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

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Raw Milk, Yogurt, and Other Fermented Milk Products

Well, we're back in Tucson now. The move was harrowing and stressful, but we made it here safe and sound. We've rented a cute little 1-bedroom place and we're getting settled and into our respective grooves.

As part of our preparation to move, we looked up local producers of food products. We've found raw dairy, grass-fed organic beef, olives and olive oil (!!!), vegetables of all kinds, fruits, wine, and more. Much of this can be found at the various farmers' markets in Tucson or even at some stores such as Aqua Vita. We joined a raw milk cooperative.

We received our first gallon of raw cow's milk last week. I was very excited; many yogis live on nothing but raw milk, and it is considered by many in India to be "the perfect food". I had decided to try drinking 8 ounces per day to start, going up to 16 ounces (or more) per day if my body liked it.

We were so anxious when we received the container that we opened it immediately and took a drink. It was definitely milk, but it was salty and sour. I considered it basically undrinkable. I've had raw milk before (both cow and goat), and I knew something was up. Had it soured a bit? Would we get ill? Had we wasted our money (this stuff is not cheap!).

We reported our experience to the dairy and waited. After a couple of days, the herd owner sent out an e-mail apologizing for the milk. Her refrigerator had been on the way to breaking down and wasn't staying cool enough; the milk was starting to turn into yogurt already. We never got ill. I drank some, but we turned the rest of it all the way into yogurt with store-bought yogurt culture. YUM! Not only is the yogurt good, but we made a tiny bit of butter from this batch; it was only 2 or 3 tablespoons, but it was pretty good!

We received our second gallon of milk yesterday. This batch is sweet, creamy, and absolutely delicious! It also had a significant amount of cream on top (over a pint). I can drink this stuff, no problem!

We've also made piimä, a Finnish cultured (fermented) milk product. It's a bit like crème fraîche, but has a very slight sourness as if it was very tame yogurt. It's quite tasty!

One thing we've both noticed is that neither of us has had any issues from the raw milk. My fiancee gets indigestion and gas when she drinks store-bought homogenized and pasteurized milk; this raw milk hasn't bothered her at all. I also noticed that I didn't form as much mucus when I drink the raw milk. Milk is a very cooling, kapha-producing substance, so it produces copious mucus in some people. In the desert, though, it's almost a godsend, and a cup of milk balances out the heat and dryness. Very wonderful!

I would strongly suggest getting some raw milk and trying it. Unless you have a medically-diagnosed allergy to dairy, raw milk will most likely feel much better to you than the "processed milk-like food product" you buy in the supermarket. It is an excellent food, full of protein and good fat, and is very cooling in the summer heat.

Now I see why cows are considered holy in India. :-)

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Paleo, without meat

I've recently switched over to a pesco-lacto-ovo-vegetarian diet. In case you don't understand the multiply-hyphenated word, that means that I eat vegetables, eggs, milk and dairy products, and fish (occasionally). So far, this diet really seems to work for me. I don't miss red meat at all. I was recently offered it (specifically, venison) and ate it only out of friendship. I do miss chicken a bit, but I've eaten it once or twice in the last couple of months and that seems to be all I really need.

How is this paleo? Most people would say it isn't. To become "truly paleo", I would have to drop the milk (have you ever tried to milk an auroch? NOT fun!) and probably most of the eggs. I would also have to stop eating beans as often.

"Diet" is a loaded word. My friend Webster helps here:

Main Entry: di-et
Function: noun
Etymology: Middle English diete, from Anglo-French; from Latin diaeta, from Greek diaita, literally, manner of living, from diaitasthai to lead one's life
Date: 13th century
1a habitual nourishment; the kind and amount of food prescribed for a person or animal for a special reason; a regimen of eating and drinking sparingly so as to reduce one's weight
2 something provided or experienced repeatedly

Look at the etymology of the word, its history. Look at the Greek; it means "manner of living". This doesn't just include food; it could include food as well as exercise, mental stimulation, job, family, and more.

Your diet isn't just "what you eat"; it's "who you are".

Have a good "diet".

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Where the heck did I go?

I haven't posted here in 3 months. I'm not paleo right now; I'm pescovegetarian as an experiment (which is going quite well, I think). And I'm not doing much yoga (chalk it up to laziness).

Sorry, folks. Seems I dropped the ball here.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Organizing Your Supplements

Do you take vitamins or other supplements in pill form? I do; I have about a dozen things that I take on a regular basis (multi-vitamin, fish oil capsules, cordyceps mushrooms, B-complex, vitamin D, vitamin E, amino acids, chromium, and others). I needed a simple and cheap (read: free) way to organize them.

Enter: an egg carton.

As long as you have a small enough number of pills to take each day, they will fit in the little places where the eggs go. I have about a dozen individual pills, and they fit fine. This gives me 12 days of pre-organized vitamins. It takes about 10 minutes to go through my various bottles, count out the right number of whatever, and fill the egg carton. Then, all I have to do to take my vitamins is scoop out the day's worth and wash them down (sometimes with water, and sometimes with Ionic Fizz, a fruit-flavored magnesium supplement). It's a simple and free way to organize your supplements. Get creative with some colored markers to make it look a bit more attractive, if you're creative in that way.

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.