Friday, November 23, 2012

The Egg Hunt

The Egg Hunt.

I have a new foraging item that has become an exciting, and sometimes frustrating, search. My whole life I have noticed these little "eggs for sale" signs out all around the Comox Valley, and practically everywhere else in my travels. Anywhere that there is rural areas, you will find people who are raising backyard chickens. From four hens in a chicken tractor to several dozen, complete with roosters, egg "hunting" is something that is accessible to everyone and there is probably one close by your own house.

The pure thrill in opening up a cooler at the end of someones driveway, seeing it chocker block full of cartons of eggs. Four dollars a dozen! You have to be kidding me. Wow. Look at those eggs. They are beautiful. Oh look over there, I see the hens. They look so happy. They are scratching for bugs. Nibbling grass. They are so healthy. The rooster looks so proud of his brood. Oh man, how much change do I have. 

These are the thoughts that go through my head when visiting one of these roadside egg "stores". The product is so wonderful. The whites are thick, and stand on their own, the yolks are bright yellow and plump.  The ability to purchase all this incredible protein for a very reasonable price from someone in your community is a marvelous introduction to buying food outside the grocery store. Many times you would be able to meet the people who are raising the hens, ask them questions about the birds, go look at the housing and yard( the chickens, not the property owners). If that isn't something the seller is interested in, maybe have a look for another vendor. Transparency is not usually a problem with small local growers. 

If you are someone who is interested in foraging, but are not sure where to start, searching for eggs in this way is considered foraging, in my opinion. In Paleolithic times man would search high and low for eggs of various game birds. Especially in the spring, when wild birds do their breeding and hatching the young. We are lucky that most of the year we can access eggs from chicken hens without having to climb trees to raid nests. Get in the car, or better yet, the bicycle and go explore. Load up with some twonies and loonies and some way to transport the delicate orbs. Once a good spot has been located, other products maybe available from the same grower. I know egg vendors who also sell cut flowers, fruit, vegetables and many also sell frozen cuts of grass fed meat that are available with a quick phone call. 

When I find some eggs, I often will buy two, three or sometimes four dozen. Eggs will stay fresh in the refrigerator for two weeks. If I am not going to use them all that quickly, I will pickle them. Pickled eggs will be fine in the fridge, packed in vinegar and water, for months. These make for a quick snack or lunch on the run. Mixed with some local vegetables, regardless of the season, fresh eggs will yield a delicious omelette or fritata. I usually add ham or bacon to mine for a little extra punch of protein and wonderful flavor. Of course you can make other great dishes with eggs, including some of the best sauces, like hollandaise, mayonaise and ceasar dressing. 

Once you have established an egg source, I recommend finding a couple more. Since most places will only have a few dozen at a time for sale, they sell out quickly. Many times I have emptied someones cooler, and wished there were more available. More sources builds food security in your life and helps to create community by supporting those who work so hard to make our sustenance. Regardless of what you think about the price of food, we get a bargain when shopping locally. Even if the eggs cost $6, we are still ahead. Ignore the price at the grocery store. Most high production facilities use subsidized corn as feed, and subsidized fuel usage, so the true cost isn't passed along to the consumer.Read this article of a young lady in Colorado and her experience poultry farming. In a way the costs are passed on, in increased tax burden and health care costs. We don't generally think about those costs, but they are there and  very real. 

For your health, the health of your community, and health of the earth sourcing more of your food locally is so crucial. By switching some of your spending slowly but surely, you will gain confidence and realize how easy and varied the products that are grown and available in your community. I thank each and everyone who makes the effort to grow delicious food for us.

Super funny video about pickling! Thanks Mado:)

Friday, October 26, 2012

"There's shit in the meat"

I start this post with a quote by Eric Schlosser in his book "Fast Food Nation", first published back in 2002, was one of the first books to bring exposure to the general public the truth behind the fast food industry and the corporate control of our food systems. This book, along with a few others that I have previously mentioned in other articles, helped shape my look at the foods that I eat and how they impact my body, the environment and the general health of the people on this planet. The above quote sent a shiver through my spine, and made me question how the government could allow this to happen to us. Don't they have inspectors for such things? Just gross that one hamburger patty from a fast food restaurant may contain as many as 2000 different cows. With plants that are so huge that they can process thousands of head of cattle a day, mistakes are bound to happen. While I am not an expert in micro-biology, medicine or pathology, I am a nerd for information that satisfies a curiosity. I wanted to give explain a little about how e-coli works and why being scared of this bacteria should secure what I have been talking about for a long time.

