Monday, August 30, 2010

Book Review: The Vegetarian Myth

By Benjamin Skipper

Even while my interest in culinary endeavors is for its own sake, I still maintain a strong interest in nutrition given its all-encompassing impact on physical well-being. Since going paleo I have never been leaner nor more fit, and am finally developing muscular growth since I've started adapting the Body by Science exercise routine. Still, my knowledge is extremely imperfect, so I continue to be on the lookout for new knowledge to help me continue to maximize my health. After reading a positive review on Dr. Michael Eades' blog, I was persuaded to pick up a copy of The Vegetarian Myth. I've found it a book worth reading, though with some major hesitations due to some major philosophical and scholarship vices.

The book is divided into four chapters of four themes: how the vegetarian and vegan moral philosophy conflicts with reality, how such views affect politics, why vegetarian and veganism are nutritionally harmful, and Ms. Keith's proposed solutions to the problems she brings up about nutrition, agriculture, and the environment. I've found that, while these themes are good, the book is inadequately classified. Each chapter is of enormous length and is only internally divided by pictures of horned animals lined up in a row, which makes me feel like I'm attempting to drink a gallon of water without breathing. Most helpful would be to divide the chapters into sub-themes. The book would be easier to read, especially after a break, when one would likely need to be reminded of the subject at hand.

From the Objectivist perspective the consumption of meat is philosophically justified. According to the Objectivist morality, humans have rights -- negative obligations on others to not use force or the threat of it against others -- because it's necessary for our survival. Men are not born with instincts (automatic knowledge) or great physical advantages; they need to think in order to survive and to be left free of any coercive interference. Other animals don't have rights because they have a different way of mentally functioning, which is largely irrelevant to their methods survival, instincts and brute force. Even if you tried to grant rights to an animal it wouldn't be able to understand them, exercise them, or respect those of others. If you told a lion that the sheep next to it has a right to life and that it would be immoral to kill and eat it, it would do it anyway despite your pleadings (or go after you since you're talking to it). Humans eating animals, then, is morally justified since non-human animals do not have rights.

[Editor's note: For a more thorough discussion of the issue of "animal rights", see this essay by Edwin Locke, and the essay "Man's Rights" in "The Virtue of Selfishness" by Ayn Rand.]

The Vegetarian Myth only serves to build on this foundation by its wonderful analysises of the vegetarian/vegan morality and resulting nutritional consequences. In fact, I would go so far as to say this book could help make a strong case as to why it should be a moral obligation for humans to eat meat, if we are to achieve life proper to human nature.

In examining the vegetarian and vegan morality Ms. Keith points out that regardless of what you eat, something is going to die. There is absolutely no way to avoid killing in choosing what to eat; carnivorism is merely an honest recognition of the fact that, for man to live, something must die. By only consuming plant products you're still killing animals indirectly through two different ways. The first is that traps and poisons are required in order to protect crops from herbi- and omnivores, otherwise animals, insects, and other wildlife would simply treat your farm as a feast and leave you without food. Secondly -- and most insightful -- is that the sheer act of agricultural farming alters the environment in a way that encourages the survival of one set of organisms at the expense of others, oftentimes leading to a population explosion of certain species and the extinction of others. If you mowed down a prairie and turned it into a farm, what's going to happen to the species that require a prairie environment to survive? You can't just throw them into another environment or keep stuffing them indefinitely into other prairies; death is their next destination.

And let us not forget the actual plant matter itself. This point exposes the blatant emotionalism that underlies vegetarian and veganism. Plants too are alive, and eating them kills them. It does not matter whether the plant is produced in order to be eaten (like fruits) or not; it's alive. Vegetarians and vegans that choose their eating lifestyle on the basis of morality are engaging in cherry picking and are choosing to consume one life form over another since it makes them feel better. Seeing animals get killed or be in pain makes such people feel bad, and being emotionalistic they draw the conclusion that eating animals is somehow bad in itself. Emotionalism in the epistemological realm entails that one chooses beliefs in accordance with how they make one feel: Things that stir up negative feelings are either viewed as false or immoral, positive feelings as true or moral, and so on. There is no justification for this method of knowledge, so it's to be dismissed as entirely arbitrary. An apple may not scream in your mouth, but it's as equally alive as any animal is.

No matter what you choose to eat, something is going to die.

Ms. Keith's insightful analysis of the emotionalistic morality against killing anything shows that such a morality conflicts with reality in every way and is absolutely impossible to practice. The people who try to do so are merely going to experience the same despair and frustrations as Ms. Keith did, desperately looking for a loophole in reality that isn't there.

In regards to nutrition, this book serves well to analyze how the human digestive system works, what human nutritional requirements are, what sources to obtain such nutrients, how conventional information today is invalid, and more. I was most impressed by the analysis of the invalid science and government interference behind today's nutritional theories. As unfortunate as it may be, it's important that, before asserting positive nutritional views, we must first definitively demolish the false nutritional myths in our society or else people will be incredulous. The Primal Blueprint, for instance, gives but a passing mention to the likes of Ancel Keys, which makes it all the harder for any readers to accept The Primal Blueprint's high-fat guidelines without believing they're going to do them harm. People need to know why these popular nutritional views are wrong before asserting positives, since it is, after all, literally a matter of life and death.

Aside from the obligatory mention of Ancel Keys, Ms. Keith does an excellent job drawing from a wide variety of sources, condensing them, and presenting them in a very accessible writing style. She goes through the improper experiments, the evasions of the researchers, the government interference, and the evidence that refutes these theories. She goes through so much detail that one cannot help but visualize a literal mountain of evidence in her favor. This makes for a great resource for those who are looking to do some reading on the state of nutritional science as it stands today, or for those who are looking to put their meat-eating lifestyles on firmer scientific grounds. Practical arguments are in great wealth here.

All in all, I would say that the chapters *Moral Vegetarians* and *Nutritional Vegetarians* alone make the book worth reading. Unfortunately, the other two chapters, *Political Vegetarians* and *To Save the World*, are a different matter and in actuality embody a huge amount of vice in this book. Disappointingly, the vices are significant enough that they warrant hesitation in whether or not I would recommend this book.

Throughout these two chapters -- and the whole book -- Ms. Keith too often incorporates irrelevant material into the text and absurdly tries to tie it in. For instance, it becomes apparent early on that Ms. Keith is a very angry, possible hateful, feminist. She regularly condemns males throughout the chapters, makes assertions without presenting evidence, and then moves on without missing a beat. She even goes so far as to implicitly accuse men of being rapists by nature, a claim that's never supported or made relevant to the text, except to say that humans are "raping the land." It's particularly hard to ignore these and not emotionally react to them, which is going to make it much harder for Ms. Keith to reach an audience. Why should the reader continue if the author is going to insult him so cruelly?

In fact, any time Ms. Keith ventures from the field of agriculture and nutrition does her scholarship become incredibly poor and unprofessional. Whereas in agriculture and nutrition she works exhaustively to clarify, cite, and prove her claims, everywhere else she often makes assertions out of the blue and then runs with them. For instance, she claims that our current dependence on fossil fuel will inevitably lead to catastrophic disaster since we'll be running out soon. How does she know? Does she know how much oil the earth contains in total? What about alternative fuels and technologies? No answer; she just states we're running out of fossil fuel and soon. She claims that agriculture has led to slavery since it's such back-breaking work. How does she know they're related in causality? What ideas motivated these slave masters to make such decisions? No answer; she just presents it as if it were self-evident and primary.

Given a certain scientific field, one is bound by certain methods of research and proof. What's appropriate for a physical science is not appropriate for mathematics. Any attempt to do research in one field with the methods of another simply leads to absurdities. Take Leonard Peikoff's example (in OPAR) of the inappropriateness of mathematicians trying to explain history in terms of numbers. It doesn't work that way since men are men, not numbers, and are motivated by ideas. Not enough emphasis can be added to simply how poor her scholarship is when she embarks out of her research specialty. Near the end of the book, in the chapter *To Save the World* (page 251), she presents two line graphs that indicate that human impact on the climate has increased exponentially in recent centuries. As the lines progress near the right side of the graphs they suddenly shoots upward nearly completely straight. However, the lines are completely arbitrary. On the left, vertical side of the graphs there are no units of measurement for the lines, so literally nothing is being measured. It provides no useful information at all and only serves to make Ms. Keith look unprofessional and unscholarly. She obviously has another set of ideologies she'd like the reader to adapt, which isn't wrong in itself, but does a horrendous job at it, not to mention this isn't the appropriate book for it. As such, I consider Ms. Keith's views outside of agriculture and nutritional science to be without proper, adequate evidence and so should be dismissed.

