Knowledge Evolves

a REVERSIBLE poem about nutrition

by Joe Disch

(Read top to bottom for the “standard advice”, then from bottom to top to update it!)

 

Our elders’ wisdom is finally being reconsidered

Modern foods are healthier

No longer do we simply accept

The habits of those who came before us

Now we have learned the scientific wisdom of a diet based on

Whole grains like wheat, corn, and rice

We’ve given ourselves the “diseases of civilization” with

Saturated fats and cholesterol

According to scientific studies,

What’s the better choice?

Refined seed oils like canola, corn, and soy

And we understand we should avoid

Red meat – studies have confirmed it time and again

Everyone knows about the importance of

“This good nutritious breakfast, fortified with 8 essential vitamins and minerals”

We no longer expect to start our day with

Eggs  (especially the yolks – full of cholesterol your body makes even if you don’t eat it)

If there were a single most nutritious food, what might it be?

Modern low fat, pasteurized, homogenized dairy products

Many people don’t do well with

Things like whole, full-fat dairy foods – especially raw milk due to the live cultures

Some are better adapted to what might not be a good choice for others

Listen to your body

 

Common sense really

Eating fat is

What makes you fat

A higher carb diet is

So obviously

As nature intended

Insulin stores any extra carbs before they can cause damage

When you eat heavily of grains and starches

“Calories in, calories out” is just the simplest math

Your body is so smart

It’s important to portion your plate to meet your body’s energy needs

 

We now have too many people to feed the conventional way

Soil is becoming depleted of nutrients

Chemical inputs and genetic modification

May in fact be the only viable solution to replace

The gentle dance of traditional, restorative, organic agriculture

Well intentioned ideas sometimes can’t keep up with the realities of life

 

Move, play, laugh, love

Be sure to get plenty of sleep

Stay hydrated with clean healthy water

Eat a variety of healthy foods, including lots of vegetables

 

Unless we want to get sicker and sicker

We need to think about where we came from as well as where we’re going

Lessons are learned, and knowledge evolves

 

(Now read from bottom to top for a different perspective)

 


 

“Knowledge Evolves” Copyright 11/25/2015 by Joe Disch. Visit madisonpaleo.com for more of Joe’s work. Not intended as nutritional or medical advice. Offered as an artistic perspective on opposing viewpoints. Permission granted to republish as is, as long as this paragraph is included in its entirety.

Madison is getting a paleo bakery!

I’m excited to announce that Madison will soon have it’s first grain-free, dairy-free bakery. Beginning September 7th, you’ll be able to pre-order cupcakes and other treats that are not only gluten free but also free of grains, dairy (except butter), soy, refined sugar, and utilizing only healthier fats like coconut oil and grass-fed butter.  The initial menu of cookies, cupcakes, muffins, crackers, confections and granolas can be viewed at www.paleomamabakery.com. Many ingredients are locally sourced, such as honey from Gentle Breeze in Mt. Horeb and tart cherries from Cherryland’s Best in Door County. No retail store is planned at this time, though sales through other local outlets are being explored. (Ask your favorite spot to bring them in!)

I recently had a chance to taste-test several of the initial products (Thanks, Belle!) and was quite impressed with the quality. My family (wife and two daughters, none of whom are paleo at this time) helped me sample the vanilla salted-caramel cupcakes (pictured), chocolate chip cookies, and raw cookie dough. We agreed all were delicious and perfectly executed. Some were pleasantly surprised by the moist texture of the cupcake compared to some of the other grain-free treats we’ve tried.

As expected, prices are higher than similarly modest portions of mainstream baked goods. Also, despite the extreme attention to using the healthiest possible ingredients, these are definitely treats meant for occasional indulgence, and not something I’d make a frequent part of my diet. (I’d love to see the eventual addition of something a tad more substantial and nutrient dense, perhaps a less-sweet cookie or bar based on the cranberry walnut granola– or maybe some grass-fed gelatin gummy snacks.) Having said that, Paleo Mama’s treats are among the top tier of those I’ve tried, and I would definitely consider buying them, especially if offered somewhere I typically shop or dine. Keep them in mind next time you’re planning a party or event!

