this makes me angry…

Posted on April 3rd, 2013

Take a look at the shot below. That there, my dear blog land dwellers, is my mail collection from one day. You’ll note it’s mostly parcels sent in expensive overnight bags and courier boxes. What you can’t see is the amount of guff inside the parcels (I don’t wish to expose culprits): elaborately written press releases, products, books, sugary snacks, padding, bubble-wrap, gimmicky invites (sand in a glass bottle?!) and…tinsel. What none of us see is the hidden costs: the labour, the resources, the carbon emissions to produce and cart such guff around the planet.

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All of which gets me really upset.

Admittedly, the above represented a particularly large dumping. Although, most days entail carting at least 2-3 parcels back from the post office (please note: my physical carting of said guff is not the pivot point of my gripe).

Why does it upset me? I’d like to explain why, as a thinly disguised (and polite) message to those who might be thinking of sending me something some time soon.

In flat out terms: the above is a huge waste of resources. Unforgivably so.

Leaving aside the actual manufacturing cost of the product itself, there’s the work that went into the junior PR staffer writing the release (then getting it checked, legalled etc), the packaging, the postman’s time sorting and delivering the packages, the transport costs, the issuing of a notification in my box, the second reminder when I can’t get to the post office for a few days. And so on. All very well if the product is needed and/or useful. But in most cases it’s not. And these costs – specifically to the planet – devastate me.

Generally the sender doesn’t wear these costs. Their client does. And so there’s too little accountability or conscious thought going into the blind sending out of the guff. This is the unforgivable part.

In addition, it’s a huge waste of my resources. Every parcel in that shot above requires either a polite thank you note or a detailed email to the sender explaining I can’t promote the particular product they’ve sent me as it doesn’t fit with my message or ethics. Which in so many cases it doesn’t because:

I actively and vocally promote minimal consumption.

I get doubly upset that this ethos is not respected. Leaving aside the times the product in question is full of cane sugar or laced with toxic chemicals.

I’m going to soften the blow of my spray at this juncture by saying that often a lot of mindful care and Read more

what is the paleo diet? (plus how I’m doing it)

Posted on March 29th, 2012

Paleo is the new Atkins. I don’t actually think this. But it’s what everyone likes to say. It certainly is a way of eating that’s attracting a lot of attention…and with it some terribly hysterical mis-information.

infographic mages via

Wondering what the hell I’m talking about? How about I give a bit of a Paleo 101 rundown…with some pointers to how I’ve chosen to interpret this way of living. Because, as hopefully you know, I’m not into doing “diets” or being strict and draconian with my eating, or doing what I’m told I should do (this extends well beyond food, I’m afraid) or getting caught up in a fad.

I like to eat my way… and gently. And so: the below is not a guide to how I think YOU should eat. I’m simply sharing my experiences experimenting, which perhaps might prompt you to experiment, too.

To be honest, I’ve resisted writing too much about it previously, although a lot of you who quit sugar are asking whether you “should also be quitting carbs”. (Should, should, should.)

I’ve resisted in part because I’ve been wary of boarding too many bandwagons and becoming a dreary bore who tells other people what to do. And in part because I’ve wanted to distance myself from the Paleo bores. And there are many. And they are vocal!

But mostly I’ve resisted because I like to try things fully before I buy it and share it (although I’ve written about it briefly here and shared recipes here.).

I’ve now tried out the caper fully – for about five months. So, time to share:

The elevator pitch answer: what is the Paleo diet?

Also called the cave man diet, it’s about eating in a similar way to the way our ancestors – up until the agricultural revolution about 7-10,000 years ago – used to eat.

This equates to: meat, saturated fats (from animals, avocados, nuts etc), non-starchy vegetables, nuts, eggs and a little low-sugar fruit.

It means not eating: anything that arrived on the scene since farming and processing began (grains, sugars, vegetable oils, Dunkin’ Donuts).

But Paleo peeps vary their take on the details (see below). To this end it’s an approach, not a diet (there’s no manifesto or original author who cashes in on the idea).

Why would you do such a thing?

Because we evolved to eat this way – and metabolise this way – over millions of years. Grains and other “processed foods” require radically different metabolic and digestive processes. Our bodies simply haven’t adjusted to these different processes (evolution is a damn slow process) and so we struggle with these “new” foods  at every mouthful. Our genes are 99 per cent the same as they were 10,000 years ago.

We haven’t changed genetically; our diets sure have. Ditto our waistlines and health… Read more

Want to learn more about the Paleo diet? This is for you…

Posted on March 23rd, 2012

There’s much buzz at the moment about the Paleo diet. Some of it painfully pious. Some of it fascinatingly valid. I’ve written a little about it here and shared some Paleo recipes here. I keep getting asked to share my thoughts, and am often asked by recent sugar-free converts, “should I be quitting all carbs?”

Photo by Lee Blaylock...a stylist I'm working with!

To be honest, I’ve been reluctant to wade into things too much because I’ve been experimenting with this way of eating myself, and forming my own opinion slowly. I don’t like to opine until I’ve tried and researched.

But recently the big names in the Paleo movement got together for an online Paleo Summit. I mention it because I think it’s possibly the best overview of the science, techniques, controversies and so on behind the thinking and it certainly helped me get to the bottom of what the eating approach/lifestyle is all about. Some of the names on the lineup you might recognise from on this blog (Chris Kresser who I’ve interviewed here, and Nora Gedgaudas who I interviewed here.)

For those of you who’re interested you can get the package of podcasts and videos and other bits and pieces here. Those of you who have noooo idea what I’m talking about…next week I’ll be doing a bit of Paleo 101 rundown. Tune back in.

Meantime, some of the more interesting guff that’s ticked off at the Summit:

How to do the Paleo dance with kids and a family

Are some carbs OK to eat? Nora Gedgaudas’ presentation is friggen great. She argues that no starches are safe. Others at the summit argue some rice and sweet potato is cool…all the evidence is laid out in both directions so you can make your own mind up.

Does Paleo help with autoimmune and inflammation? Neurosurgeon Dr. Jack Kruse speaks about how leptin resistance lies at the root of inflammation, obesity, and chronic disease. He also shared how he lost 60kgs in a year. Dr. Thomas O’Bryan, a gluten sensitivity expert, gives the rundown on how allergies work.

How to Win an Argument with a Vegetarian. Denise Minger, Author, Death by Food Pyramid, is a legend. She breaks down the China Study argument…with facts. I’m not sure who points this out, but most people who eat this way eat more vegetables than a vegetarian. Read more