Keeping it Simple

Keeping it Simple

Since the beginning of the year we have removed car loads of junk and ‘stuff’ either to the tip or to the charity shop. This consisted of (amongst other things):

Magazine supplements going back over 10 years

Clothes that have not been worn for decades

Old newspapers

Kitchen stuff like plates, bowls, old mugs, etc. that either have never or will never be used

Old wires, bits of wood, plastic bags, tins of paint

Drawers full of bits and pieces – bent screws, plastic tops, old paintbrushes

Carrier bags (!)

Old vcrs, tape machines, amps and various electrical equipment that were broken

This list could go on and on and on…

For quite a while we were at the local dump every Sunday, joining a never-ending procession of people pulling up in their cars and getting rid of ‘stuff’. Mountains of it. Accumulating in the vast skips labelled ‘wood’, ‘hard plastic’, ‘glass’, ‘magazines’, ‘electrical.’ Each of these skips a testament to our consumption. On these trips we would sit and wait, looking at the ever-increasing heaps as people walked back and forth from their cars with junk and wondering just how we all managed to consume and accumulate so much; imagining this same scenario taking place at dumps all over the country, and then widening this out to think about the sheer amount of stuff that humans produce and discard – often with the most detrimental effects to the planet. It is mind-boggling.

What brought this on? Why were we not doing something more relaxing on a Sunday instead of sitting at the tip and mulling over our contribution to the world’s pollution problems?

The answer to that is this film.: Minimalism.

Minimalism: a documentary about the important things in life – if you haven’t heard of it yet – is an extremely thought-provoking documentary about the stuff that we accumulate in our lives and the profound affect that it has upon us as we place value on things that are ultimately meaningless. In the film, Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus (The Minimalists) tell their story of transitioning from poor and volatile backgrounds to successful corporate careers, setting them both on a treadmill of rabid consumerism as they sought to add value and meaning to their lives by acquiring more and more stuff. It was Joshua who first became intrigued by a minimalist lifestyle after the death of his mother and the realisation that the things that he had once though important were actually insignificant. The order of things was turned upside down. It was the very things that he had previously taken for granted (or may have even neglected) that were important…

I will stop there with the description of the film as it really is a ‘must-watch’. Of course this is an issue that has been tackled by other people in many different ways and of course this is not the first time that we have thought about the impact of our consumerism, but for some reason the message in this film seems to resonate so strongly and really tap into something. I was struck immediately about the relationship of the minimalism philosophy to an ancestral health or traditional lifestyle. The overwhelming message of minimalism is one of simplicity and focus upon those things that add value to our life. Stripping away the superfluous until we are able to see what really matters – possessions, activities, thoughts, actions – allows us to concentrate on things that equip us to live a more meaningful and less stressful life. When we begin to do this, we are able to think more clearly about the purchases we make, how we spend our time, the people that we surround ourselves with and the work that we do.

Over the last century, we have increasingly allowed ourselves to be defined as ‘Consumers’.  The pervasive nature of advertising, along with the rise of social media and other technologies means that we are potentially subjected to a 24/7 onslaught, pushing us  to consume in larger and larger quantities. Only simplification can potentially reduce this cycle of consumption. Many people are looking for alternatives.

Adopting a process of simplification with food leads to the quest for simplification in areas of health and general lifestyle. Over the years, learning to look at many things through an traditional lens has pared things down; helping to focus judgement and see what is really important. Even down to thinking about the food choices and behaviour of the animals that we eat, what could be simpler than cows eating only pasture or large groups of animals moving from one place to another as they did millennia ago, regenerating the land underfoot? Some problems require complex solutions, but for many problems the solution is elegantly simple, it just might take a bit of work to get us there.

We obviously live in a completely different world to our hunter gatherer ancestors, and to our more recent ancestral/traditional communities.. We have all the benefits and advances in science, technology and medicine that we often take for granted. However, physiologically and psychologically we are not very different from our distant relations. It is no wonder that the 24/7 media and consumer-driven culture that we live in sends many of us spinning. We are still trying to adapt and paying a heavy price in the process. Looking at how our ancestors lived and thinking about what may have been important for them – shelter, food, a shared spirituality, social bonds, being in nature, creativity – pares things down to the essentials and helps us to reflect upon the necessities of these things to own lives.

Minimalism is not about discarding all our possessions. It is about increasing the things that add value to our lives and decreasing the things that don’t. The particular things that do this may be different for each of us. I love books and music so I am hardly about to throw out my book collection but what I have found is that by getting rid of piles of additional magazines and other rubbish I am able to organise and focus on my books more, which brings me more enjoyment. This is applicable not just to material things but to how we spend our time, who we choose to be around, how we work… Freeing up time and energy allows us to contribute more, to interact more with people that are dear to us or that we can help. This is an essential part of the Minimalism message.

