This blog is about the intersection between evolutionary biology and food. But also about practical applications, sustainable agriculture, and general tasty things.
About the spring of 2008 I enjoyed the best health I had experienced in 25 years. I gained 20 pounds and my blood level did not show anaemia. I looked like a healthy person and I felt terrific. There was no medical explanation whatsoever. I ate everything, I over ate and I was drinking. I was going to author something that I was going to call ‘The Drinking Cure’. I thought that I had beaten the illness – something in my physiology had changed.
Then of course he has a devasting intestinal rupture.
I think the past ten years has seen an explosion in similar stories- "I cured X, here is my advice." They underpin quite a few blogs, even perhaps this one. But as this blog has aged, I've realized how unimportant my own story is. Sure, I managed to get rid of some illnesses, but it's very hard to say how given how much of my life has changed since I started out this journey.
So many of these "Paleo" or whatever diet challenges change so many things about a person's eating, drinking, and living habits that's it's very hard to isolate what is going on. Same goes with personal stories. Furthermore, many autoimmune disorders are known to go into spontaneous remission. At best they give people leads to try, at worse they are used as a "banner for the cure" that makes people try to obsessively follow an individual's success and then become disillusioned when they don't experience that same success.
Reiner's disease, Crohn's, is a great example– I know people who have had great success with things like the Specific Carbohydrate Diet and zero carb, but I know others who got worse on those same diets and ended up having to have conventional surgery and medication. Some of them felt like failures even though they felt better receiving conventional treatment.
But if we understood what really causes these diseases, they wouldn't be so frustratingly hard to treat.
Recently I was about to write a followup about how I fixed my neck problems, which had been gone for awhile. As I drafted the post, they came back worse than ever. Of course I am disappointed, but I'm entertaining the possibility that the problems are related to my work and work stress far more than to my posture or the exercise I do.
I've been glad to see that famous success story Terry Wahls is spearheading studies that would possibly show if her remission on a "paleo" diet would apply to others as well. Though a problem is that she is promoting the diet as a potential cure well in advance of these studies being completed. Is this harmless or not? I'm not sure.
If there is anything I've learned from blogging in this sphere, is that one person's cure is another person's poison and I've certainly encountered people for whom her extremely vegetable-rich diet would be harmful. I know from experience that I cannot consume such a diet as it causes immense gastric distress. I've gotten more tolerant of things like brassica vegetables over time, but I still have to be careful.
My own advice is to try a variety of things, but don't expect them to work for you just because someone else has a miracle-cure story.
Wheat Belly is a strange book. I find it quite bizarre that it has so many ardent defenders. When I criticized an interview with the author. Dr. William Davis, a week ago, several people rushed to defend him and were angry that I would dare remark on something I haven't read. It's weird because his blog kind of fell off the paleo radar some time back when he started harping on about AGEs in butter, saturated fat being bad for you, and red meat causing colon cancer. This whole debate is a perfect example of why blogs have the potential to be so much better than non-fiction books. Wheat Belly contains ideas that have been extensively debated in the ancestral health blogosphere and found wanting, as well as ideas presented uncontroversially that are the subject of bitter controversies in the blogosphere at the moment*. Besides that, most of the good information here can easily be found in well-written blog posts by experts on their respective subjects.
But people told me I couldn't write about Davis' thesis without reading the book and attacked me for commenting on his interview, so I read it.
I'm glad to see Dr. Davis is on board with the idea that saturated fat and red meat are good for you, but just because someone loves meat and despises wheat doesn't mean we should add them to the canon of books that are valuable in the paleo community.
Unlike many other books I've reviewed positively that do belong in the canon, this book is marketed as a weight-loss diet book. The title is the first clue, with its emphasis on obesity. The subtitle is "lose the wheat, lose the weight, and find your path back to health." It's a mantra repeated again and again in the book, with very little proof to back it up. Wheat-free is not a weight loss diet and even Dr. Davis knows this. I know he does because he ends up recommending a low-carb paleo-ish diet. He says that gluten-free substitutes for things like bread and pasta will have effects similar to real bread and pasta. Hmm, so was wheat even really the issue in the first place? This book is essentially a re-packaged nouveau Atkins, with the wheat-free gimmick riding on the back of the growing gluten-free trend.
What is really striking about this book for me is how much it resembles vegan polemics, such as The China Study, Skinny Bitch, and Diet for a New America. Like those books, this book will initially have many converts, but it will not stand the tests of scientific scrutiny.
Nearly everyone in the paleo/ancestral health community eschews wheat. As I will expound on, there are many things that make wheat a food to avoid. Strangely enough, most of those things are absent from this book. Davis has built a elaborate mythology based on his own fringe theory about the unique evils of modern Dwarf wheat. It's a hypothesis, but it's too premature to have based a book on it. Because of this mythology, many of the problems with wheat that were first identified by pioneers like Dr. Staffan Lindeberg in his magnum opus Food and Western Disease are conspicuously absent. They have been replaced by rampant fear-mongering about technology and scare-stories.
God forbid we criticize the wheat of the old days, the wheat of the Bible, the wheat are our ancestors supposedly "thrived on." Sorry folks, I've seen skeletons from "thriving" ancestors, peasants from 1600 Swedish or farmers from 1500 Britain and I'm here to say that these toothless pock-marked stunted people were not exactly thriving.
Davis mentions Ötzi as an example of someone healthy because while they he ate the ancient wheat, he also ate lots of alkalizing veggies, which somehow made up for it. Missing is the mention of Ötzi's mouth full of tooth decay and stunting.
