Meet Grok: Growing your own food on the paleo diet

24 Oct 2013 09.39 am by Renny Wijeyamohan

Meet Grok –  the primitive pin up of the paleolithic movement (paleo for short). He’s the creation of paleo guru Mark Sisson, author of the best-selling Primal Blueprint. In Sisson’s words:


“Grok, as we have come to know and love him, is a rather typical hunter-gatherer. He hearkens from, say, the San Joaquin Valley of (now) California. Born before the dawn of agriculture, he lives the life of a forager – hunting game and gathering all manner of roots, shoots, seeds and fruits for both himself and his family/small band. He’s perhaps 30 years old, on the upper end of life expectancy in his day, but he has the remarkable health to live far beyond that if he can avoid the traps of his time: accidents, predators, illness – far different threats than ours today.


You see, by modern standards, he would be the pinnacle of physiological vigor. Picture a tall, strapping man: lean, ripped, agile, even big-brained (by modern comparison). And as for what’s underneath? An enviable workup: low/no systemic inflammation, low insulin and blood glucose readings, healthy (i.e. ideally functional) cholesterol and triglyceride levels. “Hmm,” you say, closing your menu. “I’ll have what he’s having.”


And what would that be exactly? Hardly the fare of our modern diet. Wild seeds, grasses, and indigenous nut varieties. Seasonal vegetables and leaves. Roots (once he mastered the art of cooking). Berries and other fruits when they were available. Meats and fish whenever he could get them: small animals like rabbit and squirrel as well as occasional big game like bear, bison, deer, and mammoth. Grok and his clan knew a good thing when they had it. No wasteful, finicky butchering methods here. Everything remotely edible was eaten: organs, muscle, marrow…” 


If Grok sounds like your kind of guy, you can read more about him here.


I’d like to talk a little less about Grok himself and a little bit more about what he represents. For Sisson it’s a base of health, vitality and nutrition that extends into a sense of fearlessness and an omnipresent can-do attitude (something that was probably essential when it was a question of you vs the Sabre Tooth Tiger).


“Grokking it” - as Sisson uses the phrase – is a metaphor for ownership of any given aspect of life. It’s focus, concentration, commitment and enthusiasm. Grokking it starts with the body (through what we eat and how we move) and ends with the mind (by harnessing a positive attitude).


Sourcing paleo food in the urban jungle

Grokking it and actually finding it sources of healthy, natural produce in the city can be a little bit difficult (not to mention expensive). I know from personal experience that a return trip from an organic supermarket like Whole Foods Market (United States) or Thomas Dux Grocer (Australia) can leave you with a smile on your face but a heart attack to your hip pocket. Not to say that there aren’t reasonably priced organic markets around – you just need to do a little digging.


Another option to consider (and that fits well into the holistic psychology that Grokking it seems to encapsulate) is growing your own food on the paleo diet. Whether you have a couple of sprawling acres, a small backyard for the kids or even a balcony – you can use the space you have to start growing your own fruits, herbs or vegetables.


Grok it – grow your own

So you’re into the paleo diet and you’re thinking about venturing into the food gardening space and setting up your own organic garden – here are 4 reasons why you should do it:


It’s easy: All you need is a small sunlit patch of earth (or pots on a balcony) to start growing. Ideally, you want to set your patch away from other trees and plants to minimise competition and promote growth. Once you have selected your area you will need to dig the soil and supplement it with things like compost, organic matter or fertilisers to ensure it’s nutrient rich. Once you have prepped the soil you can plant your seeds, water them and watch your plants grow. And if you’re worried about time - if you keep the scale of your garden small, it won’t take you long to tend to it.


Your food is 100% natural: You can control the soil types you use, the kinds of fertilisers that you want to add (or avoid) and the selection of fruits, vegetables and herbs you plant. Avoid additives and genetic modifications and eat your food fresh. The food you grow will be as natural as you want it to be – release that inner control freak.


Be sustainable: By growing your own food you’re engaging in sustainable and autonomous farming practices. Living off what you grow creates less waste. Once you start trying to live sustainably you’ll notice that attitude spilling into others areas of your life and things like switching the lights off, recycling and conserving water use will become second nature to you. You might even inspire your friends to do the same.


It’s fun: Learning a new skillset is pretty fun and tasting the products of your own labour is a novel and rewarding feeling. Just like Grok – cultivate an understanding of the environment. Be passionate about what you have created and serve it with pride.




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