Marks Daily Apple
Serving up health and fitness insights (daily, of course) with a side of irreverence.
21 Oct

The Cattail’s Outta the Bag

It’s official: we’re closing up shop. They found The Bread. They still haven’t found the flying saucer from Area 51, or the second shooter on the grassy knoll, but they found The Bread.

A crack team of European archaeologists has finally uncovered the evidence that Eades, Cordain, DeVany, Nikoley, I, and a ton of other bloggers have been pooling our incomes together to suppress for years. That supplement and book stuff I sell? It’s actually a (undeclared) non-profit operation devoted to buttressing the final meager thread supporting this whole Primal/paleo thing. And it was working, too, despite our recent setbacks. See, we’ve been taking a lot of hits as of late:

The flurry surrounding the China Study. Boy, we really lost that round, huh?

The emergence of a hyper intelligent, intellectually rigorous, banana-obsessed, fruitarian hominid splinter species with a powerful online presence, before which I find myself cowering.

The piddling sales of both my books and Robb Wolf’s book.

The complete and utter failure of numerous community efforts, like the Ancestral Health Symposium, Paleohacks, or the inaugural NYC Barefoot Run. Not to mention the poor showing of the MDA community during this year’s 30-Day Challenge. Talk about ghost towns!

Vegetarians winning the heart disease wars, yet again. (I didn’t say what they won, did I?)

But through all this and all that, we could still rely on that single thread to support and maintain the veil of delusion surrounding our movement. Just as long as they didn’t find out that our ancestors were using stone grinders 30,000 years ago to process wild roots, rhizomes, corms, and the occasional seed into Bisquik, we could go on in blissful ignorance. Well, they did find the evidence. Our best efforts were for naught. And now we “fans of the so-called Paleolithic diet”, who, I’m told, “[frown] on carbohydrate-laden foods like bread and cereal, and… eat only lean meat, vegetables, and fruit,” must grapple with our world crashing down around us. I don’t know about you, but I’m headed down to the local IHOP for endless pancakes. I don’t have to hide anymore. I’m free.

Seriously, though: are people really surprised by this finding? Think about what you know about humans for a second. Humans will sample, experiment with, and nibble on just about anything remotely palatable or edible in their environment. Little kids put all sorts of stuff in their mouths. Adults go crazy for the latest ethnic food fad. We are curious, orally-fixated creatures, especially when it comes to new types of food. How do you think we got here? You think those early Fertile Crescent farmers woke up on January 1st, 10,000 BC, dropped the spear, and picked up the shovel, ushering in the perfectly organized amber waves of grain?


Up close, history is messy and random. The further you are from it, the neater it looks. When most people think of the World Wars, it’s all big events. Momentous, sweeping occasions. Great men. Countries falling, balances shifting. Stuff you can put on a syllabus and teach in half a semester. The big picture. But there are millions upon millions of individual lives and experiences for which we must also account. A father’s only son going off to war, lovers parting ways, an orphaned child trying to make it in a Jewish ghetto – these are the nitty gritty details that accompany the sweeping narratives, and indeed make them real. We just don’t hear about them all that often.

This Paleolithic “bread” business is the same to me. (By the way, I love how the popular news headlines reference bread when the word “bread” isn’t used a single time in the actual study.) It’s the nitty gritty. It doesn’t shake the core of my beliefs, or whatever nonsense your vegan friend who sent you the link is probably anticipating (hoping); it merely paints a stronger, more vivid, more complete picture of our ancestors’ meandering, exploratory journey toward where we find ourselves today. I love that it came out. It’s fascinating to get an intimate vision of Grok’s daily life.

As for the “vegetal matter” in question, there’s nothing really surprising or groundbreaking to discuss. Of the nine varieties of “starch grain” (the term “grain” having as much to do with grass feed here as it does in the word migraine) discovered on the grinding equipment, seven were roots or rhizomes. If you’re anything like me, you already eat a fair amount of root material: carrots, radishes, cassava, turmeric, turnips, parsnips, to name a few. Rhizomes aren’t quite as common in the modern diet, but they include things like groundnut and cattail (which was the most prevalent starch residue found on the sites in question, actually). And, since both roots and rhizomes, by definition, “self-defend” by embedding themselves in the ground, chemical antinutrients really aren’t necessary. There were remains of a seed, too, and that of a “caryopsis,” which is another word for a grain. The grain hailed from Brachypodium ramosum, a fairly common grass variety that doesn’t seem to have any nutritional data available online. I’ll keep looking, though. So, while I suppose we can’t rule out that our ancestors were playing with small amounts of grain that may have harbored lectins or gluten-ish compounds, we do know that they were a minor player in our overall dietary regimen. Remember: this cereal agriculture stuff had to get started somewhere, sometime.

Of course, as Melissa points out, the evidence, based on bone isotope data, points pretty clearly to animal protein taking precedent in early man’s diet.

What are your thoughts? Does this “discovery” dissuade you from avoiding grains? Or, more likely, have friends and family been eagerly forwarding you various permutations of the paper with “Aha!” in the subject line?

