In the seven months since I decided to stop using this blog as my soapbox on how to make healthy living choices both O and mine's siblings have both adopted new restrictive eating habits. One became paleo, the other pescatarian (and I don't think either reads this blog). Confused? So was my Mom (understandably). This is how I broke it down for her: • Paleo - If cavemen didn’t eat it, you shouldn’t either. This means no refined sugar, dairy, legumes or grains (cavemen didn't farm). Instead your entire diet must revolve around foods that the caveman could find, kill/pick and eat himself. This means: meat, fish, poultry, fruits, and veggies.
• Pescatarian - a diet that includes seafood and excludes all other animals. Think of it as stepping stone towards becoming a vegetarian.
• Locavore - someone who is committed to eating food that is grown or produced within their local community or region.
Before I dive into why I don't recommend paleo and pescatarian eating habits I'd like to further explain my own: The term "locavore" touches only part of my food goals. Foremost: I focus on heart healthy foods and portion sizes. Second:I choose local foods over organic foods (farmer's market kale instead of organic kale from California). Third: I choose long distance real/whole foods over local processed foods (example: banana from Guatemala instead of a pre-packaged snack food made near Atlanta). Fourth: No CAFO* meats! Fifth: Processed foods of any kind are only eaten as a splurge (example: Lay's Potato Chips or corn chips with queso) and all above rules may be broke when I am someone's guest (as a Southern Lady, I enjoy anything offered by my host).
The paleos and pescatarians in my life arrived at their new food lifestyles in completely legitimate and respectables ways. I appreciate and applaud their goals and reasons; I just think they're a little misguided. Here's why:
Paleo very specifically forbids the foods that O & I put so much emphasis on eating. Foods such as black beans, oatmeal, Greek yogurt and whole wheat rice. A healthy food lifestyle shouldn't ban it's participants from adopting more healthy eating habits.
Paleo focuses on asking yourself the wrong question. Instead of "did Cavemen consider this food" a better question would be "did my great-grandmother consider this food**"? Your great-grandmother might stare in disbelief at Fruit Loops but she'll be happy to dig into some oatmeal with real maple syrup.
At it's core the Paleo diet is not one that is realistically maintained for a lifetime. For the short term it's too reminiscent of the awful Atkins fad. And you remember Atkins don't you? People lost tons of weight eating red meat and cheese - only to put all the weight back on when they returned to their normal eating habits.
Our pescatarian sibling made this choice out of respect for the mistreatment of CAFO* animals. It's true, not eating meat is a sure fire way to make sure you're not responsible for the mistreatment of factory farm animals; but I feel more strongly aligned with the alternative "vote with your fork***" philosophy. Instead of giving up meat altogether spend a little more money on meat that was raised ethically. If it's too expensive then eat less of it. Supporting the "good" farmers helps reduce factory farming more then boycotting the "bad" farmers.
This last point, supporting farmers who ethically raise chicken, pigs and cows is one that I want to work on myself. I have a reliable egg source and all our meat comes from a farmer's market that promises organic origins - but what do I really know about those animals' living conditions? Organic labeling may also hint about being "free range" but it doesn't always guarantee it. I talk a big talk but it's time for me to walk the walk. My goal for this spring: find a meat CSA or local farm to start buying from.
***"The wonderful thing about food is you get three votes a day. Every one of them has the potential to change the world. Now, it may seem a little daunting to think, 'Oh my God, I’ve got to vote right three times a day.' And, you know...you don’t and you won’t. We all have our junk foods that we can’t resist, and that’s fine...But if you get it right once a day, you can produce a more sustainable agriculture, a cleaner environment, diminish climate change, and improve the lot of animals. That’s an amazing power that we have, and we all have it." - Michael Pollan: http://www.nourishlife.org/2011/03/vote-with-your-fork/
Saturday morning O and I had an amazing bike ride: 14.3 miles in 72 degree "heat" under a bright blue sky. Starting at our house in Grant Park we headed North towards Piedmont Park. Crossing over Edgewood Avenue, I was excited to catch construction workers laying some of the very first tracks for the city's new electric streetcar. It felt like I stumbled into a special moment in history. I snapped a few photos and imagined them being printed in an Atlanta history book 100 years from now.