Speaking of ideology, this book is both bad philosophically and vulnerable on its own terms. Ms. Keith has stated explicitly that what separates her from vegetarians and vegans is information, not morality. She has given the moral high ground to her opponents, a deadly mistake for her arguments. No matter how right or practical she may be, any opponent can quip, "Yes, but my view is right." To paraphrase a quote from Noodlefood, humans are willing to create hell on earth -- if they think it's moral. Even if Ms. Keith could manage to convince a significant number of vegetarians and vegans that her nutritional and environmental views are the most practical and healthy, vegetarians and vegans could still espouse their theories without batting an eyelid since they believe it's the moral thing to do. "Man's digestive system is made for meat? Well, then he's innately evil. The right thing to do would be to slowly kill ourselves on plant matter since man does not deserve to live." This is why I stated above that this book would be a good resource for those looking for practical arguments; in honesty it would be a terrible resource to introduce the paleo diet. You will have to seek a proper philosophical foundation for these nutritional views elsewhere, but this book is good for practical considerations.

Additionally, through her irrelevant tangents, such as on feminism and business, we can observe that this book has rather bad philosophical elements. From what I can gather, Ms. Keith seems to be an anti-business environmentalist who's in favor of technological retrogression for the sake of the planet. She states at one point that the free market cannot provide basic food necessities -- another bolt from the blue that's unsubstantiated -- equates capitalism with a mixed/statist economy (which is dishonest), and states that it is required of us to stop using fossil fuels, stop having children, demolish our road structures, and simply leave nature alone in order to allow the planet to heal. This indicates that she's an environmentalist of the type who believes man's altering of nature is somehow "unnatural" and that we must somehow leave it alone in order for things to work as they should. Literally anything a man could do to nature, from pulling up a clump of grass to building a house, alters it in some way, so the only way man could not have an impact on nature is to not exist at all. I know Ms. Keith isn't against the human race as some environmentalists are, but her view that we can somehow technologically retrogress and survive is naive. Again, man needs to use his mind to survive; if he doesn't, he dies. What she is truly calling unnatural, then, is man's conceptual faculty, the faulty that allows him to identify reality in a way no other animal can and bring into existence new technologies.

Consequently, anyone who doesn't have a firm understanding of what constitutes proof, whether for a scientific or philosophical statement, risks becoming confused or adapting bad ideas. It is astounding just how two-faced the quality of the book is.

Overall, I recommend the book only on certain terms. It's good for those looking to add more practical arguments to their arsenal or for those looking to put their nutritional beliefs on firmer ground, but not encouraged for those that are investigating paleo for the first time or not knowledged in what constitutes proof. This book has beyond great information in it, but tragically undermines itself with its flaws. Absent alternative morals, this book presents no match to the vegetarian/vegan morality.


Edit: Polished and changed some wording; added new content.
Update: Here's Dr. Eade's review

Read more...

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Hsieh PJM OpEd: "Avastin and Your Life"

By Paul Hsieh

PajamasMedia recently published my latest OpEd, "Avastin and Your Life".

Here is the introduction:

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is on the verge of taking the highly unusual step of "decertifying" the cancer drug Avastin that it had previously approved.

In addition to sparking concerns that this is another step towards medical rationing, the FDA's proposal will worsen another important but less-frequently recognized danger of government-run health care -- namely, the politicization of health benefits. Both problems will accelerate under ObamaCare unless our politicians repudiate the principle of government-run health care...
(Read the full text of "Avastin and Your Life".)

Read more...

Open Thread #024

By Diana Hsieh


(Photo courtesy of humboldthead)


This post hosts Modern Paleo's weekly open comment thread. Please feel free to post any random questions or remarks you have in the comments on this post. Personal attacks, pornographic material, commercial solicitations, and other inappropriate comments will be deleted.

Read more...

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Objectivist Roundup

By Diana Hsieh

As part of Modern Paleo's weekend schedule of blogging on Objectivism on Saturdays and free market politics on Sundays, I post a link to "The Objectivist Roundup" every week. The "Objectivist Roundup" is a weekly blog carnival for Objectivists. Contributors must be Objectivists, but posts on any topic are welcome.

EGO hosted this week's Objectivist Roundup. If you're interested in learning more about what Objectivists are writing and doing, check it out!

Read more...

Rationally Selfish Q&A #001

By Diana Hsieh

Over on my primary blog NoodleFood, I've been answering a question on the practice of living a rationally selfish life every week. The question is selected by my readers, using Google Moderate. For me, the major challenge is that I'm limiting myself to 500 words in reply. That's not always easy.

While I certainly don't claim to speak for Objectivism, my answers do draw on the principles of Ayn Rand's philosophy. So I decided that I'd repost some of these Q&As as part of Modern Paleo's schedule of blogging on Objectivism on Saturdays.

Oh, and you can submit your own questions and vote on the questions of others too. In fact... please do!

Now, without further ado, here's the first Q&A:

What are the most important qualities of character to look for when you hire people, besides technical ability? How can you determine if a person has those qualities?

More than anything else, honesty -- down to the very marrow of the soul.

Some years ago, when working as a web programmer, a client asked me for some data about site traffic. My report was not was favorable, and I hated to be the bearer of bad news. So I tried to soften the blow with something like "I'm sorry to report that..."

My client's reply startled me. She chided me for being apologetic, saying "Facts are always good!" By that, she wasn't denying the existence of unwelcome facts. Instead, her point was that you're always better off knowing the facts, even when they're not what you'd like, rather than remaining ignorant, mistaken, or deluded. My client was right: facts are always good. And more, that attitude is the essence of true honesty.

Since then, time and again, I've found that a person's most important quality of character is that kind of honesty. For any serious dealings, personal or professional, a person must be committed to the facts of reality above all else. He must be honest to the core.

What does that mean in practice?

  • The honest person doesn't ignore or deny facts to gratify his feelings and desires: he seeks the truth and acts on that.
  • The honest person doesn't invent excuses to save face: he admits his errors and reverses course.
  • The honest person doesn't try to cheat reality by deceiving others: he's truthful, even when difficult.
  • The honest person doesn't evade his problems, thereby allowing them to fester and grow: he works to identify and remedy them.
In short, the honest person's most basic policy is "Reality First!"

The process of judging whether a person is deeply honest requires some time: you need to see -- in word and deed -- that he regards any willful departure from the facts as unthinkable.

In the process of hiring someone, you can assess a person's honesty by asking certain kinds of questions, such as:
  • You realize that you've made a serious error on a project that will delay delivery. What do you do? Why?
  • A friend on your team asks you to lie to a client about a trivial matter. What do you do? Why?
  • Your boss proposes an idea that you think will likely to fail. What do you do? Why?
  • What was the worst mistake you made in your prior job? What did you do about it? What might you do differently now? Why?
  • You realize that a policy you implemented over the objections of your team is having just the kind of negative effects they predicted. What do you do now? Why?
A person's answers to such questions can reveal much about his commitment to facts -- or the lack thereof.

Most of all, remember that in judging people, just as with everything else, "facts are good!"

Help me choose the question for next week's "Rationally Selfish Q&A" by submitting and voting on questions.

Read more...

Friday, August 27, 2010

The Paleo Rodeo #023

By Diana Hsieh

Welcome to this week's edition of The Paleo Rodeo!

The Paleo Rodeo is a weekly blog carnival featuring the best paleo-related posts by members of the PaleoBloggers e-mail list. The past editions are collected on this page.

What is "paleo"? As I say in Modern Paleo Principles:

A "paleo" approach to health uses the evolutionary history of homo sapiens, plus the best of modern science, as a broad framework for guiding daily choices about diet, fitness, medicine, and supplementation. The core of paleo is the diet: it eschews grains, sugars, and modern vegetable oils in favor of high-quality meat, fish, eggs, and vegetables.
The purpose of The Paleo Rodeo is to highlight some of the best blogging of the ever-growing paleosphere.

Here is this week's edition:
Sandi Trixx presents Product Review: Kettlestack posted at Sandi Trixx.

Amy Kubal presents Cracking the Coconut posted at Fuel As Rx.

Josephine Svendblad presents Primal Lengua Estofada: Braised Beef Tongue posted at Nutty Kitchen, saying, "We decided to introduce you all to a childhood favorite for both Henry and I, beef tongue. It is very delicious and you can prepare it in different ways, we decided to make a slightly modified primal version of a classic Filipino dish called Lengua Estofada."

Laurie Donaldson presents Sausage Cabbage Stirfry (80%) and Almond Flour Chocolate Chip Scones (the other 20%) posted at Food for Primal Thought, saying, "Because sometimes you just need that little 20%..."

Paleo Rob presents Carbohydrates, Proteins and Fats – What ratio?! posted at PaleOZ.

Adam Farrah presents Is Bodybuilding Relevant Anymore? posted at PracticalPaleolithic.com, saying, "A rambling and somewhat humorous blog post that looks at where "bodybuilding" fits in a post-CrossFit fitness world..."

Todd Dosenberry presents 3 Primal/Paleo Smoothie Recipes posted at Toad's Primal Journey, saying, "Three more primal smoothie recipes are waiting for you to try. Enjoy!"

Frank Hagan presents Science Diet posted at Low Carb Age, saying, "... because science has become the one-size-fits-all replacement for intellectual pursuit, the abuse of science has blossomed. And to be honest, even much of the science we cite in support of our low carb / paleo / primal diets falls far from the ideal of the scientific method."

