“Paleo”…Ish

IMG_8019The “Paleo Diet” or “Paleolithic Diet” refers to a food regimen habitually consumed during the Paleolithic era; a time span of approximately 2.5 million years ago that ended approximately 10,000 years ago with the onset of the Agricultural Revolution. The Agricultural Revolution brought foods to support the boom in the human population; foods that could be cultivated, reproduced and (eventually) looked far different from the foods consumed over the previous 2.5 million years of existence.

With the IMG_8347advent of larger-scale agriculture and animal domestication, humans began consuming copious amounts of conventional and processed dairy products, refined sugars, cereals, breads, grains,  beans and other legumes. Shortly thereafter, the Industrial Revolution led to large-scale developments of food processing. Factory farming, farm-raised fish, modified foods, refined sugars and processed oils became staples of the our diets. At the same time, diabetes, obesity, heart disease, birth defects, autoimmune disorders and other chronic illnesses also became prevalent. In more recent years, “alternative” diets and health gurus have turned to our ancestors for advice on what to eat.

Enter the “Paleo Diet…

close upLoren Cordain and Mark Sisson spearheaded the “Paleo Diet” and “Primal Diet” movements. Any early Paleo/Primal-goer likely ditched the bread and added extra bacon to their BLT, then washed it down with a glass of raw whole milk. From there, hundreds of Paleo-style authors have published articles and books on the subject, each with their own spin. And this site is nothing different- It is my interpretation of what is (now) quite famously coined “Paleo.” (If you’re not familiar with the concept of the Paleo Diet, check out the links above to both Cordain and Sisson’s websites, or simply do an online search- you’re likely to find more than want to read!)

Keirsten’s Kitchen’s “Paleo-ish…”

You have freed your kitchen of high fructose corn baked haddock completesyrup, processed starches and grains, artificial sweeteners, gluten and the like, and you consider your diet to be “Paleo” or “Primal.”

You have adopted the notion that our ancestors only ate meat, vegetables, fruits, nuts and fats, and that everything else is not “Paleo” and therefore, you’re not supposed to eat it. You’re headed in the right direction… but don’t stop there…

The problem is this: a Paleo diet denotes a specific approach with universal parameters that all people should follow, regardless of individual circumstance; it’s flawed.

IMG_5014As is the issue with sticking to any diet plan, there is little room for individual variation. It does not allow for self experimentation or introspective consideration. It is a fixed, short-term solution to a lifelong struggle to be healthy, alive and well.

Beef and Fennel StewHow do you fix it? You can start by throwing away the notion “is this Paleo?” It’s just not that simple. Don’t ask the question, “can I eat [insert your favorite food, here]” on a Paleo Diet?” The answer, is yes. Yes, you (technically) can eat whatever you want. Should you eat it? I don’t know… should YOU? How does YOUR body tolerate nightshades, nuts or dairy?

wild shrimp with butter paprika and thyme
Our food today is far less nutritious that it was even 100 years ago. Our lakes, oceans and soils are contaminated, our animals are raised in crowded cages and fed processed corn and soy pellets and our vegetables are sprayed with chemicals and covered in wax to display beautiful colors in our grocery aisles. Mostly everything we eat has been modified, tremendously; it is generations and generations removed from its former, wild-self. Throughout these changes, our food has lost its nutritional value. 

wings done10,000 years ago, our ancestors didn’t eat grass-fed burgers with bacon and avocado and no bun- it didn’t exist. Sure, there are “Paleo Buffalo Wing” recipes (in fact, I posted one…)  but when would our ancestors ever have eaten 2 dozen chicken wings? They wouldn’t, because that would mean they were hunting a dozen chickens for one meal (…and seasoning them with the jalapeno peppers they foraged and the ghee they churned from their cattle, then roasting them to perfection over the fire they started from dried bark and a tinder nest…)

You see my point…

SAMSUNGModern “Paleo” diets are intended to MIMIC a diet consumed by our Paleolithic Ancestors. (Our dinner plates look quite different than theirs did!) Their plates were dressed with local, wild plants and meats. They foraged, hunted, harvested food from the land and learned ways to preserve food for when it wouldn’t be available.

This is where I’d like to think that Keirsten’s Kitchen fits in. I am on a mission to incorporate as many locally-grown, locally-sourced and locally-raised meats into my kitchen as possible. SAMSUNG

Whenever possible, I’d like to be able to forage, hunt or gather the food myself. This obviously takes time, training and education, but it is a direction I believe we all must go in order to eat for truly optimal health.

Along the way, here are my suggestions:

Wild Bluberries– Don’t get hung up with the “is this Paleo?” disposition, rather, ask yourself how the food you are about to consume will nourish your body… Where did it come from? How was it made? Has it been refined or processed? Does it exist, now, in nature? How far removed is it from its wild ancestors?

Avoid toxins such as gluten and other highly-processed grains. 

Limit your sugars, specifically refined and processed ones. –Eat wild, grass-fed and pastured animals (including the organ meats, i.e. liver!)

ranch dressing on broccoli-Don’t shy away from saturated fats. Eat the skin- it’s good for you.

– Let go of diet labels, i.e. “is this Paleo?”

Consume whole, nutrient-dense foods that are as close as possible to how they existed in the wild for generations and generations. 

-Or better yet- learn where you can go out and forage wild edible plants, or hunt for your food yourself in the wild!

KMIf you’re not there yet, start here…

and take the journey with me!

Keirsten, owner of Keirsten’s Kitchen

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