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Friday, February 05, 2010

Wanted: Single Lady. Must Be Lactose Intolerant

Humans, those of us who are members of the genus Homo, have been around for well over two million years. Homo sapiens emerged a good 200,000 years ago. Yet farming, animal and plant domestication, herding, and therefore milking have existed for less than 15,000 years. The math is irrefutable. Even modern humans spent move than 90% of their existence without milk or dairy products as a part of their diet. This also has to be true for most grains, as well as the fruits and vegetables that are part of the western diet. You never hear the anti-milk crazies mention that when they say that humans are not "designed" to digest milk.

Humans are omnivores. They can eat anything. Their digestive systems are different from either carnivores or herbivores and they have the digestive enzymes to break down any food into amino acids, fatty acids, and simple sugars.

Yet there is an argument to be made that all that genetic heritage must have some effect. It's an argument similar to the ones saying that we are not "designed" to sit in chairs, sleep in beds with pillows, and drive everywhere. Not to mention that we are "designed" to squat rather than sit while eliminating waste.

So what did humans eat for that first 99+% of their Homo years? Meat, fish, vegetables, fruit, roots, and nuts. Mushrooms, eggs, seeds, and lots of insects. Anything we could scavenge, trap, or pluck. Nothing deliberately grown. Or fermented (think wine, beer, and koumiss). Or processed (like, coffee, tea, or chocolate and especially not sugar). Definitely not vegan, either, since we used every part of the animal and broke bones to drink the marrow. We certainly didn't scorn plant material, of course. Estimates are that we might have scrounged some 200 species of greens. This diet would be low in carbs (although high in fiber) and probably low in fat, since wild animals are normally extremely lean. We've bred animals to add fats since we started domesticating them.

Walter L. Voegtlin was the first to advocate eating as are ancestors did in the The Stone Age Diet, a book he had to self-publish in 1975. The notion gained academic support after medical journal articles and the book The Paleolithic Prescription: A Program of Diet & Exercise and a Design for Living, S. Boyd Eaton, Marjorie Shostak, & Melvin Konner appeared in the 1980s.

The latest advocate for living a pre-civilization lifestyle (literally so, since the rise of cities - the basis for civilization - are based on the rise of farming and herding) is John Durant, founder of He's single, ladies, and he's looking for a lactose-intolerant (and possibly even gluten-intolerant) wife. He said so in so many words on Stephen Colbert. Here's the clip.

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
John Durant
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