Nell Stephenson presents Whey vs. Egg White Protein Powder- Which Is Better? posted at TrainWithNellie.

Paul Jaminet presents NZ Man Left for Dead by Doctors, Cured by Vitamin C posted at Perfect Health Diet, saying, "This story illustrates both the importance of nutritional supplements in treatment of infectious diseases, and the indifference to health that becomes all too common under socialized medicine."

Julie Sullivan Mayfield presents And The Winners Are..... posted at BTB's Nutrition and Performance Blog, saying, "BTB Fitness held a 45 day Paleo challenge for our CrossFit and BootCamp clients. Check out the other blog postings for other pictures and stories from our clients!"

George McCumiskey presents Acne, the Billion Dollar Business Analyzed | Focus:Acne posted at Focus:Acne, saying, "Glad to be a part of the carnival!"

Daniel presents In Defense of Science posted at At Darwin's Table, saying, "Guest post by JP. Talks about why science matters to anyone following paleo."

Richard Nikoley presents This Says All You Ever Need to Know About Veganism posted at Free The Animal, saying, "Paleo food for your LOL soul."

Jean-Patrick Millette presents Let's clarify something about exercise posted at Primal Journal.

Diana Hsieh presents The Value of Grass-Fed Beef posted at Modern Paleo, saying, "Is the lesser omega-6 and greater omega-3 content a reason to choose grass-fed over grain-fed beef? The nutritional breakdown says it's not even worth considering."

Kristy A. presents What To Drink Part 3: What is Right with Milk? (Part A) posted at Feasting on Fitness, saying, "So what is good about milk? If you are talking about raw milk, then quite a bit! Learn more about what might actually do a body good."
Many thanks to the PaleoBloggers who submitted to this edition of the The Paleo Rodeo! I hope to see this blog carnival grow in the future. If you blog on paleo-related matters and you'd like to submit your posts to the carnival, please subscribe to the PaleoBloggers e-mail list. You'll receive instructions and reminders via that list.

Finally, you can find all of the blogs of the PaleoBloggers on this continuously-updated list:
Enjoy!

Read more...

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Cruciferous Vegetables, Hypothyroidism, and Iodine

By Diana Hsieh

Here's an interesting tidbit on cruciferous vegetables, hypothyroidism, and iodine that I found on Modern Paleo's PaleoThyroid e-mail list:

Very high intakes of cruciferous vegetables, such as cabbage and turnips, have been found to cause hypothyroidism (insufficient thyroid hormone) in animals (68). Two mechanisms have been identified to explain this effect. The hydrolysis of some glucosinolates found in cruciferous vegetables (e.g., progoitrin) may yield a compound known as goitrin, which has been found to interfere with thyroid hormone synthesis. The hydrolysis of another class of glucosinolates, known as indole glucosinolates, results in the release of thiocyanate ions, which can compete with iodine for uptake by the thyroid gland. Increased exposure to thiocyanate ions from cruciferous vegetable consumption or, more commonly, from cigarette smoking, does not appear to increase the risk of hypothyroidism unless accompanied by iodine deficiency. One study in humans found that the consumption of 150 g/day (5 oz/day) of cooked Brussels sprouts for four weeks had no adverse effects on thyroid function (69).
That's good to know!

Read more...

Monday, August 23, 2010

The Value of Grass-Fed Beef

By Diana Hsieh

Richard Nikoley pens a nice rant on the non-importance of grass-fed beef when eating paleo:

As you probably know, I'm no snob when it comes to grassfed beef. Sure, I love it, use it a lot, but there's just something about the "grassfed" culture in the Paleo movement that rubs me the wrong way, just a tad.

There's no question it's the better choice on a number of levels, but to my mind goes far beyond any 80/20 consideration. Someone eating nothing but supermarket meat and veggies, no junk food or cheats, is well above 90%, even 95% Paleo compliance and eating healthy! I'm not knocking grassfed meat at all, but I also don't want to discourage someone from the Paleo scene because they feel they don't measure up if all they can reasonably source is grain finished meat due to budget or other considerations. Or, maybe they just don't want to bother. Their choice, and I'm perfectly fine with it. On top of that, frankly, is that concerns over the environment and sustainability simply fail to keep me from losing a microsecond of sleep. I'll leave the hand wringing to others. Hopefully, it never gets this bad.

That said, I encourage the preference for grassfed, when you're ready (it took me a while), for two reasons primarily: it's probably slightly healthier (and most find it tastier) but more importantly, the animals are respected for their natures. Even so, there are some operations such as Prather Ranch that take great care to raise their stock humanely but finish them -- in addition to chopped forage -- with some organic barley & rice. Accordingly, it's not "grassfed" that's the end all, be all, but that the livestock are properly attended to.
Personally, I've not bothered with grass-fed beef, mostly because I've been so happy with the 1/4 cows I've ordered from Colorado's Best Beef. It's Charolais -- and undoubtedly the best beef I've ever eaten. It's also humanely-treated, not given routine antibiotics and hormones, pasture-raised and then corn-finished for a few weeks. Sure, I could opt for grass-fed, and I might do that next time. But for now, it's not been worth it.

The standard claim in favor of grass-fed beef is that it has a better omega-3 to omega-6 ratio than corn-finished beef. That's true, but the difference is so minuscule -- because beef contains so little polyunsaturated fat -- that it's not even worth mentioning. Here's the relevant data on that from Skyler Tanner:
Beef is a rubbish source of omega 3, period. Using the 6:3 ratio as some sort of amazing data point to say "SEE! THIS IS WHY YOU DON'T EAT GRAIN FED MEAT!" won't convince anyone who has access to the actual amounts in the respective beefs:

Grass fed beef: 25mg omega-3/ounce
Grain fed beef: 15mg omega-3/ounce

(This of course varies due to cow, environment, etc.)

It's easier to say it has 67% more omega-3 than grain; it certainly sounds impressive but it's still a paltry amount. Salmon has 10 times the amount of omega 3 per ounce compared to grass fed cows. Even with that, 12 ounces of salmon is 3 grams of omega 3; personally I'd rather get the best quality beef I can find at a reasonable price at take my very inexpensive by comparison fish oil daily.

To quote Coach Hale (with research):
"For instance, to achieve Recommended Daily Allowances and/or daily chemoprotective dietary levels of omega-3 fatty acids a person would have to eat at least 12 pounds of grass-fed beef
(Rule et al., 002; Martz et al., 2004; Guiffrida de Mendoza et al ., 2005; Daley et al., 2005; Smith et al., 2005). "

I love beef but not that much.
Oh, and here's another useful comparison: each of the omega-3-enhanced NestFresh eggs that I buy has 225 mg of Omega-3 in it. So I get 625 mg of omega-3 with the three eggs that I usually eat for breakfast. In contrast, the 1/2 pound hamburger that I often eat for dinner would only contain 200 mg omega-3, even if it was grass-fed.

Of course, fully grass-fed beef might have other benefits, like more CLA. But at this point, I don't see a reason to regard the fantastically delicious corn-finished beef that I have down in my freezer as less than just fine and dandy from a health perspective.

Update: I didn't address one issue in here that I should have, namely whether grain-fed beef has more total omega-6 than does grass-fed. It doesn't. The total amount of polyunsaturated fat in beef is so low that the total amount of omega-6 in beef -- whether grain-fed or grass-fed -- also must be measured in milligrams. According to the USDA food database, a half pound of grain-fed or grass-fed beef has a total of 1.2 grams of polyunsaturated fat. If you eat just two whole walnuts, you'll get more polyunsaturated fat than that!

The only reasonable conclusion, I think, is that the polyunsaturated fat in grass-fed versus grain-fed beef is just not worth a moment's thought. Grass-fed might have other benefits, but better omegas is just not one of them.

Read more...

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Open Thread #023

By Diana Hsieh


(Photo courtesy of steffenz)


This post hosts Modern Paleo's weekly open comment thread. Please feel free to post any random questions or remarks you have in the comments on this post. Personal attacks, pornographic material, commercial solicitations, and other inappropriate comments will be deleted.

Read more...

Hsieh OpEd: "Transparency For Me, But Not For Thee"

By Paul Hsieh

PajamasMedia recently published my latest OpEd, "Transparency For Me, But Not For Thee".

My theme is that our government's ever-increasing demands for access to our personal data while simultaneously preventing us from gathering information about it threatens to turn America into a chilling "interrogation room society" where transparency only goes one way. Hence, Americans must demand government transparency as a corollary to the broader principle of properly limited government.

Here is the opening:

When President Barack Obama took office, he pledged to make his administration "the most open and transparent in history." However, government officials are now demanding ever-increasing amounts of information about ordinary Americans, while preventing citizens from gathering similar information about government operations. If this ominous trend continues, this "transparency" will be in one direction only -- which bodes ill for the future of our republic.
(Read the full text of "Transparency for Me, but not for Thee".)

Read more...