The Minimalist movement has taken some criticism – you can hear more about this here. People say that we are in an extremely privileged position to be able to discard possessions that others living in abject poverty may only dream of. This is true, but it doesn’t detract from the validity of the approach. We are consuming and wasting the earth’s resources as never before. The hedonic treadmill that results in more and more purchases – an insatiable drive to accumulate ‘things’ and thus to find ‘happiness’ – keeps us tied to the very behaviour that is harmful to both ourselves and the planet. In the condemnation that Minimalism has received in some parts of the media, there is an element of overlooking the message to criticise the messenger. To dismiss a philosophy that we truly believe is beneficial to us and the wider world around us just because some people have issues with those who espouse it is sad. I listened to an interview with Matthieu Ricard (Buddhist monk and humanitarian) in which he talked about our value systems and the importance we place upon possessions. Whether it comes from relatively wealthy people or Buddhist monks, it’s the message that counts and this message is gathering pace.

“I’m simply asking the critics to consider whether they’re just being defensive, or if they’re arguing from an honest place with rational objections.” blogpost answering critics from Leo Babuata, Zen Habits

I believe that the ancestral health community is naturally in tune with a minimalist philosophy and I was so excited to see that the Minimalism film was being shown at this year’s Paleof(x). The attention to careful and conscious choices regarding lifestyle as well as the issue of personal responsibility  leads us to question how the choices we make affect not only our own health and wellbeing but that of the planet. Getting rid of our junk and questioning further purchases is only a tiny part of the Minimalism message and only the beginning of the journey. Widening this out to look at our value systems in general and helping us to really decide what is important is the real (and increasing) power behind both these movements.



For a list of Paleo-friendly suppliers and products see the Resources and Suppliers page.

Wild Celebration

Wild Celebration

We do not have a large deer population in Wales have certainly increased over the last few years and continue to do so (although the Wye Forest populations are large). Of our native species, Fallow Deer are the most common in Wales (introduced in the 11th or 12th Century. Roe Deer migrated into Wales in the 1970’s from the borders and are particularly at home in woodland areas. There are a small number of Red Deer in the Beacons (Wales’ largest native land mammal) that apparently originated from a deer farm in the 1980’s. Non-native Sica and Muntjac Deer are present in small numbers and the Chinese Water Deer are yet to become established in Wales. Obviously these increasing deer numbers have to be sustainably managed as they have no natural predators. Venison is a wonderful by-product of this management. The meat has an excellent Omega 3:6 ratio as the deer feed on their natural diet of grass and vegetation. It also has the highest amount of iron in any red meat.

I use diced venison in a casserole with chestnuts and mushrooms and it was absolutely delicious. It had a very strong ‘gamey’ flavour which I love and was melt-in-the-mouth soft. For more information on game see the following excellent websites:

Taste of Game – fantastic recipes, news and information on this site. They are also promoting Great British Game Week. Check it out!

Game to Eat – Countryside Alliance campaign dedicated to increasing the eating and enjoyment of British wild game with lots of game facts, recipes, news and events.

The Wild Meat Company – mail order game birds and meat from Suffolk.

Wild Harvest Table: a US-based resource for game and fish recipes, nutrition information, and preparation techniques. Founders Moira Tidball and Dr. Keith G. Tidball also call for more research into the following:

1) Determining the importance of wild fish and game consumption to food security in local NYS communities;

2) Evaluating why people are motivated to eat, or not eat, wild fish and game;

3) Examining the importance or “legibility” of nutritional analysis for wild fish and game, and the way labelling influences consumer choices; and,

4) Determining how people learn about processing and preparing wild fish and game, and barriers to finding and adopting this information.

Check out Jeff Shaw’s Hunter Angler Gardener Cook blog for a huge resource of game recipes and videos.

Wild Diced Venison

 We are now in the run-up to Great British Game Week which takes place 22nd- 29th November and celebrates all that is good about game. Game meat is increasing in popularity and from an ancestral health perspective, game must surely represent one of the best choices if we wish to eat as closely as possible to a hunter-gatherer/traditional template. Choosing our meat sources wisely and taking into account the ethical and sustainable factors in its production is crucial. It is sometimes easy to forget about including game in our diets and it is great to see it promoted as a healthy, seasonal, locally sourced and sustainable food (along with 100% pasture raised meat).

I was surprised to see that one of my local supermarkets is now selling wild venison (Fallow Deer) from The Wild Meat Company based in Suffolk and formed in 1999. It is quite tricky to get hold of wild venison locally unless we are lucky enough to buy some from our friends (although farmed venison is easily available). The Wild Meat Company also sell directly to the consumer via mail order and offer a range of game meats and birds.


