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...
On September 8th I asked my readers to host picnics and to send me the results. The following is one of 27 amazing submissions, the best of which will win an entire cow, courtesy of US Wellness. Vote for your favorite on October 8.
The idea for our Grokfeast came from brainstorming what a true primal feast would look like. The logical answer, we would catch it ourselves! From here, the idea developed to create the ultimate scavenger hunt, hopefully including catching our own dinner! I developed a list for the “hunt” that included catching, gathering and hunting various animals. I also put a lot of emphasis on including primal movements like carrying heavy things, climbing, moving slowly, hanging, etc. This all-day adventure would hopefully provide our dinner, but I had a brisket from our local grass-fed beef guy just in case.
We held our Grokfeast to celebrate the coming of age (age 4 that is!) of one of the younger members of our tribe. The group decided that the hunt would be more fun if we did guys vs. girls and we could only use knives or tools we made ourselves. We had to carry any necessary tools in our backpacks and each group had a child with them (ages 2 and 4). (Primal movement #1: carrying child long distances while hiking!) Almost the whole group wore five-fingers and the kids ended up barefoot after losing their shoes playing in the spring.
The setting for our hunt could not have been more perfect. We hiked into the woods and found a cave, several blue holes and a natural spring all on about 100 acres of woods. “The Great Hunt and Gather” was an all day event that included primal movement and realistic primal activities. During our several-hour “hunt” we swung on vines, climbed trees, made rafts, and grok-grawled through the caves. Each team had to acquire a heavy rock as the first item on the list and carry it for the duration of the hunt (Primal movement #2: lift heavy things!).
We gathered edible plants, berries, nuts and roots as well as some more wiggly sources of nutrition. The real test of primal guts was eating our catches after! The walnuts, acorns and crab apples were not too bad, the ants, crickets, worms other insects were a little more interesting! We played in a natural spring, explored the inside of a cave, and climbed trees like we were kids again. On the course of our “hunt” I realized that the primal lifestyle comes rather naturally to children. They play hard, run hard and rest when they are tired. Climbing trees is not a workout but an adventure to them, and we realized we could learn a lot from the example of our kids!
The ultimate challenge part of the hunt was to actually catch an animal and bring it back. We realized that back in the day of Grok, the men would have done the hunting and the women done the gathering, and this played out in our “hunt” as well. The guys naturally focused on trying to catch animals and the girls focused on the foraging and gathering of plants. Unfortunately, we saw very few wild animals and our hunting attempts proved futile. (In our defense, on past camping trips the guys have caught and eaten turtles, snakes, rabbits and other small animals.)
We logged several hours of hiking and climbing and were building slingshots and spears when we realized our time was almost up… unplanned primal movement #3 -sprinting! We did a full out sprint, carrying children, rocks and spears to make it by our time limit. Not quite the same as being chased by a wild animal but the adrenaline was definitely there! Tired from the hiking, lifting, climbing and running, and with our daily quota of vitamin D, we headed back to camp. The day was a blast and was more “play” than anything.
Our day in the wild gave us all a little more respect for our primal ancestors! At the end of our hunt, we realized that if we were left to hunt for ourselves, we would not fare so well as Grok, but had a great time on our primal day. Through we couldn’t actually catch our own food, we came back to a feast foraged at our local grassfed-organic meat farm.
After our primal feast, we all relaxed by the bonfire the guys had built. It was a perfect night of 50 degree weather and the fire was wonderful. We had four generations of family there, and some good friends, and we realized it had been way too long since we had all just taken time to relax and enjoy nature. We told stories, looked at the stars, and played capture the flag in the dark.
We slept under the stars and between the exercise, great food and fresh air, got some of the best sleep we have ever gotten! We all felt great the next day and it was easy to see why Grok was healthier than we are today. Not everyone in the group was 100% primal before our Grokfest, but after all the fun, food and great sleep, everyone was a lot more open to the idea!
Fresh, local and “wild caught” crabapples, walnuts, acorns, ants, worms, and crickets, served on a delicate bed of dandelion greens (story behind this, see scavenger hunt below!)
Fresh Guacamole served with carrot and celery sticks
Jalapeño Poppers – not for the weak of heart! Fresh jalapeños stuffed with habenero and cream cheese and wrapped in bacon!
Italian Meatballs – grass-fed beef, garlic and spices cooked in onions and olive oil and topped with homemade tomato sauce.
Caprese Salad – Organic tomatoes layered with raw mozzarella cheese on a bed of baby spinach drizzled with olive oil, pepper and fresh basil
”Cole” Slaw – Thinly sliced broccoli stems and carrots in a light sauce of full-fat yogurt, olive oil, apple cider vinegar and spices
Grass-fed Beef Brisket – Marinated in a blend of 12 herbs and spices and slow cooked for 10 hours. Served with grilled onions, mushroom and pepper kabobs.
Free Range Chicken – So fresh we chased it today! Grilled over bonfire and served with vegetable skewers.
Herbal Tea made with raspberry leaf, dandelion and alfalfa
Primal Birthday “Cake” – Chocolate almond crust layered with fresh raspberries and organic heavy cream
Recipe: Primal Dark Chocolate and Raspberry Pie
1 cup almond meal (or more depending on how thick you want crust to be)
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
¼ cup coconut oil or butter, softened (or more)
1 tsp raw honey (optional)
1 pound organic raspberries (other berries also work well)
1 cup heavy whipping cream
vanilla or cinnamon to taste
Mix almond meal (I make my own in blender), cocoa powder, oil or butter and honey in bowl. Should have crumbly consistency. Add additional almonds or oil if needed to get good consistency.