You want comments? We got comments:

Imagine you’re George Clooney. Take a moment to admire your grooming and wit. Okay, now imagine someone walks up to you and asks, “What’s your name?” You say, “I’m George Clooney.” Or maybe you say, “I’m the Clooninator!” You don’t say “I’m George of George Clooney Sells Movies Blog” and you certainly don’t say, “I’m Clooney Weight Loss Plan”. So while spam is technically meat, it ain’t anywhere near Primal. Please nickname yourself something your friends would call you.

  1. oh mark, you’re funny.

    coley wrote on October 21st, 2010
  2. We always knew your nefarious house-of-cards conspiracy to suppress the truth with all these implausible success stories would unravel some day, Mark. 😀

    Jenny wrote on October 21st, 2010
  3. in regard to humans wanting to try to eat almost everything: a Chinese friend said to my partner once, “When you see a new animal or insect, don’t you wonder how it would taste?”

    Tom said, “Uh, no.”

    shannon wrote on October 21st, 2010
    • Shannon,
      that just cracked me up. Thanks for the laugh today.

      Sandee wrote on October 21st, 2010
    • LOL, I will now! :)

      Angie wrote on October 28th, 2010
  4. The research isn’t all that exciting to me – but I love the mis-information that the reporter spouts about Paleolithic Diets. Lean meats, anyone? BAH!!!

    Maggie wrote on October 21st, 2010
  5. I have to say I’ve been amused by the back and forth on this finding, like it’s some kind of checkmate. We still know that the vast majority of man’s diet was meats and vegetables.

    This is the bottom line for me: I am down 40 pounds eating this way, and I love the food that I eat. I am happy, fit, strong, and healthy.

    You can point to a million studies that say 10 million things, but results are what I look at.

    I look great! I feel great! I eat real food, and it tastes amazing! I get excited to try new recipes! (Hat tip to you for the garlic pulled pork!)

    If there was no science and no history, wouldn’t one just simply look to what tasted good, what felt good, and what gave the best results?

    That’s what a caveman would do!

    McGrok wrote on October 21st, 2010
    • Same here and SO true… why do they keep digging? I think they are literally possessed with the evil spirit of grains that drives them!

      Malika Duke wrote on October 27th, 2010
  6. The wording of the Reuters article is curious. Half of the text was dedicated to crazy caveman dieters, rather than the science.

    Also I found it funny that the researchers attempted to make the same bread and disliked it, showing to me clearly this would not be a preferred food.

    Paul C wrote on October 21st, 2010
  7. I dont know if you notice how they define the Paleo diet in the link you posted as eating only “LEAN meat, vegetables and fruits” hahaha, I love the word “LEAN”.

    Rainbow wrote on October 21st, 2010
  8. My friends who followed my advice aboutg dropping bread and cereal think it’s one of the best advice I ever gave.

    I just wish that I had follow my own advice.

    Danny Garant wrote on October 21st, 2010
  9. Bread eaters can say all they want, but they will still have a “bread-body”. Like wise, pasta eaters will still have a “pasta-body”.

    Danielle wrote on October 21st, 2010
  10. @McGrok said it perfectly.

    Besides, the ‘grains’ that our ancestors ate, was treated/processed completely different than how it is now.

    so nope, this is not even a bump in the road for me.

    Michael wrote on October 21st, 2010
  11. I read the article when it came out. To me it was funny to see the slant “they” gave to it. What is the difference in percentage between 10,000 years or 30,000, even 100,000, compared with millions years of evolution?

    AtkinsFan wrote on October 21st, 2010
  12. All I know is at 47 I feel better and have more energy than I did when I was 30 by eating and living this way. So I really don’t care if they found cat poop. This works for me.

    srichardson63 wrote on October 21st, 2010
  13. People need to understand that early diets weren’t “grain free by design”; they were “low grain by technology”. Had our early ancestors been able to readily find and digest grain, I am sure they would have eaten it, and we would have thus evolved with the ability to do the same. But they didn’t and we didn’t.

    CJ wrote on October 21st, 2010
  14. That is a big leap from finding grains were ground to making bread. They even specify what kind of bread was made and how it was cooked – how do they know that? For all we know, they ground the grains and threw them away because they did not taste good.

    I am not changing the way I eat. Paleo/primal keeps my weight stable with no effort, lowered my blood glucose and lowered my triglycerides. I am gluten intolerant too so I feel much better off grains.

    Anne wrote on October 21st, 2010
  15. “Does this “discovery” dissuade you from avoiding grains?”

    Lord, no! I’ve been grain-free for months and I feel soooooo much better — I have no desire whatsoever to give that up!

    No closing up shop! Keep up the great work, Mark!

    Karen wrote on October 21st, 2010
  16. I was so looking forward to your comment on this study. All I know is that since I have removed grains, processed food and all other crap I look amazing, feel amazing, and I’m doing awesome during my crossfit workouts. The grocery store can keep their bread.

    Kelly wrote on October 21st, 2010
  17. But I bought your book! I love it!

    Natalie wrote on October 21st, 2010
  18. I got the article from a friend in my email this morning. I said, “cool.” 😉

    Sonia wrote on October 21st, 2010
  19. This article reminds me a lot of the noise we heard about how persistence hunting supposedly proved that humans are natural marathoners when “Born to Run” was first published.