E-coli is a naturally occurring bacteria that all ruminants have in there gut. Cows, bison, and deer all have e-coli. And this e-coli is not dangerous to humans. I should expand on that. It is not harmful to us if the animals are treated well, and fed their natural fodder. Grass-fed ruminants eat what these animals have evolved to eat over hundreds of thousands of years. Grass is the perfect food for all of these animals. The grass-fed cow has an alkaline rumen, which is where the digestion of the grass takes place. The correct bacteria must be present to break down the cellulose in it, including e-coli. The problem happens when ruminants are fed something that is not their natural food. They get sick. Antibiotics must be added to the feed to combat the same bacteria that are supposed to help them digest. Corn and other grains are used to feed cattle as it helps fatten the animals to add weight and grow faster. These foods will change the stomach to an acidic environment, and the e-coli adapt to these conditions. 

Now when some shit manages to get onto the meat in the processing facility this is how e-coli is spread to humans. If the cow is eating grass the alkaline adapted e-coli will die in our highly acidic stomachs. No problem. It is still gross, but it is not the end of the world. The bacteria from a corn fed cow doesn't get killed by our stomach. It can live and reproduce, thus making us sick. E-coli is also killed with heat and is most often to be a problem in ground meats, not so much in cuts like steak and roasts. Unless it has been tenderized with infected equipment in the plant. If you eat an undercooked burger or steak, less than 160 degrees, the e-coli will not be killed and can cause the same problems. This bacteria can also be spread by unclean cutting boards or other kitchen equipment. Food safety in the home is a very important aspect of keeping us healthy.

My solution to the issue is not to stop eating meat. I have heard a few folks panicking about turning vegetarian. I really don't care what you eat, but this bacteria have also been found on some vegetables, like spinach and romaine lettuce. Under composted manure is spread on vegetable fields, and the e-coli has not been killed by the composting process. There is shit on your lettuce too! Solution. Eat local meats. Stop shopping at box stores and most grocery stores for your meats. Most of the meat that you will find in them are from feed lots, corn fed cows. Un-happy animals and acidic e-coli. Bad news. Look for grass fed beef where ever you can. It will taste a little different, may cost more, but would you rather get sick? I can not put a price on my health. Grass fed beef has many, many health benefits beyond the e-coli issue. I have written about that in the past  , but to me the biggest benefit is keeping money in your local economy and breaking the chain of the corporate food system. You can make your own choices. Give butchery a try. It really isn't that tough, and you can often purchase a quarter of beef for much less than buying it per piece, even at a box store. Then you know the cleanliness of the processing facility(aside from the slaughter). If you do not have good access to a farmers market or farm gate, deal with a butcher shop and ask questions. Don't be afraid. This is your health remember. Most people will ask many questions and do hours of research into their next cell phone, but what about what goes into dinner? Not enough.

Please do not be afraid. Be a part of the solution by influencing with your dollars to boost the local economy and support farmers who will become your friends and who care about how they raise their animals and the people who consume them.

The Vegetarian Myth

While listening to the back catalog of the Peak Moments TV podcast a while back, I was surprised by an episode called "The Vegetarian Myth" The author, Lierre Keith, is a "recovering" vegan. She didn't eat animal products for 20 years. She suffered through many, many health problems during this time including Degenerative Disc Disease, hypoglycemia, ceased menstruating, depression, anxiety, exhaustion, skin problems, and gastroparesis(a stomach ailment in which the stomach is unable to completely empty, causing near constant nausea.)

After all the years of promoting the vegan diet, feeling proud that her diet didn't harm a living creature, she had an epiphany. She visited a Chi Gong master who, upon feeling her pulse, declared that she had no Chi, her life was not there. She joked about being dead, and he didn't laugh. She had been going to doctor after doctor trying to find out what was wrong with her, and the Chi master told her that she needed to eat animals. She left and purchased a can of tuna. It took her all her strength to eat the fish, and her body came to life. The animal protein and fat awoke her cells. It is amazing the transformation. I can not describe the event with justice. She now eats meat and other animal products, she avoids carbohydrates and grains. The belief is that human beings get all they need from animal products, vegetables and fruit as this was our traditional diet dating back thousands of years.

