Posts for Tag : paleo


SFG : The Joys of a New England Winter… 0


Just a quick photo update :


square foot gardening future location

January 2014


The first photo showing the future location of my square foot gardening raised beds was taken in January 2014 with a trivial amount of snow on the ground, all of which had melted a day or two later. Then along came February, not content with a quiet and subtle approach, it prefered a shamelessly melodramatic entrance with four five snow storms in less than 2 weeks…

square foot gardening snowboundsquare foot gardening snowbound



and as if that isn’t enough, The Old Farmer’s Almanac has us down for snow storms until the second week of March, oh great !


Of course I do realize that there are many other places that receive significantly more snow than this every year, but understand that this is my place and I am impatient to get outdoors and start doing !


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How the Pieces Fell into Place – part 2 0

In How the Pieces Fell into Place – part 1 I described how I discovered the negative impact on nutrition of sugar/carbohydrates on good health, but where, and how, did it fit in to the elaborate jigsaw puzzle known as life ? In part 2, I will delve a little deeper on the topic of sugar (and carbs) and some of the problems arising from over-consumption.


Jigsaw Brain v2.0 (sugar)


Sugar, is the common name for sucrose, a disaccharide composed of one molecule of glucose and one of fructose. The chemical formula is C12H22O11.


Sucrose is rapidly absorbed following ingestion and prompts a rapid elevation of blood sugar levels, which in turn initiates a powerful endocrine response that is designed to mitigate the increases in blood glucose. Hormones released from the pancreas and adrenal cortex include insulin, glucagon, epinephrine and cortisol. Insulin lowers blood glucose level and glucagon elevates it – they work antagonistically attempting to maintain it within acceptable bodily limits.


Let’s take a step backwards to help us better understand the present and the future…


For thousands of years, humanity’s exposure to sucrose was typically limited to the content found in fruit. Prior to the late 18th/early 19th century sugar consumption was usually less than 25lbs per year, however mechanization of the production process reduced the cost and created vast new untapped markets ready to be exploited. All of which led to today’s massive consumption of on average, between 130 and 150 lbs of sugar each year in the US. Many people do not realize that sugar is frequently used as a cheap filler in processed foods and can be as addictive as cocaine ! It also possesses no nutritional value beyond pure calories.

There are several modes of action by which sugar can impact normal bodily function, including tooth decay and direct irritation of Gastro-Intestinal tissues. However, it is increased hormonal responses – of which higher insulin levels appear to be the primary instigator of degraded health – that are the most significant.

GI pic

Many people are familiar with The Glycemic Index or GI, (a measure of the rate of increase of blood sugar following ingestion of a specific food, expressed relative to the standard, glucose, which is defined at a GI of 100). A few years ago there began a push to focus dieters on the GI for the various foods being consumed. Now in the absence of better nutritional information, the index would help, but unfortunately it is not a panacea and leaves a lot to be desired. For example, it takes no account of the size of the serving of the individual food item, rather it is based on testing 50g of the said item. Clearly many foods are eaten in greater or lesser quatities per serving. The GI also considers foods in isolation, rather than in the traditional meal setting consisting of multiple food items eaten together. Finally, different food storage and preparation methods which can influence the GI number are not taken into consideration.
To counter the serving size issue the Glycemic Load was developed which merely takes the GI value and multiplies it by the typical serving size.

Well this is better than the GI alone, but still has some glaring deficiencies, primarily the fact that there are several foods with low GI/GL scores that can instigate unexpectedly high insulin responses. At this point I was getting very frustrated as I could not find a clear answer to my nutritional dilemma. Enter the Insulin Index and a closer examination of the effects of insulin on the body.


Coming next : How the Pieces Fell into Place – part 3…Insulin, the hormone that quite literally shapes your life.



SFG : Planting Schedule 0

In my last Square Foot Gardening post I detailed my planting layout plan and provided the identity and sources for the seeds I will be utilizing. This post will focus on my proposed timing schedule…


SFG Schedule graphic

Square Foot Garden Planting Schedule


The first, and possibly the most important, thing to determine is the date for the last frost. This will serve as the starting point for the planting schedule to then compute starting dates for seeds that will be germinated indoors and those that will be sown directly into the soil in the square foot gardening beds.


As you may already know, I live in Connecticut, in USDA Plant Hardiness Zone 6b, so the first point of order is to check a few independent online sources and gather together their estimated last frost data : : April 15th : April 21st – 30th

Old Farmer’s Almanac : April 26th

Dave’s GardenApril 26th – May 10th


As you can see there is a wide variety of dates. This occurs because different sources use different probability data. To clarify, take Dave’s Garden, April 26th has a 50% probability of a frost occurring, yet May 10th has a probability of only 10%, ie. almost no chance of frost. As it happens I prefer to use Dave’s Garden as it lists in a grid the range of probabilities and the associated dates as prepared by the National Climate Data Center (NCDC). You could also visit the NCDC site directly, but I find it to be difficult to navigate and full of politically-motivated pseudo-science which is quite frankly, best avoided.