For a list of Paleo-friendly suppliers and products see the Resources and Suppliers page.

Marvellous Mutton

Marvellous Mutton

We tried a leg of mutton yesterday for Sunday lunch from John and Patsy Price over at Bryn Belted Galloway Beef and it was fantastic.

It was the first time we have cooked roast mutton and have been eager to try it. The flavour is more developed and stronger than lamb with a firmer texture, but definitely not tough at all.  The fat also tasted wonderful.

Mutton is from a sheep over two years old, while Hogget (also very nice!) is from sheep between 1 and 2 years of age. Mutton is a beautiful dark red meat and is often cooked on a lower temperature for longer (thus suited to slow cookers).

Prince Charles has been an avid campaigner for mutton – see the Mutton Renaissance website. Also, check out Bob Kennard’s Much Ado About Mutton website (he has recently published a book by the same name). On both websites there are tips on choosing and cooking mutton as well as some historical facts about this much-underused meat. There is also a new campaign just launched called Make More of Mutton, so hopefully demand for mutton will increase.

I was interested to hear Helen Pickersgill from Weobley Ash Farm in Herefordshire talk about mutton on a recent episode of Countryfile (hat tip to Make More of Mutton for the link). Helen explained that research has shown mutton from a pasture-raised animal around 5-7 years old has an even better Omega 3:6 profile (around an ideal 1:1) than that of younger sheep (the profile increases favourably with age).

We prepared our joint by making small cuts in the skin and stuffing in garlic and fresh rosemary. We then seasoned it and placed the joint in a slightly oiled roasting dish with some small onions from the garden cut in half.

We gave the joint a 15 minute sizzle on around 220 degrees before lowering the temperature to around 180 and cooking for 25 minutes per pound, basting frequently. We then covered and rested it for 20 minutes while making a gravy with the juices and onions. We served it with swiss chard from the garden and roast squash.

I noticed that the roast mutton recipe on Much Ado About Mutton favours a much longer cooking time (150 degrees for 2-3 hours covered in foil). Although ours came out very succulent and not at all tough, we will try the slower method next for comparison.

We will definitely be cooking more of this lovely meat!

Marvellous Mutton 1
Marvellous Mutton 3
Marvellous Mutton 2
Marvellous Mutton 4
PPP Catch-up 18/08/15

PPP Catch-up 18/08/15

Things have been really busy in the vegetable garden and we are getting back on top of things at last – see the photos below. At the moment we are harvesting kale, chard, lettuce, carrots, beetroots, onions, basil, rhubarb, mini curcurbits called Melothrie from Real Seeds (which are running riot – see picture above) and cucumbers. Tomatoes are ripening nicely. We tried two varieties this year (also from Real Seeds), Red Zebra and Dr Carolyn (which apparently has an exceptional flavour) and look forward to trying them. Cabbages are growing well and we have also planted some oriental greens and cauliflowers too.

We have also been using the nettle tea (see photo below) that I made a while ago on the leafy greens and heavy feeder vegetables such as courgettes and squash. We have tried this in previous years and it is a great way to use nettles (other than in cooking of course). You could use comfrey or seaweed instead. Be warned – this stuff smells bad (and our dogs have a weird fascination for it). We dilute it 10:1.

Had some fantastic beef again from John and Patsy at Bryn Belted Galloway. See their new Facebook page here and check out the recent addition to their herd called Bryn Bella. We love the slow cooked brisket that just melts in the mouth. We can’t recommend their meat enough.

Also tried some 100% pasture-fed hogget from Sarah and Nick at Black Welsh Lamb, at Pen y Wyrlod Farm in Monmouthshire. We cooked chops first (very simply) to get the true taste of the meat and the flavour was fantastic. We then cooked a hoggett, shallot and date tagine with the shoulder. The meat was incredibly tender and held up its taste against the spices. We look forward to trying other cuts. Like John and Patsy, Sarah and Nick are great ambassadors for the 100% pasture-fed movement.

Tried some beetroot and courgette crisps this week when cooking for Paleo friends. Complete success – they were delicious although it was hilarious how much they shrink (see the photo below). We ran out of time to do any more so they were quite precious! So much better than those steeped in vegetable oil that you buy from the shop and we will definitely be making these again.


