Prof. Christina Warriners TED talk claiming to debunk the Paleo Diet sure is interesting and I would encourage readers to watch it. Although it is far from debunking the Paleo Diet and the life changing effect thousands have experienced first hand. She begins the talk by grouping paleo into just another “fad diet” category. Labels never do anything justice, they allow us to put something in a box and forget about it. Since she is an anthropologist many people would take her stance as being generally correct. Right from the get go, she seems to be slightly uninformed, stating that this way of eating is marketed towards men and entails excessive red meat consumption. Certainly an exaggeration meant to appease the masses who want to rationally fluff off the concept of eating a primal diet.
Prof. Christina is focusing on the literal diet of paleolithic people, which of course varies profoundly depending on regional distinctions. If Paleo wasn’t marketed as Paleo or Primal it would be just another Atkins or South beach fad that leaves you unconvinced, but it isn’t, it’s a lifestyle. The attempt to emulate hunter-gatherers will never be possible until we have no choice. Leonard Cordains study The Nutritional Characteristics of a Contemporary Diet Based Upon Paleolithic Food Groups shows that we can obtain comparable nutrients as our ancestors with modern foods.
Christina goes on to describe how few varied species modern humans eat compared to hunter gatherers, an excellent point as we humans need many varied species in our diets to attain optimal health. This is also addressed by many advocates of the paleo diet, the more variation, the better. Prof. Christina points out, North Americans mainly consume 3 species: soy, corn and wheat. Considering how rampant degenerative diseases and cancer are becoming, it makes good sense to subtract those 3 species from our diet, especially since most corn and soy are GMO.
Which brings me to another point Prof. Warriners made, that all the foods we regularly consume have been bred by humans for their preferred characteristics i.e. seedless, sweet, larger, less bitter. By doing so we have created plants that require constant care and attention, a perfect environment to thrive in, thus being far less resilient than their original counterparts. I just find it so interesting, we’ve bred these plants to nourish us better but they require so much energy and often chemical pesticides and fungicides to grow. These chemicals we rely on to grow the majority of our food deplete the soil, pollute the water table, the air, and are harmful to the farmers and the people eating them. What a dichotomy we’ve created. This dilemma drives me to learn more about the wild foods around us. The ones directly in our environment, that thrive without the aid of human hands. The more of those plants and animals we can incorporate, the closer to an ideal Paleo or Primal lifestyle we will inevitably become.