Press into bottom of pie pan or 8×8 baking dish. Can also be put in ramekins or small bowls to make individual servings.
Pour raspberries over crust.
Whip heavy cream with vanilla or cinnamon (if desired) until it forms peaks.
Top with cream right before serving.
Spears family and friends
Play: The Great “Hunt and Gather” of 2010
Entire team must stay together at all times.
Each team has a child under 5 and a dog. Both must stay with you at all times. Child (or dog) can be carried if needed.
If possible, child should be involved in each part of the challenge.
Each member must do/get at least one thing on the list. One (1) extra point will be awarded for each additional person in each challenge item.
Take pictures of activities as you do them. When in doubt, take more pictures!
Allotted time is 4 hours! Will subtract 5 points for each minute late. Disqualified if more than 10 minutes late.
Must bring all edible items back with you and eat them then. Don’t count if you eat them on the hunt.
Team receives 10 extra points for each team member who completes all activities in Five Fingers or barefoot.
Don’t disturb nature, leave things as you find them.
Creativity is encouraged. Have fun!
Needed items to bring:
Camera (needed to document your progress)
Knife (may come in handy)
Old, comfortable clothes
Might be nice to have:
Random items from go-bag
Swimsuit or change of clothes
Firearms (because that would be too easy!)
Weapons besides knives
Great Hunt of 2010 List of Items and Activities
A rock – Pick up this rock at any point during competition. Must come back with you to camp. If you leave your rock somewhere, the other team can steal if they find it. Team with biggest Rock gets all the points for this one. (25 points)
Pinecone – Must be picked from a tree-take picture showing team member climbing to get it. (5 points)
Empty Bird’s Nest – Must come from actual tree, not ground. Team member must climb to get it. Photograph climbing. (15 points)
Three (3) edible plants – Can be herbs, grasses, fruits, veggies, etc. Cannot come from cultivated garden. Must know what they are! (5 points each, 10 each if you eat them)
Tree Climb – One (or more) members must climb tree as high as he/she can. When there, must let rope down and mark to measure distance. Take picture to prove it! (one point per foot high)
Five (5) edible nuts, seeds or berries – Must know what they are. Can’t come from cultivated garden. (3 points each- 10 points if you eat them)
Make a spear – Get creative! Make a spear from stuff you find. Coolest one wins-judged by kids! (20 points to winner)Will throw these back at camp, 10 additional points to the one that goes farthest and 10 points to any that can hit a target at 15 yds)
Something naturally blue – Must be an actual object, not picture. Must come back with you! (10 points)
Insects – Get as many as you can in different types. Extra points if they are edible and you will eat them! (3 points each) (10 points for each you eat!)
Show your “natural” beauty – Make an outfit for one team member out of things found in nature. Must be photographed and worn back. Most creative wins! (20 points)
Pictures of wildlife – Get your “kill” by photographing it! Points for each animal you get. (must be mammal, reptile, amphibian, not insect!) (10 pts per amimal)
The Great Climb – Get a picture of the whole team climbing/in a tree. Extra points if you get the dog up there too J (20 points)
The Tarzan – Get a picture of a team member swinging on a vine, real or man-made. (15 points)
Get Cast Away – Make a boat/raft out of whatever you can find (can’t find a real boat!) Use at least 3 different items. It must float. Test and take picture. (50 points)
Firewood – We are going to have to cook all this stuff when you get back! Bring back firewood-real logs, not twigs! Extra points if you cut down the tree! (4 points per log)
Getting Cold? – Build a fire (don’t you wish Adam was here!) take a picture. Make sure to build in safe place and put out when done. (25 points)
Stealth – Track the other team and tap their shoulder before they see you. Both teams have to verify the surprise. (25 points)
Hang Out – One (or more) team member must hang from a branch, tree, vine, or anything else that won’t allow his/her feet to touch the ground. Hang as long as you can. (1 point for each five seconds consecutive hang. If more than one team member does it, it is 1 point per team member per 5 seconds, but time ends when the first person falls. Take pictures)
Plank – Hold a plank as long as you can. Same scoring as above. Take pictures or video.
Slingshot – Make a homemade sling shot. Bring it back with you. Extra points if you can hit a target with it. (20 points + 10 if you can get the target +50 if you get your animal (see below) with it)
A feather – Take it from a bird or find it on the ground (10 points)
Stop and smell the roses – Pick some wildflowers. (5 pts for each different kind of flower, bring several of each kind, not from gardens!)
A spider web – Without the spider (10 pts)
Tracking – Find a trail an animal has left behind and photograph it (20 pts)
Wiggle room – Find a caterpillar, a worm and a snail. (15 pts each)
Catch, hunt, trap, or otherwise procure a small (or large) animal. No firearms can be used. All weapons must be knives you already have on you or weapons you make during the hunt. Must be willing to eat it. Must be procured legally. Cannot be someone’s pet. Must be mammal, amphibian, reptile or fowl (no rodents!). Must be alive or killed humanely. 75 points (+50 if you get it with your homemade slingshot or spear + 10 more if you do it wearing your costume)