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Old 03-12-13, 02:37 PM   #1
Niles H.
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Zero-Point Ultralight: New Food Strategies

This one has been percolating for a long time. In a way, it seems obvious -- but it's one of those "obvious" things that nobody seems to see. It's pretty much completely overlooked.

I've been into wild foods for years, but only recently came upon this particular strategy.

There was definitely some help from these guys:





*******

So, after further research and testing and reflecting on these sorts of diets and ideas, it became clear that a new approach to touring is possible.

And it isn't even difficult. Mainly, it's just a new strategy.

Basically, in a nutshell: Just follow the berries, like the bears.

They have huge, hulking bodies. They are strong and fit. They gorge and fatten up mainly on berries, in many areas, even though they need thousands of calories per day. I've watched them do it.


*******

One particular possibility (among many others), and one I'll be trying out this year, is to tour in the Western Sierra Nevadas eating the hyper-abundant blackberries, manzanita berries, madrone berries, and other foods.

And it will take considerably less time to find these foods than it would to go through the whole standardized tradition (/unnecessary rigamarole) of going to, shopping in, and checking out of stores. Many fewer worries as well, including bike security issues.

In addition, it's better for the environment (a lot of the food in the stores involves quite a bit of transport, resource consumption, and fuel usage -- to produce and process and package and store and display and sell and move around).

And it's free, on top of all that.

It's a beautiful, nourishing environment, and the food is much fresher as well.

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Old 03-12-13, 04:06 PM   #2
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It can also reduce the weight one is carrying around considerably.

I'm planning to experiment with superultralight touring this year, and this contributes hugely toward that.

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Old 03-12-13, 10:13 PM   #3
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Ummm--I think the native peoples of the Sierra got a majority of their calories from acorn mush. That involves a lot of work in gathering the nuts, husking, grinding, pouring boiling water over the meal to leach out the poison tannin, then cooking it.

http://roundvalleyschools.org/pages/...%20Culture.pdf

I think manzanita berries are full of "bitter" instead of calories--I think the natives just used them for tea.

I did chow down constantly on blackberries when touring at lower elevations in the Cascade-Sierra, but saved a lot of time by bringing Ramen and pasta. Don't forget the wild grapes in late summer. Crayfish in creeks are easy to catch, and delicious too.
I also gathered pine nuts from the "Digger" pines, but that's just because they were delicious. I probably spent more calories extracting and cracking them than I took in.
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Old 03-12-13, 10:34 PM   #4
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In August 2010, I pedaled past 500 miles of wild blackberries along the roadsides of Washington and Oregon. Ate my fill several times. Unfortunantely, the critters in the NW are smarter than the ones in Texas, so no roadkill protein to harvest.
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Old 03-14-13, 03:33 PM   #5
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Manzanita berries:
  • major food source for many Native Americans living near manzanita groves
  • not bitter, in the majority of cases (more on this below)
  • vastly underappreciated by non-Indians
  • loved by bears, sometimes even over blackberries
  • versatile
  • edible both green and ripe
  • enjoyed by early Spanish settlers centuries ago (manzana + -ita = little apple)
  • can have wonderful, unique flavors reminiscent of tamarind and black cherry
  • are a special interest of mine

*******

Manzanita berries -- along with the flowers (also edible -- I had some yesterday, alongside many hummingbirds) and the wood (one of the very hardest and strongest in the world) and the plants themselves (which can be very beautiful) -- have captured my interest for years.

I've eaten the berries many hundreds of times, sometimes in large quantities.

Something that is rarely mentioned is the fact that there is a lot of genetic variation even within one species (and there are dozens of species, including giant ones that can grow much larger that most).

The genetic variation extends to the berries -- they range widely in characteristics and eating quality, from one individual plant to another (even within the same species).

It's like apples: there are granny smiths and golden delicious and honey crisps and spartans and dozens of others, even within a single species.

With manzanitas, though, there is even greater variety.

Most have hard seeds. A few have soft, edible seeds. A few are virtually seedless -- like seedless watermelons, but naturally occurring.

Some have exceptional flavor.

Some berries (and berry clusters) are larger, some smaller.

Some individual plants bear abundantly, some sparsely or not at all.

In some areas, they are extremely bountiful.

The bark is also unique and beautiful, both in color and in texture.

The plant also has medicinal uses.

