Land of the Free Update: Raw Milk & Vernon Hershberger

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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

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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

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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

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"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

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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

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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.

So You Still Think You Can’t Cook?

I’m late on this, so here real quick and to the point, Ann Marie Michaels over at the great Cheeseslave Blog has created what appears to me to be a great, 13-week online cooking class, dubbed Surf & Turf.

So, all you folks who think you can’t cook, head on over and sign up. Note that the video indicates that enrollment ended August 14, however I have confirmed with Ann Marie that there are still four more days to sign up, so get going.

Here’s the class schedule:

Lesson #1: Protein & Fat: Why You Need It
Lesson #2: Shopping & Stocking Up
Lesson #3: Grilling: Setting Up an Outdoor Grill
Lesson #4: Seafood: Raw & Lightly Cooked
Lesson #5: Seafood: Broiled, Fried & Braised
Lesson #6: Bone Broth: Making Stock from Scratch
Lesson #7: Soups & Stews
Lesson #8: Roasting, Braising, Reductions Sauces & Gravies
Lesson #9: Pan Frying & Deep Frying
Lesson #10: Sandwiches & Salads: Meat-Based Salads & Grain-free Breads
Lesson #11: Organ Meats 1: Heart, Tongue & Bone Marrow
Lesson #12: Organ Meats 2: Liver Four Ways
Bonus Lesson: Appetizers, Side Dishes & Snacks

…Still undecided? Here’s a couple of sneak peaks from the classes: lesson 1 and lesson 4.

So You Think You Can’t Cook?

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As you probably know, I’m no snob when it comes to grassfed beef. Sure, I love it, use it a lot, but there’s just something about the "grassfed" culture in the Paleo movement that rubs me the wrong way, just a tad.

There’s no question it’s the better choice on a number of levels, but to my mind goes far beyond any 80/20 consideration. Someone eating nothing but supermarket meat and veggies, no junk food or cheats, is well above 90%, even 95% Paleo compliance and eating healthy! I’m not knocking grassfed meat at all, but I also don’t want to discourage someone from the Paleo scene because they feel they don’t measure up if all they can reasonably source is grain finished meat due to budget or other considerations. Or, maybe they just don’t want to bother. Their choice, and I’m perfectly fine with it. On top of that, frankly, is that concerns over the environment and sustainability simply fail to keep me from losing a microsecond of sleep. I’ll leave the hand wringing to others. Hopefully, it never gets this bad.

That said, I encourage the preference for grassfed, when you’re ready (it took me a while), for two reasons primarily: it’s probably slightly healthier (and most find it tastier) but more importantly, the animals are respected for their natures. Even so, there are some operations such as Prather Ranch that take great care to raise their stock humanely but finish them — in addition to chopped forage — with some organic barley & rice. Accordingly, it’s not "grassfed" that’s the end all, be all, but that the livestock are properly attended to.

So, down from the soapbox and into the kitchen, here’s last evening’s preparation, dedicated to those who want it simple, quick, tasty and economical. One of the things I like to keep in the fridge is Trader Joe’s pre-cooked pot roast. They come in 1 pound packages and I think cost somewhere between $6-10, but I don’t recall. Then you need some beef stock (TJ’s has that too), half an onion, and some potato, sweet potato, or whatever you like (carrots, turnips…some sort of root, preferably).

Just cube up the pot roast, put it in the cast iron, add a cup or so of beef stock, the onion coarsely chopped, and your root veggies. Bring the stock to a boil, cover, and simmer on low for 10-15 minutes or until the root veggies get soft.

Then put it under the broiler (low setting), 2nd shelf down and let it crisp up for 5 minutes, turn with a spatula and then do the other side.

This is what you get, and it’s delicious. Click for the hi-res.

Pot Roast Taters
Pot Roast & Taters

There’s just something about slightly dried & crisped pot roast that I just love, and especially when you have the moisture of the onion and vegetables to balance it out. So give it a try.

Flying Like Birds: Evolutionarily Unnecessary; Passion Nonetheless

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It’s quite interesting to me that the root of our desire to fly simply comes from observing birds doing it so naturally (are you not wondrously amazed to observe them?). Indeed, it’s the most fundamental aspect of a bird’s nature. It’s…fucking…DEFINING. In general, and with minuscule exception, birds fly. It’s what they do.

