I am pleased to report that the Physicians’ Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) has just listed my very own “The Primal Blueprint Cookbook” as one of the five worst (most unhealthy) cookbooks of 2010, along with cookbooks by Gordon Ramsay, Barefoot Contessa, Trisha Yearwood and the creators of Top Chef. Why am I glad to be the author of one of the worst cookbooks of the year, you might be wondering? Look who’s giving out the award. None other than the PCRM, home of such vaunted nutritional giants as Fuhrman, McDougall, Esselstyn, Barnard, and T. Colin Campbell and a celebrated bastion of vegan propagandists. This is Bizarro food world, guys, where “unhealthy” means “healthy” and “desiccated wheat grass smegma” means “grass-fed butter.” The PCRM official “New Four Food Groups,” for example, consist of whole grains, legumes, fruits, and vegetables. (Sugar’s still sugar, though.) Even the American Council on Science and Health nailed these guys for “emphasizing only data that support their [vegan] agenda” and “exaggerating the reliability and importance of such data.” They’re described as a “subtle” PETA who mistakes statistical significance for biological significance. With detractors like these, who needs supporters? If these guys are against your dietary recommendations, you’re probably doing something right, so I’m going to take this one as a win.
I love a good cow. Its meat is tasty, filling, and, especially when grass-fed and finished, full of fat-soluble vitamins, protein, and healthy fat. A cow’s organs are highly nutritious and affordable, often discarded by butchers, usually ignored by shoppers, and always available for the discerning Primal eater. The cow also produces a magical self-replenishing liquid called milk, which is either consumed straight up (not really for me), skimmed for the rich cream, or fermented (which in turn produces a helpful byproduct called whey) to make yogurt, kefir, or cheese. And those are just a few of the major foods we get from cows. They also poop a fair bit, and that poop has the potential to become fertilizer for plants underhoof. It’s pretty cool how it works – the cow eats the grass, runs the grass through the digestive wringer, poops it out, and, in the course of everyday life, steps on the poop so that it’s literally forced down into the soil to fertilize and promote even more grass growth. It’s the muck of nature, of death, and of life, and we’re all mixed up in it.
Vibram, Vivo Barefoot, Softstar, and the other shoe companies making an honest attempt at creating a viable shoe alternative aren’t the only entities capitalizing off the nascent barefoot trend sweeping the nation (and I’m not referring to podiatrists, as much as they like to claim barefoot running will create thousands of new patients). Several shoemakers have taken the barefoot ball and run the opposite direction – down the path of more shoe and more meddling into how the foot works – claiming to have improved upon the near-perfection of the naked human foot with (get this) bulky odd-looking shoes that weigh more than traditional running shoes.
Foremost is MBT, or Masai Barefoot Technology. MBT makes the “anti-shoe,” which is actually an unsteady, unstable shoe with a squishy, conspicuous “rocker” sole. The sole appears to be about 2 or 3 inches thick, and the instability is actually a feature. Yes, the most popular backed-by-internally-funded-science example of barefoot technology is a shoe that forces its wearers to teeter around. Sure, you gain a few inches, but at what cost? Without having tried them (and I honestly don’t plan to), the very notion of simulating barefoot walking by wearing big clunky shoes perplexes and confuses me. Talk about digging a hole to put the ladder in to wash the basement windows! Same goes for MBT’s claim of “natural instability” being the key to “recreating the barefoot experience.” Just what is so natural about being unsteady on your feet? I always figured feet were there to anchor us to the floor and provide stability. In fact, it’s that haptic perception (actually feeling the ground) in our bare feet that gives the brain the signals it needs to distribute shock effectively – tossed out the window now with MBT.
Our concept of health only exists in opposition to its absence. Healthy is the default position. We’re not “supposed” to get strokes, coronary heart disease, diabetes, or cancer. Sure, a few people, here and there, are far more likely to suffer the ravages of the degenerative diseases of civilization, but the real numbers are inflated. For most of the population, we can avoid the worst of it, and if you spend a bit of time on MDA or any other ancestral online communities, you’ll see example after example of people taking charge of their health and experiencing newfound vibrancy. We’ve all gotta die someday, but we most assuredly do not have to die at 56 from a clogged artery.
But I cover longevity plenty. As you know, I’m also interested in increasing one’s enjoyment of life; I’m a big quality over quantity guy (both are good as long as the former is satisfied). And for my money, I can’t think of anything so central to our enjoyment of life as the ability move around pain free.
There are many within the Primal community, I know, who also like to eat local. Some months, of course, allow for the confluence of these priorities more than others. Right now, we’re at the height of harvest season. Farmers’ markets are overflowing, CSA boxes are brimming, and backyard gardens are gratifyingly bountiful. Nonetheless, all good things must come to an end. In a few short months, farms and gardens will be snow-covered in many parts of the country. If you live in balmy Southern California like I do, that’s not much of an issue. If you live in Minnesota or Maine, it is. We Primal types love our produce, and winter complicates that relationship for some of us. Must locavore-minded Northerners relegate themselves to frozen and canned vegetables for several months of the year? Are root vegetable remnants really the only acceptable fresh produce before the spring thaw? Last week I stumbled upon a guest editorial in the New York Times that took on the nagging locavore guilt trip.
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