    Sure, paleo-folk had the ability and know-how to do some things that might not be “Paleo” (whether it’s grinding roots or persistence hunting, or cannibalism, doesn’t make a difference). They might even have actually done those things on occasion if they needed do or just felt like it. But that doesn’t mean that any of those things are things we should do all the time.

    Geoff wrote on October 21st, 2010
  20. The point is not whether humans ate bread even 100,000 years ago. The point is whether it is fats and cholesterols that are responsible for atherosclerotic plaques and arterial injury and inflammation, or high blood sugar and free radicals. Isn’t it about what’s healthy, wholesome, and contributory to quality of life?

    drdavidflynn wrote on October 21st, 2010
  21. Food source: Broadleaf cattail is entirely edible, and Native Americans utilized broadleaf cattail year-round. Newly emerged sprouts were eaten as a green vegetable in the spring. Flower stalks were boiled and eaten like corn on the cob. Broadleaf cattail pollen, which has a nutty flavor and is high in protein, was added to other flours. Rhizomes were dug and eaten in the fall and winter. They were cooked or dried, pounded, and used in flour [1,10,133]. Comparisons of the nutrient values of broadleaf cattail, rice, and potatoes revealed that broadleaf cattail shoots and rhizomes contained much more calcium, iron, and potassium than potatoes or rice [133]. Broadleaf cattail was utilized as a food source by the Kawaiisu of south-central California [239], the Cahuilla of southern California [13], the Apache and other southwestern Natives [26], Native people along the Atlantic Coast [51], the Menominee of northern Wisconsin, the Ojibwe in Michigan [185], and likely many others.

    Jess wrote on October 21st, 2010
    • So the next time you get that rice or potato craving? Go dig up some muddy rhizomes and indulge. I’ll stick to the steak in the fridge =)

      Jess wrote on October 21st, 2010
  22. And furthermore, what’s to defend? I’m not Ophelia sitting beneath the window. Niether my profession ,nor my diet is my religion. I recommend what I have found to promote health, for the good of my patients. Who can rationally knock that?

    drdavidflynn wrote on October 21st, 2010
  23. I wonder if Reuters can fully appreciate the storm of feces headed their way for twisting that article to attack paleo. Perhaps that’s why no specific author is cited?

    The Primal Palette wrote on October 21st, 2010
  24. Flatbread? Give me break.

    How do they know what shape it was made into.

    As someone who once played with Playdoe , I can assure you flat was boring. There is every reason to think that they made other shapes.

    The obvious choice is rolling them between your palms into little bite size balls Or you can make them resemble quail or goose eggs. or go nuts and do reptilian eggs – although I could never get that leathery shell thing right.

    It also depends on how many fingers you use. With three fingers and a thumb you can make little kiss-like pyramidy things. You can roll it into a cocktail wiener-like shape and press it into your knuckles and get a knuckle crunchy stick.

    If your not even talented enough to make a ball, you might end up with other shapes like Patrick on that episode of Spongebob where he tries to make a snowball (Go here ), turn off the sound and jump to 2:51 in the video, You’ll know when to stop.)

    And lets face it. Some primal joker probably made it look like primal poop.

    But flatbread – no way.

    More than likely what happened was that this site was a day care center or kindergarten for little groklings. They weren’t making bread. They were making paste for a crafty project.

    Everyone knows that kids eat paste. I even had to go to the nurses office once.

    But what were they making? I think that they probably had a bunch of little animal skulls, a dried assortment of animal ears, lips. tongues, hair, snouts, beaks and the usual parts you would find in a young grokling fun kit.

    Then they would take the paste that wasn’t eaten and make funny animals by pasting the various parts onto the skulls. It was sort of like Mister Tuber-Head only more primitive.

    One day a neighboring tribe came along and found one of the strange skulls.

    Soon stories about strange creatures began to spread from camp to camp.

    Mythology was born, But that is a story for another day.

    OK, maybe my brain had too much time on its hands today.

    Better to listen to the experts – Archaeology Today:

    R Dunn wrote on October 21st, 2010
  25. But Markkkk…. I heard they found a twinkie (not that it’s comparable to bread) from 20 years ago, doesn’t that mean it’s healthy?

    Ahmed Serag wrote on October 21st, 2010
  26. Oh, can’t wait to eat “bread” again and go back to having migraines several times a month, restless legs every evening, bad skin, and a lovely bloated stomach. Oh, happy day!

    Laurie D. wrote on October 21st, 2010
  27. The LIES!! Damn thee for making a mockery of my ancestral intelligence, haha. These findings proves little, really. I concur with many of the relevant comments stating what is all in our heads; and that’s the probable fact that our Grokonian brothers and sisters didn’t sit around eating the kinds of breads and carbs we eat today. IN.COM.PAR.ABLE.

    Jzoe wrote on October 21st, 2010
  28. Maybe they were just making paste.

    Steadycrush wrote on October 21st, 2010
    • Regardless, yeah, what you all said. It makes complete sense that HGs had to get from HG-ing to agriculture through experimentation (the nitty-gritty).

