Paleo f(x) 2014 Palmer Events Centre, Austin, Texas
Although just recovering from the journey and the jet-lag, I am still on a high from Paleo f(x) 2014! What an experience! I travelled to Texas for three days of listening to the most exciting speakers, meeting fantastic people, and total immersion in all things Paleo. I had desperately wanted to go to Paleo f(x) last year but couldn’t get there, so I was hugely excited to make it for 2014. For once I could talk Paleo non-stop to people without their eyes glazing over and share my experiences of Paleo with people who really understood (apart from Richard of course, but even then there is only so much he can take!). I was particularly moved by those people who (like I) adopted Paleo after many years of illness, and whose lives have been changed for the better in so many ways. You are so inspirational. I was also touched by the people who took the time to make me feel so welcome knowing that I had travelled from the UK and that I was alone; your company – for however short a time – was delightful. In particular, my love goes out to Paleo Boss Lady, Genevieve, Tess and June. I didn’t expect it to be so emotional – but it was.
Thanks to Paleo Boss Lady, I met Dr Terry Wahls, a truly inspiring woman who took the time to chat to me about her own condition (MS) and the digestive and neurological problems that I have experienced over the years. I had seen her TED talk and listened to many interviews with Dr Wahls since discovering Paleo. On return, I immediately ordered her book and look forward to reading it. Thank you Dr Wahls, for taking the time out to chat.
I was able to briefly meet Robb Wolf, who very interestingly recommended the work of Allan Savory in terms of sustainable farming systems, as well as chatting to the lovely Melissa and Dallas Hartwig of Whole9 about the UK Paleo scene.
I had a great conversation at dinner about fitness with Roger Dickerman of Relentless Roger and the Caveman Doctor podcast. I have been listening to the podcast for some time and rate it highly, but rather stupidly failed to realise who he was until I saw him sitting up on the stage the next morning! I blamed it on the jet lag…
I was struck by how strong the Paleo community is and at the high levels of entrepreneurship – most companies that I spoke to were less than two years old. They were answering a demand that is only ever going to increase. I felt that there was a buzz and excitement about the future for Paleo and it made me very happy to see.
I attended talks from 8.30am to around 5pm each day (with a lunch break) and tried to cram in as much as I could. I took notes – sometimes pages and sometimes a few lines – and I have included links to them below. The fact that sometimes I made only a few notes (or even none at all), does not indicate that I didn’t find the talks extremely interesting! Sometimes I was thinking so hard about what was being said that I just did not have the time to write things down, or perhaps the speakers had such a huge amount of information (for instance, the consistently excellent Nora Gedgaudas) that I decided not to attempt to keep up but refer to their websites/books etc. later. With some (like Cholesterol Clarity), I had to leave half way to rush to another talk, even though I wanted to stay. If only I could have split myself into three!
The issue of GUT HEALTH came up again and again. The effects of a leaky gut on physiological and neurological well-being CANNOT BE UNDER-ESTIMATED and healing a leaky gut is of the utmost importance. See the notes for further information.
The other big take-away is the importance of SLEEP. Please see my notes from the excellent presentation by Dr Kirk Parsley. I first heard of Doc Parsley in this fascinating interview on Robb Wolf and thought that it was one of the best interviews that Robb had done.
I was especially impressed with Michelle Norris, who organises Paleo f(X) with her husband Keith. Michelle moderated a few discussions and participated in the Living a Happy, Intentional Life panel and I was struck by what she had to say, as well as her thoughts in the talk Catalyst for Change. I would have liked to have heard more from Michelle as I found her to be extremely motivational. I was able to chat briefly with her during my stay and there are exciting things on the horizon for Paleo f(x) – stay tuned…
As well as fitting in all those sessions, I attended the opening night cocktail party with excellent nibbles supplied by Caveman Cafeteria and a host of entertaining slide presentations. The charity dinner on the Saturday was in aid of Urban Roots Austin which has a 3.5 acre sustainable farm in East Austin and encourages paid internships for local children to learn about food production. The farm provides sustainable and healthy food to local soup kitchens and food providers, as well as selling at nearby farmers markets.
Two of the children involved with the initiative gave very moving speeches about the impact that Urban Roots has had on their lives. It struck home just how important it is that children learn from an early age about the wonders of growing their own food (no matter how big or small the available space) and about sustainable methods of food production, as well as the untold benefits of connecting with nature. I would be interested in finding out about similar charities over here in the UK.
As you would expect, the food at the charity dinner was entirely Paleo-friendly. The lamb shanks were delightful and the roasted brussell sprouts with bacon were heavenly (I can’t believe that I said that about brussell sprouts but I wasn’t the only one!). Desert was chocolate and coconut fudge balls and chocolate-dipped fruit – I can’t describe how wonderful these tasted!
I noticed that there were many food outlets in Austin that served Paleo-friendly menu options. There is even a dedicated Paleo food truck called Picnik that I made a journey to (despite the rain) on the day before I left. I had a great lunch of pulled turkey, fennel mash and broccoli, together with some bulletproof coffee and chocolate brownie (ok – it was a treat!). I also bought some Upgraded Vanilla to take home and try in my coffee creamer, which is actually very good. I met the owner Naomi Seifter and we had a chat about how she started Picnik and about the UK Paleo scene. It was wonderful to know that everything in Picnik was Paleo friendly and it was a relief not to have to inspect ingredients lists and ask endless questions before eating. Definitely check it out if you go to Austin!
As one of only two people from the UK (the other was a speaker), some people expressed amazement that I had travelled across continents to attend Paleo f(x). I could only say that it was a mark of how strongly I feel about Paleo and how much it means to me. I would definitely recommend Paleo f(x) to anyone who is interested in the Paleo lifestyle and the added bonus is staying in the fantastic city of Austin. Hopefully see you next year?
These are just some of the sessions that I attended:
Apologies for the bad photos – I didn’t take my best camera with me!
Left: Genes Aren’t Destiny (But They Do Matter) Dr. Helen Messier, Dallas Hartwig
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