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

Unveiling The Paleo Manifesto: An Exclusive Excerpt

PaleoManifestofinalcoverI’m happy to have my friend, John Durant, share an exclusive excerpt from his new book, The Paleo Manifesto. Many of you remember John from his feature in the New York Times and hilarious interview on The Colbert Report, which raised the profile of primal living.

Well, John’s book is finally done – and trust me, it’s worth the wait. Just don’t expect any recipes or meal plans (he’s a crummy cook). John begins by going behind the scenes at one of the world’s top zoos to learn how they keep animals healthy in captivity – hint: mimic their natural habitat – which kicks off a series of adventures exploring everything from the Bible’s obsession with hygiene to the British reputation for lousy teeth. John distills the lessons from his adventures and applies them to modern life – food, fasting, movement, bipedalism (standing, walking running), thermoregulation, sun, sleep, ethics, and the environment – showing how to craft a holistic primal lifestyle in the modern world. Entertaining and beautifully-written, The Paleo Manifesto is an accessible and credible defense of primal living that even skeptics will enjoy.

In this excerpt, John receives a private tour of Harvard’s fossil archive, holds the 80,000 year-old skull of a Paleolithic hunter-gatherer, and unravels the mystery of his amazing grin.

Enter John…

Five years after graduating, I found myself back on the Harvard campus in a familiar situation: late to meet with a professor. My destination? Harvard’s Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology.

The Peabody boasts a collection of over six million ancient artifacts from around the world: a shark tooth spearhead from the South Pacific; Mayan hieroglyphics engraved on giant limestone slabs; a Native American whistle carved out of eagle bone collected by Lewis and Clark on their legendary transcontinental expedition.

The Peabody is also where Harvard stores its osteological collections: bones. Lots of bones. Neanderthals from Europe, mummified remains from South America, chimpanzees from Africa. The collections contain fossils famous for documenting the emergence of human beings, as well as skulls with uncommon deformities used to teach students about skeletal development. Delicate and rare, the bones in the collections are locked away in an archive, not on display to the public.

I was meeting with Dr. Daniel Lieberman, chair of the Department of Human Evolutionary Biology. Bearded and bespectacled, he looked just like a professor should; he was the ur-professor. Dr. Lieberman studies bones, both dead bones (paleoanthropology) and living bones (biomechanics). He earned tenure by studying the human head, but he earns mention in ESPN stories for his research on barefoot running.

My visit today was all about the human head – skulls, actually – and the impact of the Agricultural Revolution on human health. Our diverse, omnivorous diet as hunter-gatherers became heavily grain-based, contributing to an overall decline in health—and I was about to hold the evidence in my own hands.

“Okay, let’s go see some skulls,” said Dr. Lieberman, as he led me into the museum.

We walked up to an old wooden door. Probably part of the original construction in the late nineteenth century, it had been retrofitted with an electronic security system. Dr. Lieberman swiped a key fob past it, the lock clicked open, and we walked into a brightly lit room with laboratory equipment lining one wall. It felt like moving from historic to modern, but we were actually moving from historic to prehistoric.

The archive felt like a cross between a library and a morgue. It was lined with shelves, which were filled with boxes of bones. Handwritten words faced outward: “Natufian—El Wad”; “Chimpanzee—Liberia.” The labels served the dual role of title and tombstone.

Dr. Lieberman handed me a pair of latex gloves.

“Here, put these on.”

The gloves weren’t there simply to protect the ancient remains from me; they were also there to protect me from the ancient remains, since many had been preserved in nasty chemicals.

Dr. Lieberman pulled a box off the shelf, carried it over to a table, and took off the lid. He gently lifted up a skull.

“This is Skhul V. This guy is famous. He was a hunter-gatherer living more than 80,000 years ago in the Levant. That’s modern-day Israel. He’s one of the earliest anatomically modern Homo sapiens ever recovered. Here, you can hold his skull. There’s only one rule.”

Dr. Lieberman paused and looked directly at me.

“Use two hands.”

It was a command, not a suggestion. This is not something you want to drop.

With that he gingerly passed me Skhul V.

Looking at a human skull creates an optical illusion: it looks like the skull is smiling. The brain interprets the visible teeth and upswept jawbone as an upturned mouth. Not only did this phenomenon create the creepy effect that Skhul V was somehow alive, but he seemed downright cocky, brimming with a confidence that even the grave couldn’t shake.

And what a grin this guy had. What an amazing grin.

