Monthly Archives: October 2011


Our American food series continues with meatballs. Meatballs can be eaten by themselves, or in other dishes like spaghetti. They are convenient lunch foods; they travel in plastic containers well and can even be eaten with fingers.

Simple Meatballs

Start with 1 lb 80% ground beef, 1/8 cup potato starch (1/4 cup for a tougher, sturdier meatball), 1 egg, and minced garlic:

Mix thoroughly with spices to taste – salt, pepper, and cilantro, dill, or other green herbs:

Roll the mixed ingredients into small balls. A pound of beef makes about 30 meatballs:

In a saucepan, place slices of ginger root in enough water to cover the meatballs, and bring it to a boil:

Add meatballs to the boiling water and cook until cooked through (typically 8 to 10 minutes):

Remove the meatballs with a slotted spoon and let them drip dry.

When the meatballs are done, you can cook vegetables in the leftover meatball water. Here is watercress:

Strain the water and add olive oil and spices:

Pearl meatballs

Pearl meatballs are popular in China, and often found in dim sum restaurants. The “pearls” are grains of rice.

Preparation methods are as before, but also begin with a half cup of uncooked sticky rice or Japanese short-grain rice:

Soak the rice in water for 10 minutes before using.

Also, add 1 teaspoon soy sauce to the ingredient list, and triple the amount of pepper.

Traditionally the meatballs are rolled in the rice so that rice is found on the surface of the uncooked meatball, but you can also mix rice into the body of the meatball:

Both ways work, and taste similar.

We steam the pearl meatballs on a bed of shredded cabbage for 25 minutes. After 25 minutes we turn the heat off but keep the lid on and let them continue steaming for another 5 minutes.

After cooking is done don’t quickly remove the lid; let them steam and drip-dry for another 5 minutes.

Then transfer them to a serving plate:


You can use meatballs in a host of recipes. You may have noticed we included meatballs in our Bi Bim Bap (Oct 16, 2011). It’s handy to keep some around in the refrigerator for an occasional beefy snack.

Around the Web; Snowy Halloween Edition

A storm today is supposed to turn to snow tonight – one of the earliest snowstorms in memory. Luckily trick-or-treating weather Monday should be perfect.

A few events are coming up. First, I’ll be speaking on Saturday Nov 12 at the Wise Traditions Conference in Dallas, doing the “Wellness Track” from 9:00 am until 12:15 am. The conference will be full of great speakers, including Sally Fallon, Chris Masterjohn, Dr. Joseph Mercola, Natasha Campbell-McBride, Denise Minger, Stephanie Seneff, Dr. Ritchie Shoemaker, Harvey Ussery (Harvey’s wife Ellen is one of our most frequent commenters), and many others. Please consider attending:

Wise Traditions Conference ~ Dallas, TX ~ November 11-14 2010

The following Saturday, Nov 19, I’ll be speaking at CrossFit NYC. I’ll have details about that next week.

Finally, on Sunday, December 4 at 3 pm I’ll be giving a talk and book signing at Green Meadows Farm in Hamilton, MA.

[1] The “Safe Starch Symposium” continues:

Jimmy Moore is graciously continuing the conversation about safe starches on his blog, with the latest installment coming from Dr. Ron Rosedale. For those keeping score, here’s how the discussion has gone:

On Tuesday I’ll explain why Dr Rosedale almost persuaded me to eat a high-carb diet.

Due to personal health considerations, Jimmy won’t be trying an n=1 experiment with safe starches. However, we’ll still develop a 7-day meal plan for those who want to give our diet a try, and Jimmy will invite his readers to try it and share their experiences. That will happen in December, and Shou-Ching and I are looking forward to it.

[2] Music to read by:

[3] Interesting posts this week:

Is radioactive cobalt improving the health of the Japanese?

Stephan Guyenet discusses the brain’s ability to regulate peripheral glucose utilization and lipolysis from fat cells. It makes sense that this would be the case: Apart from the brain’s advantage as a coordinating organ due to its access to signals from nerves, it is also the highest priority destination for glucose, and so the organ best informed about when glucose utilization should be suppressed elsewhere.

Dr Oz has a “Prehistoric Diet Plan”. I think of it as Loren Cordain merged with T. Colin Campbell, and then acquired by the US Department of Agriculture.

Dr Steve Parker reports that intentional weight loss doesn’t reduce risk of death … but it does prevent progression to type 2 diabetes.

