and the Word for Wednesday was . . .

. . . diet!  No, not as in eating to lose weight; I’ve been reading a bit about the latest thing: Paleo and Primal diets. Apparently (and I have not been reading in depth, so forgive me if I tread on some neolithic digits), these two ways of thinking about food (and eating it, I suppose) have some things in common:

*           Eating tons of veggies
*           Eating lots of protein
*           Avoiding grains
*           Eliminating gluten
*           Doing away with corn
*           Avoiding high fructose corn syrup
*           Avoiding sugar
*           Eliminating processed foods
*           Enjoying the occasional wine and beer
*           Exercising regularly

There are differences,  too, but I’m not getting into that now; I have a limited amount of time on the computer tonight.

My initial thoughts on this (and again, this is my gut reaction to a very limited exposure to a wee bit of information): From what I know about pre-historic civilizations, people ate according to where they lived, what they could harvest and the season of the year. I don’t see cutting out grains altogether; instead, why not eat them from mid-summer to late autumn, maybe storing some for use through the winter. Then in spring, back to lots of greens; later on add berries and tree fruits; then back to grains again.

Corn, or maize was a staple in central North America, but not in Europe or, I think, other continents, either. And the grains would have been the ancient varieties, not the hybridized stuff we have nowadays.

Meats would have been wild, so in most cases healthier, as they could generally eat what they needed, not just what they would have been fed in captivity. Of course, this means getting out there and hunting . . .

The natural diet of those days included roots, barks, lots of herbs that we would turn up our noses at these days; they tend to be fibrous and strongly flavoured.

And before you rush out with your hand-knotted bag made from cedar roots (or whatever passes for weaving fibres in your locale), you may want to read up on the various things you are planning to harvest. In Victoria (BC), First Nations people dug and ate crocus bulbs; however, they knew that the chocolate coloured blooms had a bulb that is poisonous.

Cooking soup the Paleo/Primal way:  Nettles are yummy (to me, anyway LOL), but you will want a good pair of gloves before you begin gathering. Pigweed (known as lamb’s quarters in more upwardly mobile Pleistocene circles) is also very nutritious; add it to that soup of wild rabbit and gopher that you are simmering in your deer’s stomach soup pot (suspend the stomach on a tripod, add water and roots, plus whatever meat, fish and veggies you happen to have gathered), then drop in a few small stones that have been heated in the campfire’s ashes. The water will boil; as the boiling subsides, lift the stones out, using a pair of ‘Y’ shaped branches (fairly sturdy ones) and put them back in the ashes to heat again. Repeat until the soup is done. Oh, remember to remove the gland from the hind leg of any rabbits, too.

Salads: Gather greens that are in season. Watch for onion or garlic shoots; they add flavour and are nutritious, too. Miner’s lettuce and chickweed are juicy, mild and good for you.

Exercise:  don’t worry about it; gathering your food, preparing it and storing it, not to mention making woven gathering bags, arrows, bows, spears and all that will have you in great shape in no time!

Have fun!


12 thoughts on “and the Word for Wednesday was . . .

  1. I have to say that as a first world society we think that protein is SO much more important thatn it actually is. If we look back to our hunter gatherer society most of what they ate would have been a huge meat meal when they were able to catch something and frugal times spent fossicking around for whatever they could find/grow for the rest. So long as we get enough of what we need we are fine. I think that there is altogether WAY too much attention put onto “diet” these days and the direct correlation with the massively profitable diet industry and food production industry can only be viewed with suspicion to say the least. Grow a garden, a few things in pots, eat seasonally, eat fresh, try not to eat too many processed things (at least make THEM yourself) and stress less. Stress is what is killing us all faster than anything we eat!

    • I totally agree with you, Narfie7; and I think the times in between the meat binges were good for letting the body use wild greens to detox.
      You wouldn’t believe the stuff I’m hearing on the news these days; all the focus on healthy living and weight reduction; the concern for our increasingly obese population; then (at noon today) a mention of a new ‘breakfast’ food at a doughnut shop in the States: a doughnut is cut in half and a fried egg put in between the pieces to make a “breakfast sandwich”. I can’t even imagine . . .

      I like your regime better than what I see in the papers or hear on TV . . . and those long walks with the beasts every day certainly help, too. I do think a part of the health problems relates directly to the level of oxygen in our blood; between pollution and lack of movement, it all adds up.

      Yes, stress is a major factor. In spite of the financial stresses since I was let go from my last job, I feel much better just not having the daily stress of a desk job. It really isn’t the best fit for me, so I worked extra to try and make up for that. Soon the financial stuff will be in order and that will help, too.