SkhulV766x1024

“Notice anything?” Dr. Lieberman asked. “Look at the teeth. They’re straight. And no cavities. His wisdom teeth came in just fine. Humans, like all animals, have evolved teeth that are well suited to their natural diet. An infected tooth can easily kill you, and there were no dentists in the Paleolithic.”

Nearly one hundred thousand years before dentists and orthodontists, this hunter-gatherer had a strong, straight set of chompers. Skhul V challenged much of what I’d been taught about the history of human health.

“Now, look,” Dr. Lieberman continued, “hunter-gatherers didn’t have perfect teeth. This guy has well-worn teeth, and he’s actually missing one due to an abscess. So don’t stop going to the dentist. But wait until I show you the skulls of early farmers—a lot of them would need to get fitted for dentures.”

“So what’s the secret? Eat less sugar?” I asked.

“Well, yes, but healthy teeth depend on a variety of factors,” Dr. Lieberman explained. “First, yes, it matters what you eat. Amylase in your saliva breaks down carbohydrate into sugar in your mouth. Bacteria feed on the sugar and produce acid that wears away the enamel on teeth, giving you cavities. We’ll see what happened to the early farmers who started eating a starchier diet.”

To figure out what humans used to eat, teeth are a good place to start. Not only do teeth fossilize well, but they’re the first point of contact between the food we eat and our body, the first part of our internal digestive tract. And if our teeth aren’t well adapted to a particular food, it’s unlikely the rest of our digestive tract is. But whatever Skhul V was eating, his teeth seemed to be up to the challenge.

“It also matters how tough your food is to chew,” Dr. Lieberman continued. “When you put force on bones, they grow bigger and stronger. People back then ate tougher foods, they put larger forces on their jaw, and thus they had jaws large enough to actually fit all of our teeth. And those bite forces may have helped our teeth come in straight.”

“And since we all eat such soft foods these days?” I asked.

“Smaller jaws.”

It felt oddly insulting to hear him say that. In a sense he was pointing out that my growth had been stunted in childhood. I’m deformed. And not just me, but most modern people.

Dr. Lieberman took the skull and put it back in the box, then pulled out a femur and held it up.

“I don’t know if you’ve seen many femurs, but I have, and this is quite a femur. He almost certainly has much thicker bones than either of us. Bone cross-sectional thickness increases with use, particularly before the mid-twenties. It suggests significant musculature.”

“He was tall, too,” Dr. Lieberman said as he held the femur up to my thigh. I’m five foot ten, and the femur was longer than mine. (Dr. Lieberman later sent me a published estimate on Skhul V: five foot ten and 150 pounds. “Yeah, I don’t believe it,” he said. “I suspect they estimated them wrong.”) Even so, five foot ten would have been considered gigantic from the Agricultural Revolution until recently. Early farming populations lost as much as five inches of height compared with early foragers.

“So how long did this guy live?” I asked.

“Well, this guy probably fits the stereotype of dying young,” Dr. Lieberman said. “Maybe thirty to forty years old. But life was dangerous back then, and it looks like he was healthy right up to the end. Plenty of ancient hunter-gatherers lived a long time. Contemporary hunter-gatherers regularly live well into their sixties and seventies.”

The common misperception is that ancient people would blow out the candles at their thirty-fifth birthday party and then just drop dead. But even chimpanzees and gorillas can live that long in the wild, and there are good reasons to believe we are naturally longer lived than they are. Humans have fewer natural predators than do other primates, as well as a longer childhood before puberty. The age of the oldest documented human (122 years old) far exceeds the oldest documented chimpanzee (66 years old) and gorilla (56 years old), both of which lived in captivity with no risk of predation or starvation. The natural human life span appears to have lengthened in the late Paleolithic when humans were able to fend off external sources of mortality and bear (or support) offspring at older ages. In fact, it’s likely that life expectancy initially dropped after the Agricultural Revolution.

The Agricultural Revolution seems like a paradox of history: if human health got worse, then why did people become farmers?

The shift to an agricultural lifestyle wasn’t something that anyone consciously planned. Even so, the domestication of animals and plants appears to have taken place independently in multiple locations around the world (the Fertile Crescent, China, India, the Americas, and Africa) at about the same time, 15,000 b.c. to 5,000 b.c. It was a technology whose time had come.

In short, the Agricultural Revolution unlocked a path to more rapid growth—in population, culture, and technology—and the people who took that path left descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky. A fifty-person band of hunter-gatherers—even if they are relatively tall and healthy—will be displaced by a wealthy, technologically advanced city-state with a fast-breeding population, many of whom could be enlisted as soldiers, even if they are short and sickly.

