Pemmican, Oh Pemmican – How Do I Love Thee?

I don’t like cooking. I don’t like thinking about food either. I love eating but whipping something up is a bit more of a chore for me than seems to be for others. Food preparation is so beyond annoying to me that I will eat the exact same things day after day to avoid having to think about food.

Common nutritional wisdom says we should eat a great variety of foods for vibrant health, but variety just isn’t the spice of my life so I usually go for a bar of pemmican. (By the way there was an article on Seth’s blog this week about rotating foods for weight loss which I found notable. He brought up set points which I hadn’t heard of before and I thought that was interesting so I’m telling you about it.) Pemmican is a Native American, high-fat snack that was used as travel food once upon a time before the bloody invasion of these lands.

A little Pemmican History

The word pemmican (pimîhkâ) comes from the Cree tribe and is derived from pimi – fat or grease. It is a simple food with 2, maybe 3 ingredients. Fat would have been rendered from the back cavity of a large game animal like buffalo or elk. The muscle meat would have been sliced, laid out to dry, and ground to a powder to make beef jerky. Then, the rendered fat (tallow) and the jerky would be mixed together in a rawhide bag to make pemmican. This high fat snack was carried on long journeys and even shared with European settlers and explorers.

I’m Native American!

I always wished I lived when Native Americans thrived. Really. Just look at the picture above (courtesy Wikimedia Commons). What freedom! The simplicity of life and food, the respect for land and life. I know times would have been hard but I’d trade all our modern woes to pack up and run from enemies, to go hungry sometimes, to escape inclement weather. I actually am a little bit Native American – 1/64 Choctaw – not much, and definitely not enough to transport me back 6 or 7 generations. But I can daydream every afternoon when I eat my pemmican…

Pemmican, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways!

1. You have three ingredients – dried beef, tallow, and sea salt
2. You are the Paleo version of a candy bar – creamy and almost naughty
3. You don’t give me a stomach ache like everything else that comes in packages.
4. You’re not very popular so I get to eat all of you
5. You give me freedom from making lunch
6. You have some iron
7. You’ provide omega-3s
8. My daughter likes you (with a little honey on top) and that’s huge
9. You’re high in fat and I really really like fat (If you’re still not sure about eating high fat, check out how the Native Americans did it)
10. You make me feel happy

To make pemmican or to buy it

That all depends on how much you loathe the kichen I guess. The recipe is simple. I described the steps above. (I imagine it will work fine without a rawhide bag, though if you can get your hands on one, let me know and I just might try it myself.) I haven’t actually gone to the trouble. I do have a couple pounds of tallow from US Wellness in my freezer and I often make beef jerky (my recipe is here) but I don’t like cooking and I have found an amazing source of pemmican from US Wellness made from grassfed cows, so that’s what I eat, most days, for lunch.

What’s it like?

When I received my first order, I ate it cautiously. The flavor is distinct, not like anything I’d ever tasted. It was interesting, I thought, and filling so it will do. But by the third bar (not at the same time!) I was hooked. The creamy texture, the simple flavor, the ease – I was officially addicted.

US Wellness sells a few different varieties – one with a minuscule amount of cherries and honey, one plain, and one with no salt. I don’t care for the one with cherries. I think it masks that decadent flavor of the plain one. But I understand the one with cherries is the most popular so I may just be a little weird.

I’m not trying to sell you on US Wellness for any reason other than that they’re awesome and that they make the best (and maybe the only) pemmican around. I eat it every day and just thought you’d like to know about it. If you buy from them, I do get a tiny cut and that’s an added bonus for me, kind of like a donation from you, but really, that’s not the point. The point is I am enamored of US Wellness pemmican and think that you just might be too.