If you are just looking into the clean eating lifestyle there is a lot of lingo and terms that get thrown around. You will also constantly see conflicting information. The best way to jump in is by educating yourself. I believe firmly that an understanding of the science and theory behind an ancestral template for your lifestyle helps you in the weak moments when you need a justification. Knowledge also gives you a spec of intelligence to confidently speak on when friends and family members with good intentions try to persuade you that your logic is flawed. After all, for the last 50 years we have been fed the “low fat, whole grain, cut calories, run more” mantra from the government and studies with nefarious backing or flawed format. Angelo Coppola, producer of “Latest in Paleo” podcast, does a wonderful job of addressing the issue of flawed studies in his latest episode “Truth Bomb” which was released January 15, 2014.
Even after three years of reading about paleo, downloading the latest books (and many cookbooks!), and listening to a plethora of podcasts I still look forward to learning more. Paleo is a name given to an idea of eating on what scientists call an ancestral template. The basis is like all other living things on planet earth we evolved in a symbiotic relationship with the flora and fauna that surrounded us. Last I checked we have not invented a time machine to go back and first hand interview our ancestors so we are left with what we can gather from archaeology, anthropology and scientists with their fancy machines. Like in all (good) sciences there should always be progress with more research and this is why the “rules” of the paleo “diet” are not rules. The ancestral template changes as we learn new things about our ancestors diets, our own genetics and our modern day environments. Humans underwent a slow evolution to become who we are today and that included our food. The agricultural revolution allowed us to become societies, cultures and countries as we could grow food in a set place and in enough abundance to feed a rapidly growing population. To do this though we made changes in the foods we ate and how we grew them and this changed our foods. These changes have only grown more complex in the last century.
At one time there were thousands of differently named apples, often named by the family that owned the orchard they grew on. Today its the same few varieties that are widely grown, heavily sprayed with chemicals and delivered perfectly shiny in a plastic bag to our local supermarket. You drive your car to the market use a cart to carry your wares and drive home. In the last 100 years we have dramatically changed the way we interact with our foods and where they come from. No longer do people know their local farmers, butchers and fishmongers. No longer does it take nearly an entire afternoon to walk from shop to shop and carry your food with you and back at home. No longer do many of our children connect a “chicken nugget” to a bird with feathers. We sacrificed many of these relationships to the industrial food chain in the promise of cheaper and more available food and the industrial food chain did oblige. The food industry also impoverished, indebted and bankrupted our nations farmers. The industrial machine cut corners to cut costs sacrificing the animals welfare by constricting their environment and changing their diets. The result has been an imitation of what once was a nutritious piece of food. This brings to mind a famous quote:
The majority of food sold in main street grocery stores is just that a Monet. At a glance we see a beautiful yellow corn, green cucumber and giant breasted chicken. What biochemists see are mutants contaminated by pesticides and macro-chemical imbalanced caused by being genetically modified and fed fertilizer to grow quicker. Because we destroyed the traditional local farm those of us who wish to eat higher quality food must pay more, search harder and justify our choices to our budget and others.
But is it worth it?