Eating a fatty meal causes pythons to grow bigger hearts. Even more interesting, giving mice a transfusion of fed-python blood causes them to grow bigger hearts. Will Tour de France riders be adopting pet pythons?

Another mummy gets diagnosed with prostate cancer. The cancer has to have metastasized to bone to be visible in skeletal evidence. I have not heard of any Paleolithic skeletons containing metastases, but a paleopathologist states that bone cancer has been found in Paleolithic skeletons.

Can going Paleo strain a marriage? It did for Peggy the Primal Parent.

Aaron Blaisdell is teaching UCLA students to eat primally. What’s that illustration on the table?

CarbSane has been chipping in to the safe starches debate (Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday).

Melissa McEwen says, “The no-starch camp is in its death throes” … I prefer to think of it as “the pro-starch camp is in its prime of life”.

Lucas Tafur gives us a reason to put vinegar in our foods: gut bacteria can convert acetate to butyrate.

Chris Kresser warns of the dangers of estrogens in plastic containers.

Emily Deans considers whether ketogenic diets may help bipolar disorder. By the way, Emily is visiting Harvard Law School on Halloween. No word yet on her costume.

Danny Roddy defends fructose against charges it is emaciating.

Do you have heightened formation of fear memories? Randall Parker says you may be hypothyroid.

Bats are being decimated by a fungal infection: millions have died, and “mortality rates are staggering.” Bat physicians, however, insist the fatalities cannot be happening, because their patients do not have compromised immune systems.

We are Heroes, They are Villains”: a must-read tribute to his students from Seth Roberts. Also, Seth tells us that bees make more honey with kombucha. I wonder how much they would make if given other fermented beverages?

NPR invites a vegetarian to critique the Paleo diet, and Paleo dieters dominate the comment thread.

Australian researchers published an interesting study on the lasting hormonal changes that occur in obesity, even if weight is lost. Weight loss in the obese triggered an immediate 2/3 drop in leptin levels, and a full year after weight loss leptin levels were still depressed by 1/3.

Richard Nikoley … rods … cat o’ nine tails … and a temptress who should have been named “Eve.”

Paul Halliday enters the Mesolithic.

[4] Cute animal photo:

From Oak0y via Meredith Harbour Yetter.

[5] Ah, romance:

[6] The Waterfall of Gulfoss:

Alone at the Raging Waterfall of Gulfoss

[7] Is this a CrossFit exercise?:

[8] Shou-Ching’s Photo-Art:

[9] Weekly video: A new font for dyslexics:

Via Tom Smith.

Local Farming and The Fight for Quality Food

Unhealthy animals make for unhealthy food. Poor health is usually caused by missing nutrients, toxins, and infections. Naturally, food from an unhealthy animal has a higher chance of being malnourishing, toxic, or infectious.

Our industrial food production system relies on genetically disturbed animals raised in crowded conditions and fed unnatural diets.

Fortunately the movement to healthier food production has been gathering steam recently. In most cities, it’s possible to meet local farmers at farmers markets and obtain naturally raised meat and vegetables.

We’ve been meaning to learn more about local farms and their food production methods. On Saturday, we joined the Livin’ Paleo in Boston group on a visit to Green Meadows Farm in Hamilton, Massachusetts. Green Meadows Farm was founded by General George S. Patton and is still owned by one of his heirs. It is managed by Andrew and Diana Rodgers. We were delighted to meet Diana at the Ancestral Health Symposium, and have looked forward to visiting her farm. I thought I’d share some photos and information from our visit.


The Rodgers keep a pen of Cornish Rock chickens as an educational exhibit. Cornish Rocks supply the great majority of the chicken consumed in the United States; yet they are a genetically disturbed breed that develops arthritis by age 10 weeks and commonly dies young or fails to reproduce.

They are characterized by extraordinarily rapid growth and large breasts – so large that they have difficulty maintaining their balance and walk awkwardly. The breed doesn’t like to walk and if given food and water and if their poop is removed, they will happily live their whole lives in one spot.

The Rodgers force their Cornish Rock hens to walk by placing their feed a short distance from their coop:

Virtually all supermarket chicken meat is obtained from this breed, and even though their unaided growth is extremely rapid, producing a full-size chicken in 6 to 8 weeks, I have read that growth hormones are sometimes injected to accelerate growth further.

The Rodgers keep other, healthier breeds of chicken:

These are working animals. The farm is actually an organic vegetable farm, and the animals are used to clear and fertilize vegetable plots. They do sell their chickens in the fall, but apparently the healthier breeds of chicken produce a stringier meat that most Americans don’t care for.


