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Paleo Diet vs. Permaculture Diet

 
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Thekla: I avoid claiming a nexus to political entities. So yes, I grow in the Cache Valley that is located North-East of The Great Salt Lake. I grew fresh turmeric from tubers a few years ago in an open field. I harvested much less than went into the ground. I may try again, in pots, now that I have use of an unheated greenhouse. Yesterday I got most of the tomatoes out of the greenhouse and into the field. I'm expecting to plant sweet potatoes into the greenhouse. I need pollinated seeds to really do a selection program properly. Might have a better chance of that in the greenhouse.

Turmeric plant after the tops were killed by fall frosts.





 
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Cj Verde wrote:Burra's meal is a perfect example of paleo that the woman in the video would've mocked. Although someone from 15K years ago couldn't have eaten that EXACT meal, it would be recognizable. Green beans & olive oil would be foreign probably but they'd understand plant & fat. What's missing is bread, pasta, rice & dairy.

Well done.



I have to wonder if a lot of you watched the video all the way through. Paleo, if you were actually referring to the historical paleolithic time, was a lot more foraged veggies and fruits than it is meat. It seems to me, from observation of posts online, that paleo in the mainstream is all about the meat. She didn't say they didn't eat meat, just that they didn't eat as much and that it wasn't as fatty. I would assume a lot of permies could get behind the idea of heavily plant based diets. It seems like a lot of experts suggest whole foods as the best possible way to eat and plants are easier to raise than cows.
 
pollinator
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Paleo is mostly a fad, but then people are of course free to pursuit whatever they wish. Actually a paleo diet is very specific to the place in the world that we talk about. One thing is being a paleo in Europe or Canada, another is being paleo in the Amazon jungle or the deserts of Africa.

I wonder how many of you have been visiting tribal people, that live in barely uncontacted spots like the middle of the Amazon?

I was lucky enough to have visited one of those tribes and I can tell you how they lived and what they ate (I say lucky because they are hidden and they do not allow visitors, somehow they liked me and invited me to visit them).

The Amazon tribe I visited were/are mostly foragers, they go into the jungle and eat a variety of plants (berries, nuts, fruits, bark and yes, starchy tubers).
They also go and hunt insects and fish but less frequently than the plants. They also hunt for meat but rarely because it is more work and the jungle is already full of readily available food.

They also make preparations and mixes with plant food, and stored food like fruits and insects (before I thought "primitive" people did not store food).
They used fire (they offered my roasted ants, just ants, spiced with some peppery hot spice), a proof of their cooking and they took me to the jungle where I tried a fantastic number of plants (including weird sweet tasting latex drinks from trees). They offered me a cure for malaria, to carry with me in my trip, but said this was a secret to be kept away from westerners (due to their fear of exploration). As a biologist I was absolutely amazed with their plant knowledge and usage. The Amazon is indeed a forest garden.

In the middle of their settlement, a clearance in the forest, there were houses made of branches (yes, forget the idea of nomadic hunter-gatherers not having a home, apparently nomadic tribes still have homes)
I never saw any signs of planted crops (so no farming fpor this tribe, whilst the other native less-tribal people living in the promixity of this hidden tribe used agriculture (the stuff like jackfruit, manhioc, palms, etc), and had more developed houses, clothes, etc)

More surprising was their "pharmacy" (yes they had one). They had a natural pharmacy, with not only thousands of herb preparations but parts of animals there too! It looked very exotic. Finally (offtopic), I was also interested and asked them other questions. Here were some of my findings: they have no concept of spirituality or religion at all, not even shamanic practices (but they took ocasionally psychedelic plants); they practiced killing of new borns with defects (to my astonished look), they were somewhat skinny people but incredibly strong (I saw one of them jumping straight into a muddy river full of dead trunks of trees and catching an adult crocodile with his bare hands!). Absolutely unbelievable.

