Eating Like a Cave Man
by Bradley Laird
This morning we are in a deep-freeze. It is 17 degrees F this morning. And it sure is too danged cold to pick a banjo. (I know because I tried after breakfast.)
Before this frigid blast I did all my preparation (covering pipes, putting a light bulb in the chicken coop, double hay for the horse and donkeys, insulating hose bibs, etc.) and this morning there is little left to do but sit inside and enjoy the quiet stillness which a severe cold snap brings to the farm. I have already been out to bring the chickens a bucket of warm water, fed the 4 legged critters and am planning an ice-breaking excursion to the horse tank when the sun finally appears.
In the meantime I am sitting here at the Mac ruminating on my past 30 days of paleo slash hunter-gatherer eating style and I thought someone out there might like to read my thoughts on the subject. So here we go. Get your atlatl, throw on a skin and let's go...
30 DAYS OF HUNTER-GATHERER EATING
Plenty of people make new year resolutions to lose weight, to quit smoking, to get off Facebook, and I am no different. I already ditched TV, never smoked, and quit Facebook years ago, so the obvious choice in the self-improvement area was that I needed to quit carrying 2 bowling balls around with me all of the time. I have now gotten rid of just slightly more than one, maximum legal weight bowling ball and have one to go.
Usually, I don't wait for the new year to get started. On December 7 I decided to launch into the Neaderthin / paleo / hunter-gatherer diet. My weight has hovered around 200-215 lbs. for the last few years and I thought it was time to do what I knew was right and get myself into better shape. So here is what I did over the last 30 days:
I stopped eating anything made of grain, I stopped eating potatoes, I ditched beans, I gave up sugar, and, contrary to Ray Audette's suggestion in "Neanderthin," I did not give up dairy entirely. If you have read his book (and I love it for its simplicity) you will know that he makes a pretty good case for eliminating dairy products from your diet. I have some difficulty with agreeing on that one point for two reasons: 1) we are mammals and we did begin on a milk diet and 2) I love cheese!
Audette is right when he says that for most of human history animal milk was unavailable and therefore should be avoided. He is probably correct, but how can you throw out the fact that for most of human existence we humans consumed a lot of mammal milk, sometimes for up to 5 years? Well, anyway, right or wrong, I have continued to consume moderate amounts of cheese. I rationalize it by saying, without any scientific proof, that fermentation of the cheese (if that's what you call it) converts the bad dairy stuff (lactose?) to something a cave man can eat without turning into a lard ass. Before I talk about what I have been eating these last 30 days, let me present my weight chart for the period: (Updated Jan. 13, 2013)
Landscape with food! Forget Monkey Grass, plant lettuce!
Okay, you have to admit, that aside from that slight Christmas bump upwards, there has been a steady, though slightly diminishing, decline in the downforce I am applying to Mother Earth. The total loss stands at 17 pounds for these 30 days.
One of the comments I always get from people when I describe the "what you cannot eat" list--grain, beans, potatoes, sugar, dairy--is "what the heck CAN you eat?" I rattle off all those things from the right and left side of the grocery store: most vegetables, mushrooms, fruit, nuts, seeds, eggs, fish and meat.
I have always loved sauerkraut and decided to make some for myself. Lacking a really cool, hundred dollar fancy crock, I made my first batch in this saved plastic pretzel jug. Here it is on day 2:
And here it is after 3 weeks, and having been crammed into 2 quart mason jars. (I did not "can" the kraut since I didn't wan't to "kill" all the good stuff. Just put it in jars and into the fridge.) I have finished off one of the jars so far and man, was it good! To keep things going I have started a new batch. This time it is sauereuben using turnips, a little cabbage, carrots and caraway seeds. That batch has been going for a couple of days and I can't wait to dive in!
Here is what the kraut looked like right before I tasted my first sample:
If you hate kraut there is nothing I can say to you. If you like it, all I can say is that you need to make some yourself and you will be eating the best kraut ever.
I have been eating a lot of weird, one pan meals. Get a little butter or olive oil hot in a cast iron skillet and start tossing in whatever is laying around. Shrimp, garlic, an egg or two, some pumpkin seeds, dried lettuce, oddball meat chunks, collards, kraut, frozen tomatoes from last year's garden, you name it. Here are a few samples:
That simple meal consisted of some juiced Romaine lettuce, a Fuji apple, and some kiwano (African Horned Cucumber from the garden), and a couple of eggs scrambled in with pecans sauteed in butter. Our hens keep us in plenty of eggs and the pecan trees provide lots of nuts so those have become staples for me. Here is another example:
Pancakes, made the traditional way, are completely off limits so I invented my own. These are pecan flour pancakes (nuts ground to powder in a Mr. Coffee electric coffee grinder, a pinch of aluminum free baking powder, some sea salt, an egg and a little water and oil) baked on the cast iron skillet. A scrambled egg and a little butter tops it off. Wow! I like them better than the old, evil Bisquick variety! Here is another:
Just some basic fried eggs. Thank you, ladies!
I have also been downing some juice and various vegetable-fruit smoothies courtesy of The Juice Goddess. Here is some straight wheatgrass juice, which is a lot like drinking something you scraped from under the deck of your lawn mower. It may be good for you but I really don't like it.
It certainly gets points simply based on its unreal, verdant hue! Last winter I planted a quarter acre of wheat as an experiment in home-grown wheat and all that involves. It was all done with hand tools (the rake, hoe, scythe, sickle and water jug) except for the initial plowing which was handled by our 1951 Ford 8-N. Here is last winter's wheat in late fall of 2012:
It sure was pretty. It was the only thing green for most of our short Georgia winter. Here is that same field-ette at hand harvesting time. (I will write on my love affair with the scythe at another time.)
This winter, 2013-14, I decided against planting wheat since it simply proved to be way too much labor to harvest and thresh. Now, that I am back on the cave man diet I can't eat the stuff anyway! (See "The Fox and the Grapes" by Aesop.) So, instead, to get some wheat for juicing, I grew some in trays:
Easy and fast! For anyone wanting wheatgrass juice, this is pretty simple. Here is the harvesting and juicing process in photo form:
How do you like my combine? About to feed it into the juicer...
That is a beautiful green! I will say this. You have to have a lot of grass to make a little juice. It took 3 of those "6 hole" trays to make one shot of juice! So, grow lots if you are into the wheatgrassin' thing. Well, all this writing has made me hungry so I guess I will go get my atlatl and see what I can scare up...
Too bad it's 17 degrees outside right now. I wish it was 75 like it was the day Darlene took those atlatl photos! As soon as I get done busting the ice out of the horse tank with a hatchet (I love my Estwing!) I think I will sit inside and play some clawhammer banjo. If my hands warm up it would be a good time to work on my drop-thumbing. It's always a good time to work on one's drop-thumbing.
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