Forky Friday by Michelle Tam

Ready for another Forky Friday? There’s lots happening on the Interwebs this week, including some knock-down, drag-out fighting in the world of real food…and some tasty recipes! I get slightly rant-y today, so if you’re just looking for something to eat, skip to the bottom, y’all.

Now if I could only wrest control of my computer away from my Minecraft-obsessed kiddos…

Forky Friday: 7/26/13 by Michelle Tam

Can’t We All Just Get Along (and Eat Some Bacon)?

When a bunch of us Paleo-blogging folks shared a house together at the inaugural PaleoFX, I learned a ton from Diane, Diana, Liz, and Laura about The Weston A. Price Foundation. They explained the overlap between Paleo and WAPF principles: both approaches stress the importance of nutrient density and food quality. I liked what I saw, and after joining WAPF, I attended last year’s Wise Traditions conference because I was excited to hear from the impressive roster of speakers and sample the traditionally prepared food. 

Forky Friday: 7/26/13 by Michelle Tam

Yes, there are differences between the WAPF and Paleo approaches. WAPF allows for grains and legumes, provided the proper steps are taken (e.g., soaking, sprouting, cooking, fermenting, etc.). Strict Paleo eaters avoid the stuff. (My personal stance: while it’s possible to make certain foods less harmful by taking the time to prepare them the right way, there are many more nutrient-rich and far less time-consuming options available to me—I’m talking vegetables, meat, healthy fats, and fruit—so I tend to gravitate more towards a Paleo template.)

Also, unlike the strictest interpretations of Paleo, WAPF is fine with full-fat, raw dairy and starchy tubers like white potatoes. (As longtime readers know, I am, too.)

Before going to the Wise Traditions conference, I was nervous that I’d be shunned because my diet doesn’t include grains and legumes. But my fears were unwarranted;  every single person I met was warm and welcoming. Plus, I came away with some terrific information about the benefits of fermentation, organ meats, ethical meat harvesting, and general good food knowledge.

I’m pretty sure my fellow Paleo bloggers in attendance felt the way I did: there’s a ton to be learned from WAPF. And when it comes to food, we’re all on Team Real Food, right?

Forky Friday: 7/26/13 by Michelle Tam

That’s why I was incredibly disappointed to read Sally Fallon’s President’s Message in the latest WAPF Quarterly Journal in which she pointedly and divisively argues that WAPF diet is nothing like the Paleo dietWha–?

Sally focuses her attack on the straw man of Loren Cordain’s original articulation of THE PALEO DIET®—a particular version of Paleo that doesn’t match the real food approach that many (most?) of us have implemented for ourselves and our families.

Forky Friday: 7/26/13 by Michelle Tam

I suspect that Sally knows that Loren Cordain’s formulation of the Paleo diet (which originally emphasized lean meats, no saturated fat, no salt, no vinegar, no white potatoes, etc.) isn’t what most of us mean when we say “Paleo” these days. But hey—what’s a straw man argument without a man made of straw?

Luckily many of my blogger buddies have already crafted strong rebuttals. Check out this one from Sarah Ballantyne and this one from Diane and Liz on the Balanced Bites podcast. I’m hopeful that Sally’s divisive message won’t resonate with real food enthusiasts; I find it heartening that this open letter was just posted on the WAPF Facebook page.

Perhaps Sally just hasn’t bothered to listen to those who have explained to her what Paleo’s all about, and if she truly “got it,” she’d be less inclined to erroneously paint us all with such a broad brush. (But maybe I’m just naive, and there’s something else going on here. Who knows?)

For the record, here’s my position:

Believe it or not, most of us in the Paleo community are not trying to precisely replicate cavemen diets.

Forky Friday: 7/26/13 by Michelle Tam

Sure—a few Paleo die-hards may approach their diets by trying to hew to the foods eaten by prehistoric man, but there isn’t just one definitive, monolithic, one-size-fits-all “Paleo diet.”

Some Paleo eaters choose to go super-low-carb, while others of us are happy to munch on “safe starches” like white potatoes or rice. There are Paleo eaters who can’t imagine life without some high quality dairy, and more orthodox folks who refuse to touch even a pat of butter. The Paleo tent is big enough to fit a host of different approaches, but the core tenets of ancestral eating remain the same:

  • Prioritize whole, unprocessed, nutrient-rich, nourishing foods. Eat vegetables, grass-fed and pastured meats and eggs, wild-caught seafood, and some fruit, nuts, and seeds. And healthy fats!
  • Avoid foods that are likely to be more harmful than healthful. Especially when regularly consumed, certain foods can trigger inflammation, cause digestive problems, or derail our natural metabolic processes.