Around the web

In light of the ongoing debate around the issue of fat in the media, is it any wonder that people are so confused and fed up with mainstream dietary advice that apparently flips from one position to another? Why follow any advice at all if the experts are likely to do another u-turn in a few years – or even a few days – time? After the headlines announcing that it is fine to eat saturated fat, we see a BBC News article declaring that ‘Low-fat diets ‘better than cutting carbs’ for weight loss’ even though the original paper declares: ‘reducing dietary carbohydrate from the RC (reduced carbohydrate) diet (with a corresponding addition of fat to maintain calories) was predicted to decrease body fat to a greater extent than the experimental RC diet.’ This is just plain confusing…

In addition to this, an article in the Quarterly Review of Biology which argued that carbohydrates was ‘critical for the accelerated expansion of the human brain over the last million years’ caused quite a stir. Cue the headlines that the Paleo diet is plain wrong and is all about eating meat and zero carbs etc. Norah Gedgaudas wrote an excellent reply to this, reminding us of the importance of the consumption of fat to human health and in particular to brain development, as well as questioning the motives behind the continued insistence that carbohydrates should make up a large percentage of the human diet. A really great read.

‘Innumerable corporate interests stand to profit handsomely by investing in the promotion of carbohydrate-based diets for every man, woman and child on planet Earth. They are enormously cheap to produce, highly profitable and they keep everyone perpetually hungry.’ Norah Gedgaudas

Diabetes Warrior Steve Cooksey also posted an excellent response to the paper relating his own experience and experimentation in managing his diabetes through lifestyle changes:

‘Ultimately it makes absolutely no difference to me how our ancestor’s ate.  I have eaten high, moderate and low carbohydrate diets in numerous experiments;  I am thriving on the meal plan that works best for me, a very low-carb, high fat,  paleo style meal plan.’ Steve Cooksey

A reminder that if it works for you – don’t be put off by the headlines.

The news that Diabetes cases have soared by 60% in the past decade and that Diabetes accounts for 10% of the NHS drug bill provides a reminder that when it comes to health in the UK, things are looking bleak. I had a quick look at Diabetes on the NHS Choices website which – in the case of Type 2 Diabetes – advises:

‘It’s therefore important to take preventative measures by making any necessary lifestyle changes, such as eating more healthily, losing weight (if you’re overweight) and becoming more physically active.’

Clicking on the links regarding healthy eating take us to pages which recommend ‘Plenty of potatoes, bread, rice, pasta and other starchy foods’, as well as suggestions for breakfast that includes cereals such as porridge and wholegrains with added fruit (bananas), wholemeal or granary bread and sugar-free jams and marmalades (presumably with added sweeteners). Recommendations for snacks include ‘lower-sugar (and lower-fat) versions of your favourite snacks’.

I just don’t see anything changing unless there is a fundamental, root and branch rethink on dietary advice in this country.


On to brighter things!

Update on Polyfaces: The Film produced by Lisa Heenan and Isaebella Doherty of Regrarians (Australia). This is a documentary film about Joel Salatin’s Polyface Farm in Virginia and is about to preview at film festivals. I was lucky enough to see Darren Doherty and Lisa Heenan of Regrarians, as well as Joel Salatin speak (twice!) at the Savory Institute Conference in 2014 and was totally blown away by the work that they do, so I can’t wait to see this film.

‘Regrarians Ltd. is an Australian-based non-profit organisation whose primary objective is to the regenerative enhancement of the biosphere’s ecosystem processes. It does so through delivering world-class education, media, advocacy & extension to farmers & consumers across the world, having had nearly 15,000 people attend its events since 2007.’

We Love Paleo, a documentary film about the Paleo lifestyle is due to premiere in London on August 31st 2015, 9pm at The Gate Cinema, Notting Hill, W11 3JZ. Directed by Caroleen Moise Reimann and produced by Tjard Reimann, this documentary film will feature people whose lives have been changed through adopting a Paleo lifestyle. Hopefully it will raise awareness of the movement and encourage people to look beyond the increasingly silly headlines and articles about Paleo in the news recently. Can’t catch it in London but look forward to hearing all about it and watching the video when available.

A Probiotic Life is currently in production and you can view the trailer here. Film makers Toni Harman and Alex Wakeford are the team behind Microbirth (which I have yet to see). The documentary features interviews with doctors, nutritionists and families on the importance of the microbiome to health and looks at the cutting edge research taking place in this fast-moving area of science. 


Videos and podcasts

Lovely short video from Rebecca Hosking and Tim Green from Village Farm in Devon on ‘Building Soil with Regenerative Agriculture’.

Found this video from Stacey Murphy of Backyard Farmyards5 Tips for New Growers: Save Time Energy & Money. Definitely worth a watch – particularly the tips about increasing your growing area by plotting shade throughout the year and also how to prioritise jobs in the garden. Stacey produces between 25 and 80lb of produce weekly on a 450 square foot site!

