From GENE LOGSDON
Perhaps no human activity, other than killing other humans, has a longer history than diet regulations that prohibit some foods and glorify others. Even in the biblical garden of paradise there was forbidden fruit. And the reasoning behind forbidden fruit is always the same. Eating the right foods and avoiding the wrong ones means living longer, perhaps forever. Humans are always suckers for that pitch.
Just as the prohibition against meat on Fridays in the Catholic Church helped the fishing industry in medieval Italy, so the latest fad, the Paleo diet, should prove to be a boon to grass-fed chicken and livestock producers because Paleos are supposed to eat only meat raised on grazed pastures without, heaven forbid, grains. The Paleo philosophy believes that modern meats no longer have the nutritional value of the wild meat that prehistoric humans enjoyed. Modern meat has turned real, red blooded cavemen and cavewomen into pansies. Today the only easily obtainable meat that comes close to the wild meat of Paleolithic times is the grass-fed kind.
Paleo is not good news for grain farmers of course. Paleo shuns modern grains, especially wheat, because gluten is, well, close to being poison. They say. Paleos don’t think much of beans either. Modern corn, especially as syrup, was already getting the upraised middle finger before Paleos came along. If I were a grain farmer today, I’d be praying that the older Mediterranean diet, which encourages gobs of wheat and pasta in the human diet, has a resurgence. But when a professional basketball star like Lebron James goes on the Paleo diet, as the news says, look out.
I must confess that I am secretly cheering for the Paleo diet, not because I believe in it or any other diet under the sun, but because if enough people follow Lebron, they just might deal a blow to factory meat and a return of many millions of acres now cultivated annually for grain to grass and clover pastures. And it won’t be a setback for corn-fed meat lovers. I continue to be able to enjoy totally grass-fed beef myself, thanks to our son who raises it. I think it tastes better than corn-stuffed beef and if it turns me into a real he-man caveman type, well, three cheers.
Just to seal my fate, I learned firsthand recently that chickens are terrific grazers and really need only a little grain if any. Because foxes are very fond of chicken meat no matter how it is produced, we had to enclose the chickens in canine-proof fencing this fall. The hens ate every single blade of grass and weed seed and clover leaf they could get their beaks around in their lot and when I moved them to another plot, ditto. Perhaps I will become a chicken-livered caveman. Chicken tractor devotees have known the grazing abilities of chickens for years, of course, but having been brought up to think that chickens were mostly grain eaters. I was surprised at just how well they can graze.
The foxes are another reason I cheer for Paleos. If more people want wild meat, bring them on. The number of wild animals terrorizing the countryside right now is increasing alarmingly. I haven’t tasted fox meat yet, but deer, wild hogs, squirrels, rabbits, raccoons, opossums and groundhogs, to name a few, happen to make fairly good meat if you know how to fix them. I am just now reading a pre-publication book that points to the practicality of foods like groundhog potpie cooked in a Crockpot. I can’t quote it yet because it is still in editing, but this book is not some recollection from the past or a reprint of a rare old frontier diary. It is a very up-to-date modern account of how a young couple and their two children are making small scale subsistence farming work in the real world.
Over the last fifty years or so, we have seen red meat, butter, cream, and eggs damned to the fiery flames of high cholesterol, while we were instructed to eat more vegetables, fruits and grains. Now the diet police have re-canonized meat, eggs and dairy products and turned their guns on grains. I will not be at all surprised if the next big thing in dieting is a prohibition against fruit. Too much at once can sure enough bring on painful cases of diarrhea. In everyone’s garden of paradise, apples might become the forbidden fruit again instead of the food to eat every day will keep the doctor away, which is another kind of crock.