“Shall we go look at some diseased farmers?” asked Dr. Lieberman, and he led me to another part of the archive. He pulled out a couple more boxes of bones and placed them on the counter. He lifted up another skull, holding it for me to have a look. “This is an early Neolithic farmer from Tangier, in modern-day Morocco.”

Dr. Lieberman turned it over to show the dental cavity.

“These are some shitty teeth. Once you get farming, you get a lot more cavities. It’s classic.”

The teeth were ground flat, filled with holes, and many were missing. It looked brutally painful.

“By the way, it’s not just starch that causes this. It’s also the little bits of stone that get mixed into food when grinding grains. That’s why the teeth are all ground flat. And see how shiny they are? They’ve been polished by the stone bits, like by sandpaper. A lot of starch, plus wear and tear, and a poor diet make for a lot of dental problems.”

Dr. Lieberman put the Moroccan farmer away and opened another box.

“We’ve got lots of diseased farmers. This guy is from the fifteenth century in modern-day Montenegro.”

He held up the skull. There were long gaps where teeth were missing. Based on the bones, he wasn’t much more than five feet tall.

“This is a squat little person who had a horrible, nasty life,” Dr. Lieberman observed. “I know you’re focused on diet, but probably the biggest negative impact on the overall health of early farmers came from infectious disease: a result of living in close proximity to other people and domesticated animals for the first time.”

What Dr. Lieberman said confirmed my basic take on the story of human health. It wasn’t one uninterrupted improvement. Things got worse before they got better. Teeth got worse, stature declined, infectious disease went through the roof, and life span declined for the average person.

“Just don’t forget that the Agricultural Revolution allowed more people to survive. All of us wouldn’t be here without it,” Dr. Lieberman said as he packed up the bones.

“Speaking of the Agricultural Revolution, who’s hungry for lunch?”

For the rest of the story, order The Paleo Manifesto.

John Durant

Durantauthorphotocropped907x1024John Durant is author of The Paleo Manifesto: Ancient Wisdom for Lifelong Health and is a leader of the growing ancestral health movement. He has been featured in the New York Times and interviewed on The Colbert Report. Prior to founding Barefoot Runners NYC and Paleo NYC, the largest paleo/primal group in the world, Durant studied evolutionary psychology at Harvard. He keeps a freezer chest full of organ meats in the bedroom of his Manhattan apartment, and he is fully aware of how weird that is. He blogs at HunterGatherer.com.

Author Photograph: Gabrielle Revere
Skull image courtesy of the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology, Harvard University, 46-49-60/N7365.0, Digital File #60743070.
Excerpted and adapted from The Paleo Manifesto by John Durant. Copyright © 2013 by John Durant. Excerpted by permission of Crown Publishers, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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. Ah, I didn’t want this excerpt to end! Can’t wait to buy the book! This is fascinating.

    Charlotte wrote on September 10th, 2013
    • Agreed. The historical aspect is amazing

      Matt wrote on September 10th, 2013
    • Me either!

      allison wrote on September 12th, 2013
  2. I’ve been waiting for John Durant’s book for a while now. I still remember him being a guest on Comedy Central’s Colbert Report a few years back. Great stuff. John’s an intelligent guy.

    Mark P wrote on September 10th, 2013
    • On a side-note, I wonder what John’s stance will be on the peculiar aspects of the paleo diet – fruit consumption, dairy consumption, alcohol, etc. Guess I’ll need to pick this book up sooner than later.

      Mark P wrote on September 10th, 2013
      • Looks like he doesn’t like starch/sugar for the teeth. One of hundreds of intelligent people out there that know the dangers of the sweet stuff. Balls in your court!

        Nocona wrote on September 10th, 2013
  3. This looks fascinating — can’t wait to read. I love the science behind the “blueprint”.

    Pete wrote on September 10th, 2013
  4. Going to go get this book ASAP! After switching from SAD to IF + Primal my hygienist noticed a big difference in my teeth. No more buildup in between cleanings! I am not talking about less tartar and plaque I am talking about going from a lot each time to none at all. I was just trying to get lean… with teeth being the last thing on my mind! I even like the Cavitron!

