"No European who has tasted Savage Life can afterwards bear to live in our societies." — Benjamin Franklin

Monday, December 24, 2007

But That's Not Paleo!

Humans like to be extremists; Americans especially have this tendency. We think if we are balanced that we have not reached our fullest potential. We feel we must strive, reach, and persist until “the end”, whatever that may be.

In eating paleo, I find myself confronting this tendency and treating it like a good, loving friend. I listen to some things it says, and I ignore others with an understanding of why I do so. “Let's have rice with dinner”, I say. “But it's not paleo!”, replies my friend. “You're right, but that's OK. I'm healthy, there's a large portion of meat and a bowl of veggies, as well as fruit for dessert. A little rice doesn't break anything except the ‘extreme perfection of the diet’.”

Don't cling to the paleo diet — or anything, for that matter — so tightly that you cause your knuckles to whiten. Relax. Adhere to a path because it is good for you and you enjoy it, not because you “should”. Relax. Have some rice with dinner, and enjoy it.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

We Are Running Out Of Food

The International Herald Tribune had an article yesterday whose headline was:

Global food supply is dwindling rapidly, UN agency warns

That's scary, isn't it? I mean, there must be something we can do, right? Plant more crops? Convert the entire population of the planet to a vegetarian diet? Reduce emissions so as to mitigate global warming?

How about the one that no one wants to talk about? How about: reduce the human population on Earth. Everyone always gets agitated by this suggestion. "We have the right to breed!", they scream. And I agree. But you also have the right to die, and that's what will happen to your children if this continues. And starvation is not a pretty way to die.

I'm not suggesting that we go shoot a bunch of people. What I am suggesting is that we are currently unable to feed the population of the planet, so we need to either fix the problems (most of which, in my opinion, seem political and religious instead of technical) or to reduce the problem at its source: population. Don't have 12 kids because your religious leader says that "families are a blessing". Don't have three or four more children because you need help on the farm. Instead of breeding, adopt a child or two. Over time, the exponential growth curve we're currently experiencing will soften and reduce. Then, maybe, our technology and level of humanity will allow us to feed the mouths we have before we go making more.

Monday, December 10, 2007


Don't recycle!
Don't "Buy Local"!

This is one of my mantras. I try to keep my possessions to a minimum. This is very helpful in many aspects of life: I don't need much living space, I can move easily, I worry less about the security of my "stuff", etc. A far-flung result of this attitude is that I'm causing less to be dumped into landfills later, and polluting less by not requiring that things be made for my consumption.

Hunter-gatherers are known for having few possessions. What they do have, they can often carry on their backs. They don't worry about their stuff because it's simple and easily-replaceable.

We can learn a lot from hunter-gatherer cultures.

Edit : Here is a good article concerning a doctor marrying a yoga teacher, and how they both re-thought their attitudes to money and possessions.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Physical Therapy via Video Games

Why do I think this is crazy? "This" is an article about physical therapists using a Nintendo Wii gaming console to provide physical activity for their patients.

Why do people think that technology can "save" us? Why do people use shiny new tools instead of tested, reliable methods?

Why aren't these people doing yoga?

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Milk: The Perfect Food?

To a traditional Indian yogi, milk is considered the perfect food. It is so revered that the maker of the substance, the cow, is considered holy; when you visit an Indian city, you'll see cows wandering around, munching on grass here and there, like stray cats in American cities. Some yogis only drink milk; that is their diet, without solid food of any kind. They say it is the only physical food that they need.

In the United States, milk is considered a poison, full of harmful little beasties like tuberculosis and salmonella. So, we boil it mercilessly. We shatter its structure because we want the entire container to be of uniform density; no cream on top for us, thanks. If you drink raw, unprocessed milk, you are believed to have a deathwish.

