Nature

The Vegetarian Myth

Deane over at Eat the Weeds posted this today, in which the book is reviewed by Mark Sisson.

I thought it was a good thing to pass along, so here is the excerpt:

Wow.

It isn’t often that I write book reviews (have I ever? – serious question), but it isn’t often that a truly important book like Lierre Keith’s The Vegetarian Myth pops up on my radar just begging for one.

You may remember it from a brief mention I gave back in September, or maybe from Dr. Eades’ endorsement of it. You may have even already read the book yourself. If you haven’t, read it. And if you have? Read it again or get one for a friend.

That goes double for vegans, vegetarians, or anyone on the cusp of adopting that lifestyle. If you fit the bill, especially if you’re considering veganism/vegetarianism for moral reasons, drop what you’re doing and run to the nearest bookstore to buy this book. It’s incredibly well-written, and the author has a real knack for engaging prose, but that’s not the main reason for my endorsement. The real draw is the dual (not dueling) narratives: the transformation of a physically broken moral vegetarian into a healthier moral meat eater; and the destructive force of industrial agriculture. The “Myth” in question is the widely-held notion that vegetarianism is the best thing for our health and for our planet. On the contrary, Keith asserts that a global shift toward vegetarianism would be the absolute worst move possible. It’s vitally important. It’s definitive. It’s somewhat depressing, and it’s brutally honest. It also might be the book that changes your life.

Lierre Keith is a former vegan/vegetarian who bowed out after twenty long years of poor health and paralyzing moral paradoxes. Her original goal was to explore the question, “Life or death?” as it pertained to food. She, like most vegetarians, assumed she had a choice between the two, that it was an either/or thing. Eating tofu and beans was life, while a burger represented death. Life didn’t have to involve death – that was the weak way out, and the honorable (and difficult, and therefore meaningful) way to live was by avoiding animal products of all kinds. No blood on your hands or on your plate meant a clean moral slate.

Or so she thought. See, Keith began as a moral vegetarian. She never espoused the idea that meat was inherently unhealthy or physically damaging; she was simply a young kid who “cried for Iron Eyes Cody, longed… for an unmolested continent of rivers and marshes, birds and fish.” We’ve all heard of kids who “turn vegetarian” when they find out their chicken nuggets once walked, clucked, and pecked. Well, Keith was that five year old who bemoaned the “asphalt inferno of suburban sprawl” as a harbinger of “the destruction of [her] planet.” Hers was a deep-seated commitment to the preservation of all living things, not just the cute and fuzzy ones.

That expansive scope meant she looked at the big picture, and suffered for it. She never got to enjoy that oh-so-common smug vegetarian elitism, because she was too aware. Seeds were living things, too. They may not have had faces or doting mothers, but they were alive, and that meant they could die. Killing slugs in her garden was impossible, and deciding whether to supplement the soil with actual bone meal was excruciating. Unlike most of her peers, she knew that avoiding direct animal products didn’t mean her hands were clean. They might not be dripping red, but living organisms died to make that head of lettuce possible. Fields were tilled and billions of microorganisms were destroyed, not to mention the mice, rabbits, and other wild animals whose environments are leveled to make way for industrial farming. And so whichever direction she went – home gardening, local produce, or grocery store goods – Keith was contributing directly and indirectly to death.

What’s a moral vegetarian to do?

She briefly entertains studying with a mystic breatharian, hoping to (tongue-in-cheekily) learn to subsist purely on oxygen. She spends hours picking slugs from her garden and goes to relocate them. Nothing works. She keeps coming back to death.

“Let me live without harm to others. Let my life be possible without death.” Keith realizes this vegetarian plea (which “borders on a prayer”) is impossible to fulfill. She can’t live and eat without something dying, and that’s the whole point of it all. Death is necessary and natural. Circle of life, you know? Without death of some sort, life would get a whole lot worse.

Keith ultimately sets her sights on one of our favorite human “advancements” at the Apple: agriculture! Readers of MDA already know how agriculture altered our trajectory forever, but maybe not in such vivid detail. We focus on the lowered life expectancy, reduced bone density, compromised dental health, and the stooped, shrunken skeletons of our Neolithic ancestors, but Keith shows how grain agriculture actually destroys the land it touches. The Fertile Crescent, ground zero for grain development, used to be, well, fertile. It was verdant, lush, and teeming with life – including nomadic hunter gatherers. Paradise, you might even say. Animals grazed on perennial grasses, pooped out nutrients, and gradually those nutrients would work themselves back into the soil. It was a beautiful, natural life cycle that worked great for millennia. But once grains were grown and the land was irrigated, everything changed. Perennial renewable grasses became annual grains. Animals no longer grazed and replenished the soil. The top soil was robbed of nutrients and faded away. Irrigation meant crucial annual floods were disrupted or even halted. A massive monkey wrench was thrown into the system, and rather than coexisting as a complementary aspect of nature, man thus commenced the conflict with the natural world that rages to this very day.

And that’s the crux of her argument – that modern industrial agriculture is wanton destruction. Grain-based, vegetarian agriculture is even worse, because it attempts to eliminate a crucial player in the normal life cycle of the planet. Animals, which provide manure, calcium, and other nutrients for the soil, have to be part of the equation. Whenever a culture turns to a grain-based agricultural system, these same problems arise. Annual grain crops killed the American prairie and, for the vegans out there, they kill the millions of animals, bugs, and birds that rely on specific ecosystems to survive. The vegan’s soy burger has nary an animal part, but the machines that worked the soybean fields were greased with the blood of a thousand organisms. The vegetarian’s wheat crops feed millions, but robs the land of nutrients and destroys the top soil necessary for life.

