Land of the Free Update: Raw Milk & Vernon Hershberger

About to jump on a plane for a weekend trip. Destination, pool side near Palm Springs. I'd wanted to write more about the video that follows, but it pretty much speaks for itself. Watch.

Think the Mafia metaphor is a bit much? I don't. Quite the contrary. The Mafia would actually be marginally easier to work with, you'd stay in business, wouldn't have to spend oodles on attorneys, solicit the help of friends and family. Most of all, there would be no pretense of righteousness.

...Every time I stumble on Sean Hannity and his pathetic "Let Freedom Ring" schtick on the radio, I wanna put my fist through it. That train left the station decades ago.

Free the Animal Blog Initiatives – Promoting the Paleo and Primal Path

I've been spending a good dead of time both unsatisfied with how this blog has been meandering along and wondering what, if anything, I might want to do about that. Here's a possibility, from an email received just this morning, copied verbatim.

I got into your site by chance on browsing.your website sounds impressive to gain knowledge and easy to read..We are pleased to inform you that we do write articles FREE of cost.
we are looking forward to hear your interest. Article are sure for its unusual quality to invite traffic to your website.We provide articles on your topics suggested relevant on your interest.

* We do provide a unique article for your service. No duplication or copying of the article is done. we right contents exclusively for your site on demand.We also give Copy rights for articles to your site on security base.
* In return we expect a link connecting to our website from your webpage

Awaiting your positive reply

Wow. And all that "FREE of cost." Waddya think? Ha, I'm almost tempted to take 'em up on it just to see what I'd get -- though, I imagine they're just steal something "relevant on your interest" from another site somewhere. Hell, I'd probably get some of my own posts as there are certainly enough bot sites out there stealing my content.

OK, there is a serious point to the first paragraph. Here's where I'm at: much as I like to be a place of motivation, entertainment, communion and ongoing education for those well steeped in the Paleo/Primal health style, I'm coming to see that as a much lesser mission -- with the primary mission being to attract, interest and assist those unfamiliar with any of it. Of course, that already happens but I wonder how many stumbling in here aren't enticed to investigate further because it's just not so obvious where and how to access the best relevant information.

Of course, a beginner's guide or ebook would help. Also, a much more formalized section of testimonials from readers.

So, just a brief update on what I'm thinking about. There are a lot of blogs out there, now, and most seem to be focussed on providing ongoing information to the already established paleosphere. But I get a lot of random traffic here from Google and other places and it seems to me that regular posts exclusively of interest to beginners might be called for without being to much of a bore for the old timers.

Suggestions in comments are certainly welcome.

This Says All You Ever Need to Know About Veganism

Very impressive research and analysis but, at the end of the day, we all only believe what we WANT to believe. For example, one person may read the bible and think it’s the greatest story ever told and also believe that it’s the truth. Another person may read the bible and conclude that it’s really just the greatest story ever told. So, whilst Debra’s work is impressive for the amount of time and effort she’s put in, as a vegan I am, not surprisingly, very firmly sat in Dr Colin Campbell’s camp. I just believe Dr Campbell.

Commenter "Neil" (8/24/10 21:00:07). Emphasis added.

“High Cholesterol,” Statins & Diabetes

My mom went to the doc yesterday. As a Type 2 diabetic who controls it pretty well, she nonetheless still does regular visits. She's very low-carb Paleo-ish, and while she was able to be off insulin for a time completely, still finds she needs very small doses now and then.

To the endocrinologist's credit (a new doc), she did acknowledge being impressed with my mom's diet and supplement regime. But there was one little problem: mom's total cholesterol is 217. The doc asked her if she wanted cholesterol lowering meds. But my mom reads this blog and was thus prepared, indicating that for women, higher cholesterol is associated with increased longevity (lowest all-cause mortality and not just an overly reductionist tunnel vision, zeroed in on cardiovascular mortality).

But the doc retorted with something I can't recall reading or hearing about, specifically. She asked my mom if the studies and information she's relying on concerned women with diabetes and not just a general cross-section, as diabetes is associated with twice the heart disease and stroke as for non-diabetics (according to the doc).

Hmm.... So I did some initial digging around. I ended up writing this in a reply email.

The problem is: what level of diabetes? You control yours pretty well, so there is no comparison between you and someone who doesn't.

There is ZERO benefit to lowering cholesterol, especially in women (indeed, the greater chance is it's harmful). Cholesterol doesn't cause heart disease; inflammation does and this is how statins, when they work, work. But keeping grains, legumes, sugar, and vegetable/seed oils out of your diet has an even more anti-inflammatory influence I suspect. Actually, it simply allows your body to go back to its natural, non-inflammatory state.