    We all are told to brush twice a day etc. I wonder if that guidance should be revisited for us primal eaters? Here comes the list of Primal Dentists! (not kidding)

    So I am doing a test currently that includes mostly NOT brushing my teeth at night. I brush in the mornings only and some days I skip it! My mouth actually feels cleaner the next day when I don’t brush the night before. Hmmmm.
    I am curious what the next dentist visit will bring but I expect no cavities or significant buildup.

    My dad observed the same with a change from SAD to Primal. This lifestyle has too many benefits to list folks and many are, like this one, unexpected.

    Nick wrote on September 10th, 2013
    • I agree with Nick. Switching from the SAD to Paleo/Primal improved the quality of my teeth dramatically. I don’t brush my teeth more than when I was on the SAD diet but my teeth are much cleaner, healthier and have less plaque buildup. My gums are also not inflamed either. I remember when I used to get a teeth cleaning, my gums would bleed and my mouth looked like a bloodbath! Now my gums don’t ever bleed and the dentist noticed how much cleaner my teeth are. He never thought to attribute it to a cleaner, produce based diet until I pointed it out. Needless to say, I have no cavities or never need any additional dental work other than biannual teeth cleanings.

      Brooke wrote on September 10th, 2013
      • As a dentist who follows primal/paleo I can vouch for some of the observations. Cavities are caused by one main bacterial species while gingivitis and periodontitis are caused by a handful. A high sugar/starch diet can radically alter the bacterial flora of the mouth much the same way it can the gut. Eating a low sugar diet favors the bacterial types that typically don’t acidify the mouth and cause cavities or perio problems and could even promote bacteria that are protective against these. The old brush twice a day came about because it typically takes about 24 hours for the plaque on your teeth to change from a soft pellicle that is easily removed to hardened on tartar that needs to be scraped off. Most people aren’t very good brushers so we tend to say twice a day figuring it would get most of it before it hardens. You may still see tartar buildup on paleo/primal due to salivary glands that secrete minerals onto the teeth particularly on the backs of the lower front teeth but cavities and gingivitis should definately decrease.

        Kris wrote on September 11th, 2013
    • I usually just brush at night. That makes sense to me, because I’ve been eating all day, plus there’s sometimes food in my teeth. I almost never brush in the morning, and my hubby never tells me I have “morning breath.” I use Primal Life Organics’ dirty mouth clay mix. I’ve also never had a cavity in my life (reaching 42), which I put down to being breastfed and having a super granola mom in the early 70s who NEVER let us have sugar.

      Ruth wrote on September 10th, 2013
    • I also experience significantly healthier teeth after going primal. My dentist just asks why I bother to come in anymore.

      I also quit brushing when I gave up shampoo, almost 3 years ago. I only brush after a ‘cheat’ that has sugar in it. My wife (and I’ve asked) says she has never noticed that I have bad breath.

      John wrote on September 10th, 2013
    • All my life Ive hated brushing my teeth, my mother also has the same problem, it literally makes us sick to the stomach. After going primal I noticed that my teeth no longer felt as fury, so I started to skip the odd brush. I never was a big brusher anyway, preferring to brush in the shower with no toothpaste.
      I sometimes go for a whole day without brushing and a whole week with no toothpaste. My dentist also noticed a big change in my build up.

      Also my hairdresser noticed a massive change in my hair and asked if I’d changed anything on my hair (probably meaning shampoo or treatments). She said there was a distinct line in the hair shaft and that I might have had something going on about 6 months ago. (I have very long hair and only get it trimmed once a year or so). I said yes I changed my diet drastically. She said well keep doing what youre doing, your new hair is amazing!

      Primal has changed so many things for me… hair skin nails… all for the better, oh and the 35kg weight loss is also great!

      Jane Britton wrote on September 11th, 2013
  5. Hey everyone, hope you enjoyed the excerpt! I’ll be around today if folks have any questions.

    John Durant wrote on September 10th, 2013
    • Hey John, congrats on your book. I have been following Mark’s primal lifestyle for a while now, and the main difference I see with the 100% paleo guys is that a pimal style allows for some “leeway”. For example, I don’t drink milk, but I eat the right cheeses and I use butter and cream, and, as Mark does, I use a pinch of sugar in my morning coffee. I refrained completely from using grains though, and my carbs consumption comes from fruit and veggies only. What do you think about including some dairy (the right ones) on your diet? Also, do you indulge every now and then? Thanks!