Primal readers won’t be surprised by what they read. They may be horrified at the extent of the environmental damage caused by industrial agriculture, but they won’t be surprised (given agriculture’s poor track record with our health). Keith lays out an effective case against grains (and for a Primal-ish, low-carb, high-fat diet, believe it or not) on nutritive, moral, and economical grounds that’s tough to refute. The nutritional information will come as second nature, but the sources are sound and the references are powerful.

There’s more, far more, but I’d rather not spoil the entire thing. Just read it and rest assured that it’s worth your time. The book is a must-read, and a great ally for anyone interested in promoting a healthy, sustainable, omnivorous future. Read this book and distribute it to your vegan friends.

Primal approved!

Read more: http://www.marksdailyapple.com/vegetarian-myth-review/#ixzz2qaSEmMRa

I’m ordering this book today. I know just who to give it to!

If you’d like to order the book, you can do so by clicking the image below:

Categories: Food Health, Nature, Self Reliance, Survival, Vegetarian, Wild | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

Surviving the Wilderness – A Review and Critique, Part II

Surviving the Wilderness – Episode 11 – Exploring

Gerard talks about moving camp and he spends his last night (Day 3) at his old campsite. Again, he talks about how hungry and weak he is. The whole time he’s surrounded by edible plants that he just walks by as his stomach growls.

This is why I’ve always tried to help people learn about edible plants. There’s no reason to go hungry with food all around you.

Surviving the Wilderness – Episode 12 – Rain

The first mistake he made was not taking an ember encrusted log with him from his previous fire. Especially if it was raining. One thing primitive man learned early on… ALWAYS take your fire with you, especially if you aren’t very good at re-creating said fire.

Surviving the Wilderness – Episode 13 – Breakfast

Hey, he got a chipmunk with a rock and then stabbed it with his fishing spear. Good going Gerard! I bet that little vermin was the best meal he’s ever had after what he’s been through.

At about 2:50 in, watching him try to skin and clean the chipmunk is interesting. Especially since he says he’s never cleaned an animal before. (And, is thus, starting at the wrong end.) Most small game can be skinned the same way, and quartered if necessary on larger things such as rabbits. I’ve never eaten and skinned a chipmunk, but it’s likely no different than a mini-squirrel without the big fluffy tail, cleaning-wise.

It’s kind of funny. Day 1, he said he wasn’t hungry enough to eat a frog. Day two, the frog was delicious. Day 4, that chipmunk was probably equivalent to Fillet Mignon.

It’s amazing how much better things taste when you think you’re starving. 😉

Surviving the Wilderness – Episode 14 – Seafood Lunch

Not a bad job catching a few crayfish. Though I have no idea why he didn’t eat the claws. Also the ‘innards’ that he was all like ‘eww’ about, could have been cooked in the can to make a broth, which would have been very sustaining.

Surviving the Wilderness – Episode 15 – Nighttime Rant

A recap of the day’s events

Surviving the Wilderness – Episode 16 – Gone Fishin’

From his ‘feeling lazy’ last night and not making the fire larger, it went out from the rain. And… he lost his firestarter. Double ‘doh’.
Then he lost his fishhook, and is pretty much tossing in the towel.

Surviving the Wilderness – Episode 17 – Packing Up

He found an earthworm to eat. He said that it “Tastes like dirt with a little tang to it.” HA! He’s right. They do taste like dirt. They eat dirt. Imagine that. If you ‘purge’ them first before eating them, they’ll taste less like dirt. But they still suck. 😛

Surviving the Wilderness – Episode 18 – Hiking

He sees a deer and says “Hmm, now how can I kill that.” At least he’s thinking right! 😉

Surviving the Wilderness – Episode 19 – End of Day

Gerard is talking about walking Southwest and thinking that he just might be lost.

Surviving the Wilderness – Episode 20 – The Finale

He hears a dog barking and finds a house. Gerard is entirely lucky to have found this house. He’s also lucky that no one shot him on sight. 😛
So he goes home after 8 days, utterly defeated.

I would have hoped that he would have learned something, and would have used that as an impetus to shore up his shortcomings in his outdoor knowledge. So that if he was ever put in that kind of situation again (against his will, that is.) that he’d be infinitely better prepared.

As it is, it sounds like he’s scarred for life and probably won’t even go camping ever again. And that’s just a sad thing.

Again, thanks to Gerard for sharing his adventures and Bucky for posting them.

If you missed the first part, you may read it here:

Surviving the Wilderness – A Review and Critique, Part I

Categories: Animals, Foraging, Hunting, Nature, Preparedness, Survival | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Surviving the Wilderness – A Review and Critique, Part I

Surviving the Wilderness.

Two buddies, Gerard and Bucky were sitting around watching survival videos, and Bucky bet Gerard $100 a day for each day that Gerard could stay out in the wilderness.

So, Bucky drives Gerard out to the middle of nowhere, with only a Machete, knife, cordage, and a magnesium and flint firestarter. (Plus a backpack full of camera equipment and a hoodie.)

I’ve decided to review and critique each video. I’ll note what could and should have been done, for the edification and education of my readers, as well as pitfalls to avoid, and just plain out idiot things that you absolutely should NOT do. (Such as drink straight out of a stream or carve things into live trees…)

I have also included a link to each video. They can be hard to find since Youtube altered the way videos are displayed in that the next video in the series is not always listed in the recommended list.