I added links to an article by Dr. Duane Graveline at Spacedoc, as well as Chris Kresser's 2-part video series on statins at The Healthy Skeptic. The problem is, neither of those seemed to address the issue specifically, and moreover, there's this quote from the first link.

The fact that there is no statistically proven cardiovascular benefit from the use of statins for cholesterol reduction in women was first publicly disclosed by Uffe Ravnskov in his book, Cholesterol Myths and has been corroborated repeatedly by numerous longitudinal clinical studies.

The ASCOT study, the largest randomized clinical study of statin effectiveness in women, found that the women who took Lipitor, developed more heart attacks than women in the group given placebo.

While not statistically significant this finding hardly supports cardiovascular benefit. In this ASCOT study, 2,000 women were included among 10,000 patients having elevated blood pressure and at least three other cardiovascular risk factors.

Again and again, clinical studies have failed to show that the use of statins lowers cardiovascular risk in women who do not already have coronary heart disease or diabetes.

So just when you think it's all settled, there's that D word, right at the end. This is off the top of my head but as I recall, statins have only been shown statistically beneficial to men who have had a previous coronary event (statins reduce the rate of subsequent events). But is there another category of benefit out there I don't know about?

So I did more digging and came up with this:

Is diabetes a coronary risk equivalent? Systematic review and meta-analysis


Aims To determine whether patients with diabetes without prior myocardial infarction (MI) have the same risk of total coronary heart disease (CHD) events as non-diabetic patients with previous myocardial infarction.

Methods Using MEDLINE, EMBASE, Cochrane and MeSH in this systematic review and meta-analysis, extensive searching was carried out by cross-referencing from original articles and reviews. The study consisted of cohort or observational studies with hard clinical endpoints, including total CHD events (fatal or non-fatal myocardial infarction), stratified for patients with diabetes but no previous myocardial infarction, and patients without diabetes but with previous myocardial infarction. Studies with less than 100 subjects, follow-up of less than 4 years and/or without provisions for calculating CHD event rates were excluded. The review of articles and data extraction was performed by two independent authors, with any disagreements resolved by consensus.

Results Thirteen studies were included involving 45 108 patients. The duration of follow-up was 5–25 years (mean 13.4 years) and the age range was 25–84 years. Patients with diabetes without prior myocardial infarction have a 43% lower risk of developing total CHD events compared with patients without diabetes with previous myocardial infarction (summary odds ratio 0.56, 95% confidence interval 0.53–0.60).

Conclusion This meta-analysis did not support the hypothesis that diabetes is a ‘coronary heart disease equivalent’. Public health decisions to initiate cardio-protective drugs in patients with diabetes for primary CHD prevention should therefore be based on appropriate patients’ CHD risk estimates rather than a ‘blanket’ approach of treatment.

So on the one hand, statins are of no benefit to women, even those who have had a previous coronary event (unlike for men), and on the other, even men & women with diabetes who have never had a coronary event are far less likely to have one than non-diabetics who've had one.

While that's not a direct study of the question (do statins lower coronary events in women with diabetes?), putting 2 and 2 together seems to imply to me that given the rate of serious side-effects experienced by those on stains, combined with what seems like a very dubious benefit to a woman with well controlled diabetes, equals not much reason to take them and lots of reasons not to.

Anyone have anything contrary, or better. Either way.

Lamb Shoulder Chops and Roasted Curried Cauliflower

Before I get to the pictures of naked food caught in compromising positions, I'm going to relate a short story.

As I've written about many times, I lived in France for a couple of years in the early 90's. A couple of years after I left, I went back to visit some friends, ending up staying with some of them for a few days at a mutual friend's house in the country -- an old house, built in a classic way -- and an important feature was the fireplace. It was designed to be able to cook in it.

I'll never forget this because it goes to the elegant simplicity of what food can be. And so one late afternoon we got a bunch of lamb chops. I can't recall what cut but they were maybe 1/2" thick, but large cuts otherwise. And I can't recall whether we seasoned them with any salt & pepper either. But what I recall vividly is how we prepped them after the cooking. We simply took cloves of fresh garlic, sliced them in half, and as as the hot lamb steaks came off the fire (direct flame), we rubbed them down with the fresh garlic.

I'll never forget it.

This is a bit more involved, but the process reminded me of that, so I thought I'd share. As always, click for quality images.