My eyes were opened by reading this book. I have been interested in diet and proper nutrition for many years. I have read numerous books on sustainability and local eating from Pollan and Weber and Spurlock. I know how bad industrial food production, Big Agriculture, mono culture, fossil fuel fertilizer, and globalization of the food industry. I know that grass fed beef, free range chickens and wild fish is very good. The big difference to me, what I learned the most, is that we don't absolutely need to eat vegetables, grains, seeds, roots, or greens. Everything we need nutritionally is in an animal. That means organs, bones, blood and fat. I know it isn't something for everyones palate. Agriculture is horrible for the environment with mono culture crops, top soil loss, and run off that kills estuarys and pollutes fresh water. Free ranged animals eat green plants, build topsoil with manure, and cut down green house gas emissions. No fossil fuels are needed to fertilize the ground to grow the natural browse of ruminants.

This book isn't too preachy. It is chock full of information on nutrition and explains how the body uses what we put in it. I would recommend this read if you are interested in learning about what makes the human body tick. If you are considering going vegetarian or vegan, read this work first. You may change your mind. I know I did........

Testimonial for

My exploration into the Paleo lifestyle started with the reading of "The Vegetarian Myth" by Lierre Keith in the winter of 2012. The words in this wonderful text blew my mind to say the least. The idea that one did not have to eat grains for nutrients and fiber perplexed me. This is what has been shoved in our collective faces for decades. How could this be? We were being lied to by advertisers and by the governments own food pyramid? As it were, my then girlfriend, was a vegetarian and reading this book really got me thinking about different ideas on nutrition and being a vegetarian. I had switched to mostly a vegetarian diet because, incorrectly, it was the healthy thing to do. Boy was that wrong. I under took a week long juice cleanse shortly after and it made me realize that I could get by with less food, and could actually try making changes and still survive.

I am a sheet metal tradesman for my day job and also do a fair amount of cycling. Mountain biking, long pleasure road rides and commuting to work. I was very concerned of being so hungry that I would not be able to function. My lunch box was always stuffed to capacity in anticipation of eating at every break to make sure my stomach was full and I had the energy necessary to make it through the day. I was still always famished. I would eat vegetables, fruit, sandwiches, and yogurt. Still, at the end of the day I would be ravenously hungry and grumpy. It was horrible.

My friend and my mom started throwing around the term "Paleo" and were sending me links on social media. Mating this with some of the information from Keith's book, I began to see the light. I needed more protein, more fat, way less carbs. My carb intake was incredible. I have never figured out exactly how many grams a day, but I ate bread at most meals, along with other grains, beans and corn products. No wonder I was so miserable.

Soon after my awakening, I began listening to Jack Spirko and the Survival Podcast. Jack has been doing a Paleo diet for a while with great results. I also began to understand the way the economy works and why we may be getting incorrect information on our health and nutrition. Many billions of dollars are at stake with an unhealthy population. Unbelievable, but so true. Another moment of awakening. I bought "The Paleo Solution" and haven't looked back. The vegetarian and I ended our relationship in June and Paleo became a part of my life, not just something to experiment with. My results were amazing but not unusual for someone who makes this change.

Since June I have lost 50 pounds. Below 200 pounds by a fair bit for the first time in 20 years. I look in the mirror and can't stop. I was always a chubby kid and was teased about it while growing up. I still hold those scars to this day in my mid thirties. Seeing my ribs now makes those wounds sting less. For years I was plagued on and off by knee pain that was from an unknown cause. Undergoing x-rays, pharmaceuticals, physiotherapy, and massage therapy brought absolutely no change, no evidence in x-ray of injury. A complete mystery for the swelling and pain. I also suffered from self diagnosed I.B.S. Digestion problems persisted for years. Being to embarrassed to see a doctor, and feeling like that would result in many tests that would inconvience me and give no answers. Bloating, painful gas, fatigue and sleeping problems were also symptoms of my supposed healthy diet.

My life is so much different now. I have much more confidence, feel stronger and more motivated. Almost more animalistic. I am hunting for my own meat and when I do buy it, it comes from local grass fed and pastured farms. Also building a sustainable life in my community using Paleo principals, sourcing local and trying to help others. Always one to spread the message, trying to influence those suffering with diabetes, arthritis and obesity. I blog about my success and am hosting a podcast to spread the message of the incredible food diversity in my area. Thanks to Rob, and the Paleo community at large for helping to change my life. I love telling non-believers that I lost 50 pounds eating bacon and eggs! Follow me on twitter @cynicalcyclist.