Great podcast from Robb Wolf with Dr. Charles Sydnor on Grass Fed Cattle and The Future of Sustainability

Very interesting talk by Dr Ron Rosedale on cancer from the 2013 Annual International IPT (Insulin Potentiation Therapy) /IPTLE conference via Me and My Diabetes website. Dr Rosedale features in the excellent Keto Clarity book and advocates a high fat, moderate protein, low carbohydrate real food approach and in particular is an advocate of lowering protein to around 1g or less per lean (ideal) bodyweight. This is an extremely fascinating talk concerning the role of insulin, leptin and the mTOR pathway in disease. Dr Rosedale leaves us with this warning:

‘Your health and lifespan will mostly be determined by the proportion of fat versus sugar you burn over a lifetime.  I’ve said that for 20 years.  I’ve not found anything to contradict it.  All the evidence that has occurred in the last 20 years has supported that one statement. Everything there is to know about health, and aging, can be summarized right there.  Your health and lifespan will be determined by the proportion of fat versus sugar that you burn over a lifetime.’ Dr Rosedale

Let’s be clear – when Dr Rosedale says ‘sugar’ he includes non-fiber starch such as potatoes, bread (including wholemeal), rice, pasta, cereal, corn and all grains that eventually get turned to sugar by the body. 


For a list of Paleo-friendly suppliers and products see the Resources and Suppliers page.

PPP Round-Up 23/04/15

PPP Round-Up 23/04/15

Mega-busy time in the vegetable garden at the moment with seeds progressing nicely Space is limited so seeds and seedlings have taken over the house!

Enjoying lamb breasts roasted with garlic and herbs (above) – economical and taste superb. 

First sauerkraut experiment a massive success (below),


Using half minced beef and half minced beef heart for dishes like burgers and bolognese sauce is a great way to get heart into the diet.

Paid a visit to John and Patsy Price to get some fantastic 100% pasture raised beef.

Currently eating the last of 2014’s swiss chard and kale before pulling them up. Also we have the first rhubarb of the year appearing. Stewed with cinnamon and mixed spice and served with coconut cream and vanilla.



It’s that time of the year again – the awesome Paleo f(x) is here! Running Friday, April 24th to Sunday, April 26th this is the biggest event in Paleo with a stellar line-up of speakers. There are some fantastic talks, in particular Travis Christofferson of Single Cause Single Cure and author of Tripping Over the Truth: a metabolic theory of cancer talking about The Metabolic Theory of Cancer: The Evidence, Consequences and Treatments. Really happy to also see Chris Kerston of the Savory Institute talking on Eating Healthy Meat to Save the Planet! Emily Dean’s talk on The Microbiome and Mental Health looks great. Dr Michael Ruscio’s talk The Gut Microbiota; Clinical Pearls Vs. Marketing Ploys & Regaining Your Ancestral Gut will be interesting to get a balanced view on the latest research into microbes and the gut. I listened to the first couple of Dr Ruscio’s podcasts here and they are very good. Josh Whiton’s talk The Best Meat is Illegal to Buy: Ending the Ban on Wild Hunted Meat would also be one to attend. I had no idea that most of the venison consumed in America is shipped from New Zealand and it would be good to get a US perspective on hunting. Wish I was going to Austin this year but hopefully back again next year and until then, look forward to catching up with all the videos when they become available.

Very excited to hear that Human Food Project is planning to spend some time with the Reindeer Herders of northern Mongolia – look forward to hearing more about that. Robb Wolf had also posted a link to this article: Mongolia’s Meat Diet: An Inconvenient Truth for Veganism which is a great read. Check out some amazing pictures of Mongolian Reindeer tribes here.

Grass-fed meat vital for a healthy diet, MPs are told – via Farm2Fork Great to see the health benefits of 100% pasture-fed meat being promoted by Professor Robert Pickard, of Cardiff University at the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on beef and lamb.



Website articles

My favourite article of the month has to be Toby Hemenway’s Permaculture: The Design Arm of a Paradigm Shift. I first heard about Tony from an interview called Liberation Permaculture he gave on the Survival Podcast (which I found via a fermentation website). I was fascinated by what he has to say and felt that his philosophy chimes perfectly with Paleo and with the holistic management approach of organisations such as the Savory Institute. I have been listening to Toby a lot in the last few days.

‘After your world changes, there’s plenty of work to be done. That work is permaculture.’

Antibody against ?-gliadin 33-mer peptide: Is the key initiating factor for development of multiple sclerosis during gluten sensitivity? via Robb Wolf – a ‘must-read’. The forthcoming research has the potential to be hugely important for the study of autoimmune conditions.

Dietary carbohydrate restriction as the first approach in diabetes management: Critical review and evidence base – check out this important article from quite a team.

