By Stanley A. Fishman, author of Tender Grassfed Meat
The Paleo diet has been adopted by many people, and the numbers are growing. The idea that we should eat like our ancestors makes complete sense, as our bodies have evolved to eat and process the foods they used over tens of thousands of years. While there are different variations of Paleo diets, one thing is true for all of them—grassfed meat is ideal, especially when barbecued.
What is Paleo?
I did not know about the Paleo diet when I wrote my first cookbook, Tender Grassfed Meat. As I followed news of my book on the Internet, I came across a number of comments on Paleo websites that praised my book and talked about how it was great for people following a Paleo diet. These comments inspired me to learn about Paleo.
The Paleo concept is both simple and profound. The idea is that we should eat the same foods that our distant ancestors ate, before agriculture was developed. The argument is a powerful one—agriculture is only a few thousand years old, but humanity has existed for tens of thousands of years, or much longer.
The foods eaten by humanity over these tens of thousands of years included the meat and fat of ruminant animals, the meat and fat of other animals such as wild boar, the meat and fat of a huge variety of birds, wild fish, and seafood. Nuts, berries, wild roots, and plants were also eaten. Meat was eaten on the bone whenever possible, and bones were cracked open for their marrow, and formed the basis of early broths. Because humans have been eating these foods since the beginning, they are ideal for our bodies, since we have evolved to eat and digest them.
The food of agriculture, such as grains and dairy, as well as all of the modern processed foods, are new to our bodies and can cause problems with digestion and absorption, as well as allergies and other problems.
Therefore, a true Paleo diet would avoid all modern foods, and many traditional foods, including all grains and dairy.
I personally eat lots of dairy, but only in its traditional forms. Humans have been eating traditional dairy for about ten thousand years, and my body does fine with it. I avoid most grains, and find that I can easily do without them. I avoid all modern processed foods. But the food I enjoy and crave the most is Paleo—grassfed meat and fat, cooked in front of burning coals.
But it is not enough just to eat meat and fat. Modern industrial meat has a totally different nutritional content from the meat eaten by our ancestors. Grassfed meat and fat is as close as we can get to the meat that nourished our ancestors (with the exception of wild game).
The Price–Paleo Connection—Modern Examples of a Real Paleo Diet
Dr. Weston A. Price, spent ten years studying the diets of the traditional peoples who were free from the chronic diseases that plagued the modern world, such as tooth decay, heart disease, asthma, cancer, allergies, birth defects, and just about every chronic modern illness. He did not read reports or studies, but actually travelled to where these people lived and met them, taking detailed notes on what they ate and how they lived.
Three of the healthy peoples studied by Dr. Price were eating a Paleo diet, in that they had no agriculture and no dairy. They lived completely from hunting and gathering. Their traditional diets had not changed for many thousands of years. These peoples included Alaskan Eskimos (Inuit), Australian Aborigines, and Canadian Native Americans.
When these peoples ate their traditional Paleo diet, they were healthy. When they ate modern foods, they were riddled with all kinds of chronic disease, and died in large numbers from diseases such as tuberculosis.
These peoples all ate the meat, organs, and fat of grass-eating animals, as well as other animals. Those who lived by the sea also ate huge amounts of wild seafood and fish. While all of these peoples gathered and ate a variety of nuts, berries, and plants, their diets focused heavily on meat, organs, and fat, both from land and sea animals. All of the animals they ate were eating a species-appropriate diet such as grass and meadow plants for herbivores.
Grassfed and Paleo—a Perfect Match
Most of the foods eaten by early humans are not readily available to us. But we can find and eat foods that have a similar nutritional profile. The major food of these people was the meat and fat of animals, especially ruminant animals. We can get an almost identical set of nutrients by eating plenty of grassfed meat and fat, as well as the organs of grassfed animals.
Grassfed bison meat, from bison grazing their natural habitat, is just about identical with the bison that was eaten by early humans.
Grassfed beef is very similar, even though the breed and characteristics of the animals have changed from the wild varieties available before agriculture.
Grassfed lamb and goat also have a similar nutritional profile.
Pastured pork, from pigs who have been allowed to root in the forest like their wild ancestors, is another meat that is close to the meat eaten by early humans.
Grassfed Barbecue and Paleo—an Even Better Match
While the peoples studied by Dr. Price ate some of their meat raw or fermented, much of their meat was cooked, and it was almost always cooked in front of a fire.
I do not know if any nutrients are enhanced by the barbecue process, but the taste certainly is. The mouthwatering smell and taste of charcoaled meat appeals to most people on a primal level. The smell of meat roasting in front of a fire, the flavor added by the burning coals, is one of the oldest human pleasures, one that has been enjoyed for ages.
By barbecuing grassfed meat in a traditional manner, we can enjoy this primal taste, as did our ancestors.
This article was taken from my upcoming book on grassfed barbecue.
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