      John R wrote on September 10th, 2013
      • John, sounds like you and I are on the same page. I think “orthodox” paleo is an excellent starting point, but it doesn’t have to be everyone’s ending point. Experimentation and customization are essential. Add foods one at a time and see how you feel. I enjoy and feel good eating small to moderate amounts of full-fat dairy (too much and my complexion deteriorates). I avoid gluten entirely. My main indulgences are alcohol and sea salt and vinegar potato chips (which will be the death of me).

        John Durant wrote on September 10th, 2013
    • Is it a rising tide or just one thing?

      Ancap_2 wrote on September 10th, 2013
    • Hey John, I think everyone’s noticing from the excerpt that you’re a great storyteller. I’m curious if it comes naturally to you or if it’s something you’ve worked at. Any advice for someone who wants to improve?

      Steve Dombek wrote on September 10th, 2013
      • Thanks! A finished book is always the product of many people: my editor (Sydny Miner), outside editor (Michael Malice), research assistant (Zoe Piel), copy editors, early readers, and more.

        A few tips:
        – Move quickly to a bad first draft (it WILL be ugly. that’s OK.)
        – Don’t edit as you write (save that for fresh eyes)
        – Write something every day
        – Write when you’re fresh (usually in the morning)
        – “Just the facts, ma’am” (be concrete, use simple language, and move the action forward.)
        – Edit, edit, edit, edit!
        – Kill your darlings. (sometimes the stuff you love the most has to go)
        – Write a story about *people*, not abstractions. (I tried to avoid long detours into biochemistry…partly because I’m not an expert in biochem, partly because I want it to be accessible to people w/o a PhD in molecular biology.)

        Also, I tend to fade to the background for much of this book and let others do the talking. Paleo/primal and ancestral health is much bigger than I am, so I knew that I shouldn’t be the star of the story.

        Hope that helps!

        John Durant wrote on September 10th, 2013
        • And, no, it didn’t come naturally to me. And yes, I worked very hard at it. You should have seen the first draft of this excerpt. HORRENDOUS.

          John Durant wrote on September 10th, 2013
        • Love this advice. As a composition teacher half of my job is helping my students understand that good writing is never accomplished on the first try.

          I can’t wait to read your book John!

          Stacie wrote on September 10th, 2013
        • Good, actionable advice. And reassuring to all of us bad writers. Thanks John.

          Steve Dombek wrote on September 10th, 2013
    • A question – is clenching teeth very bad?

      Clenching teeth wrote on September 25th, 2013
  6. Great excerpt. What an incredible museum.

    Joey wrote on September 10th, 2013
  7. Awesome! I have never heard of this guy but that interview with Colbert just made me a fan. I will be buying his book for sure! I’m still certain Mark would destroy him in a game of Ultimate, but he seems legit to me.

    -Taylor

    Taylor Rearick wrote on September 10th, 2013
    • Taylor, I played a year of competitive ultimate frisbee in college — and I have zero doubt that Mark would still school me.

      John Durant wrote on September 10th, 2013
  8. I want to read more. I also want to gaze into those blue eyes.

    Diane wrote on September 10th, 2013
    • +1 !!

      Magda wrote on September 10th, 2013
      • +another

        Joy Beer wrote on September 10th, 2013
        • That can be arranged. ;)

          (But on closer inspection, you’ll find that they’re more hazel. My blue shirt brings out the blue.)

          John Durant wrote on September 10th, 2013
  9. According to Weston Price vitamin K2 was responsible to a large extent for normal jaw development. I suppose heavy usage would also be a factor.

    Groktimus Primal wrote on September 10th, 2013
  10. Got it pre-ordered!

    Andrew wrote on September 10th, 2013
  11. Speaking of smaller jaws and softer foods, I wonder if anybody else noticed the same thing I did: going to vegan websites with the owner pictured on the front page–notice how small and narrow the jaws, and the sharpness of pointed chins on these people appear?

    Here’s an example: http://www.rickiheller.com/

    and another: http://coconutandberries.com/2013/08/07/broad-bean-roasted-garlic-dip/

    and another: http://www.thelilfoxes.com/2013/05/13/simple-mondays-sweet-vegan-ricotta/ (picture takes awhile to load)

    and another: http://www.healthfulpursuit.com/2013/08/win-rise-kombucha/

    and another: http://www.sweetlyraw.com/2011/06/decadent-raw-chocolate-cake.html

    It seems like Weston A, Price was indeed correct! These people’s kids are gonna need a straw to eat after all is said and done…oh, but WAIT! That’s what smoothies are for, right?