Blayne Prowse Cumberland B.C.

Are you prepared?

Lacto Fermenting. Garlic Scapes, dill pickles, and chow chow.

I have been wanting to write about the subject of food security for a few months now. This subject has come to the forefront in my thinking since watching "Island on the Edge"  a film that looks at the possibility of no outside inputs to bring food to Vancouver Island. On the Island we only grow about 10% of the food locally that we eat throughout the year. So what happens if we have a major storm event. A huge cold front from Alaska hits a warm current in from the Pacific, a winter weather bomb. Massive snow, hurricane force winds, power outages and impassable roads. Nothing is moving for potentially days, maybe a week. Your power has been out for three days, your children are cold and hungry, food in the freezer is starting to thaw and the perishables in the refrigerator have all been consumed. So what do we do?

This situation is pretty extreme for the Pacific Northwest. I have never seen such an event in my years of living on Vancouver Island, at least the mid to southern parts. I know the north end has been hit with many huge storms that can close off the lone highway between communities and the rest of the rock. Could something else happen, or something worse? Of course. Earthquakes are a real possibility, so are forest fires, or floods. There are other worldly things that could possibly happen, but you get the picture. We need to be ready, in a pinch, if and when something out of the ordinary happens. Do you have three days, a week, a month of food on hand at all times. Food that will not spoil, in long term storage? What about water, heat, cooking? So many possible situations.

For years the idea of having food items long term stored in a pantry has been an interest for me. I have canned some fruits and jams, frozen berries, fish, and veggies. As a hunter/gatherer I have had many bits of wild edibles around, including deer meat, salmon, wild mushrooms, ducks and nettles. Long term storage has  basically been about freezing with some dehydrating involved. With the purchase of a pressure canner last summer my long term storage food preparations have gone up a couple of notches. Salmon, mushrooms, other meats are safely canned, and soups, stocks, sauces and stews can be bottled and put away for future use. A properly home canned product will last easily for a year or more. It is safe, easy and fun. Just follow the instructions to a tee with the recommended times and pressure. Low acid foods can not be safely processed in a water bath canner. They need to be brought above atmospheric pressure and above the boiling point to actually kill all the bacteria that could potentially spoil your food and make you very ill.

Other means of long term storage include lacto fermenting. Lacto fermenting uses the naturally occuring bacteria that are found all around us to cure the product. Fermenting is only limited to ones imagination and the amount of salt you have on hand. A few extra containers of coarse sea salt is something that every home should have in your cupboard. It is crucial in the preserving with lacto fermenting, as well as drying meat. Salt curing is on my list of things to try this winter when I have some deer meat around. The salt will pull the moisture out of the meat and allows it to be stored out of refrigeration. It is similar to jerky but it takes much longer. Biltong is an example of this kind of curing. Hams and salami are other types of cured meat using salt and wood smoke. I have never made any of these items, and they are also on the list of interesting things to try.

Many simple things that people can do to prepare for a bad "week". I suggest keeping a plastic tote somewhere safe and dry with various bits of storage foods in it. Include a bag or two of rolled oats, some whole wheat pasta,, canned fish like salmon or tuna. Sardines are another option. If it is within your means dehydrate a mix of vegetables and mushrooms. They are great additions to a soup that is easily made by boiling water, adding some jerky, pasta, bullion cube and dried veggies. Jerky is as easy or as complicated as you want to make it. Recipes abound on line and find one that looks tasty. Just remember to remove as much of the fat as possible. The fat will go rancid and ruin your prep. Plant a garden to help with your own food security. Start small, every little bit helps. If your municipality allows for backyard hens, leap at the opportunity.  Eggs are one of the greatest sources of protein and healthy fats, plus hens will eat almost anything. Kitchen compost scraps are great food for your flock, turning waste into food. I plan on having backyard hens as soon as we can convince our municipal government that they are okay.

The greatest thing that we all can do is to support our local farmers. More food that is grown locally the greater our food sovereignty. Less inputs from off the island means we are potentially less affected by major interruptions in transportation. Buy in season and put stuff up by canning, freezing, dehydrating and a combination of the methods. Don't be afraid to try things. If you don't have success, you will have learned something so next time it will be better. Read, ask questions, and play in the kitchen. It is so fun and satisfying to look in the cupboard and know that if there is a disaster, you, with your own hands, made it possible to eat even if SHTF. Getting out and meeting your neighbours is so important. The closer relationship you have with the folks is your community, and show them that you are a good person is the best security one can have. People will have to band together and help out. It is much easier with people you know and care about. It is much easier to feed your neighbours than to.....well we don't need to get into that. Keep it Local.