Contact information:

Paleo Mama Bakery

6300 Enterprise Lane, Madison WI

608-692-3715

Web:  www.paleomamabakery.com

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/paleomamabakery

Email:  belle@paleomamabakery.com

Paleo Pizza Roll-ups

Try my easy and delicious pizza alternative: sausage wrapped in kale leaves:

 

lacinato leaf

 

 

1. Steam lacinato (“dinosaur”) kale leaves and lay flat.

 

 

 

make sausage

 

2. Mix your favorite spices into plain ground pork and form a giant patty.  I like sea salt, oregano, basil, garlic and fennel seeds.  (Skip fennel if doing AIP.)  Or use ready-made sausage that you trust.

 

 

 

cooking sausage

 

3. Cook thoroughly, ideally in a cast iron skillet.  You probably won’t need to add fat unless your meat is extra lean.

 

 

 

cooked sausage

 

 

4. When fully cooked, cut into strips about 1/2″ – 1″ wide.

 

 

 

stuffed kale leaf

 

5. Place a sausage strip in the center of a leaf.  Feel free to add tomato sauce, pesto, cheese, additional veggies, or whatever if you wish.

 

 

 

paleo pizza roll-up

 

 

6. Roll up into an easy to handle bundle.

 

 

 

finished pizza rolls

 

7. If they’ve cooled down, you may wish to warm in the oven for a few minutes.  Serve and enjoy!

 

 

 

 

Are Food Co-ops a Caveman’s Best Friend?

Once you’ve navigated a few grocery stores from the perspective of a modern day caveman, you’ll notice some recurring disappointments. Only a few cuts of meat are from pastured animals, and if there’s someone to ask they’ll probably try to “educate” you on the superiority of corn-fed. Vegetables are mostly grown in a tempest of chemicals, then shipped hundreds or even thousands of miles. Eggs are from chickens who may be “cage free” but are still fed a highly unnatural diet based on corn and soy, and seldom if ever see the light of day. Choices are meager among your few packaged “staples” like coconut milk & oil, nut flours, or even pure dark chocolate. What is plentiful, comprising nearly the entire center of the store, are all manner of fabricated “foods”: brightly colored nutritional time-bombs engineered from combinations of highly processed wheat, corn, sugar, and industristrial seed oils — little that your grandmother would recognize as edible.

 

It doesn’t need to be like this. Perhaps you’re lucky enough to live near a more sophisticated outlet – maybe something like Whole Foods. You’ll probably pay a little more, and there’s still (in the words of founder and CEO John Mackey) “a bunch of junk” but you’ll find a better selection of the things you want: organic produce, grass-fed meats, healthy fat options, etc. A few good choices are also starting to appear at stores like Costco and Target, as well as better independent grocers. Certainly (weather permitting) your nearest farmers’ market can be a gold mine of real foods at fair prices. There is, however, another choice – one with benefits you may not have thought possible. Astonishingly, if you don’t have this option now you can get together with your tribe and call it into existence! Behold the modern food co-op.

 

I bet I know what you’re thinking: a bunch of hippies offering up tofu burritos and wormy little apples (“That’s how you know they’re organic, man!”) in a dusty little shop smelling of patchouli and… something. I’m just old enough to remember some of that, and to confess fond memories of ice bean cones, Guerrilla cookies, and my first dried pears. With the passage of the nourishing sands of time, the guiding touch of the market’s invisible hand, and no small effort by hardworking visionaries, food co-ops have matured into something altogether different. In cities and towns nearly everywhere you’ll find clean, professional storefronts as unique as snowflakes but sharing common principles and the overarching mission of putting customers first – because those customers are also the owners.