What a sexy man!
The other mummies are missing too, the Egyptian mummies who enjoyed ancient wheat, as well as health problems we are all familiar with today such as atherosclerosis, though whether it has to do with wheat is up for debate.
In the 10,000-year journey from innocent, low-yield, not-so-baking-friendly einkorn grass to high-yield, created-in-a-laboratory, unable-to-survive-in-the-wild, suited-to-modern-tastes dwarf wheat, we’ve witnessed a human engineered transformation that is no different than pumping livestock full of antibiotics and hormones while confining them in a factory warehouse. Perhaps we can recover from this catastrophe called agriculture, but a big first step is to recognize what we’ve done to this thing called “wheat.”
So based on paleopathology, I'm not on board with calling einkorn innocent, even the Bible has mixed feelings about it "In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return."
I'm also a little different from some in this sector of the blogosphere because I'm relatively pro-technology. I have a degree in agriculture, so telling me that a food is "herbicided, fertilized, cross-bred, gassed, and hybridized", "genetically altered", "unique proteins," or that wheat has "undergone extensive agricultural genetics-engineered changes" is hardly terrifying to me, as this describes almost all seeds on the market today. It seems to be anti-technology scare-mongering, preying on the agricultural ignorance of the average consumer. He cites a few studies that show that modern wheat has been bred to produce more potentially-allergenic proteins like gluten, but fails to cite any evidence that truly connects it with the problems he sees wheat causing. I can conceive that it might have to do with increased celiac, but the connection to bellies seems rather tenuous. He does cite some data showing that celiac disease is increasing in an American population, but what about places where it has decreased? The truth is there are many theories about increasing celiac disease (lack of breastfeeding, increased antibiotic use) and it's hard to know whether or not dwarf wheat is the issue, particularly considering the absence of studies on the subject.
And are we still talking about "alkalizing" foods? The whole idea that you have to balance "acidifying" and "basic" foods in your diet is quite popular among vegans as well and has been used to criticize paleo diets because they are full of "acidifying" foods.
What happens if acids from meat consumption are not counterbalanced by alkaline plants and the pH scales are tipped even more to the acidic side by grain products such as wheat? That’s when it gets ugly. Diet is then shifted sharply to that of an acid-rich situation. The result: a chronic acid burden that eats away at bone health.
Luckily for those of us not worrying about balancing our meat with vegetables, numerous studies have shown that protein can actually help improve bone density, whereas stereotypically alkalizing diets can lead to low bone mass. There is less focus on net acid load and more on adequate consumption of vitamins (like D) and minerals, as well as their bioavailability.
Bioavailability, a focus in most paleo books, is strangely missing from the pages of this book, which is a serious problem in my opinion. Paleo darling phytate is only mentioned in respect to soy. The myopic focus on wheat prevents Davis from seeing the bigger picture of digestive health, as high levels of phytate are common both to wheat and to some of the foods featured in his recipes such as quinoa flakes, pumpkin seeds, and various nut flours. The odds are wheat isn't bad for bones because it's "net acid," but because it hinders absorption of minerals through anti-nutritional factors, which include not only phytate, but fiber. Unfortunately, Davis is still on the fiber bandwagon:
This is, after all, how primitive hunter-gatherer cultures—the cultures that first taught us about the importance of dietary fiber—obtained their fiber: through plentiful consumption of plant foods, not bran cereals or other processed fiber sources. Fiber intake is therefore not a concern if wheat elimination is paired with increased consumption of healthy foods.
The problem is that the idea that "primitive" culture taught us that is rather outdated. It's not the fiber that matters, it's the gut health. Focus on fiber for the sake of fiber can decrease gut health and impair vitamin and mineral metabolism.
And while it is quite amusing that the glycemic index of whole grain bread was 72, the glycemic index is also quite controversial, and not just its relevance to health either. The thing is that since that 1981 value he uses was published, more data has been gathered on the glycemic index of whole grains and it's not always consistent. If there is something special about wheat spiking blood sugar, why do some wretched coarser breads measure in the low thirties and forties (lower than many fruits and sweet potatoes), and so many gluten free breads measure so much higher? Davis mentions that the latter is often made from extremely refined processed rice, tapioca, and corn. And thus we have the answer- highly digestible carbohydrates, no matter what their provenance, are high glycemic. And sadly for the sheeple who fall for anything whole grain, food scientists have been hard at work re-engineering "whole grain" bread so it's nice and soft, but still technically whole grain, despite the fact that it's refined carbs in brown clothing. However, now that they've realized people are on to them, they've changed track and are now vigoriously engineering low-glycemic starch, so I'm predicting in the next five years the GI of the average whole wheat bread will drop significantly.
Whether or not this actually matters is a subject of rather acrimonious debate of which others have written more expertly, but I'll just quote Lindeberg for now "However, the main cause of an individual’s inability to limit blood sugar rise after eating carbohydrates remains obscure, and it is questionable if dietary glucose/starch per se plays a causative role." It's curious that he cites the Kitavans as an example of an acne-free culture, when the glycemic index values for Pacific native starches range from 25 to 78. He must not have got the memo that says that if you are promoting a low-carb diet you have to make a jab about how the Kitavan data is flawed or irrelevant considering what a threat it is to the low-carb panacea diet being sold. Also, the idea that eating carbs like bread leads to AGE formation is a simplification of the issue at best.