Paleo Power

My friend Russ inspires me. He was the one who had the courage to choose to live life with out alcohol, and gave me the support to make the choice as well. It was the best decision that either of us has made, and it has allowed us a connection above and beyond our already strong friendship. So when he started talking about the Paleo diet, I was quick to listen. While I am by no means an expert, or professionally trained dietitian I wished to share some of the things I have found while researching this lifestyle change.

The Paleo diet's roots are bedded in the vision of what our ancient ancestors would consume. Agriculture has only been with mankind for the last 10,000 years, where humans learned to cultivate grains and other plants. Before this we as a species were a hunter/gatherer culture. We moved with the prey. We only ate seasonally available foods. Our diets consisted of free-range wild game, fish, and eggs. These animals only ate their natural fodder, instead of being force fed corn or animal products. Ancient man would also gather nuts, fruits, vegetables, leafy greens, and other wild edible plant materials. The Paleolithic man's diet was very low on carbohydrates, sugars, and nothing was processed. The only carbs came from the fruit and veggies they were able to eat.

Proponents of the Paleo lifestyle argue that the modern diet of grains, processed foods and meat from un-healthy animals has contributed to our epidemic-like rates of diabetes, cancer, cardiovascular diseases, auto-immune diseases and obesity. Since the age of agriculture our diets have changed from one based mainly on protein and fats, to one of cereal grains. The seeds of grasses have built the basis of our diet, and seeds in an unprocessed state are un-digestible to humans. We must process them to make the parts usable to our systems. These parts of the grain when eaten are turned into glucose by our bodies, which is sugar. Our blood sugar surges, causing our pancreas to work to balance it out, and store the glucose in our fat cells. Within a couple of hours our blood sugar crashes, making us feel famished, and grumpy. All this sugar intake is addictive, some say as addictive as nicotine or heroin. This might seem crazy, but does your mouth water when you see a puffy, sugar coated cinnamon bun or donut, and you suddenly feel ravenous. That is an addictive response, your endorphins release while eating these sweets, similar to opiate based drugs. It seems so crazy but it is true.

I used to finish the my day at work and on the ride home I would get so un-believably hungry, I felt absolutly empty, I could eat everything and anything. It would make me miserable. I felt terrible. This went on for months on end. I could eat an entire bag of potato chips and still feel the urges. Finally when I began experimenting with the Paleo lifestyle, this urge has calmed. My addiction to glucose was so strong. I used to eat up to six slices of bread a day, sometimes add in oatmeal, pasta, quinoa, rice or cold cereal. That is most of my daily calories coming from carbohydrates. I had a bloated, distended stomach, that would get worse as the day went on. Gas pains and embarrassing flatulence would follow. All because of these dietary choices. Beans were also hard on my system, and now I know why. Beans contain lectins, which are carbohydrate binding proteins that are toxic and inflammatory. Inflammation is a root cause of much of our digestion issues, which in my research, goes hand in hand with the most common serious diseases. Gut health is number one in keeping us at optimum health. On the topic of beans. I should touch on oils. Healthy oils from plants should come from plants that have naturally oily characteristics. Coconut, olive and nut oils are good. Canola, corn, cotton seed and soy bean oils are no good. They are manufactured from the seeds of these plants, the same seeds that are not easily digestable, and these oils aren't recognized by our bodies as real food. Butter, animal fats and the above oils are the ones to use for cooking. Coconut oil is especially great for frying. It has a high smoking temperature, is flavor-less(the extra virgin) and is solid at room temperature. I really like it and am happy to be turned on to it.

Paleo eaters should choose to eat grass fed herbivours, free range chickens, pastured pork and wild fish. These protein sources contain the correct balance of Omega3/Omega 6 fatty acids. Omega 3 is an anti-inflammatory and Omega 6 is inflammatory. The balance in beef from a common super market meat display comes from a C.A.F.O., a feed lot where young steers are brought to fatten on a mix of corn, grain and antibiotics, living in terrible conditions. If you have watched the movie Food Inc, you know what I am talking about. This diet has no grass in it, and the animals fats get out of balance from this un-natural feed. Instead of a 1/2 ration of 3 to 6, it changes to a ratio closer to 1/10, which again may cause more inflammation.