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Objectivist Roundup

By Diana Hsieh

As part of Modern Paleo's weekend schedule of blogging on Objectivism on Saturdays and free market politics on Sundays, I post a link to "The Objectivist Roundup" every week. The "Objectivist Roundup" is a weekly blog carnival for Objectivists. Contributors must be Objectivists, but posts on any topic are welcome.

The Crucible hosted this week's Objectivist Roundup. If you're interested in learning more about what Objectivists are writing and doing, check it out!

Read more...

Colorado: Ground Zero for Abortion Rights

By Diana Hsieh

Of late, I've immersed myself in the arguments about abortion rights due to the war over abortion happening in Colorado now. Let me offer a bit of history about that war in this post, as I'm sure I'll be blogging on this issue more over the next few weeks.

In 2008, the theocrats of the religious right put a "personhood" amendment on Colorado's ballot. Known as Amendment 48, this proposed amendment to the state constitution sought to define a fertilized egg as a person with full legal rights in the Colorado constitution. Amendment 48 was defeated resoundingly with 73% against and 27% in favor.

Unfortunately, the crusade for "personhood" did not perish with Amendment 48. Instead, the crusaders went national, expanding the activity of Personhood USA to over 30 states. They're back in Colorado for the 2010 election with Amendment 62, a slightly modified version of Amendment 48.

Colorado's Amendment 62 would grant full legal rights to fertilized eggs. It proposes:

An amendment to the Colorado Constitution applying the term 'person' as used in those provisions of the Colorado Constitution relating to inalienable rights, equality of justice and due process of law, to every human being from the beginning of the biological development of that human being.
If passed and enforced, the measure would require abortions to be punished as first-degree murders, except perhaps to save the woman's life. It would ban any form of birth control that might sometimes prevent the implantation of a fertilized egg in the uterus -- including the birth control pill. And it would ban viable forms in vitro fertilization because the process usually creates more fertilized eggs than can be safely implanted in the womb.

In short, the measure poses a grave threat to the life, liberty, health, and happiness of the women and men of Colorado.

In 2008, the Coalition for Secular Government published a policy paper by Ari Armstrong and myself entitled Amendment 48 Is Anti-Life: Why It Matters That a Fertilized Egg Is Not a Person. That paper provided a detailed analysis of the effects of the amendment, if passed and enforced. In addition, it offered the only substantive moral critique of the claims of "personhood" for zygotes.

Thanks to generous pledges from our supporters, Ari Armstrong and I are now at work updating and improving that 2008 paper to reflect the "personhood" amendment and movement of 2010. We'll post an announcement when that updated paper is published at the end of August.

Read more...

Friday, August 20, 2010

The Paleo Rodeo #022

By Diana Hsieh

Welcome to this week's edition of The Paleo Rodeo!

The Paleo Rodeo is a weekly blog carnival featuring the best paleo-related posts by members of the PaleoBloggers e-mail list. The past editions are collected on this page.

What is "paleo"? As I say in Modern Paleo Principles:

A "paleo" approach to health uses the evolutionary history of homo sapiens, plus the best of modern science, as a broad framework for guiding daily choices about diet, fitness, medicine, and supplementation. The core of paleo is the diet: it eschews grains, sugars, and modern vegetable oils in favor of high-quality meat, fish, eggs, and vegetables.
The purpose of The Paleo Rodeo is to highlight some of the best blogging of the ever-growing paleosphere.

Here is this week's edition:
Marc presents Parents, Food and Flavors posted at Feel Good Eating, saying, "Combining flavors from different cultures."

Benjamin Skipper presents CR: Endangered Species' 70% Cacao with Goldenberry and Lucuma posted at Musing Aloud, saying, "This marks the last of the bars of Endangered Species' Organic Health line of dark chocolates. So far I have been extremely displeased with it, but this one is the exception."

Benjamin Skipper presents CR: Lindt's 85% posted at Musing Aloud, saying, "Due to my inability to get my hands on a bar of Lindt's 90% dark chocolate I have to settle for 85%. Nonetheless, as I originally thought, it has unique characteristics that make it as worthy of having on your shelves as Endangered Species' 88%. (Though my personal preference is for Lindt.)"

Todd Dosenberry presents 5 More Primal & Paleo (Green) Smoothie Recipes posted at Toad's Primal Journey, saying, "I LOVE smoothies and therefore enjoy them just about every day. Every Saturday I publish new primal smoothie recipes that I made during the week. Enjoy these 5 recipes!"

Nell Stephenson presents A Typical 'Night Before Training Meal' posted at TrainWithNellie.

Laurie Donaldson presents Masitas de Puerco - Cuban Pork posted at Food for Primal Thought, saying, "I couldn't quite duplicate the original restaurant version, but this comes pretty close."

Frank Hagan presents Low Carb Age » Cancer, Fructose and Ketogenic Diets posted at Low Carb Age, saying, "A recent study has led some to believe that fructose leads to pancreatic cancer, but alas, that's not what the study said."

Adam Farrah presents Eating for Building Muscle and Eating for Health Used to Be the Same Thing posted at PracticalPaleolithic.com, saying, "A blog post that looks at the diets of some early 20th Century strongmen, their Paleo connections and makes the case for a return to a simple diet for health and strength."

Douglas Robb presents Paleo Cookbook Preview posted at Health Habits, saying, "What do you get when 44 Paleo Bloggers come together to create a totally free Paleo Cookbook? Stay tuned & find out."

Elizabeth presents How I ended up eating like a cavewoman posted at Pounds Away!, saying, "I came to be eat the Paleo/Primal way purely by accident ...."

Paul Jaminet presents What Makes a Supercentenarian? posted at Perfect Health Diet, saying, "In this post I discuss the dietary practices that seem to be nearly universal among supercentenarians. (It accompanies another post on lifestyle practices of centenarians.)"

Richard Nikoley presents So You Think You Can't Cook? posted at Free The Animal, saying, "I rant a bit on grassfed beef snobbery. Then demonstrate a quick & easy meal using Trader Joe's pre-cooked pot roast. Good in a pinch. Lots of excellent comments on this post already."

Daniel presents Grain Fed Meat ? The Elephant In The Room posted at At Darwin's Table, saying, "This blog is in response to a post presented by Richard Nikoley over at Free the Animal. It is based around the contentious issue of whether or not we should eat grain fed beef on a paleo diet."

Ryan Kavanagh presents Venetian Veal Liver posted at Ryan Kavanagh's /dev/brain, saying, "Venetian veal liver, also known at my place as breakfast two or three times a week, is a quick and tasty way to prepare liver."

Jean-Patrick Millette presents The social aspect of the paleolithic diet and why it's important posted at Primal Journal, saying, "The paleolithic diet is the only diet that can improve your social life."

Kristy A. presents What To Drink Part 2: What's Wrong With Milk? (Part B) posted at Feasting on Fitness, saying, "Back for more about milk! Our second part discusses what to fear with pasteurized milk--and believe me, it's more than you think!"
Many thanks to the PaleoBloggers who submitted to this edition of the The Paleo Rodeo! I hope to see this blog carnival grow in the future. If you blog on paleo-related matters and you'd like to submit your posts to the carnival, please subscribe to the PaleoBloggers e-mail list. You'll receive instructions and reminders via that list.

Finally, you can find all of the blogs of the PaleoBloggers on this continuously-updated list:
Enjoy!

Read more...

Monday, August 16, 2010

Colorado Paleo Wanderers

By Diana Hsieh

I'm pleased to announce that Erin Ong of Nourished Meadow has organized a paleo/primal hike and picnic for Sunday August 29th at 9 am at Mt Falcon Park, just west of Denver. All the details are posted to meetup.com. Please RSVP if you plan to attend. You should bring a paleo/primal lunch, plus plenty of water.

I'll be there, and I'm excited to meet some of the local paleos that I've been chatting with on Twitter and elsewhere.

Even if you can't attend this event, you can sign up for announcements of other Colorado paleo meetups by joining Colorado Paleo Wanderers.

I know that New York City has an active paleo meetup, and I've heard talk about others lately. That's a great development, so please post links to any active groups in the comments!

Read more...

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Open Thread #022

By Diana Hsieh


(Photo courtesy of denn)


This post hosts Modern Paleo's weekly open comment thread. Please feel free to post any random questions or remarks you have in the comments on this post. Personal attacks, pornographic material, commercial solicitations, and other inappropriate comments will be deleted.

Read more...

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Objectivist Roundup

By Diana Hsieh

As part of Modern Paleo's weekend schedule of blogging on Objectivism on Saturdays and free market politics on Sundays, I post a link to "The Objectivist Roundup" every week. The "Objectivist Roundup" is a weekly blog carnival for Objectivists. Contributors must be Objectivists, but posts on any topic are welcome.

The Little Things hosted this week's Objectivist Roundup. If you're interested in learning more about what Objectivists are writing and doing, check it out!

Read more...

Abortion Rights Are Pro-Life

By Diana Hsieh

[Note: This post is part of Modern Paleo's weekend schedule of blogging on Objectivism on Saturdays and free market politics on Sundays.]