      Steadycrush wrote on October 21st, 2010
    • Maybe they set the “grains” down and perched over them with a rock to catch some sabertooth rats. Kind of a precursor to the deadfall trap. After lots of failures and crushed “grains” I’d like to think Grok got it right.

      Then again it could be they were grinding poison for their pointy sticks to give their prey bloated stomachs, arthritis and obesity. Thus making their prey easier to catch.

      Perhaps a base for camo/war paint.

      This is fun. Maybe I should be a Reuters writer.

      Dave wrote on October 25th, 2010
    • Paste- hahahahaha Good one

      Shelley C wrote on October 26th, 2010
    • I couldn’t help but wonder if perhaps they weren’t starving. If you’re desparate enough to eat some of the stuff they found it would imply that normal food sources may have been depleted. I also like the other reader’s comments. “It couldn’t be that good if they found so much of it”.

      Gerald Gray wrote on October 26th, 2010
  29. Looks like we’ve got the Neoliths on the run!

    The movement’s growing so of course The-Powers-That-Be start knocking us. Power cedes nothing without a struggle–or was it a smear campaign?

    Whatever, I don’t care. They’ll pry my sugar-free cold smoked salmon from my almost-as-cold, dead hands.

    Another way to look at it is how they see it in show-business. “There’s no such thing as bad press.”

    chipin wrote on October 21st, 2010
  30. I’ve found the need to reintroduce some starch into my diet recently, mainly because I thought I was getting too thin. I didn’t go for wheat, however, and I’m not going crazy with it either.

    I’m sure paleolithic man probably wanted some starch at times too, but I seriously doubt that he was ever on the government food pyramid. It takes too much effort to keep your hunger at by on that, for one thing.

    Sam Cree wrote on October 21st, 2010
    • at by = at bay

      Sam Cree wrote on October 21st, 2010
  31. This news doesn’t sway me at all. For those of us who gave up grains a while back. And I mean REALLY gave up grains, the health benefits are measurable. My weight is ideal, my cholesterol went from 265 to 180, I have more energy, I’m hardly ever sick, and my skin looks better than most my age (45). Those guys might have been experimenting with grains 30,000 years ago (if that’s even an accurate date stamp), but I’ll bet their health suffered.
    Here’s something to contemplate. What if those 30,000 year old tools were found by people 10,000 or less years ago and it was THEM who were using the tools to eat grains? Sketchy science at best.

    Clint White wrote on October 21st, 2010
    • I eat grains probably more than any other person on here and I am perfectly healthy. And I know many others too. You are healthier now because you probably had a real poor diet before and were lazy. Everyone always compliments me on my hair and skin too. So I dont believe grains cannot be part of a balanced diet.

      Laz wrote on October 22nd, 2010
  32. I was happy to hear that I can eat Wheaties again! I’m excited, because they’re the official cereal of IRONMAN now.

    Grok wrote on October 22nd, 2010
  33. It is really funny how biased the original article was. They get bread from tubers? So these cavemen made a cave stove and cooked up some bread? The author watched to many Flintstones cartoons!

    Aaron Curl wrote on October 22nd, 2010
    • Too many Flintsones cartoons? No such thing… 😉

      Larry wrote on October 22nd, 2010
      • FlintsTones

        Larry wrote on October 22nd, 2010
  34. Some perspective on this.

    The issue is, to our puny human lives that last one average about 70-80 years the time frames of 10,000 years eating grains or even if we take the 30,000 years suggested here seem like eons of time – surely enough to “evolve”.

    Issue is evolutionary time is at a different scale.

    The genus “homo” of which modern humans are the most recent “Homo sapiens” first “appeared” around 2 MILLION years ago as “Homo habilis” (the “Handy Man”).

    “Homo erectus” (the beginning of walking upright) first appeared about “1.5 million years ago.

    And modern humans (yes MODERN HUMANS as they exist now in terms of physicality) cropped up about 200,000 years ago (with FULL behavioural modernity around 50,000 years ago).

    So in terms of our fundamental biology (genetic, and therefor hormonal etc) we have been pretty much the same for at an absolute MINIMUM 200,000 years, and that is stretching it.

    We know from comparisons with even modern apes,which we spilt from 5 MILLION years ago, that most of our biology in terms of digestion etc is so similar, that it is highly likely that even 1.5 million years ago we had pretty much the digestive system we have today and the some hormonal and endocrine system we have today. These are BASIC functions of ANY organism, and so are highly “conserved” as they say in that they don’t change much.

    So this 30,000 years or 10,000 years for grain eating is NOTHING on that scale.

    To put it in perspective look at these comparisons using a 24 hour clock analogy:

    If we assume that this discovery of 30,000 years is more than an initial isolated incident, and actually attribute it as COMMON practice 30,000 years ago for humans to eat grains (it wasn’t – but lets just SAY for the example).

    Then IF we also take the 200,000 time frame for Homo sapiens (modern humans JUST LIKE US in terms of biology and digestion and hormonal systems), then on a 24 hour clock (with 24 hours = 200,000 years, then we have been eating grains for 3.6 hours (216 out of 1440 minutes).

