Meet Mark

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...

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Tag: big moo

The Differences Between Grass-Fed Beef and Grain-Fed Beef

When making the transition into the Primal way of life, a lot of people get tripped up on the question of grass-fed beef. Is it necessary? (No.) Is there really that big a difference between conventional beef and grass-fed beef? (Kinda.) What does grass-fed actually mean? How do conventional cows live and what do they eat – and does that matter enough to me to make the effort to incorporate true grass-fed beef into my diet?

Hopefully, the following article will shed a bit of light on the subject, making it easier for you to make an informed decision based on your preferences, your needs, your budget, your personal ethics, and the objective information provided.

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Monday Musings: Intergenerational Diabetes, New and Improved Pasteurization, Sitting is Still Bad, and Really Old Wine

Diabetes is that rare brand of nasty disease that fails to strike real, visceral fear. It doesn’t carry the weight of a cancer or an AIDS or a heart disease. It’s something you get, like a gut, a long list of prescriptions, and a walker, as you grow older. People just live with it – millions upon millions across the world – and are rarely shocked or surprised to hear that others have it. Their ranks are ever growing, with, if a recent study on the effects of gestational diabetes on the fetus has anything to say about it, much of the conscription taking place in the womb. It’s called intergenerational diabetes, and it means that pregnant women with diabetes or even just poor maternal glucose tolerance could be turning their little ones into future type 2 diabetics. This is fetal diabetes without a genetic component; this is epigenetic owing to environmental (womb) input. The authors speculate that pregnant mothers with type 2 diabetes (diet and lifestyle induced, remember) could engender irreversible alterations to both the unborn kid’s hypothalamic neural network (where leptin, the satiety hormone, does its thing), pancreatic function, and muscle and liver insulin signaling. The idea is that they pop out with type 2 diabetes right off the bat. It’s diet-induced, sure, but not how we normally think of it. No baby bottle full of Coke required here. Of course, I still see this sort of condition as being reversible with diet and exercise…it’s just that it will require a LOT more adherence and starting at an earlier age. Moving on…

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Monday Musings: New Grass-Fed Study

A new grass-fed meat study (PDF) has just been brought to my attention, thanks to Aaron Blaisdell. It’s pretty fascinating. Researchers wanted to see two things: whether eating grass-finished animals instead of grain-finished animals would provide a significant influx of dietary omega-3s and whether the potential influx would actually make a difference in lab numbers. They took two groups of people, regular Irish folks, and provided weekly portions of beef and lamb, either grass-finished or grain-finished. The animals were “finished” for a minimum of six weeks. Both groups were told to avoid fatty fish and omega-3-rich oils for the duration of the study. All told, both groups ate roughly 469 grams of red meat a week for four weeks. Oh, and these were all healthy subjects with good cholesterol and blood pressure numbers and without prescriptions to any medications.

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How to Find a Cowpooling Source

I was going back over the MDA archives this week, thinking about what went right and what went wrong with past posts. There are always going to be regrets when looking at past work, whatever its nature. That’s just how these things work.

But this is the internets, not print, and I can quickly hop in and make changes to the past with just a few keystrokes. Or, I can write an honest appraisal of my previous transgressions and come up with a post of restitution. This is that post of restitution. Today, I’m admitting that my last post on cowpooling was a bit lean. It’s not that I trimmed the fat; it’s that the fat was never even there in the first place (hmm, old Cordain might agree). Consider this post a dollop of grass fed butter in the pan that is MDA’s cowpooling content, perhaps even after deglazing all the tasty bits with a hearty Zinfandel. Today, I’m going to tell you how to find a cowpooling source so you can buy grass fed beef in bulk directly from the supplier.

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In Vitro Meat

When Winston Churchill, in the 1932 essay “Fifty Years Hence,” mused that “we shall escape the absurdity of growing a whole chicken in order to eat the breast or wing by growing these parts separately under a suitable medium,” he may have been more prescient than credited. Alexis Carrel had already been keeping a cultured chunk of chicken heart “alive” in a Pyrex flask for the past twenty years by feeding it nutrients (though Carrel was only interested in whether cell death was inevitable, not whether meat could be grown in a lab for human consumption). Sci-fi author Frederik Pohl was one man who took the idea of in vitro meat seriously enough to write about it – in the novel The Space Merchants, where cultured meat is the primary source of protein. That was science fiction, sure, but most good sci-fi is borne of the author’s honest opinion of what the future might hold and it’s usually inspired by the scientific advancements of the day. And sometimes, science fiction comes true. Like this time.