Worth mentioning the following points in full:

‘Here we present 12 points of evidence supporting the use of low-carbohydrate diets as the first approach to treating type 2 diabetes and as the most effective adjunct to pharmacology in type 1. They are proposed as the most well-established, least controversial results. It is not known who decides what constitutes evidence-based medicine but we feel that these points are sufficiently strong that the burden of proof rests on critics…

Whatever the extent to which the correlation between carbohydrate consumption and diabetes is causal, the lack of association between the levels of dietary fat and diabetes in humans is of real significance. A lack of association is generally considered strong evidence for a lack of causality…

In practice, reduced-carbohydrate diets are not generally high-protein diets except in comparison with low levels recommended in high-carbohydrate diets. It is also generally recommended that carbohydrate is replaced by fat…

Several large and expensive clinical studies have been carried out since the so-called diet–heart hypothesis was framed in the middle of the 20th century [40,41]. From the original Framingham study [42] to the WHI [26], as well as more than a dozen additional studies, have failed to show an association between dietary lipids and risk for cardiovascular disease (CVD)…

There is now a large volume of literature of both scientific papers [43–47] and popular books [48–51] documenting the failure of attempts to support the diet–heart hypothesis. Few rebuttals have been offered [52]. The very strong recommendations from health agencies predicted that none of these trials should fail. In fact, almost all of them have failed…

Dietary SFA does not correlate with CVD. On the other hand, it is increasingly understood that plasma SFAs are associated with increased risk for CVD and insulin resistance [59]. in humans, plasma SFAs do not correlate with dietary saturated fat but, rather, are more dependent on dietary carbohydrates [5,60–62]…

Total and/or LDL cholesterol are the most commonly assessed lipid markers for CVD risk despite the general recognition that they are not good predictors. Several other parameters have been shown to provide stronger evidence of risk and these tend to be reliably improved by dietary carbohydrate restriction. These include apolipoprotein (apo) B [71], ratio of total cholesterol to HDL, higher populations of the smaller dense LDL known as pattern B [72,73], as well as the ratio of apoB to apoA1. The ratio of TG to HDL, which is also improved more by carbohydrate restriction is taken as a correlate of the smaller dense LDL, which is not routinely measured…

Dietary carbohydrate restriction, because of its increased effectiveness in glycemic control, frequently leads to reduction and often complete elimination of medication in type 2 diabetes…

Finally, it should be recognized that the use of low carbohydrate diets is not a recent experiment and may well approximate the diet used by much of humanity for tens of thousands of years before the rise of agriculture…

Replacement of carbohydrate with fat or, in some cases, with protein, is beneficial in both types of diabetes leading to better glycemic control, weight loss, cardiovascular risk markers, and reduction in medication. This is what we know…

Both the scientific [92,93] and popular literature [94] have been unrestrained in attributing harm to fructose. Generally, fructose is known to have unique effects compared with glucose, although most of these are seen on a high-carbohydrate diet [95] and there may be little difference as carbohydrate is lowered. It is likely that on a low-carbohydrate diet, most fructose that is consumed will be converted to glucose. We have provided a perspective on the metabolism of fructose [96] where we emphasize its integration into general carbohydrate metabolism. The fact that up to 60% of ingested fructose can be converted to glucose makes the analysis of which sugar does what very difficult…

Given the current state of research funding and the palpable bias against low carbohydrate approaches [4], it is unlikely that an RCT can be performed that will satisfy everybody. The seriousness of diabetes suggests that we have enough evidence of different types to reevaluate our current recommendations for treatment…

We would recommend that government or private health agencies hold open hearings on these issues in which researchers in carbohydrate restriction can make their case. We think that traditional features of the analysis of evidence such as vigorous cross-examination should be part of the process…

How Networks Bring Down Experts (The Paleo Example) – hat-tip to Mr Wolf. I really loved this article:

 ‘…leadership is earned not by sitting atop an institutional hierarchy with the plumage of a PhD, but by contributing, experimenting, communicating and learning with the rest of a far bigger hive mind.’

Metabolic and physiologic effects from consuming a hunter-gatherer (Paleolithic)-type diet in type 2 diabetes – abstract (full article behind pay wall):

‘Even short-term consumption of a Paleolithic-type diet improved glucose control and lipid profiles in people with type 2 diabetes compared with a conventional diet containing moderate salt intake, low-fat dairy, whole grains and legumes.’

Neuroscience: an epileptic target: Interesting abstract (full article behind pay wall) regarding the development of drugs to treat epilepsy that mimic the metabolic effects of a ketogenic diet via LDH inhibition: ‘…the first anti-epileptic drug known to act on a metabolic pathway.’

Scientists identify novel mechanism by which ketogenic diet could delay effects of aging

‘Dr. Verdin and colleagues found that at lower concentrations, BOHB helps protect cells from “oxidative stress”-which occurs as certain molecules build to toxic levels in the body and contributes to the aging process.’

Beta-hydroxybutyrate is the primary ketone body in the blood.

