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Topics - Trojan_Llama

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Miscellaneous / Fergus the Forager
« on: May 15, 2008, 11:03:05 AM »
You think that we are 'Paleo' by eating all sorts of cultivated and farmed foods?  Here is a man who takes it more seriously - meet Fergus the Forager!  Fergus is an expert British forager who is presently trying to live entirely from foraged wild foods for one year.  However - be prepared to be surprised by his blog - using ingredients such as badger fat, squirrels, snails, and a whole range of fungi, it might shock some sensitive people.

Seriously though - the bloke is a genius.  British eccentric maybe, but to the student of the Mesolithic - an inspiration!  For example, who could have imagined that a hunter-gatherer could collect 777 snails in 40 minutes, to produce 2.2 kg of cooked snail meat?

I'm going to be a regular visitor to his blog!

Miscellaneous / Britain's Last Hunter-Gatherers - the Mesolithic.
« on: May 07, 2008, 08:38:09 AM »
The Neolithic (aka Agricultural) Revolution may have started in the Middle East 10,000 years ago, but it wasn't for another 6,000 years that the tribes of Britain were to accept the new way of life.  Agriculture slowly transmitted across Euro-Asia, but when it reached the forests of north-western Europe, it appears to have halted for a while - the last hunter-gatherers of Britain and North-West France held on to the old ways, until finally accepting domestic livestock, grain, and pottery around 4,000 BC.  These were Britain's last hunter-gatherers - the people of the British Mesolithic.

The Mesolithic (Middle Stone age) officially starts with the retreat of the glaciers in 11,000 BC.  Britain was still joined to the European Continent.  Bands of hunter-gatherers followed the herds of ungulates as they crossed the North Sea Plain northwards.  They were certainly not the first humans to reach Britain.  Modern humans had hunted wild horse and other animals in Britain on a number of warm periods during the last Glacial.  Earlier humans had previously lived here - Homo Neanderthalensis left their tools at various sites (including at a site a few miles from my home), and before that Homo Heidelbergensis frequented Britain at least 500,000 years ago, but most probably earlier.

As the glaciers retreated and the climate changed, birch spread across the old tundra, followed by pine and other tree species.  The growth of forest presented new challenges to hunter-gatherers.  Animals that herded together on the plains were hunted by Cro-Magnon people, but now the animals had cover, and abandoned much of their herd behaviour.

The most famous excavation of an Early Mesolithic site was Star Carr in Yorkshire.  The site has been dated to the beginning of the Mesolithic around 10,000 years ago.  It was a site that was used by humans for maybe three hundred years, and was based on a birch brushwood platform that had been erected along the edge of a lake.  Large numbers of red deer bones and antlers were recovered, along with flint scrapers and burins (for working antler into barbed spear heads).  The original excavator concluded that it was the camp of a band of red deer hunters.  One famous find was of the top half of a stag skull, complete with antlers.  It had been worked in such a way as to suggest that it might have formed part of a head dress, perhaps for ritual use.

Other important finds included part of a wooden oar, suggesting that they were using canoes or coracles on the lake, and the remains of Britain's earliest dog!  Bones included those from red deer, roe deer, elk, wild oxen (aurochs), beaver, and birds (including waterfowl).  No evidence of plant foods or fish were found, but later revisions suggest that plants may have been an important food source, and that fish may have been processed elsewhere.  There was also evidence of deliberate and repeated burning of reed swamp in front of the platform - the earliest example of land management in Britain.  The burning may have been done simply to improve access to the lake, or to attract grazing animals.

Around 8,500 years ago, the English Channel and North Sea flooded, and Britain became the island that it still is today.  The climate continued to change, and more species of trees spread across Britain including hazel, oak, and elm.  Britain was now an island covered by a wild wood.  The type of flint artifacts found from this time became more specialised, and different from those used on the Continent.  These flint assemblages are characterised by the 'microlith'.  Microliths were made from tiny flint bladelets, carefully knapped from a prepared core, and then skillfully snapped and worked to make what were probably tiny sharp spikes that tipped and barbed arrow shafts.

A Microlith that I recorded

Flint Bladelet

There is much evidence at this time that the Mesolithic hunter-gatherers were now employing land-management systems, in particular, setting fire to large expanses of forest.  The advantages to this land clearance may have included an increase yield of hazel nuts, the number of grazing animals, and the easier hunting of herd animals.

Sites from the Mesolithic suggest different exploitations of different environments from around Britain.  While some groups undoubtedly hunted deer and elk, other sites have been strongly associated with the collection of shellfish and with sea fish.

