Two important factors for me in my choice of protein are the nutrition and ecological impact. A large portion of the Earth’s land mass is given over to the inefficient rearing of livestock. This is the argument traditionally presented for turning to a vegetarian or vegan diet, being less damaging to the environment.
One important mutritional point is that protein is digested down into amino acids, which are then used as building blocks to create all the combinations of protein needed by our body. Some amino acids are considered essential, they must come from the diet. Some protein sources are complete, containing all the amino acids required by our bodies for growth and maintenance of tissues.
There are many potential sources of protein, with varying amino acid profiles. Amino acids are sometimes said to be limiting. That is, if you relied solely on that protein you’d miss out on that particular amino acid, which would certainly have consequences further down the line. Animal protein is said to give a complete profile. Combinations of pulses and grains can also give a good profile.
Part of my motivation for the cycle tour is to gather more experience, and to find a middle path. We are adaptable, and I believe we thrive on variety.
I’m not a nutritionist, dietitian, medical doctor, herbalist or even a shamanic healer.
I’m a layman with a strong interest in the role that diet and nutrition have on human health.
In fact, even this summer I was talking to a qualified nutritionist friend about my “wheat allergy”. She informed me that what I have is an intolerance. As we were being catered for, I wanted to make sure that the chefs took my intolerance seriously and I took to calling it an allergy. Which is a way of saying that my research into nutrition and health is a work in progress.
This blog for me then, is a space where I can consolidate. I can update it as my knowledge deepens, as I challenge my beliefs and biases, and as others share their viewpoints.
Some of the options include: leaf concentrate, animal, pulses (including soya and lentils), and micro-livestock (insects).
In terms of my upcoming cycle tour I have considered hunting those animals considered pests: grey squirrels, rabbits, wood pigeons etc and would like to find land-owners willing for me to hunt on their land. I’ll forage and fish by the sea: mussels, crabs and various fish. I’ll only visit those beaches recommended
by the Marine Conservation Society.
Gathering insects is also a possibility, although some sources claim it’s not wise, not knowing what they’ve been eating. For something like snails, i’ll be following my standard procedure of purging them for at least 3 days. I don’t generally feed them up on anything, but some do. Earthworms
are good, once purged, boiled then fried in butter.
Acorn weevil grubs
are another thing i’ve tried. I kept some in acorn meal as pets for a while, to see what i could learn. That brought me recently to the idea of raising Black Soldier Fly Larvae (Hermetia illucens), or Mealworms (Tenebrio molitor). Some people feed them to animals. I’d like to at least taste them before I did that, who knows, they might be delicious!
There is a woman
who collects snails from people’s land. Everyone wins. They get rid of snails they see no value in and she gets delicious snails which she does.
I’d also love to investigate further into making leaf concentrate. Very briefly, taking edible leaves, extracting the protein content into water, then coagulating the protein by heating it, and using the fibre for other things. For a nice description of the process, with pictures, see here
. Also, a free downloadable e-book here
. And the Daddy of all, the leaf curd manual here
. I’d like to blog more about this at a later date, it deserves a whole post of it’s own.