Ancestral Health Symposium

Over the last couple of weeks my family and I were back east visiting my parents and enjoying the NH sites. I was fortunate enough to attend the second annual Ancestral Health Symposium at Harvard (Cambridge, MA) during our stay!! It was an amazing three day event full of primal, paleo, ancestral information, discussion, debate and networking. It was incredible to be part of such a diverse, yet similarly minded group of people all in support of a whole-food and quality-life movement. 
Aside from learning from some of the leading experts in this area, and those I have built my base of knowledge from (including Robb Wolf, Mark Sisson, Gary Taubes, Chris Kresser, Paul Jaminet, Peter Attia, Dr. Ron Rosedale, Dr. Cate Shanahan, Nora Gedgaudas, Dr. Terry Wahls, and many more), it was fun to see and talk to some of my favorite bloggers, authors and real-food enthusiasts (Nom Nom PaleoFitBomb, Diane Sanfilippo – Balanced Bites and author of Practical Paleo, Dallas and Melissa Hartwig – Whole 9 Life and authors of Whole 30 and It Starts with Food, etc.). It was also great to meet new friends and colleagues!
One of my favorite moments was listening to keynote speaker, Joel Salatin, “a third generation beyond organic farmer and author whose family owns and operates Polyface Farms in Virginia.” It was fascinating to listen to him discuss the symbiosis of animals, soil, and vegetation on a farm, the difference between annuals and perennials and their effects on soil health, and I loved his take home message on the importance of getting in the kitchen, unplugging, and working WITH nature.  
Three long days of info overload meant a few necessary snacks. Here are a couple pics of some items from our swag bag (VitaCoco water, a Primal Pac, and a Yawp bar). 
I also brought along a Paleo Krunch bar and some grass-fed beef jerky from Steve’s Original
One of my favorite presentations was a panel on “Safe Starches”. Dr. Ron Rosedale, Dr. Cate Shanahan, Chris Kresser and Paul Jaminet debated the benefits and effects of including starches such as potatoes, white rice and fruit in an optimal diet. There were a couple of tense moments as the passion of those on opposite ends of the argument came out!! While most everyone at AHS would agree on the basics of an optimal way of eating, there are plenty of differences that drive us to learn more, experiment and continue pursuing our journey for ideal health. Is there a one-size-fits-all answer? Do we all have slightly different needs based on previous exposure, genetics or epigenetics? 
It was also great to see (fellow UT residents) Dallas and Melissa Hartwig’s ( poster presentation on the “Seasonal Model of Health” and how our ancestral rhythms may differ throughout the year.
Lunch was catered with paleo-friendly menus the second two days of the symposium. Once by Blue-Ribbon BarB-Q (photo above) and once by B.Good (with the quest of making fast-food “real”). I failed to take a photo of this meal as I was enjoying great primal company with fellow AHS-ers. 
Day 1 – My husband and I headed over to FOUR Burgers for locally sourced grass-fed burgers and hand-cut sweet potato fries!!! YUM! While, grass-fed beef is super hard to find in a restaurant setting, there are a handful of spots around the country that are starting to offer such quality. Support, support, support such establishments when ever possible.  
Day 2 – Sustainable Dish Dinner at Clark Farm. Stay tuned for my next post! 
Day 3 – Home to my parents’ for paleo spaghetti squash, meatballs, and mixed green salad!
My husband and I also enjoyed a WOD at Commonwealth CrossFit while in the Cambridge area. It’s always fun to drop-in at other CrossFit gyms for a taste of local community fitness.
There’s so much I could write about from my experience at AHS, but most importantly from a practical standpoint is that there’s growing support for this type of living and continued theory, research and study to validate this optimal health driven movement. I’m already looking forward to next year’s Ancestral Health Symposium!

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