My freezer is full of meat from elk, moose, squirrel, feral hog, whitetail deer, caribou, black bear, and an assortment of wild fowl ranging from blue grouse to turkey. What all those critters have in common— in addition to the fact that they’re the very definition of organically fed, free-range catch—is that I hunted them myself, then bloodied my own hands butchering the carcasses into serving-size cuts. Every year my family consumes a few hundred pounds of the stuff, ranging from rustically elegant osso buco to bizarrely inelegant deer testicles fried in oil I rendered from black bear fat.
If you were to compare the total caloric value of my freezer’s contents with the total caloric output that went toward harvesting it, you’d understand why I have the physique of a six-foot weasel—a vicious little creature that happens to be one of the predators I most admire. Every package of meat in my freezer is something I fought for by climbing a mountain, running a river, trekking through a forest, sleeping in snow, or slogging through a swamp, usually with a 40-pound pack on my back and sometimes with a grizzly on my tail. Now that’s Paleo. In case you’ve been in solitary confinement for the past five years, the gist of the Paleo movement is that, as a species, we’ve fallen a long way since our hunter-gatherer days, and now our carb-rich diets and lack of rigorous exercise have made us soft, slow, and vulnerable.
The most ardent Paleo enthusiasts argue that regaining our ancestral state of fitness goes beyond doing a little exercise and curbing one’s consumption of doughnuts. To get the full Paleo experience, you need to be out lifting rocks, running barefoot, and growing a beard. To say that I’ve been amused by the Paleo movement is hardly a criticism; I support any movement, or trend, that inspires people to get in shape and push their limits. But it’s been interesting to watch as Paleo enthusiasts discover “lost” principles about human endurance and fitness that hardcore hunters have lived by since the beginning of time.