Please note I’m not bashing the survival skills of this fellow, or the lack thereof. (Mostly…) I’m commenting so that other folks can see where opportunities were missed, and so if they find themselves in the woods, they don’t miss those same opportunities. There’s nothing like starving and having no idea that you just walked past six meals worth of food due to your ignorance.

I thank Gerard and Bucky for having the guts to post these vids so that people can see what someone’s ‘first time’ out in the wilderness really is like. Everyone thinks its so easy to just walk out into the woods and survive. Reality is somewhat a bit different.
Thanks to my pals Aktrekker and SlowRide13 on the Green Deane forums for the links to the first and second videos.

Surviving the Wilderness – Episode 1 – The Beginning:

This is just the prelude and driving to the wilderness.

Surviving the Wilderness – Episode 2 – Finding Camp:

Here Gerard makes his first little camp area.

At 1:20 in the guy starts hacking at the greenery that isn’t even knee high with his machete. And I’m thinking… what the heck was that for? Dramatic effect? Seen one too many jungle movies?

I’ve had three machetes in my life, and other than having fun with one shortly after the ‘Rambo’ movies came out, haven’t found much use for it in a normal camp situation. I keep the ancient one I have, as it’s better built than the later two, just in case I have encounters with animals. 3 feet of razor sharp steel comes in very handy in such situations. But not for hacking down ferns like someone is in the Amazon river basin.  😮
I think that was purely for dramatic effect. No machete action was needed to walk through those weeds, and just wastes precious energy and calories swinging that thing for nothing.

Surviving the Wilderness – Episode 3 – Shelter:

The shelter isn’t exactly shelter from anything. It won’t keep out either the rain or the animals. I think I built a more solid shelter when I was 8. 😉 However, something is better than nothing, even if it’s only to have a psychological ‘cave-like’ place to sleep.

OMG. 2:20 into video 3. The guy starts hacking into a full grown live tree. Why? To make a record of his time there. Very few things irk me enough to make me want to thunk someone, but if I’d seen this done in person, the guy would be keeping his teeth in his pockets. That’s right up there with idiots who carve their initials in trees and write ‘Dumbazz was here’ on ancient monuments.

He has a machete. He could have split a small dead log in twain, then used the flat surface to etch his little ‘record’. Idiot. I realize that’s negative and highly judgmental on my part, but I can’t imagine anyone really thinking that doing what he did to that tree was OK, or a good idea.
Please don’t EVER do this to a live tree for no reason.

At 2:30 in, he epically fails at starting a fire. Humorously so.

My favorite part so far is the end of vid 3 where in typical American childish impatience, he kicks his fire pile of what looks to be bone dry leaves because the wind keeps blowing around his magnesium. Dude, your 21 years are showing. Big time.

But I do agree that it’s very good for folks to watch this series. Especially folks who seem to think that the uninitiated will just waltz into the woods and start living out there like it’s no big thing. And they can’t even start a fire.

The guy said he ‘looked up how to do this online’. Obviously prior to his being dropped off in the woods. But, typically, he didn’t think to actually PRACTICE it first a few times. I do wonder what he plans to eat and drink though. Looking forward to watching episode 4…

Surviving the Wilderness – Episode 4 – Days End

This is just a short little commentary by Gerard recapping the day’s events.

Surviving the Wilderness – Episode 5 – Finding The Stream

When starting a fire with a flint, he should have been much closer to the material he was trying to light on fire. He’s basically ‘going out to bat’ with the firestarter here, and then wondering why nothing is catching. Also, with those leaves being as dry as they are, he certainly shouldn’t need the magnesium to start the fire.

Most of my commentary focuses on around 3:00 into the video.

First off the water. He just drank this straight from the stream. I hope he didn’t get crypto-whatever. he should have skipped the machete and brought a portable water filter for backpackers and hikers. I have two. One has a viral-guard filter. Never leave home without it. At the very least, get one of those ‘life-straw’ things.

Secondly, the frog. He has no food. And no way to get food. Letting that go was stupid. Period. He said he didn’t have a fire going anyway. After drinking right out of the stream, raw frog would be the least of his worries. Think of it as American sushi. 😉

(For the record I’d personally cook the frog, but after slurking out of that stream, he can’t possibly do much worse…)

Thirdly, he’s walking by tons of cattails. Obviously he has no idea they’re edible. You don’t even need to get down to the roots for a quick snack. Just pull the shoot and peel and nom the bottom few inches. I do this when walking in swampy areas all the time. Om nom nom.

Fourth. He found a patch of ox-eye daisies. He has one behind his ear. Cute. But he should have collected the greens. Young ox-eye daisy greens are, in my opinion, a superior nommable. I eat them straight and raw. The older they are, the more ‘perfumy’ they get though. You can also eat the white petals of the flowers. I wouldn’t eat too many of the yellow centers though. They can give some folks an upset stomach. But a few out of hand shouldn’t cause any issues in any but the most sensitive of folks.

Surviving the Wilderness – Episode 6 – Fire

So here he is attempting to start a fire, for what, the fourth time? No fire ring, just trying to light a pile of leaves, connected to all the rest of the leaves, connected to the rest of the forest.

I don’t think I need to point out how utterly stupid this is. If you have no rocks, make a fire ring by clearing the leaves away in several feet from your fire, and scratch and disturb the dirt at the very least in a circle around where your fire will be. This will keep the fire from creeping out. If you have the means, make a fire ring using dirt and/or rocks to contain the fire.