I'll guaran-damn-tee you that those Indian yogis haven't been pasteurizing and homogenizing their milk for thousands of years. They wander up to one of those docile, feral cows, milk them a bit, and exchange devotion and love for that cup of sustenance. Here in the United States, we cage them, feed them unbelievable meals (such as the remnants of their relatives - bones, brains, meat), and their milk is stolen from them via machine. If you "are what you eat", then these cows are made of disgust, capitalism, and poison. No wonder our milk supply is so bad for us.

This system is propped up by outdated and unfair laws which prohibit raw milk from going pretty much anywhere. In some states, raw milk is effectively close to illegal; it must be processed immediately before it can even leave the premises of the dairy. Yet, if you own your own animal, you can drink the milk from it; it is, after all, your own property. In some states (such as Colorado), this leads to "milk co-ops"; you buy a share of a herd of cows, and you are entitled - as an owner - to a portion of their milk. The plus side: most co-ops don't pasteurize or homogenize their milk; even if they do, you can often still request raw milk.

If you've never had raw, unprocessed milk still warm from the teat, you have missed something wonderful. I'm not a regular drinker of milk, but I love butter, ghee, and ice cream. Yet, after reading more about milk, "modern" milk, etc., I wonder if raw milk would be good for me. According to Ayurveda, my constitution (50% pitta) benefits greatly from the cooling, soothing, and nourishing aspects of milk. Milk is a sattvic food, assisting in meditation and self-realization.

In the past few days, I've eaten probably a pint of ice cream to myself. When I was younger, I would eat a pint of ice cream in one sitting - almost every night. Yes, you heard that correctly. I liked the cold, moistening sweetness. Some people like ice cream with "things" in it; I prefer simple vanilla (a few simple nuts thrown in for textural balance is fine, too; my current favorite is Haagen-Dazs "Vanilla Swiss Almond"). This is obviously for my constitution: cool for the pitta, sweet for the pitta, moistening for the pitta. Of the doshas, I have the least of kapha, so it doesn't seem to aggravate that too much.

I think eating the ice cream lately has brought dairy to the forefront of my mind. We've also made a couple of pints of ghee lately, and have been cooking with it (if you've not cooked with ghee, go get some right now!). The place we buy meat also has milk (both cow and goat) from a raw dairy. So, we have a source, and it's reasonably inexpensive for what some consider a "perfect food". Modern agricultural practices have always bothered me, but none so much as how we treat our cows and chickens; it's abominable. Buying from a local co-op allows me to see how it's produced and to get an idea of the ingredients of the milk. Is it made from "anger, disgust, and violence" or "love, care, and respect"?

If you think that "attitude during preparation" doesn't matter, bake a pie for your worst enemy; think about them the whole time, remember why you hate them, and talk out loud about how you'd like to hurt them. Then, bake a pie for your closest loved one; remember them, smile, talk about how wonderful they are. I'll guarantee you that the second pie will not only taste better, but would be more nourishing, both physically and energetically. This is often the reason why a daily dinner may taste "just OK", but a Thanksgiving meal tastes like the best food on the planet. Both Ayurveda and Zen have strict kitchen procedures and rituals to promote good energy around the food and its preparation, and it pays off.

Ayurvedic medicine also uses "milk decoctions"; herbs are steeped in warm milk, which is then drunk as a medicine. Medicated ghee is also used. Maybe I'll have to try to come up with "Ayurvedic ice creams", as they seem to be non-existent. ;-)

So, is milk a "perfect food"? No, I don't think so. This universe isn't perfect, so nothing within it can be perfect (some people may argue this point, but it's my point-of-view at the moment). But, can a single food provide a lot of what someone needs? Absolutely, it can. So, I wonder if all of our dairy intolerance issues in the U.S. stem from not the milk itself, but the energies implanted into it during its production. The processing itself could definitely cause issues, but so can the hate, disgust, and profiteering. We in the west usually forget - or actively discount - this. If we do, we do so to our detriment.

I think I'll find out more about that raw milk co-op. I think it's time to experiment with good, wholesome milk for a while, and to test the yogic theory of "milk as the perfect food".