(Note to self: got the f-bomb outta the way)

Setting aside the sad videos of old: of people practicing passion over science and paying with their lives, are you aware that you can indeed fly like a bird, albeit with some equipment for assistance? No, I’m not talking about the Wrights or those who fulfilled their glorious legacy. That goes to all the advantages and benefits that come from human flight which are too enormous to delineate. And it’s A Big Deal, make no mistake. The B-747 and now, the johnny come very very lately A-380, are crowning achievements in an endeavor that is, very much, quotidian.

You see, it’s interesting that even though the passion to fly like birds goes way back — and I’m sure Leonardo with his schematics wasn’t the first — that’s not how we ultimately took to the air. We did so by means of engineering. We use — and this is an important distinction — control surfaces. Show me an aileron, flap, rudder or elevator on a bird. Doesn’t exist. But how they controlled themselves was observable enough to invent these crude analogs for controlling the flight of an aluminum tube. We excelled, but we never fulfilled the root of the passion, in my humble opinion.

Let me get something out of the way: I adore aviation and always have. My dad instilled it in me, but I’ll save that story for another post. Even though I was exposed to it from a young age, once I became aware of hang gliding I just knew that’s how I principally wanted to fly. I not on only wanted control, I wanted to control everything. Mark that thought, for the video.

So let me close the circle. Hang gliders work far more like a bird. Not precisely so, because you’d need to be flexing your wing — your airfoil surfaces — with various muscles. That’s certainly beyond our capability, but we get quite close with engineering such that shifting our weight in various ways causes a wing to warp — to bend & contort — in a way commensurate with controlling the aircraft. So, birds are actually a bit more "digital," — think individual feathers — but an analog curve works just fine. When birds employ various muscles to warp & contort their wings — in myriad permutations — it’s much the same sort of warping going on in a hang glider.

So, I’m going to show you a video. This is idle play time during the most recently completed pre-worlds in Monte Cucco, Italy, just this month. I don’t think I mentioned this, but on day 3 or so in Monterosso, Italy, I came down in the morning and saw a car in front of the hotel with about 5 hang gliders loaded on top. I figured they were some German, maybe Dutch pilots down for a flying vacation. I went about my business. Returning a while later, I saw there were people attending to the car. "Jamie, is that you?!" Yep, I ran into an old HG acquaintance way over in Italy (from my beginner days in Bay Area). She was with the boyfriend as I surmised, and Jonny Durand, the top competition HG pilot in the world. They were taking a day or so of R&R in the Cinque Terre between the Spanish Nationals an the Pre-Worlds, to be followed by the Dutch Nationals.

So before the video, let me give you a little bit on how a hang glider is controlled, so that you can watch with some sense beyond mere entertainment. Let me note this now: watch how these guys are constantly in movement. I’ll explain below.

Shopping cart.

That’s at least part of it, so let’s talk about that. How do you control a shopping cart? You push one side, pull the other. That’s directional control. There’s a number of additional aspects but I’ll leave it at that, now. The essential difference in terms of endurance is that in an HG you’re suspended, so you have to displace your full body weight. And many competition flights endure for over 3-4 hours.

Speed and up/down is a very complex thing to write about. They apply to both gliders and powered planes, moreso to the latter; but in common, in a normal docile flying envelope, the elevator of an airplane controls airspeed, just like in a glider or hang glider. Because of TV, people tend to think that a control stick means right/left/up/down. Not so, at least for aircraft that aren’t super-powered. For example, some modern fighters can simply power through a loop, even from a near stalled airspeed. In normal fight, airspeed (forward/back on the stick, pull/push on the bar) is what’s more critically important and controlled from those control surfaces or weight shift in an HG (when you see them move forward & aft).

Gliders can do loops too, but they must build up a huge margin of excess airspeed that they can convert into a maneuver (adequate angle of attack, technically), such as a loop.

Now I must be getting boring. The point of all that was only one thing. You can watch the following amazing video in many ways. You can just watch it, or you can understand it on many levels, if you’ve taken to heart and tried to capture what I written above (I tried). But I don’t expect anything and this is uncharted territory. For all I know, my readers are going to think WTF? Here’s the vid. If you have the capability, watch it in 720p HD, full screen.

