[Transcript] – The Problem With Paleo: Why It’s OK To Eat Bread, Grains, Legumes, Cheese & Milk.

Affiliate Disclosure


Podcast from:  bengreenfieldfitness.com/israel2

[00:00] Introduction

[01:12] Onnit

[03:35] Ben In Israel – What He Ate

[04:49] Meeting Uri Mayer-Chissick

[06:50] What is A Food Historian?

[10:23] How Paleo Fits in to the No-grains, No-bread, Little-to-no-dairy Philosophy in a Mediterranean culture?

[13:40] How Traditionally Prepared Bread is Different from the Modern One and How to Find and Make Easy-to-Digest Bread

[28:31] How to Prepare Chickpeas and Lentils to Make it Gut-Friendly

[36:07] Why Some Dairy Products Cause Health Problems while Some Are Nourishing and Digestible

[51:58] Why the Rise in Celiac Disease is Due to a Difference in the Way Wheat is Grown

[59:43] End of Podcast

Ben:  Happy Holidays, folks!  This is Ben Greenfield.  Welcome to the Ben Greenfield Fitness Show and this is a special episode basically because we’re too lazy to record a podcast on Christmas Eve and simply would rather hang around in our pajamas opening Christmas gifts and singing Christmas songs around the crackling fire while roasting chestnuts.  Which I’ve actually never done.  I’ve never roasted a single chestnut.  I’ll have to add that to my list of things to do this holiday season.

Anyways though, I do have a fantastic podcast for you today.  A really cool discussion that I had about paleo diets.  I talked to the food historian and a wild plant wild edible plant expert about paleo diets and whether we actually can get away with eating things like grains, and bread, and legumes, and chickpeas, and lentils, and dairy, and why and how we can do that.  So it’s really a fascinating talk.

I think you’ll enjoy it quite a bit but before I delve into that discussion a quick shout out to today’s sponsor.  Onnit.  Now, there are four different kinds of kettlebells that you can use and if you didn’t know about kettlebells they are one of the most potent fat-burning metabolism-boosting fitness-bestowing gifts that you can give to yourself this holiday season.  There’s a Howler.  My kids actually use the Howler.  It’s an 18 pound kettlebell.  It’s called the half pood.  This tiny little kettlebell, 18 pounds awesome little kettlebell.  This nasty little monkey face on it.  There’s the Chimp which is 36 pounds and that’s called a one pood.  There’s an Orangutan which is 54 pounds.  That’s actually one of my favorites.  It’s great for swings and it’s good for a guy about my size.  That’s a one point five pood.  And then there’s the Gorilla.  Pretty much all I can do with the Gorilla is carry it up and down my stairs which is actually a great workout.  I’ll put on a weighted vest, hold that Gorilla to my chest and just carry it up and down the stairs.  So that’s a 72 pounder or a two pood.  You can grab yourself a kettlebell or get the entire collection.  It’s like a piece of art these four kettlebells with the monkey faces in them over at onnit.com/bengreenfield and when you go to onnit.com that’s o-n-n-i-t dot com/ bengreenfield you also save ten percent.  So get yourself a Howler, a Chimp, an Orangutan and a Gorilla to celebrate in style this holiday season.

And now onto today’s episode on going beyond paleo eating breads, cheeses, and yummy yummy hummus.  Enjoy.

Ben:  Hey, folks it’s Ben Greenfield here and a few weeks ago while I was in Israel I posted a photo on my Instagram page and that’s over at instagram.com/bengreenfieldfitness and on that page I have photos of all these amazing breads and cheeses and grains and you know, falafel made with local chickpeas and popcorn that we ate that was literally grown on somebody’s rooftop and freshly picked spelt, and rye, and goat milk cheese that was sprinkled with fresh herbs and tahini that was blended with beets and all these amazing foods that technically if you think about it many people eating popular modern diets like ketosis diet or paleo diet or any of these other popular diets would technically not be able to eat if they were following the rules of that diet.

What I commented on my Instagram page was a wealth more for me.  We’ll I’ve got to admit that I stuff my face with pretty big portions of just about every food that I just listed while I was in Israel but also when I visited a home in Galilee for this traditional weekly Shabbat Feast and during that particular dinner I sat next to a guy name Uri Mayer-Chissick.  He’s also known as the Israeli locavore.  He’s a food historian.  He’s a wild edible plant expert and we actually had a really interesting discussion about traditional agricultural foods that you’ll find in many places in Israel and around the world like bread and cheese and the surging popularity of the strict avoidance of these foods by people who adhere to say like, a hunter-gatherer paleo-ish-diet and Uri was kind enough to actually agree to come on my podcast and he’s on a call with me today and I’ve got to tell you this guy is a real deal.