Entering Piedmont Park we encountered a film crew shooting something. (What to expect when you're expecting was filmed here and Anchorman is currently in the city filming the sequel). We continued to wind our way North through the park and Atlanta's St. Patty's Day 5K. At the North end of the park we tried to jump on the Beltline's Eastside Trail but the path was loose gravel and too hard to bike on so we turned back and re-entered on Monroe across from Park Tavern.
Sidenote: This section of the Beltline continues to blow my mind. It feels like the game changer Atlanta has desperately needed since we landed the Olympic Games in 1990. The idea that the Beltline and the Streetcar are finally becoming realities thrills me the way Santa thrills a 6 year old. I feel giddy at the prospect of my hometown finally living up to it's potential. (More details about both of those projects at the bottom of this post).
The path was packed with bikers, runners and rollerbladers. With the aid of my little bicycle bell we were able to keep up a quick pace and weave around the crowds. When the trail hits Inman Park the pavement ends so we jumped off and headed South through the always fun Krog Tunnel. Krog to Cabbagetown to Memorial Drive, south on Bill Kennedy to Glenwood. Glenwood east to East Atlanta Village then further east to a friend's house where we had plans to pick up a dozen fresh eggs. Eggs in the pannier, back to EAV and stop at Midway for a much deserved beer! Then West on Glenwood to get home again.
I started biking with O four years ago this spring. We joined the gym three years ago in February. Last year I got the new bike. This ride felt like four years in the making. And by that I believe I'm mostly reacting to the comment my best friend from high school left on my Facebook page after I posted our route. She said "Bet that hurts!". But I can honestly say it did not hurt. In fact, it was almost easy. My butt burned a tad towards the end but a day later I'm not even sore.
Three years into making our health our day to day priority it no longer feels like work. We instinctively eat real food and are not tempted by fake, processed foods. We exercise because enjoy it. Being healthy comes naturally now. And that makes me really happy.
More about the Streetcar
The streetcar will loop through one of the nation's most important - yet almost completely ignored - historic areas: Sweet Auburn. After the Civil War and before Civil Rights, during the height of segregation in the South, Auburn Avenue was the heartbeat of Atlanta for black Atlantans. It had more financial institutions, professionals, educators, entertainers, businesses and politicians than any other African American street in the south. But since the 1970s this historic and beautiful part of the city has become mostly abandoned. The only visitors are those coming to pay homage to MLK's tomb and history center. My dream is that the streetcar will revitalize this important part of our nation's history. (http://sweetauburn.us/intro.htm)
Street car info:
• Route: 2.6 track miles with 12 stops.
•Vehicle: a modern electric streetcar made by Siemens with an overhead power system (single trolley wire) that operates on-street in lanes shared with other traffic
•Frequency: planned service anticipates a 15 minute frequency (average) and 10 minute one-way running time
•Hours: service will operate 7 days a week; 5:00 am to 11:00 pm weekdays, 8:30 am to 11:00 pm Saturdays, and 9:00 am to 10:30 pm Sundays*
•Fares: will be consistent with MARTA fares and will use the Breeze smart-card technology
• The first planned expansions are anticipated to extend from the Downtown Loop to the Atlanta BeltLine.
At it's core, the Beltline is a rails to trails project that encircles Downtown, Midtown and 45 intown neighborhoods. I think of it as an ITP 285 for bikes. There are plans to incorporate a light rail along the path - but I think that is solidly two decades away. The official website does a better job hyping it up then I can. So check it out here: CLICK!
Thanks to Pinterest we stumbled upon a new way to cook cabbage: sliced into large chunks and then roasted. If only we'd found this suggestion this time last year! By the end of May our garden had more cabbage then I knew what to do with. (I'll admit that my "know what to do" was limited to kimchi, coleslaw and soup.) This new recipe is simple and evokes a Brussels sprouts flavor. Check it out here: HERE!
Oliver paired the cabbage with chili-roasted pork (he made the chili paste himself by putting a variety of dried peppers into the blender with a lot spices, chicken stock and garlic). Along with the cabbage and pork we also had sides of sauteed spinach and rice. I'm looking forward to eating it all again tonight! YUM! But before that... I must be heading to the gym before it gets too late.