And by the way. I was intending to do this last (Sunday) night, but got caught up in activities. Not sure about Muse and Knights of Cydonia, but I don’t hate it.

Finally, this is way far easier than it looks. It’s just cause you rarely see 3 dimensional sports on TV. You see 3D beings competing in 2D events. But that’s for another post.

If you want to read all about the day-to-day action at the recent pre-worlds, my friend Davis runs the premier on-site reporting service. (Sometimes the entries don’t have the forward arrow link, so just increase the last number in the URL by one to get to the subsequent issue)

Carne Asada & Spicy Mega Guac

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Inspired by MovNat meals (see the last photo at the link) I have been enjoying grilled carne asada, prepping guacamole as far more than a garnish or dip. Instead, think substitute for mashed potatoes. Do a lot. Tell your guests that rice & beans suck nutritionally by comparison. Fill up on the guac instead.

So getting started, we have the avocados, roma tomatoes, fresh garlic, onion, jalapeno peppers, cilantro and lime. You’ll need salt, too. Salt is one of those essentials for good guac, in my view and it’s the one time I’m pretty liberal in its use. Try it. It’s remarkable how much it brings out the flavor.

Mega Guac Essentialls
Mega Guac Essentials

I don’t use fixed quantities but do it to taste, each step along the way. In this case, all 4 avocados, two of the tomatoes, half the onion, two cloves of garlic, two medium jalapenos, about a half cup of cilantro, lime juice & salt to taste.

Step one is to mash the avocado with a potato masher. You want it chunky, not a puree, so don’t use a processor. Mash it by itself so as not to crush your other chunky ingredients. Next goes the finely chopped onion, to taste. I chop more than enough, add most of it, stir in and add more bits until just right (judge for crunch, too). Next goes the garlic, crushed and finely chopped. Then the peppers, seeds removed, very finely chopped and with a bit of a crush from the side of the knife. Do one pepper first, stir in, let sit and taste in about five minutes. Add whatever portion or all of the 2nd pepper, or more if you like. I like it pretty spicy and should have got a 3rd pepper.

The tomatoes are coarsely chopped, seeds & mush removed. For the cilantro, I like to chop up both leaves and stems in about equal portions from both sides. Be careful. It’s pretty powerful and can overpower the other flavors. Last is lime juice & salt to taste. As mentioned, I recommend going a bit liberal on the salt.


I have a sister-in-law who makes awesome guacamole. I couldn’t reach her yesterday to confirm the particulars of her recipe or method, but this is what I imagined it might be close to. The jalapeno is the essential ingredient — other than the avocado, of course.

Next step was to get grilling the carne asada, obtained from the excellent Mi Pueblo market in walking distance. In this case it was flap meat or bavette, marinated in some green spices. 

Carne on the Grill
Carne on the Grill

A bit blurry on that pic, but the other one was worse. Friends Julie and Robert brought a salad with bacon bits to top things off.


I ate my first helping of salad with just the vinaigrette provided, then for a second helping tossed it with a good bit of the guac, with excellent results. Oh, not pictured but serve the meat with a lime cut in half and squeeze it all over the meat. Essential step.

Dig In
Dig In

A bit blurry there too, but better if you click for the hi-res version.

Later: OK, if you do this preparation, one more word of advice if you intend to take pictures to show your family, friends, or blog about. Make preparations to have enough for leftovers. Doing this post at the end of a fast made me hungry.


Feel free to include some tequila to sip on.

Ginormous Meals for Fat Loss, Leanness and Conditioning

I really didn’t see this coming

Throughout my progress from initially starting the process by eating high-fat/low-carb paleo/primal combined with episodic fasting and brief intense workouts I often remarked at how non-hungry I usually was. And that’s a good thing.

But what if when you do eat — and this is very paleo — you pretend there might not be another meal for a good long while? Suppose you made a kill on the Savannah. Are you going to stop when you’re full, or are you going to gorge yourself silly because of all the unknowns that await you? After all, you can always stop eating. There’s never a guarantee that you can start.

