Friday, July 22, 2016

Paleo diet, adapted

The "paleo diet" was all the rage not too long ago--I still find relics of the fashion here and there. I was otherwise occupied--studying how to keep blood sugar low seemed more fruitful.

I gather the gist was to eat as your ancestors did.

I don't know about yours, but my ancestors ate lots of preserved food. Preserved beans may not have the same texture and crunch as those fresh off the vine, but it turns out they're available during winter. Were the originators of the paleo diet from California, perhaps? Hmm. Nope, Voegtlin was from Seattle--winters are not exactly cold there, but they're not good for growing.

So my ancestral diet would be fresh food in season, and preserved stuff the rest of the year. Meat as available ("Before food waste, let belly burst"), bread, fish as available... Today: Fresh food is in the fresh food section of the grocery store, fresh meat is in the meat section, and preserved food makes up a lot of the rest. Just what the doctor ordered! Beef jerky and a loaf of bread and a helping of preserved green beans (from a can)--eat like your ancestors did. I'll bet they fixed up things like this. OK, without the potatoes--maybe oats.

Don't get the wrong impression: I'm surrounded by very good cooks and I no longer rely on "bachelor hash." But you can find cuisines in this country based on what you can fix out of cans and dried foods, and they seem as worthy the title of "ancestral style" as anything else. Only the rich get to eat fresh all the time.


The Mad Soprano said...

By ancestors they seem to mean the Neanderthals or something like that, and don't see to give a dang as to what grew in which region. I'm pretty sure the "Paleo Diet" of the Andes was little more than Lima Beans and potatoes.

jaed said...

Yes, the "paleo" in "Paleo diet" means the Paleolithic era. Not Neanderthals, but not immediate ancestors either. They weren't preserving food, unless maybe it was smoking meat over a fire. They weren't eating bread, because they didn't grow grains.

One of the implications of the Paleo diet stuff is that the human diaspora meant that for a long time, a lot of people have been eating a traditional diet that isn't optimal for human beings, because they turned to eating the things that were available where they lived.

And also that human city formation meant the same sub-optimality with diet, because if you've got a lot of people concentrated in one area they're not going to be able to eat much meat - they'll need to turn to a grain-based diet, because you can grow and store it much more easily for a large population. (There's anthropological evidence that city inhabitants were much less healthy physically than their hunter/gatherer predecessors. I take this as meaning that the advantages of urban organization are so profound that they overcome the real health disadvantages of making bread the staff of life.)

"Only the rich get to eat fresh all the time" was true for a very long time... but it wasn't true on the ancestral plain. Hunters and gatherers always eat fresh - in fact, they don't have a choice. ;-)

james said...

Aye, but we've had thousands of years to get used to the new diet. And I'll bet plenty of stuff got dried for later use.