A Rant About Food


I am beginning to believe that all vegetarians are too rich, anorexic or suffering dementia from protein deficiency and how could they possibly believe that I really care what they eat or why their recipes for the most part lack creativity and flavor.

Let’s start with some basic facts about dieting. First, I did not lose weight by eating healthy foods that I don’t like, I shed pounds by eating a lot less of things that I really like. Moreover, what works for me might not work for you. I like greasy ham hocks and black eyed peas, Italian sausage and kidneys I also like apples, mangoes, cucumbers, water melon, java apples, carambolas and arugula.

Pretty much I like all foods from all cultures and when you relax and stop worrying about what’s good for you, you recognize that there is a “universal poor people’s food” based on the least expensive parts of an animal and the least expensive vegetables. The recipes may change and the spices may differ, but the basic cheap ingredients remain the same.

Now this rant was participated by a vegetarian who claims to be eating a cave man diet of fruits, vegetables and nuts and wanted to counsel me to reach unsolicited diet nirvana. So I asked him if Mitochondrial Eve, the mother of all of us, who evolved about 200,000 years ago would walk by a birds nest full of eggs and ignore it while starving because apples are out of season. He said he might yield on eggs.

I asked if a caveman walking by a dead mastodon in winter would ignore birds eating the flesh while praying for an early spring because he’s hungry. His answer was that would be a rare event. I asked if it is logical that a bush man would see a powerful lion chase down a gazelle and kill it and eat half as the caveman walked away leaving the rest to the hyenas to eat because he’s waiting for the coconuts to fall. Obviously just like poor people today, our ancestors survived on whatever was available and made do with what they had.

Now my fathers heritage was Irish and his culinary desires were limited to Irish Potatoes and anything that walked (mostly beef) or flew (mostly chicken or turkey). Other vegetables were optional. My mother liked root cellar crops (anything that survived the winter at 55 Fahrenheit even if a little wilted), salted preserved fish and anything that walked or flew but especially chicken, pork and veal. Dad lived to be 71 and Mom lived to be 93. The difference was not the food preferences; Dad died early because he was obese from drinking too much beer and not exercising.

At sixty-five I drink my bottle of wine every day, have a tendency towards obesity but never stopped exercising. To me the argument over weather meat or a vegetarian diet is better is a moot point. It will probably be the wine that kills me but that’s another discussion.

In fact I prefer the foods on the “contemporary” Paleolithic diet which consists mainly of meat, fish, vegetables, fruit, roots, and nuts; and excludes grains, legumes, dairy products, salt, refined sugar, and processed oils. Except I also like and eat rice, most legumes and moderate amounts of salt. I also take my multivitamins and must confess that I even eat fried foods once a month.

If you look at the evidence of survival, our human ancestors had the same lifespan from 2 million years ago until the twentieth century. That is at birth, your life expectancy was about 33 years. Even the taming of fire about 500,000 years ago didn’t make us live longer nor did the development of complex tools and devices 50,000. Of course there was no impact from advances in the arts and music 35,000 years ago.

The jump from around 35 years life expectancy at birth to about 70 years, came because of the vast improvements in public health and medicine. I expect that advances in this area will cure cancer, rebuild my spine and that we will be the last generation with sanctimonious vegetarians and prohibitionist proselytizing and evangelically trying to convert everyone to their erroneous beliefs.

OK so if I am not going to live longer from a healthy diet alone, why bother? The answer should be obvious from my other blog where I describe adventures with my children and grandchildren and Cait. The issue is not life, it’s the quality of life. The last ten years of my fathers life, he laid on the couch, drank beer and and died at 71. Up until mom was in here late seventies, she led an active life and even joined a vaudeville type risque group called the “Alley Cats” who used to sing and dance and swish their cat tails for the old people in the retirement homes.

When she went into a home herself in her eighties, she reigned as the Queen of Trivial Pursuit, History and current affairs. She continued to use her mind as her body gradually deteriorated. She was visited by her children who had great memories, her grandchildren who remembered her in her own house and even several of her great grandchildren who never knew her outside the home but they still got to know the wonderful person she was in the wheel chair.

I am really not looking for a long life, I am looking for a long, healthy, adventuresome life and that can only happen if I keep shedding weight.

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9 Responses to “A Rant About Food”

  1. Don Wiss Says:

    Humans have never been completely vegetarian. Until we developed tools 2.5 million years ago (allowing us to kill and eat animals) we ate insects. The high protein and nutrition that they provide would have been needed for us to have developed into such brainy creatures.

    And a recent find was we were eating crocodiles and other reptiles 1.95 million years ago.

    The paleo diet is the way to go. You can find it defined here: http://paleodiet.com/definition.htm

  2. Poppa John Says:

    I truly accept the logic of the paleo diet and admire the dedication of those who truly accept it as long as they don’t preach to me. My homeopathic nutritionist is close to paleo in what she believes in and how she lives. But she accepts me as a human and doesn’t preach to me. (Maybe because I pay her.)

    In the post, I said “I also like and eat rice, most legumes and moderate amounts of salt. I also take my multivitamins and must confess that I even eat fried foods once a month.”

    Now the height of hypocrisy on my part is that she has convinced me to fry my natural pork with the skin on in very expensive grapeseed oi or olive oil rather than corn oil and use lemon and garlic to season the meat rather than salt.

    As far as, I’m concerned, it tastes good is definitely consistent with the paleo diet but even after a couple of glasses of wine, I cant convince myself that it’s healthy so I only do it once a month, if that often.