After all that scraping the fire flint I kind of felt embarrassed for the guy. He should have accidentally caught it on fire by then with all those sparks flying around.

At about 2:25 in, he gets lucky and accidentally catches part of the forest on fire. 😉 A stray spark, not even where he was aiming, caught a leaf on fire.
I wonder what this guy would have done if it was raining.

At least now he has a fire. And later in the same video he must have cleared the leaves around the open flame. (Or likely ended up just pushing them all into the fire.)

Surviving the Wilderness – Episode 7 – The First Meal

As he’s about to leave his fire in search of food, he notes that maybe it’s a good idea to push the leaves away from and/or into the fire, and states that maybe he should put some of those rocks around the fire. (He’s had rocks this whole time and just NOW thinks it’s a good idea to make a fire ring?)
To his credit, he goes back and gets what is likely the same frog, in the same spot. And he cooks it and eats it. Good job, Gerard! 🙂

Surviving the Wilderness – Episode 8 – Another Night

Gerard talks about being a bit weak from lack of food. He had no lack of food, simply a lack of knowledge about food. Food was everywhere around him. I don’t know if anyone later pointed out to him the cattails he walked past. (The easiest parts to collect in his situation would have been the bottom few inches of the shoots can be peeled and eaten raw, and the roots can be roasted and peeled and then stripped with your teeth for their starch.) Or if anyone mentioned the ox eye daisy greens he passed up. (The flower he had in his hair.) I can guarantee that anyone even passingly familiar with wild plants could fill a basket in very short order if they know what to look for. There was no reason whatsoever for him to be hungry with that bounty around him.

That’s why I support places that encourage ongoing education concerning foraging and identification of wild plants, like Green Deane’s forum: ‘Eat the Weeds

Also check out his online Youtube videos

The last I checked he had something like 143 foraging videos all available for viewing free online.
And the main Eat the Weeds site:

Surviving the Wilderness – Episode 9 – Target Practice

At about 1:20 into the video, after talking about needing his teeth brushed, Gerard states “I don’t know about any plants I can use, but I’ll find out when I start sticking stuff in my mouth.”

Do not EVER, and I do mean EVER do this!

This is how you end up being those few people a year who die by eating random unidentified wild plants.

Surviving the Wilderness – Episode 10 – The Creek

This guy spends an awful lot of time and energy staging ‘walking out’ and ‘walking towards’ shots with his camera.
Finding the larger stream with the fish was a definite plus, and the first thing he should have done is just what he was talking about, and that is to make a new campsite there and bury the fire at his old campsite. (And take a ember-encrusted stick from his previous fire to start the new one.)
Shelter isn’t an issue in the middle of the summer and his old campsite didn’t provide any shelter anyway.
You can also build a little dam (or two) in a creek and corral the small fish between your dams. And when they can’t get out, you have all the time in the world to figure out how to catch them.

Continued soon in Surviving the Wilderness – A Review and Critique, Part II

Categories: Animals, Foraging, Hunting, Nature, Preparedness, Survival | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Fall Foraging and Quincely Woes

Well it’s creeping into fall once again. That lovely time of year following summer, where all kinds of harvest fruits are usually available for preservation and nomming.

To that end, there is a bumper crop on my quince tree this year. This would usually be cause for celebration here, as we pick, clean, slice, and freeze the fruit for use over the winter.

The problem is that the weather has been very odd all year. Whilst this has resulted in beautiful fruit up until now, it’s now hot when it should be cold.

It’s 83 degrees and very wet today, and will also be thus tomorrow. In October. In Pennsylvania.

Why is this a problem?

Because quince is a fall weather harvest fruit. The week plus of 80 degrees and extremely wet has meant that the ground is too soft to safely plant a ladder to harvest the fruit, and said fruit is rotting on the tree from the heat instead of being all nice and preserved as it should be by cooler temps. The first week of October is usually the first time I pick any fruit from this tree. I’ve had tons of fruit drop on their own over the last two weeks. And it’s ripening unevenly. One side will be shock green and the other side will be literally rotten. Not cool. Literally.

The next semi dry day here is forecast to be four days from now. At that time I’ll be harvesting all I can. They have to be hand picked. If they fall the impact bruises them very easily and ruins wherever it impacts.

The warm weather has also put the kabosh on fall mushrooms thus far. I’ve only found a half dozen mushrooms the past month. The only things that have been coming up have been either unknown or toxic varietals. No boletus. Well, there was ONE stray slippery pine boletus, but it was so bug eaten by the time I found it that I didn’t bother. Slippery pine boletus usually require shade of some kind to come up in any kind of proliferation, and it’s typically in the form of leaves that fall from other trees. When the leaves from the neighboring maple falls on the area of the roots of the scotch pine, is when these things will be popping up en masse. But the leaves haven’t fallen yet. The warmer temps mean that all the trees in my yard (save the barren walnut tree that got the clue early as usual…), haven’t dropped very many leaves at all yet. Two of my maples are still 100% green! The one closest to the house, the oldest one, has gotten the hint and the leaves are starting to slowly turn yellow.

So what’s it like in your neck of the woods, and has the weather been good or horrible for your local foraging preferences?

Categories: Foraging, Green, Mushrooms, Nature, Wild Cookery | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Tasty Treats Wandering Into My Woodland Realm

Today I figured I’d share a collection of just a few things that have decided to make my yard and surrounding area ‘home’.

First up we have a ‘hare’ raising photo. There are a bunch of these around. I’ve identified at least four separate individuals. The largest of which will likely be in the stew pot come fall.

(Note: All pictures can be clicked on for a full sized version!)

