[permaculture] paleo permaculture (I am posting this for Robyn Francis)

Lawrence F. London, Jr. lflj at bellsouth.net
Mon Nov 9 23:10:30 EST 2009

-------- Original Message --------
Subject: Re: [permaculture] paleo permaculture
Date: Tue, 10 Nov 2009 11:48:21 +1100
From: Robyn Francis <erda at nor.com.au>
To: Lawrence F. London, Jr. <lflj at bellsouth.net>

Laurence, I cant post to the list from my webmail (am currently in Taiwan
teaching a PDC) so would appreciate if you could post this on for me.

I checked out the Paleo diet article link in the first posting in this
thread  and while interesting, I find it appears a somewhat skewed
Euro-centric theory based on selective fact, a lot of opinion and some
ill-researched suppositions.
Apart from a brief mention of chemicals, his argument completely ignores the
impacts of industrialised corporate commodity agriculture (plus supermarket
culture) which has promoted a lot more grain consumption than in traditional
diets. Also the nature of grains we eat has been radically altered through
selective plant breeding over recent centuries, and the range of grains
produced and consumed in the modern diet are largely dominated by refined,
highly processed wheat and maize products plus a few other major grains.

Wild-harvested grains (grass seeds) and cooking have been an integral part
of human diets for most of homo sapiens 200,000 years evolution as hunter
gatherers. An article in New Scientist a few years ago proposed a theory
that cooking and the subsequent increase in available food sources and
calories beyond essential bodily function requirements was what enabled the
unique development of the human brain. Our brain demands more calories than
any other life supporting system in our bodies. (In contrast, the koala's
brain has shrunk to the size of a small walnut kernel to conserve energy due
to their diet of eucalyptus leaves, hard to digest and exceptionally low in
nutrients and calories, so they have just enough brain-power to eat, sleep
and procreate - they spend most of their time sleeping and are slow

Grass and tree (acacia) seed formed an important part of the Australian
Aborigine diet for at least the past 60,000 years.  I also wonder how his
dietary theory works re the ancient (paeolithic?) societies that didn't have
any carrots, parsnips, swedes and rutabagas growing in their environment,
e.g. Asia, the Americas and Africa.
The potato, beans, tomato and many other modern foods were only introduced
to Europe after the 'discovery' of the Americas a few hundred years ago.
Sweet potato is from an entirely different plant family to the potato (the
author of the web article lumps them together as equally bad/toxic "neo"
foods) and the only "toxic" part of the sweet potato is the alkaloids in the
To top it off he calls our species Carnivores. We have a very different
digestive system to lions, tigers, cats and dogs, who eat plants very rarely
(i.e. a bit of grass medicinally to clean out the intestines). Our teeth and
claws are also quite different to those of true carnivores. Homo sapiens are
Omnivores. If we were carnivores, our distant ancestors would have been
hunters only, not hunter-gatherers.

I just wanted to bring a bit of critical thinking into the conversation...
My internal alarm-bells always sound when I read absolute one-size-fits-all
good (paleo)/bad (neo) claims about diet.


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