    LOOK at those number for evolution, 2 million Homo habilis appears, 1.5 million Homo erectus appears (0.5 M yrs later), 200,000 Homo sapiens appears (1.2 million years later). That is saying if on a clock Homo erectus appeared 24 hours after Homo habilis (24hr=0.5 million years), then Homo sapiens (modern humans) turned up, not 3 hours later, not six hours later, not even a day later on the SAME time scale, we turned up almost 2 and a half DAYS later!!! And these people say 3.6 hours is enough to evolve to a new hormonal system?! PLEASE

    Again, if we take the more commonly accepted timeframe that COMMON consumption of grains occurred around 10,000 years ago, then using the 24 hour clock and 200,000 years for modern humans (again 200,000 yrs = 24 hours), then we have been regularly eating grains for 1.2 hours of the last 24 hours (72 minutes out of last 1440 minutes!) THIS IS not enough time from an evolutionary timeframe for such radical changes.

    NOW lets take the most commonly accepted figures.

    Humans in terms of biochemistry and hormone systems and digestion etc have been pretty much the same for around 1.5 MILLION years (likely longer, but lets say walking upright was when we pick a cut off). Again if 1,500,000 yrs = 24 hrs, then:

    30,000 yrs eating grains = 0.48 of an hour or 28 minutes and 48 seconds from the last 24 hours (1440 minutes)

    10,000 years eating grains = 0.16 of an hour or 9 minutes and 36 seconds!!!

    I’m sorry, the can discover humans starting eating grains (most likely out of PURE desperation during a time of drought/famine etc) 50,000 years ago, and the numbers (no matter at 200,000 or 1,500,000 million for 24 hours) still demonstrate clearly that we have been eating meat, vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds for the VAST majority of human history.

    Want to be even MORE scared?

    Modern industrialised food production is no more than 100 years old.

    Some foods we eat today didn’t even exist 50 years ago!!

    Put these numbers on this scale:

    for 200,000 yrs = 24 hours.

    100 yrs = 0.012 hours or 43 SECONDS!!!
    50 years = 0.006 hours or 22 SECONDS (rounding cause the difference)

    For 1,500,000 = 24 hours

    100 yrs = 0.0016 hours or less than 6 seconds!!!
    50 years = 0.0008 hours or less than 3 SECONDS!!!

    So yeah it is INTERESTING to know that if we take human history to be 24 hours, they have now discovered that somewhere between 28 minutes, 48 seconds ago AND 3 hours 36 minutes ago we started EXPERIMENTING with eating grains and exposing our body to their effects more regularly.

    Taking these evolutionary timelines into account (100’s of thousands to millions of years between major changes), if we did eat grains consistently, then we MAY expect that even being generous and saying that evolution has somehow accelerated (just cause we’d like it to, not because it has), it may take AT A MINIMUM ANOTHER 10,000 years of regularly eating grains for a Homo “wheatus” to evolve that THRIVES eating this type of food source.

    Evolution has’t sped up that much (if it HAD then there wouldn’t be so many animals and plants going extinct because they can’t keep up with the changes we are forcing on their environment). So I’m happy to GUESSTIMATE that a Homo “wheatus” wouldn’t be thriving on grains for at least another 200,000 years.

    Sorry I only have one life and I don’t have anywhere near that much time!!!! 😉

    Sorry for the diatribe and length – but this whole 10,000 year/30,000 years just shows how feeble the human mind is dealing with “big numbers”… in terms of human history and more so our biology these are TINY lengths of time!!!



    I’m sorry, I just don’t have that much TIME!!!

    Luke in Oz wrote on October 22nd, 2010
    • I really liked my line about not having that much time! 😉 haha editing long posts – always prone to error!

      Luke in Oz wrote on October 22nd, 2010
    • You did a lot of math in there, Luke. But the thing is, evolutionary sciences (especially regarding human evolution) are not 100% clear on how fast evolution occurs. Much of the science, including the genomic work being done, indicates that major changes (such as evolving the ability to eat grain) happen often over the course of very few generations — a tic of the second hand, by your analogy. So 30,000 years is tiny in terms of the age of the universe, or the 2 million year course of “human” evolution; but it’s a very, very long time in terms of propagating a set of beneficial genes through a given community.

      I pretty much agree with your concept, but in actual practice I don’t think the science backs you up.

      Jack wrote on October 27th, 2010
      • I wonder how many generations have passed in 30,000 years. It might be hard to estimate, since generational periods change.

        Mark’s post on lactose tolerance spreading ~5000 bc relatively quickly in northern europe is a possible refutation to your post: but then again, all we had to do was learn to digest something we already do as infants, not digest a substance that throws in toxins to avoid being eaten.

        Jesse wrote on November 7th, 2010
  35. In my cave I use my grinding tools to process tough varieties of wild game, nuts, and vegetables. I also feel that the garden requires more labor per calorie produced than hunting & fishing, but hunting & fishing satisfies a primal urge that I can’t seem to suppress.

    DRK wrote on October 22nd, 2010
  36. Oh boy! Back to donuts.