Another flint artifact associated with this period is the tranchet axe - the first axehead thought to have been mounted to a handle, it predates the classic polished flint/stone axehead that so symbolises the Neolithic.  Unlike the Neolithic axe head,the tranchet axe head was sharpened with a characteristic blow from the side, rather than by polishing.

A tranchet axe, recovered during my surveys

Then around 4,100 BC, agriculture arrived on the shores of Britain (dating actually suggests an earlier date for Ireland).  Polished axeheads, leaf-shaped arrowheads, pottery, grains and the bones of domestic stock rapidly spread across Britain.

However, this was not the end of hunting-gathering.  Evidence increasingly suggests a long transitional period were the hunting and gathering of wild species continued to supplement and play an important part in the Early Neolithic economy.

Progress Reports & Photos / Dog Fit
« on: May 01, 2008, 02:27:47 PM »
Thursdays are weigh in days.

70.1 kg.

Loss this week:  .4 kilo.

Loss last four weeks: 4.4 kg (9.7 pounds).

Food Journals / The Dog's Dinner
« on: April 30, 2008, 02:22:18 PM »
My Paleo diet is pretty similar to the 'healthy balanced diet' that I have used for the past few years except that I am not eating grains, beans, legumes, or dairy products.  Additionally, I've reduced potato consumption to Sunday dinner only!  Alcohol - I can't give it up, but I will reduce it, and try to restrict it as much as possible to a few glasses of red wine once or twice per week.

How strict am I going to be?  I think fairly strict for the first few months except maybe with the booze (thats hard).  Heck though, if I order a meal out and its served with a few odd beans or corn - I'm not going to rush out screaming.  I'll eat it. I'll review after a few months, lets say ... the beginning of July before my birthday.

I already eat more than 5 daily portions of plants, and try to eat greens daily (also lots of berries, tomatoes, variety, and nuts) but I hope to increase consumption of plants, especially of vegetables (including some root crops).  I try to eat lots of colours.  I try to replace my grain consumption with more plant consumption.  I eat some stuff raw, but I am also an avid fan of steaming vegetables. - love my electric steamer :)  Most stuff is fresh, but I sometimes I buy some frozen berries.

Protein - I love seafood and already eat lots of fish - my workmates laugh about it.  I will eat fresh fish, frozen fish, and canned fish.  I also love shellfish and local caught crabs.  I will also eat lean muscle red meats, organic when affordable.  I'll buy some wild rabbit and venison later (when I have room in the freezer!).  I will also eat regular offal, including lamb liver, kidney, heart and ox tongue.  I already eat lots of free range organic hens eggs.  I also often eat breast (white) meat from turkeys and chicken.  I recently bought a little George Foreman portable grill - love it (except that I pour the oil from fish back over the dish!).  I also steam some fish.

Fats - oily fish, meat, mixed nuts, good quality organic extra virgin olive oil, and occasionally an avocado.

Supplements - If I haven't had any oily fish for a few days, I pop a fish oil capsule - thats all.  I was drinking whey protein but thats now out as a dairy product.

Ok, today's entry:

Breakfast (I ALWAYS break fast when I wake up - even if I've worked nights and slept during the day): 3 x Grilled sardines (from the freezer) eaten as they should be, a little evoo and eaten in their skins - just leaving the spines.  Served with a whole grilled yellow bell pepper, and followed by an orange and a small banana.

Snack: small banana a stick of celery, and a large plum.

Lunch: Salad including lots of leaves (spinach, rocket, water cress, lettuce, red cabbage), ginger, basil, grated raw beetroot, radishes, tomato, and a can of wild salmon.

Snack: A large peach.

Dinner: Organic lamb chops (grilled), steamed vegetables (leek and carrot).  Organic mint sauce (I was down and just needed something like that).

Post workout Supper: A grilled turkey breast fillet.  Mixed nuts (pecans, hazel nuts, almonds).

Drink: lots of green tea (I'm a green tea addict), water, and BIG CHEAT WARNING my wife gave me a large sweet cream liquor after work.  I had been through a really really bad day.

Workout Journals / The Dog Runner
« on: April 30, 2008, 01:47:20 PM »
My Paleo routine mainly consists of a mix of outdoor cardio exercises that involve the dogs (dog walking, dog running, canicross racing, bikejoring, biking using springer attachments, dog-hiking) AND a regular strength training routine at home using freeweights.

