Saturday, February 16, 2013

Sourcing Clean Sustainable Foods

One of the most important things to me with Paleo is to source clean foods.  I started out merely as gluten free and the more I read and researched the more I removed from my diet to see if my body, energy levels, and mood responded in kind to the change.  This is how I ended up on the paleo diet in essence.  I was actually leaning towards this way of eating before I knew what it was called.  I wanted to have the most 'organic' food as possible and this also became an important factor when considering what to take on the trail.

I didn't really know where to go to get clean foods at first and Whole Foods Market was about the only thing that popped in my mind.  I knew they were much more expensive than the local markets here but I didn't mind paying extra for better quality food that I knew wasn't a GMO or was not laden with harmful pesticides.  After a little research a whole new world opened around me, literally, in my backyard.

I also started off, and still use, US Wellness for some of my meats.  Sometimes, I cannot find a certain cut or I just want to order a load of sugar free bacon and it's nice to have the option.  The prices are decent for mail-order.  I am quite impressed since they ship quickly and even offer non-frozen fresh-chilled meats once a month, which is awesome if you want to make your own cuts.  So US Wellness was great at first but then I started getting into the local scene and I found quite the treasure trove of local farms around me.  I used the directory on and found a couple small places, then found more by visiting the farmers market, and then even more by either word of mouth or through the local eateries.

I must admit the more research I have done in the Piedmont of North Carolina is that I am pretty lucky to have a lot of resources nearby that offer fresh organic vegetables and fresh grass-fed/finished beef products.  I know others are not so lucky, so US Wellness will definitely help and now Wild Mount Paleo Market is open online to help fill in the gaps as well.  Their pricing is a little bit more expensive but they are a start-up and it may take some time to have competitive pricing.  So, I encourage you to use them if you don't have readily available local sources, just to help them out and show support for this community.

Without clean sources for my trail foods it would almost be useless to even try Paleo while backpacking.  None of the dehydrated food companies have embraced a cleaner style that I have seen just yet.  Many are definitely not geared towards paleo and some are just now using Gluten Free products.  Even then, if it's a mix it often contains some nasty preservatives or chemicals.  My approach lately is to take what I have an invent my own meals.  Once I get a dehydrator I'll be adding more and more things and ditching the idea of ever finding a Mountain House package that fits me.  Instead of can have a dehydrated grass-fed meat with whatever vegetable I want, remain Paleo on the trail, and actually feel comfortable about what I am eating (sans the flatulence involved with dehydrated meals).

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