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Old 03-14-13, 04:06 PM   #6
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Something I just recently realized is that this approach to food solves some other problems as well,
  • no bear canisters to carry
  • no problems with raccoons
  • no worries about squirrels, mice, woodrats, seagulls, crows, ravens, and other marauders
  • no stuffsacks. drybags, or other containers for food
  • easy food prep or zero food prep
  • considerably simpler as well as considerably lighter

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Old 03-14-13, 04:09 PM   #7
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The main reason I didn't think of doing this before -- I already knew about the wild berries and their abundance -- is that I thought, going along with prevalent views and assumptions, that eating too much fruit was not advisable, because (as 'everyone knows') a diet that high in fruit:

(1) is dangerously low in protein

(2) has too much sugar

(3) too much fruit (and therefore sugar) will cause diabetes and insulin spikes and who knows what else -- all kinds of problems, though (according to good old conventional wisdom)

(4) just isn't healthy

(5) will not keep you strong

(6) is not what most people do, and therefore just shouldn't be done

(7) is somehow crazy or scary or dangerous

And so on.

These assumptions are quite false, but widely held.

Then I came across people like Michael Arnstein and Durianrider (both of them elite athletes), and Doug Graham and Frederic Patenaude.

These guys have researched these issues thoroughly, and tested them for years. Durianrider has very thorough blood testing done regularly; and he posts it openly.

The scientific data show clearly that fruit typically contains just about the right amount of protein for human beings, and is very much in line with the World Health Organization's protein recommendations....

So, basically, in a nutshell, new possibilities opened up for touring.


*******

If anyone is interested in a couple of good reads and more information on the subject,

this book by Patenaude is excellent and highly recommended,

http://www.amazon.com/Raw-Food-Contr...eric+patenaude

Kindle edition (9.99): http://www.amazon.com/Raw-Food-Contr...3298094&sr=8-1

And this one is a classic on the subject:

http://www.amazon.com/The-80-10-Diet...raham+80+10+10

This reviewer sums up one aspect of the situation:

"At first I thought it was crazy, honestly-- I was even going to just leave the book at work for someone else to take."

With a little more than three months on it, I really like this eating plan. It is not just fruit, although that is the bulk of what you eat. Which is fine if you like fruit (and I sure do!). For dinner you also eat a salad/soup type of meal, with some added fats in the form of nuts or avocado. I still can't eat as much as Graham recommends as far as the quantity of fruit, but I haven't felt like I'm starving or not getting enough nutrients. I actually feel pretty good.
At first I thought it was crazy, honestly-- I was even going to just leave the book at work for someone else to take. However, the more I read, the more I liked what Dr. Graham was saying. And anyone with young children will know that humans do tend to love and crave fruit. It's just when we get older we learn to prefer processed types of food.
The best thing is how simple and easy it is to shop for, prepare, and clean up after preparing a meal. Buying the simple ingredients has also been surprisingly easy on my budget.


(Not everyone is happy with this approach, but most reviews are very positive. And it seems as if the failures are often caused by user errors rather than basic or inherent flaws in the approach, which has been thoroughly demonstrated to work well for many active, athletic individuals like Michael Arnstein, Durianrider, and Doug Graham.)

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Old 03-14-13, 04:42 PM   #8
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In August 2010, I pedaled pass 500 miles of wild blackberries along the roadsides of Washington and Oregon. Ate my fill several times. Unfortunantely, the critters in the NW are smarter than the ones in Texas, so no roadkill protein to harvest.
Good to hear this. It confirms what I am thinking: entire tours (hundreds or even thousands of miles) could cruise through abundant berry habitat.
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Old 03-14-13, 04:46 PM   #9
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I did chow down constantly on blackberries when touring at lower elevations in the Cascade-Sierra, but saved a lot of time by bringing Ramen and pasta. Don't forget the wild grapes in late summer. Crayfish in creeks are easy to catch, and delicious too.
I also gathered pine nuts from the "Digger" pines, but that's just because they were delicious. I probably spent more calories extracting and cracking them than I took in.
I've done a lot of acorns too, but much prefer the berries.

Yeah, there are some great foods out there. One can develop ways of streamlining the Digger Pine nut harvest and shelling, and they are among the largest and best of the pine nuts.

With this new diet information, it's a whole new world for me.
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Old 03-14-13, 05:29 PM   #10
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Actually, your list of assumptions below are mostly correct. If you eat nothing but fruit you probably will end up diabetic.

Good luck with that mate!