All Ready for the Fire
All Ready for the Fire

So these are grassfed lamb chops from the shoulder. I got them at Whole Foods (yea, I go there sometimes, now). To the side is a simple deal with olive oil, 2 cloves of garlic crushed & chopped, fresh rosemary chopped & crushed and some dried thyme. I almost never do marinades in the sense of letting the meat sit in one for hours. Other than a few select dishes, I like my meat to be meat, and sauce to be sauce. It doesn't make a lot of sense to me to try and change the core flavor of the meat.

So, the lamb went on the hottest grill I could come up with and after the first turn, cooked side was dealt some of the oil & herbs. Repeat. In the end, top side gets another treatment.

But first, how about the side dish? Some time back I was intrigued by a recipe from Darya Pino at SummerTomato.

I’ve resisted publishing this recipe for months because I was worried it was too simple for an entire blog post. But every time I cook it for someone (which I do all the time because it is so easy and delicious) they ask me for the recipe so they can try it themselves. Now I can just send them a link.

Well, I'm adding this to my list of fine cauliflower dishes. Here's a couple I've done before: Au Gratin and Burnt Almond Meal (used to be bread crumbs).

So the recipe is on Darya's blog. Super simple. Here's how it looks before heading into the oven.

Cook Me
Cook Me

And so I did. Here's the final deal, lamb and veggie together, finally.

Eat Me
Eat Me

And so I did.

What Two Ignorant Morons Having a Discussion Sounds Like

"Dr. Holly Phillips spoke to Maggie Rodriguez about the grave dangers of eating red meat daily."

That was from March of 2009. I actually blogged about the stupid non-study behind such nonsense that passes for news reporting. Dr. Eades demolished it as well.

I don't know if it's just me, but it seems as though I'm seeing a whole lot less of this kind of crap, lately. Let's hope so, and that I keep having to dip up 2-yr old crap to give us something to laugh about.

Oh, and Dr. Holly Phillips? Complete dipshit who should know better. Plus, she's a fat ass and she's a fat ass because she knows shit about nutrition.

The Sunday Rant

Well, I name a lot of new things -- like "Friday Bullshit!" What I've found is that I need to name a lot of things and come up with lots of ideas, most of which will fall by the wayside.

But that doesn't mean I'm not going to surprise you with Bullshit! on a Friday.

But for right now, how about a random rant, finished off with some Led Zep?

Do you wanna know what I hate, right now? I Hate American styled customer non-service. We gotta be the worst in the world. Hell, I just sat through a totally boring rendition on non-service via AT&T as concerns my parents' desire to ADD a TV to their existing "Uverse" install (I'll save you the details: took more than a week of dealing with fucking idiots).

But my personal peeve, which I guard & cherish so I can fucking hate it, is restaurant servers. I always preserve special wrath. I eat out quite a lot and I think servers have gotta be the touchstone for what I'm talking about.

I should make this short: You know what, fuckers, servers? This isn't about YOU. I don't need you coming to my table every two minutes to assure yourself that you're doing just fine, or even better, because I don't give a runny shit. Chances are, you have little to do with it anyway, and moreover, are we not here to eat a meal? Or, is our purpose merely to affirm a decent meal, a decent service and you're all set? Leave me the Fuck alone because if something isn't right -- so common as that is -- I'm gonna let you know.

I was annoyed about it for years but Beatrice is the one who brought this to my attention, four years ago in our three week tour of Europe, and then again a month ago, affirmed.

Servers NEVER come to your table to ask you how everything is. Never happens, ever. Can you guess why?

And now, Led Zeppelin, Over The Hills and Far Away. Live.

First Free The Animal Giveaway – $120 Value

Let me get this out of the way: not a big fan of all the contests & giveaways I see out there. Typically they involve some sort of hoop jumping and a prize. Fine, not a big deal, just that I always wonder what motivates people to do the hoops. Y'know what I mean?

So let's call this an "organic giveaway." What happened is that very late to the party, I posted about Ann Marie Michaels' cooking class the other day and much to my surprise, Ann Marie informs me yesterday that my post sold six classes. That's $720 revenue (I get a piece, but I don't recall how much) for what I consider to be an excellent cause. Her blog, while not fully Paleo, is tops. She cares about food and is out there getting others to care.

So, she gave me a class for free. I logged in and lesson number one is so chock full (with 11 more to come) that I knew I was not going to be able to get the value out of it that such immense effort deserves. I have a LOT going on, including regulatory compliance issues with my company, a startup I'm working on, selling my house & moving, and more.

