Ancestral Health Symposium 2013 Wrap-Up

Last week I attended the third annual Ancestral Health Symposium in Atlanta, GA. It was a week of firsts for me – the first time I’ve attended AHS, the first time I’ve presented at a conference, and my first trip to Atlanta.

We ended up driving down from Baltimore with our friends Alex and Greg, and we also met up with our new friend Joanne who rode down with us from North Carolina. The whole trip lasted 13 to 14 hours each way, but we had a good time talking and saw some pretty sights.

It was definitely the longest road trip Oliver had taken, but he endured it like a champ and even took naps at his regular nap times.

We came across these somewhere in North or South Carolina, which were cooked in their own fat and had only salt added. The quality of the pork they are made with probably isn’t the best, but they were very tasty and a good break from the jerky, nuts, and fruit we had packed for our trip.

When we finally arrived in Atlanta, I was pleasantly surprised to find that they were having unusually mild weather, something more akin to my home state of Washington than the “Hotlanta” I was expecting. The city itself was nice, and had a rich history. My wife and son really loved the aquarium, and Oliver couldn’t stop talking about the four whale sharks he saw there. The traffic was pretty terrible, and it seemed like half the city’s streets were under some sort of repair, but it wasn’t the end of the world.

I co-presented with my Paleo hero, Paul Jaminet, where we discussed the concepts behind the food reward theory, and how there seems to be a compelling argument that if we follow our innate food preferences we’ll maintain our health. When money is no object, it appears that we tend to prefer a diet similar to a gourmet diet. In other words, tasty food is healthy, provided the ingredients you use are healthful and that we look at the ingredients we choose with a Paleo context. To strike this balance, we proposed that the Paleo world consider moving towards an “Ancestral Gourmet Cuisine” that follows gourmet culinary practices but with a focus on healthful ingredients. I think the presentation was well-received, and as soon as the folks behind AHS post videos of our talks I’ll share the link.

I attended some excellent talks as well, which included discussions on (I’m paraphrasing here): the deleterious effects of social media by Tony Federico, how diet affects autoimmunity by Sarah Ballantyne, and an eye-opening talk by Hamilton Stapell on just how far the ancestral health community has/hasn’t come in the past few years.

photo courtesy of Nom Nom Paleo

While the talks were very informative, I have to admit that I mostly spent my time meeting and getting to know the people behind the blogs and companies that are putting delicious and healthy meals on your plates. I really enjoyed meeting up with old friends like Michelle from Nom Nom Paleo and Diana from Sustainable Dish, as well as meeting some online friends in person like some of the US Wellness Meats family (who are all in the picture above). I also had the chance to catch up with other online friends like Ute Mitchell as well as Patty and Ron from the excellent Paleo recipe sharing site ChowStalker.

I also made some new friends, including the folks behind Cultures for Health, Tendergrass Farms and Kombucha Kamp. Lastly, I had the pleasure of meeting Mickey Trescott from Autoimmune Paleo, whose cookbook is absolutely stunning and provides some very well-crafted recipes.

I also picked up a couple copies of the Perfect Health Diet book to give away as gifts to family and friends. I haven’t mentioned this book in a while, so let me set the record straight – this is hands-down the single best health and nutrition book out there.

Overall, I had a great time and really enjoyed the academic atmosphere of the conference. I learned a lot of new stuff, met with some great people, and can’t wait to do it all over again next year.

11 thoughts on “Ancestral Health Symposium 2013 Wrap-Up

  1. Definitely been more like “Seattle of the South” than Hotlanta this year, which has actually been kind of pleasant for a change. It was so great to meet you in person Russ and your presentation was one of the best! Thanks for teaching us how to properly pronounce our last name! :)


    1. It was great meeting you too, Patty! If your husband is interested in my take on the spelling of your last name, it would be “Стреляев” in Cyrillic (“Strelyaev”, emphasis on the “ya” syllable), which I just researched and confirmed that it is a common Russian last name in use today :)


  2. We had some of those Carolina Cracklins on our drive too! I enjoyed them more than expected.

    It was great to meet you- I’m glad we got to do dinner one night!


  3. a d’athbhlagáil ar Míle Gaiscíoch éagus d’fhreagair:
    Of course I REALLY wanted to go to this. Perhaps next year it will be closer to the West Coast. I’ll be giving a presentation this weekend, September 28, in Bend, Oregon at Real Food Cascadia on the relationship between Ancestral Health, Food Sovereignty, Bioregionalism, and Practical Decolonization. To the ancestors! And the ones to come!


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