One section is about gluten cerebral ataxia. Indeed, this is a terrible condition, but what does it have to do with the relevance of a gluten-free diet for the average person? It reminds me of scare-stories about beef or shellfish allergies in vegan polemics. Like the sodium azide in his interview that I criticized in my last post, it's a clever literary device- mention something scary about a food in juxtaposition with recommending that people not eat that food. It's clever because you don't actually do anything incorrect by saying directly that eating bad food causes scary thing or that scary thing has any real relevance to the consumption of bad food for the average person, but nevertheless, you get to scare people. In Skinny Bitch this is done with mad cow disease, an extremely rare condition which they mention in order to scare people away from eating meat.
You know all those studies that vegans love that say that meat causes all manner of ills? Think about how you react to those. Whenever I see them, I look to see if they've included industrial monstrosities like Slim Jims and Hormel Bacon or if they've been nice and separated out fresh meat from processed meat. In Wheat Belly, Davis usually mentions foods like Cinnabon, French crullers, or Dunkin’ Donuts when he is deriding wheat. I think the sicknesses people have from eating those foods can't be pinned on dwarf wheat. They are high-sugar, high-reward, highly processed, filled with additives, and often laced with omega-6 fats.
A Mayo Clinic/University of Iowa study of 215 obese celiac patients showed 27.5 pounds of weight loss in the first six months of a wheat-free diet.11 In another study, wheat elimination slashed the number of people classified as obese (body mass index, or BMI, 30 or greater) in half within a year.12 Oddly, investigators performing these studies usually attribute the weight loss of wheat- and gluten-free diets to lack of food variety. (Food variety, incidentally, can still be quite wide and wonderful after wheat is eliminated, as I will discuss.)
Well, maybe those researchers are right? In fact, the results fit in nicely with food reward theory. I would be more convinced that wheat were the issue if the people had lost their wheat belly while keeping their calories constant, but the truth is that they were eating fewer calories. As food scientists work to create perfect substitutes of Cinnabon without gluten, the gluten-free advantage will fade. And sadly, enterprising paleo folks who have come up will all manner of desserts utilizing rancid nut flours and fake sugar (such as the calorically dense banana-blueberry muffins featured in Wheat Belly) are likely to have similar issues. Sadly, there is no such thing as a healthy baked good.
My own experience with a wheat-free diet starts in 2006, when I was having terrible stomach problems. I eliminated wheat for a month, but the stomach issues actually got worse. It wasn't until I learned about the more holistic approach to gut health that I was able to eliminate them. I realized that wheat isn't just about gluten or glycemic index, but about irritating fibers and fermentable carbohydrates (FODMAPS), a characteristic that wheat also shares with many other "healthy" foods like quinoa and broccoli. Don't get me wrong, I love a good salad, but plant foods are unfortunately something I have to consume with caution because of my chronic stomach problems. Incidentally, since I live in one of the exotic food capitals of the world, I have tried several heritage wheat varieties, including farro and einkorn, and it has taken me days to recover from eating them. I have a lot of bad things to say about modern food, but at least French bread leaves me relatively unscathed since it's comparatively low in gut-destroying bad bacteria-loving fibers. My experience has been far from his catchline "Eliminate the wheat, eliminate the problem."
Even if wheat doesn't upset your stomach, the evidence is mounting that wheat germ agglutinin lectin can exacerbate insulin resistance, abnormal gut permeability, and decreased bioavailability of important nutrients. I would caution that this is tentative evidence, based on many in-vitro and animal studies rather than human studies. More work needs to be done on this subject. Here is an interesting section from Lindeberg's book:
There are many indications that cereals and beans affect glucose metabolism by means of their glycoproteins. The best studied of these is wheat lectin (WGA), a highly stable substance which escapes digestion in the gastrointestinal tract1848. Thus, it passes the gut barrier and enters the bloodstream intact1461, and thereafter it binds to several hormone receptors including the insulin receptors and other tyrosine kinase receptors (the IGF-1 and EGF receptors)1900. The binding of wheat lectin to the insulin receptor is strong and long-lasting with high molecular efficiency, suggesting that it may hinder insulin to exert its effects for many hours353,354,705,1073,1459,1640,1641. Hence, it is theoretically capable of causing insulin resistance. Further, wheat lectin increases glycolysis (metabolic breakdown of glucose) 1986 as well as fat storage544, but in contrast to insulin, which has the same effects, it does not seem to stimulate protein synthesis1460, which is relevant since loss of muscle mass (sarcopenia) has been suggested to worsen insulin sensitivity503. Rats that were fed Turkish beans (Phaseolus vulgaris) quickly lost 30% of their skeletal muscle mass, which is thought to be an effect of its lectin, phaseolus vulgaris agglutinin (PHA)1348
So perhaps there is something about wheat in its ability to degrade leptin and insulin sensitivity, but if it were based on WGA lectin it would be an issue of long-term systematic degradation rather than glycemic index. If you are just looking at the glycemic index, you might infer that if you butter the bread, halving it's GI, it's OK, but if you look at the lectin picture it's a little more suspicious. However, as you can see from the last sentence, it's not just wheat that can be a potential issue here, but every plant with bioactive lectins and that includes many seeds and nuts beloved by low-carbers.
And basing science on studies rather than clinical anecdotes has been one of the most important steps in scientific progress. Back when MDs ruled the scientific discourse with their clinical anecdotes, treatments such as bleeding people for sore throats (which killed George Washington) were rampant and doctors killed as many people as they saved. The advent of controlled trials and the scientific method have made modern medicine great. It's nice to hear about clinical experience and it can provide important hypotheses, but they can only tell us so much.