Besides this experience, I visited in India other semi-tribal people, but these already with some civilization contact (way less primitive than the ones I found in Brazil), they were omnivores (but mostly plant/fruit/nut foragers, with ocasional animal hunting (not anything you know, but rather jungle animals / fish was rarer because this was a inland spot, solely from rivers), again skinny and very strong people. In the region (which was Kerala in India), I also visit the non-tribal native people that grow their "forest gardens" with really high number of species (urely doesn't look like agriculture but instead the wild forest garden we all dream of). They were mostly vegetarian. Never saw any raised animal, instead just ate plenty fruits, starches and fats from coconut and other palms, nuts, and they also foraged fish.

Finally I lived in Iceland, a country where farmers were nearly 100% meat/fish eaters (a mix of sheep farming and fishermen), with their origins in the vikings. Barely cultivating plants, but as vikings were farmers, they cultivated barley ocasionally (and also ate a perennial grain that grows along the Icelandic shores). As a permies, I was a crazy one trying to grow plants just at the edge of a difficult to impossible climate. But nowadays agriculture is in great expansion there now. The inuit in Greenland however had a different diet; they weren't farmers, so barely no meat, except ocasional seal, and plenty fish (even less plant food than the Icelanders). Also sea birds and their eggs. And seaweed and some shore plants. Although nomadic hunting for people, they also had "homes", otherwise they would die with the cold.

My point is: climate matters. Paleo can be very different, region to region.
Second point is: much of the romantic paleo image is wrong. For a starter, paleos always have a home. They roam around hunting for plants, fish and other animals. Depends in the climate.
Difference is, they don't practice agriculture or animal farming. They just use/eat whatever is around.

So far, from the experienced in the Arctic, India and Amazon, I haven't met tribal people foraging or cows or sheep or eating beef (sorry paleos). Just fish+seals+birds+seaweed, plants+ocasional animals, or plants+fish+insects, ways I never see in the western world nor in so-called paleo diets.
 
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Joseph, I did not even know turmeric flowered and made seed. It sounds like a great project, to get cold(er) tolerant turmeric, but a tough one if there is almost never viable seed.

I'm doing a similar thing with pomegranates, and some people here on permies.com supplied me with seed from cold growing conditions.

Good luck on your turmeric. If you get it, I'll be wanting to get some from you.

Thekla
 
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I've been learning a lot about diets that would be considered "alternative" or "fads" recently and whenever I find another I find people that have been using them and living on them long term.

When a human consumes few enough carbohydrates the body shifts into nutritional ketosis. It leaves the glycogen stores in the muscles for snap movements and runs the ATP cycle using dietary fats and stored fats from adipose tissue. Dietary protein is able to replenish glycogen stored through the liver.

Joseph Lofthouse is probably a great testament to both the water your body holds when it is running mostly on carbohydrates and the ease in which fat stores can be reduced while in a keto mode. Most people get this effect by eating about one gram of protein for each pound of body weight each day and getting the rest of their calories from fats. The generally accepted upper limit for a "low-carb" diet is 100 grams of carbs. I think he mentioned intermittent fasting, which as I understand it is extending the ketogenisis we slip into overnight through the morning.

There are even people who eat only from the animal kingdom. "Zero Carb" diets use fatty cuts and organ meats from organic animals to stay healthy. It is impressive how many different ways we can choose to sustain ourselves.

It is important to not transition out of ketosis accidentally because it will hurt just as much as the few days it takes to transition in if you go in deep. That is why this next development is important.

Something I ran across recently is the concept that eating carbohydrates after an afternoon strength training session does not lead to fat storage. As the day goes on, chemical processes change effectiveness in our bodies. Once someone looked at the biological mechanisms, this became clear and surfaced as legitimate in past examples. One such example is hilarious to me: Leading up to some big strongman events in the 70's, Arnold Schwarzenegger and a friend went to eat massive amounts of pie (pizza?) after workouts. Their competitors thought it would make them bloated and ruin their chances at winning. It did not, and they both performed very well. Can you imagine the faces of big men who had been carefully constructing their diets to win being beat by two guys who had been indiscriminately stuffing themselves with carbs at night?

I think eating fruit and starch during an active day would be very similar, in effect. Some people have hypothosized that this method works because our ancestors would only get a chance to eat fruits and starches at night but that doesn't make sense to me. Does climbing a tree and collecting a bunch of fruit count as strenuous exercise? Maybe. Add some sprinting and it would. But our ancestors probably did little bits of that all day, anyway. A base of dietary fats with strategically eaten carbs makes sense for an active day.