 

You could say the first co-ops were hunter-gatherer tribes sharing their efforts to ensure that all would eat. Cooperation is a natural instinct precisely because it works. The first cooperative enterprises of the neolithic world, however, are generally identified with the cooperative movement of 19th century Europe. The Rochdale Pioneers of Lancashire, England in 1844 still exert an influence today in the form of the Cooperative Principles underlying most consumer co-ops. The movement enjoyed a second period of growth since the 1970’s when many “second wave” cooperatives started, and some see a third wave beginning now.

 

A coop is typically formed to address a community’s unmet needs. Perhaps a beloved mom-and-pop store has gone out of business. Or maybe there is simply nothing around for miles. In other cases, customers seeking particular (often more natural) foods are perceived as too small a market to warrant catering to. In response, a group of ordinary folks get together and start their own store or buying club. These can be worker-owned, or more often customer-owned. Initial capitalization is often via advance membership sales and a bond drive. Typically, members who invest in an annual share recoup the investment after $100-200 in purchases, and get a vote on certain key decisions. Leadership provided by a member-elected board follows articles of cooperation, a specific mission statement, and the cooperative principles. Product is ordered, shelves are stocked, and a new co-op is born.

 

Walk into a modern Co-op and you’ll likely find a clean, well-stocked grocery store with an emphasis on natural and organic foods. Of particular interest to paleo folks: lots of organic fruits and veggies, local grass-fed meats, good eggs, an excellent bulk department, and packaged items like coconut milk and oil. Member-owned businesses enjoy a tradition of being ahead of the curve in supporting options others don’t yet care about. Co-ops were among the first to offer plentiful organic, vegetarian (some see “paleo” as the new “vegetarian”), and gluten-free options. This applies not only to packaged products but often fresh-made deli and bakery items. (My store, for example, has recently introduced a line of grain-free hot dishes.) If you want something that isn’t stocked, most co-ops are happy to special order it for you. By shopping at a co-op, you’re probably also doing more to support local farmers and producers, and benefiting from the somewhat decentralized distribution network.

 

If you’d like to start your own co-op there are a lot of resources available to help. With a little digging, you’ll probably be able to find assistance with everything from planning to financing. You’ll find, as Thomas Jefferson allegedly once said, that the harder you work the luckier you’ll get. One good place to start is http://www.foodcoopinitiative.coop/.  Another is your nearest successful co-op. They won’t do the heavy lifting for you (maybe a little in some cases) but they’ll probably treat you more as a kindred spirit than a potential competitor. When assembling your core founders, remember to reach out to those with legal, public relations, real estate, or other helpful experience. Above all, never lose focus on the goal of serving your customers, particularly member-owners. At the end of the day the future of any business is determined by the customers, and this is especially true when the customers are running the show. Whether you get involved with an existing store or start your own, help to make it a place where good food (however you define that) is plentiful and affordable.

© 2014 Joe Disch, MadisonPaleo

Willy Street Co-op (East store) Madison, WI
Willy Street Co-op (East store) Madison, WI

Joe Disch has worked for Willy Street Grocery Cooperative since 2001, has run the paleo lifestyle blog Madison Paleo since 2012, and recently taught classes on paleo nutrition for interested staff.

What’s In Your Coconut Milk?

I’m one of those people who consider coconut milk something of a staple.  I’ve been known to travel with it for use in hotel/restaurant coffee.  Until recently, I had to choose between the brands in BPA-free cans and the ones without problematic additives like guar gum and carrageenan.

Estrogenic activity from BPA has been linked to diabetes, ADHD, endocrine problems, heart disease, infertility and cancer.  Guar gum and carrageenan have been associated with a variety of digestive issues, and more than a trace of guar makes my tummy unpleasantly gurgly.

Great news:  Natural Value has finally brought to market a canned coconut milk free of all these things, and if you live near Madison you can get it at the Willy Street Co-op!  (I may have a had a little tiny bit to do with this.)  It’s been available for a while by mail, but I’m happy I can now get it at the grocery store!