Rabbit

Second, we have a rather snarky looking groundhog that loves to meander about and eat the tops off of my orange hawkweed. Considering those are my wife’s favorite flower, she has a special vendetta out for this creature and has made it known to me in no uncertain terms that the beast shall not survive the winter, even if she has to get out her bow and do it in herself. 😉

Groundhog

Next up we have a slither. Why did the slither cross the road? To end up battered and fried!

Eastern Rat SnakeEastern Rat Snake 2Snake and Wild Garlic

Also, being a bit of a wildlife haven, my yard tends to attract some of these fine folks:

Deer

They are always welcome on my property. Get fat, eat well, and come winter time they are a resource if I need them, right outside my back door.

Also not too far away, I found some of these the other day:

Geese 2

I love geese. Both on the table and as an animal in general. They’ve got personality. My favorite goose I ever had was named ‘squeaky’. He was awesome. I raised him from a tiny gosling swimming around in my bathtub to a full sized gander. He never once hissed at me and was very protective. He was also the only goose I couldn’t bear to eat. Had it been life or death survival, I’d have eaten him of course, but as it stands this was about ten years ago and availability of other food sources wasn’t an issue. This picture is of course just for illustrative purposes, as you can’t take deer, geese, and the like without all the proper permits, paperwork, and all that modern nonsense. Thus the geese were not on the menu, sadly. One would almost think that it was deliberately engineered to make it nearly impossible for you to find and dine on your own free wild food…

These however, were on the menu, and were taken from the same waters. (Yes, legally, proper licenses and all.) And they fried up lovely. First is a Bluegill (Lepomis macrochirus), and below is a Black Crappie (Pomoxis nigromaculatum). Most people are confused as to what a Black Crappie is. A Black Crappie will have black SPOTS . A White Crappie (Pomoxis annularis) has stripes, or ‘bars’.

BluegillBlack CrappiePanfried Bluegill
I also have a full on herd of squirrels in my yard. They wouldn’t sit still long enough this morning to get a proper picture though. The idiot neighbor’s idiot dog likes to chase them to hell and back so they’re very skittish and they bolt at the slightest sound. (Such as the sound of a window opening to get a clearer picture…)

UPDATE: I finally got one to sit still for half a millisecond!

Squirrel

So, what’s in YOUR neck of the woods? 😀

Categories: Animals, Fishing, Food Health, Foraging, Green, Hunting, Nature, Nature Photos, Organic Meat, Uncategorized, Wild, Wild Cookery | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Forage! Episode III: Proper Identification

Ever wonder what happens to all those cavalier folks who think that nature is just another harmless and safe grocery store?

Forage 3 Proper Identification

Categories: Comedy, Education, Food Health, Forage!, Foraging, Funny Stuff, Green, Nature, Wild, Wild Cookery | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

I Dream of Blueberries

I woke up this fine June morning thinking about blueberries. Those lovely crown berries of deliciousness that make the perfect compliment to a bowl of cream, or the perfect addition to everything from cereal to muffins, to eating out of hand.

As such, I figured I’d go take a walk into my back yard and see how they were doing since I hadn’t checked on them in a few weeks.

Northern Highbush Blueberry – Vaccinium corymbosum

Blueberries 1

Blueberries 2

Blueberries 3

All crown berries are edible, and with 35 or so different varieties in North America, there’s sure to be one near you.

They are far from ripe yet, but they soon will be in the next month. And when they are, I’ll have to fight the birds to get them, as always. Or maybe I’ll just eat the birds. 😀 Double win.

But not just blueberries are on my mind today.

Also, some black raspberries that were seeded by birds a few years ago seem to have a bumper crop coming as well. I intentionally dropped most of the berries the last two years into the soil, and was rewarded with loads of new canes coming up.

Black Raspberry – Rubus occidentalis

Black Raspberry 1

Black Raspberry 2

These are absolutely loaded with berries this year. I’ve included a few pictures of both close ups and further out so you can see what the plant looks like. You can click on any picture to make it larger.

Black Raspberry 3

Black Raspberry 4

As you can see, the berries are very happy this year, with the brambles being the clear winner volume-wise. Those with keen eyes will be able to pick out a slew of other edible plants amongst the canes as well.

Pear – Pyrus spp.

Pyrus

I did see a few pears on my pear tree, but only a few. It’s to be expected. Last year was a bumper crop, so this year will have very few, and then next year should be a heavy harvest again. We’ve also not had nearly as much rain this year as we should have had, and spring came very late to Pennsylvania. Whilst not ‘berries’ they are still quite tasty when in season, if a bit hard. They are much better cooked and cut up in something like oatmeal.

Categories: Education, Food Health, Food Storage, Foraging, Green, Nature, Nature Photos, Organic, Plant Photos, Uncategorized, Wild Cookery | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Paleo Day 6

Last night was a lovely dinner of crappie and bluegill with wild garlic (and a little salt and cracked black pepper and olive oil).

The night before was slither, prepared the same way. (More on that at another time, perhaps.)

Either dinner, or supper today, depending on how hungry I am and when I am hungry, will consist of the remaining bluegill that I didn’t make yesterday. Probably made the same way, but likely without the wild garlic as it’s been raining cats and dogs today.

I’ve also pretty much eliminated legumes. I’d add them primarily to soups, and by switching from the ‘winter/spring’ diet to the ‘spring/summer’ diet, soups are naturally eliminated from my diet until the colder months anyway, so that one was pretty easy, as I’m used to eating near zero legumes during the summer anyway. Thank goodness for small little gifts, eh?

