Let me introduce myself. My name is Mark Sisson. I’m 63 years young. I live and work in Malibu, California. In a past life I was a professional marathoner and triathlete. Now my life goal is to help 100 million people get healthy. I started this blog in 2006 to empower people to take full responsibility for their own health and enjoyment of life by investigating, discussing, and critically rethinking everything we’ve assumed to be true about health and wellness...Tell Me More
Whether you plan to herald the birth of an early Jewish radical, celebrate your Pan-African heritage and tradition, stimulate the lagging economy, perform feats of strength around the Festivus pole, observe the lighting of the menorah, or participate in Saturnalia, Yule, Modranect, or any of the other winter solstice celebrations, the latter half of December is generally devoted to gift-giving and gift-receiving. Or maybe you’re not religious at all and just use the season as an excuse to let friends and loved ones know how much they mean to you. That works just as well. Whatever your motivations for giving gifts, it’s important that they be meaningful to the recipient – that they reflect an understanding of what makes them tick. And so, since Primal living tends to be infectious, I imagine you need some good gift ideas for the meat-eating, barefooted, weight-lifting, lard-rendering grain-abstainers in your life. We do this every year, and it tends to serve two purposes: help people give Primal gifts and raise awareness of products that deserve to be seen. Today, I’ll try to do the same.
Yeah, yeah, upright freezers get higher marks, but they are more than double the price of chest freezers. I have this exact model myself and, though it can’t handle an entire steer, it’s big enough to house a whole lamb, a couple goats, half a pig, and a quarter cow (not all at once, of course) and small enough to fit even a studio apartment.
If someone’s been talking about finally doing that cowpooling thing for the last year and you like them well enough to spend 150 bucks, spring for the chest freezer to help them on their way.
Give the Grok in your life a real avenue toward subsistence: a hunting course. No, I’m not referring to those big game hunting expeditions where you pay money to shoot a placid, fattened kudu on some Texas acreage; I mean really learning to hunt from people who do it the right way. It looked like a blast when John Durant and Melissa McEwen did it, right? Well, chances are that your area also offers hunting courses. Just do a search for “hunting field courses [your location]” and go from there. You can even get specific by throwing in a modifier; “deer,” “boar,” and “geese” work well to narrow things down.
I hate relying on others to come up with good sausage. Most of the sausage I come across in the wild is bland and uninspired; having my own meat grinder allows me to make my own and play around with different spices. Bonus: meat grinders are perfect for blending in organ meats without alerting picky eaters. Bonus #2: meat grinders are perfect for making pet food patties. Electric grinders are the easiest to use and require little to no labor, but they generally can’t handle bone and gristle (unless you spring for a really expensive one); hand crank grinders are tougher to use, but they can handle just about anything you can throw at them, provided you include some elbow grease.
Dry your own jerky. Make your own pemmican. Ditch the store-bought, overpriced, sugar-coated berries and rancid nuts and dry your own for trail mix. Food dehydrators are incredible tools, and any Primal eater would be glad to have one. Excalibur makes the best in the business, from the top shelf 9-tray version to the starter 4-tray version. Cheaper dehydrators are out there, and you can even make your own, but we like the Excalibur for its temperature control system and reliability. I’ve used cheap dehydrators that cooked the jerky, rather than dried it, and if I was going to do that I’d just use my oven.
A lot of people probably read my posts on fermented food and sauerkraut, thought to themselves, “Hmm, that sounds pretty cool,” and did nothing else. Fermentation is easy to do, but the hardest part is having enough suitable fermentation vessels in your kitchen. Mason jars used to be standard in kitchens (back when people actually canned things). Not anymore though. Sandor Katz recommends using devoted ceramic fermentation crocks, maybe from Harsch or from TSM, which are expensive but worth it if your giftee is serious about fermentation. Cheaper but still viable options include mason jars; Ikea has some very affordable glassware that works well. Might as well include the tome on fermentation, Sandor Katz’s “Wild Fermentation: The Flavor, Nutrition, and Craft of Live-Culture Foods.”
