How civilization affected our food and fruit
What you eat today didn’t exist 10,000 years ago. Humans have been able to do miraculous things, and other than some ancient uncultivated jungle fruit, we have changed our environment as well as every single item we eat. We have bred everything to make it bigger, last longer, and grow faster. The question is: are they the healthiest foods to eat?
When we talk about what we should eat now, the food that would be healthiest for us does not exist anymore. The food we grew up on in the infancy of our civilization is no longer an option. We can make assumptions, guesses, and even scientifically conclude “possibilities” based on logic and historical examples. This is why when we say “Eat Primal”, we mean eating in the best fashion you can to get closer to our earlier selves. Not all of us can afford to only eat grass fed, free-range beef, wild foraging hogs, and locally grown low carbohydrate tubers/fruits.
As a species, we can consider ourselves “us” within a relative relation of about 200,000 years old. This fact can be debated, dependent on whose theories you subscribe, but regardless of any specific time period, the modification of our food has happened in only the very most recent history of our species.
What have we changed? What food items have changed in our recent history that has caused so much in the grocery store to be bad for us? Why, if we follow the Primal Blueprint, and the example of Grok is the grocery store a scary place to find ourselves.
The honest truth has already been stated, everything we eat has changed. You have heard about animals and their changes, huge monoculture farms. I am going to share just three examples to keep ourselves brief.
Is fruit meant for good health or not?
Is fruit the same as it was centuries ago?
This delicious fruit was first cultivated about 6,000 years ago in China. There have been peach fossils found, dating possibly millions of years old. The pits look similar but still contained the same similar furrows. The major difference is they were smaller, much smaller, but the seeds were up to 40% of the fruit. The sugar (carbohydrate – fructose) content wasn’t dramatically different, by percent, but modern peaches are up to 16x the size of those ancient peaches. To get the same amount of fructose you would need to eat half a dozen peaches or more.
Yes, corn is partially a fruit! It was cultivated about 9000 years ago, it is also one of the oldest and most man-modified foods that tasted like a very dry raw potato. Corn required work to peel it by a hammer with a hard object repeatedly. It yielded 5-10 kernels only which were very hard, and could not be consumed without grinding, or pounding them down. This grain has grown almost 1000x larger than its ancient variety and 3-5x sweeter. It also has been bred to last longer, grow more, and be easier to peel, and eat. You would need to peel and grind over 30x as many corn plants (can it even be called that?) to get the same carbohydrate concentration.
It was cultivated about 5000 years ago and has had one of the biggest changes from its origins. Ancient watermelons were small, bitter, had to be hit with hard objects to open. The fruit originally had more in common with an avocado being 10x fatter and starch with very little sugars. It took thousands of years to modify this fruit to over 1500x the original volume, to remove almost all fat and starch, and convert almost every nutritional calorie to sugars. I won’t even do the math to compare how much you would have to eat because the fruit is too different now.
Is there a solution? Yes and no. We have more available to us, but the honest truth, this problem exists in all foods we eat (meat being fatter, fruits being larger, etc.). In 20,000 years maybe humans will begin to adapt to the excessive quantity of carbs and oversaturation of fats, but until then (and in our immediate lifetime) the goal is to imagine our ancestors. Even though we can’t eat the same foods, we can aim to consume similar levels of sugars, fats, and proteins.
3 Tips to Pick the Healthy foods to eat
1. Pick the best local fruits
Aim to avoid the most popular fruits. They are usually sweeter, and more loaded with sugar. Berries generally have more fiber, and less sugar content per gram. It also more difficult to eat the same amount of berries, but the aim is moderation. Ideally, fruit should be avoided often.
2.Become a locavore.
Find farmers markets, find those vegetables and supplies that are grown for taste, and not for size. Become friends with your neighborhood and find the good spots to go (sometimes this is harder said than done!)
3.Leaner meats are your friend but do not choose fat-free.
Fat is generally good for you, it is what gave us our brains (another post, another time). That grass fed beef is probably better for you, but it typically costs much more. If you need to aim for cheaper cuts, try to avoid those cuts that have excessive hunks of fat surrounding the meat.
Unfortunately, we can’t eat what our ancestors did, but we can aim for the same types of foods.