But then again, evolution really only "cares" about carrying the genes forward successfully, so perhaps "pigging out" isn’t optimal for health in a longevity sense, but only in a big-fucking-strong-sperm-donor-to-the-masses right now kinda way. Put a different way, perhaps it was essential survival behavior in the Paleolithic and beyond, but essentially only to impregnate or bear offspring and care for them long enough. Frankly I have no certain idea. It’s all speculative and the logic of evolution and natural selection can only give us clues as to what sorts of evidence to look for.

So while we’re exactly right that we are adapted to eating animal flesh, seafood and all manner of plant material — and not Hot Pockets, Pop Tarts, Cheerios or Pepsi-Cola — this should principally be taken to mean that we are generally adapted to an extremely wide range of food. It says nothing about what’s optimal. Real Food is most likely optimal, in various levels of variety including macronutrient ratios and total energy consumed.

In other words: lots of variety, random eating schedule (including fasting), varied protein, fat, carb ratios and varied levels of consumption all in the context of Real — Primal — Food.

And so the rest of this post is devoted to one aspect of that, one that a lot of people don’t ever do because…"I’m not hungry." Here’s two meals, both break-fast meals (16-18hr fast). The first one is post workout as well, and the second one is a non-workout day.

Meal 1
Meal 1

This was an on-the-fly toss together. One pound of TJ’s 96/4 lean ground beef fried in it’s own minimal fat with 1/4 onion and 2 cloves of fresh crushed garlic. Once the beef was done I added about a cup of beef stock, a tablespoon of yellow curry powder, 7 oz of cubed white potatoes and 5 oz of cubed sweet potatoes. I simmered covered until the potatoes were soft, then thickened with 2 tbsp tomato paste.

That’s a full sized plate, and here’s the profile or "mountain" view. All images can be clicked upon for high resolution versions.

Mountain View
Mountain View

But that’s not all. I also had 2 cups of whole milk mixed with 60g unsweetened whey powder. And still not all, I polished it off with a half of a large cantaloupe, clocking in at 1 pound, 3 oz.

I had another, albeit much smaller meal about 3-4 hours later and then a final one a few hours after that. Interestingly, I had woken up that morning way bloated. I mean way. We had gone out to dinner with a friend and I don’t know what it was but I got awful heartburn, slept like crap and ended up downing a couple of liters of sparkling water during the night to quench the fire. Within hours of the above meal I was peeing like crazy, dumping water like crazy. Hmmm… That was yesterday and today my pants are once again nice & loose.

Alright, next up is this morning’s break-fast meal at a restaurant I like to go to because their weekend special breakfast steak is really good; and they serve it with three instead of two eggs and they cook them in butter for me.

Steak Eggs
Steak Eggs

That’s about a 7 oz grilled tri-tip steak, three large eggs o/e, 2 oz of my wife’s potato, 1/2 cup cottage cheese, and a side of bacon, four strips. And coffee.

Since this is a non-workout day that meal got me better than halfway for today. I’ll eat once more.

So I wonder, how many out there have ever done 250g of lean protein in a sitting (about 2 pounds of meat)? And, why wouldn’t or couldn’t you do that, at least now and then? If it’s because you physically can’t, have you been exercising (practicing)? If you think it’s because it’s not Paleo, then I highly doubt it. Sure, paleoman would not have done this every day, probably not every other day.

And that’s what I’m saying. That first meal is pretty ginormous, probably one of my biggest ever. But those are reserved exclusively for:

  1. breaking a fast of at least 15 hours, and…
  2. after a big (fasted) workout with big weights.

And that doesn’t mean I always do it when the above conditions hold either. Sometimes I just spread it out, or even eat a small meal that’s mostly protein and save the rest for later.

The point is to not do the same thing all the time. When people talk about how many calories they eat each day, how many grams of carbs, fat and protein, I kind of chuckle. That could never be done in the paleolithic, and not only because they didn’t have scales. They didn’t have generally reliable sources. So while all the foods above aren’t strict Paleo (though I’d argue they’re Primal), I think there’s good support that such mixing up of energy intake and macronutrient ratios has a lot of support in a Paleo context.

I can remember a lot of times reading what Keith Norris was eating for his meals and I can remember that even if I was hungry, just seeing a picture and reading the quantity he put down took away my hunger. But now I am enlightened.