Not only does he cook amazing food but he leads these hikes and tours of the Israeli countryside to find local wild edible plants and he teaches outdoor cooking classes, he gives food history lectures, he prepares gourmet meals and nature and reconstructs historical recipes with wild plants and when he’s not traipsing through some valley in Northeastern Israel with a pot and pan in his hand, he’s lecturing.  He lectures about food and the history of local food preservation ways that ancient medicine used nutrition as a way to achieve balance and traditions of foraging and healing and cooking in the Mediterranean and the Middle East.  And even if you don’t live in the Mediterranean or the Middle East you’re going to learn a lot in this podcast about how we can marry a lot of what we’ve historically enjoyed you know, like breads ad cheeses and legumes and things like that.  And kind of, also bear in mind some of these modern principles of hunter-gatherer paleo type of diets.  So Uri, thanks so much for coming on the call today.

Uri:  Thank you for having me.

Ben:  Well, I’m curious.  You’re a food historian and I guess, I’m not really sure what a food historian actually does.  What is a food historian?

Uri:  I think nobody knows exactly what.  Even us we don’t know what to do.

Ben:  (Laughs)

Uri:  I usually gather historical information about the food people ate through history, through old recipe books, through a local tradition, through archaeology, and many other sources and trying to learn from that about what people ate through history, why they ate it and how it affected what we’re eating today.

Ben:  Did you go to school for food history?  Was that what you studied?

Uri:  In Israel we don’t have a real faculty for the history of food.  I found a professor that allowed me to research this subject under his supervision and I consulted with many other scholars around the world and try to figure out how this thing is done.  And slowly I got to know the people and the sources that I need to use to reconstruct the locally traditional food.

Ben:  Interesting.  Okay, so then you’re also a wild edible plant expert.  How did you become a wild edible plant expert or become interested in that too?

Uri:  You know, when you deal with food you deal with everything and gathering of wild edible plant is part of the local tradition for history everywhere around the world.  The knowledge about the edible plants how to use them, where to find them, how to construct a food from them.  Its knowledge that was gathered for thousands of years and actually we’re going to lose it.  And part of my work is trying to preserve the local knowledge of gathering wild edible plants.

Ben:  Cool.

Uri:  Actually, in the land of Israel you can see many, many plants that are still in the wild and we know them as part of our agriculture.  We can see the wild wheat, and the wild mustard, and the wild pears, and many other wild plants that we can see in the markets and it’s very interesting to see the connection between these plants in the wild and how they became to be agriculture.

Ben:  You mean, like seeing them in their native form and then seeing them…

Uri:  Yes.

Ben:  At the market and then served to you at restaurants and things like that?

Uri:  Try to figure out why did people thousands of years ago try to cultivate them.

Ben:  Uhm, yeah.  Yeah, you’ve got to wonder who the first person was, right?  Who decided that they were going to eat a specific grain or grass and prepare it in a certain way and I’m sure that as a food historian you know all the stories and how that actually happened.  And obviously there’s tons of things that we could talk about when it comes to food history and wild plants.  But when we sat at dinner we started talking specifically about paleo.  I think I was one of the first who started talking about and how even in Israel the paleo movement seems to be getting popular and yet the paleo diet adheres to this philosophy of no bread, no grains, little to no dairy, no legumes, et cetera.  Now how has this been received in a culture where it seems that like bread, and legumes, and wheat, and cheese, and all these foods are such staples?

Uri:  The paleo diet is very popular in Israel now and what we understand now that it has a lot of sense to it because you know, hunters and gatherers ate mostly vegetables and some meat but also we need to consider the fact that for thousands of years we’re eating legumes and cereals.  Of course, we didn’t eat them in the way we’re eating them now.  But it was part of our diet and I think it came be like two separate conscience one is the palate when they eat only meat and the other is the agricultural westernized Israeli diet when they eat only cereals, white bread, sugar, and other stuff.  And I think we need to find the balance, the historical balance between them.

Ben:  Hmm, so when someone living in Israel say is following a paleo diet are they just completely avoiding like falafel and hummus and goat cheese when they sit down to dinner you know, bread and things of that nature or are they cheating?  (Laughs)

Uri:  Yes.  Actually, there are many kinds of paleo people in Israel.  Some of them eat only meat, only animal fat and vegetable and some eat regular for fruits also legumes.  It depends on how deep you’re into the paleo diet.

Ben:  Okay.  Got it.  So you mentioned how grains and grasses and things of that nature are a traditional part of something that we’ve been eating for thousands of years.  I know that perhaps and I’ve heard folks like Loren Cordain for example, argued that sure maybe we’re eating them for thousands of years but then if you look even farther back than that maybe those are still very, very modern foods from a human history standpoint.

I’m curious if you look at least at recent human cultures whether or not you believe how far back human culture goes when it comes to the consumption of these foods.  Let’s start with bread for example.  How would bread be traditionally prepared in a manner that would make it different than say, like modern bread?

Uri:  Actually, the bread they ate through history especially here in Israel was very different from what we eat now.  First of all it was a whole wheat bread.  The flour was constructed from the whole grain, everything.  They took the grain, they crushed it and they used it to make bread.  The second thing is the grain was not the same grain that we’re using today.  You know, it’s funny to say that but most of the wheat in Israel these days is imported.  Ninety five percent but through history most of all the wheat that people ate here was local wheat.  Local wheat that was grown in non-irrigated fields flew over Israel and the grain was very hard grain and not a lot of gluten.