Breakfast today will be oatmeal (real whole oats) with cinnamon and half of a real apple cut up.

I’d like to eventually cut out the oatmeal, but I have nothing I can consistently replace it with yet that won’t bankrupt the tribe’s monthly food budget.
We’ve been eating the same thing for breakfast, nearly every day, with only the fruit being changed out for quince when it’s in season, or occasionally a few raisins or shredded carrots in lieu of the other fruit, for a few years now.

And considering that when I cut out milk and cereal for breakfast, and went to the oatmeal every day, is when I went from 215 pounds to 160 pounds in the course of one winter.

So, yea, it’s a carb. But honestly I don’t think it’s the most egregious of them out there. Though I also cut out most processed foods as well, and totally cut out HFCS.

None of us are fat. None of us are overweight. Hell, if anything, I’m a bit underweight. Though this could be because of my very high metabolism, and because I’m the most active member in my family. (I do get a bit of walking in when foraging, of course.) I’m a bit over 6 foot tall, a size 32, and currently clocking in at 154 as of this morning. By reducing carbs and massively reducing my sugar intake (down to 1/10th what it was 6 days ago!), I’ve lost about 3 pounds in the last 6 days. Pounds I didn’t need to lose, in my opinion. To be honest, I’m petrified of losing any more weight. It was a long and rough winter, and for a while there, I was down to 145 pounds and not feeling good at all. I’m in no great hurry to ever go back there. I need to put weight ON, not take weight OFF.

And that weight loss over the winter was even whilst I was eating high carbs (two bowls of rice a day plus oatmeal, plus bread, plus crackers) and high sugars, about 10 teaspoons worth all things considered, per day.

I’ve always had a very high metabolism. Since I’ve gotten rid of 99.9% of processed foods from my diet, my old metabolism has kicked back in, in SPITE of the sugars and carbs that were still part of my diet.

And all of this is with a minimum of actual ‘exercise’. It’s not like I’m expending massive amounts of calories. The most calorie burning thing I’ve done during that time was doing some walking whilst fishing and standing in place for 6 hours whilst fishing. (Which did quite a number on my back, as I’m not used to standing in one place for that long.) I typically do pushups in the morning most days, as does my wife, and she does some stretching and crunches and other exercises.

So, we’re shedding sugars and carbs a bit at a time. We’ve also not baked any bread in 3 days. And if it doesn’t exist, it’s a lot easier to not eat it.

It’s quite likely, the oatmeal will be the last thing to go. Of all the carbs I’m currently eating, I feel it’s the least offensive of the various carbs. It’ll go, it just won’t go all at once.

The white rice, on the other hand, is likely the most offensive, next to the white flour. And we’ve already started massively ratcheting that back by simply not baking bread. Which is really a kick in the grapes, I must say, because I bought eight bags of flour for our monthly food budget like two days before we started going Paleo/Primal! (Talk about bad luck.) Oh well, we’ll eat them eventually. Just very spread out, instead of all at once.

The key here is that we replace the carb foods with non-carb foods, once they’re depleted with our pantry. In other words as we use the rice and flour and oatmeal, we replace it with something ELSE.

Unfortunately, all our food for this month has already been pre-purchased, so no change out of any kind is going to happen until July. All I can do until then is add more meats and good fats to the diet, and reduce the portions of the carbs.

Update: This was dinner. Yum! The garlic greens were fried in coconut oil and served over a very small sliver of rice. About 1/3rd of what I’d normally eat.

Panfried BluegillSauteed Wild Garlic

Categories: Animals, Fishing, Food Health, Foraging, Nature, Organic, Wild, Wild Cookery | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Fishing for Food

I went fishing yesterday from about 3 PM to around 8:30 PM, and got home right before dark.

I do enjoy the actual act of fishing, but this isn’t recreation or leisure time. This is absolutely serious ‘foraging’ time. Coming home empty handed means no meat for dinner. It’s very different from what most people I know do…  going out and wasting a few hours with a pole in the water, and not caring if you catch anything or not. Heck, most people will throw the fish back if they only catch a few, thinking it’s ‘not worth their time’ to clean them unless they have a bunch. This mindset is alien to me.  I fish for one reason only: food. I never, ever, fish for ‘sport’.

When I arrived at the fishing location, the road was totally blocked by some dingus in one of those monster sized pickups, doing gods know what. (I think that people with trucks bigger than a small house, that have no real off-road function, are definitely compensating for something…)

So, I went to the first turn off instead of my usual spot. It’s a nice area, I’ve just never caught a single fish there. Ever. I’ve seen other people catch them. I’ve just not done so. It’s not a very sheltered area, and the wind whips in pretty good. Most of the folks that I’ve seen catch fish in that spot use a boat, and then fish IN towards land in the little nooks and get fish that like to hang out around the root structures and such. If I only had a canoe or kayak or some such, that’d be me. But I can’t stand motor operated watercraft. The noise and the endless disruption grate on my nerves, not to mention the fact that the gas powered motors kill loads of fish. If they banned all motor driven watercraft from this lake, I’d be very, very happy. People get a motor boat and think they’re all of a sudden uber-fishers.

The first three hours I didn’t get a single nibble, using any bait. Then I got a few tiny nibbles, and it was the itty bitty fish that like to harass and steal your bait without biting the hook.

However, I did see quite a few geese. They’d pass within only a few feet of me. Oh damn our twisted society and it’s idiotic rules and regulations! Here, passing within spitting distance, was breakfast, lunch, and dinner on the wing. For a week. For a whole family!