One of the many criticisms of the Paleo diet is that it is potentially low in calcium. Check out this excellent article from Chris Kresser: How To Keep Your Bones Healthy On A Paleo Diet. There are some lovely foods in the top ten sources of calcium, including sesame seeds (wiz up tahini, garlic, olive oil, a little water and lemon juice and parsley to make a creamy salad dressing), tinned salmon and sardines, spinach…

New Research Shows Poorly Understood “Leaky Gut Syndrome” Is Real, May Be the Cause of Several Diseases via Ethical Omnivore Movement

Bring in the cows: grazing may be the best hope for a threatened butterfly – via Savory Institute. Really lovely article highlighting the importance of intelligently managed ruminants to biodiversity:

‘One of his goals was to dispel the widespread impression that cows are always bad for conservation. While ill-controlled herds have damaged landscapes across the West, Weiss says, well-managed herds can help preserve native ecosystems, including these flowery grasslands.’

Vegan Zealots And ‘Meat Kills The Planet’ Nonsense – Tom fights the fight yet again in this great article! An excellent argument for the important role that ruminants play in creating a healthy and sustainable biosystem.

World’s oldest stone tools discovered in Kenya

‘…tool making apparently began before the birth of our genus.’

The FDA’s phony nutrition science: How Big Food and Agriculture trumps real science — and why the government allows it

How the recommended low levels of salt in your diet might actually be dangerous – Interesting article on salt – time for a rethink on guidelines? Heard that one before!



Videos and Podcasts

A lovely video here about Conygree Farm, based in the Cotswolds who keep rare breed Cotswold and pedigree Lleyn sheep, Traditional Hereford (as opposed to crossed Hereford) cattle and native breed pigs, producing lamb, hogget, mutton, beef and pork. I first heard about this farm via the PFLA, so if you are looking for a supplier of pasture fed beef and lamb (and hogget!) in the Cotswolds area – check them out. 



Really enjoying reading Swallow This: Serving Up the Food Industry’s Darkest Secrets by Joanna Blythman. Check out my article on Joanna’s recent radio interview here.

‘These days cooking is a powerful political statement, a small daily act of resistance that gives us significantly more control of our lives…

The prevailing sentiment amongst food manufacturers is that the less we have a mental picture of how our food is made, the better.’

Joanna explains that when questioned about their methodologies, the implication from the food industry is that ‘…anyone who is suspicious of processed food is an irrational, confused hysteric.’

The description of some of the things on offer at the Food Ingredients trade show is mind-boggling.

Gaia’s Garden: A Guide to Home-scale Permaculture by Toby Hemenway. Would really like to read this after listening to Toby’s presentations online – looks hugely interesting.

The Good Gut: Taking Control of Your Weight, Your Mood, and Your Long-term Health (available to pre-order from Random House Publishers).



The Conygree Farm video above was posted on Grow Eat Gather – a really nice new website that promotes locally grown, real food in the UK.


For a list of Paleo-friendly suppliers and products see the Resources and Suppliers page.

In the garden

In the garden

If there is anything that makes us appreciate and reflect upon the passing of time it has to be gardening. When we garden, things are governed by the days, weeks, months, seasons and years in a way that is often forgotten in our everyday lives. We are acutely aware of just how quickly time passes as a myriad of jobs lie waiting for us in the garden and as weeds creep up in the blink of an eye and seeds wait to be planted. Yet at the same time we can talk of a newly-planted shrub and think ‘perhaps it will take a few years to flower properly’ as if a few years were a few days.

One would think that gardening would be a battle against time and the elements; a frantic attempt to keep on top of things and complete a list of jobs according to a strict timetable. It is of course and sometimes that can get on top of us but the strange thing is that despite this profound awareness of the passing hours and days, gardening is simultaneously about losing ourselves in time. When we garden, as all gardeners will no doubt agree, we are at once acutely aware of time and yet strangely outside of it as we immerse ourselves in the task at hand.  It is a way  of focusing the mind that for many is seemingly impossible in day to day life just as painting is or indeed any other skill or craft that requires sustained and complete absorption.

When we think of the garden, we also automatically relate its progress (or lack of) to points of time in our own lives and this gives it an added poignancy.  I think that is why gardens are so loved – they stand as reflections of our own lives and the time that has passed yet they also look to the future and represent a kind of hope. They appeal to us as temporal beings; as beings that exist with past, present and future combined simultaneously. There is a brilliant quote from Roy Strong about gardens and hope (maybe in his lovely book The Laskett).

Being out in the garden yesterday made me think about this and reflect on the connection with the natural world that we have lost. The Japanese practice of ‘Shinrinyoku’ or ‘forest bathing’ seeks to restore this equilibrium with some excellent results on moods, stress levels and the immune system (see here), but perhaps we need only go out to the garden  (if we are lucky enough to have one) rather than find a forest  to achieve similar results.

