Blog of Dr. Michael R. Eades.
Over a half decade ago Professor Jared Diamond, in his Pulitzer Prize-winning book Guns, Germs, and Steel, famously wrote
“The adoption of agriculture, supposedly our most decisive step toward a better life, was in many ways a catastrophe from which we have never recovered.”
Dr Diamond was referring, of course, to the devolution of human health that took place as mankind suffered the corporal transformation driven by the mismatch between hunter-gatherer genes and an agricultural diet and lifestyle. Smaller stature, decreased cortical bone thickness, obesity, increased incidence of infectious diseases, dental caries, periodontal disease, vitamin deficiencies, and even famine – all common in agriculturists – were not, for the most part, the lot of pre-agricultural man.
Humanity doubtless gained more than it lost in this hunter to farmer changeover when viewed in a big-picture sort of way. Farming made possible larger communities filled with workers, workers who, for the first time, made specialization of labor a possibility. And fewer people could till the fields and provide food for the many, freeing the others to pursue the arts, business, politics, and warfare.
Stephen Budiansky, author of one of my favorite books, Covenant of the Wild, describes how domestic animals formed a pact with humans in which the animals traded a period of safety and survival for their lives. Had this covenant not been made, it is highly likely – virtually a certainty – that cows would now be extinct. Big, slow, stupid and tasty, had they not been amenable to domestication and entered into the covenant with their domesticators, cattle would have been hunted to extinction long, long ago. But they did – however unwillingly – make the covenant and so exist by the tens of millions today. The deal they cut was a phenomenal deal for cattle as a species, but not a particularly good deal for the individual cow when the time comes to pay up at slaughter.
Homo sapiens entered an almost mirror image of this same covenant when they domesticated cereal grasses.* We gave up our independence and mobility for the promise of a constant and plentiful food supply. But, as with our covenant with domestic animals, there is a catch. And this time it’s with us. Humans emerged from this deal with the short end of the stick. In the same way as did cattle, we made a good-for-humans-as-a-species/bad-for-the-individual-human trade. Like it or not, we traded the health of the individual human for the overall good of mankind and the development of civilization.
We traded a diet based primarily on fat and protein with a little carbohydrate thrown in from roots, shoots and tubers for one centered predominantly on carbohydrate. The main source of the carbohydrate was cereal grains, chiefly ancient forms of wheat, the predecessor of the wheat that now occupies a large part of the human diet everywhere. Ancient forms of wheat didn’t do our forebears a lot of good, and, according to Dr. William Davis’s new book Wheat Belly, the modern forms of the grain do us even less good.
Read the rest at the link below:
Interesting. I may get that book.
Something I found interesting when I started the Atkins diet: The guy that convinced me to go on the Atkins diet was a practicing Mormon. At that time I was not active anymore and was questioning it. Anyway, Mormonism teaches that all grain, and especially wheat was the staff of life and made for man, and animal meat was to be used sparingly, preferably only in time of cold or famine, so I ask him how he reconciled those scriptures with the Atkins diet. He made some rationalization that was unsatisfactory. Ha!
Hello Idaho Spud!
I bought the book and I am reading through it now. It's fascinating and very scientific.
I am so glad I bought the book.
It's worth the money.