    Rule #3: Never believe anything in the press, especially if it appears in The New York Times. (Originating from Reuters for crying out loud.)

    The first paragraph of the study, the abstract, says “vegetal food processing, and possibly the production of flour, was a common practice…” and “It is likely that high energy content plant foods were available and were used as components of the food economy of these mobile hunter-gatherers.” The Reuters reporter read those sentences and stopped his/her research at that point and I’d bet my next paycheck the NYT reporter didn’t even read the abstract.

    Phocion Timon wrote on October 22nd, 2010
  37. Actually, Mark recently wrote that potatoes can be good for you as long as you don’t already have a compromised metabolism. I love taters and eat them a lot. I will be 40 in two months. My BMI is 23. I can still wear my high school varsity track (1-mile and 3-mile) jacket.

    Brant wrote on October 22nd, 2010
  38. Wow! Such a huge pile of information to consume and digest!! I may not have the need for grains and starches after trying to make some rational sense of all of this! I am new to the “cave man” clique and was introduced to this website by my physician who advocates a natural healthful living and lifestyle and I agree with his recommendations mostly. And I have read some really thought provoking posts on this blog this morning. But I have also seen some posts that make light of those who don’t believe or see things just the way y’all do too and that is simply a result of an ignorant attitude and an insecure feeling about what you (the critical posters) really feel about yourself. I am not a person to hold back on my opinions either so feel free to bash away if you think I am coming down on anyone or don’t know beans from grains! (Little primal humor tossed in there.)

    My question is how is someone who is on a very limited income supposed to find the fruits and veggies that are recommended and the meats that everyone uses without paying 5 chickens to barter for one duck?? In other words, the only places I have found trustworthy produce down here in FL, aka, Paradise, is a healthfood store. And they are higher than the kahunas on a giraffe for my wallet!! I took advantage of the few small farmer’s markets found in the area this summer and early fall but, although we have much milder winters than most of the country, the sources for natural produce will dry up as it does most everywhere else in winter.

    So, I am a newbie to the “Barney Rubble” society and have 40 pounds minimum of unwanted accumulated insulation to lose and I made a cannonball wave on my first jump in the pond, so what are y’all’s feedback or am I destined for the tarpot and feather pile before I start?? Thanks for an interesting website in either case and I will continue to glean what I can from the articles, book offerings, and blogs available here.


    Penguin in Paradise wrote on October 22nd, 2010
    • I’m with you on some of this penguin.

      Mark, I’m sure you meant much of the beginning of this as tongue in cheek, sarcasm, etc. But I honestly find it insulting and elitist. Especially to those of us who may not agree with all of your beliefs 100%. If this was the first article I had read on your blog, I likely would never have kept reading.

      And I’m sorry, but sales or yours and Robb Wolf’s books do not *prove* anything. Nor do flourishing communities surrounding these movements. Following that logic, we need only look at the various other books and communities that have started up about dietary choices to get “proof” that other ideas “work” too. (or rather not, as many of us here know) I do think the *science* behind the diet you espouse is correct, which is why this works for so many of us. Not because you wrote a book about it. Or because I can find online communities that support the idea. I feel better. That is my proof.

      I also wish you’d do a better job to be more inclusive. I’d love to eat pounds of fresh salmon and grass fed beef every week. But on my graduate student stipend, that just isn’t feasible. And it makes me feel not welcome in this community.

      Alissa wrote on October 22nd, 2010
      • Hey Alissa,

        Can I say that sometimes Mark posts things that annoy us. It challenges us to think.

        For example, Mark recently posted ANOTHER article suggesting that BIG Pharma is running the world and by inference everyone that works in that industry is evil.

        I used to work in that industry.

        I used to get very upset reading those posts. I STILL dislike the inference that those that work in that industry have no soul and are evil and driven only y profits. Even if I were to accept that is true of myself, I know it isn’t of my father who was a local pharmacist/chemist, my brother who works for a pharma company and also my friends that work in those companies – they are NOT evil, and not driven by money over patient well being.

        HOWEVER, after reflecting on what Mark was saying, I had a realisation. That MANY of the drugs pharma now produces are NOT that beneficial.

        That whilst the PEOPLE in pharma are not evil, the SYSTEM is WRONG. COmpanies owned by shareholders ARE driven by ever increasing sales and profits. There is NOTHING wrong with capitalism, but when it comes to the ownership of pharma companies, I now realise this IS an ISSUE, as the shareholders DEMAND increase sales, increased profits, resulting in increased dividends and increasing share price, that is the SYSTEM of shareholding, and so it is driving a bad outcome.

        Pharma companies USED to be owned by families. Usually started and run by people that we scientists, chemists, doctors etc. Once your family is worth a few hundred million dollars, you don’t have the same DRIVE as a faceless market to increase sales and profits. Additionally as one of the GOOD people that sees it as a mission to deliver better health, you always put the patient BEFORE the profits.

        As an example George Merck (whose family started and owned Merck once said:

        “We try never to forget that medicine is for the people. It is not for the profits. The profits follow, and if we have remembered that, they have never failed to appear. The better we have remembered it, the larger they have been.”