So what does our ancestral/paleo community embrace? Are we a big tent or a small tent? I like to optimistically view us as a big tent of skeptics and that's why I've stuck around. There are other "real food" movements that are far less skeptical and their conferences host people selling homeopathy and electromagnetic field-blocking bracelets. I think we can hold ourselves to a higher standard and not embrace every book that comes out that tarnishes a food we don't like or espouses a low-carb diet.
Refs from Lindeberg's book
353. Cuatrecasas, P. (1973) Interaction of wheat germ agglutinin and concanavalin A withisolated fat cells. Biochemistry 12, 1312–23
354. Cuatrecasas, P.&Tell, G.P. (1973) Insulin-like activity of concanavalin A and wheat germ agglutinin – direct interactions with insulin receptors. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 70, 485–9.
503. Evans, W.J. (1995) What is sarcopenia? J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci 50 Spec No, 5–8.
544. Freed, D.L.J. (1991) Lectins in food: their importance in health and disease. J Nutr Med 2, 45–64.
705. Hedo, J.A., Harrison, L.C. & Roth, J. (1981) Binding of insulin receptors to lectins: evidence for common carbohydrate determinants on several membrane receptors. Biochemistry
1073. Livingston, J.N.&Purvis, B.J. (1981) The effects of wheat germ agglutinin on the adipocyte insulin receptor. Biochim Biophys Acta 678, 194–201
1348. Oliveira, J.T.A., Pusztai, A. & Grant, G. (1988) Changes in organs and tissues induced by feeding of purified kidney bean (Phaseolus vulgaris) lectins. Nutr Res 8, 943–7
1459. Purrello, F., Burnham, D.B. & Goldfine, I.D. (1983) Insulin receptor antiserum and plant lectins mimic the direct effects of insulin on nuclear envelope phosphorylation. Science 221, 462–4.
1460. Pusztai, A. (1993) Dietary lectins are metabolic signals for the gut and modulate immune and hormone functions. Eur J Clin Nutr 47, 691–9.
1461. Pusztai, A., Greer, F.&Grant, G. (1989) Specific uptake of dietary lectins into the systemic circulation of rats. Biochem Soc Trans 17, 481–2.
1640. Shechter, Y. (1983) Bound lectins that mimic insulin produce persistent insulin-like activities. Endocrinology 113, 1921–6.
1641. Shechter, Y. & Sela, B.A. (1981) Insulin-like effects of wax bean agglutinin in rat adipocytes. Biochem Biophys Res Commun 98, 367–73.
1848. Van Damme, E.J.M., Peumans, W.J., Pusztai, A. & Bardocz, S. (1998) Handbook of plant lectins: properties and biomedical applications. John Wiley, New York.
1986. Yevdokimova, N.Y. & Yefimov, A.S. (2001) Effects of wheat germ agglutinin and concanavalin A on the accumulation of glycosaminoglycans in pericellular matrix of human dermal fibroblasts. A comparison with insulin. Acta Biochim Pol 48, 563–72.
1900. Wang, X.Y., Bergdahl, K., Heijbel, A., Liljebris, C. & Bleasdale, J.E. (2001) Analysis of in vitro interactions of protein tyrosine phosphatase 1B with insulin receptors. Mol Cell Endocrinol 173, 109–20.
* arguments that have been rife with scientific references and data. Please don't tell me that they are somehow less rigorous than wheat belly, because they have just as many references and wheat belly is FULL of anecdotes.
Some people have told me I should read the latest diet book craze, particularly since I am skeptical, but having read dozens of diet books for the purpose of reviewing them, I rarely derive any pleasure from them. It's also rare that I actually learn anything new from them and in fact they often infuriate me with their emphasis on weight loss and tendency to play fast and loose with science. I think that all you need to know about eating healthy can be found on the internet and reading should be something more intellectually illuminating.
One book I've been absolutely enamored with is 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus. I knew about some of the ideas in this book already from courses I had taken in archeology and environmental science, but Charles C. Mann does a fantastic job using them to tantalize and shift pre-conceived notions about what the Americans were like in the past. It also touches on two of my favorite subjects: agricultural regression and agroforestry. Much like The Art of Not Being Governed, it challenges linear models of development, as well as Romantic ideals of the "noble savage" and "wilderness." I hope to do a full review of this.
I've also been re-reading Heart and Blood, one of my favorites, because I'd like to give it a full review as a more scientific and humanistic alternative to The Vegetarian Myth. I also have some pipe dreams about joining the hunting season, but they are pipe dreams since I haven't had much time for target practice and by the time I'm in the Midwest it will be rather late in the season. I've picked up a copy of my old hunting teacher Jackson Lander's Deer Hunting For Food.
I've also been reading The Lights in The Tunnel, which imagines a future in which most jobs are automated. It's available for free as a PDF. And The Last Child in the Woods, which is about the human need for nature and why our children's growing alienation from it is a huge problem. And The Tribal Imagination by Robin Fox. I'm probably also reading five million other books, but such is the burden of ADD. I just finished the complete stories of HP Lovecraft and most of Flannery O' Connor's short stories, which makes me sad, but I will find new short story collections to read.
I've certainly read enough diet books myself, but I am always looking for ones to recommend. Unfortunately no one has written the one book to rule them all yet. The individual strengths and weaknesses of each author are evident in each. Perhaps now that more and more of us are talking to each other, this will change in the future, but for now I suppose it's wise to make recommendations with caveats. The same qualification can be evident in reviewers. Admittedly, while I have some strengths, I have very little education in things like molecular biochemistry beyond the undergraduate level, so that's why it's important to read many reviews. Someday when Chris has more time perhaps we can review things together.