 

Since it’s just organic coconut and water, it’s not as inexplicably smooth as the other canned milks – more like homemade, actually.  Delicious coconutty taste, nice fat content, and well worth a little extra stir to avoid those extra chemicals.

 

 

Welcome new and returning students!

A special welcome to new and returning students, and other Madison newcomers!  People think of Mad town as being half vegetarian, half fried cheese and beer — but we have a growing and friendly paleo/primal population as well.

Wondering where to shop or dine out?  Check out our resources page as a starting point.  And don’t be shy asking questions or letting us in on your own discoveries.  Like and subscribe to our free mailing list for updates.  Lots more coming soon!

Help, the caveman’s coming for dinner!

For many families, falling temperatures signal the approach of treasured holiday celebrations, often involving important food traditions. Thanksgiving is about family, origins, and gratitude for sure. But often it’s just as much about roast turkey and stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy, and pumpkin pie. Even for those who don’t celebrate Christmas, it’s hard not to associate the aroma of freshly baked cookies with warm, festive feelings. But just as a vegetarian niece may take issue with your Thanksgiving turkey, or an atheist uncle with your Christmas tree, a guest with celiac disease might unwittingly offend Grandma with the unprecedented decline of her famous pecan logs. Then, just when everyone has finally learned to coexist, a new species of selective reveler arrives: the modern day caveman. Eschewing not just one problem food, this rare breed says he doesn’t eat grains, dairy, legumes, refined sugar or starch, or anything artificial. What the heck is this “paleo” diet he follows, and what on earth does that leave for you to feed him?

Paleo eating (sometimes called the caveman diet) is about eating more like our hunter-gatherer ancestors, on the theory that these are the foods best suited to our biology and good health. Pre-agricultural humans ate wild animals and seafood, organic vegetables (there were no other kind), some fruits and nuts. They did not eat significant quantities of grains, dairy or legumes, all of which contain known gut irritants and digestive inhibitors. They didn’t use refined sugars (perhaps occasional honey), starches, salt, or artificial colors, flavors, preservatives, etc. Much has been written about this by others, so I’ll refer you to their books if you want to learn more about the “why.” Paleo isn’t “one size fits all.” There are different flavors and interpretations, and even the experts don’t all agree. At it’s core, paleo means no grains/legumes/dairy/artificial or refined ingredients, and instead: lots of healthy fats, animal proteins and non-starchy vegetables. There is disagreement, though, about how much fruit, how many nuts, or the inclusion of select dairy products. Most plans exclude starchy tubers, especially white potatoes, but some do not. Significantly, some promoters actually encourage up to 15% “cheating”, and exceptions for coffee or occasional alcohol are common.

So if there are all these rules, and even the rule-makers can’t agree, what do you serve to make these people happy? Does it require a whole new menu, or could minimal tweaks suffice? Will other guests revolt if you remove all the “good stuff”? Relax. With a little communication and flexibility, you can probably make everyone happy without adding a lot of extra work to your holiday routine, and you might find that this “ultra-traditional” way of eating isn’t as crazy as it sounds.

First, you must determine what your goal is: Are you creating a 100% paleo meal or just providing options so nobody starves? A good place to start might be to get a feel for which “flavor” of the diet your paleo guest/s follow. If you explain that you’re feeding a diverse crowd and ask what’s really off limits vs. what’s generally avoided but acceptable for a holiday cheat, you may find that the challenge isn’t as great as you thought. In my own case, I’m not going to knowingly eat wheat or anything with gluten. I generally avoid other grains, dairy, white potatoes, legumes, refined sugars, starches, and seed oils (except olive & coconut) but I’ll make some exceptions for something like a holiday dinner. Likewise, I’ll overlook a few (otherwise paleo) foods that I’ve cut down on for possible benefit to a thyroid condition: nightshades like tomatoes and peppers, eggs, and nuts. These guidelines might be completely different for someone else, either more or less restrictive for one or more food groups.