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Originally Posted by Niles H. View Post
The main reason I didn't think of doing this before -- I already knew about the wild berries and their abundance -- is that I thought, going along with prevalent views and assumptions, that eating too much fruit was not advisable, because (as 'everyone knows') a diet that high in fruit:

(1) is dangerously low in protein

(2) has too much sugar

(3) too much fruit (and therefore sugar) will cause diabetes and insulin spikes and who knows what else -- all kinds of problems, though (according to good old conventional wisdom)

(4) just isn't healthy

(5) will not keep you strong

(6) is not what most people do, and therefore just shouldn't be done

(7) is somehow crazy or scary or dangerous

And so on.

These assumptions are quite false, but widely held.

Then I came across people like Michael Arnstein and Durianrider (both of them elite athletes), and Doug Graham and Frederic Patenaude.

These guys have researched these issues thoroughly, and tested them for years. Durianrider has very thorough blood testing done regularly; and he posts it openly.

The scientific data show clearly that fruit typically contains just about the right amount of protein for human beings, and is very much in line with the World Health Organization's protein recommendations....

So, basically, in a nutshell, new possibilities opened up for touring.


*******

If anyone is interested in a couple of good reads and more information on the subject,

this book by Patenaude is excellent and highly recommended,

http://www.amazon.com/Raw-Food-Contr...eric+patenaude

Kindle edition (9.99): http://www.amazon.com/Raw-Food-Contr...3298094&sr=8-1

And this one is a classic on the subject:

http://www.amazon.com/The-80-10-Diet...raham+80+10+10

This reviewer sums up one aspect of the situation:

"At first I thought it was crazy, honestly-- I was even going to just leave the book at work for someone else to take."

With a little more than three months on it, I really like this eating plan. It is not just fruit, although that is the bulk of what you eat. Which is fine if you like fruit (and I sure do!). For dinner you also eat a salad/soup type of meal, with some added fats in the form of nuts or avocado. I still can't eat as much as Graham recommends as far as the quantity of fruit, but I haven't felt like I'm starving or not getting enough nutrients. I actually feel pretty good.
At first I thought it was crazy, honestly-- I was even going to just leave the book at work for someone else to take. However, the more I read, the more I liked what Dr. Graham was saying. And anyone with young children will know that humans do tend to love and crave fruit. It's just when we get older we learn to prefer processed types of food.
The best thing is how simple and easy it is to shop for, prepare, and clean up after preparing a meal. Buying the simple ingredients has also been surprisingly easy on my budget.


(Not everyone is happy with this approach, but most reviews are very positive. And it seems as if the failures are often caused by user errors rather than basic or inherent flaws in the approach, which has been thoroughly demonstrated to work well for many active, athletic individuals like Michael Arnstein, Durianrider, and Doug Graham.)
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Old 03-14-13, 05:37 PM   #11
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All mammals require very similar nutrient ratios to survive. The difference is in their stomachs. Cows eat grass, but their stomachs and gut bacteria turn it into what amounts to a healthly nutrient profile for a human... or a dog or a bear. The berries/bears idea is inherently flawed, because humans digest things differently than a bear.

On that note, you can't get what you need to survive by foraging. The ecosystem cannot support you. It could 10,000 years ago, when there was wild game and you were trained from birth to catch and eat it. But today, you won't be able to.

Veganism and fruitarianism are flawed, fringe diets. Find me a vegan who has been vegan for over 10 years (rare), and whose health is optimal (I don't believe this person exists).

I suggest reading a book like "The Perfect Health Diet" to get a counter-argument to this plan of yours. I've seen too many friends go down the veg/vegen path and end up bloated, tired, depressed, and with various degrees of psychological problems to boot. And once you drop animal products from your diet, you could destroy your gut bacteria and cause permanent digestive issues for yourself

If you want to be extreme, cycle in urban areas while eating from the garbage and spanging for change. You'll eat better than burning 1,000+ calories biking from berry bush to berry bush. There are plenty of train hopper punks living that way right now, just most of them don't have bikes.

Another idea: Eat two thousand calories of blackberries in a safe home setting with nothing to do for the next two days. That second part is important

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Old 03-14-13, 05:40 PM   #12
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Basically, in a nutshell: Just follow the berries, like the bears.

They have huge, hulking bodies. They are strong and fit. They gorge and fatten up mainly on berries, in many areas, even though they need thousands of calories per day. I've watched them do it.
Bears eat almost 24/7 and can rake berries much faster than anyone. They also eat roots, ants, fish, carrion, deer, moose and the occasionnal bike tourist.
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Old 03-14-13, 05:48 PM   #13
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Actually, your list of assumptions below are mostly correct. If you eat nothing but fruit you probably will end up diabetic.

