Question me an answer.

Posted on November 5, 2009


Today’s dinner was sashimi.  I squirmed my way through it.  I think paleolithic humans were less picky about food textures than I am.

Tim McCormack commented with some good questions and suggestions regarding this paleolithic diet, so I’ll respond to them here…

1. “You may wish to find out what the natives in some region of North America ate, and stick to that.”

That would be great, but I don’t think it’s feasible.  It doesn’t look to me like there’s enough information available to reconstruct the diet of one region.  We’re also dealing with a very large time span.  The upper paleolithic (i.e. the most recent part of the paleolithic age) alone is longer than the entire span of recorded history.  So the diet in one specific region may have undergone significant changes.  If someone who is an expert on this would like to chime in with the specific information I have been unable to find, please do so!

It’s this lack of specific information which lead me not to try to replicate an actual paleolithic diet.  Instead I’m just trying to vaguely approximate the most dramatic contrasts between a modern diet and a paleolithic one.  I figured that the “paleolithic diet” movement was a good place to start.  I may have been mistaken, but I’m trying to make the most of it.  😉

2. “Availability of food varies by time of year, not just location. How much food do you suppose was harvested and then cached for later consumption?”

I don’t have an answer to this question and none of the books or websites I’ve looked at go into that much detail.  I suspect that the best there is to be found on that subject is speculation.  So here’s mine: foods which naturally last a while, such as nuts, were probably stored up for winter.  Meat was probably sometimes preserved by freezing in the snow (where the climate would allow it).  But of course, the most cacheable foods had not yet caught on: grains.

I’m going to track down an archeology professor to help answer this and other questions.

3. “Non-agricultural diets will probably include a high percentage derived from animals, and it not just muscle and fat. Ready to eat some random viscera?”

Random viscera?  No.  I at least want to know what I’m eating.  Brains and connective tissues are kind of off the table.  Sorry.  😛  But liver, heart, tongue, etc… bring it on.  Liver I can get at the grocery store.  Other organ meats may be harder to track down.  I’ll work on that.  Also remember that hunting is on my list.  Should I kill an animal, I will attempt to use every part of it that I can.

4. “How do you suppose the caloric requirements of our ancestors compared to ours today?”

The requirements?  First intuition suggests that they required far more energy than the couch potatoes of today.  But second intuition, at least in my case, suggests that it may not be so simple.  How much energy we require may be related to how much is available during our formative years.  Or perhaps their cultures were adapted to lower availability.  Maybe they … fidgeted less.

I’ll bet there is a fair amount of research about this particular question.  I shall endeavor to find it.

Now… just so nobody is surprised and disappointed, I have decided that “1 week” is five days, not seven.  At least as far as this full-on paleo diet goes.  Why?  Because it leaves me feeling weak and hungry at inopportune times throughout the day.  It may very well be that, given enough time, my body would fully adapt to this, but I need to get on with other Grok Project tasks this weekend.  So tomorrow will be the last day of the diet.  I’ll still make a point of eating some “organ meat” as I don’t think I’ve every done that before.

Thanks for reading!

Posted in: General Interest