        Unfortunately the “families” that owned these companies no longer own and run them.

        Accountants, lawyers, Marketers run them, and they are owned by financial institutions and big banks etc.

        So what you may ask?

        Well from anger and frustration at Mark’s posts (extreme anger, I felt I was PERSONALLY being attacked as an evil person), his posts made me think.

        And I realised and recognised this issue with the industry I worked in.

        I have left BIG Pharma. I took my skills to a medical devices company. You can’t tell someone that doesn’t need a hip replacement to go get one, you can’t convince doctors to implant more pacemakers for the hell of it (I HOPE the medical devices industry doesn’t head down the Pharma road of “selling disease”). So I changed my career as a result.

        As to your point about eating wild salmon and grass fed beef only or NOT being welcomed, I have to ask – PLEASE show me ONE post where Mark has indicated that people that don’t eat ONLY the best quality produce are not welcome?!

        As I mentioned to Penguin, from my OWN experience with Marks’ books, this blog and even Mark’s Primal Leap 30-day program in every one Mark has made an EFFORT to point out that whilst that is obviously the BEST and most nutritious sources of food, IF YOU CANNOT obtain it where you live or even just cannot afford it, it is better to eat primally with conventional foods than continue on with regular foods.

        Mark even goes to the trouble of ranking the food sources, and even saying if you affordability is an issue try to prioritise the meats over the fruits and vegetables as conventional fruits and vegetables are less of an issue than conventional meats and fish etc.

        EVEN then he states if you have to eat conventional meats, to trim the fats to avoid the toxins and try an supplement if you can.

        Finally, seeing you have suggested Mark and the community is unwelcoming. You state that your student stipend means you cannot afford these types of foods?

        I just wonder, do you have any of the following? The latest iPod/iPad, iPhone, Macbook, fashion trend, gossip magazines, cable TV, etc.

        I’m ALL for these things, but after realising myself I was putting STUFF above my health, I often find that MANY people that claim “they JUST can’t afford” better food, seem to still buy a lot of consumer driven STUFF FIRST.

        I’m ALL for the STUFF (I have an iPhone, iPod, iMac, Cable TV etc), but they now come AFTER my health and hence my food.

        As I posted in my reply to Penguin – this all came from this statistic:

        In 1949, Americans spent 22% of their income on food, whereas in 2009 they spent a meager 10%..

        I know people are going to SCREAM blue murder about students having rights to own stuff and have fun… I KNOW THIS, but being an adult involves being able to prioritize effectively (or at least trying to), and the FUN and STUFF should come AFTER the necessities.

        If you don’t have ANY unnecessary STUFF and still can’t afford even OCCASIONALLY buying non-conventional foods, then that is FINE, as Marks says, just do the best you can based on what you can afford… what could be MORE accommodating and welcoming than that?!



        Luke in Oz wrote on October 23rd, 2010
      • Hi Alissa, I am also a student, and with 3 children, and less income than those on government handouts, but I feel welcome in this community. Like Luke says, I do the best I can on what I can afford. Even that much has helped my whole family to find better health.

        Kitty wrote on October 27th, 2010
    • Hey Penguin,

      Your pos is interesting. You state that those that “make light of those who don’t believe or see things just the way y’all do too and that is simply a result of an ignorant attitude and an insecure feeling about what you (the critical posters) really feel about yourself.”

      I guess you count yourself as one of those insecure people?!

      We ARE ALL insecure, and you are right, often people use humour and make fun of others attitudes… some people even make fun of themselves in self deprecating ways.

      But that doesn’t mean ignorance. It CAN mean ignorance, but doesn’t have to be.

      Additionally, may we say, if your views are like the majority, just don’t visit this site. The views of those on this site are very much in the minority, and the majority, including conventional medicine etc makes fun of our views all the time – as they all die from ever increasing rates of disease!

      Also this isn’t a “Cave Man” clique or “Barney Rubble” society. Most, if not all, including Mark himself enjoy the benefits of modern society. Most do not want the world to return to fire and stones and sticks.

      However, we do generally agree that the way of eating developed prior to eating grains was the way we evolved to achieve optimum health.

      Even if you don’t accept evolution, there are many that equate “The Fall” in the Bible to be an analogy for the start of civilisation (“knowledge”) and we were banished from the Garden of Eden (that being living off the fruits, and plants and animals of an unspoilt planet.

      Anyway, don’t feel threatened by this group, and like all groups there are assholes – every group has them, so I can’t promise that someone wont be nasty, but most are not.

      Now to your questions about how to afford all of this:

      1) Mark does say we should strive for organic produce if we can afford it, and grass fed meats and wild fish (rather than farmed), however he also states very clearly that if you can’t afford organic, grass fed etc, then you can eat conventional meats, fruits, vegetables etc, but you should trim meats of fats (as the fats store the toxic chemicals from conventional farming), and take fish oil supplementation to counter act the imbalance in omega 3s/6 ratio in conventionally farmed food.

      Additionally, like you I struggled with the prices at first (we all have limited incomes to a certain extent – no one has unlimited money).

