I had three goals as I walked into this year’s PaleoFX conference at Austin’s Palmer Event Center:
To learn more about the Paleo diet.
To find out if the Paleo world holds a place for the non-meat lover. (Or, even a vegetarian like me!)
To look for Texas-based Paleo vendors.
What Is Paleo?
I learned from PaleoFX speaker and New York Times bestselling author Michelle Tam (her book was nominated for a 2015 James Beard Foundation book award) that she regards the so-called Paleo diet as a template rather than a diet. According to Tam, it’s all based around obtaining optimal health by eating whole, unprocessed food.
And, to be clear, as she says on her wildly popular Nom Nom Paleo website, she’s “not trying to precisely replicate a caveman diet.”
Rather, Tam’s basic tenets for so-called “ancestral eating” are:
-Eat whole, unprocessed, nutrient-dense, nourishing foods. Prioritize grass fed and pastured meats and eggs, wild-caught seafood, and vegetables. Enjoy fruit, nuts and seeds in moderation.
-Avoid foods that will harm us by causing systemic inflammation, wrecking our guts, or derailing our natural metabolic processes. Abstain from toxic, pro-inflammatory foods like gluten-containing grains, legumes, sugar and “the laboratory-concocted Frankenfoods found in the middle aisles of your neighborhood supermarket.”
Vegetarians and Paleo?
Encouraged by Tam’s clear, no-nonsense explanations, I again turned to her website for information on where non-meat eaters fit into the Paleo world. Okay, so maybe it’s not a green light, but at least Paleo celebrity Tam regards vegetables as an important part of her diet. In fact these days she writes, “I actually eat more vegetables than I did when I was a vegetarian—mostly because all that real estate in my stomach was taken up by pasta, bread and baked treats.”
The Paleo Lifestyle Product Round-Up
Maybe because the show was held in Austin, but my Texas finds turned out to be entirely Austin finds. So, to add variety, I’m going to cheat on my original goal, and include some of the non-Texas vendors that caught my eye.
A subscription-based food delivery service in Austin, Texas, the Fixed Foods team sources and prepares “restaurant quality dishes with grass-fed organic beef and bison, and 100% pasture-raised organic chicken and eggs.” Organic, seasonal, local vegetables are used whenever possible.
Pure 7 Chocolate is chocolate without refined sugar, dairy, wheat or gluten, and was founded by two determined moms from New England, Julie McQueen and Carrie Raho. As Raho told me, the company name came about because the two have seven kids between them. When a year’s testing ended in seven thumbs up, the pair knew they were on to a winner.
On a mission to let everyone enjoy their sweets and treats as guiltlessly as possible, Chicago’s Nancy Beechy launched Paleo-friendly Naughty Turned Nice in 2014. At PaleoFX, she’d gone the extra mile and produced a special batch of her treats with honey from Goodflow Honey, a family business with a store in Cedar Creek, Texas.
Branch Basics specializes in “the power of pure,” namely, cleaning products that are synthetic-free, non-toxic and 100% plant-and mineral-based. Founded by Allison Evans, her aunt, Marilee Nelson, and roommate, Kelly Love, the company is Austin-based and sells nationwide online.
And, last but not least, from Los Angeles, we bring you The Dirt, a line of personal care products—including toothpaste—from longtime Paleo lifestyle practitioner Shannon Drake. I tried the toothpaste (which is actually a tooth powder) and, while it was a taste adjustment from my regular, conventional brand, it certainly did the job.
By Julie Tereshchuk