      • Always good to get that sorted Linnie :). I have been fermenting a strange brew of organic home-made soy milk, some long forgotten homemade coconut milk (from a fresh coconut) and some leftover almond and oat milk (also homemade) which is practically explosive. I am doing some experiments on it and think I have invented vegan hooch 😉 Who needs a still when you have kefir grains eh?! 😉

  2. I think the paleo diet is a great one as far as getting people to eat foods more like our ancestors ate, but I also don’t believe we need to eat what our ancient ancestors ate. Many of them would have eated grain mush although more than likely sprouted through natural harvest and let lie techniques. For those with serious food allergies then these diets can be an easier way to avoid foods that are toxic to the health but I think it’s about being sensible with food and eating it how it is meant to be eaten. As you say, traditional corn varieties, not hybrids (and certainly not GMO), eating seasonally so corn is a summer/early autumn food, not a late winter early spring one, and eating locally too, although that is more from a carbon miles point of view. 🙂

    • I agree; we don’t have the wild things anyway (and likely wouldn’t know them or find them easy to digest; never mind trying to feed them to our kids . . .)
      I guess what bothered me was that too-easy faddy labelling as “Paleo”, when in fact it isn’t; the principles are similar, though, and I agree with you, too that we need to eat closer to what our ancestors ate. Lots of greens, less protein, seasonal everything . . . I don’t think we’d see so many food allergies if kids weren’t given such unnatural foods and so early, from formula to Pablum (I’ve known Mums who fed their babies Pablum at one month, so their stomachs would stay full and the baby would sleep through the night).

      Then there is the ‘local foods’ issue; corn (maize), for instance, only came to Europe from North America in the 1500s. References to ‘corn’ prior to that actually are referring to grain (I’m sure you know that, but some readers may not). And not all North American peoples grew and ate corn, anyway.

      If a person lives in a city, good luck finding wild foods; the more remote your property, the better chance you have to find some. Even then, I think we need to re-learn traditional methods of harvesting; leaving enough to produce next year’s harvest, for example. And not taking any if the patch has already been harvested. Good stewardship, really.

      I tend to eat seasonally, so things like corn in early summer, squash through autumn and winter. If you look at the composition of seasonal foods, you find that the greens of spring are a good way to get energy levels back up, while the starchy foods of late summer into winter provide what we need to keep ourselves warm.

      That said, I do use frozen fruits and berries, and I’m darn sure they aren’t local 🙂 But I have no way to grow food myself, or harvest wild things. So I’m stuck with trying to meet my nutritional needs with supermarket foods. I do eat very little processed food. When I had my own place, I used more grains, beans, etc. But these kitchens were designed for a later generation and don’t have the storage space needed, especially when two people use it who eat fairly differently.

      One thing I’ve read (and believe) is that the more our foods come from within five miles of where we live, the better our bodies adapt to the local climate. But I still eat oranges and bananas . . . If I had a place of my own, I’d grow the big Rosa Rugosas; their hips are excellent for making rose hip syrup, high in Vitamin C. Then I wouldn’t bother with oranges and other citrus. They make good hedgerows, too.

      It’s a big jump from what I believe is good for me and what’s possible just now. I try to eat well and not obsess about it.

      You have a good point about the carbon miles, too. I hate that so much of my food is trucked thousands of miles.

  3. Lol, you read on so many different subjects! Narf and i have been discussing diet on one of my posts. I mentioned me having been vego for years with bad blood readings (and I thought a healthy one!) and Roger being a great carnivore and having extremely good bloods. I converted back and feel better for it, the Paleo seems to have good success with many health problems. I don’t go too seriously for any one type of diet nowadays but ours is pretty traditional and we can’t afford extras so pretty good. Am not up to hunting myself though…god I can’t even kill a fish on a hook lol.

    • I do read widely (but not as much as I used to; well, widely, just not so many books). I’m not much for fads, myself. I’ve often had very little money, so couldn’t afford to be fussy. My Dad (often with the two oldest brothers) hunted and fished to extend our budget; most people we knew did in those days. When I had my boys, we only hunted when necessary. I haven’t had to kill anything, but if I were hungry enough, I would. We always kept to what we knew of First Nations traditions, which include thanking the animal for giving its life. Tribal people understand that death is part of life; to be treated with respect and dignity.