Learning about how the body works is very important to living in a permaculture way. There are many mechanisms we still need to identify. Just as we identify what a chicken needs, how it behaves, and what it returns, we should make an effort to understand our own selves. With that knowledge, almost any diet can be made to work well for a human.
 
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I realize this may be an overly simplistic view, but I just find it difficult to believe that there is one single diet that works well for everyone.

I ate paleo for a while and I loved it. And, from there, I branched off and started doing some real food experimentation to see how my particular body responds to certain foods. Right now, I eat probably 80% primal - paleo plus some legumes and raw dairy, and of course I have no problem with cheating on sugar and pizza sometimes.

There are a lot of flaws with the idea of trying to eat (in a literal sense) the way that paleolithic people did. Most of the foods they ate aren't even available, not to mention our lifestyle doesn't really permit the nomadic hunter/gatherer thing. I don't even get why people would want to put such rigid rules on it... which is a big part of how and why I left the "paleo" community. It becomes almost like a religion, much like veganism. Seriously - why is it that big a deal? Everyone's body is different - mine likes raw dairy so I include it, but some people can't even handle it raw so it makes sense for them to not eat it.

I do believe that a permaculture-ish application of it is best. So for me? I test out different foods and see how my body reacts. I know I do best with lots of red meat, lots of animal fat, and low on the starches and sugars. However, my digestion does better if I eat homemade sourdough (wheat) bread a few times a week.

My goal for my diet is very similar to my goal for my entire lifestyle in general - I want to be able to sustain myself with what I can create or grow. Now, barring the obvious coffee/chocolate/vanilla/etc type things, the way I see it is that I'm going to be about as close to perfect as possible if I'm eating foods that I raise myself using permaculture practices, and combine that with what I know about how my body operates and what foods it likes. I'll never be growing big fields of grain, but I'll probably grow some, because I enjoy eating a little of it.

I think feeding yourself via permaculture principles is about as paleo as it's going to get - even if you are growing and eating some "nonpaleo" foods (assuming your body does OK with them, of course). The biggest thing I personally got out of paleo from the beginning is to understand that the food pyramid and governmental dietary guidelines are intended to keep a sick population, and are not in fact a very healthy way to live. With that indoctrination out of the way, I was able to then start figuring out what MY body likes, and I'll use my own personal Bethany dietary guidelines to decide what I grow here and that's about it.
 
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Paulo Bessa wrote:Paleo is mostly a fad


True, "Paleo, the 2 million+ year fad." When it comes to fads, I'll take the only examples we have of true permanent culture over the fad of agriculture, states, sky god cults, and hyper-domesticated veg*n diets any day. Bummer that armies started for, and fueled by, the farming fad have been actively exterminating participants in the paleo fad since a few humans put seeds in the ground and mistook themselves for gods.

Paulo Bessa wrote:Actually a paleo diet is very specific to the place in the world that we talk about.


This is well known and endlessly discussed among paleo circles.

Paulo Bessa wrote:One thing is being a paleo in Europe or Canada, another is being paleo in the Amazon jungle or the deserts of Africa.


That has an air of truthiness to it. Let's keep in mind though, at the fundamental level, paleo frameworks are about heuristics informed by evolutionary biology. All humans don't share common ancestors from anywhere but Africa (so far as we know), and anywhen but the paleolithic. This is why it's important to keep the "paleo" in focus. We can certainly learn things about human health from extant populations, but we cannot use said populations as direct representations of our common ancestry. This is the mistake Amazon Anthropology Celebrity #1, Napoleon Chagnon and his adherents, continue to make. R. Brian Ferguson (Rugters) and James C. Scott (Yale) both have plenty to say about the problems with this attempted move from the perspective of anthropology.

I think the anecdotes about your experience are beautiful, and no doubt imbued you with a depth of experience others are not privy to. Based on the recounting, it seems safe to say that the eyes of a trained biologist see very differently from those of a trained anthropologist. Time and again we have seen even the well-trained miss things, misinterpret things, or be lead astray by their own biases, or even the people they're studying (hunter-gatherers are notorious pranksters) even after spending decades with people. R. Brian Ferguson's work concerning Amazonian peoples highlights many of these mistakes. Because of the relatively early time of contact in the region, there is almost always colonial influence dating back decades to centuries, that isn't apparent on first glance, and especially with the present bias inherent with firsthand accounts.