Several people asked me to read Deep Nutrition, which is by mainly by Dr. Cate Shanahan with the contribution of her husband, Luke Shanahan.
The premise of this book is that we all have the potential to be well-formed healthy individuals in our genes, but that poor nutrition has led to detrimental changes in how our genes are expressed. Wait...genes can't be changed by food right? That's the magic of epigenetics: the underlying genes are not changed, but their gene expression or cellular phenotype are. This is called epigenetics and scientists are just uncovering the secrets of this process. Scarily, that means that the diet and lifestyle of your grandparents and parents is affecting you right now!
When I was a child I slowly became aware that something was wrong. It didn't make sense that I had to have some teeth pulled and then be tortured every month. They said my teeth were "crowded," but why? My mother said it was probably because my father had bad teeth, so it was genetic, but looking at old family photos it was clear that my great great grandparents didn't have such bad teeth. When I was a teenager I realized I was deformed. It sounds quite awful, but the reality is that my face was not formed correctly. The oral surgeon said I would need to have my jaw broken and put back together. At that point I had functioning decent looking teeth, so I declined. Surgery is a serious thing.
When I discovered Weston A. Price it was very exciting because he was someone who also asked "why?" He found that some people who live traditional lives and have special healthy foods did not have dental abnormalities. The latter part is important because some people have the impression that Dr. Price thought that traditional-living people had good teeth and modern people had bad teeth, when the reality was that not all traditional-living people had good teeth and he was looking at what the people with good dental structure had in common.
Deep Nutrition is about reclaiming our health original structure by relying on these special foods. The book divides them into four pillars:
- Meat on the bone
- Fermented and sprouted foods
- Organs and other "nasty bits"
- Fresh (and raw) unadulterated plant and animal products
Notice what's missing here? There is no mention of specific nutrients or macronutrients. The emphasis is on real whole foods. This is going to be hard for some people to swallow. Some might ask if they can take a supplement instead, but Dr. Cate emphasis that only real foods have the synergy that we need, a synergy modern science has only barely begun to understand. She also explains how modern industrial foods like vegetable oils hurt our health and the health of our future generation, as well as the fact that foods like butter and liver have been unjustly demonized.
Another interesting concept described in the book is "second child syndrome." You may have noticed in many families that the eldest child is often better looking and healthier. Babies take a lot of their nutrition from a mother's body, not just the food she eats during pregnancy and lactation. Depletion of these nutrients can lead to sub-optimal development, which is why spacing is important in order to allow these nutrient stores to build back up again.
Unfortunately in some of these chapters things can seem a little like the nutritionism she criticizes. Readers who are not very interested in science might have a tough time with her explanations of the biochemistry behind things like heart disease, despite her efforts to simplify the language.
I also think things go awry in her emphasis on beauty. She goes beyond the idea that good food allows us to have facial and bodily structural integrity into some rather contentious territory. She claims that models are not freaks of nature, but remnants of what we once were: "This is why beautiful people of every race share the same basic skeletal geometry, and why for the bulk of human history, Hollywood beauties were as plentiful as the stars."
I've seen a lot of skulls from the Paleolithic and faces of traditional living peoples. Most of them look robust and healthy, but I've never looked at them and thought "hmm, this person could have been a famous model!" Beauty does have a adaptive evolutionary component. Some things that we consider beautiful are markers of health, but it also has a fuzzy cultural component that layers on top of that and can sometimes mask the adaptive forms of beauty. For example, Dr. Cate uses Marquardt's Mask as an example of the mathematical ratios behind beauty. Perhaps there are such universal ratios, but Marquardt's Mask has been rightly criticized because it is based on Western fashion models. They are actually a perfect example of cultural ideals of beauty that tarry on the edge of the maladaptive, as fashion models often are dangerously low in body fat, which is essential for fertility, as well as somewhat masculinized, which makes sense considering the sexuality of many in the fashion world. I was heartened to hear that recently a bit of honestly has been injected into this world, as they are now unapologetically using men to model women's clothes.
Many skulls of Paleolithic people have traits we many of us no longer consider beautiful, but which may have once been adaptive, such as brow ridges and large noses. There have been a few forensic reconstructions of Paleolithic people and they do not remind me of Christy Turlington or Ralph Fiennes.
But in the end I would agree that we could all be much better looking if we had the optimal nutrition and lifestyle.
I think Deep Nutrition would be a great book for someone suffering from chronic joint, muscle, or bone problems, as Dr. Cate has wrestled with them herself. She emphasizes the value of the collagen, cartilage, and minerals present in things like bone broth. However, it may not be the best book for those with digestive problems. She recommends that people giving up bread might want to substitute sprouted Ezekiel bread instead. If I could revise I would qualify that statement with a caveat that many people with delicate stomachs are going to have issues with the harsh fiber and excessively large amounts of hindgut fermentable carbohydrates in things like Ezekiel bread. There also isn't much information about autoimmune issues, particularly the role of gluten and she recommends a breakfast porridge that can contain wheat berries or barley. She also recommends fresh peanut butter and says that fries made in peanut oil can be an occasional treat. I don't recommend peanuts at all (SO SAD, because they were definitely a favorite food of mine) because of their high omega-6 levels and the fact that crops are often contaminated with aflatoxins that many people are sensitive to.
Overall while this isn't the "one ring" book that will rule them all, it's a good read that emphasizes the importance of real food, particularly when paired with a complementary books like The Primal Blueprint (more info about things like gluten), The Paleo Solution (more info about autoimmune issues and things like gluten that irritate them), and The Perfect Health Diet (more info about autoimmune, digestive disorders, etc.).