So I asked Ann Marie if I could give the class away. Of course, she agreed, and so here we are.

To enter, just post a comment. I'll cut it off either, when I get 50 comments or, tomorrow (Monday) noon, PDT (so worst case if you get in is a 1:50 shot). Say whatever you like, but any comment is an entry. I'll use a random number generator to pick the winner.

I'd only ask that entrants be enthusiastic about making full use of the course and have the cycles to do so. Those who enter but don't win will be provided a code for a $20 discount.

Update a few hours later: We're at our fill of 50 comments. And a deal is a deal. I want everyone who signed to have a 1:50 shot at the win. Still, 49 of you aren't going to win, so you might consider that next time you plop down grassfed beef money on a lottery ticket where 50 million of you aren't going to win. :) I'll announce the winner tomorrow AM and give instructions as to how you losers can get a $20 discount.

Hard to believe, but picked '1' out of a range from 1-53 (the number of comments minus the two replies at the top). I should have made a screen clip, but at first I wondered if perhaps something was wrong as that seems an unlikely result so I clicked it again and it chose 30, then 36, so it's working properly. And I have to go with the first go-round and so, #1 is the winner: JP at Primal Journal. I'll email the details. Also, anyone who fully intends to purchase the course and wants the $20 discount, please email me so I can verify you entered the contest and I'll get you the discount code. But please don't email unless you fully intend to purchase, i.e., have already made your decision. Thanks all for playing along. And congrats to JP.

Friday Morning Notes, Links & Quick Hits

So much going on that I only have time for a few quit his and random updates.

~ Entirely experimental for now but I tossed together a personal blog for those who might be interested. I've been toying with the idea of making FTA less about me and more about the community, the process, the science, food, evolutionary logic, the successes and so on. It's totally experimental for now. One difficulty is in drawing the line; i.e., when something personal is also likely to be of particular interest. Well, in any case I'll probably publish a list here each week of my personal blog entries for those who want.

~ By now you've probably heard about Drew Carey's 80-pound weight loss on a low-carb diet. Here's the photographic evidence.

~ I have not had time to watch this 30-minute video yet by Dr. Chris Zaino on Cholesterol Myths, but it comes to me highly recommended.

~ And here's an all-in-one article on cholesterol and the many myths associated with it, from Mercola.

You are probably aware that there are many myths that portray fat and cholesterol as one of the worst foods you can consume. Please understand that these myths are actually harming your health.

Not only is cholesterol most likely not going to destroy your health (as you have been led to believe), but it is also not the cause of heart disease.

And for those of you taking cholesterol-lowering drugs, the information that follows could not have been given to you fast enough.

~ On the we evolved as meat eaters front -- you veg*n dimwits -- several interesting things. First up is an NPR story stating exactly what I've told the veggies and vegans innumerable times:

It wasn't a very high-calorie diet, so to get the energy you needed, you had to eat a lot and have a big gut to digest it all. But having a big gut has its drawbacks.

"You can't have a large brain and big guts at the same time," explains Leslie Aiello, an anthropologist and director of the Wenner-Gren Foundation in New York City, which funds research on evolution. Digestion, she says, was the energy-hog of our primate ancestor's body. The brain was the poor stepsister who got the leftovers.

Until, that is, we discovered meat.

And now comes evidence of meat eating that's 3.4 million years old, 800,000 years before what was previously established. The only real rub seems to be that archeologists haven't found "stone tools" in these areas. Well c'mon fer fucksakes, it doesn't take a genius to logically deduce that the first stone tools were simply idly strewn rocks our ancestors discovered to be useful and it's that recognition of utility that eventually gives rise to what we recognize as stone tools.

Dr. Alemseged braced for such reactions with confidence.

“Few if any will doubt the authenticity of the cut marks, once they examine the evidence,” he said in an interview. “No one will question the age of the fossils. But who made the cut marks? Maybe there was another, more evolved species around at that time, but that we don’t know. And where are the tools they used? If they were just stones picked up, unmodified, they may be archaeologically invisible, hard to identify.”

Duh! More here at this interesting blog post: Ten scratches on two bone fragments distinguish vegetarians from carnivores.

Cut-marked bone at 3.4 million years ago takes the title of First Meat-Eater away from the genus Homo (Homo habilis, Homo erectus,.... , Homo sapiens) and gives it to the only hominin species known at the time from that region of Ethiopia: Australopithecus afarensis, known for being Lucy’s species.