Paulo Bessa wrote:My point is: climate matters. Paleo can be very different, region to region.


For comparisons of modern populations, yes. For evolutionary hypothesis of our common ancestors, not so much.

Paulo Bessa wrote:Second point is: much of the romantic paleo image is wrong. For a starter, paleos always have a home.


Whose romantic image? Perhaps I've missed the romance in this thread thus far. This is a common strawman, and would seem to require a lot of assumptions about your fellow conversants.

Paulo Bessa wrote:
The inuit in Greenland however had a different diet; they weren't farmers, so barely no meat, except ocasional seal, and plenty fish (even less plant food than the Icelanders). Also sea birds and their eggs. And seaweed and some shore plants. Although nomadic hunting for people, they also had "homes", otherwise they would die with the cold.


It would be truly remarkable for the Inuit to have developed such amazing sea hunting technology--highly refined kayaks, harpoons, clothing, etc., and a culture surrounding the training of of remarkable paddling feats, and eat barely any meat. Just as with the Amazon, I suspect such reports are because many Inuit cultures have been significantly altered by what one Greenland Inuit community refers to as "gas and sugar culture". There's a good documentary highlighting the impacts of colonization and adoption of imported food and fuel on various Inuit communities, "Vanishing Point".

Paulo Bessa wrote:Difference is, they don't practice agriculture or animal farming. They just use/eat whatever is around.

So far, from the experienced in the Arctic, India and Amazon, I haven't met tribal people foraging or cows or sheep or eating beef (sorry paleos). Just fish+seals+birds+seaweed, plants+ocasional animals, or plants+fish+insects, ways I never see in the western world nor in so-called paleo diets.


I like that you went through all of this to agree with my original post.
 
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August Hurtel wrote:One of the interesting, more recent things I have been pondering is whether or not some of the issues we think we are having with certain foods are actually coming from emulsifiers and other things put in.

Hey August, I've heard that along with additives, the process of pasteurizing and homogenizing also cause digestive issues like lactose intolerance. It sure don't come out the cow that way, and nobody in my mom's generation was lactose intolerant. Hmm... Funny, all the weird (read;profitably medicated) "conditions" people have today - crohn's, celiac, allergies to various foods, restless leg syndrome, and the list goes on.


"So, for the first time, I am actually thinking there may be value in having a dairy cow around. I don't have much luck with milk itself- I suspect it is casein, but I could always convert it to feed for other animals.



If you want less milk, you might look into dairy goats instead. I raised goats as a kid/teen and we got way more milk than we could use, so we sold it to friends and health food coops, before that was outlawed at Big Dairy's behest. They're a lot smaller and cheaper to buy, eat less, and can remove brush and convert it to high quality manure and milk. And gosh durn it, they're just fun critters to have around. Our main goat was a Nubian/Alpine mix that gave about 1 to 1.5 Gal per day. She wasn't a pedigree goat, so when she had kids, we could sell the does, but the bucks were not in demand for breeding, so they graced our table at about a year old. Goat meat is also in rising demand primarily due to the number of Middle Eastern folks in the states for whom it's a traditional staple, and the ripple effect on everyone else. You could also rent them out for brush/blackberry removal. So it could be a decent revenue stream for you if you wanted to do that.

Cheers, Joe
 
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August Hurtel
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Kuipers delivers what I consider to be the best guess. I honestly don't think Christina bothered to do her homework, and was, in a lot of ways, worse than wrong, in the sense that she brought nothing new to the table. Meanwhile somebody like Ray Peat is spectacularly wrong, but somehow I feel he's taught me stuff.

That TED video came out after I had lost quite a lot of weight and had moved on to the question of, "I get this, how come I can't get other to get it and apply it?" I started noticing if you google paleo you tend to get crap. The important stuff behind the diet is a framework for making decisions about your environment, which happens to include food.

