New to Paleo? Try Eating Seasonally to Start.
By Joshua Bird
Paleolithic eating can seem very daunting at first. What, no cereal, bagels, pasta, sandwiches..? What will I eat? What will my family say? Now calm down, there are plenty of delicious choices that will not only affect your waistline- but also your bottom line; and get you reconnected with where your food comes from and the people who produce it.
First though, we need to address cooking. Modern life is very hectic, and it takes a bold person to actually slow down and cook food when it’s so easy to order out after a long day, or there’s a big presentation due, or you just picked up the kids from soccer and it’s 8 o’clock and…feeling stressed out yet? Thankfully, cooking can be a great way to “stop the madness”. I was not a good cook. Ask my family about the many dubious attempts I made (including an incident with a crockpot that I won’t discuss here (or ever). Amazingly though, it just happens that cooking is like anything else; you stay at it, and eventually, you end up being able to cook! Now it’s something that I look forward to. Preparing food slows down my evenings, and generally yields a few meals that I can eat in the coming days. See the resources at the end of the article for some books that will get you from blowing up crockpots, to culinary competency.
Now, in order to become a good cook, one must have good quality tools, meats, produce and fruits and to work with (good red wine helps too). Sure you can run down to the local chain grocery store and pick up your items, but where are they coming from? You really have no idea, and most likely they are just buying from the lowest bidder – hardly the method you want your meat/veggies chosen.
Instead, try your local farm or farmers market for fresh seasonal produce, and ethically raised meat. When you choose to do this, you are accomplishing a few great things at once.
- Connecting yourself to your food
You- farmer-food. That’s it. There is no wholesaler, middleman, or anyone in between, that doesn’t care about your health. It’s also a great practice to begin with your children, so they know who and where their food is coming from.
- Making what to eat easy.
In grocery stores, we have no seasons anymore. Produce can be shipped from anywhere in the world, making it constantly available. It can also mean sub-par quality, and getting locked into a few particular vegetables for the entire year. By visiting your local farm/farmer’s market you are always getting what’s fresh and in-season, for instance this fall I have been cooking all types of squash, pumpkins, turnips, cauliflower – many of which will keep for winter cooking as well. Next spring I’ll look forward to broccoli, cabbage, spinach, tomatoes and more.
- Better quality food
Like I mentioned earlier, when you buy from your local chain grocery, where is the food coming from? When you buy locally at the farm/farmer’s market, your food isn’t being subjected to the latest synthetic pesticide that will then find its way into your bloodstream with unknown consequences that we are years from finding out about. The same is true with meat. When cattle are taken off omega-3 fatty acid rich grass and shipped to a feedlot to be fattened on omega-3 poor grain, they begin losing their store of this beneficial fat. Each day that an animal spends in the feedlot, its supply of omega-3s is diminished.[i] The ideal ratio of Omega 6/Omega 3 fatty acids in humans is 2:1, the standard American diet currently has us more in the range of 20:1 – 50:1! The side effects of this are depression, obesity, heart disease, etc. As you can see the source of the meat we consume can have a huge effect on our health and well being – garbage in, garbage out. You can ask questions too! Farmers know what/if any chemicals have been used on their crops, and how their animals are raised – try asking the high school kid stocking produce the same question (seriously, the look of panic is worth it).
- Supporting Local Farms
Small family farms are making a comeback because people are sick of the status quo, and you can be a part of their renaissance. Do you want a huge corporation who is only interested in the bottom line producing your food, or does the small family farm who wants to produce food in a natural, sustainable way sound better? I thought so.
Ok, so the case has been made, now how do I put it into practice? Luckily we live in an area that makes this very easy. Here are some resources to get you started
Outfitting Your Kitchen
At the very least you should have these items:
|Cast iron skillet(s)
Wooden Spoons, Spatulas
Decent set of Knives
Cutting boards (1meat, 1 veggie)
Baking Dishes (glass/metal)
Spices (once you start cooking, you tend to acquire these along the way)
Oils (Olive, Sesame, Coconut etc.) Stay away from industrial oils like Canola which exacerbate the Omega6/3 imbalance.
Farm Fresh RI – http://www.farmfreshri.org
This is the hub of local eating in our area, with great resources to find local farmers markets in your area – year round!
Eat Wild – http://www.eatwild.com/
Similar to the above, but more focused on finding high quality local meats.
Cooking that Local Food
The Primal Blueprint Cookbook – http://primalblueprint.com/categories/Store/Books
Mark Sisson has produced a gem here; this is my go-to cookbook and it’s always open in my kitchen. Well worth the purchase.
The Garden of Eating – http://www.thegardenofeatingdiet.com/
Another book that never leaves my side, this is the Macgyver of cookbooks. It contains hundreds of recipes as well as tons of useful information.
All of these sites contain a TON or recipes for you to try.
Enjoy! And be sure to share anything you discover on the comment boards!
[i]Duckett, S. K., D. G. Wagner, et al. (1993). “Effects of time on feed on beef nutrient composition.” J Anim Sci 71(8): 2079-88..
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