    Wenchypoo wrote on September 10th, 2013
    • This is a blog called V3g@n Crunk that is a prime example of what you’re talking about. The author seems like a nice gal, but her face reminds me of a Weston A. Price “after” picture.

      Emily H. wrote on September 10th, 2013
    • This is absurd. Don’t you think that the way those women’s jaws developed had more to do with their parent’s diet and their as children and not what they eat now as adults? Not to mention genetics. I think it’s a safe assumption that they grew up on a standard diet and their present diet has little to do with their jaw development…

      Besides, you’re judging on the basis of small pictures made from angles that don’t always do justice.
      Obviously their kids will be affected by what they eat, but that’s a different story. Just saying.

      magda wrote on September 11th, 2013
  12. “why did people become farmers?”

    There’s ample evidence that paleo-man wiped out the megafuana in multiple locations. Farming and domesticating animals became a necessity.

    spatz wrote on September 10th, 2013
  13. He’s got a great writing style, and I agree with @Charlotte above; the excerpt was fascinating. I just pre-ordered the Kindle version!

    Mel wrote on September 10th, 2013
  14. Great post! “Skhul V” is only one example. Are there any other similar skulls colletced from around the world? Are those porperties of “Skhul V” common between the hanter-gatherers?

    Ferry wrote on September 10th, 2013
    • Off the top of my head:

      The are a decent number of skulls from the Upper Paleolithic, but the further back in time you go, the fewer there are. Cranial capacity actually shrinks *before* the end of the Paleolithic, but scholars still debate why exactly that happened and what it means. Jaw size definitely shrinks with the onset of agriculture, and dentition deteriorates. You do tend to see an improvement in dentition in some parts of the world once agriculture has been around for a little while — probably due to both genetic factors (more copies of the amylase gene) and cultural factors (chew sticks, the spread of fermentation).

      But it’s easy to spot the skull of a farmer: lots of cavities, crowded teeth, missing teeth, heavily worn with a “polished” look.

      John Durant wrote on September 10th, 2013
      • Thanks John! Your post revealed some interesting and new aspects.

        Ferry wrote on September 11th, 2013
  15. I do appreciate the candor in the point-counterpoint at the end.

    We have the ability to choose to eat better (whether paleo or other non-SAD diet), but at the same time a lot of us wouldn’t be around without agriculture. I feel fortunate to be able to choose to eat grass-fed, pastured, whole fruits and vegetables. Sometimes, I think a lot of “us” get carried away with “agriculture is bad”.

    Alive > Dead, even if that alive isn’t optimal!

    Kurt B. wrote on September 10th, 2013
    • Wow, that reads poorly – should’ve said “grass-fed/pastured and whole fruits and veggies”… when someone figures out how to feed grass to fruits and veggies, they should definitely write a book.

      Kurt B. wrote on September 10th, 2013
      • compost, obviously. i think books on this topic already are out there ;)

        Feather wrote on September 21st, 2013
    • I appreciate this post, since my dad is a farmer and I grew up on a farm. I just gave him my copy of the PB and had to warn him about the anti-ag stance!

      Stacie wrote on September 10th, 2013
  16. Good excerpt…I liked the description of the professor as an uber-professor.

    The other point that was made was the prevalence of infectious disease due to living in closer proximity to so many other humans and animals. Medicine can, and does, claim credit for the eradication of many diseases but engineers are the unheralded heroes for building clean-water filtering systems and sewage systems that really cut into spread of illneses and disease.

    Looking forward to reading more.

    Sophia wrote on September 10th, 2013
    • You are going to like the next chapter, which is about cultural adaptations to infectious disease — usually religious ones — long before antibiotics and vaccines.

      John Durant wrote on September 10th, 2013
      • I wonder if the Abrahamic religions prohibition against eating pig resulted from those attempts to adapt?.
        Or the Orthodox church and its numerous occasions to fast?. Will be interesting to read.

        Sophia wrote on September 10th, 2013
        • You are a clever one. I cover both topics. :)

          John Durant wrote on September 10th, 2013
  17. This seems to be a replication of Weston A. Price’s studies.

    Julie wrote on September 10th, 2013
    • Replication is the foundation of good science.

      Anemone wrote on September 10th, 2013
  18. Love the beautifully knapped arrowhead on the front cover. Gotta get me this fine book.

    Nocona wrote on September 10th, 2013
    • Thanks, I love the cover too.

      I was trying to appeal to two groups: the existing paleosphere and mainstream readers. The paleosphere is tired the gimmicky “cartoon caveman” shtick; and the mainstream doesn’t want to join a paleo cult.