Some folks have wondered why I still recommend Gary Taubes' books on my Start Here post given that I have been vocally negative about him lately. Yes, I have a problem with his attitude and frankly find him stubborn. But the truth is that his books changed my life. Without Good Calories, Bad Calories, I might still think that eggs, butter, liver, and cheese are bad for you. I might still think that fat makes you sick and fat. These foods have been instrumental in improving my health and thus my life. The fact that his carbohydrate hypothesis of obesity has attracted so much energy and attention is an unfortunate distraction from the fact that his books mount an excellent defense of fat. The idea that carbohydrates per se cause obesity is only being debated by a few silly reductionists. For those of us who have read extensively about other healthy cultures, that doesn't even begin to make sense. What healthy peoples have in common is the nutrient dense foods they eat, not their macronutrient ratios. The rest of us have moved on to more relevant issues, like how to have sexy hair, or awesome babies, and stuff like that.
The Dinka Diet is based around porridge and dairy, insulinogenic foods, why aren't they fat? (note that the Dinka have suffered in recent years from warfare and famine and probably no longer look like this. I didn't want to post the Kitavans, the Aka, or any high-carb tribes I've written about already for the sake of diversity. As for whether this is the "ideal" for men, you have to realize that some of body composition is genetic. The Dinka do not bulk up like other men, they are very similar to the Maasai in that way. It is possible that sexual selection is at work here, as this body type is considered very attractive to the Dinka. The Wodabe are an extreme example of this.)
More porridge eating fatties. Scotland now has one of the highest rates of obesity in Western Europe. Hint: it's not the porridge!
As for not getting fat, we could argue about what makes people fat all day, but it's clear that it's not sweet potatoes and plantains making people fat. It's clear that it's something about industrial food, which has the unholy synergy of caloric density, hyperpalatibility, and nutritional poverty, along with bundles of rancid vegetable oils, improperly vetted synthetic chemicals, loads of refined sugar, and other garbage.
Gary Taubes = Diglett
I've tangled with a lot of opinionated folks since I started this blog. But I never expected the response I got to my post on Lierre Keith. It reminds me that as much as vegans and animal rights activists irk me, we are all trying to make civilization a better place, even if our ultimate visions are different. Wasn't there a movie about this?
Anti-civilization ideologues see the injustices of the world and can only envision tearing everything down, which is sadly based on a vision of pre-civilization humans that is doubtful and the idea that the earth is dying, which is also doubtful. If we are to tear down civilization, I'd think we'd want our tenets to be based on ideas that are true beyond a reasonable doubt. Besides that, the overwhelming evidence is that places that descend into anarchy see resource degradation accelerate. For accounts of this, see Jared Diamond's Collapse.
Overwhelmingly, my regular readers were supportive, but apparently my post was posted on an anti-civilization forum and they sicced their cult on me (not an isolated event, certainly, as can be seen on any blog post critical of Jensen & co.) there were several very disturbing comments and I had to turn on moderation. At some point I became so busy that the moderation queue got out of hand and so I closed comments. At that point I started receiving some disturbing emails. My mother said I should pull the post, arguing that even though it may be true it wasn't worth antagonizing people who embrace violence. I felt a little like The Voracious Vegan. Like her, I absolutely refuse to delete my post, despite being threatened and called a corporate shill (and worse). Don't feel sorry for me: I welcome this. It only confirms my desire to see the paleo/ancestral health community educated about Lierre's agenda. That said, this is a blog about paleo/ancestral health and from now on I will delete comments unless they are constructive. Their forum is kept under lock and key (possibly because they are advocating violence and terrorism) and Jensen's "reading club" brokers no criticism, I have no obligation to keep mine open. Yes, I kind of let the comments on the last post go to hell. Having moderated many online communities, I am aware that no one benefits from anarchy within a small community. And there is no use arguing with people who have their minds made up that civilization must be destroyed at any cost.
So my new comment policy is that I will not publish your comment at all if there is any evidence you are here just to troll. If you are a regular commenter here I will put you on a whitelist so your comments don't have to be moderated.
I suppose this is what happens when your evidence for your absolute convinction that civilization is evil and much be destroyed consists of a pitiably small sample set of bones, tiny groups of surviving foraging people who have been influenced by civilizations, and great apes, who are also impacted by modernity. There are more controversies than sureties. If great apes are any indication, life in the paleolithic was probably quite varied. Some tribes were probably warlike, others peaceful. In the meantime, anthropologists will continue to argue about the the significance bones with arrow wounds from 50,000 years ago, totally unaware that anti-civ activists have taken some isolated pop-sci fiction anthropology works and turned them into terroristic manifestos. That's not to say that I reject the idea that civilization has been a devil's bargain, but there is no way to know what we have lost and whether or not going back would make things better.
As for the book recs, I'm working on it :)
This is the first time ever that I'm writing a review without linking to the book in question. The book in question is Deep Green Resistance: Strategy to Save the Planet, by Lierre Keith, Derrick Jensen, and Aric McBay. Lierre Keith is famous in the "paleo" community because she wrote The Vegetarian Myth. That book had some bad science and some questionable anti-man/anti-civilization ideas, but as a whole it was a book that had many good ideas.
A few years ago I went to see Derrick Jensen speak at University of Illinois. At that time I was involved with non-violent activism, so it was a shock to hear that we should engage in industrial sabotage and blow up dams because they are killing the Earth NOW and we need to stop them NOW. Derrick talked about how evil civilization is, but it was clear there was more at play here. He talked about having been sexually abused by his father as a child. It seemed this undeniably horrible act had warped him into a human that could see nothing good in anything but his chosen refuge, nature.