Good luck with that mate!
True -- if you eat fruit exclusively. These guys, though, are eating fruit predominantly but not exclusively (most of their calories come from fruit, and they eat a lot of it -- way more than most people ever dreamed of eating -- thirty bananas a day, for example). They also eat vegetables, and limited quantities of nuts and seeds.

I won't be eating fruit only, but (like them) supplementing massive quantities of fruit (in the form of berries) with other foods.

Fruit alone, no -- except for some meals. I would be sure to have enough of the other foods, and on a regular basis.
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Old 03-14-13, 05:50 PM   #14
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In the Northwest (Western Montana, Northern Idaho, Washington, Oregon) there are Huckleberries every where!! They are much better than Black Berries because they don't have all the seeds or the stickery bushes. You will have to convince the bears that you deserve to pick a few. There are also lots of fish in the rivers and streams in the NW, so plan for that too. Between the Steelhead and Salmon runs it can be lots of great food.
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Old 03-14-13, 05:55 PM   #15
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The people you are using as your reference, Durianrider for example, have been widely ridiculed on the internet for proposing dangerous and unnatural eating practices. Be careful who you use as your role models.


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True -- if you eat fruit exclusively. These guys, though, are eating fruit predominantly but not exclusively (most of their calories come from fruit, and they eat a lot of it -- way more than most people ever dreamed of eating -- thirty bananas a day, for example). They also eat vegetables, and limited quantities of nuts and seeds.

I won't be eating fruit only, but (like them) supplementing massive quantities of fruit (in the form of berries) with other foods.

Fruit alone, no -- except for some meals. I would be sure to have enough of the other foods, and on a regular basis.
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Old 03-14-13, 06:05 PM   #16
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All mammals require very similar nutrient ratios to survive. The difference is in their stomachs. Cows eat grass, but their stomachs and gut bacteria turn it into what amounts to a healthly nutrient profile for a human... or a dog or a bear. The berries/bears idea is inherently flawed, because humans digest things differently than a bear.

On that note, you can't get what you need to survive by foraging. The ecosystem cannot support you. It could 10,000 years ago, when there was wild game and you were trained from birth to catch and eat it. But today, you won't be able to.

Veganism and fruitarianism are flawed, fringe diets. Find me a vegan who has been vegan for over 10 years (rare), and whose health is optimal (I don't believe this person exists).

I suggest reading a book like "The Perfect Health Diet" to get a counter-argument to this plan of yours. I've seen too many friends go down the veg/vegen path and end up bloated, tired, depressed, and with various degrees of psychological problems to boot. And once you drop animal products from your diet, you could destroy your gut bacteria and cause permanent digestive issues for yourself

If you want to be extreme, cycle in urban areas while eating from the garbage and spanging for change. You'll eat better than burning 1,000+ calories biking from berry bush to berry bush. There are plenty of train hopper punks living that way right now, just most of them don't have bikes.

Another idea: Eat two thousand calories of blackberries in a safe home setting with nothing to do for the next two days. That second part is important
On the cows: I agree they have very different digestive systems. I once heard a lecturer say that cows and horses can eat grass and look how strong they are. Therefore, you can do something similar. Hugely flawed thinking. We agree on this.

Bears, though -- and I've been around them a lot -- not so much. They seem to be much more similar to humans in their food requirements and habits. I actually do believe that most humans could survive on most bear diets, and vice versa.

I don't plan on touring this way for ten years. Maybe for a few months. I'm sure it can be done, and that I can get more than enough calories and stay healthy.

Yeah, vegans (and raw vegans especially) can have problems like B12 issues, among others. But these are challenges that can be met fairly easily if you are informed.

I've eaten whole meals consisting of blackberries and manzanita berries before, and suffered no ill effects. I'll just be extending it, and making sure that some meals include other foods as well.

I would much rather pick and eat fresh berries than store throwaways.

Some berry patches are large and dense -- you don't have to travel far from bush to bush. You can eat a meal in twenty feet or less.

If you look at Michael Arnstein and Doug Graham, for example, both of them have stayed very (even exceptionally) fit and strong on this sort of diet.