Sometimes I focus mainly on running - especially during the winter when I train for canicross races with the dogs; but at other times I focus on strength training and reduce the running.  Additionally I like to walk long distance during the summer.  I also often go on medium-length walks (3 to 12 miles) where I also interval jog and interval sprint with the dogs, especially now that racing is finished until next September.  Even when I've had a bad day at work and its raining - I have to at least bike or walk the dogs a few miles.  Thats the great thing about keeping dogs - they guarantee that you WILL make some effort to get off your rear end EVERY DAY.  Working long shifts in a control room, it is important that I exercise.  Walking, running, and sprinting with dogs recreates the pack hunting experience for both the dogs .... and me!

My strength training routine at the moment is based on the 5x5 barbell routine.  My best 5x5 squat so far has been 97.5 kg, but I have deloaded since in order to concentrate on improving my form.  My best deadlift so far is 112.5 kg x5, but I'm sure that I haven't yet maxed on the deadlift.  Even so, I recently deloaded following a break from lifting while I trained for a canicross race.  I really enjoy lifting - its my meditation.  The dog activities get me outside - but I equally enjoy the strength training, even though I don't have a dedicated gym (I have to cart my gear out intothe dining room every workout.

By the way, I'm no kid - I'm a 45 year old married man with three kids.  I spent the first 43 years of my life going to pot.  I want to be fit and healthy into my fifties and beyond.

Now for todays entry:

12 hour day shifts but fitted in the following after:

Usual 3.5 mile bike ride with the dogs.

Then weightlifting.

5x5 barbell routine.

Squats 67.5 kg 5x5

Overhead Press 35 kg 5x5

Deadlift 87.5 kg 1x5

Pull ups 8, 4, 3.

Miscellaneous / What does Paleo mean to you?
« on: April 27, 2008, 05:49:20 PM »
Ok, maybe I'm being wee bit cheeky by posting something provocative being new to both the Paleo diet and to this forum, but what the heck.  I've been googling like mad the past few weeks for views and accounts (and criticisms) of the Paleo way of life.  It seems to me that it means different things to different people.

Some eat raw.
Some eat a little grain.
Some eat a little dairy.
Some don't eat offal.
Some eat bacon.
Some take olive oil.
Some see it as a diet, not as a lifestyle.
Some barely exercise.
Some don't eat roots.
Some eat rice or potato
Some eat seeds
Some don't eat plant members of the nightshade family.
Some see it as a low carb diet e.g. Atkins

This is how I mold my paleo attempts.  Its not a diet, its a lifestyle.  You get fat by too many calories and not enough activity.  I'm experimenting by eliminating grains and dairy, but I don't see carbs as evil - I try to eat lots of veg n' fruit to make up.  Indeed I'm impressed that by cutting out grains my plant intake has increased.  I'm sure that I will lose weight - but thats because by rejecting grains and dairy, I'm rejecting lots of modern high calorie foods such as cakes, sweets, beer, cheese, milk etc.

I don't seriously think that we can emulate a way of life from the Palaeolithic.  I don't wander around the hedges and countryside gathering edible plants, chasing squirrels with a ruddy spear etc.  I have to go to work, pay the bills, live the modern life.  All of these plants that I'm buying, they are Neolithic - farmed!  However, I can increase my levels of activity.  I can exercise, and I can improve my methods of exercise.  I can improve my levels of fitness, and my health chances.  I can improve my choices - and the Paleo can help me make the right decisions.

I'm worried that some advice given in the Paleo name is misleading and unhelpful.  For example, running and cardio is bad for you.  I've got news for you, we evolved two long running legs for a reason.  Another one: eat raw.  Sure, lots of plant food is more nutritious uncooked (some of it toxic).  But if you think that humans didn't value cooking food - and even recognise that it could remove toxins from some plants, some 10,000, 20,000, maybe 50,000 years ago or much more, then I feel that you are mistaken.

Look at the diets of hunter-gatherers who have survived into the modern era.  They vary, but one thing is for sure, they usually ate an enormous range of plant and animal species.  Are we really carnivores or vegetarians?  Neither.  The secret of humanities early success was that we were the best omnivores - opportunists and adapters.  Until we started to adapt our environments to suit us better.  Those that specialised became extinct.  So lets stop this nonsense of no roots, no tomatoes, no seeds, no grains (at all), no tubers, no cooking, no running etc.  Be Palaeolithic, be an opportunist and try lots of things.

Just think like a hunter-gatherer, stalk those supermarket aisles for fresh nutritious real foods.  Then run home, throwing the occasional spear at cats ;)

Introductions / Dog Runner
« on: April 27, 2008, 04:19:31 PM »
Hello Forum

I'm here looking for community, new ideas, and to share experiences.