In some cases I have seen permaculture become emasculated and caricatured. It almost doesn't matter whether the person is pro or con; it matter whether or not they are system thinkers and can get the underlying framework, or are they only enamored with or against some recently popularized technique.

I really don't know how to help people- I often just daydream about being able to just cook for them, because I think I know the general parameters and enough to handle differences between individuals.

 
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My worry is that paleo is going to lose popularity due to the many strawmen that exist because of the insistance of some to exactly copy the paleolithic diet. So then you get the argument that paleo excludes legumes and dairy because paleolithic man didn't eat them. And you should only eat food from your local region because paleolithic man didn't travel all over the world to collect fruits and vegetables.

This might be the perfect jumping off point for the permaculture diet. Once again I think of what Jack Spirko says about his "mostly paleo most of the time diet", and it seems to define a permaculture diet. He mentioned in one podcast about paleo, something along the lines of if you can eat it raw, then you can eat it as part of your diet.

Meat can be eaten raw, so therefore you can eat it raw, cured, cooked, however you want.

Grains cannot be eaten raw, so they are not eaten cooked either.

Now we can include legumes and dairy - both very nutritions and healthy - as part of a permaculture diet as they can be eaten raw, even though they aren't part of a paleo diet.

How does that sound as a rough framework for defining a distinct permaculture diet?
 
August Hurtel
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I've seen suggestions that the lectins in most legumes are rather effectively destroyed by cooking.
I would exclude soy because of the phytoestrogens.
I presume there wouldn't be much aflatoxin in permaculturally grown peanuts, but then again, I'd like to actually test that to make sure.
I'd plant a variety, largely for the nitrogen, and be quite ready to feed it to animals if I felt any untoward effects eating it myself.
 
Joseph Lofthouse
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As best as I can interpret the archaeology record, humans were using fire to cook with for approximately a million years before the advent of agriculture.
 
August Hurtel
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This is true Joseph, but Jack's take on the paleo diet is in no way challenging cooking. He was trying to simplify, and he noticed that most of the neolithic foods that we have trouble with either can't be eaten raw or are at least unpleasant raw.

Most paleolithic foods can be eaten raw. It was actually an interesting take, and I think it worked pretty well at conveying the general idea. I am not sure which episode it was in, or I would link to it so you could hear for yourself.
 
Andrew Scott
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Jason Silberschneider wrote:My worry is that paleo is going to lose popularity due to the many strawmen that exist because of the insistance of some to exactly copy the paleolithic diet. So then you get the argument that paleo excludes legumes and dairy because paleolithic man didn't eat them. And you should only eat food from your local region because paleolithic man didn't travel all over the world to collect fruits and vegetables.

This might be the perfect jumping off point for the permaculture diet. Once again I think of what Jack Spirko says about his "mostly paleo most of the time diet", and it seems to define a permaculture diet. He mentioned in one podcast about paleo, something along the lines of if you can eat it raw, then you can eat it as part of your diet.

Meat can be eaten raw, so therefore you can eat it raw, cured, cooked, however you want.

Grains cannot be eaten raw, so they are not eaten cooked either.


I do like the raw heuristic. It does have some problems, as August pointed out, but it does provide some useful insight.

Here's the questions it raises in my mind:
  • Was the human value of cooking that it increased metabolic efficiency? I think there's good evidence from that written into our anatomy.
  • Was the human value of cooking that it killed pathogens on partially spoiled meat (bacteria, etc.)? I think there's good evidence from this in the archaeological record pertaining to hominin scavenging pratices around 2 MYA.
  • Was the human value of cooking that it destroyed toxic plant compounds? This is fuzzier. I would suggest that this may have been a nice side-effect, but that it was not the main thrust of cooking's advantages.



  • Jason Silberschneider wrote:Now we can include legumes and dairy - both very nutritions and healthy - as part of a permaculture diet as they can be eaten raw, even though they aren't part of a paleo diet.


    I think we have to be really careful here. Only something like 1/3 of the global population has genetic mutations conferring lactase persistence. That means that a significant majority of adult humans on the planet do not simply get nutritious and healthy benefits from dairy, but also a lot of negatives.