If you're not quaking in your seat right now, well, then you have got some serious nerding-up to do. This is kind of HUGE: Lucy’s relatives, and maybe Lucy herself, not only used stone tools but used them on big mammal carcasses!?

So does that mean we're really Australopithecus sapiens, or does it mean that Lucy was Homo afarensis?

~ I didn't jump on this bit about fructose and cancer cell metabolism precisely for the reasons outlined in this excellent post by Frank Hagan.

I am as eager as the next low carber to pounce on a media story that equates fructose with cancer, but let’s be honest: this study doesn’t say that. We have a duty to try and report things accurately, although for us laypeople, it can be difficult. Remember, we are critical of the old idea that eating cholesterol added cholesterol to the bloodstream. It makes sense on one level, and that would be great, except it simply isn’t true. We know that now. Why are we so quick to say eating sugar feeds cancer? We need our theory validated with research.

As Frank indicates later, sugar itself probably does contribute to feeding cancer and very low carb diets might help slow progression. I've blogged about that before and think it's plausible, just as fasting seems to be therapeutic. But as we've talked about many times before as to how fructose goes right to the liver, like alcohol, it doesn't make sense that it could feed cancer cells anywhere except, perhaps the liver. If you want to make a connection with fructose then it would be how it contributes to fatty liver, and how liver cancer can be the end result of that nasty progression.

~ A couple of meals. First, a BIG post workout meal at a local Hofbrau. Lots of roast beef, mashed potatoes and cottage cheese.

Big Meal
Big Meal

But not always... Here's my Blue Cheese meatballs. Three of them, with bacon bits. That was the entire meal. They were large meatballs, though.

Small Meal
Small Meal

Reader Results and Dot Connecting

Time for one of my favorite kind of posts, again. This is from Gethin Rees of Great Britain

I've noticed recently that you grately appreciate feedback from those who have enjoyed your website, especially those who have stumbled on the site and then been inspired to implement some ideas.

Firstly let me say how much I enjoy the blog. Secondly it may amuse you to find out that I initally stumbled upon it after a google search on sous-vide cooking at home! The funny thing was that so many strands of interest for me come together in your site.

My 'transformation' may be modest in comparison to some of your posters, but I have dropped 15 lbs since the start of 2010, by a combination of diet and exercise. I have not always been truly 'primal' in my eating, and I was working out regularly beforehand, but the inspiration has been very valuable and significant.

I had noticed the following:

A friend of mine has always impressed me with her general stamina, and how it contrasted with mine. Despite being much 'fitter' than her, I once found myself feeling faint on a morning walk, just because I had skipped breakfast. She was suffering no ill effects. It struck me that she naturally follows many primal ideas despite nobody ever telling her to. She eats only a little starch, and very little processed or sugary foods. She often skips meals, eating only when hungry, but has great stamina and energy. She also tends to eat late at night.

Often after having eaten lunch, I feel unbearably sleepy. At work this was a problem! I had noticed long ago that a solution to this problem was to cut out potatoes or fries at lunchtime – again arriving at a ‘paleo’ solution without understanding why.

I had been exercising regularly doing circuits at home but noticing little gains in strength. Karate classes (which I have been doing for 20 years) always left my joints feeling sore. Seeking to get aerobically fit and burn calories, I really feel I was doing what Mark Sisson calls ‘chronic cardio’. Having modified my approach to increase intensity within the circuit (rather than increasing repetitions of the whole circuit) I noticed immediate benefits.

The other strands of interest that your blog brings together are my love of food, and my interest in human evolution.

I greatly applaud your stance on real food. I have always shied away from ready-made food (with the exception of occasional takeaway indulgence) simply because I don’t like it. I’m also very fond of cooking, and love your ‘food porn’ posts.

Even 20 years ago I was known amongst my friends for regularly commenting on trivial aspects of daily life by saying ‘What would stone age man think if he saw us right now? Since then I have become a huge fan of Jared Diamond and his book ‘Guns, Germs and Steel’ which indicates how many things adopted by civilisation have been successful for the societies themselves (in a Darwinian sense of their competition with other groups), but sometimes extremely harmful for the health of the individuals. Our diet and lifestyles are perfect examples.

Many thanks for your blog. Keep up the good work.

That's the great thing about a real food, paleo, primal styled diet. You suddenly begin to understand the elements in play during the past when you felt good and when you felt bad.

This is the power of reinforcement and why paleo in general is likely destined to have the highest retention rate of any diet or style of eating. But that would make perfect sense, since it's the diet we evolved to eat.