      So I wanted something that was credible, authentic, and deeply rooted to what it meant to be human — but without playing off of caveman stereotypes. In my opinion, this cover accomplished that.

      John Durant wrote on September 10th, 2013
      • John, other than the fact that you wrote the book and I enjoy your writing, the cover is what influenced me to read Mark’s comments, your chapter and go further to find other reviews. Then I pre-ordered the ebook. It’s a magnificent photo. Great lighting.

        I have a friend who has knapped flint points for many years, so I’ve seen a few.

        Looking forward to reading your book!

        gibson girl wrote on September 10th, 2013
      • John, your comment makes lots of sense. The “paleo” movement must, and is – quite appropriately – evolving. In my experience, pretty much every American who likes the “caveman image” has tried paleo. But it turns off two groups:

        Women: Not all of them, obviously, but I have found many women find the term “paleo” threatening, as it represents being dragged back to a whole set of primitive, patriarchal cultural values they’d rather have remain “extinct.”

        Creationists: Studies show only about 25 percent of Americans believe in evolution (don’t get me started on this one).

        So, increasingly, paleo principles must be presented as straightforward healthy living recommendations. Your nuanced cover represents a responsible step in that direction.

        perelmanfan wrote on September 12th, 2013
        • Thanks for saying so

          John Durant wrote on September 12th, 2013
  19. Very, very interesting + a pleasant, flowing writing style. Ordered a copy right away.

    Eurogal wrote on September 10th, 2013
  20. Who are women going to mate with when they realize the majority of millennial men are unemployed sallow puddles of goop?

    Drew wrote on September 10th, 2013
    • PRIMAL MEN!

      John Durant wrote on September 10th, 2013
      • There aren’t enough of them. Yet.

        Sophia wrote on September 10th, 2013
        • Aren’t enough Primal women either.
          We all need to up our game!

          Michael wrote on September 10th, 2013
  21. Looks like a great read John! Just pre-ordered on the Nook…I recently read Cro-Magnon by Brian Fagan and it seems that your book will be excellent as it ties together what can be learned from pre-history with why a Primal/Paleo way of life works for us now.

    Rob from NJ wrote on September 10th, 2013
  22. I pre-ordered this book ages ago. Can’t wait!

    Siobhan wrote on September 10th, 2013
  23. Hi John – Congrats on completing your opus! Looking forward to reading it. I’ve been primal for 3 years now, & you’re certainly one of the good guys. After a few years of much needless rancor among the “paleo” troops, your book is a much-needed breath of fresh air. Experimentation (N=1) rules the roost. Enjoy the afterglow & don’t succumb to too many chips… or too many “paleo” groupies!

    Ron wrote on September 10th, 2013
    • Thanks! I definitely take an inclusive, big tent approach in my book. Let’s not commit the same “sins” as raw foodism or veganism — which are extremely ideological and exclude dissenters. Individual experimentation and customization are strengths, not weaknesses, of a primal approach.

      By the way, I have a feeling you’re going to like my chapter on Biohackers, the Information Age, and what we can learn from personal experimentation.

      John Durant wrote on September 10th, 2013
      • As a yoga teacher, I am assumed to be at least a vegetarian (Paleo for 4 years so far), if not a vegan. I resist some gatherings out of the fear of encountering Vegetarian-Arrogance.
        There is an element I often feel, that those making that choice truly believe they are better than other people. Thank you for consciously making a more inclusive choice.

        Gail wrote on September 10th, 2013
        • People fighting slavery hundreds of years ago did come off that way (arrogant) and felt that way (they were better than the slave owners).

          That took a thousand years.

          Unnecessary killing of domesticated (for the express purpose of killing) might take another thousand. At least slave ownership was not as prevalent as the mass slaughter we consume every day. So it might take even more.

          BT wrote on September 11th, 2013
  24. An honest and informed vegetarian will admit they have more dental caries than meat eaters. That, of course, doesn’t stop them from not eating meat …

    Kayu wrote on September 10th, 2013
    • Our dental health vastly improved when we minimized grains and ate more meat.

      Amy wrote on September 10th, 2013
  25. When’s the book released in the UK?

    Ben wrote on September 10th, 2013
    • Don’t have a UK release date yet, sorry!

      John Durant wrote on September 10th, 2013
    • Amazon says 17th September

      LadyWitch wrote on September 11th, 2013
  26. Just read the excerpt and now can’t wait to read the whole book. Of course I am one of your fans even if you did not write a book but now I have another reason. Best of luck and love, June

    June Lockhart wrote on September 10th, 2013
    • JUNE!!!!! All my love to you, Jane, and Audrey.

