Originally published with the title “Why I’m a Traditional Primal Locavore…and what the bleep that means.”

Sweet Potato-Eggplant Tapenade.  New York, June 2010.

Those of you who know me or have eaten a meal with me know that I am a bit picky when it comes to my food.  Many people are afraid to order “off the menu” in a restaurant even to the slight degree of taking your BLT without the L; not me!  I am an unabashed special needs customer when it comes to food, and long ago stopped being timid about it.  While I don’t end my food orders the way Meg Ryan did in the famous diner scene, her way of ordering can be retroactively attributed to me.

Why all the trouble?  Well, it’s a long story, but it started with one book (Diet for a Small Planet) that took me on a 17-year vegetarian trip, and another book (Nourishing Traditions) that literally changed my life and made me an omnivore again.  I seriously thank the universe every day for bringing that book into my life.  Why?  Well, let me just say that if it had been around 17 years earlier and crossed my path then, I might have spared myself a litany of health-related problems that I now see as primarily caused by the nutrient deficiencies of my vegetarian diet: PMS (increasingly painful and mood altering over the years), poor eyesight, crooked teeth and overbite (I’m not kidding), chronic fatigue, depression, mood swings, anxiety, yeast infections, bladder infections, low sex drive, ovarian cysts, joint pain, chronic weight gain, chronic tonsillitis, lots of colds and flus….yep, I think that’s all.  Oh no, mustn’t forget the increasing food sensitivities which to date include gluten, dairy, soy and eggs – the foods that I turned to quite often in my vegetarian days to get protein and that meat-like taste and texture that I really missed.  Coincidence?  I think not.

(Does a vegetarian diet have to cause so many problems?  Maybe not.  But with all respect to the vegetarians out there – believe me, I have been there and for many of the same reasons as you – I now believe that it’s damn hard to make a vegetarian diet nutrient-dense enough to be truly, vibrantly healthy.  Veg*ns, I lovingly and respectfully offer this link.)

So…Nourishing Traditions came into my life in 2007, and true to fashion I devoured a number of other books on the subject of traditional foods (I’ll include a reading list at the end).  This year I read yet another book that crystallized everything I’d been reading since going omnivore again – combining the best of the traditional foods movement with an in-depth study of how humans ate before the advent of agriculture (namely, the cultivation of grains and dairy).  Mark Sisson’s The Primal Blueprint has not changed my life so much as synthesized and clarified what I was already gathering:

* Stop eating processed foods.

* Get off the horrid carb/sugar treadmill that our packaged-food culture is so addicted to.

* Understand that our addiction to speed and convenience has robbed us of the enjoyment of properly preparing and truly savoring our food.

* Realize that fifty years after America went low-fat, we are the fattest, least healthy culture in the world.

* Take a good look at where your food is coming from, and the damage being done to the planet just so you can have asparagus in September (hint: it’s likely coming from Argentina and traveling thousands of gas-guzzling miles to get here).

So, now I identify myself as a Traditional Primal Locavore.  Traditional: relying on the wisdom of our ancestors for how to prepare and eat food.  This happens to mean, among other things, NOT FEARING FAT AND EATING LOTS OF IT, ESPECIALLY SATURATED FATS.  (Note: my cholesterol is as low as when I was a vegan and I have pretty much stopped struggling with my weight since upping my fat intake.)  Primal: eating foods that our way-back ancestors (as in 10,000 years ago) would have been able to eat.  Locavore: eating as locally as possible.

Do I do it perfectly?  Far from it!  Do I do it joyfully?  You betcha!  In another post I’ll detail a bit more about what I actually eat.  Am I healthier as a result?  Maybe I’ll post about the changes in my list of maladies, but for now let’s just say that I would estimate that my various symptoms and problems have decreased by about 80%.  Thanking the universe.

If you want to know more, please feel free to ask questions – I am a bona fide food geek and love to share what I’ve learned.  Also check out the books in my reading list, especially “The Primal Blueprint” and “Nourishing Traditions”.  Of the two, I would now recommend “The Primal Blueprint” as the book to read if you’re only going to read one.

READING LIST

The Primal Blueprint by Mark Sisson

Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon & Mary Enig

The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan

Real Food: What to Eat and Why by Nina Planck

Full Moon Feast by Jessica Prentice

Nutrition and Physical Degeneration by Weston A. Price  (This book is also available free on the internet.  Although the text is incredibly valuable, the pictures are worth a thousand words a piece.  You can scroll through to look.)

WEBSITES TO VISIT

Mark’s Daily Apple

The Weston A. Price Foundation

Slow Food USA

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