I Love “Paleo”

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I know. It seems a little wishy-washy to post about an affection of something I just broke up with last month. But I’d like to make a distinction between various meanings of “Paleo.” In some people’s minds, it is a strict set of foods that can or cannot be eaten, depending on your interest in obtaining and maintaining possession of the holy Paleo Card. This is how I first became aware of the newly publicized movement, more specifically through a multi-million view adorned sugar-bashing video by Dr. Robert Lustig (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dBnniua6-oM) that was posted on an OSU Army ROTC Facebook group page by a then MSIV, CDT Shell. If I remember correctly, the video led me to Lorain Cordain’s Paleo Diet for Athletes (http://www.amazon.com/The-Paleo-Diet-Athletes-Nutritional/dp/160961917X).

Alas, as with every living, breathing entity, the Paleo diet evolved. Transforming into the Paleo lifestyle movement, it now attempts to encompass all components of life that affect a human’s health and happiness. There are many different formats that attempt to map out all of the areas of focus, such as Paleo Treats’ Nik Hawks’ 7 Pillars of Paleo (http://www.paleotreats.com/pages/7-pillars-of-paleo), which demonstrates the importance of nutrition, sleep, exercise, water, community, mental health, and sunlight. While I would argue that other necessities in the list are nature, spirituality, joy, movement, and stress management, I think it is important to keep a wide view of holistic health, taking into account evolutionary precedence and scientific understanding of what each of these pillars manifest themselves as in society today.

It is all too easy to get pulled into placing all efforts into improvement and optimization of only a single element of health. I explored this trap for years, placing all of my efforts into discovering and practicing a “perfect” diet. This came, of course, at the expense of social health, sleep, and mental health as I would sometimes abstain from social gatherings or remain awake long into the night stressing over and researching the minute details of each and every morsel of food I may come into contact with and its physiological effects. With the realization that there must be a balance of effort placed on each aspect of wellness, I happily embrace the Paleo lifestyle’s intent to improve a person’s happiness through making the best decisions in all areas of health.

Are the 7-12 pillars listed above suitable to maintain the structure of your house of health?

If not, what model is most practical for your life?

Slaying of the Coon

Recently assured of its legality, I decided it is time to let everyone know about a recent adventure involving a cool, calm, and collected varmint, a cold hearted killer, and a pathetically inadequate tool set.

As you may or may not know, I volunteer at a farm to trap rabbits. These beasts are wrecking havoc on the crops and at a certain density start to suffer from high rates of diseases and interspecies competition for food, thus lowering their quality of life (http://www.dnr.state.il.us/orc/wildlife/benefits.htm). So I kill them 😛

Apparently, some people still aren’t aware of all of the negative externalities inherent to the current industrial animal production process and negative outcomes of eating this protein, so I will list some of them here:

Unfortunately, even if you only eat meat from wild or pasture raised animals, these problems can’t completely be avoided.

I use live traps that necessitate checking for an animal at least once daily. These joyful jaunts a mile or so out to the farm can be made even more enjoyable with the accompaniment of another individual interested in wild-caught sustenance or just an interesting time. I was fortunate enough to have a fellow cadet, Erica Coffee, express interest in and agree to participate in this eccentric endeavor one day. We walked out to the farm from main campus, chatting along the way about how bad OSU dining food is and other vitally important topics.

As the live trap came within sight, I felt a rush of endorphins. The brown fuzzy contents started to make my mouth water while we continued onward, attempting not to participate in the contact that the nettles so persuasively enticed my bare feet to conduct. I knew There was going to be rabbit for dinner. After two more steps, I was amazed at the realization that I had caught the world’s biggest non-domesticated rabbit! Walking closer, I had to wonder why this rabbit had distinctly not-so-rabbit facial markings…

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So a cute momma raccoon had come to play… I’d never had to destroy one of these before, but the stories told to me described the tenacious ferociousness that these critters are capable of, so I knew it would be a good time. I conducted the rabies sniff test… clean, move on to next step!

As I expected a rabbit, which can be dealt with by a quick grasp and some pimp slaps the the back of the head, there was no need for exogenous equipment. The hissing and lurching, fangs first, into the cage toward me indicated that this might put up a fight. For a few moments I had some images of the beast turning the tide and attacking and eating me… Coffee’s conservative composite risk analysis concluded that the best plan of action was to release it back into the wild. So after I convinced her that I am a scavenger and this needs to end up in my pressure cooker, she realized she had a knife on her!

Spears are always a good idea right? No. Not really. Not when this thing had a wrestler’s neck that turned out to be impenetrable. After coffee made the spear, it looked like the best tactic was to two-hand pile drive the stick through the metal spacing through the neck, rendering the enemy growl-less. Agreement coming from Coffee, I positioned the stick above the target zone and gave a loud and proud KYAH KYAH KYAH (royalties to Kevin LeMelle), smashing the point down as fast as possible!