These factory farmed animals are not only un-healthy for the consumer, it is also bad for the planet. The high input of fossil fuels to make fertilizers, transportation, and the mono-culture annual crops that strip the land with no natural fertilizer or compost to re-build the soil., making the majority of the planets farm land soil nutrient deficient. The plant will grow, but when we eat it, there is very little in it to actually fuel our bodies. That is a reason that super market produce may have less flavor than an organic local equivalent  The C.A.F.O.'s are enormous places of concrete and waste. No shade or cover from the elements. Hundreds of cattle packed in an area that a grass fed, free range cow would have all to itself. Eat, shit, get sick, and get slaughtered with in days of naturally dying because of the horrible food and conditions. It is a sad state and try to picture this when you order a fast food hamburger or a pack of steaks from the big grocery stores.

Healthy sleeping patterns are essential to good health. Shutting down the screens in you life, laptop, ipad or T.V. well before bed is a good move. Reading before nodding off, to me anyways, is a large part of my sleeping routine. I rarely am awake past 10 pm and if I am, a book is in front of me, not a screen. Trying to get into the natural rythms of sleep cycle is not easy, but if you can wake before your alarm and get out of bed, it will help get you day off with less stress. Waking every morning to an obnoxious sound, even if it is your favorite song, will begin the day with a high stress level. You may have to forgo some of your social life to meet your bodies demands for more sleep. Believe me it is worth it. Exercise is also vital. A strong body needs to be worked and if your job has you sitting all day, getting an exciting workout is key. My preferred sport for this is mountain biking. It challenges my heart, my legs, upper body and mind. It is explosive and anaerobic, intermixed with slow and sustained movement. I am not one to talk about different exercise programs, I have never been to a class in my life. I hear great things about Cross-Fit style of fitness. What every you prefer, just actually get out and do something.

My life has changed because of Paleo. Besides the ailments in my digestive system that I explained before, I also suffered from a problematic knee injury. It was brought on from cycling, running and work, activities that are pretty hard on my joints. I also had some un-explained ache in my shoulder that would come on and go away with no warning or noticeable injury. I did physiotherapy, massage, and chiropractic, as well as pharmaceutical western medicine treatments. Since reducing the inflammatory causing foods in my diet these ailments have been greatly reduced. I can now push up stairs with that knee that would previously give me grimacing pain. I feel like I have been freed from a depression causing prison. Not being able to participate in the activities that I love so much was very tough.

So it all comes down to the food. What do I eat? Well, pretty simply, what ever I like. As long as the food doesn't contain grains or beans. I have been off of dairy for the most part for a few weeks. I try to stay away from processed foods as much as possible. Looking at labels has never been so important in my shopping routine. If it has a corn product, it goes back. I have really made an effort to eat whole foods, cooking and preparing basically all components of my menu. The grass fed vendors at my local farmers market have been very happy with my decision the past month, spending a decent amount with them on my protein. I am enjoying the dishes that I make. Omelets for breakfast, and usually a salad for lunch with some leftover protein from the dinner before, and then some sausages, or chicken for dinner with either roasted veggies or another salad. I feel full and content after I eat. The meal lasts easily until the next one. I have pretty much eliminated snacking. I still enjoy sweets, like ice cream or chocolate covered almonds, and I do allow myself to indulge in them once in a while. The carbohydrates that I used to like so much are not interesting to me anymore, as they make me feel crummy. A feast of popcorn a couple weeks ago left me with uncomfortable gas pains that evening while trying to sleep.

The Paleo lifestyle is something interesting to educate oneself about. I have never been one to diet for weight loss, more interested in the health benefits and how our bodies react to different inputs. The internet is chock full of information on the subject and several great books are available. My biggest tip would be to avoid highly processed foods with names you can not pronounce. The less it looks like food, the less your body will recognize it at food. If you eat crap, you will feel like crap. That is my outlook on this ideology. Have fun and support your local farmers.

Have a look at these links to visit some of my favorite sites about Paleo

The Paleo Diet: Loren Cordain publish one for the first books on the Paleo lifestyle

Paleo Plan: This site has a large selection of recipes

Robb Wolf: A former research scientist turned personal trainer who uses the Paleo lifestyle to change peoples lives with weight loss and fitness. Author of the Paleo Solution and host of a podcast of the same name.