What is the Objectivist view of abortion rights? I can't think of a better way to sketch it than with Dr. Peikoff's op-ed explaining why abortion rights are pro-life. So, without further ado...

Abortion Rights are Pro-Life
by Leonard Peikoff
January 23, 2003

Thirty years after Roe V. Wade, no one defends the right to abortion in fundamental, moral terms, which is why the pro-abortion rights forces are on the defensive.

Abortion-rights advocates should not cede the terms "pro-life" and "right to life" to the anti-abortionists. It is a woman's right to her life that gives her the right to terminate her pregnancy.

Nor should abortion-rights advocates keep hiding behind the phrase "a woman's right to choose." Does she have the right to choose murder? That's what abortion would be, if the fetus were a person.

The status of the embryo in the first trimester is the basic issue that cannot be sidestepped. The embryo is clearly pre-human; only the mystical notions of religious dogma treat this clump of cells as constituting a person.

We must not confuse potentiality with actuality. An embryo is a potential human being. It can, granted the woman's choice, develop into an infant. But what it actually is during the first trimester is a mass of relatively undifferentiated cells that exist as a part of a woman's body. If we consider what it is rather than what it might become, we must acknowledge that the embryo under three months is something far more primitive than a frog or a fish. To compare it to an infant is ludicrous.

If we are to accept the equation of the potential with the actual and call the embryo an "unborn child," we could, with equal logic, call any adult an "undead corpse" and bury him alive or vivisect him for the instruction of medical students.

That tiny growth, that mass of protoplasm, exists as a part of a woman's body. It is not an independently existing, biologically formed organism, let alone a person. That which lives within the body of another can claim no right against its host. Rights belong only to individuals, not to collectives or to parts of an individual.

("Independent" does not mean self-supporting--a child who depends on its parents for food, shelter, and clothing, has rights because it is an actual, separate human being.)

"Rights," in Ayn Rand's words, "do not pertain to a potential, only to an actual being. A child cannot acquire any rights until it is born."

It is only on this base that we can support the woman's political right to do what she chooses in this issue. No other person--not even her husband--has the right to dictate what she may do with her own body. That is a fundamental principle of freedom.

There are many legitimate reasons why a rational woman might have an abortion--accidental pregnancy, rape, birth defects, danger to her health. The issue here is the proper role for government. If a pregnant woman acts wantonly or capriciously, then she should be condemned morally--but not treated as a murderer.

If someone capriciously puts to death his cat or dog, that can well be reprehensible, even immoral, but it is not the province of the state to interfere. The same is true of an abortion which puts to death a far less-developed growth in a woman's body.

If anti-abortionists object that an embryo has the genetic equipment of a human being, remember: so does every cell in the human body.

Abortions are private affairs and often involve painfully difficult decisions with life-long consequences. But, tragically, the lives of the parents are completely ignored by the anti-abortionists. Yet that is the essential issue. In any conflict it's the actual, living persons who count, not the mere potential of the embryo.

Being a parent is a profound responsibility--financial, psychological, moral--across decades. Raising a child demands time, effort, thought and money. It's a full-time job for the first three years, consuming thousands of hours after that--as caretaker, supervisor, educator and mentor. To a woman who does not want it, this is a death sentence.

The anti-abortionists' attitude, however, is: "The actual life of the parents be damned! Give up your life, liberty, property and the pursuit of your own happiness."

Sentencing a woman to sacrifice her life to an embryo is not upholding the "right-to-life."

The anti-abortionists' claim to being "pro-life" is a classic Big Lie. You cannot be in favor of life and yet demand the sacrifice of an actual, living individual to a clump of tissue.

Anti-abortionists are not lovers of life--lovers of tissue, maybe. But their stand marks them as haters of real human beings.

Read more...

Friday, August 13, 2010

The Paleo Rodeo #021

By Diana Hsieh

Welcome to this week's edition of The Paleo Rodeo!

The Paleo Rodeo is a weekly blog carnival featuring the best paleo-related posts by members of the PaleoBloggers e-mail list. The past editions are collected on this page.

What is "paleo"? As I say in Modern Paleo Principles:

A "paleo" approach to health uses the evolutionary history of homo sapiens, plus the best of modern science, as a broad framework for guiding daily choices about diet, fitness, medicine, and supplementation. The core of paleo is the diet: it eschews grains, sugars, and modern vegetable oils in favor of high-quality meat, fish, eggs, and vegetables.
The purpose of The Paleo Rodeo is to highlight some of the best blogging of the ever-growing paleosphere.

Here is this week's edition:
Douglas Robb presents Low Carb beats Low Fat once again. posted at Health Habits, saying, "The winning diet looks suspiciously like a Paleo Diet."

Travis Schefcik presents A Mind for the Paleo Diet posted at PracticalPaleolithic.com, saying, "This is a guest blog post."

Frank Hagan presents Lies, Damn Lies and Statistics posted at Low Carb Age, saying, "From a layman’s perspective, the study is horribly flawed, and grossly underestimates the beneficial impact of a low carb diet. How so? The researchers used a statistical method called “Intention To Treat” (ITT)."

Todd Dosenberry presents Beef Liver is NOT So Offal After All posted at Toad's Primal Journey, saying, "Have you given beef liver or other organ meats a chance? The nutritional profile is way too "perfect" for you to dismiss something. I enjoyed it for the first time in my life recently and encourage you to do the same. Read the blog post for an inspiration."

John Durant presents Weight Watchers and Jenny Craig don't appeal to men, never will posted at Hunter-Gatherer, saying, "This was a fun one..."

Nell Stephenson presents I've gotten too lean- does that mean I should start adding grain back in? posted at TrainWithNellie.

Mark Sison presents Introducing Primal Blueprint Fitness posted at Mark's Daily Apple, saying, "I’m confident that Primal Blueprint Fitness (92 page free eBook) is the right formula for people of all ages and skill levels to get lean and functionally fit for life with minimal time commitment, pain, suffering and sacrifice and, more importantly, with as much fun, enjoyment and ease as possible. No, it’s not the only way to get fit, but it might just be the most efficient, effective and pleasurable way."

Amy Kubal presents Cutting Through The Fat... posted at Fuel As Rx.

Josephine Svendblad presents Paleo Crock Pot Sancocho posted at Nutty Kitchen, saying, "A Paleo spin on a Colombian traditional dish."

Paul Jaminet presents The FDA Is On The Side of the Microbes posted at Perfect Health Diet, saying, "This is a biomedical, not a Paleo diet, post, but the issue is so important I thought I'd offer it to the rodeo. The FDA is preventing development of antimicrobial drugs with onerous requirements; this will not only expose us to the risk of antibiotic-resistant superbugs like MRSA, but may prevent curing of diseases like heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer's, MS, and others which may have infectious origins."

Richard Nikoley presents Murray: "I Freed My Animal" posted at Free The Animal, saying, "Murray's is one of the most shocking, impressive bodily transformations you'll ever see. Paleo rules."

Diana Hsieh presents Beef Pumpkin Curry posted at NoodleFood, saying, "My made-up coconut curry recipe -- with ground beef, onion, and pumpkin -- turned out quite delicious!"
Many thanks to the PaleoBloggers who submitted to this edition of the The Paleo Rodeo! I hope to see this blog carnival grow in the future. If you blog on paleo-related matters and you'd like to submit your posts to the carnival, please subscribe to the PaleoBloggers e-mail list. You'll receive instructions and reminders via that list.

Finally, you can find all of the blogs of the PaleoBloggers on this continuously-updated list:
Enjoy!

Read more...

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Supplements: Pros & Cons Brainstorm

By Christian Wernstedt

As paleos we know that a diverse whole-foods based diet really is the most powerful and comprehensive foundation of a healthy lifestyle, but sometimes we may feel the itch to supplement with that vitamin X, nutrient Y, or mineral Z that the new hot study touts as the key to health, longevity or sports performance, or because we feel that our diet may not be up to par in all areas of nutrition.

Certainly the issue is not black and white.
Are there any broad principles to apply when considering supplementation?
My aim is to write something more structured on this subject, but for now I'd like to just submit a few of my one paragraph notes on the subject. I'd be happy to hear readers' thoughts about these points, and if I have missed some important aspect.


So, in a relatively random order here goes:

1) Taking a supplement is often easier behaviorally than changing one's diet towards a more appropriate one, but even when a supplement works well in the short term the practice of relying on supplements may induce a psychological attachment to an unsustainable approach in the long run.

2) Supplements can be used appropriately as diagnostic tools (for instance to determine dietary deficiencies) or as training wheels (think for instance acetyl-L-carnitine to aid in becoming fat-adapted in the early stage of low carb dieting).

3) Is your supplement really bioactive? A lot of substances just can't be effectively delivered orally in a pill.

4) Supplementing with a "pre-formed" desired end product may bypass the body's own checks and balances. Examples: Taking pre-formed vitamin A versus the precursor beta carotene can induce toxicity. Vitamin D from supplements bypasses the negative feedback that ensures appropriate serum levels when getting vitamin D from sunshine.