      John Durant wrote on September 10th, 2013
  27. Can’t wait til my pre-ordered book arrives.
    Thanks for sharing!

    Lars wrote on September 10th, 2013
  28. Hey John,
    I just watched the Colbert clip. Here’s hoping you found your celiac, lactose intolerant woman to share your cave with. And check out these shoes http://www.earthrunners.com/products-page for your next TV appearance…..sorry but the vibrams don’t compliment your look (no financial connection, just think they are good product)

    Looking forward to reading your book.

    mims wrote on September 10th, 2013
  29. I’m so excited about this book! Ever since going primal, I’ve been researching about the history of the Paleo diet. Should be a great read! I just wish I could hang out with other Primal people! I tell my co-workers that I don’t drink soda and that I don’t eat bread and they look at me like I am from another planet. If only they knew.

    David Mares wrote on September 10th, 2013
  30. Interesting article–thanks for the info. But I had to laugh when I read Wenchypoo’s comment about my “small and pointed” jaw! IF ONLY. But even if that were true, your commenter forgets that I wasn’t vegan when my jaw size was formed, nor were my parents vegan, so the size/shape of my jaw has nothing to do with eating plants. . . unless my jaw shrank and got more pointy in the past 10 years?? ;)

    Ricki wrote on September 10th, 2013
    • Oh, and forgot to mention that neither Healthful Pursuit nor Sweetly Raw are actually vegan (unless buffalo burgers are now vegan–?). :)

      Ricki wrote on September 10th, 2013
  31. John,
    The book appears fascinating, the Colbert interview, a hoot.

    BTW, I am Paleo (4 years and counting), lactose intolerant, no longer interested in grains…and a female. However, I’ll understand if you are holding
    out for a “mate” who is actually allergic to gluten.

    Thank you for your vulnerable sharing that even included ‘how to write a book’.
    Not to mention, what you shared earlier, about how you prepared for
    the potential trauma of taking part in that Colbert interview.

    Just so you’ll know, I consider TRANSPERANCY an aphrodisiac.

    Gail wrote on September 10th, 2013
    • Hahaha, thanks, Gail! I also try to be transparent so people don’t get the impression that I lead a “perfect” primal lifestyle. Writing a health book is the worst thing I’ve ever done for my health!

      John Durant wrote on September 10th, 2013
      • Okay, great. Perfection dismissed, you are now free to err.

        ” Writing a health book is the worst thing I’ve ever done for my health!”
        Care to elaborate?

        Gail wrote on September 11th, 2013
  32. TRANSPARENCY (whoops..no edit button?) So turned on, I lost my focus.

    Gail wrote on September 10th, 2013
  33. Thank you! I haven’t had a good primal read in a while! I can’t wait to digest this one. =)

    Also, John is a very attractive man! Keep that smile going strong!

    Love, peace and chicken grease!

    Eva wrote on September 10th, 2013
  34. **CLICKS AWAY TO BUY**

    MizFit wrote on September 11th, 2013
  35. Im from Australia, where can I see the Colbert report interview that everyone’s talking about?
    Can someone give a link?

    Jane

    Jane Britton wrote on September 11th, 2013
  36. I started reading your book and couldn’t put it down. Love the way it’s written and the content is informative yet entertaining. Denise Minger will read it once she’s finished writing her book. But in the meantime–her mom (me!) is really enjoying it!!

    Sue Minger wrote on September 12th, 2013
    • Ha, thanks, Sue! So glad you’re enjoying it. Looking forward to Denise’s book.

      John Durant wrote on September 12th, 2013
  37. I started my Paleo diet with http://www.munchpaleo.com/, if anyone wants to go primal I suggest you check them out.

    Jesse wrote on September 14th, 2013
  38. anyone with knowledge of the paleo diet care to comment on Rob Wolfs rebuttal – positive or negative

    Joe Jenksen wrote on January 1st, 2014
  39. See John in action
    DEBATE: Cave Man Vs. Vegan: What is the Best Diet

    http://youtu.be/ery6ez2M7aw

    Denet wrote on August 11th, 2014

Leave a Reply

If you'd like to add an avatar to all of your comments click here!

© 2014 Mark's Daily Apple

Subscribe to the Newsletter and Get a Free Copy
of Mark Sisson's Fitness eBook and more!