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The Problems with Conventionally Raised Beef

As mentioned in our Red Scare commentary a few weeks ago, beef gets a seriously bad rap these days. “Saturated fat!” the status quo shrieks, running in all directions, hair on fire, arms flailing, gnashing their teeth. Let’s set the record straight here. You know our decidedly pro-fat leanings. No need to go any further there. But what else is there to like about beef? To its credit, beef offers among the biggest boost of protein per ounce of any traditional food. (Yes, insects and other underappreciated delicacies in some cases offer more. We’ll let our good readers fill in the options here.) To boot, beef is an excellent source of niacin, vitamins B6, B12, K2, phosphorus, selenium, as well as iron, potassium, and riboflavin. In its best form (and we’ll get to that), it also serves as a good source of conjugated linoleic acid (more on this in a minute) and omega-3 fatty acids. (See why we were so compelled to defend red meat’s honor?)

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Is All Cheese Created Equal?

The answer to that question is (hopefully) pretty obvious, but I’ll still explain why.

Short answer: No.

Slightly longer answer: C’mon – you really think that stuff you can spray out of an aerosol can is qualitatively identical to a 2-year old Gouda?

Long answer: The paleo purists shun all forms of dairy, but the Primal Blueprint takes a more nuanced stance. We note that while dairy certainly shouldn’t form the basis for an eating regimen, certain forms of it can easily be integrated seamlessly into a healthy, Primal eating strategy as a sensible vice, especially the highest-fat choices (a bit of heavy cream in the morning coffee, some real whipped cream with strawberries for dessert) or even a staple (pastured butter for sautéing and drizzling over vegetables). Of course, for those who can more easily digest (lactose-wise) certain forms and who insist on including it in their diet, sticking to dairy that’s as close to the state it was in upon exodus from the animal in question is important (raw dairy, kids), as is avoiding the stuff treated with all sorts of preservatives and processing (homogenized semi-skim milk product with antibiotics, anyone?).

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Everything But the Squeal

In light of the hunting post I wrote last week, I thought a brief discussion of Newsweek’s recent article on the growing interest in going “whole hog” might interest readers. The writer focuses on butcher Tom Mylan, a former Whole Foods worker who has become the “unlikely herald of meat morality” giving lessons in traditional butchery to Brooklyn hipsters and providing pasture-raised meat for local top-shelf restaurants. Meat morality, according to Mylan, is saying, “If you’re going to kill an animal, then it seems only polite to use the whole thing.” People seem to be responding to him. His butchery classes are constantly waitlisted, he’s become a bit of a celebrity among “foodies,” and – most importantly – people are beginning to purchase meat directly from the farms in bulk.

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Cowpooling: Share a Side

You grow much of your own produce, visit your local farmers’ markets for the foods that you can’t grow yourself and have even started participating in a food co-op, but you’re still left high and dry when it comes to purchasing a decent steak.

Enter Cowpooling, the latest buzz term for the practice under which a group of neighbors team up to purchase a whole cow from a local farm. The cow is then butchered to order and the various cuts divvied up among the neighbors (who presumably aren’t going to argue over who gets the last T-bone!)

But, beyond the nifty name (seriously, cowpooling? Genius!) how exactly is it any different to good ol’ fashioned cow-sharing? Well, typically when you sign up for a cow-share, you’re signing up to have access to the cow’s fresh raw milk as opposed to, well, the actual cow. In addition, when you’re participating in a cowshare, you generally have to pay for a portion of the cow’s upkeep, usually in the form of a holding fee to the farmer.

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Is Living Primal Good for the Environment?

Thanks for the great topic suggestion, Son of Grok. It is interesting that as we rid our body of waste, we seem to do the same for the planet. Funny how that works out. The reduction of artificial wastes and packaging materials is probably the most tangible benefit to the environment, but following the Primal Blueprint to a tee can be incredibly green-conscious in many other ways.

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