    Jason Silberschneider wrote:How does that sound as a rough framework for defining a distinct permaculture diet?


    I think this is getting very close. I question dairy, and think recommending legumes across the board is borderline.

     
    Andrew Scott
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    August Hurtel wrote:I've seen suggestions that the lectins in most legumes are rather effectively destroyed by cooking.
    I would exclude soy because of the phytoestrogens.


    There are all sorts of studies showing some lectins being destroyed by cooking. Time and again, there are also studies that show we don't even know the right questions to ask. For example: Rice, Potatoes, Wheat, and Other Plants Interfere with Human Gene Expression

    "These findings demonstrate that exogenous plant miRNAs in food can regulate the expression of target genes in mammals."



    “the tested plant miRNAs were clearly present in sera from humans, mice, and calves… when compared to the endogenous mammalian miRNAs known to be stably present in animal serum, these plant miRNAs were relatively lower, but in a similar concentration range.”



    And here's the rub with reference to the last few comments:

    “Interestingly, plant miRNAs were stable in cooked foods.”



    So cooking destroys some things, but it still leaves lingering compounds. The cited papers show micro RNA from plants impacting mammals, including humans, at the level of gene expression. Maybe that's significant, and maybe it's not, but it does indicate that this is all much more complicated than our current understanding illuminates.

     
    August Hurtel
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    I've seen a talk on this, but if I remember correctly, the rice miRNA effected cholesterol levels, and I did not find it as compelling as, say the blood glucose/insulin response and the damage that causes if it is dis-regulated. Sure, I'd be happier eating sweet potatoes, but I am single, work full time, and find myself going to the store nearly every day. Then I go home and cook.
    Clearly, our ancestors were on to something with that family thing. It almost seems like homemaking is a real, full time sort of job.

    So, yeah, I'll risk the miRNAs to a certain extent while I am impoverished. If my ship comes in, I'll root them out.
     
    Joseph Lofthouse
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    A couple days ago I snapped a selfie with some winter rye that I originally collected growing feral in the surrounding badlands. This grew as a weed in the back yard, but it sure out-competed the other weeds!!! In the badlands it only grows about 4 feet tall.



     
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    This is a very interesting discussion to me. For me, paleo diet and permaculture go together perfectly. What I want to eat on the paleo diet - vegetables with some tubers and meat - is what I can grow or harvest right here, if I put a little effort into it. Grains do not grow well here, only sorghum and oats are grown seasonally in this region, no corn or wheat. Herbivores thrive here, especially the delicious exotic Axis deer. In our "back yard"



    After letting myself blob out on a carb-heavy diet, I have returned to a mostly-paleo diet which I hope will help with some health problems as well as help me maintain a more appropriate weight and shape. I'm looking forward to the Fall when our hunter will return and with luck, bag some yummy herbivores.

    The paleo diet I'm following is the one described here: http://www.marksdailyapple.com/the-primal-blueprint-21-day-challenge-infographic/#axzz3k277jgpX
     
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    My wife and I have been mostly paleo for maybe four years now. I just stumbled across permaculture this year, and think that it is extremely compatible.

    To address some of the things that stuck out from a number of posts above:

    1. While most paleo enthusiasts are definitely more on the carnivore end of the spectrum, that doesn't mean that paleo requires eating a lot of meat. Eating meat (and eggs!) does make it much easier.

    2. If rye is wild and out-competes other plants, isn't it then perennial and not annual? I would still think that it would fall outside paleo diets as I would define them, but still better than wheat.

    3. Paleo is more about eliminating certain foods than saying any one diet is "right".

    4. I personally consider bread to be the original "processed food". Pasta is also a processed food. If you are a permaculturist and expand your definition of processed foods to include these (and therefore eliminate them), how far away from a paleo diet would you be?

    PS My wife had been diagnosed with diabetes, which is why we tried paleo. She is completely off of any medication and her most recent A1c was 4.9.
     
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    If you want to start protein diets and if you are not sure you can take a look that alternatives: Ketogenic diet, paleo diet, low carb diet, atkins diet... But before you start you should know all these diet types and then you can start your diet..
     
    Now I am super curious what sports would be like if we allowed drugs and tiny ads.
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