Murray: “I Freed My Animal”

I got an email this morning along with stunning graphic evidence of a body transformation so profound and in such a short time that if this doesn’t inspire you, nothing will.

Hi Richard,

I just wanted to give you a quick message here to thank you for the awesome work you’re doing with your website. I came across your site at the beginning of the year after seeing a link to your shampoo experiment, and really liked what I found. I had just started to try and get into shape (like I do for 2 weeks every January) using the old standby – 6 meals a day, whole grains, low fat, daily workouts, etc. I decided to try the caveman thing out, using your site (and Primal Blueprint, discovered as a link on your blog) as my sources of info.

Well after about 6 months of doing this, which is 4 months longer than I’ve ever managed to keep to any kind of eating or fitness plan, I’ve lost 34 pounds and feel better than I have in years, going from 201 to 167. I’m surprised how easy this has been, with fat melting off me even at 36 years old. I’m in better shape than I was in my twenties.

I’m also sending this now after reading your most recent post, maybe as another pat on the back to keep the great work up. There might be a rush of new bloggers coming out of the woodwork, but I’m sure I’d still be fat and cursing yet another failed New Year’s Resolution if it wasn’t for your blog.

I’m attaching a couple of photos. The first is me at the end of 2009, and the second is a few days old, so basically 7 months between photos. I didn’t do any measuring, have no idea what bodyfat is in either photo, all I know or care about is that I’m hauling around 34 less pounds of crap with me everywhere, and I feel better than ever.

Thanks a million, man.

Cheers, Murray

And here you go. To avoid any confusion, the before pic is to the left. You can also click the image for a larger version, y’know, in case it’s difficult to tell the difference:

Murrays Transformation
Murray’s Transformation

I’m not sure what’s more impressive, the transformation itself, or that it took place in only seven months.

In moments like these where I’m the recipient of such gratitude — and really, the transformation itself is payment enough — I think it’s a good idea to -make a few key acknowledgements myself:

Art De Vany, Mark Sisson, Stephen Guyenet, Peter Dobromylskj, Mike Eades, Chris Highcock, Brad Pilon and others, but these are the main suspects who helped me so much when I was just getting stated. Thanks gents. It’s great to receive such sound information and it’s great to pass it along.

Any more doubt that the paleo/primal way, including episodic fasting and lifting heavy shit is the way of the future? It’s the way of the future because it was the way of the past.

Recapturing a Passion

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This one’s to all you former fat asses, like me.

Have you considered that you might be holding back from a former passion that you abandoned or slacked off from because of weight, age, diminished strength? Well I’m going to tell you a story, and it has a bunch to do with why my blogging of late has been rather lazy.

The story is that back in about 1996, nearly 15 years ago, I took up the sport of hang gliding. …Note (and I hate bringing this up): I’m less than enthused when someone comments “I gotta try that!” Listen: I also fly sailplanes and powered aircraft. Hang gliding is way harder. I soloed in powered aircraft inside of a couple of months. It took months of hard effort to get anywhere close in a hang glider.

You don’t “try it.” It’s not parasailing in Mexico, which is merely a ride.

Alright, pet peeve outta the way, let’s get down to what I’m talking about. I’ve found myself less than enthusiastic about blogging in terms of health & fitness, since MovNat. Why? Well, perhaps it’s because that was such a cleansing week. I don’t really know. It would be great if I could tell you: I’m not blogging as much, or as objectively, because…

I can’t. All I know is I don’t feel like it. Is it because there are a rush of new bloggers trying to capitalize on the newfound popularity? Perhaps, and I hope so (and I’m still planing a post to highlight a few of the best). But I think the better explanation is that it’s now a year or so that I’m down to an acceptable weight, leaner, strongest I’ve ever been, and so, I find myself wondering what I really want to focus on.

…This blog…or something else, like maybe a former passion… Here was the hang gliding post from a couple of years ago, after I’d lost most of the weight. But it doesn’t and certainly didn’t feel anywhere close to the same. Perhaps it takes time in the new life?