Currently only 20 acres of the 230 acre farm are in cultivation. The rest has been occupied by forest, or is too wet to farm. The Rodgers are steadily trying to clear woodland to create new vegetable plots, but it is a slow process.

They begin by confining pigs to a wooded area using electrical fences. The pigs root around, clearing underbrush and weakening the root systems of the trees. After a season of pig exposure, the trees can be cut down more easily.

Here you can see some pigs:

The orange electrical fence is on the left.


After the trees have been cut down, it still takes at least a year – generally more – to naturally break down roots and prepare the field for plowing. Sheep and chickens are the animals that effectively turn a former woodland into a fertile, root-free vegetable field.

Here are some sheep in a plot that is currently occupied by clover, a legume that restores nitrogen to the soil:

Here is a sheepdog in training:

If you ever find yourself on Asbury Street in South Hamilton, Mass., here’s the farmstand to look for:

Livin’ Paleo in Boston Group

Here is a photo of our tour group:

Diana Rodgers is on the far right, Andrew Rodgers (fifth from the left) is visible only as a head. I’m in the red shirt and green shorts sixth from the right; Shou-Ching was the photographer. I won’t try to name everyone but the organizers of the tour, Shilpi and Amit Mehta, deserve special thanks; they are in the back row slightly left of center.

Joel Salatin, Michael Pollan, and Farmageddon

Joel Salatin is a hugely entertaining family farmer in Virginia who has deservedly become famous. Here’s a short video introducing him – this is from the documentary “Fresh”:

For a description of how Salatin’s Polyface farm operates, there may be no better source than Michael Pollan:

Unfortunately, the regulatory and legal climate is actively hostile to local farms. Here is the trailer to the documentary “Farmaggedon”:

Farmageddon – Movie Trailer from Kristin Canty on Vimeo.

A Canadian dairy farmer is currently on a hunger strike protesting laws restricting the sale of milk, and in a similar Wisconsin case Judge Patrick J. Fiedler recently ruled that “Plaintiffs do not have a fundamental right to produce and consume the foods of their choice.” So these are active issues.

Shou-Ching and I strongly support the liberation of food production and consumption from repressive regulations, and recommend checking out your local farms. In our experience, the food is better than that at Whole Foods, and often cheaper. I know we have a number of farmers among our readers; please, let us know if there is anything we can do to promote your businesses.

Around the Web; Green Meadows Farm Edition

We had a delightful tour today at Green Meadows Farm in Hamilton, Massachusetts; I’ll write more about it tomorrow. Thanks to Andrew and Diana Rodgers for showing us around.

Also on Sunday October 23, Paul will be on Cary Nosler’s Wide World of Health radio show at 4 pm Eastern / 1 pm Pacific. It’s possible to listen live on the Talk 650 KSTE web site.

[1] Perfect Ego-Gratifying Book Review: Over at Health Correlator, Ned Kock has reviewed our book. Ned is one of the smartest and most interesting bloggers in the Paleosphere, so we were delighted that he liked our book. In his first paragraph, he links “Perfect Health Diet” to “Facebook”, and later he speaks of Shou-Ching and me in the same breath with well-known scientists:

Their main PhD disciplines are somewhat similar to Einstein’s and Curie’s; which is an interesting coincidence. What the Jaminets have written about nutrition is probably analogous, in broad terms, to what Einstein and Curie would have written about nutrition if they were alive today.

If they were alive today, they’d be 132 and 144 years old respectively, and everyone would be intensely interested in their nutitional tips!  So we take that as high praise indeed.

Ned’s wasn’t the only pleasing review we got this week; Dr. Srdjan Andrei Ostric wrote a generous endorsement of our book. I was also pleased that one of Dr Ostric’s readers did NOT directly compare me to her emotionally abusive ex.

[2] Interesting posts this week:

Andrew Badenoch of Evolvify downgrades potatoes and rice to “sneaky untrustworthy bastards” and bok choy to “I’m not making out with you if you eat that.” This was in response to that interesting miRNA study I mentioned in a previous Around the Web. Richard Nikoley offered his thoughts.

One of Richard’s commenters hopes we’ll critique the study. It’s not an easy study to critique because it’s the first of its kind; everything about it is interesting, but very likely not all the results will be reproducible. Also, it’s premature to draw any conclusions about how it affects diet, since all plant and animal cells contain microRNA, and there’s nothing special about the miRNAs of rice or potato. If rice miRNAs can survive cooking and digestion and cross cellular membranes and affect gene expression, so will miRNAs from every other plant and animal food. That would imply that we evolved with a background level of dietary miRNAs in our cells. The implications for diet are hard to fathom, except that it probably strengthens the case for eating in an ancestral manner, since an ancestral diet would deliver a mix of miRNAs we evolved to handle.