I knew Derrick was Lierre's best friend, but I didn't want to tar and feather her on my blog based on guilt by association. I quietly stopped linking to her book though. Now that this book is out, it's obviously she has gone off the deep end. It's ironic because in the book she blame carbohydrates for making people crazy. What then is responsible for her unhinged nearly-unreadable rant that bears alarming similarities to the diatribes of the Unabomber? I suspect she hasn't been making speaking appearances because at this point she's probably on the terrorist watch list.
Based on the Amazon review, Derrick and Lierre have successfully recruited many youths to their cause. Based on the book's military-like operations manual that advocates killing disloyal members of your cause, I'm sure they will troll this post and accuse me of being some sort of capitalist pig. Au contraire- I am the "withdrawal" sort of activist (a "New Agrarian" I suppose, the most famous of which are Joel Salatin and Wendell Berry), which also gets criticized in the book, but I suppose is not classified as being as evil as teh rich capitalists. According to DGR, the withdrawal folks have some good ideas about non-participation in a messed-up system, but we don't realize that it's too late for the Earth and civilization needs to stop now.
"The goal of DGR is to deprive the rich of their ability to steal from the poor and the powerful of their ability to destroy the planet. It also means defending and rebuilding just and sustainable human communities nestled inside repaired and restored landbases. This is a vast undertaking, but it can be done. Industrial civilization can be stopped." It's clear that it doesn't matter how many poor people die as long as the rich people die.
The authors take as explicitly manifest that
a. civilization is the greatest evil and non-civilization is much better
b. ecoterrorism or not, everyone is going to die because the planet's state is so dire
So from the outset we have some questionable premises. You also have to wonder why the book is $13.50 for Amazon Kindle (TM) and not being distributed free like the Unabomber's works. I suppose if you asked them why this is they would mumble something about being forced to live under evil capitalism until the revolution.
Now my own background is in environmental and development economics. I do agree that there are some disturbing things happening in the world to the environment and to people. But there are enough things getting better that it's hard for me to advocate giving up on civilization.
Derrick and Lierre both have angry rants about how men abuse women and children, as if somehow this is related to civilization. In my studies of foraging populations, I have come across behavior towards women and children that would make you blanch. The "semen cults" of Melanesia, for example, involving making boys into men by having them ingest semen from older men. Overall foraging societies are quite diverse in their treatment of women and children, but there is no reason to believe that the natural state of humans somehow precludes abuse. There is no evidence that such societies are as accepting of lesbians like Lierre as our society is.
I think Lierre and Derrick know this though. Lierre mentions that Inuit women were expected to kill all children under three years of age if their fathers died. Somehow in her twisted mind, our society is more abusive because we have evil things like pornography involving anal sex.
But in the end, while Derrick and Lierre may have gone carnivore, that an endangered seagull is more important to them than your brother. Time and time again they simply dismiss any objection to their plot with sentences like "200 species today are gone forever." Such questionable statistics are staples of the book, like Lierre's absurd claim that " The number one perpetrator of childhood sexual abuse is called 'Dad.'"
Apparently, even today, all women are being totally oppressed. I didn't get the memo. I don't feel oppressed...I have a lot more rights and freedoms than a hunter-gatherer woman as far as I know. Apparently
With male entitlement comes a violation imperative: men become men by breaking boundaries, whether it’s the sexual boundaries of women, the cultural boundaries of other peoples, the physical boundaries of other nations, the genetic boundaries of species, or the biological boundaries of ecosystems. For the entitled psyche, the only reason “No” exists is because it’s a sexual thrill to force past it.
Yikes. It seems that the authors in this book are incapable of viewing humans as individuals, probably because they believe humans, particularly men, are an oppressive pestilence on the Earth.
Lierre claims that "Gender is probably the ultimate example of power disguised as biology. " Yeah sure, that's why you quote Andrea Dworkin advocating that women buy guns to protect themselves. You don't need a gun Lierre, you just have to stop being so oppressed and then the strength differences between you and men would disappear!
The oppression meme is strong with this book. Everyone is being oppressed, they just don't know it. Another group that's being oppressed are people living in the slums. As I learned in The Coming Population Crash, these people don't know it either!
Some fear the slums. They can be dangerous places. The biggest causes of death among young people in São Paulo are traffic accidents and homicide. A Californian urban geographer, Mike Davis, has written a book called Planet of Slums, an apocalyptic take on the huge slums that dominate many megacities in the developing world. It is terrifying. But his image is not what I see when I go to slums. They have their gangs and drugs and open sewers and heartbreaking stories. But slums are at least as much places of hope and enterprise and innovation. That’s why people move to them. For every gun-toting gangster or terrorist, there are a hundred romantic would-be slumdog millionaires. Hormones aren’t all bad. Even male hormones. I went to Dharavi in Mumbai, where the movie’s fictional slumdog was brought up. Often called Asia’s largest slum (in fact, that dubious distinction goes to Orangi in Karachi), it has 600,000 people crammed into a maze of narrow lanes and shacks covering less than one square mile, about half the size of New York’s Central Park. It is “a vision of urban hell,” according to Smithsonian magazine. Visiting businessmen shiver at the thought that terrorists hiding in Dharavi could shoot down a plane taking off from Mumbai International Airport right over the back fence. The municipal government wants to bulldoze it and start again. As do real estate developers, who lust to replace it with a posh estate of high-rise apartment blocks, like the one just over the river. The inhabitants? They want to stay, because Dharavi is a thriving community, entirely unlike the terrifying image.