Ben:  Uhm, so when you mentioned I don’t want to ask you about that gluten that you just talked about but before that you said that it was local and that there was no irrigation.  Why would those two factors matter?

Uri:  Because the kind of wheat that grew here in non-irrigated fields was hard wheat and the bread that we fermented we will talk soon about the fermentation part was very heavy.  And the heavy bread with a lot of fat in it note that the germ was bigger and the…

Ben:  The germ is the portion that contains all the fatty acids, right?

Uri:  Yes.  And the bond, let me find the exact word that you’re using for that.  The skin, the peel.

Ben:  Right.

Uri:  The shell of the wheat was much bigger, much harder so the wheat was easier to digest in our digestive system and also we need to consider that in every [0:16:14.8] ______ actually, the seeds that were eaten cereal and legumes they understood thousands of years ago that in order to digest them in the right way you need to do something to them.  You know, see the nature when it dries on the plant and fall into the ground.  It needs to survive ‘til the next season so it can sprout.  And during this survival time, it builds for itself like a protective environment, okay?

Ben:  Right.

Uri:  When we eat it with this protection, okay, when we eat it with this acids and things that it makes in order to protect it to preserve it to the next season, it’s very hard for our digestive system to digest it.

Ben:  Uhm.  Yeah.

Uri:  But if we sprout it or we ferment it, the fermentation or the process of sprouting the grain will make it easier to digest for our digestive system.  And they knew it through history and every cereal and legume that were eaten through history in Israel and all around the world was all sprouted or fermented.

Ben:  For people who don’t understand the difference between sprouting and fermenting, what’s the difference?

Uri:  Sprouting is the natural way of the cereal.  If you put a grain or a wheat or a legume like chickpea or fava beans or any other legume in water and then in the ground, it will sprout and then it would have a flower and pods and it goes around and you can eat it fresh or dried and if you want to again in the ground and sprout it, it will grow again.  And we sprout the legumes and the cereals many times before we eat them.  We take and examine the chickpeas, we soak them in water for a night or a day and then we take it out of the water put it on a place with a lot of air and after 24 hours you see little sprout goes out of the seed.

Ben:  Yeah, it’s actually amazing when you start to do this yourself on your kitchen counter it’s almost like you’re growing something, right?  It’s amazing how quickly something will grow a sprout.  You know, whether it is…

Uri:  It’s like growing a field of chickpeas.

Ben:  Yeah.

Uri:  A field.

Ben:  And then once you’ve sprouted something then you simply move along and use it in whatever recipe that you want to use it in such as bread, right?

Uri:  You can eat it fresh.  You can boil it.  You can do anything you want.  When I make hummus paste I make it from sprouted hummus.  From sprouted chickpeas.  I take the chickpeas and I sprout them and then boil them and grind them with tahini paste and it’s much more nourishing than any other hummus that is done from regular chickpeas.

Ben:  Yeah.

Uri:  We just need to sprout the legumes.

Ben:  A caveman never would have done that.  They would have simply realize it was bad for them and left it alone. (laughs)

Uri:  A caveman didn’t set legumes aside.  They ate them fresh.  That’s what they did.  They ate fresh food and that’s all.  They didn’t dry food.  We started drying food, let’s say for example in stocking food, okay only when we started the agricultural revolution.  And when we started stocking food then we had the need to sprout the grain because they were dry or to ferment them.

Ben:  I got you.  So what you’re saying is that if it’s not dried that you don’t need to sprout and ferment it?

Uri:  Yes, if it’s fresh.  If you take a fresh…

Ben:  Okay.

Uri:  Chickpea from the field you can eat it like that.

Ben:  But in modern agriculture so that we could feed people en masse we have to start drying these things for storage and once we start drying them for storage it requires them to be sprouted and fermented prior to eating them.

Uri:  Yes exactly.

Ben:  If you don’t want to cause gastric issues or damage your digestive system.  What is it about drying that makes it so that it needs to be sprouted or fermented?

Uri:  When it dries like I said before, it builds a defense mechanism.

Ben:  Okay, so that’s what builds the defense mechanism.

Uri:  We don’t want to eat it with the defense mechanism of it.  That’s what makes it hard for our digestive system to digest it.

Ben:  Yeah. 

Uri:  We want to make it easier for our digestive system so we sprout them or ferment because you know flower of a whole wheat you can’t sprout.  So the way they found is to ferment it.  A lactic acid fermentation.  Like they do.

Ben:  Fermentation scares a lot of people.  And I find this when I talk to people about fermentation they don’t understand it or they think that it’s hard to do.  Can you explain how someone would just simply take a local wheat, or a grain, or a legume that they’d purchased and usually it is in its dry form if you purchase it say from like your local grocery store or food market.  How do you ferment it?  What’s a really practical easy way to ferment?