5) Dosage is difficult when taking supplements. Does a thin woman need as much of nutrient X as the 400 pound wrestler?

6) Interactions abound, and not all are known. Calcium + Vitamin D can induce toxicity, but on the other hand D + Calcium can be synergistic for fat loss. If you supplement with both, how do you determine the sweet spot?

7) Well considered supplementation can indeed be an insurance policy against a less than optimal diet. Vitamin D, magnesium, iodine... Most people are probably deficient.

8) Nutrient X may be beneficial for one health aspect, but detrimental for another. Vitamin C (@ 1000 mg/day) and E (@400 IUs/day) while suppressing oxidative stress have been found to blunt some of the positive effects from exercise. Resveratrol hinders some cancers but may promote others.

9) Supplements derived from naturally occurring substances are indeed generally less prone to harmful side effects than pharmaceutical drugs. This is because the body typically has evolved pathways to deal with them (including getting rid of excesses). Sometimes the body is so darn good at getting rid of the "natural" stuff you supplement with that all you get in the process is "expensive urine".

10) Binder/filler material in supplements: Problematic for absorption or may contain downright harmful material (toxins, gluten).

11) Sometimes a supplement restore the body's production of a desired substance by creating a positive feedback loop. Example: HCl supplementation. However there are also examples of where supplementing may shut down the body's own production. (For instance, some hormone related herbals such as testosterone boosters can have this effect.)

12) How to scale into and out of a supplementation regimen may have to be considered carefully. Example: Rapid withdrawal from a high dose Vitamin C regimen can induce scurvy like symptoms.

That's all for now! I hope I didn't just make your life more difficult.

Read more...

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Leg Cramps, Electrolytes, and Pickle Juice

By Christian Wernstedt

Some people suffer from leg cramps, particularly at night. I got some quite nasty ones going after switching to barefooting shoes. I suppose that hitting some previosuly underused muscle fibers was part of my problem. (Fortunately my problems are now gone.)

While the precise causes of muscle cramps are not totally known, a widely suspected factor is depletion of one or more of electrolyte minerals such as sodium, potassium, calcium, and magnesium.

In athletic- and paleo circles magnesium has the most solid reputation as a muscle relaxing electrolyte and many of us supplement with magnesium through for example fizzy magnesium drinks before bed time.

However supplementing magnesium doesn't always seem to help. I for one had supplemented for months with magnesium and tested high normal on a magnesium RBC test before I had my leg cramp episode. (A clinical study also failed to find magnesium helpful.)

Now some reports have come up pointing out pickle juice as being very effective against leg cramps, and some experts speculate that perhaps the active factor may be the vinegar in the juice because drinking it had such a rapidly relieving effect that any electrolytes in the liquid would not have had time to hit the muscles.

So in the light of the somewhat contradictory reports on how to prevent- or releive leg cramps, I would suggest the following arsenal of potential remedies:

1) Pickle juice. To be taken when cramps occur - keep a glass at the ready on your bed stand. Vinegar might work just as well.

2) Make sure to eat a diet high in electrolyte minerals. Even if this may not be a complete guarantee against muscle cramps, these minerals are beneficial anyway, and most people are deficient because of eroded soils. Sea weeds and bone broth are effective ways to add minerals to your diet.

3) Possibly supplement with a magnesium citrate drink at bed time. This has worked for some people as a preventive measure against cramps and is also a nice sleeping aid. Magnesium also has other beneficial effects on the body, including increasing insulin sensitivity and normalizing blood pressure, and is very safe in people with functional kidneys. (By the way, I rinse my mouth with baking soda after taking magnesium citrate as a way to protect my teeth from the acidity of the preparation.)

Read more...

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Chocolate Review: Lindt's 85%

By Benjamin Skipper

When I reviewed Endangered Species' 88% chocolate I promised that I would purchase a bar of Lindt's 90% to do a comparison, but irritatingly enough it seems that it might be the case that the stores in my *whole* area have taken it off their shelves. Given my current project and income I'm not willing to order it online or do any significant traveling, so I purchased a bar of Lindt's 85% and believe it will be similar enough to 90% to make a valid comparison.

My memory did indeed hold out to be true, though not entirely. The vanilla is certainly much stronger than ES -- strong enough that I say Lindt should advertise the vanilla since the bar doesn't taste like pure sweetened chocolate -- but it really doesn't show itself except in the aftertaste period. As for mouthfeel, it's certainly much more creamier and melty, but it takes a few seconds for it to occur.

Between Lindt and ES I still hold the conclusion that they're both worthy of having in your pantry, but, while similar, they offer different attributes that offer different experiences. ES is crunchier and more resistant to melting in your mouth, and the vanilla is so subtle that it serves more to curve the bitterness and give you a pure chocolate experience. Lindt, on the other hand, will snap away easily at your incisors and quickly transform into a chocolately goo, and the vanilla is so strong that you can taste it clearly during the aftertaste. Personally I prefer Lindt's version, but I stocked up on ES since Vitamin Shoppe's outlet on Amazon.com offers a great 99 cents shipping rate.

(If you're into extreme bulk purchasing or need to order over $100 worth of items, check out Lucky Vitamin. They have an enormous amount of the ES chocolate line, and the per-unit cost goes lower and lower the more bars you buy. Purchase more than $100 worth of stuff and shipping is free, which makes it a good place to, say, buy your supplements and use chocolate to push you over the $100 mark.)

Also, I have to say that Lindt offers the most attractive and useful packaging I have come across, which can add a novelty value for those that pay attention. The cardboard cover is practical in that it allows you to easily enclose your chocolate if you don't finish the whole bar, and the foil is so pretty that every bar looks a bit like a luxury present to yourself. Other bars I've seen utilize a clumsy paper material that stubbornly resists being folded, making covering leftover chocolate annoying, and gives a cold, metallic impression. Against Lindt I'll say that the foil may be a tad too fragile, so be careful not to rip too much or in the wrong places, or the fats in the chocolate, left exposed, might absorb the flavors of the smells around it.

To comment on the chocolate brand as a whole, Lindt is definitely one of those top brands that offers a healthy chocolate at an extremely low price, perhaps even the lowest price for a chocolate line that explicitly lists cocao percentages. Upon reading the ingredients list one will be pleased that their dark versions don't include those evasive "flavorings" listings that some companies use to avoid listing ingredients. From a nutritional perspective I don't see one ingredient in my 85% bar that conflicts with the principles of the paleo diet except for sugar, but then again that's fine too since the degree of sugar consumption is what actually matters. If you worry about soy lecithin or are a college student on a budget, Lindt's your brand. However, it disappoints me that most, if not all, of their flavored varieties are listed without cocao percentages, a sure sign that it's below 60%. As such, I still maintain ES as my favorite brand since they offer many flavored versions at 70% cocao and higher, my desired range being between 70% and 100%.

In the future I hope to review Lindt's 99% cocao bar. It'll be intriguing to find out how that 1% alters the experience. It's a bit expensive since it's costs more than the 3.5 ounce bars and is half the size, but I consider myself a bit of lay chocolate gourmet and would be willing to save money for it. Someday.

On a side note, a commenter has brought a good chocolate website to my attention, http://chocosphere.com/. It offers a wide selection of dark chocolates, including Lindt, but isn't exhaustive; New Tree and Green & Black's are absent for instance. I'm especially interested in trying the brands that state they use cocao beans from different geographical areas, thereby offering different flavor profiles, but again that's something to save up for.
.

Read more...

Monday, August 09, 2010

Beef Pumpkin Curry

By Diana Hsieh

A few days ago, I threw together a rather yummy pumpkin coconut curry with ground beef for dinner. It was so easy and so tasty that I had to write up the instructions.

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1-2 large onions
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1-2 cups roasted fresh pumpkin, flesh only, puréed
  • 1 tbsp curry paste (or to taste)
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • salt to taste
In a large frying pan, sautée the onions in coconut oil over medium-high heat until soft. Then add the ground beef, breaking it up and stirring it until all the pink is gone.

Add the pumpkin, coconut milk, and curry paste. Allow to simmer for a few minutes to reduce the sauce and blend the flavors. Salt to taste.

It makes about four servings, and I served it in bowls. It doesn't look like much, but we enjoyed it!



A note about the roasted pumpkin:

In the fall, I buy, roast, and freeze fresh pumpkins, so that I can use them in cooking throughout the year, as I did here. If you don't have any on hand, I'd recommend some other suitable vegetables, rather than canned pumpkin. You might try some other puréed squash, like acorn or butternut. I imagine that mashed baked yams or puréed carrots would be tasty too.

To roast and freeze pumpkin, here's what I do: I line a cookie sheet with foil and grease that with a bit of coconut oil. Then I slice the pumpkins in half, remove the pumpkin seeds, place them face down on the cookie sheet, and cover them tightly with foil. I cook them at 325 F for 75 minutes, then remove the foil and bake for another 30 to 45 minutes, until the flesh is soft. After they cool, I scrape the flesh of the pumpkin from the rind. I put that into 1.5 cup containers, then freeze them for later use.