Geese 4

(And just for record and to be clear for all the legal beagles and fluffybunny ninnies, and so called ‘sportsmen’ that read this, I’d never take any wild game out of season or without the proper legal ‘permits’, ‘licenses’ or other BS nonsense that one now needs to have in order to do what people and animals have been doing since the dawn of time: eating.)

Thus, no goose for me. Though I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want one.

I do like geese though, and not just for eating. I think the goslings are cute and squeaky. I’d still eat one though. I absolutely love goose. Never had a gosling though. I think it’d be like a tender young chicken, but goosey flavored.

Geese 2

I finally moved somewhat close to my usual fishing spot. It was a less-favorable spot (in my opinion, and for what I was fishing for) than my favorite fishing spot. It was also closer to the boat ramp, which meant that literally every 10 to 15 minutes, someone was load or unloading a boat. There was also trash littering the beach, in great quantity, and I mean that in more ways than one. Unfortunately my favorite spot was taken up by two white boys, only a bit younger than myself,  who apparently thought they were inner city gangstas. At the very least, they certainly talked like it. And for the love of everything precious and good, they just would not shut the heck up! I got regaled at full volume on such topics as football, basketball, baseball, rap music, boxing, as well as listen to two supposedly best friends ‘cut’ on each other (verbally) the entire time. If there was any other decent fishing spot, I’d have moved. Such was the fun fishing next to ‘Joey’ and ‘Mario’. They were about 60 yards away and I listened to their BS for three and a half hours before they finally left (in a Lexus SUV of all things!)  And, as it was getting cold and dark, I left soon thereafter.

However I did end up catching 6 fish at that spot, all bluegill.

Here’s one of the bluegill I caught. It is a female.

Bluegill

As I was leaving, a nice fellow about my age who’d been out on a boat asked me what I was fishing for, and I said ‘Bluegill’. He asked me if I wanted a crappie, as he caught only one and was going to throw it back. I said “Absolutely!” It was a very nice sized black crappie (Pomoxis nigromaculatus) I thanked him heartily for the unexpected fishy gift. Which, by the way, was the largest by far of all the fish in my bucket. Though to be fair, crappie tend to be bigger than bluegill most of the time.

In case you don’t know, black crappie have black spots. That’s what nigromaculatus means White crappie have 8 to 10 vertical stripes. Most fishermen seem to call the black crappie ‘white crappie’, because no one has explained the simple difference to them.

Black Crappie

One of the fish expired, so I cleaned it when I got home. But the others were still alive and flippy, so I left them in the big cooler overnight. Unless I’m in a hurry, I prefer to let them expire on their own accord vs having to deal with them whilst they’re all flippy.

When I woke up, they were all dead on the bottom of the cooler. I expected as much. They probably expired sometime in the wee hours of the night. I put them in a bucket of ice cold water, and there they shall sit until I finish eating and typing this. After which, I’ll clean them, scale them, gut them, and behead them, and into the fridge they will go for supper tonight.

Categories: Fishing, Foraging, Nature, Nature Photos, Organic Meat, Survival, Wild, Wild Cookery | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

WAMPSDUH – Part III: What Can We Do About It?

First of all, as an adult, I firmly believe that there are a certain set of skills and knowledge that every human, both adults and children, MUST have in order to be a functional and useful member of society. Most of this is not taught in any school, and most people’s parent’s never had these skills to be able to teach their children in the first place.

This set/list is probably not one that most people currently have in it’s entirety, or learned very much of growing up, though I am am sure that the vast majority of people will have some of the basic skills on the list. The thing here is that everyone needs all of the skills. Not just a few here and there willy-nilly.

The solution to this is that people must embrace the lessons of the past and learn the very valuable basic skill sets of their ancestors. We must learn to be self reliant again. People must do this as a whole, in order to bring us back from the brink. But, I fear, they will not. We’ve had it far too good for far too long.

It is my very strong opinion that first and above all else, a human MUST know how to find and harvest, and then prepare, their own food. This is absolutely essential for the continuation, and advancement, of the human race. Every non-parasitic animal in nature can do this, one way or another, without exception. Why can’t we? It’s pathetic, and insulting, really, that we, the supposed masters of our planet and so called ‘top of the food chain’, can’t even tell our Asclepias from our ascot.

I must admit, I’m a very judgmental individual when it comes to not being a burden on my fellow man. So much so that when I first meet someone I tend to quickly ascertain whether or not they have ANY interest at all in learning how to become self-sufficient, if they do not already possess that ability. Not everyone has been exposed to this kind of information, and I understand that. It’s not a very common way of life anymore, and you can’t know what you don’t know that you don’t know. However, the ‘test’ is how they will respond when given the opportunity to do so. If someone walks up to them and offers to teach them how to become 100% self sufficient, how do they respond? Are they even slightly interested? Do they embrace it and ask for more information? Or do they do what most people do and outright reject it, saying that they don’t have the ‘time’ or that there is no ‘need’ for them to learn such things in today’s modern day and age?

If you think about it, what individual in their right mind would NOT want to know this information, at least on a basic level? How can anyone possibly justify not knowing how to feed themselves?

The average Joe doesn’t need to be a Green Deane, Sam Thayer, John Kallas, or Steve Brill. They just need to know the very basics of how to collect and prepare the majority of the common edible plants near them, and practice them with some regularity. Anyone with half a brain should be able to accomplish this. Every human did so in antiquity. The only ones who did not were the ultra rich or nobles, or those living in cities. But they were an uber minority. Even the nobles usually knew how to do basics for themselves. They just typically did not do so as they had servants to do it. But they at least knew how. A king typically knew how to hunt and clean his own deer.