Uri:  I think the fear for fermentation is coming from the fact that it’s a lost tradition.  From history everybody fermented.  And then now nobody is fermenting so it became to be something strange and something that we don’t really know if it’s okay you know, germs and bacteria we don’t really know but actually most of the bacteria in our digestive system is lactic acid bacteria and most of the fermentation through history was lactic acid fermentation.  And you know they fermented everything.  A yoghurt is a lactic acid fermentation of a milk.  And the cabbage you know, sauerkraut is lactic acid fermentation of a cabbage.  Actually, the best thing to do when you start like a beginner in fermentation is to ferment cabbage.

Ben:  Uhm.  That’s funny that you say that.  That’s exactly what my wife started with was cabbage and making kimchi with cabbage and sauerkraut.

Uri:  That’s the easiest thing to do.  You can’t really go wrong with that.  And then you have the lactic acid bacteria in your fermented cabbage and you can use it to other things.  If we are talking about bread, bread is something else.  Bread we’re using sourdough.  Actually, the word “sour” in English came from the word ‘so-ur’ in Hebrew.

Ben:  Really?

Uri:  This is, yes.  ‘So-ur’ in Hebrew came from the word leftover.

Ben:  I got you.

Uri:  Why because every time they made the dough, a new dough they took the leftover the last part after the fermentation and used it to ferment the next dough for the next bread.

Ben:  Yeah, and that’s exactly and honestly I eat probably about half a loaf of bread every week and it’s made by my wife, a sourdough bread and that’s really the only type of bread that I’ll typically eat.  But I’m curious like when you sit down to a Shabbat dinner in Israel this isn’t like a sourdough bread that you’re eating for example, it’s like an egg bread. Is that also made from a grain that’s been fermented or would you say that that’s not a traditional form of preparation?

Uri:  No, the modern yeast and also the challah bread is not the local traditional way of preparation.  The challah bread came from Europe to Israel and of course, the yeast the modern yeast, the lactic acid fermentation the sourdough that they use through history.  The modern yeast the industrial yeast only wants to make the bread bigger.

Ben:  So is the only type of bread that you would say is healthy? Is bread made from fermented grain like sourdough or can you eat bread for example, that’s been sprouted instead of fermented?

Uri:  Actually, you can eat the sprout bread you know, there wasn’t an Asian bread here.  The Asians live in the Judaea dessert.  They made an Asian bread, they took the wheat they sprouted it for two or three centimeters then they grind it and they dried it.  The dough that they made, they dried it in the sand.  And that was the bread but this bread was not a swelled, okay?  And I don’t know the exact word in English, it wasn’t big like a loaf of bread with a lot of air.

Ben:  Right.  It hadn’t really like risen and well was it, yeah.

Uri:  Yes.  It didn’t risen the way that we’re used to and it’s very nourishing this Asian bread.  I tried to do it once but it’s not as big as the bread that we know.

Ben:  Yeah.

Uri:  And the sourdough bread is rising and it’s very nourishing.  The industrialist only rising the bread but they’re not fermenting it, and for us in the nutritional point of view the fermentation is very important to our digestive system.

Ben:  Okay, I got you.  Now so for bread we’re looking for something that has been prepared from a sprouted grain or fermented and this would fall in line with the way that our ancestors would’ve traditionally prepared the grain that had been dried that hadn’t been picked fresh from the field.  Now you had mentioned how you make the hummus from a sprouted chickpea and I know that would kind of fall in to the line of something like a lentil for example, as well you know, all sorts of legumes out there that folks say are high in lectins and can cause issues with your digestion and when it comes to something like a chickpea or a lentil like how would people have traditionally prepared those simply sprouted them or is there more to it than that?

Uri:  Mostly they sprouted them or ferment them.  The same way as a bread.  We can see in traditional food all over the world even soy.  In China, they used to ferment or sprout before they used it.  In the same way, every area in the world the local legumes were in the cereals were all fermented all sprouted and then used.  Mostly the chickpeas and lentils in Israel were mostly sprouted or eaten fresh, of course, but I also know many kinds of dishes that will use the fermentation.  We have fermented chickpeas paste that were used to make like pancakes from.  You ferment, you take a chickpeas flour, you ferment it and then you make like a pancake from it.

Ben:  And when you ferment something like that are you just using like a lactic acid or whey or something like that?

Uri:  Yes, usually what I do in this modern day I take some water from the fermented cabbage.  And then when you put the water from the fermented cabbage in the dough that I make to form chickpeas flour, it ferments it because it has the lactic acid bacteria inside.

Ben:  And when you take that and when you originally ferment that cabbage from what you use the liquids to then ferment or to soak say like the chickpeas or the lentils in, are you using like well my wife for example, she strains the liquid off of yoghurt, right?  So first she gets milk and then she makes yoghurt out of the milk and then strains the whey off of that yoghurt and uses that as the fermentation medium for something like say, cabbage.  What do you use as a fermentation medium or a starter?

Uri:  It helps but you know, the lactic acid bacteria is of the air ‘cause when you breathe in and you breathe out.  When you breathe out you spread millions of lactic acid bacteria to the air and when you make cabbage even if you don’t put intentionally lactic acid bacteria inside the lactic acid bacteria will get there from the air and will ferment it.  Actually, in the cabbage you make a special environment that inhabits the lactic acid bacteria to grow and then it grows and it, how do you say it in English I don’t know, just a second, gets over it.  It takes over the cabbage.

Ben:  Right.  Okay.  Yeah. 

Uri:  That’s the fermentation process.

Ben:  Okay, and so what are you using to start that fermentation of the cabbage?  Are you simply using like salt and water?

Uri:  I don’t add salt.  Don’t add water.  I take the cabbage.  I cut it very fine.  I put two percent of salt for 100grams of cabbage, I put two grams of salt.  I let it sit together you know I treat it like a dough.  I’m kneading it a little bit and I let it sit together for the salt and the cabbage for an hour or two and then the cabbage is getting softer and the fluids from the cabbage, the water from the cabbage go out.  Then I use this, I take the cabbage with its own water put it in a jar and press it down so the water will get over the cabbage.

Ben:  Uhm.

Uri:  Then I close the jar tightly.

Ben:  Yup.

Uri:  And in the first three to four days I open it once a day to you know, so it won’t blow because it makes a lot of gasses inside, you open it for one second every day and the gasses go out and after ten days it’s ready.  You don’t need to add anything.  You don’t need to do anything.  It’s the cabbage and the salt.  Actually, the cabbage and the salt makes the environment safe for the lactic acid bacteria and helps it to take control of the bacterial environment.

Ben:  Yeah, and it’s very quick and easy to do, I mean we’re talking about a process that takes about five to ten minutes to start and then a quick check in your kitchen you know, for example to let the air off as it ferments.  It’s crazy how lazy some people are who would rather just buy a loaf of whole wheat bread and then go to the doctor and deal with the gas and bloating that ensues from not being willing to learn how to soak and sprout and ferment but it’s so easy to do once you figure these things out, you know and for example my wife and I have one book that’s really, really good it’s called “Nourishing Traditions”  and it teaches you how to do all these things I mean even if you don’t get this book which is a cook book just for the recipes I mean a lot of the things that Uri’s talking about like it teaches you how to do right in the beginning of the book but like one of the staples in our kitchen.  As a matter of fact, there’s two copies of it on our stairs right now that my wife is giving away as Christmas gifts just because we like some of the concepts in that book.  So I’m curious…

Uri:  Actually, the book that I use is also an American book it’s called “The Art of Fermentation”

Ben:  Yeah, my wife has that one too.

Uri:  Yes, I use it.  It’s an amazing book.

Ben:  Yeah, it’s a good one.  “The Art of Fermentation” absolutely.  And by the way, if you’re listening in over on the show notes at bengreenfieldfitness.com/israel2, that’s bengreenfieldfitness.com/israel the number two.  I’ll put links to these books like “Nourishing Traditions” and “The Art of Fermentation” and Uri’s website and Instagram page and things along those lines ‘cause there’s a lot of interesting follow-ups here that you can dig into.

But how about cheese? So we talked about some of these grasses and grains but then there’s cheese and there’s all this talk about how cheese and milk and you look around and no other animal drinks like the milk of another animal and how it’s unnatural for humans to be consuming milk and dairy and how you know, once we’re past the age of one or two whatever we lose our ability to tolerate lactose sugars from milk.  You know, there’s a lot of discussion again like kind of like the paleo/ancestral health movement about how dairy isn’t good for you, but when I was in Israel obviously there’s like goat cheese, and milks, and yogurts, like everywhere.  So what about cheese, how is it that dairy would have been done in a traditional way?

Uri:  Actually, we need to consider first that cheese is not like meat.  If we know that we are eating meat or hunting for let’s say, two million, three million people even say ten million years, cheese eating and using the milk of animals will bring it only for four to six thousand years.  It’s nothing you know, when you consider the evolution history of the human kind.  It’s connected to a second product we call the second product evolution.  When we started using animals not just for the meat but also for other uses.  So we started drinking milk but also it was done in specific places around the world that’s why most people are lactose intolerants.  If you ask me you know, if it’s good to eat cheese or not, I would say that most probably eating cheese on a daily basis is not something that is really fit to our digestive system.

Ben:  Really?

Uri:  Yes.

Ben:  So what about even cheese or dairy products that had been like say, fermented for example, like yogurt?

Uri:  Yes, but if you’re eating dairy product I think you need to consider two things.  First you need to know how the animal that gave you this milk grew.  What it ate.  You know, we know that the effect of good food for animals on the milk is amazing.  You know, also in humans if you eat good food, the milk is better.

Ben:  Right.  And I think that obviously a lot of folks would know that commercial feedlot cattle that was fed like antibiotics and given injected with hormones and things along those lines would not necessarily be something from which you’d want to eat like the milk or the yogurt that’s why we did a podcast a while back at bengreenfieldfitness.com about which brands of yogurt for example, here in the US are derived from good animals versus like we did Stonyfield versus Dannon versus some of the Greek yogurts and the best choices, right, the best brands when it comes to yogurt as far as the way that the cattle were treated.  But I’m still curious about the rationale behind how you’re saying that you shouldn’t eat dairy every day and I’m curious about it because I eat dairy almost every day so I’m wondering if I shouldn’t be doing this or if there are other considerations here?

Uri:  Mostly I think it’s not suitable for our digestive system because like I said two things in the milk that’s difficult to digest in our digestive system.  The first one is the lactose and the other is the protein of the milk.  The protein of the milk is really hard for us to digest.   

Ben:  Why is that?

Uri:  I think it’s not fitted for human digestive system.  And because we ate it for a short time only our digestive system didn’t get to fit to digest it well.

Ben:  Does it depend what animal that the protein came from?

Uri:  Yes.

Ben:  Because I interviewed a goat farmer who highlighted research that shows like a goat protein for example is more easily digestible for the human body versus like a cow protein when it comes to the dairy.

Uri:  Yes.  It’s true.  The cow protein is much bigger than the goat in its structure than the goat protein.  So the goat protein is much easier for us to digest but still it’s not the same protein like when we’re breast fed or other protein that were used to digest.  Like I said before if you eat dairy products you need to know where it comes from and it’s preferable that it would be fermented and high in fat.

Ben:  And I understand that lactose content will decrease really significantly when you ferment dairy but why the fat consideration? Why would you want to choose a source that’s higher in fat?

Uri:  Because for our nourishment through all history we ate animal products not for the protein of it but for the fat.

Ben:  Uhm.

Uri:  And we need that fat.  We need high quality fat to our brain and our body, and if we know that its high quality it’s preferable that we eat a meat product high in fat.  We need that fat.

Ben:  Yeah, absolutely.  And I know that when you homogenize and you pasteurize a lot of these dairy products actually you’d probably do a better job explaining it than me but how would you… like when it comes to the modern processing of dairy and what that does to the fat can you explain why that might not be a good thing?

Uri:  First we know that when cows are grass-fed for example and not eating grain they have more Omega 3 and other good fatty acids in the fat in higher content, okay?

Ben:  Okay. 

Uri:  We have [0:42:56.0] ______ the free milk that came from the cow that were grass-fed and not grain-fed.  And of course, like everywhere when we damage the fat like in homogenizing and other stuff and pasteurizing the milk, we damage the fat we heat it and then by homogenizing it, we break it.  We break the molecules of fat and so we’d make it a product that is not good for our existence.  We want a high quality fat and the way they grow the cows and the way they treat the milk affects the quality of the fat.

Ben:  Yeah, and from what I understand when you homogenize and pasteurize milk and change the fat globule size, I believe that that makes the proteins that adhere to the surface of the fat globules less digestible.  And so when you talked about the proteins probably just because we’ve been consuming milk for perhaps a shorter period of time when it comes to the human culture that we are simply making it even harder to digest those proteins when we break up all those fat globules or even remove them from milk.

So it’s an interesting observation now because I’m lactose intolerant, right like if I go out and have ice cream I am destroyed.  If I go drink two percent milk say, from the grocery store and I did this all the time when I was kid and I would always wonder why I’d have all this gut pain you know, and I drink like four glasses of milk a day from milk from the grocery store and would just be destroyed and I still am.  It changes my mood.  It gives me a bunch of gas pain and bloating like anytime I touch like, ice cream, milk, things along those lines but my wife gets raw milk from a local farm and it doesn’t do a thing to me.  And when I consume yogurt and fermented dairy products I’m fine and can tolerate those just perfectly.  And even like protein like whey protein that’s made from cows for example, I can’t digest it and I’m like constipated the next day and I feel horrible but when I consume whey protein from goats for example, I do just fine.  So it’s really interesting I’ve kind of found that I can do okay with some dairy and then some dairy is just like I have a very hard time with.

Uri:  You can do okay with high quality dairy product that’s the point.

Ben:  Yeah.

Uri:  Dairy product you know where they came from and what they’ve been for.

Ben:  Yeah.  So what this comes down to, it sounds like if you’re listening in consider the quality and the source and the way that your dairy product that you’re consuming has been treated and maybe consider not eating dairy every day.  When you consume lentils and chickpeas look at whether they’ve been soaked and sprouted and fermented.  When you consume bread, look at whether it’s from a local source and how the wheat was grown and whether that’s been sprouted or fermented for example.  And once you begin to take all these stuff into consideration, you know a lot of these ancestral methods tend to make these things healthy and even nourishing and digestible.

I want to ask you a question about the social implications of these though Uri because we talked about this a little bit.  I had a guy named Spencer Wells on my show.  He wrote this book called Seeds of Deception I believe.  I believe it was called Seeds of Deception or no, Pandora’s Seed, he wrote a book called Pandora’s Seed.  And the book is about how when we transition from a hunter-gatherer to an agricultural society that it was bad for human culture right, when we started farming and concentrating cities around farms how it kind of disrupted human culture and led to the spread of disease as all these humans were like concentrated in one small area.  Do you have thoughts on like a hunter-gatherer lifestyle versus an agricultural lifestyle as far as societal implications?

Uri:  Yeah, actually I think about that a lot.  I think that the main thing that happened after the agricultural evolution is that we started to move away from our involvement in our food production.  When moving away from our involvement in our food production and that’s putting at risk our health, our environment, and our community. and when people ask me what I’m doing, I’m not studying the history of the food just for fun.  I have a mission and what I’m trying to do is to get people closer to the food.  And asking the question where it comes from, why we eat that food and I think if people will go back to be involved in the food production, it will be much healthier and our community will be much healthier.  I think that most of the damage that the agricultural evolution did is taking us away from the food production.

There are many ways that we can go back and be part of the food production.  We can cope, we can ask where this food came from.  We can go and buy local.  We can eat wild edible plants, go to gather plants and there are many ways but we need to get and to keep this environment our environment healthier, we need to get closer to their food production.

Ben:  Interesting.  So what about like the concentration of the populations like around farms and things like that.  Do you think that’s a problem? I mean, do you think that we should still be like gathering and constantly moving to new areas instead of settling cities down around agricultural areas or do you think that the bigger problem is that we simply lost touch with food because it’s being produced by third parties?

Uri:  Yes, I think it’s complicated because you can’t go back.  You can’t move all the people from cities back to town.  But you can make them ask where this food is coming from and how will using this food economy not just to make profit but also to take care of our environment and our health in the community.

Ben:  Yeah.

Uri:  And I think if it will work like that the big companies will know just where the money is but also how will taking care of the environment, the health, and the community, the world will be much better to live in.

Ben:  Yeah, and getting in touch with your food I mean like, I’m fortunate enough now that I live in a place where I have eight garden beds outside my house.  I’ve got a big enough yard to where I can put that many garden beds, but I had dinner like I was in Vermont a couple of months ago.  I had dinner next to a guy who produces like his whole business is he produces towers and these are like gardening towers that you can put on your patio, or on your porch, and you can grow an entire week’s worth of food like vegetables and fruits and produce using simply one of these towers.  And I think a lot of people who perhaps are listening in and living in an apartment or condominium or an area with a very small space, I mean understand that you don’t need a lot of space to grow your own food.  In the house that we lived in before we lived in the house I’m in now we had about a quarter acre.  My wife dug up the entire backyard got rid of all the [0:51:22.5] ______, all the grass, all of our you know, the traditional American grassy lawn and instead just dug it all up and planted a garden and pretty much the only grass left was this tiny strip of grass that we used as a walkway between the two plots of dirt that she turned our entire backyard into.

So I mean, once you start to think about the space that you have available it’s so easy to get in touch with and to grow your own food and then once you’ve done that to use some of the ancestral preparation methods that Uri and I have discussed.

So Uri I’ve one other question for you as well.  When I visited Italy for example, there’s a lot of talk there about the rise in celiac disease and gluten intolerance there due to the, I believe, a change in the ancestral farming methods.  I’m curious if farming has changed in Israel as well in terms of the way that they’re growing food on farms and whether there’s been a change in the human health or the gut in Israel based on that?

Uri:  The same as in Italy there’s a big rise in Israel in celiac disease and gluten intolerance and I think the reason for that mostly is the amount of white flour that we’re eating.  Because when you’re not eating your whole wheat flour and you’re eating a lot of flour, you eat a lot of gluten.  And the reason the gluten intolerance is due to the amazing rise in the amount of flour that people eat.  You know, through history they ate bread, they ate whole wheat bread but they didn’t eat bread the whole day.  You know, we’re eating bread, and cakes, and snacks, and pasta, and many other things all contain a big amount of gluten.

Ben:  When you talk about gluten, do you get to a certain point where your gut can only tolerate so much like you could do okay with say like, two slices of bread a day but then once you get up to four, I mean, does your body reach an overload point or the extra gluten just pass through you? How does that work?

Uri:  For many people if they will eat dinner of two slices of whole wheat in a day won’t do anything but if they eat the bread and the pasta and everything else, the way it affects you very well that it can make your stomach ache or gasses.  It can affect your feeling in that day.  It can make headache.  It affects in very different ways and we can see a correlation that when in some countries they’re eating a lot of gluten that many more people have celiac disease and also they are much bigger community population of people that have gluten intolerance.  So it’s getting bigger and bigger in places that are eating more gluten in the world.  I think that’s the main problem.  The gluten is not the problem It’s the way we’re using it.  We’re over using it actually in our digestive system.

Ben:  Is it true that when wheat is grown in a way that allows it to generate like a higher yield crop or I even heard about genetic modifications for example to get a crop to get more yield.  Does that somehow concentrate or increase the proteins like gluten or wheat germ and glutamine that are indigestible?

Uri:  I think that the industrial agriculture wants to create a wheat with more and more gluten because what makes the bread rise well is the amount of gluten, and also if they don’t have enough gluten in the wheat they will take gluten from other wheat.  They can do it today and put it into the bread.

Ben:  Okay, so basically you’re making a bread that most humans would find to be more attractive or more palatable when you increase the gluten content?

Uri:  Yes.

Ben:  Okay. Interesting.

Uri:  Yes, because we want the bread that is very high… (crosstalk)

Ben:  Yeah, it’s funny when my wife uses the local red wheat from the Palouse here near to us in Poland, Washington and she makes her sourdough bread using this, but when it comes out even though it tastes really good and it’s actually really kind of dense but it’s also flat, right? Like what you see at the grocery store you’d be like, oh that’s a little flat one that’s not going to be like a big fluffy piece of bread but it’s also much lower in gluten.  So that’s interesting, so they know that when they concentrate gluten it’s going to make a bread that could potentially sell better?

Uri:  Yes, that’s what they want, to sell more bread.  Yes, of course.

Ben:  Interesting.  Wow.  Well, this has been a fascinating discussion.  I mean, we could talk for a really long time and I wish I could come have dinner with you again but it’s a little bit of a long plane flight (laughs).  But anyways, what I’m going to do is you have a really good Instagram page with some really cool food photos and you’ve also got a great website as well.  So over in the show notes for this episode if you’re listening in, if you go to bengreenfieldfitness.com/israel2, that’s bengreenfieldfitness.com/israel and then the number two you can check out Uri’s website as well as some of the resources that we talked about like the book “Nourishing Traditions” and “The Art of Fermentation”, and goat protein versus cow protein and other podcast that I’ve done on that vertical gardening towers and pretty much all the resources that we talked about.  So check all that out over at bengreenfieldfitness.com/israel2.

And by the way, if also if you’re listening in, I know that a few times during this show we talked a little bit about paleo and even though I’m not paleo I will still be speaking at the Paleo(fx) Conference coming up in April.  So if you want to check that out, you can go to bengreenfieldfitness.com/paleo15.  If you go to bengreenfieldfitness.com/paleo15 you can get in to that Paleo(fx) Conference which you can go to even if you’re not paleo.

So Uri, thanks so much for coming on the call today and for sharing all these with us.

Uri:  Thank you, it was fun talking to you.

Ben:  Alright, folks this is Ben Greenfield and Uri Chissick signing out from bengreenfieldfitness.com.  Have a healthy week.



A few weeks ago, while I was in Israel, I posted the photo above to my Instagram page, with the comment that…

“A Paleo person could never survive in Israel – local popped corn sprinkled with moss from the rooftop, freshly grown spelt and rye, falafel with soaked chickpeas, amazing lemons and guavas you simply bite through the skin, carob picked straight out of the desert, local raw sheep’s cheese and goat milk cheese sprinkled with fresh herbs, and omega-6 fatty acid packed tahinis blended with beets, freshly pressed olive oil and cilantro. Oh well. More for me.”

I have to admit that I stuffed my face with huge portions of nearly every food listed above when I visited a home in Galilee for a traditional weekly Jewish Shabbat feast. During that dinner, I sat next to Uri Mayer-Chissick (also known as “The Israeli Locavore”), who is a food historian and wild edible plant expert, and we had an interesting about traditional agricultural foods like bread and cheese, and the surge in popularity of the strict avoidance of these foods by those who adhere to a “hunter-gatherer” Paleo-esque diet.

Uri and I delve deeply into this discussion today’s audio podcast.

And this guy is the real deal. Not only does he cook amazing food, but he also leads hikes and tours of the Israeli countryside to find local wild edible plants, and he teaches outdoor cooking classes, gives food history lectures and prepares gourmet meals in nature, reconstructing historical recipes with wild plants.

When he’s not traipsing through the valley of springs in north-eastern Israel with a pot and pan in his hand, Uri lectures about food, the history of local food preservation, ways that ancient medicine used nutrition as a way to achieve balance, and the traditions of foraging, healing and cooking in the Mediterranean and Middle-East.

During our discussion, you’ll learn:

-How a Paleo diet that adheres to the philosophy of no-bread, no-grains, little to no dairy, etc. has been received in a Mediterranean culture where it seems that bread, legumes, wheat, cheese, etc. are such staples…

-How “traditionally prepared” bread is so much different than modern bread, and how you can find or make easy-to-digest bread…

-What it is it some dairy causes health problems, but some dairy is no nourishing and digestible…

-Why a rise in celiac disease is due to a difference in the way wheat is grown…

-And much more!


Nourishing Traditions

The Art of Fermentation

Goat whey protein

Vertical gardening towers

-Vibe Israel, an organization that brings international on- and offline opinion leaders in health and nutrition on a weeklong personalized experience of the burgeoning wellness scene in Israel (I’ve already released two valuable lessons I learned on that Israel journey: “5 Things You Can Learn From The Burgeoning Health, Wellness And Nutrition Scene In Israel” and “Why You Get Cancer And What You Can Do About It“).

By the way, even though I’m not Paleo, you can click here to come hear me speak at PaleoFX 2015, which is a Who’s Who gathering of the ancestral food and exercise movement, with world-class speakers including best-selling authors, physicians, nutritionists, research scientists, professional athletes, trainers, sustainability and food activists, biohackers, and more.




Ask Ben a Podcast Question

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *