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When did humans really start eating grains?

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  • When did humans really start eating grains?

    You can't just say "They probably . . . ." That isn't evidence of anything.

    It is pretty early to identify a pile of charred animal bones that have been gnawed. Grains? Not so easy. Maybe you find a bog corpse and examine their stomach. Maybe you find traces of grains on some grinding stones. Takes careful looking and scientific testing.

    Did humans decide 10,000 years ago "Hey, maybe those grain things would be good to eat. Lets cultivate them." People must have been gathering wild grains for at least a while.

    Take a look at http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/174441.php. I have not bought the article that this one is based on. And it certainly is not the last word. Kinda makes you think though.

  • #2
    "This happened during the Middle Stone Age, a time when the collecting of wild grains has conventionally been perceived as an irrelevant activity and not as important as that of roots, fruits and nuts"

    A little bit of wild grain making up a minisucle percentage of total dietary energy. Around 10000 years ago was when people started trying to eat them en masse thanks to the agricultural revolution. And they're demonstrably unhealthy so I think it's kind of a moot point.
    Stabbing conventional wisdom in its face.

    Anyone who wants to talk nutrition should PM me!

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    • #3
      From what I recall in my readings, the neolithic revolution began about 10 to 13 thousand years ago in the Levant (a crescent shaped area on the western edge of the Arabian Peninsula/eastern Mediterranean coast) near present-day Israel by the Natufian culture. The Natufians were semi-sedentary hunter-gatherers who began experimenting with agriculture.
      “It is a truism that almost any sect, cult, or religion will legislate its creeds into law if it acquires the political power to do so, and will follow it by suppressing opposition, subverting all education to seize early the minds of the young, and by killing, locking up, or driving underground all heretics.”
      —Robert A. Heinlein

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      • #4
        done
        Last edited by cabeman; 09-12-2010, 12:36 AM.

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        • #5
          If you were a hunter gatherer, you wouldn't be able to find a lot of wild wheat plants growing together in neat rows. You would find a plant here, another one miles away and so on. And you need hundreds, maybe thousands, of grains to make a single bread. I know, because I used to buy whole wheat grains and grind them myself to make bread. Before agriculture, eating grains was very impractical, not worth it.
          Height: 5'4" (1.62 m)
          Starting weight (09/2009): 200 lb (90.6 kg)
          No longer overweight (08/2010): 145 lb (65.6 kg)
          Current weight (01/2012): 127 lb (57.5 kg)

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Mirrorball View Post
            If you were a hunter gatherer, you wouldn't be able to find a lot of wild wheat plants growing together in neat rows. You would find a plant here, another one miles away and so on. And you need hundreds, maybe thousands, of grains to make a single bread. I know, because I used to buy whole wheat grains and grind them myself to make bread. Before agriculture, eating grains was very impractical, not worth it.
            Um, I see fields with probably tens of thousands of wild oats growing closely together all the time.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by cabeman View Post
              I'm no anthropologist, but I imagine that nobody would try to grow a field of anything if they hadn't been eating all that they found during their "walks". Point---humankind probably was eating grains long before agriculture kicked off, but those grains would not have come close to their major food source. So, eating grains, yes, but eating in great quantity, no.
              Probably not a major source. But if people have been eating some grains for 100,000 years, then it would seem that a modern Grok could eat some.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Stabby View Post
                "This happened during the Middle Stone Age, a time when the collecting of wild grains has conventionally been perceived as an irrelevant activity and not as important as that of roots, fruits and nuts"

                A little bit of wild grain making up a minisucle percentage of total dietary energy. Around 10000 years ago was when people started trying to eat them en masse thanks to the agricultural revolution. And they're demonstrably unhealthy so I think it's kind of a moot point.
                Given how little is known about stone age grain gathering, you can't know that it was minuscule. If people have been eating some grains for 100,000 years (big if), that would seem to plenty of time to evolve to benefit from them, i.e., benefit from eating some grains, like Grok.

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                • #9
                  No Grain, No Pain
                  or something like that...
                  “Every saint has a past and every sinner has a future.” -Oscar Wilde
                  "The power of accurate observation is commonly called cynicism by those who have not got it." -George Bernard Shaw
                  "The trouble with jogging is that the ice falls out of your glass." -Martin Mull

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                  • #10
                    Harry,

                    You hold people's posts to standards to which you don't hold your own. No bueno.

                    You say "You can't just say "They probably . . . ." That isn't evidence of anything." but you throw around wild speculations and "big ifs" with no concern. What's up with that?

                    Apparently one can just switch out "probably" for "must" and come up with gems like this: "People must have been gathering wild grains for at least a while." and the statement becomes bulletproof.

                    I'm a jerk.

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                    • #11
                      I've been reading Spencer Wells's Pandora's Seed. He mentions the cavity rate among hunter-gatherers was around 5%, whereas after growing, cultivating and eating wheat as a main staple the cavity rate during the early parts of the neolithic era was more like 25%. We may have been gathering wheat as hunter-gatherers, but it definitely wasn't a huge part of their diet. In fact, he says that the bulk of their calories came from vegetation.

                      Which makes me wonder, should they really be called gatherer-hunters? He doesn't explicitly say it, but it seems like hunting was always secondary to gathering. Only when gathering failed did we turn to hunting.

                      He also states that females were held in higher regard than males because they were the gatherers of food and bearers of life. If meat from hunting was their primary food source, then men, who did the hunting, might be the ones held in higher regard as the primary providers of food for the group.

                      Just gets me thinking a bit about how much meat to vegetables we should really be eating.
                      Last edited by Steve-O; 07-09-2010, 04:49 AM.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Steve-O View Post
                        I've been reading Spencer Wells's Pandora's Seed. He mentions the cavity rate among hunter-gatherers was around 5%, whereas after growing, cultivating and eating wheat as a main staple the cavity rate during the early parts of the neolithic era was more like 25%. We may have been gathering wheat as hunter-gatherers, but it definitely wasn't a huge part of their diet. In fact, he says that the bulk of their calories came from vegetation.

                        Which makes me wonder, should they really be called gatherer-hunters? He doesn't explicitly say it, but it seems like hunting was always secondary to gathering. Only when gathering failed did we turn to hunting.

                        He also states that females were held in higher regard than males because they were the gatherers of food and bearers of life. If meat from hunting was their primary food source, then men, who did the hunting, might be the ones held in higher regard as the primary providers of food for the group.

                        Just gets me thinking a bit about how much meat to vegetables we should really be eating.
                        Interesting, but how does he explain the fact that people can live as carnivorous but not vegetarian without developing health issues?
                        A steak a day keeps the doctor away

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                        • #13
                          Actually this stuff is relatively settled science (as ancient studies goes) and laid out in lots of interesting layperson friendly books. Marks version of the story is consistent with all the prehistory / anthro that Ive read. Read some Jared Diamond if you want to learn lots of good stuff about early man, hunter gatherers, etc. Man hunted enough to cause the extinction of all the mega- mammals on the N American continent many thousands of years ago - the giant American camels and ground sloths disappeared soon after man arrived, for instance.
                          We were not eating many if any grains until about 10 000 years ago, and even then only in a couple of places, most of the world continued as hunters or at least herders for a few thousand years beyond that.
                          If you are new to the PB - please ignore ALL of this stuff, until you've read the book, or at least http://www.marksdailyapple.com/primal-blueprint-101/ and this (personal fave): http://www.archevore.com/get-started/

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                          • #14
                            It wasn't really something he got into. The point of the book wasn't to examine the nutrition, diets and health/mortality rates of hunter-gatherers during their different times on Earth. There were obviously times, conditions, and environments where hunting was the only way to get food.

                            The point of the book is actually how survival means adapting and how humans have done it very well. And if some people only had meat available, then that's what they ate. I was just talking about primary versus secondary. If enough vegetation wasn't available, then hunting happened.

                            It wasn't that the nutrition from the meat that made us smarter. It was creating tools, figuring out how to out smart our prey, and generally adapting to new (sometimes harsh) climates and conditions that evolved our brains over relatively little time. The last ice age really changed things dramatically.

                            He also mentions that people during hunter-gatherer times were very non-confrontational (because there were so much room for everyone to do what they wanted), and didn't exert more energy than what was absolutely necessary. If enough vegetation was available from women gathering, I can't see how the men then wanted to risk their lives hunting--unless absolutely necessary. In Mark's meat-eating blog post, he even mentions that man probably wasn't meant to eat meat, but we adapted well too it.

                            Not trying to stir anything up. Just got me thinking about how with unlimited vegetables, meat and grains available today, what should the ratios really be (for adults) if we want to truly emulate the ideal/preferred diet of our hunter-gatherer ancestors. Who knows? Maybe we liked meat so much more, it was worth the risks of hunting more and more? I guess it depends on which point in time you want to use.

                            But one thing is for sure, grains should not be the main staple of our diet. Nasty stuff.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Roach View Post
                              Harry,

                              You hold people's posts to standards to which you don't hold your own. No bueno.

                              You say "You can't just say "They probably . . . ." That isn't evidence of anything." but you throw around wild speculations and "big ifs" with no concern. What's up with that?

                              Apparently one can just switch out "probably" for "must" and come up with gems like this: "People must have been gathering wild grains for at least a while." and the statement becomes bulletproof.
                              I don't see that anything I wrote was wild speculation. I started by referring you to a research study. I didn't say it was right. In fact, I said it was not the last word, just worth thinking about.

                              Cabeman agreed with me that people must have done some collecting for a while before they started to cultivate. I didn't say they had been collecting for thousands of years. I didn't speculate about that at all.

                              In my statement and replies, I use lots of qualifications like "it would seem" and "if". I believe that all of my posts have been written in the style of scientific writing.

                              For the record, my belief is that it is unhealthy to eat lots of grains at the level espoused by conventional pyramids. I eat maybe five servings of rice or corn per week. (I can't do wheat.) It seems to me that trying to exclude all grains, and white potatoes, from one's diet is a set-up for long-term failure for most people. No corn tortillas, no fresh corn on the cob, no mashed potatoes, no jasmine rice, no fried rice, etc.

                              I am not "on" PB. However, I have been doing very close to it, but with a little daily grain or potatoes for about a month. I feel better than any time in decades. (I'm 67 and feel 35.) I feel great. I have shifted from burning carbs to burning fat. I usually only have the grains/potatoes at dinner. There are still some things that will take a while to heal. I see no possible benefits of excluding grains/potatoes that would outweigh the pleasure they bring.

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