ultras that I did and deep down I am looking for anything to justify that experience. My knee injury aside, I had planned on not running any more endurance races for a while. The main reason had more to do with the dogs. Often taking the dogs with me to a race was unfeasible, as rarely did I have anyone go with me. The question “want to go camping several nights, no nearby showers, and watch the dogs for me while I run 6 to 12 hours?” never drew the crowd I was hoping. Instead I like the idea of going backpacking with the dogs, somewhere I can bring them, still get to be out in the wilderness, and get a great workout.