Paleo 101: an easy how-to, so one can get the idea behind the lifestyle.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Paleo Paradise

As this year progresses I am becoming more and more aware how wonderful the Comox Valley is. Of course we have all the recreation that one could ask for. World class mountain biking, snow sports, salmon fishing, beaches, sailing, golfing, hiking and camping are, with out question, what this area is already famous for. People come from all around the world to experience these adventures, and the Valley has quite the powerful tourism industry. Having lived in the Comox Valley my whole life the recreation prospects have kept me in the area and involvement in them has grown and evolved over the years. I had never thought too much about food and agriculture being a draw for folks from outside the area. With my relatively new passion for food security and "getting outside the system" this type of tourism has gotten on my radar, as it has with so many others. My involvement with the Edible Valley podcast is a result of this awareness and passion.

This spring I became aware of the Paleo/Primal lifestyle. (I am not going to talk to much about this subject in detail as I have blogged about it before.) Sourcing happy, local protein became a priority for me. Low and behold the Comox Valley is home to dozens of producers growing grass fed beefpastured pork and chicken, as well as free ranging turkeys, and other fowl like pheasant and partridge. Along with those critters we also have bison, and fallow deer. Wow a modern caveman paradise! I found world suddenly opened up to the ideas of only eating locally and consuming meat raised how it would naturally feed. No C.A.F.O.'s in this area. We even have a local abattoir that processes most everything that is grown here, so the animals have limited travel time in a trailer, cutting down on stresses and damage. I often wonder how many roadside egg stands there are in the Comox Valley. I know of about half a dozen. Free range eggs are often just a quick drive or bike ride away. Oh my gosh, it just gets better and better.

If you want something a little different, say some seafood, Baynes Sound is the number one shellfish growing region in British Columbia, if not Canada. Our oyster beds are world famous, being shipped to Asia, Europe, America and Australia. Clams, mussels and scallops are also farmed in the clean waters of the Sound. One can, with the appropriate fishing license, harvest wild bivalves on the public beaches. You can participate in a true hunter/gatherer pastime, and have a delectable protein source. Dungeness crabs are commercially fished close by and can be purchased from on of the area fishmongers, plus they can also be wild caught with a trap. During appropriate seasons all five species of salmon, along with halibut, black cod, lingcod and red snapper can be purchased direct from the fisherman down at the dock in Comox. You can not get much fresher fish than this, and you will probably get a good fishing story to go along with it.

With all the amazing farmed and commercially caught proteins, the Comox Valley also boasts a legion of devoted vegetable farms and fruit orchards. In fact one can usually pick as many apples, pears, and plums for free as one household could need. Old orchards abound in a variety of locations as well as trees on private land that often grant permission to harvest fruit by ambitious parties. We have a dedicated non profit that organizes groups to pick trees, with partial harvest going to the food bank, the pickers and the land owner. Some of the bigger vegetable farms in the area include Seifferts in Comox, and organic farms like Freedom Farm and Pattison Farms, both located north of Courtenay, in Merville and Black Creek respectively. If you can imagine it, the vegetable probably is available. Some plants just don't do very well here because our growing season is not quite long enough. I have not yet found a source for yams, and citrus is not going to happen, but basic requirements are easily met, and a vast variety of other vegetables make life interesting. Kale, cabbage, broccoli and chards all grow really well in our climate over the winter. With a very rare long spell of freezing weather, winter gardening is very achievable, allowing for fresh vegetables all year long.

For those who are inclined for forage for themselves, as I am, wild berries, plants and mushrooms grow in the forests around the Valley. Blackberries, blueberries, huckleberries, raspberries, Oregon grape, and cherries all grow wild in different elevations and terrain. I have picked stinging nettles, burdock root, dandelion, chickweed, and some other not correctly called "weeds". I am no expert on the subject and I endeavour to learn more about wild harvesting. Mushroom picking is one of my favorite hobbies, so fulfilling to "hunt" for a basket full of golden chantrelles, delicious food, good exercise and feeling like one with the world. Foraging is a great past time and a rewarding way to introduce children to the outdoors.

I love where my home is. The food community is growing in numbers and awareness for what is right and healthy. And paleo/primal is really gaining momentum as the way to eat, no matter what the food pyramid says.  Where is your "Paleo Paradise". If you wish to have more information on the Comox Valley as a food destination, please leave a comment or send me a message.