So, I ask again: who, as a sane individual would not want to know how to find their own food?

Sadly, the answer is many, many people, it would seem… It’s simply not natural. It’s an abomination of the natural and basic order of things. And when such things happen en masse, it’s an absolute recipe for disaster for any society. Our society stands on such a precipice. These skills will be lost forever unless they are embraced and taught to the subsequent generations.

But, if someone is not interested in learning about plants and how to feed themselves, I’m polite about it of course, and I am not rude if they reject the possibility of learning such things. But if they do, my overall esteem of them falls sharply.

I would even go so far as to say that if they completely refuse to even learn the preliminaries of how to identify wild plants, and therefore be able to feed themselves come hell or high water, they tend to automatically get classified in my mind as ‘part of the problem’. Thus and therefore, they end up getting lumped with the other 90% of the planet that are bottom feeding, blood sucking parasites, in my estimation. 😉 This is regardless of whatever other skills, intelligence, or usefulness they may have. The CEO who makes 5 million a year, is still useless in a real world emergency situation if he can’t even feed himself without an army of wage slaves at his beck and call.

Yea, I know. I’ll get flak for that. People usually object to being called parasites. But if you absolutely CANNOT feed yourself, and depend on others to do it for you, and absolutely outright REFUSE to learn how to feed yourself, then that’s what you are. A parasite. A parasite feeds on the lifeblood of others, and will die without the lifeblood of others, as it has no ability to feed itself. If this applies to YOU, then recognize this and change it!

But if ye are someone who is currently classified in Janosese as a ‘parasite’, don’t get all stink-eyed and offended at me. Think about it a while instead of getting horked off. It’s nothing personal. It’s just ‘business’, or rather, practical reality. Think of it like this…

If you can’t feed yourself, you’re causing a problem. A very massive, monumental, epic, planet-sized honkin’ problem. Because it’s not just you anymore that can’t feed yourself. It’s the human race as a whole. Folks like you used to be a very small minority. Back then, it wasn’t a problem when 98% of everyone else grew their own food and the 2% who didn’t needed to be fed. Now it’s more like 2% grow their own food and 98% do not. Houston, we have a very serious problem!

Now, please don’t mistake me. You don’t HAVE to feed yourself, every single moment of every single day. Farming for profit has a purpose, and is a good and noble profession. You can buy some of the things that you consume. That’s what a currency is for, to trade value for value. There is nothing wrong with paying someone for a service out of convenience. Not everyone needs to forage all the time, or grow all of their own food, they just need to be aware of how their needs affect the rest of us. And the planet couldn’t support such en masse foraging anyway, on such a massive scale as our current population. Thus, and unfortunately, in order for the current population of the world to survive, we depend upon ‘modern’ methods of production. There is plenty of room to improve that, however, and go back to more natural methods. GMOs don’t equal greater productivity. Quite the opposite, actually. Lower yields and more singularity instead of diversity amongst crops.

The overarching point here is that you just need to know HOW to forage and feed yourself. It’s the difference between thriving and surviving, and dying when, not if, some kind of disruption in the ‘just in time’ supply chain happens.

Also, people with basic foraging knowledge tend to make wiser choices when planting their own gardens or when tending and harvesting wild resources, and are able to work consistently with nature, as opposed to against it, to get higher crop yields. These kind of good things happen when you understand the partnership with nature vs trying to fight it all the time. Besides, nature will always win. Remember that. 😉

People who forage also tend to like unadulterated food, and don’t tend to purchase or consume things with more chemicals in them than they can pronounce.

Do you know what’s in my tea? Tea, that’s what. It says… Ingredients: Tea.

Black Tea

Do you know what’s in my green tea? Tea, that’s what. It says… Ingredients: Green Tea Leaves.

Green Tea

And this is the ‘cheap’ stuff. The black tea is less than $2 for a box of 100, and the green tea is $1 per box. You can find affordable real food products out there, you just need to actually READ the labels.

If your regular black or green tea has a slew of listed ingredients, including the vile and toxic soy lecithin, then you shouldn’t be drinking that foul swill. And having ‘organic’ toxic soy doesn’t make it any better for you. Unfermented soy is an out and out toxin. Fermented soy, such as traditional soy sauce, miso, etc, is fine in limited quantities. But you would do well to avoid unfermented soy products.

(And pro soy people who have bought into that lifestyle and who haven’t done their research will now in all likelihood lash out at me instead of doing said research… If that applies to you, research before you lash out, and you’ll see that I just quite possibly saved your life, if you take this information to heart.)

Foragers tend to be aware that their food should have only natural ingredients in it.

This means that people who forage, by and large, make wiser consumers.

In the end, the real ‘What can we do about it’ ends up summing up to the fact that we need to have the skills and knowledge to make wise and proper decisions about our health, and most importantly, what we put in our bodies. Let our food be our medicine, and all that. But we can only do so if we know how to forage for some of our own food in the first place.

In part IV, I’ll go into what skills I think we all need to have, on a very basic and preliminary level, in order to arrest and reverse this trend of being increasingly useless with each passing generation.

Addendum: For further research into the dangers of unfermented soy, please see here: Beware of the Dangers of Soy

And for more comprehensive research and information, see here:  Soy news, articles, and information

Categories: Food Health, Foraging, Nature, Preparedness, Wild | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

%d bloggers like this: