After my previous post lamenting my lack of contact with the apparently thriving though hidden-in-plain-sight NYC Paleo community, a bunch of you posted contact information and the link to the meetup group. Many thanks!
Of course, then there was the fear that anyone featured in the fashion pages of the Times would have to be a “Crazy-Ass New York Hipster Douchebag,” but I was taught you should never judge a book by its appearance in a NY Times lifestyle article, so…
One-eyed as I am for the next few weeks, I decided to man up and do the proper research – all in the name of science, of course. I joined the meetup group, and as soon as I got the opportunity (this past Saturday), I signed up for a combination meatshare/farm tour. (Sadly, I had to miss the potluck they held later that night.)
The Paleo Peeps
Maybe it was destiny. Even though I boarded the Metro-North train at a completely different stop and stepped onto a random car from the platform, the first thing I saw was the leader of the hipster douchebags himself, John Durant, talking to a bunch of friendly looking WAPFers and an airedale about the high fructose composition of agave nectar. So I did what any natural-born introvert would do: I sat behind them and edged my way into the conversation with a mention of liver toxicity.
It turns out that they’re an eclectic bunch, a motley crew of meat-eating misfits, if you will. A few of them may be hipsters, but some of them are geeks. The rest form a ragtag assortment of brains, athletes, basket cases, princesses, and criminals. Phew! That’s a relief!
I had some great conversations with a bunch of my fellow day trippers, and they truly did come from all over the city (and New Jersey) and varying walks of life. Some are definitely a little more extreme than others, but all them are interesting. Unfortunately, I can only remember one or two of their names, though I did take down some exciting Ethiopian recipes from a husband and wife who offered me jerky on the train. (I actually brought my own jerky. Somehow, I feel like we all brought our own jerky. Except for the raw paleo guys, who I will assume were either fasting or carrying raw, blood steak strips somewhere on their person. But I digress.)
The Farm Tour
The farm tour was AWESOME. We visited Glynwood Farm in Cold Spring, and it was beautiful. The barn was red. The fields were blanketed in snow. An unseen rooster crowed every so often, but the air held a wide-open stillness that you never experience in the city.
I’ve never seen a barn up close. Here it was, tall, red, open to the air, with cows on one side and goats and sheep on the other. They were all obviously content and healthy. The barn smelled good – sweet like hay. So I guess that Joel Salatin quote is true, farming should be “aromatic and aesthetic.”
One of the farmers, Ken Kleinpeter, gave a talk and question and answer session about the farm, pasture-based farming, sustainability, and the business and politics involved in farming. I cannot emphasize enough how highly intelligent and experienced this man is. Also motivated. He told us about how small business farmers are not just standing idly by while factory farming destroys the local economy along with our health and the last remaining topsoil. They are studying the laws, innovating around them, and getting meetings with politicians to change (or restore) the food system. This is heartening. The co-organizer of the NYC Paleo meetup group, Melissa McEwen (also not a hipster douchebag), wrote more about the experience on her blog, Hunt Gather Love.
We also watched him feed a pair of shaky 2-day old lambs from a bottle. They were the most adorable things ever, and I’m sure they’ll be delicious when they grow up.
Bonus! When the time came to pick up the lamb from the meatshare, Ken GAVE US SLABS OF FATBACK FOR FREE. It’s such an unpopular piece of pig that he has tons of it languishing away in his freezers. We jumped on it like hungry wolves on bacon. The next day, I rendered a jar of healthful, amazing lard.
All in all, an excellent and productive meetup. I plan to meet more of these people at the next available opportunity, and maybe by that time I’ll remember to write down all their names.
Last week’s NY Times posted this article about the Paleo community. The piece, titled “The New Age Cavemen and the City,” immediately rippled its way through the entire online Paleo community, prompting comments such as “mainstream media acknowledges Paleo,” “Paleo gaining popularity,” and “finally on the map!”
The article explains a little bit about the Paleo principles and goes on to state that Paleo is gaining popularity in New York (and other places that New Yorkers just don’t care about). This is all well and good.
My one question: Where the heck ARE these NYC cavemen? I live in the Bronx and work in Manhattan, and I have yet to see a single, lonely, hirsute, Vibram-wearing, bone-gnawing specimen. Are the cavemen in New York all hipster cavemen who hunt and gather exclusively in Brooklyn? Or do they all just hang out at the tribal cave that is Crossfit NYC?
Send me some smoke signals, primal peeps. It gets lonesome out here in the hinterlands.