  3. Poppa John Says:

    BTW Thanks for stopping by and there is a lot of good information on your site.

    At 65, I see no reason to change my diet to embrace a religion. I am fairly close on most issues and find the paleo diet more defensible then vegeterian and far more than vegan. I think I might rather die of hunger than eat biochemically produced tofu which was only invented by starving people in China around the time of Christ.

    I also agree on the salt comment My recipes usually call for salt and pepper to taste which in my case is none. I just don’t like milk or cream and rarely cook with it even when the original recipe called for it. The cheese I add is usually a flavoring element in an Italian style meal which is also when I eat my off diet pasta.

    I don’t believe that my deviations from the Paleo diet are either excessive or going to kill me. But when I die, both vegans and Paleos can claim a victory.

  4. Don Wiss Says:

    I consider grapeseed oil to be one of the current snake oils. Fruit seeds are designed to not be eaten and to pass through still viable at some other location. I guess the grapefruit juice industry has these seed by products and they decided to push this oil.

    The strangest “food” is cottonseed oil. Cottonseeds are, of course, by products of the textile industry. So what do you do? You create a cheap oil to sell to the frying industry. And then to cover it up and make it not look so bad, they list several oils on the ingredient list and state that it is one of them.

    I consider wine to be paleo, but only if diluted down to 6% alcohol. My reasoning is in my definition.

  5. Poppa John Says:

    No wonder my body rejects Fried most of the time. And in my I heart, I kind of know you are correct about grapeseed oil. I mean you really don’t have to teach kids to spit out grape seeds and apple cores. I also found out that it extracts less fat from pork than much maligned corn oil just by returning it to the original bottle when it cools down. The volume of corn oil expands during the cooking process while the volume off grapeseed oil contracts. At the price, I will stick with olive oil which I am comfortable with.

    Either way you cant use the oil more than 3 times without changing the consistency and color which is really kind of expensive and disgusting when you think about all of the cheap fried foods served in restaurants. When done the best possible and only used three times my oil cost for one meal is around $6 for a chicken leg and french fries with out the cost of the actual food.

    But there were probably no deep fat fryers in the Paleolithic so I guess this is all a moot point.

    As to wine I doubt I will change because after 45 years with the same 1 bottle a day, I am not sure my old body could tolerate withdrawl.

  6. Don Wiss Says:

    Blame it on the supermarkets for putting eggs in a case labeled dairy.

    I have eaten four eggs a day for many years. I make a very large breakfast and then only eat most of it. Then for lunch I add another 1 1/2 kabobs and finish it off. It consists of:

    1 1/2 Pakistani kabobs (now grass-fed lamb)
    4 eggs over easy in coconut oil (eggs bought from the farmer)
    ~.15 lb of freshly ground organic walnuts (using old style oval Krups coffee grinder)
    ~1 cup homemade applesauce
    6 oz frozen Wymans raspberries
    5 oz frozen Wymans wild blueberries
    So Delicious Plain Coconut Kefir drizzled on top

    All in a big pile layered as listed above. Berries defrosted either partially in the refrigerator overnight, or entirely in the microwave. I use a scale to split the bags of berries up evenly, and knowing the weight allows me to learn the microwave times.

    I have never deep fried food. I have thought about it. If I did I would like to use coconut oil. But as you note it is an expensive way to cook. Even if you buy in large tubs it is expensive. What I do is to pan fry everything in olive oil with chopped onions (or shallots) and usually garlic. I use freshly ground pepper for spice. After it has cooked I add the juice of a half squeezed lemon. This will work for all meat and fish. I then mix in steamed vegetables.

    When I wrote that definition back in January I learned a lot. I hadn’t known that coffee beans are actually fruit seeds. That gave me a good way to label coffee as not-paleo. Then while I don’t discuss potatoes (or tubers) there, I did learn that potatoes are stem tubers and all other are root tubers. Stem tubers are more exposed and the plant would have to have developed defenses to keep its reproductive cycle from being short circuited.

    I hope you are also consuming plenty of water with that wine.

  7. Poppa John Says:

    So Don, Food for thought about salt.

    My friend Chino and his family are Puerto Rican and helped sculpt my opinion that Puerto Ricans can cook anything and make it taste good. In one display of primitive seaside survival cooking, he would catch “pan crab” which is pretty much the same as blue crabs that are on the Atlantic coast from Maine to Texas.

    Cooking was simple, he would simply drop them live by the edge of a hot bed of coals and keep pushing them back to the heat with a stick until they stopped struggling then remove them and split the shell from top to bottom to get at the cooked meat which was actually pretty good.
    No salt added there.

    In an equally primitive display of the culinary arts, he would wade in the shallow water until he found a live conch. If you try to remove a conch from the shell, with a stone, you can free the animal, but you end up with a slimy mess that is difficult to tenderize.

    The more elegant solution was to fill the shell with water while it is upside down and place it by the edge of the fire until all the water was evaporated. The conch was cooked alive in it’s own seawater and the residual salt adsorbed into the meat. It is actually quite tasty and remarkably tender.

    So the question is salt, no salt or occasional salt?

  8. Don Wiss Says:

    I don’t understand the question. Both meals have some salt in them from the salt water. I don’t have any idea how much salt there would be on a comparative level, or what that would mean for a person avoiding salt. The difference salt makes to blood pressure is so small that it is really irrelevant to good health. Note in my definition I don’t say no salt, I state don’t add. If you start adding you build up a tolerance and end up adding more and more.

  9. Poppa John Says:

    You got th question and I believe the answer. I missed the word added.

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