Why Paleo: the Iowa Chapter
It has been a whole year since going Paleo, and I cannot believe it. As a way to commemorate, my last post was about the Top 12 Things to Expect When Going Paleo. If you haven’t seen it yet, I highly suggest checking it out.
A lot has happened in the past year, and I am happy to say that my picture taking skills have completely transformed:
But a whole year? I can’t believe it. Where does the time go? When I was younger, people always told me that time would pass so fast, and now I finally believe them. My time in D.C. happened in the blink of an eye, college was a blur: I spent 4 years at Iowa being a full-on, gold-and-black bleeding, corn and Panchero’s loving Hawkeye, and it feels like I was only there for 2 years at the most. I even stuck around Iowa City for an extra year after I graduated doing research on cognition, my first uninhibited foray into the technical workings of the brain. I went back to Iowa City last fall, about 6 weeks after going Paleo, and it was the first time I had been back since I moved away from Iowa. Memories, emotional and factual, are very often encoded and embedded with location and places. Have you ever wondered why you only remember what happened the first day of second grade when you are visiting your former elementary school? Or why you only remember that you need new toothpaste in your bathroom at home, but not when you are at the drugstore? Memories attach themselves to places and objects automatically; it is only when facts and events are either so meaningful, scarring, elating, or so diligently rehearsed that you can recall them without a cue, a prompt, or without a pungent location reminder. The mind really is a powerful, strange creature. I truly think that we have only begun to scratch the surface on what we, as people, have the ability to do with our memory and cognition, especially when we have the cognition to diligently think about our cognition. (Think about that 10 times fast.)
Walking around Iowa City years after I had left was surreal. As is the nature of college towns, everyone there was exactly the same age as when I had left, and I was the only one that had grown, that had aged, that was now bringing new experiences and new outlooks to a place that was seemingly unchanged. Walking around campus and the town was like watching reels of a past movie of my life: every street, house, building, store, dorm triggered dozens of memories, every which of that I indulged in and made sure to honor with value, with the idea that each one of these memories helped me or hindered me from decisions, each one shaped me to make the choices that have led me up to this point in my life.
While in Iowa, I received a dual degree in both Cognitive Psychology and Speech & Hearing Science. I also received a minor in French Language and Literature, all while taking several writing courses taught by graduate students and professors in the Iowa Writers Program. Iowa was the place that taught me that no matter how wide and diverse my interests were, they could be blended: life, if anything, is much more holistic and integrative than compartmentalized.
Living in Iowa was the first time I had really truly been exposed to food production, cultivation, and farming. It was the first real exposure I had to how raising animals, humane or not, impacted food flavors, nutrient content, and overall health. I was lucky enough at Iowa to meet and make friends with several people who were raised on farms, or still farmed with their families. I even dated a man from South Dakota who showed me how his family farm seeded their land, how they raised and birthed cattle. I got to drive a combine, I held and bottle-fed a lamb two days after it was born. I was exposed to the dependency of farmers on government subsidies, on their (sometimes unavoidable) relationship with big agriculture companies, on their difficult decisions regarding organic vs. conventional farming. I even learned about how prayer and faith played an integral role in the lives of many farmers; how could a “$10,000 rain” not be considered blessings thrown from the heavens above?
All of these exposures have led me to this point, to this point where I have been following a Paleo lifestyle for a year. My time in Iowa gave me the perspective to cut out processed foods, toxins, and food dyes, to concentrate on whole foods, and consider farming practices long before I even knew that a primal lifestyle existed. Living in Iowa exposed me to a part of the world and industry that is commonly overlooked, especially now that more than half of the world's population lives in an urban environment. How can we ignore or look past how our food is grown? How it gets into our homes? How can we not give credit to the people who spend their days ensuing we, essentially, stay alive?
In the past year, I have been challenged by many as to why I am so adamant about my lifestyle, about why I’ve embraced being primal with such veracity. Well, friends, I have a pretty long and complicated story, specific experiences, and a health-based degree that has led me to this point. I hope that I can give more insight to these choices as time continues to pass, as a few posts cannot even begin to capture the holistic and very personal reasons as to how I have arrived at this point in my life. I’m very excited to share these glimpses of my past with you readers in the coming future, and I’m hoping that I’ll be able to hear your reasons for having primal interests as well. But, as always, thank you for listening.