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School Lunch #Foodrevolution in Full Swing (but keep an eye on counter-revolutionaries)

Warning: this post may be harmful or fatal to naïve & overly patriotic American flag wavers...

This is sort of a follow-up to a post just over a month ago: It’s The Crap; Just Eat Real Food. In large part that post was about the abysmal state of "school lunches" in the USA -- especially in comparison to the far higher quality exhibited in pretty much every other country on the face of the Earth. That's right: America sucks. When it comes to food, most Americans are treating their kids like shit.

When I see how kids are eating in general in America now, I'm satisfied to declare that I'm becoming increasingly embarrassed to even refer to myself as one. I'd be perfectly happy to see the 200 & somthing-yr-old project go right down the shitter for good, given that such loathsome atrocities have been perpetuated for so long. But you can't do that because these are kids we're talking about and so, I'm all for beating adults into submission on this topic -- with truncheons, if necessary. And if you think that's extreme then realize that what we're talking about here is a pernicious form of abuse -- malnourishment -- carried out over roughly two decades -- and increasingly less -- until the kids become adults and then go perpetuate the same sort of abuse on their own children because the food culture in this country, particularly for kids, has been driven down to the lowest depths of mediocrity and depravity of anyplace on the face of the planet. Even dirty little third-world shitholes have a better food culture than America, now. I know, because I've had fabulous street vendor meals in many of them, from Djibouti to remote Islands in the Philippines without even the benefit of electricity. Poor people care about their food because getting it requires so great a proportion of their time and income. They care, and it is precisely this high time & effort value in food that forms the basis of healthful and wholesome food cultures around the world in the first place. How much time & effort goes into a trip to McDonald's? Hell, we can't even be bothered with taking the time to go in and sit down, anymore.

When I now hear tripe about how America is "the greatest country on Earth," I wanna puke. It's real simple: the Greatest Country on Earth would be absolutely the last place on Earth you would find its most precious members of society -- its children -- eating garbage, getting obese to the rate of 20%, now; and developing diabetes and fatty liver disease at ages unprecedented in all of human history. A quote from that post linked above.

What impressed me most of all about the French school lunch was not just the deliciousness of the food, but that everything about it — the brightly decorated lunchrooms, the gorgeous kitchens, the lunch moms, the chefs — sent such a deep message of caring. To my ears it fairly screamed, “We care about and love our children. They are us, after all, and we want them to eat well and be nourished.”

Unfortunately, that is about the last message American school lunch sends to our children. Instead, we’re saying, “We have to feed you something; it’s gotta be cheap, and we don’t really care about it or you.”

So stop with that "greatest country" BULLSHIT! until the house is in order, by which I mean a general public default on the most basic and fundamental responsibility an animal ever has in its entire life: proper care, nourishment and training of offspring until they are competently self-sufficient.

What is more fundamental than that? What does it say about a country that's the richest in the world, yet has the world's most obese and unhealthy children? Greatest country? You're deluded, then. It's not even close. How can it be, with such a deeply damaged culture of basic food, nutrition, health?

Americans: Here's what Real Food looks like, you despicable, uncaring, ignorant fools; you child molesters. Get off your fat, lazy, miserable asses; go shopping, and for a change, instead of filling your cart with pop-tarts, hot pockets, fruit loops, frozen pizzas, ice cream, candy, and sugar drinks, fill it with Real Food. Then dust off that cookbook you never even cracked open and get busy.

You're too tired you say? Well try Real Food. It's amazing what it'll do for energy. Processed garbage is a vicious circle. Get off, and get your kids off it too.

Thankfully there seems to be a Food Revolution underway. And I'm going to stay entirely off the political aspects of this because, you know what? I don't give a damn. It's the food culture that's totally fucked. It's not about whose pockets are being picked to pay for it, really. If we had a food culture that existed as it did when my grandparents, parents, and I were growing up, this wouldn't even be an issue. People would simply eat well whether they bought it at school, it was a "free lunch," or whether they brought it from home. If food and its quality and wholsemeness were essential, inviolable concerns the money would take care of itself, rest assured.

Part of the previous post I linked to above was about the mysterious Mrs. Q, the school teacher documenting her year of torture eating school lunches. Well, she has now grabbed the attention of Good Morning America, as well as Jamie Oliver and others.

But not so fast... Evil lurks in the shadows. Yes, I'm talking about the dual menace to society: Margot Wootan and the Center for "Science" in the Public "Interest" (CSPI).

...but what's perhaps most striking is what the meals look and taste like – and the rogues' gallery of components (fries, canned green beans, cling peaches in heavy syrup) that are missing.

Revolution shuns high-fructose corn syrup, artificial colors and flavors, trans fats and deep-frying. Its meats and milk are hormone- and antibiotic-free, and many of its ingredients are organic and locally sourced. [...]

Margo Wootan, nutrition policy director for the Center for Science in the Public Interest, says she's slightly concerned with Revolution's insistence on natural, local ingredients.

"You can have full-fat cheese from a local farmer, and it's still going to clog your arteries and give you heart disease," she says. "Having the food be natural is nice, but a bigger threat to children's health is making sure that there's not too much salt and not too much saturated fat."

...[tapping fingers on desk]...

So I know this post is largely preaching to the choir because all you great readers are part of the revolution to restore a rational, caring Food Culture in America we can once again be proud of. So get out there and talk and celebrate and promote Real Food.

Links, Quick Hits & Meatballs Again

~ As a GERD sufferer for many years, on prescription Proton Pump Inhibitor meds also for years before going Paleo and stopping them, I had been toying with a post on how to get off the meds. Well, someone else is now doing a series so those interested will want to follow along. Here's part I: What Everybody Ought To Know (But Doesn’t) About Heartburn & GERD.

In this first article I will present evidence demonstrating that, contrary to popular belief, heartburn and GERD are caused by too little (not too much) stomach acid. In the second article I’ll explain exactly how low stomach acid causes heartburn, GERD and other digestive conditions. In the third article I’ll discuss the important roles stomach acid plays in maintaining health and preventing disease, and the danger long-term use of acid suppressing drugs presents. In the final article, I’ll present simple dietary and lifestyle changes that can eliminate heartburn and GERD once and for all.

Should be good. PPIs are awful things, and you should get off them if you can. My quick list for making it easy?

  1. Go very low carb Paleo, at least initially.
  2. Cease all alcohol consumption until you're off the meds.
  3. Employ 1 or 2 intermittent fasting sessions of 18-24 hours per week. If you get bad heartburn 10-12 hours into your first couple of fasts, use water to dilute, but keep fasting. This gives your digestive system the rest it needs to "reset."
  4. Don't drink any fluids before a meal and only sip liquids during a meal. If you can go without any fluid during the meal, better.
  5. Don't overstuff yourself, even low-carb paleo. Better to eat half your meal, see how you feel after 30-45 minutes then eat more if you don't feel full or stuffed.

~ National Post reporter Adam McDowell is giving Paleo a try, and he's also blogging about it.

Should you be interested in detailed updates, I've created a blog, called Me, Caveman, to chart my progress (warning: some posts may not be as clean as you could expect from a family newspaper). Meanwhile I'll be condensing the updates and posting them here at The Appetizer a few times a week, using the tag Caveman Month.

So go check out the Caveman Month condensations and his blog, and give some encouragement in comments where appropriate.

~ This has been around so maybe you've seen it. At Let Them Eat Meat, a blog by an ex-vegan, his Interview With an Ex-Vegan: Kaleigh Mason. I'll quote from a couple of Q&As.

What made you realize that you needed to quit veganism?

I was so depressed I couldn’t laugh at funny things or smile anymore. I had always been depressed, but always able to at least smile. This was a new low.

I discovered I was deficient in a multitude of different nutrients that are readily available in animal products. (b12, zinc, iron, magnesium, vit D, Retinol Vit A). I also found out I had hypothyroidism, and when I did some research I found the link between raw cruciferous vegetables and soy blocking thyroid function. Protein and pre-formed Vitamin A from animal products are critical for thyroid health. When you have a slow thyroid you cannot convert beta carotene into Retinol Vitamin A, the form you need for healthy thyroid function.

Before I was vegan I had ONE cavity. I developed eight new cavities in the first two years of being a vegan.

What do you miss about veganism?

I miss believing in the blanket vegan solution for all of our health and ecological problems. Just kidding. I don’t miss one fucking thing.

~ Last night's grassfed meatballs & a salad.

Meatballs in Beef Stock Red Wine Reduction
Meatballs in Fatty Beef Stock & Red Wine Reduction
Green Sals with Cabbage
Spring Mix with Cabbage & Grape Tomato Dressed in Olive Oil & Fresh Lemon

Chicken Sous Vide with Tarragon Rosemary Sauce

Last night's dinner using the Sous Vide Supreme. Chicken was brined in a weak solution (5 tbsp per quart of water) for an hour, sealed up with a pinch of sea salt & pat of butter, like here, then cooked at 146F for two hours. Click for the high quality version.

Chicken Sous Vide
Chicken Sous Vide

The sauce was a quart of a quality low-sodium, organic, free range chicken broth reduced by about half, along with a pinch or two of a poultry dry rub mix, about 1/2 cup of chopped fresh tarragon, a small sprig of fresh rosemary and two good tbsp of butter. Then it was strained and thickened with a slurry of 1 tsp potato starch. Save a half cup of the cold broth to make your slurry (if it's not cold it will lump up).

Once the chicken came out I saved the butter-chicken juice from the bag, laid the chicken out on a cookie sheet, brushed it with the juice and fired under the broiler for a short time -- then finished it off with the kitchen torch. Tasted the juice and it was very rich, yummy, buttery so I stirred it into the sauce and it made it even better than it was.

The mash was a standard semi-lumpy mix of potatoes, butter & heavy cream. Heat the butter & cream on the stove first so it doesn't cool off the potatoes. Also, that was just the right amount starch, or, there was so much fat in the meal that it blunted any kind of blood glucose crash. We were all drinking wine and easily stayed up until 1am playing cards, nobody showing any signs of drowsiness.

Dinner for six. Huge hit, especially the sauce. I'm gonna have to start bottling some of my concoctions...

Enjoy Your Saturday Evening Folks; Here’s Some Emmylou Harris

Not exactly rock, but it is from an album named "Wrecking Ball," Emmylou Harris, from 1995. Deeper Well.

I'm working on dinner. Chicken in the brine, Sous Vide Supreme warming up, and a tarragon sauce planned with some lumpy mash. Dinner for six, tonight. See you on the other side.

Poor Poor Matt Stone

I think it's time to expose some serious hypocrisy on the part of Matt Stone. I take no particular pleasure in it and frankly, had reservations about doing it, so sent out some email probes to people whose opinions I respect and received unanimous encouragement to move forward. One of the rules I try to follow is to save my ire for the truly bad stuff out there. I think it's counter productive to fight with people who are largely on your side.

But is Matt Stone on "our" side at all? As always with what I'm going to reveal, you be the judge. And, you know, I don't follow him on Twitter anymore but when people alert me to stuff like this...

@DianaHsieh Nikoley's health/nutrition/lifestyle advice is some of the most metabolically-destructive advice I have found in all my studies.

...I just have to shake my head. Hyperbole, much? Here, check out all the people whose metabolisms have been destroyed.

First, a little background. Way back when, Matt Stone and some of his readers began showing up in comments promoting something they were calling the "High Everything Diet." I believe I called it right back when I blogged about it: HED: High Everything Diet (If eating garbage is your problem, just eat more of it).

Fast forward to a couple of months back where suddenly, Matt Stone was all over the place in comments on various blogs I follow, and here too. He reached out to me and we began some correspondence. Well, then it resulted in this nonsense: Richard Nikoley has a “Low Body Temperature” and “Edema?” You be the judge.

Even at that point I was prepared to let it slide and just move forward. Until this.

This e-mail sent to me the other day by a prolific Paleo blogger that was tired of being sick and infertile and decided to abandon her Paleo ways says it all. My kudos to Mark Sisson. His "Primal Challenge" may just be the thing that solves this population problem, saving mankind from walking over the edge of the overpopulation cliff. And the best thing about it is that the metabolism slows down so much that delayed stomach emptying can still give women the satisfaction of feeling pregnant even though they are far from it! [...]

Please, for the love of the planet - its resources, and more, please leave this blog immediately and seek the sage advice of the real heroes of humanity such as Mark Sisson and Kurt Harris... and dare I say Richard Nikoley - a guy who lost weight exercising, fasting, and eating a low-carb diet to the point where he has become the almighty guru of everlasting health and a sustainable planet!

I decided that Stone had simply been duplicitous all along in an effort to elevate himself above those who have earned their readership and influence through consistent hard work and proven results for many over significant time. But rather than create a raucous over it, I simply chose to ignore him and, above all, to afford him no aid whatsoever in promoting his efforts.

And then he attacked Jimmy Moore: Poor Poor Jimmy Moore. I don't know about you, but this sort of fake compassion makes me want to vomit.

Jimmy is such a good guy. It really is upsetting to see Jimmy digging himself deeper and deeper into the low-carb dungeon. But Jimmy is trapped.

Even still, I just shook my head and let it pass. Jimmy can defend himself and on top of that, the only reason people know of Jimmy's difficulties is because he's meticulously honest about reporting everything, with photos to boot. And that includes his successes too, like the 20 pounds he's taken off in the last two weeks following a dietary regime prescribed by two low-carb doctors who actually treat real live obese patients.

Then, a few days back a reader tweeted me with a link to one of Matt Stone's recent videos asking, "Ya notice, Matt's lookin' puffy faced. Hope his thyroid's okay...." So then I began to wonder. If you go to Matt's blog, what you see on the header is a photo of a young man who, while not ripped is certainly lean & healthy looking. On a lark, today, I set out to compare a photo from his main website with a screen clip from that video.

Matt Stone Before After
Matt Stone Before & After

Looks like a carb face to me. Ok, but what if the video image through compression just makes him appear that way. You know how they say that TV puts 10 pounds on you. Benefit of the doubt? So I checked something else, his recent video on making Steak Tartare. First, let's look at another image from his blog demonstrating a perfectly respectable flat tummy.

Flat Respectable
Flat & Respectable

And here's a screen clip from that video of an entirely recomposed tummy.

Pretty Doughy
Pretty Doughy

Now, in case you think that's just catching him at a bad moment, represents a bad angle or whatever, then watch the whole video and see if that isn't entirely fair and representative.

If this is the way Matt wants to go about pursuing "health" then it's really none of my business. Notice -- unless I've missed it -- that he's not much into talking about LDL particle size, vitamin D levels, systemic chronic inflammation often signaled by "carb face," coronary calcium scores, etc. That's fine too. But dishing out uninvited "health" advice to fellow bloggers when he seems to have some "metabolic" issues of his own? Or, is it just that High Everything Diet (HED) is really Too Much Food (TMF)?

I'll finish by saying something nice. In spite of the apparent hypocrisy, he does seem to at least be following his own advice. Question is, do you want to follow it? Or, perhaps you can do just what he said to do in that quote above and "...please leave [his] blog immediately and seek the sage advice of the real heroes of humanity such as Mark Sisson and Kurt Harris..."

Mark Sisson
Mark Sisson

Well, I guess he did mention me, too. I still have more "metabolic destruction" to go in order get to the kind of metabolic havoc Mark & Kurt have wreaked on themselves. I've done about an additional 7 pounds of harmful metabo-destruction since this photo was taken

Richard Nikoley
Richard Nikoley

I'm 49, Mark is 55, Kurt is 49. Matt's blog says he's 32. We'll see what he looks like at 50 -- in 18 years.

Update: the Modern Paleo Blog weighs in on the matter.

Peaceful People, Modern Society and Paleo Principles

I think a number of readers get a bit uncomfortable when we wander off the diet, health, conditioning and other closely related subjects on this blog. On the other hand, isn't the Paleosphere replete with blogs and other resources devoted exclusively to diet, to recipes, to workouts, or some combination?