Mundial makes great utilitarian knives, the type that sous-chefs and kitchen staff use day in and day out. They may not be pretty, they may not be impressive, but they get the job done, well enough that Bon Appetit dubbed their chef’s knife the “best $20 chef’s knife.” If you live in the LA area, you can buy these at Surfas in Culver City, or you can just order them online. I have several (since they’re so cheap) and can vouch for them.
Blend soups, sauces, and protein drinks without getting an extra container dirty, dealing with potholders. This stick blender is metal, so there’s no chance of leaching plastic compounds into your hot food. It may not be as powerful as a VitaMix blender, but it’s a lot less expensive. Instead of forking over the cash for a single VitaMix for one person, you can treat several to the stick blender. I love my VitaMix, but I use the stick blender about as often.
These are low-cost gifts that, for the most part, will fit into the stocking of your choice and make a far better choice than candy and coal.
At just $3.65 for a pack of 100, these Tea Tree chewing sticks might not replace your current oral hygiene equipment altogether, but they’re more thorough than a toothpick and more portable than a toothbrush. Plus, they’ve been used for thousands of years and research suggests that they contain novel anti-microbial elements.
I find myself chewing on these things throughout the day. They’re a nice alternative to chewing gum, and, apparently, some people find them to be a good tool to help quite smoking.
Do you know someone who’s stalling out on the deadlift? Failing to master the false-grip on his or her muscle-ups? The problem might not be technique or lack of raw strength, but a simple slippery grip.
Instead of going for the straps or the gloves, which tend to just obscure the real issue, get your fitness enthusiast a ball of weightlifting chalk. It will last for years and will nurture real grip strength development that should last even longer.
This is one of my favorites. It isn’t purely Primal, but being a French cookbook from the 1930s, its author casually tosses out recipes in which lard, butter, meat, and rich sauces figure prominently. Just ignore the calls for crusty bread and flour and focus on the techniques espoused by the author. It’s basic, it’s simple, and it gets down to the nuts and bolts of cooking. It’s also very affordable and small enough to fit a stocking (you may have to fold it up a bit). The highlight is probably the section on sauces.
I spend a fair amount of time in Thailand with my family, and despite the incredible heat and oppressive humidity, the one thing I’ve noticed is that the people there are remarkably odor-free. I’m not saying they all use the Thai crystal deodorant sticks – in fact, it’s probably more of an American vegan all-natural “healthy” living thing – but the things do work (I’ve got one myself), and they’re free of aluminum and any potentially nasty chemicals, if you’re worried about that sort of thing. I use mine pretty regularly and it’s lasted well over a year, with little to no erosion. If your giftee is a lover of overpowering deodorants, this may not be the right choice; the deodorant stone is a far more subtle preventive measure and it’s not going to cover up any extant odors. Just make sure they rinse it before and after using it.
Think Buffalo candy, or low-fat pemmican. Tanka Bars are made of bison and cranberries – nothing else – and they were featured in this year’s round of contests. I prefer pemmican myself, but not everybody enjoys the beef candle texture. For them, a few Tanka bars in the stocking will be a nice surprise.
I happened to stumble across this guy’s stuff, and I gotta say – it is of the utmost quality. He’s a former marathoner who got out of the game because of nagging injuries and poor health, and now he’s selling well-researched supplements, meal replacement powders, and other Primal-related goodies. He even wrote a couple books and has apparel for sale. I checked him out and he appears to be legit, so if you’re starved for gift ideas you’ll probably be able to find something to give on his site. Also, his blog is worth visiting.
Well, I hope you feel prepared for the coming onslaught that is the holidays. Screaming kids, alluring holiday treats, bitter fights between sauced-up relatives, long drives through snow and sleet, herding together the cats that are your disparate and far-flung family members, tears, blood, sweat, and the passive-aggressive arms/gift race – all the regular stressors that make up the average holiday experience will feel a lot less stressful if you’re able to come prepared with quality Primal presents for the Groks in your life. If you’ve come up with some better ones, let us know in the comment section! Good luck and happy holidays!