What if this dialogue is impossible or uncomfortable; Is there an “easy” button? Some of the most basic holiday foods are already paleo-friendly, or require only a slight tweak. A centerpiece hunk of animal flesh (turkey, lamb, prime rib, wooly mammoth…) will please stone age diners along with other omnivores – so long as it’s free of any deal breakers. I’d say avoid gluten for sure (check turkey labels) and serve sauces on the side if possible. Basting with butter or sweet sauces is an acceptable cheat for many, but best to ask. Any non-starchy vegetables will be appreciated, preferably plain or cooked in olive or coconut oil. Herbs and spices are generally fine. Sweet potatoes are adored by some; and at least tolerated by most – even ultra low-carbers will often make a holiday exception. Most salads are good to go if you omit croutons & cheese or make optional. Though technically legumes, green beans are generally accepted as vegetables since the seed makes up such a small part.

If you’re feeling adventurous, or you’re cooking for someone who can’t/won’t stray from hardcore paleo, there are a couple ways to proceed. You could build your menu from the bottom up, using simple and obviously paleo foods. This will likely be delicious, but could leave certain holiday expectations unmet for some. If your goal is to come as close to your traditional fare as possible, your best bet is probably to get a basic paleo cookbook like Sarah Fragoso’s Everyday Paleo Family Cookbook which will teach you why certain ingredients are a problem, and demonstrate alternatives with recipes like paleo pumpkin pie.

What about… “functional beverages”? strictly speaking, alcohol isn’t paleo. Here again many make exceptions, usually within certain guidelines. Finding out your “cave person’s” preferences ahead of time will probably make everyone more comfortable. If they truly don’t drink any alcohol, offer club soda. Many however, will drink a bit of wine (especially red) or a simple tequila drink – as the real stuff is made from 100% agave nectar and not grains like most other options. Paleo pioneer Robb Wolf has created what many consider the ultimate paleo-ish mixed drink, the Nor-Cal Margarita. Beer is generally out because it’s made from wheat, though there are gluten free beers made of sorghum or other grains. If you’re more concerned with perking them up than loosening them up, you’ll be happy to know that coffee is a common cheat as well. If not then tea is almost always ok, especially green or herbal. Either way, many will skip the cream and sugar. (I like canned coconut milk in mine, but I don’t expect others to have that on hand.)

“Ok,” I can hear you saying, “stop beating around the bush. This is really all about the dessert. What do I do about the pumpkin pie?” There are several options. Most paleo folks are used to passing on desserts. However, if you want to go to the extra trouble there are numerous alternative recipes out there, many of which are quite delicious – everything from paleo pumpkin pies made with almond flour and coconut milk to custards and more. Increasingly there are commercial options as well. Your guest might have a favorite recipe they’d like to make and bring to share with others who are curious. And of course, some will simply make an exception and eat the damn pie because it’s once a year and that’s how they roll.

Editor’s note: Due to circumstances, this article is being published much later than originally intended, and should be considered a work in progress. You will most likely see an expanded version again in the future. Happy Holidays, whatever yours may be…

Genetic engineering is not paleo

GMOs are so not paleo.  Grok didn’t consciously meddle with the genetics of his food sources through selective breeding, and he certainly didn’t use chemicals or viruses to insert specific genes from one species into another.  The former was born of the age of agriculture, and the latter only within the past generation.  Companies such as Monsanto are working to gain and hold market share by developing and patenting varieties of food crops that produce their own pesticides, or which can survive heavy applications of existing ones (which they also produce) – or which possess various other “desirable” traits.