Emily Deans summarized yesterday’s talks at TEDx Cambridge. A line that caught my eye:

Lustig seems to feel that fructose, MCTs, and BCAAs are damaging to the mitochondria and lead to insulin resistance (thus he is anti-corn fed beef, as corn-fed beef is higher in BCAAs than grassfed, apparently.)

I’m pro BCAAs. Is that a reason to favor corn-fed beef?

Two PaleoHackers, Kamal and Aravind, tried to reduce food reward and lost weight. Stephan Guyenet recounts their story.

J Stanton has another blockbuster exposition on food reward, which contains a challenge to Stephan’s recommendations for weight loss: eating food you like decreases quantity of food consumed more than eating bland food.

Lucas Tafur reports that some mouth bacteria can digest gluten, making wheat safer for their hosts.

Mike Gruber’s triglycerides went down after he added starches and supplements in line with Perfect Health Diet recommendations. Was it the starch, or the micronutrients?

Melissa McEwen compares overeating to porn addiction and discusses Paleomedicine.

Oetzi the Iceman had Lyme disease. Folks with Lyme infections are more likely to be diagnosed with psychiatric disease. Oetzi was discovered in a reclining posture. Coincidence?

Dr Steve Parker links to Vitruvius at The Sagacious Iconoclast, who explains how Paleolithic man might have made cheese: “transport milk in mammal stomach vessels containing natural rennet, in the heat, thousands of years ago, and voila: curds and whey.”

In the New York Times, a woman has survived a dangerous cancer by retreating to national parks. She’s not the only one; the combination of sunshine, exercise, and nature seems to have a strong anti-cancer effect.

Darrin Carlson wrote on The Five Failings of Paleo. You might have seen the piece reprinted at Free the Animal.

John Durant is manly, in a Jack Sparrow Dances with Wolves kind of way.

Jamie Scott says: Make your own antioxidants.

Mark Sisson says: For healthy mitochondria, eat fat.

Dr BG fostered a kitty, and reflects on human evolution.

Nourished Kitchen has tips for a healthier Halloween.

Let’s see, there was the Permian-Triassic Extinction, the Cretaceous-Tertiary Extinction – the 1883 Extinction?

[3] Cute animal photo:

Via Yves Smith.

[4] A mini-debate on protein and longevity:  In the comment thread to Ned Kock’s review of our book, Ned has an excellent counterargument about protein and longevity:

Here is another counterpoint to the notion that increased protein intake leads to decreased longevity. A BMI of 25 is generally associated with the lowest mortality:

Now, we know that as people age they generally tend to lose body mass (contrary to popular opinion), primarily due to loss of lean body mass, which seems to outpace body fat gain.

Increased protein consumption seems to counter that, and this appears to be related to both bone and muscle retention, contributing to a higher BMI.

So it is not unreasonable to conclude that the relatively high BMI of 25 is associated with retention of lean body mass with age, even as body fat gradually increases as well, leading to the perception that the fat are the ones living the longest.

Of course I am not talking about 600 g/d of protein. These seniors seem to have done quite well in terms of bone retention at around 85-90 g/d:

In another comment Ned mentions receiving from O Primitivo a link to a paper that looks fascinating.

[5] The End of Human Progress: Via Joshua Newman, an aphorism from Ben Franklin:

I have always thought that one man of tolerable abilities may work great changes, and accomplish great affairs among mankind, if he first forms a good plan, and, cutting off all amusements or other employments that would divert his attention, make the execution of that same plan his sole study and business.

A corollary from Paul Jaminet:

Humanity will stagnate until the Internet becomes boring.

[6] Autism Updates:

Weston A Price might have something to say about possible nutritional factors behind this finding: Autistic children have an altered facial structure, characterized by wider eyes, a broader upper face, wider mouth and philtrum, but shorter middle region of the face including cheeks and nose.

There seems to be a connection between maternal gestational diabetes and autism. A Rice University professor discusses the link:

[7] Not the Weekly Video: Why Paleolithic man didn’t bicycle:

[8] Shou-Ching’s Photo Art:

[9] Weekly video: Never trust an animal that wears a tuxedo!

Via Bix.