So having read the grid, next get a feel for the trends in your local weather (speak to other experienced gardeners in your area) and make an educated prediction of when would be best for you to directly sow your seeds outdoors. Once you have established that date, it is easy to work backwards to calculate when to begin the germination process indoors for those seeds that require it.


Planting Schedule for Square Foot Gardening

Square Foot Gardening Planting Schedule


For the indoor germination I will be using an NK Lawn & Garden 36 pellet greenhouse that I picked up cheaply at a local discount store and plan to place the unit in a warm and sunny window. You can purchase your own here.


So with a little over a month before the germination begins in earnest, it’s time to ensure the plans are in place and the necessary materials bought and available. Which leads nicely in to my next task, namely building the square foot gardening raised beds themselves and their support structures.


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How the Pieces Fell into Place – part 1 0

It was always a mystery to me – a brain-twisting, utterly frustrating mystery that appeared to defy logic. How could I exercise so much yet never quite eliminate all of the chub around my belly ? It was disheartening, but thankfully never turned into an unhealthy obsession. It was all the more irritating because I had studied biochemistry and human physiology at university and believed that I should be capable of solving this ‘corporeal conundrum’. To this end I read several very highly regarded books that certainly improved my understanding of the dynamics involved, but never fully resonated with me as I was always left with a key unanswered question, or two. Of course it doesn’t help that we are all so unique in our design and function that one person’s resolution does not necessarily apply to another.


Some years ago, I was immersing myself in the teachings of the leading proponents of Orthomolecular Medicine (Linus Pauling, Abram Hoffer et al) when I was compelled to read ‘Mega-Nutrition’ by Richard Kunin. Published in 1980, it detailed the author’s program which was designed to utilize vitamins and minerals to optimize health. Within the over 300 pages, there are two very interesting chapters related to diet – the first implicating sugar intolerance in many disease states and the second a brief outline of Dr. Kunin’s recommended diet, the Orthocarbohydrate diet, that suggests reducing carbohydrate intake to improve health. I found the entire book fascinating, but in the context of weight-control those two chapters succeeded in tightly focusing my attention on the potential harmful effects of sugar (carbohydrates) on my body. There are even several paragraphs contrasting today’s ‘Standard American Diet’ with that of primitive man’s !

Jigsaw Brain v2.0 (sugar)

So now I had the first big piece of the puzzle, sugar/carbohydrates, but where, and how, did it fit in to the elaborate jigsaw puzzle known as life ?

Coming next : How the Pieces Fell into Place – part 2…




Reconnecting with your Inner Troglodyte 1

Prehistoric, Primeval, Primitive, Primal conjure up images of an archaic period when dinosaurs and troglodytes ruled the Earth. Times were so much easier then, they really were – if you ignored the daily fight for survival and constant threat of debilitating and often fatal infection. If not a safer time then a simpler time that curiously offers a multitude of life lessons and nutrition guidance that we can absorb and assimilate in to our daily routines on our quest for enhanced function and higher quality of life…


Primal Nutrition Journey

The Journey to Primal Nirvana


For pretty much my entire existence I have been the less than proud ‘owner’ of excess fat around my belly. During my twenties and thirties I was extremely active (running, biking, hiking and duathlons to name a few) and even at my peak there was still an unwelcomed expanse around my middle that refused to burn off.


As I entered middle-age I switched over to soccer as my main sport which endowed me with an impressive anaerobic base but slowly diminished my previously strong aerobic capacity. It also didn’t help that I moved to the US in a Sales role and spent too much time in hotels, airports and restaurants. As a consequence my fitness levels dropped and concurrently my weight and body fat increased.


I have spent much time researching the mechanics and biochemistry of weight loss but I was never fully satisfied with what I learned – it always felt like there was a missing piece to the jigsaw and this was demonstrated in vivo repeatedly when any changes I made to my lifestyle ultimately failed to deliver the desired outcomes.

Enter my Brother-in-Law, Mario, who eulogized about a ‘new’ Primal lifestyle approach that had drastically improved his conditioning. He was the epitomy of good health and had a six-pack that wouldn’t look out of place on the set of 300 ! I decided to investigate.


I quickly discovered that he had immersed himself in the Paleo way of life and was particularly consumed with The Primal Blueprint by Mark Sisson. Following his lead, I bought my own copy and very quickly realized that within Sisson’s writings lay the missing piece of my puzzle.


Coming next…How the Pieces Fell into Place.