I agree that if it is not done properly, it is likely to lead to problems (at least in the long run). But I believe it can be done properly, and can work for many people if done that way.
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Old 03-14-13, 06:06 PM   #17
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But, then what do you do with the microwave?
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Old 03-14-13, 06:11 PM   #18
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Well, I disagree, but it's up to you! I'm pretty strict with my diet (no grains, refined sugars, legumes)
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Old 03-14-13, 06:15 PM   #19
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Well, you probably won't have constipation. Berries are great for cleaning out your system.
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Old 03-14-13, 06:18 PM   #20
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The people you are using as your reference, Durianrider for example, have been widely ridiculed on the internet for proposing dangerous and unnatural eating practices. Be careful who you use as your role models.
You're right -- Durianrider is a controversial character. And I share your view that you should be careful. Patenaude exposes some of the corruption and lies he saw firsthand while working full time in the raw vegan world.

You should be very careful -- I quite agree.

And some of the assertions made by some of the raw food vegans are false, no doubt.

However, I think Durianrider has some good points, as does Michael Arnstein, as does Doug Graham. I think Patenaude has the most balanced, honest, multi-sided view of this world that I've come across. His book is not a one-sided promotion at all. Parts of it are more like an expose.

He got into serious trouble himself on these diets.

But he was clear-minded and persistent enough to sort it all out and make it work. And he shares what he learned very well.
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Old 03-14-13, 06:21 PM   #21
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But, then what do you do with the microwave?
That would be for another trip.

In the meantime, I'm taking pre-orders.
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Old 03-14-13, 06:22 PM   #22
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I wouldn't be paying attention to anyone who proposes eating 30 bananas a day.

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You're right -- Durianrider is a controversial character. And I share your view that you should be careful. Patenaude exposes some of the corruption and lies he saw firsthand while working full time in the raw vegan world.

You should be very careful -- I quite agree.

And some of the assertions made by some of the raw food vegans are false, no doubt.

However, I think Durianrider has some good points, as does Michael Arnstein, as does Doug Graham. I think Patenaude has the most balanced, honest, multi-sided view of this world that I've come across. His book is not a one-sided promotion at all. Parts of it are more like an expose.

He got into serious trouble himself on these diets.

But he was clear-minded and persistent enough to sort it all out and make it work. And he shares what he learned very well.
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Old 03-14-13, 06:34 PM   #23
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Originally Posted by Erick L View Post
Bears eat almost 24/7 and can rake berries much faster than anyone. They also eat roots, ants, fish, carrion, deer, moose and the occasionnal bike tourist.
I've been around them quite a bit. Some of them eat mainly berries for fairly long stretches of time. Some are not eating any fish at all (others live on fish, at least during the season). And no carrion (at least for substantial stretches of time). And little else besides the berries.

A doctor told me once that this assumption (American, but not exclusively American -- others have it too) that each meal has to be balanced -- one serving of this, one serving of that, etc. -- is flawed. You could eat a whole meal of potatoes, for example. Most people would think NO -- not good. But he was saying that you can balance it out in another meal. Or another day.

Or, in some cases, maybe even another week or another season.

I think we are more flexible in our omnivorousness than we've been taught.

I like the omnivore idea -- bears, raccoons, opossums, some of our rodent friends, ravens and crows, and we humans -- it's a great and flexible, adaptable, wide-ranging bunch of characters.

Still, I would agree that it's good to know what you're doing if you're going to step outside the lines drawn by traditional approaches to eating.

Last edited by Niles H.; 03-14-13 at 06:55 PM.
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Old 03-14-13, 06:51 PM   #24
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I wouldn't be paying attention to anyone who proposes eating 30 bananas a day.
Yeah, I know it seems extreme. But an average banana has about a hundred calories, so that's 3000 calories. If you're active and athletic, as he often is, you need all that and more. He's actually eaten up to about seventy in a day, but more like thirty much more often.

His main website is 30bananasaday.com.

Some people hate him, and try to bring him and his site down. Others hang on his every word -- he has quite a following, and it seems to have grown quite a bit despite the opposition. And the opposition can be very strong and determined.

But it hasn't been able to stop him,


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Old 03-14-13, 08:18 PM   #25
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IMO bike touring is supposed to be fun. Sometimes taking advantage of things that are easily available makes life more interesting. Dandilions, wild onions, mushrooms, brook trout, berries in season, fiddleheads and a few other things can be easy to collect and great eating. Other things, like pond lily roots, cattails, summac berries and birch bark might be something you could live off if you had to - I just wouldn't want to have to. There's reasons some foods were picked over others for mass cultivation. And those same reasons make bringing a few things with you a good idea - you're there to have fun.
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