I never wanted to specialize, and the primary reason for that is because my own great leap forward in health has been so multi-faceted, and too, I hate feeling boxed in. I have often related that hand-in-hand with the brief intense workouts and paleo-like diet, that I also got off the cable news addiction, talk radio addiction, financial news addiction, and hand-wringing-over-politics addiction.

The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed -- and hence clamorous to be led to safety -- by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary. -- H.L. Mencken

And then I began sleeping like a baby again -- and guiltlessly so, in great splendor. So: isn't that another piece of the overall Paleo puzzle?

But why cherry pick, since I'm also not going to go "live like a cave man?" Because "Paleo" is in some sense a philosophy; or, rather, a framework of knowledge & principles whereby one assembles a foundation from whence a modern philosophy might be built, and we want that: modernity, advancement, improvement. The last thing I want Paleo to represent is static stagnation, or primitivism, squalor, separatism. And while so many of us have done marvelously in constructing a modern approach to food choices, exercise choices and entertainment, fun and relaxation, how many of us have extrapolated some of that deep evolutionary understanding of our own humanity to how we might best conduct ourselves as free animals in a modern society?

It's too bad I have to deal in labels that don't quite clearly convey what I mean. ...And there's probably no word in the world more loaded, more misunderstood, more confused, more bi-polar, than: anarchy. I mean, for most people, it's hard to even see the word without finishing the phrase: "& chaos." Much was made of Lierre Keith's recent assault at the hands of "anarchists." But was that an essential description or would "bullies" might have sufficed and been more accurate? Ok, ok, let's answer the implicit question: what kind of "anarchists?" Well, none at all, from my perch. They were really just your run of the mill communists & deep socialists (redundancy alert!) and all applicable varieties therein. I'm not going to belabor the point here. More accurately, they're nihilists.

Let me explain. Suppose there were some in our society who had a problem giving up the fun & jolly Santa Claus myth by around age five or so. Such a condition might motivate the formation of "asantaists" as some epistemological position (or ethical and political if "santaism" went along far enough). So what is an "asantaist?" How about a group that wishes to destroy by force, if "necessary," all vestiges of the jolly old man with a little round belly, that shook when he laughed, like a bowl full of jelly? Sure, they're "asantaists" alright, but aren't they more importantly bullies, nihilists, spoilsports, party-poopers and...vegans? And how do they compare with the down-to-reality "asantaists" who just want to talk sense? Or, those who wish simply to admonish you -- but only if you'll listen -- that willingness to entertain fantasy in one area might carry over to others and end in real harm? We're talking about a bi-polar condition surrounding the same concept: brutality & force vs. peaceful persuasion and freedom of association; opposites, in fact. But even so, they are to some extent both still "asantaists."

So there's a one-paragraph metaphor that I think pretty much describes the essential problem with the word "anarchy."

Are you interested in where this is going? I hope so. If not, that's cool and there'll be more Food Porn or Dietitian Ridicule or SatFatGood soon enough. But if so, do you have 10-15 minutes to inform yourself in some radical, but eminently peaceful, political philosophy that might make the rest of this far more valuable in terms of considering alternatives to the political and social status quo? From a seemingly unlikely source: an old friend; a realtor in Phenix, AZ, with a pretty deep background in things classical, Hellenic, and Greek. Greg Swann; SplendorQuest: A real-estate professionals’ guide to anarchy in the USA.

If you would, please go read it and return so the quotes I use will make more complete sense. Now that we've dismissed the nihilist anarchists as, essentially, mostly engaged in nihilism, how about the next branch? These guys -- and I used to be one of them -- are super "free-marketeers." They're so super-free-market that when they noticed that governments exist by force & coercion, preventing competition in governance -- a monopoly of force, coercion...destruction -- that they drew the natural & obvious conclusion: the problem is with monopoly. We need a lot more force & coercion -- competition over it -- which, by virtue of "market forces," will somehow result in not more but...less destruction. Yep. Don't like the government you have? Fine. Hire another and go to war with the former. That'll be peaceful.

I know I'm glossing over finer points but it's only as a means to get to where I want to be. First, here's Greg outlining the foregoing in his way.