45 year old English male
70.3 kg (155 pounds)
173 cm (5ft 8")

Until the age of 43 I had never exercised and had always eaten badly.  I had a double chin and was verging onto the obese scale.  Then I brought a siberian husky pup home, and panicked - how was I going to keep him exercised!  I changed to a 'healthy' lifestyle, reduced cals, started eating plenty of veg, and started running and lifting.  Four months later I had lost almost 50 pounds.

Since then, I have continued to eat well, exercise etc.  However, over the past several months I have become more keen on strength training, and in an attempt to bulk, I must have consumed too many cals because before I knew it, I was back up to 74 kg and it certainly wasn't all muscle.  Subsequently I'm presently trying to lose weight (more specifically body fat), and in the pursuit of new ideas I came across the Paleo Lifestyle.

Funny thing is, I love heritage, especially prehistory - even have a website recording my old fieldwork as an amateur landscape surveyor.  My favourite period in British prehistory is the Mesolithic - the 4,000 year period between the end of the last Glacial, and the dawn of agriculture.  The last hunter-gatherers in Britain.

Seems pretty obvious that I would drift towards this lifestyle - but I've only moved to a Paleo diet a week ago.


Protein and fats
Lots of fish including sardines and kippers as well as white fish; muscle meat - lamb, beef (organic pasture grazed when I can afford it), chicken and turkey.  I will buy some wild venison and wild rabbit for the freezer when I can afford to.  Offal (lamb liver, kidneys, heart, ox tongue) I believe that offal is important.  Organic free range hen eggs.  Seafood - shellfish and crabs.  I'm lucky, I love seafood :)

Plant Fats
Mixed nuts including hazel, chestnut, almonds, pine, pecan, walnut, brazil etc.  Extra virgin olive oil.  Occasional avocado.

Vegetables and fruit
A WIDE RANGE of fruit n' veg.  Lots of greens including broccoli, spinach, watercress, asparagus, cabbage, lettuce, etc.  Salads including cucumber, bell pepper, tomato, radish, raw beetroot etc.  Organic and local when possible, but not strictly.  Roots?  Yes, carrots, parsnips, swede (rutabaga), etc .  Fruits include regular berries including blueberries, strawberries, grapes, etc.  Citrus fruit, apples, bananas, pears.  Variety is the spice of life.  Potato?  Yes but only on Sundays - I'm British ;)

For the past few years I have been a big fan of wholegrains, and an avid porridge (oatmeal) eater.  But no oats, maize, rye, wheat or barley for now.    Rice?  Not at the moment, but maybe some brown and wild rice on occasions later into the lifestyle.

I was eating a lot of cottage cheese, yoghurt, and whey protein.  I've stopped for now.  Lets see how it goes.

For now I'm forsaking it, but I don't yet know if I can commit myself to longterm teetotalism.  I sort of know that it would be good for me, but...


I have to be so careful.  For most of my adult life I have worked as a labourer and used lots of energy.  But for the past year I have been employed as a panel operator in a power station control room.  12 hours of potential sitting down in a shift!  I try to make a point of going for a walk, or even a run up and down several flights of steps at some point during my shift, but its sometimes impossible to be relieved from duties.  I have also taken a cheap stepper into work that I can work out on in intervals.


Strength training

I quite enjoy lifting.  I had to give up membership of my local gym as it was too expensive, but I'm the proud owner of my own free weights at home.  I pretty much follow the 5x5 barbell routine as promoted by  Its a sensible strength training program based on squats, presses, squats, deadlift, squats, pull ups, squats, rows, squats, etc :)  I was working out for a while 3 times per week, but I can't guarantee to keep this up in the future.  I simply aim to lift every two or three days if I can.

Running with dogs

My cardio.  I canicross race with my dogs (the siberian husky, and now also a young dalmatian).  Canicross is competitive trail running whilst being tied to one or two dogs.  I frequently train during the winter, and yes all that running probably does interfere with my strength training, but so what?  At the moment I'm trying to interval train with the dogs more.  No timing or boring program, just simply changing between walking, jogging, and sprinting.  The dogs love it!  I also cycle with the dogs a lot - I LOVE bikejoring, when I let the sibe husky pull my mountain bike from up front in harness - lots of fun, and danger :)  Finally, last summer I did a lot of long distance walking with my husky - 18 to 28 miles a day in local lowlands.  I'll probably start doing that again soon.

That pretty much sums up my introduction, sorry if it was a wee bit long - maybe I should start a journal and copy and paste it as my first entry.

Looking forward to taking part.

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