Is this genetic tinkering harmful?  There is much controversy, but a lot of people think it is. Many nations around the world have banned genetically modified organism (“GMO”) derived foods or greatly restricted their use.  About 50 countries currently require GMO ingredients to be disclosed on product labels.  The United States is not yet among them, but there is a large and growing movement to pass this country’s first GMO labeling law: Proposition 37, “The California Right to Know Genetically Engineered Food Act.”What are the potential risks in growing and eating these foods?  GMOs haven’t ever been proven safe. In a sense, we’re all part of the experiment.  The FDA, for its part, conducts no independent testing of GMOs, saying they are “not substantially different” from non-GMO foods.  I’ve never had a great deal of trust in the FDA, largely due to the “revolving door” between the regulatory agency and the food industry.  A wide variety of interest groups are concerned about a plethora of risks: cancer and other health issues, reduction of global genetic diversity, the creation of super bugs and super weeds, soil degradation, even the private control of entire food groups.

Already most non-organic US corn, soy, cotton and sugar beets (the basis of many sweeteners and additives used in processed foods) are genetically engineered. So is the feed given to many of the animals we eat. In fact, 75 – 85% of the processed food in grocery stores contains unlabeled GMOs.

Opposed to labeling what’s in your food are corporations like Monsanto, Dow, BASF, and food conglomerates like Pepsi and Coca-Cola – who along with others have donated nearly $33 million to defeat Prop 37.  Why?  If the law passes in California, some manufacturers have admitted that it may as well be a national law. They don’t want “this product contains GMOs” on their labels, so they will reformulate their products. If they do it for California (with an economy the size of many small countries) they may as well do it for all of them.  Early voting on Prop 37 begins on October 9. By November 6, this initiative will have passed or failed.

My friends know I’m not one to seek new government regulations or mandatory anything.  I take a pretty strict constitutionalist/libertarian view, preferring to let the free market work and consumers to exercise their power non-coercively.  I don’t think it’s the business of the government to decide what is good or bad for us.  But I do think protection from fraud is a legitimate function of government, and I see the current “marketing” of GMO foods as a massive fraud.  Unless told otherwise, a consumer should be entitled to assume that “tomatoes” are tomatoes as typically understood and found in nature, with roughly the same nutrition profile, allergenic potential, etc.  It should be safe to assume that the tomato’s DNA hasn’t been adulterated with fish genes, for example, or altered to allow the plants to survive massive doses of an herbicide that the seed company also holds the patent for.

I don’t think we should (or need to) ban the development, production, or sale of these products.  I do support the requirement that it be disclosed when food ingredients are so altered.  If you do as well, you can sign this petition asking the FDA to require disclosure of GMO ingredients.  But honestly, California Prop. 37 probably has more hope for success.  Regardless of how much (or little) you choose to ask the government to protect you, I hope you’ll vote first with your dollars and buy foods as close to their natural state as possible.

New: Restaurant Directory!

MadisonPaleo.com is proud to announce our new Guide to Madison area restaurants. This is a searchable database of local eating establishments featuring notes on options for paleo diners, and tips for improving your experience there.

This is an ever-growing and continually updated collection, and your input is key to making it the best it can be!  So let us know what you like (and don’t like) at your favorite spots, as well as any additional features you’d like to see!

Please be patient as this is a brand new feature. We expect updates to happen at least a few times a week. I hope one day soon we’ll see our first true paleo restaurant, or at least a food cart, but until then let’s work together to find and celebrate the cleanest options available in this land of deep-fried cheese curds! Bon appetit!

Welcome to Madison Paleo

Finally, a comprehensive resource for Madison-area Paleos and people who feed them!

Are you a hungry Badger struggling to find grass-fed beef, organic vegetables, or coconut flour?  Feel like our hundreds of restaurants all specialize in fried cheese?  Looking to connect with like-minded folks to share tips, recipes and perhaps a NorCal margarita*?  Whether you’re new to Mad City or a lifelong resident, we’ll help you find find what you’re looking for!

The site officially opens in late August, but feel free to wander around the construction site for a sneak peek – just don’t expect everything to work yet.  Be sure to bookmark us so you can come back when we’re ready, or better yet: register your email address and we’ll send you a proper invitation.  Comments and suggestions are more than welcome any time.

* Yes, I know alcohol doesn’t fit most people’s definition of paleo, but this is Wisconsin after all, and if it’s close enough for Robb Wolf…