Thursday, September 8, 2011

The Animal I have become...

No, it's not just a subpar song lyric. As I'm reading and trying to understand more about why I would want to eat and live this way, I ran across something last night that really clicked with me. I can't tell you how much I get asked about why I would bother, or what sense does that make, or more often, just, snickers or head shakes when I tell people about the paleo diet. What I read last night was one of Robb Wolf's explanations and it makes perfect sense to me. If we look at the total scope of human existence, whatever we believe that number to be, we've been eating as a result of established agriculture for about 5 minutes. For the millennia before the Mesopotamians decided to revolutionize the world by planting and harvesting grain, we lived as hunters and gatherers. This fact isn't under much dispute, but it's easy to ask, who cares? It's also easy to look at this and say, "Yeah, progress, we were making progress into civilization and more sophisticated ways of life!" That may be so. Trust me, I love the internet, my iPod, the internal combustion engine, and TV as much as anyone, but in regards to the way we eat, I think we are missing something pretty key here, and that is WHAT we really are.

We are animals. We are smart animals, we are the smartest animals, we are animals that God gave abilities to that no other animal has, but we are still animals. Our ability to reason and feel doesn't change our biological processes, or at least, I don't think it should. I'm not a scientist, and I'm sure there is an animal out there somewhere that enjoys a hot bowl of oatmeal for breakfast, but if I think about it, almost all animal, and certainly all mammals', diets consist of fruit, meat, vegetable, nuts and seeds. This is also what our Paleolithic ancestors ate. Now the next immediate comment I get is, "Well what was the average life expectancy of a caveman?" When I say comment and then type a question, it's not a grammatical error in this case, because no one really wants to know, they are saying it because they already know that Paleolithic man had a shorter life span than modern man. What they don't know, or at least don't say, is that paleo man had to live outdoors, be chased by tigers, hunt, run, and be in danger in ways we don't face in the modern world. Again, progress. What I find more important than any of this is would be the research that shows things like diabetes, heart disease, obesity, cardiovascular disease, and cancer were virtually nonexistent until we started eating grains.

So do I hate progress, heck no. I carry almond butter in little plastic pouches, pre measured and ready to eat. Caveman didn't have that. I can buy grass fed, hormone free beef steaks at the grocery store, I don't have to chase down and kill a mean cow. (Yes, cows used to be mean) I get to eat every fruit under the sun when a caveman might have only been able to get what was in the few square miles where he lived. Progress is awesome, but it should be to take what is already good and make it better, not replace what was good with what was easier, cheaper, and more available. I'll save how governments decided to mandate "progress" for another time, maybe some time when I understand what I'm talking about. (Don't hold your breath.)

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