I’m fucking strong! Really strong. Stronger than at any time in my life by far, and getting stronger. Strength is way underrated, seems to me, from where I sit now, and I’m intent on getting even stronger. And now this shit is easy, so easy where it was debilitatingly hard before. Fun easy…. Gives me confidence I never had, and I actually have designs on perhaps even getting into serious cross country flying (the record is 425 miles in a day in a hang glider) and competitions (typically, 80-100 mile tasks over 6-8 days straight). It’s a passion. It has reawakened! And in such a way as I’m envisioning what I didn’t even envision 15 years ago when I began.

I hold Paleo eating and lifting heavy weights responsible. Damn it!

So here I am. I maybe want to blog about lost passions for a while, or maybe nothing and just field comments if they come. Can any of you help in comments? Can you think of something that was once a passion that went by the wayside when you got fat, old, or some combination thereof, that you made all sorts of excuses for?

I tried to edit this video down as much as I could. It was a lot of footage, but still sits at 10 minutes to capture the essentials from where I sit. The last one was just of me doing the deal, the flying. 2:30 out of 40 minutes. This one is about the run up to flying and all that goes into it, which is a lot. But hopefully, you see the passion, even more than the sport of it. And there’s more below the video.

And what the hell… I figure a few of you guys out there might be comfortable in thinking this is way, way, way, a Macho deal, and as such, way easily dismissible (but that’s ok, ’cause that’s just ’cause I wanted to post hot chick video no matter what). Lame excuse, and no offense. Still, check out the hot hang glider chicks. Really!

From New Zealand.

And, check out artsy fartsy.

I love how she describes the video.

This is an exaggeration on the difference between my ‘real’ life and my hang gliding life. I am not that depressed in real life :) but I do daydream about it a lot. I love the challenge, seeing new places from a different perspective, meeting people I connect with and having too much fun!

A super understatement, for a modestly overstated video. I relate because I can remember months in the early years where I thought of little else than flying — for hours — before McDonald’s & Pizza.

How can I wrap it up? Hang gliding can be really, really scary, at certain times. Weather conditions, mostly, but also unfamiliarity with where you’re landing and a host of other things. This is an enormous aspect of the allure. Scare yourself half to death, often irrationally so, but with a real connection (flying on your own, right out there), but with an alcoholic beverage out there upon completion. What more do you want?

It is the most difficult, varied form of aviation, bar none, and I could expound upon that. …Well, perhaps if you had to shoot other gliders down. There might be that.

Is this boring, irrelevant, or something else undesirable? Let me know, in comments. Anyone else have lost passions they’re recapturing, and even better than before?

Checking In: Camping, Food, & Hang Gliding

Hi folks. Sorry for the lack of posts but that will rectify soon enough. In fact, I’m anxious to get back to it in earnest. I’ve been out of town about 20 days out of the last month, mostly doing vacationing sorts of things. There was the week of MovNat, three days home, Italy for a week, three days home and now we’re on a 14th annual family camping trip up near Mt. Lassen, Hat Creek, about 15 miles from Burney, CA.

This began as a hang-gliding trip for me and soon many family members joined in. Come Monday I’ll head home and the vacation season will be over. As usual, we’ve been doing some amazing cooking. If you search the blog for ‘Hat Creek’ I believe there’s some documentation from previous years.

Yesterday, my brothers Mike & Dave got up at 5:30am in order to dig a pit and cook a whole pig over 12 hours buried in coals and hot rocks, which we devoured last night.


I don’t have any pics of the end process as I was up on the Hat Creek Rim flying. Here’s a short video clip of the fun. 2:30 of a 40 minute flight that included an altitude gain of about 1,000 over the launch at 4,500 MSL. The landing isn’t perfect, but no damage. It’s hard landing at 3,700 elevation in 90 degrees with no wind to switching winds. It was pretty westerly as I was setting up the approach, watching the sock. By the time I got into final it was too late to get more southerly. Wind had shifted about 90 degrees. 

Flying the Hat Creek Rim from Richard Nikoley on Vimeo.

I had a camera on board for some in-flight shots but this morning found that when I had cleaned off the SD card that I’d left it in my computer. Well, tonight I have dinner duty, which will be carne asada, mega guac, and some grilled bell peppers & onions. We’re going to cook the meat over the open campfire.