      Our lovely goat Arabella had three sets of twin buck goats. The first ones, I thought were so cute; no way we would eat them!! But they grew, became nuisances, could jump any fence, jumped on the hoods of friends’ cars and left dings all over, jumped on the side of the tipi, sliding down in a great game, leaving long rips that I mended by hand, and so on. One freezing winter day they butted their mother into the hole in the ice that we chopped open so the animals could drink. Her beard stuck on the ice and she had to be chopped free. A narrow escape! I simmered those bucks into delicious soups . . .

      As I said, I never did the killing, but in keeping with most traditions, I skinned, cleaned and butchered the meat. I was always proud of doing a very good job.

      I prefer to eat mainly veggies, when possible, but am pretty flexible. I’m not fussy when eating at someone’s house. Whatever they serve is fine with me (I’m talking of home-made meals here).

      Besides all that, I think it’s good to know what works for your own body, then do that. I think we have much to learn about our bodies and how to care for them.

      Don’t get the idea I’m perfect, though . . . I’m definitely not! But I work towards being healthy most of the time.

      • Yeah, I’m certainly not perfect either and I don’t aim to be….I think there’s alot of unhealthy obsession out there about food and years ago I would get hung up over different diets but not now. We have little money to but food so our diet has naturally evolved to be healthy, what we grow forms most of our diet. Whatever we buy has to cover other food groups well on as little money as possible so it’s pretty basic, good food.

        Roger kills and butchers our meat off the farm he works at…he has done a bit of hunting and fishing in the past. He jokes about being a great white hunter/gatherer because though he can do it, he doesn’t like killing animals but really enjoys his meat. He is respectful of the life the animal is.
        I had read about that tradition in Clan of the Cave Bears (great series) years ago and thought then how appropriate and honest that was…

        Roger wanted to raise eating rabbits which made me laugh. He cannot put down a sick chook, he will do it after ages of stressing over it, then stress over it afterwards. We wouldn’t be able to be our pet goat eating people lol, even when it makes sense.

      • I like what “FlyLady” says; to aim for Progress, not Perfection. That was the motto for the year not long ago for those who work with her program. Isn’t it funny how we obsess so much about food and diet; yet when food was plainer and scarcer, we didn’t? A lot of it is marketing, I think, especially since tv came in. When I was a kid, Mum knew how to plan and prepare good simple food; that’s what we got, every day. A soft drink was a very occasional treat in summer; ice cream likewise. We didn’t have a fridge or freezer, so never kept stuff like that on hand. She would never have wasted the food money on junk food, either. She baked at least three times a week, too, so all our bread, cakes, pies, cookies (biscuits to you downunder), squares, etc., was homemade. She made our jams and jellies and pickles, too. I can’t even estimate how many quarts of fruit and tomatoes we put up every summer. It took two quarts to provide a small bowl of dessert for each person (2 adults, 9 kids) at supper and we often had fruit AND a piece of cake or a cookie. Never mind school lunches . . .

        I think you and Roger eat much as we did back then and as I try to do now. I just don’t grow anything at the moment. I’ve avoided killing anything but fish, but I can say with pride that I’m darn good at skinning, cleaning and butchering. My sister and brother in law who live in New Mexico in the States raised rabbits for food for a while; he’s used to fishing and hunting and didn’t have a problem with the killing. But then dogs from the neighbourhood got into the yard one day, broke into all the cages and slaughtered all the rabbits. My sister and b-i-l don’t bother with rabbits anymore because of that.

        I read that series, too, or most of it, anyway. I liked much of it, as I remember.

        I never thought I’d eat our cute kids, either; then they grew into not so cute nuisances who also ate a lot; in the end, it wasn’t so hard (but I still didn’t do the killing). I think that what makes sense partly depends on how hungry we are; I could do without the whole meat thing if I had money and access for good veggie foods; in a starvation situation, though, I’d eat whatever I had to.

      • Yep, I think you are right in that marketing has played an important role in the diets of today and there are just so many options in a supermarket – to deny ourselves what we see others eating leads to obsession – I am hopeless on a diet!!
        Your mother had it right 🙂 My father did any preserving in our house and he was limited to certain things. I feel we eat the diet of our grandparents with a bit more knowledge about nutrition etc. Pretty basic by other people’s standards when I look at all the recipes and photos around!!
        That would’ve been pretty gutting for your sister to see.
        There were 9 kids in Roger’s family and 7 in mine but very different was of eating really. His dad had an enormous garden, my father didn’t so vegetables, all food, was pretty limited. Mum used to make us custard with sprinkles on top for meals I remember lol

Thanks for stopping by my blog! I look forward to reading your comments. ~ Linne

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