      However the following fact is what changed my life:

      In 1949, Americans spent 22% of their income on food, whereas in 2009 they spent a meager 10%..

      While it seems like saving money is always a good thing, this isn’t anything to cheer about. Cheap food is often the product of factory farming and industrial agriculture. With jumbo size products being sold for cheaper, Americans may be gaining more for their dollar, but they’re also gaining more weight, losing their health, spending more on their healthcare and supporting environmentally unsustainable practices.

      I realised I was spending my money on cheap food, and then having to spend money on doctors visits, blood pressure drugs, anti-depressants, gym memberships etc etc.

      ALSO, I realised I spent so much money on entertainment, and alcohol and STUFF like big screen TV’s and magazines etc. Luckily for me I never smoked, so didn’t have that expense.

      I realised by PRIORITISING my health over STUFF was more important.

      This may seem condescending, this is not my intention, I am stating what was a truth for me.

      Since doing this, it is VERY true I spend more of my income on food. I spend less on STUFF (for me, my cravings to consume and buy stuff reduced along with getting off the SUGAR ROLLER COASTER).

      I also spend less on doctors visits, I no longer spend anything on BP medication and anti-depressants (I wasn’t depressed, I was just constantly “crashing” from sugar highs – my moods are ridiculously stable without sugar in my diet).

      I can follow the exercise recommendations from Marks Primal Blueprint without a gym membership.

      And yes, I have had to put off buying the LATEST big screen TV. But my current big screen TV is fine, and I actually watch less of it now, as I am not as lethargic as I used to be, stuck on the couch with no energy.

      I also know that by losing weight (I had to lose 44 pounds – I’m on my way to that goal) I will avoid diabetes in my mid 40’s or 50’s (I may get it in my 70’s or 80’s, but that is 30-40 years without paying all the medical bills for that (and TRUST ME – healthcare is NOT going to get cheaper!!!).

      So I have to ask you, do you want to avoid all those medical costs, which not only will drain your limited income faster than ANY food source will, but the associated diseases MAY also even LIMIT you ability to EARN an income!?

      Do you have ANY expenditure on STUFF that isn’t as important as your body, health and hence mind and soul too (as these things “reside” in your body)? You may not, I am not saying you do, I am asking if you can find that STUFF to eliminate?

      And finally, as Mark says (and I did this myself until I re prioritised my expenditure), eating primally with conventional produce (that means CUTTING OUT GRAINS and refined sugars) is WAY better than staying on a CONVENTIONAL Standard American Diet (SAD as Mark calls it).

      Mark also suggests that grass fed meats are more important to prioritise than fruits and vegetables (because of the toxins stored in animal fats and omega 3/omega 6 imbalance).

      So there are some suggestions.

      If you can’t afford the best quality meats, fruits and vegetables, that is a better place to START than to remain on a grain based, sugar & salt laden SAD.

      It isn’t easy to do – many of us are ADDICTED to grains and the refined carbs in what food companies promoted a s “food” these days. But if you can make your health a priority, and start a Primal approach to eating, exercising and living (it is more than just a DIET) you will see the benefits in terms of weight loss, energy gains and the health and vitality that comes with all of that.


      Enjoy the journey.

      And as a suggestion, you may find that honey attracts more bees than vinegar, so you may want to lay off calling the entire group, insecure, ignorant and suggest they will want to and tar and feather you for asking a few questions.

      Good luck – I look forward to hearing how you go (and I am sure many other will as well).



      Luke in Oz wrote on October 23rd, 2010
    • Hey Penguin,
      Are you in Central FL? I have some good sources in this area.

      Vicky wrote on October 25th, 2010
      • Vicky,I live in Orlando and would love to know your sources. Do you know where to get eggs from free range chickens? I used to have chickens, but don’t live out in the boonies anymore.

        Maxmilliana wrote on October 27th, 2010
    • Hi Penguin, I agree that it is not easy on a very small budget but every little bit helps. I have found that after a while on the primal diet I do not need to eat anywhere near as much as I used to. When I was eating grain I was always hungry and always needed more food (I think your body does this when it is not getting the nutrition it needs). Now I only need small portions. This does make it a lot easier on the wallet than when I first started. There has also been times when I have had to skip the occasional meal due to not having enough money to buy more food (or so that my children still have plenty to eat), but I think this makes it even more primal. I think it has been 6 months now and I definitely feel as though my whole system has changed. And I feel great. My whole family are benefiting from the primal lifestyle (even though my children still eat rice).
      I am lucky in that I have a small patch of dirt where I am now experimenting with trying to grow my own vegetables. I am still waiting for my first crop. Not sure on how successful I will be. Especially when I am growing organic style and there seems to be too many bugs and pests where I live. But I am hopeful that it will help :)

      Kitty wrote on October 27th, 2010
  39. I’ll continue to avoid grains. I also find it unsurprising that Grok and company would have experimented with grinding some seeds. It’s not earth shattering news. Our species will sample anything that isn’t immediately poisonous; it’s part of our tenacious drive and experimental nature. The NY Times article that reported this is “science” writing at its worst.

    Travis wrote on October 22nd, 2010

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