So to make this recipe, I just had to thaw and then puree some already-roasted pumpkin. (I puréed with my trusty hand-held blender.)

As for other changes, you could easily increase the ground beef to 2 pounds, as well as add other kinds of vegetables. You could switch to chicken or hunks of beef. The possibilities are endless!

Read more...

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Open Thread #021

By Diana Hsieh


(Photo courtesy of dongkwan)


This post hosts Modern Paleo's weekly open comment thread. Please feel free to post any random questions or remarks you have in the comments on this post. Personal attacks, pornographic material, commercial solicitations, and other inappropriate comments will be deleted.

Read more...

Chickens Come Home to Roost

By Diana Hsieh

[This post was originally written for Politics Without God. I'm posting it here as part of Modern Paleo's weekend schedule of blogging on Objectivism on Saturdays and free market politics on Sundays. The topic might be controversial, so I plan to do some more weekend blogging on it over the next few weeks.]

Abortion Foes Capitalize on Health Law They Fought:

Abortion opponents fought passage of President Barack Obama's health care overhaul to the bitter end, and now that it's the law, they're using it to limit coverage by private insurers.

An obscure part of the law allows states to restrict abortion coverage by private plans operating in new insurance markets. Capitalizing on that language, abortion foes have succeeded in passing bans that, in some cases, go beyond federal statutes.

"We don't consider elective abortion to be health care, so we don't think it's a bad thing for fewer private insurance companies to cover it," said Mary Harned, attorney for Americans United for Life, a national organization that wrote a model law for the states.

Abortion rights supporters are dismayed.
Most of those abortion rights supporters have only themselves to blame. They pushed hard for ObamaCare, using all kinds of tricks to overcome widespread public opposition. They could not have been honestly ignorant of the threat to abortion rights in ObamaCare, not given the contentious debates about it. Nor could they have been unaware that granting government unprecedented control over medicine would grant that same government unprecedented control over access to abortion too. And -- surprise, surprise -- governments are not always composed of staunch supporters of abortion rights.

Sadly, we told you so. Ari Armstrong wrote about this very problem in this blog post. My husband, writing for Freedom and Individual Rights in Medicine (FIRM) warned about abortion becoming a political football in this op-ed. As he says:
Government-controlled health insurance will mean politically-controlled medicine -- not only with respect to abortion but for health services in general. ObamaCare will turn medicine into a game of permanent political football, where the politically favored perpetually pound ordinary Americans without special "pull." Until we replace ObamaCare with free-market reforms, Americans had better get used to being the permanent tackling dummies for special-interest groups.
The chickens are coming home to roost. Abortion rights can only be respected when the government recognizes and protects all rights, particularly the rights of property and contract found only in free markets.

Remember: Christian fundamentalists will be more than happy to build their theocratic dictatorship on the socialist/fascist foundations laid by the progressives.

[For more on the Objectivist view of abortion rights, see this entry in the Ayn Rand Lexicon.]

(H/T: Sascha.)

Read more...

Saturday, August 07, 2010

Objectivist Roundup

By Diana Hsieh

As part of Modern Paleo's weekend schedule of blogging on Objectivism on Saturdays and free market politics on Sundays, I post a link to "The Objectivist Roundup" every week. The "Objectivist Roundup" is a weekly blog carnival for Objectivists. Contributors must be Objectivists, but posts on any topic are welcome.

Modern Paleo contributor Kelly Elmore hosted this week's Objectivist Roundup. If you're interested in learning more about what Objectivists are writing and doing, check it out!

Read more...

Friday, August 06, 2010

The Paleo Rodeo #020

By Diana Hsieh

Welcome to this week's edition of The Paleo Rodeo!

The Paleo Rodeo is a weekly blog carnival featuring the best paleo-related posts by members of the PaleoBloggers e-mail list. The past editions are collected on this page.

What is "paleo"? As I say in Modern Paleo Principles:

A "paleo" approach to health uses the evolutionary history of homo sapiens, plus the best of modern science, as a broad framework for guiding daily choices about diet, fitness, medicine, and supplementation. The core of paleo is the diet: it eschews grains, sugars, and modern vegetable oils in favor of high-quality meat, fish, eggs, and vegetables.
The purpose of The Paleo Rodeo is to highlight some of the best blogging of the ever-growing paleosphere.

Here is this week's edition:
Todd Dosenberry presents 4 Primal Green Smoothie Recipes posted at Toad's Primal Journey, saying, "Do you LOVE smoothies? If yes, then you will LOVE these 4 primal green smoothies. Give one or 2 a shot and let me know how you like it!"

Benjamin Skipper presents CR: Endangered Species' 70% with Cocao Nibs, Yacon & Acai posted at Musing Aloud, saying, "While this chocolate is unappealing to me, it may appeal to those that miss their milk chocolates. It has a 70% cocao content and yet tastes MUCH sweeter than that. Unfortunately, all the separate flavors have their individuality muted."

Amy Kubal presents The Heart Stopping, Bone Shattering Truth about Calcium Supplements... posted at Fuel As Rx.

Nell Stephenson presents Reinventing Leftover Chicken - Curry Salad posted at TrainWithNellie.

Girl Gone Primal presents Recipe: Choc-Avocado Mousse, & My Tropical Breakfast Party! posted at Girl Gone Primal, saying, "A new recipe (a primalised version of a sugary favourite) that the paleo world NEEDS to know about! Especially women who 'need' a bit of chocolatey goodness one or twice a month!"

Laurie Donaldson presents Cafe on 26 - Vacation Eats at Bethany Beach posted at Food for Primal Thought, saying, "Not much primal eating going on in my vacation last week, but I did find a great gluten-free restaurant in my travels. As Robb Wolf says, if you can't eat paleo, at least eat gluten-free. You could easily eat primal here as well if you can just resist those GF baked goods."

Julie Sullivan Mayfield presents Recipe time: Stuffed Chicken Breasts posted at BTB's Nutrition and Performance Blog.

Paul Jaminet presents Thyroid: More Evidence That “Normal” is Unhealthy posted at Perfect Health Diet, saying, "Optimizing thyroid function is one of the easiest ways to improve health, but most people don't do it because they think subnormal thyroid function is "normal." This post discusses what level of TSH is optimal."

Marc presents Truly Simple Meal posted at Feel Good Eating, saying, "Give this super simple recipe a try sometime. I think you will be pleasantly surprised and you'll have something new simple and quick in your arsenal."

Frank Hagan presents New Site: Low Carb Daily posted at Low Carb Age, saying, "Low Carb Daily is a new concept in Low Carb news; an aggregator that previews the most recent stories in the Low Carb / paleo / primal blogosphere. Excepts and links to the original article allow you to click through and read what interests you, on the original author’s site."

Dennis Ryan presents Acorn Squash Pepper Hash posted at Paleo Eats, saying, "A great side dish consisting of acorn squash and poblano peppers."

Josephine Svendblad presents Dark Chocolate Covered Lychee Balls posted at Nutty Kitchen, saying, "Fresh fruit desert, made with some of our favorite ingredients! Impress your family and friends with these little bites of love! These babies are stuffed!"

Monica Hughes presents My Journey to Crossfit posted at Modern Paleo.
Many thanks to the PaleoBloggers who submitted to this edition of the The Paleo Rodeo! I hope to see this blog carnival grow in the future. If you blog on paleo-related matters and you'd like to submit your posts to the carnival, please subscribe to the PaleoBloggers e-mail list. You'll receive instructions and reminders via that list.

Finally, you can find all of the blogs of the PaleoBloggers on this continuously-updated list:
Enjoy!

Read more...

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

My Journey to Crossfit

By Monica

I've been eating "paleo" for approximately 2 years now. While it works well at keeping my weight down without having to consciously think about the amounts of food I'm eating, I found that I wasn't achieving the body composition I wanted.

Last October, I went in for a routine checkup. My HDL and triglycerides were awesome, but my A1C was a little high at 5.8%. Sure, there's a range of healthy lab values for any given test, but I'd been eating paleo for a whole year! Why wasn't my A1C lower? It should at least be down near 5%! (A1C indicates the amount of sugars that are bound to your hemoglobin, the protein that carries oxygen around in your body. Higher values indicate that someone is on their way to Type II diabetes.)

I started to put the pieces of the puzzle together with others on the OEvolve list. A high fasting glucose (near 100 mg/dL) at noon after a low carb day indicated that my gluconeogenesis capability was high (yay! I'm a fat burner, not a sugar burner!), but my muscles were becoming insulin resistant in order to shunt enough glucose to my brain. I was a little concerned about that, since Type II diabetes runs in my family. I decided that I really needed to do a little high intensity resistance training and not only replicate the ancestral diet, but ancestral physical activity as well. This would get my insulin sensitivity in my muscles back up and I'd be able to lower my fasting glucose down to more reasonable levels.

I went to the community center gym 4-5 times to do Body By Science resistance training, and I definitely felt results, but I was bored. Maybe it was because I didn't have anyone to talk to. I stopped going to the gym in January.