Apart from the physicality of gardening, there is an added bonus that if we are able to grow a few vegetables we are also benefitting our health by avoiding the ever-present chemicals that are used in the soil or sprayed on the produce (and even added with the packaging process – see my article on the interview with Joanna Blythman, author of Swallow This: Serving Up the Food Industry’s Darkest Secrets).

Within the ancestral health scene, there is a huge emphasis placed on the providence of our food (especially meat and other animal products) and although I was concerned about these things before, I am doubly aware of them now. Growing vegetables gives us an element of control over the quality of our food. Buying organic produce in the supermarket is expensive. We do have a monthly farmers market and we are also very lucky to have a superb organic garden shop relatively near to us but these options are not always practical. Hence our heroic efforts each year to tackle weeds and keep our vegetable garden going.

We have recently acquired a huge amount of woodchip to go around the beds and so Easter weekend was spent putting weed control fabric down and woodchipping over it and cleaning the greenhouses. Of course these are jobs that should have been done months ago but we can only do what we can when we can. I think that’s a good way to go – not only with gardens but with everything else –  otherwise it all becomes too much. In the wonderful weather that we have had, shovelling woodchip with the robins hopping around us, and watching the vegetable garden take shape has been a joy.

An essential piece of kit for the garden has been our Vitapod propagator. Unfortunately its power socket was damaged and so we have just received a replacement for it. The previous model had a power socket that could not be detached from the main body of the propagator and the company has rectified this design fault and replaced the damaged power socket for a small fee. The Vitapod was an invaluable purchase  and I cannot recommend it highly enough. We start many of our seedlings off in there before transferring to the greenhouse.

We used to have two large polytunnels (cheap ones – not the amazingly sturdy professional polytunnels that I covet) and after particularly windy days these were often found strewn across the surrounding area – accompanied by upturned pots of tomatoes and basil – despite anchoring them down with enormous stones and planks of wood. In the end we had to get rid of them as the wind had bent the metal structure so much that we could not put them back together. I think that until we can get a robust model we will stick to the greenhouses.

We hope to grow a modest crop this year (as last year). The usual courgettes, a few tomatoes, spring onions, chard and kale, cabbages, parsley, chives, basil, cucumbers, beets and lettuces. I didn’t bother trying with chillies, peppers or aubergines after the first couple of years as we just don’t seem to get a long enough season (waiting until we make that move to somewhere warmer!) but April is the last chance to plant chilli seedlings so I may give them another go. Our garlic came out ridiculously small last year, so we took a break but will plant again in the winter this year. I have bought a few different seeds this year – some oriental salad crops and different types of tomato and cucumbers.  I always go to The Real Seed Catalogue (in Wales) to buy vegetable seeds. I find them excellent and they have some really unusual varieties. They are also really helpful and are always ready to give advice on the telephone too.

I am very keen to begin fermenting some of the vegetables we grow. My initial foray into sauerkraut is still bubbling away in the cupboard and fingers crossed it will taste good. I have read lots of fermenting disaster stories where the whole lot has to be thrown away, so I am hoping that ours survives. Eating fermented foods brings enormous benefits to our gut microbes and so I want to increase the amount of these foods in our diet. Also, preserving food is an important consideration after so much effort goes into growing it. I made chutneys, jams, jellies and marmalades for many years but stopped (apart from a few Christmas presents) as we no longer eat them. As a result I have amassed an enormous collection of jars that are unused.

Click here for pictures of the vegetable garden and its highs and lows.

With thanks to my darling R, who has worked like a trooper over Easter.

I have just purchased The Art of Fermentation by fermenter extraordinaire Sandor Katz. There is a short documentary that has been made about him called Sandorkraut, so look forward to seeing that. Just listened to a great interview with Sandor at the Food as Medicine Summit (online).

Check out this great article The Politics of Fermentation by fermenter and potter Jeremy Ogusky. Jeremy makes beautiful fermentation crocks, olive oil jugs and other assorted products and is also founder of the Boston Fermentation Festival. I found a lovely article by Jeremy on Alex Lewin’s Feed Me Like You Mean It blog (Alex has also written a book on fermentation called Real Food Fermentation).

And finally…

‘The first supermarket supposedly appeared on the American landscape in 1946. That is not very long ago. Until then, where was all the food? Dear folks, the food was in homes, gardens, local fields, and forests. It was near kitchens, near tables, near bedsides. It was in the pantry, the cellar, the backyard.’
Joel Salatin: Folks, This Ain’t Normal: A Farmer’s Advice for Happier Hens, Healthier People, and a Better World


For a list of Paleo-friendly suppliers and products see the Resources and Suppliers page.