In general, advocates of free-market anarchism will insist that the polities they envision will be entirely voluntary. I dispute this claim. The two best known defenders of free-market anarchism — David Friedman (son of Milton Friedman) and Murray Rothbard — both envision free-market police forces that would engage in violent trespass onto private property and forceful coercion of individuals suspected of having injured other members of the polity. I think this is simply thoughtlessness — the failure to have thought through the unwillingness of each member of the polity to volunteer for this kind of abuse. But, to my knowledge, Janioism is the only argument for free-market anarchism that foreswears system coercion both of members of the polity and of strangers who might find themselves subject to the dispute resolution systems of a Janioist polity.

Sorry; as I said, you'll need to read his post to decode some of that.

So let's get back to the Paleolithic. How did we get here? What were we like? What sort of social framework did we evolve in? Modern society is certainly far different, but is that advancement, or something else?

If it's something else and I think surely it is, then it's that we've conditioned ourselves to be slaves, but slaves of the worst possible kind: slaves who live in the fantasy that they're really free. Moreover, and get ready: modern "social food" is cannibal food. When someone says "socialism," I immediately think: "cannibalism." But no one could dispute that cannibal isn't Paleo, so what gives? Do I jest, much? Well, what does give? Isn't that a vestige of primitive savagery -- cannibalism -- that we could put aside -- at fucking least, please! -- instead of figuring out loopholes?

I think it's an interesting parallel that rather than slaughter certain animals for their meat, we domesticated them so we could milk them and derive far more value over a lifetime. I have no idea how widespread human cannibalism may have been in the Paleolithic and beyond, but did agricultural civilization represent, essentially, a trade -- even an unconscious, evolutionary one -- of cannibalism for slavery? "Don't worry, we're not going to take your fingers & toes -- or bleed you outright & eat your liver. Instead, you get to be a citizen. And hey, in a few thousand years, you'll even get to vote!!! (oh joy). But wait! There's more. You'll also get this combination spaghetti pot, clam steamer...and, you'll get to vote to live at everyone else's expense! Now how much of your freedom will you give up?"

And so we come full circle, from real cannibals at times to metaphorical cannibals who get to vote on it: who goes into the pot & who gets to feast.

But let's get back to the question. How did we get here? Who are we? Where can we go from here? Greg, again:

Almost everyone is sane and normal. Few people understand egoism as I defend it, but that’s simply because the forces of evil in our civilization do everything they can think of to smear ideas like egoism, individualism, capitalism, anarchism, etc. Their dominance games will not work without your active, continual surrender, so they indoctrinate you from childbirth to submit to their authority, to fear and resist your own desires, to yield to them in any conflict, to be their perfect little slave at all times. And it works, too. Not only do you sacrifice fifty percent or more of every dollar you produce, you will defend with righteous indignation your glorious servitude.

So until Part II, you glorious slaves! I'll write about how we could be and how best we might engage in political activism of sorts, towards breaking the chains. There are distinctions to make.

The Bavette Will Be My Downfall!

Once again I've wasted time trying to find Mark Sisson's blog about flap steak or bavette. Wanted to give him credit, which this is, but also a link, which I can't do. Alas, it was in one of his Insider emails. A stern email to Mark will follow! :). I am totally and completely in love with this cut of meat. For my money, this is the best cut of meat, ounce for pennies, bar none. I used to love grilled tri-tip roasts as the best flavor for dollar. This beats it hands down for my taste buds. Onward.

Last night. I grilled it this time, just like the first time (link above). From La Cense. Hope you're not hungry. Click to get HQ.

Grilled Bavette
Grilled Bavette

Notice how it's fall apart tender, which you can actually see in the photo, owing to how it's separating from the slicing.

Did a beef stock reduction with butter and then added some crème fraiche I had in the fridge for a bit creamier texture. I'll tell you what, it took a rare level of chivalry to give up my last slice to Bea for her lunch. You must try this.

With Sauce
With Sauce

For the side dish, I did a three-fat veggie sauté: butter, tallow, bacon drippings.

Sauteed Veggies
Sauteed Veggies

Crispy!