I've always been an outdoor exerciser. Growing up on a northeastern lake, I can't even remember learning to swim. But as a kid, I wasn't very coordinated, and I was always the last one chosen to be on a team in gym class -- except for the one day during the schoolyear when we were in the pool!

After 10 years of education and summer fieldwork in a forestry school, I can wield a big chainsaw with no problem. Instead, I'm intimidated by the myriad fitness machines in gyms that I don't know how to operate that are probably far less dangerous. There were other issues, too, as Veronica Garza describes:


I have always had a fear of working out in public. I hated going to gyms because I worried that people would make fun of me if I couldn’t figure out how to use the complicated machines. Worse, I worried that they would think to themselves, “It’s a good thing she’s here. She really needs to be exercising more.” The truth is that nobody really thinks those things when you walk into a gym, but I had never found a place welcoming enough for me to feel otherwise.
I felt the same. After I started eating paleo, I even felt that way about CrossFit, too. I follow pretty much all the paleo blogs, and even though I moderate a forum of over 250 paleo eaters, when I read terms like "WOD", "clean and jerk", "burpee", and "snatch" (especially "snatch" -- can someone please rename that exercise?), my brain goes into freeze-up. CrossFit was an alien world with alien language and freaky-looking exercises I was confident I could never perform. I would never fit in that type of environment. People would laugh at me for sure. I knew I needed to do some sort of physical activity, but I was having a difficult time figuring out exactly what to do to get back in shape. I remained sedentary for six more months.

Then, tragedy struck on May 27, 2010. In an instant, my whole world changed. My 54 year old mom had a major stroke. After an enjoyable outing with my parents that day, we came home and 5 minutes after she stepped out of the driver's seat, I saw her lose the capacity to understand and create speech. Within a minute afterward, she'd also lost the ability to move anything on the right hand side of her body. I watched her become confused and try to fight the the paramedic and emergency hospital staff for several hours. I felt like my mother was gone. I could not be confident that she'd even recognized us in her last minutes awake, and I wondered if we'd ever get her back again. Additionally, my dad suffers from major health problems and was very dependent on my mom. She was a rock that held our whole family together. What was going to happen to the both of them now?

Before, when someone told me that their family member had a stroke, it was like they said that person had just eaten some strawberries. Sure, I knew what stroke was: that most strokes cut off oxygen supply to the brain, and that the person loses those particular functions that the oxygen-deprived area was responsible for. And I'd been around stroke victims, but I'd never known those people before their strokes. So, really, I had no concrete experience with a stroke.

That day, the experience of stroke was seared into my brain forever. When something like that happens that fast in front of your eyes to someone you never thought it could happen to, it changes your perspective on life completely. A few times since then, I've seen people get up from the table and walk funny because their foot is asleep, or make a funny face at me as if they've lost comprehension. My heart begins to pound. The emotional reaction is nearly automatic. Then... "Oh my god, they're having a stroke."

The doctors were baffled as to why my mom had had a stroke, because she didn't have a history of hypertension or "high cholesterol." I asked to see her bloodwork. Her HDL was in the 40s, her triglycerides were around 100. Not terrible. But not great, either. But within a few seconds of reading down the list, I realized exactly why she'd had a stroke.

1) Her A1C was 6.8%. No one knew that my mom was pre-diabetic. Diabetes is a risk factor for stroke.

2) Her CRP levels were off the charts. This indicates inflammation: inflammation is a sign of risk for all sorts of western diseases, including stroke.

3) She had inadequately treated hypothyroidism and a history of 2 cancers in her 20s. Both of these place an individual at a high risk for blood clots. My mom's stroke was an ischaemic stroke caused by a blood clot.


Over the course of a week, she worked very hard at recovery. She became able to move a bit on her right side, and she was learning to swallow again. She recognized all of us and was working valiantly to recover her speech, her understanding, and her movement.

But she died a week later, on June 3, of a saddle pulmonary embolism, which is a massive blood clot that fills up the pulmonary artery. I had never felt the power of death or darkness more strongly than I did in that moment, as I watched her hyperventilate to bring oxygen in that would never make it to the rest of her body, and her skin lose its pink color within seconds, with her hand continually reaching toward me as if to say, "This is the end. I'm sorry. I love you." She lost consciousness holding my hand.

In that moment I felt very strongly, and continue to believe, that humans are not meant to die in sudden, violent deaths through heart attack, stroke, pulmonary embolism, or by long, drawn out degenerative diseases like cancer. In hunter gatherer cultures, if people are able to reach old age, they decline for a few days and then die in their sleep. Everyone knows they are going to die, and the death is peaceful. Everyone has a chance to say goodbye.

For a month, I wondered how life could possibly continue without my mom. I struggled to get the horrible images out of my memory. (I'm still struggling with that.) A month after that, I resolved that I had to do something to improve my health to my personal best. I knew that simply eating right would probably never get me to where I wanted to be with regard to fitness, and my mother's experience scared the hell out of me. I didn't want to find myself in the same situation 20 or 30 years from now. Of course, no one can control their health destiny 100%. But I was going to try my best not to wind up in such an incapacitating situation.

So on July 17, I went in for an orientation class at my local CrossFit gym. For around 45 minutes, we did shoulder presses. Fun! I thought, "Well if this is it, I can definitely do this!" Then, we were assigned a mini workout, which consisted of three rounds of

running around the building
20 stick jumps
15 burpees

I was the last one to finish, and I thought I would die. Sure, you hear people say all the time, "I'm gonna die!" Uh, well, as I was struggling to complete the workout, I really did think I would die. I sat and coughed for 15 minutes after the workout.

As I sat there with searing lungs I reflected on my own personal history. Sure, I was never particularly coordinated or athletic, but I'd at least been in shape once. "I still hold an unbroken record for breaststroke at my high school! How on earth could I have let myself become this out of shape?" I wondered. The instructors said, "Good job" as I left. I thought, "Um... yeah, right!" I was totally embarrassed. How could I have allowed this to happen to myself?

I went in for five more sessions. These times, I didn't think I was going to die, but I dreaded each session before I went in. On the long ride in to town to CrossFit, I wondered what sort of weird new movement or superhuman feat was I going to have to perform this time? Yet here's what I found (in the words of Veronica Garza):

Although the workouts were testing and required a lot of effort, I was capable of completing them. My siblings helped me to start off at a level I was capable of achieving. This meant getting into a resistance band to complete pullups, doing pushups on my knees, and running shorter distances than what was prescribed. Everyone was very encouraging and I really felt like they wanted me to succeed.

I was astonished to find the same things. The people at the gym did want me to succeed. They were benevolent and patient. Hm, this was not what I'd experienced in high school gym class with impatient or indifferent gym teachers and classmates.

So last night, I signed up for a year of CrossFit. My goal is to go in 3 times weekly for 1 hour sessions each. (I'm not sure I'll be able to meet this goal right away, but surely I'll be able to do two sessions weekly).

Though I'm not sure I'll ever be able to deadlift 300 pounds, that doesn't matter. I'm on my way to experiencing this type of attitude, and it's a powerful thing:

Most importantly, I feel healthier, happier, fit, and more confident. Every day I am challenged with a new workout in the gym, but I know that every day I will get through it. This attitude now extends to every aspect of my life. I now realize that I am capable of achieving things that I never thought possible.

I'd like to extend a big thanks to those that have linked in blogs and Facebook about CrossFit, CrossFit folks everywhere, but particularly those at Flatirons CrossFit. My experience there has been nothing but positive. I'm a bit of an academic geek, so for my whole life I've shied away from the stereotypical "meathead." But I've been pleasantly surprised to find that the instructors there are patient and that I can learn a great deal from them. The gym patrons are nice, too. Sometimes people just walk up, shake my hand after their workout, and ask if I'm new.

Part of the point of this post is to encourage the unathletic, the overweight, or the out of shape people who may or may not be working out in an exercise program of their choice. If you are disappointed with your results over time from doing nothing (or... doing lots of "cardio", aerobics, or all manner of exercise machines), I encourage you to eat paleo, AND... check out CrossFit. I knew about CrossFit for two years, and I'm kicking myself for not trying it sooner. You won't be disappointed, and it will whip your ass into shape in very short order. And you CAN do it. At any fitness level, the instructors will work to scale the workouts for you.

I'll wrap it up with an inspiring video of Veronica Garza, who started CrossFit only a year ago. The video is totally amazing, and for CrossFit newbies, it will give you an idea of the types of exercises you will learn in short order, without a bunch of confusing terminology and symbols.

A year ago, it looks like she was doing overhead squats with approximately 30 lbs. Now she's deadlifting 300 pounds! Holy cow! (HT to Richard Nikoley of Free The Animal).


Can I stick with CrossFit for a year, too? I think I can. I certainly know that my mom would never want me to have to experience what she did.

Here's to you, Mom. This is how I want to remember you.



(Crossposted from Spark a Synapse).

Read more...

Back to TOP