This thing didn’t give a fuck. Posing as the almighty honey badger, this raccoon deflected the spike off of its stone-hard neck, directly into the dirt. Standing there with a spear snapped in two, I realized it was time to bring in the big guns.

Discussing my next move with Coffee as we wandered back to campus, I realized I needed to use something with more force behind it and a sharper point. Good thing I brought my brother Jay’s hunting bow to the apartment. I knew it would come in handy some day. As I inspected the components, I was disappointed to see that there were no tips on the arrows. Who the hell has arrows with no points? Essentially I would be shooting with a hollow tube, but the draw seemed to be enough to get the job done anyways so I wrapped it up in a poncho (I’m not sure if bow possession is frowned upon in this area…) and rode my bike back out to my new pet.

I had high hopes as I scouted around to ensure no witnesses of the dirty deed. An arrow notched, the point lined up through the hole, and a napping animal seemed like the perfect situation. The release of the arrow didn’t bring my furry friend or I much joy. The impact induced large amounts of growling, so I renotched as quickly as possible, hoping not to let this girl suffer at all. I let a rip and was amazed as the carbon fiber rod bounced off its face and snapped right in half… Sooo don’t tell Jay that the arrow is currently somewhere in the Columbus dump slowly decomposing.

Since I made the poor decision not to have a back up back up plan and just watched my back up plan crack into two pieces, I was awarded with another bike ride back to my apartment for more killing supplies. Grabbing a hunting knife, Army issued leather gloves (this is really the only thing they are good for anyways), and some 550 cord, I embarked on, hopefully, the last cycle race to the farm for the day. The feeling of anticipation was growing as I stared at the snoozing ball of fur in the cage, wondering how the hell I was going to grab it, hold it down, and slit its throat without letting it do something similar to me. But, like prepping for the delivery of a bad pick up line at the bar, I knew I’d be better off just executing without any further contemplation. The moment I opened the trap door and shoved my hand in, I knew this was going to be a battle…

The dragon reared its head as I attempted to trap it with the gloved left hand, thinking I might be able to pull it out. It was’t having any of that. Abandoning that plan and just forcing its razor sharp teeth toward the bottom of the cage, I shoved the knife into its neck as swiftly as possible, given the narrow confinement of the cage. If only brand new knives were sharp right out of the box. Pushing harder so that the blade was actually able to cut hair, skin, and whatever else came within the blade’s path, I happily retracted the weapon along with my hands. Checking to ensure that the bite that occurred at some point during our play date wasn’t fatal, I was thrilled to see that no skin was broken. No longer making the “oh shit I’m going to die” noises that haunt me for weeks after a kill, this baby bled.

My victory celebrations of sniffing the closest flower and refueling on a cattail were cut short when I saw the raccoon rallying and moving around again. At this point, while amazed at the display of resiliency, I decided I had had enough messing around and opened the cage up again delivering half a dozen sharp stabs with my OJ Simpson knife to seal the deal. This is why I am now convinced I need a gun. Finally, I was able to string up, skin, and pack the body up for transportation to my pristine kitchen.

After checking for supposed scent glands and finding none, I soaked the body (head on, of course) in a saline solution at fridge temperature for the rest of the day. At sundown, I rubbed the meat with olive oil, sea salt, baking soda, and curry (the go to spice for all occasions). All of the above, along with some water, were placed in my pressure cooker as I turned it to high at 60 minutes and went to bed dreaming of tender, succulent, delicious raccoon meat for lunch.

I know you (assuming there is someone that cared to read this far) might be thinking this is “gross”. This tell me that you were not one of the multiple people that tasted the delicious results, giving me praise for making “varmint” taste not just edible, but tasty. Some people that refuse to partake in such culinary adventures argue that there is too much risk associated with eating raccoons because of rabies, parasites, and other woes that I see as having overblown risk perception among the general public. My rebuttal to those ideas is that I’d like to see the research suggesting that there is more risk of parasites coming from wild animals as well as the rates of rabies in the area for raccoons. Can’t you tell visibly that a raccoon has rabies? My mind is still blown that people have such a low risk perception with the conventional meat they choose to consume every day, given all of the risks and negative outcomes highlighted above. Every bite of food I can consume outside of that system is something I am proud of and have faith in. I aim to place as much societal awareness on what I eat as possible, and I believe wild animal consumption is highly moral, nutrition, and delicious.

Some also bring up some biblical mythos that people “aren’t supposed to” eat animals that small or certain body parts. I don’t know all of the details, and since they are often relying on outdated fictional ramblings to make decisions for them, they most likely don’t either.

So if you are wondering if you can eat a pest in your area, the answer is probably yes. If you are wondering if I will help, the answer is yes (as long as you have a better slaughter plan…). I’ve also eaten groundhog, field mice, birds my cat caught for me, and many other odd tasty critters. I am extremely jealous of my declawed cat’s hunting skills. She is almost worth the layer of hair she leaves on all of my belongings.

What free, healthy, and ethical protein sources are you thinking about trying out??