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As Paleo Grows

As Paleo Grows
Angelo Coppola

It’s Moment of Paleo time.  Time to reflect a little.  I thought I’d talk a little bit about how much the Paleo Movement is growing, and offer a little bit of a warning, as well as maybe some advice.

First of all, it’s great that we’re becoming a bigger group, a bigger voice.  People write to me from all over the world letting me know what the scene is like in their neck of the woods. Maybe we can make a difference when it comes to food policies in our local communities.  Maybe we can help prevent the food police from barging onto family farms and dumping raw milk, communities going after people for planting gardens in their front yards, or even for growing too many vegetables in their back yards.  Those aren’t hypothetical situations.  Those things happen.

Now, some people have written to me to say that there’s not much going on Paleo-wise in the corner of the world…well, that’s still good news, because at least one person there is writing about Paleo…that must mean there are a lot more, even if they aren’t bumping into each other.

Another thing that comes to mind with the growth of the Paleo diet is, hey — just look at what has happened to low-carb and gluten-free.  They’re big enough for industrial food to jump in and offer a lot of processed food options that are just garbage. Frankly, this is what happens when we hone in on a single macronutrient, or even a specific protein in the case of gluten-free.  See, businesses can deal with that.  It’s numbers.  You want low-carb? We can make low carb.  You want gluten-free? We can figure out how to isolate, put stuff in, pull stuff out.

Just look at low-calorie, low-fat, the point system diets, the pharmaceuticals.  It’s all stuff that business can deliver.

But you know what?  It’s really about quality.  And that’s a tough one.

Quality means avoiding shortcuts. And business is really good at exploiting shortcuts.

Quality means straight from the ground freshness.  That makes distribution a problem, you know.

Quality means respecting the essence of whatever it is you’re talking about.  It means feeding grass to cows.  It means letting chickens run around and eat bugs.  It means things can take a little longer.  It means relinquishing some control — or, more accurately, it means not trying to usurp and wrestle total control from nature.

And that’s a good segue into another point. Part of the quality equation is definitely learning to make things for yourself.  If you want to avoid processed foods, you have to learn how to make things.

And you know what? It’s not that hard.

I mentioned earlier that this weekend we made some cream cheese.  Do you have any idea how easy this is?  Everyone who eats dairy should know how to do this.  I imagine there was a time when everyone did know how to make it, but why bother when you can buy it right?

I’m telling you, it’s so easy that buying it is more difficult and more expensive.  If you buy a good quality block of cream cheese it’s going to cost you around $4 or 5 bucks maybe more.

Or you can take some full fat yogurt.  You can start with milk, too, if you want to.  But yogurt is easier.  Buy a tub of Vosko or another good full fat greek yogurt.  Then take a strainer, line it with cheesecloth, and dump in the yogurt.

Put the strainer over a bowl.  That’s it.

Time and gravity does the rest.

After a couple of hours the whey will have dripped into the bowl.  Then gently tie the cheese cloth to a wooden spoon and hang it over the bowl to get out the remaining whey.

That’s it.  You will end up with the creamiest, most tasty and delicious cream cheese you’ve ever had.  The whey will last for 6 months in the fridge in a mason jar.  Put the cream cheese in a covered glass container and it’ll keep for a month.

Next time you make a burger, you can smear on some cream cheese, and sauteed onions.  Go crazy and throw on some jalapenos, too.

You want to get more fermented foods into your life?  Why don’t you know how to make Kombucha?  If you can make black tea, you can make Kombucha.

How about Ginger Beer?  It’s easy, it only needs to sit for a few days.

Why is it that we don’t really know how to do anything anymore?  Ok, sure — we can do a lot of things.  I wouldn’t trade Google or networked communication for a jug of kombucha…but maybe we can have both?

Are we in the middle of being duped into not knowing how to do anything for ourselves anymore?

If you want real quality, you need to learn to do things for yourself.  A lot of it’s pretty fun, and a great way for you to spend time with your family, which adds an entirely new layer of reward to the equation.

Seriously, we need to reclaim some of the wonderful knowledge our ancestors have possessed over the millennia. Who are we to squander it away after all this time?

And I’ll tell you what — often times, at least here in the states…if you don’t make some things yourself, you’re just never going to know what it’s truly like, because you can’t find authentic homemade quality in stores.

It’s pretty interesting.  Because you can go back just 50 years and people were eating at least mostly real food.  100 years ago, even more so. We’re talking pre-twinkies here.

We’re also talking about virtually no heart disease, even in people who were living well beyond the average life expectancy for the time.

We’re talking about a time when obesity was virtually unknown.

We’re also talking about a time when people knew what they were doing and could take care of themselves.

So, as the Paleo movement grows — hopefully we can seize the opportunity to learn some traditional skills, learn about the importance of quality, and I hope that we won’t let anyone sell us inferior products that resemble real food in the name of Paleo.

It’s not about numbers.  It’s about food.  Remember, some things are shockingly simple to do yourself and will yield the highest quality.

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  • Claudia

    Great piece. Considering the ever-rising food prices while quality of food goes down and gets downright poisonous, it is becoming imperative for us to start producing our own food again. Luckily here in California, we have local farmers’ markets on every day of the week where we can get local, organic food and grass-fed meats. Just imagine food prices getting so high we can’t afford them anymore. Or simply imagine supermarkets closing due to catastrophe or other unforseeable events….who still knows how to feed themselves? Food and clean water are the basis of life, along with sunshine and air. Yet we have given corporations full control over these essential commodities. Corporations pollute the air and water while making billions in profits. Monsanto is trying to control the food supply of the entire world by creating invasive, dangerous frankenfoods. We need to get back to community organizing, community gardens, and standing up for our rights to produce our own foods. Unfortunately, I think a lot of people will have a very rude awakening one day, compliments to the very effective propaganda machine of mainstream media.

    • Angelo Coppola

      Well said, Claudia! In the major transition from hunter gatherers to agriculturalists, we gave up certain benefits in exchange for others. The same is true of our transition from an agricultural society to an industrial one. Sometimes it’s awfully difficult to say whether the trade-offs have been worth it.