Yes, I know that not everyone agrees with this “big tent” approach. Some would say that I should stop using the word “Paleo” to describe the way I eat because there is Only One Inflexible Infallible Paleo Diet And It Says Dairy Is The Devil. If that dietary regimen works for you, great! I’m happy for you. But let’s face it: I’m doing something a little different over here. I cook with ghee and salt and vinegar, and I enjoy healthy saturated fats. I like a bit of raw heavy cream in my coffee, too. I call it “Paleo” because it’s a darn good shorthand for the way I generally eat. But if you want to shove me out of the Real Food tent because I don’t conform precisely to either Sally Fallon’s or Loren Cordain’s rules, so be it. As my kids would say, that’s a Y.P., not a M.P. (Your Problem, not My Problem.)

Thinking in absolutes tends to close us off from other valuable perspectives. Taking your ball and going home tends to mean sitting by yourself in your room while everyone else is outside having fun.

Sally’s message is clear: WAPF is tasty and healthy, and Paleo is not. But her definition of Paleo is way off-base. The Paleo template simply gives us a starting point from which to decide how to feed ourselves in the modern world. I make my own choices by considering the health risks and consequences of the foods I eat—and I also weigh the gustatory experience, too. After all, if eating real food turns into a less-than-delicious experience, this lifestyle change isn’t likely to last.

Forky Friday: 7/26/13 by Michelle Tam

That’s why it’s so puzzling to me when Sally says her biggest issue with Paleo is that we are “denying [our kids] delicious foods,” and that Paleo eating is devoid of flavor. I think she’s wrong. I do my best to make sure my children aren’t deprived of food that’s both nourishing and delectable. As a mom, that’s very important to me.

So let’s close with this idea: what do you say we just try to be as inclusive as possible? If you’re into good, healthy, delicious food, you’re welcome in my tent. Just don’t track mud inside, thankyouverymuch.

Rant over. Now can we stop bayoneting scarecrows and find some common ground, like making fun of unreal food.

The Evil Egg White Sammie

No matter what our differences, I think Sally and I can agree that a “healthy” egg white sandwich from a fast food joint is a downright scary proposition. Real food for everyone, that’s what I say!

Enough with the fake food. Let’s get to the fun stuff…

Everyone Loves Watermelon, Right?

I gotta admit that I’ve always been lukewarm towards watermelon (Henry and Big-O are the true watermelon lovers in the house), but I know many of you would vehemently disagree with me. My own son can’t believe that I’d pass up his favorite fruit for a piece of dark chocolate. If you’re a watermelon lover like him, Mark Bittman shows you 16 ways you can eat watermelon all day.

And I have to confess that I love Watermelon Gazpacho.

Forky Friday: 7/26/13 by Michelle Tam

Need one more? The Kitchn’s got a Paleo-friendly recipe for Watermelon Popsicles.

Dishwasher Cooking

I know cooking food in your dishwasher sounds kind of cray-cray, but I’m willing to try it if it means I end up with perfectly blanched vegetables, poached salmon, and no dirty dishes. Plus, it won’t heat up your house. I count four wins here.

Crazy Asian Dishes—I Mean, Unexpected Cultural Delicacies

When I was a kid I had to eat whatever my mom placed in front of me—which means I’ve eaten my fair share of strange animal parts. Buzzfeed recently compiled a listicle of 23 Unexpected Cultural Delicacies From Asia, and I’m proud to report that I’ve eaten over a quarter of the items on the list. I might even bump up that number when we head off to Asia this winter.

Food, Glorious Food

There are a bazillion tempting recipes I’ve spied on the Internet this week, but these are my faves:

Over and out!

About Michelle Tam

Hello! My name is Michelle Tam, and I love to eat. I think about food all the time. It borders on obsession. I’ve always loved the sights and smells of the kitchen. My mother was (and is) an excellent cook, and as a kid, I was her little shadow as she prepared supper each night. From her, I gained a deep, abiding love for magically transforming pantry items into mouth-watering family meals.

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