But Derrick insists that even if most of them die, the urban poor will be better of if civilization collapses. The mind boggles.
The horrifying miserable life of people in Brazil's slums. Yes, I'm aware that not all slums look like this, but the vast majority of people in slums have living standards higher than most rich people in 1800. For example, many people in the slums have cell phones. Often people chose to stay in slums because government oversight is lower and they are more free to run their businesses as they see fit.
Ironically it's ancient human tribal instincts that subvert participation in her ideas. For millions of years humans cared about their own tribe and their own land and nothing else. It's worth arguing that civilization has increased our "tribal bonds" by bonding us through commerce and information to other people across the world. If civilization collapses you bet most people (including admittedly myself) would start killing anyone that comes within a mile of their family's property, the same way the Sentinelese tribe does.
Regardless, besides a few people damaged by horrible families, most people aren't going to sacrifice the welfare of their friends and family to save an endangered snail. Call us selfish if you like.
Q: How do I know that civilization is not redeemable? Derrick Jensen: Look around. Ninety percent of the large fish in the oceans are gone. Salmon are collapsing. Passenger pigeons are gone. Eskimo curlews are gone. Ninety-eight percent of native forests are gone, 99 percent of wetlands, 99 percent of native grasslands. What standards do you need? What is the threshold at which you will finally acknowledge that it’s not redeemable?
The anti-civ folks want us to believe that because the snail dies out, that the whole planet is dying, which speaks to an overwhelming arrogance considering that if a caldera volcano like Yellowstone erupted it would take out far more species. And life on Earth would go on, just as it has when similar volcanoes have erupted in the past. The authors of DGR also claim that nuclear warheads would not be a danger as civilization collapses, one of many fantasies the authors seem to have based more on sci-fi novels than on facts (I find it absolutely hilarious that Lierre cribs the word Patronus from the evil capitalistic Harry Potter books, written by an evil rich woman). There is also plenty of evidence that tribal people have also caused extinctions, particularly of the megafauna in the Americas and Oceania.
That's not to deny that there are serious issues to the world today. But advocating that we wipe the slate clean would require better evidence. The authors go to great lengths to totally dismiss people who are doing ecosystem remediation, making solar cells more efficient, and other things they claim are "technofixes." I suppose that if you believe technology is evil, you have to dismiss these things despite their merits.
This is a disturbing book and I fear that we will see many terrorist attacks on our already-crumbling infrastructure in the near future. The tactics advocated in this book range from assassination to blowing up dams and powerlines.
Dismantle the critical physical infrastructure required for industrial civilization to function. Induce widespread industrial collapse, beyond any economic or political systems. Use continuing and coordinated actions to hamper repairs and replacement. Operations: Focus almost exclusively on decisive and sustaining operations. Organization: Requires well-developed militant underground networks.
I for one will no longer recommend any of Keith's books and my next post will include alternatives.
I've tangled with a lot of opinionated folks since I started this blog. But I never expected the response I got to my post on Lierre Keith. It reminds me that as much as vegans and animal rights activists irk me, we are all trying to make civilization a better place, even if our ultimate visions are different. Anti-civilization people see the injustices of the world and can only envision tearing everything down, which is sadly based on a vision of pre-civilization humans that is doubtful and the idea that the earth is dying, which is also doubtful. If we are to tear down civilization, I'd think we'd want our tenets to be based on ideas that are true beyond a reasonable doubt. Besides that, the overwhelming evidence is that places that descend into anarchy see resource degradation accelerate. For accounts of this, see Jared Diamond's Collapse.
Overwhelmingly, my regular readers were supportive, but apparently my post was posted on an anti-civilization forum and they sicced their cult on me (not an isolated event, certainly, as can be seen on any blog post critical of Jensen & co.) there were several very disturbing comments and I had to turn on moderation. At some point I became so busy that the moderation queue got out of hand and so I closed comments. At that point I started receiving some disturbing emails. My mother said I should pull the post, arguing that even though it may be true it wasn't worth antagonizing people who embrace violence. I felt a little like The Voracious Vegan. Like her, I absolutely refuse to delete my post, despite being threatened and called a corporate shill (and worse). Don't feel sorry for me: I welcome this. It only confirms my desire to see people in the paleo/ancestral health community educated about Lierre's true agenda. That said, this is a blog about paleo/ancestral health and from now on I will delete comments unless they are constructive. Their forum is kept under lock and key, I have no obligation to keep mine open.
I suppose this is what happens when your evidence for your absolute convinction that civilization is evil and much be destroyed consists of a pitiably small sample set of bones, tiny groups of surviving foraging people who have been influenced by civilizations, and great apes, who are also impacted by modernity. There are more controversies than sureties. If great apes are any indication, life in the paleolithic was probably quite varied. Some people were probably warlike, others peaceful. In the meantime, anthropologists will continue to argue about the the significance bones with arrow wounds from 50,000 years ago, totally unaware that people have taken some isolated pop-sci fiction anthropology works and turned them into terroristic manifestos. That's not to say that I reject the idea that civilization has been a devil's bargain, but there is no way to know what we have lost and whether or not going back would make things better.
Last night I made an excellent leg of goat. It's been really really really hot here in NYC (104 yesterday!) so I haven't had much desire to further heat up my apartment by turning on the oven. Thank goodness for crockpots and toaster ovens. I also got to try out my newest toy, a Jaccard Meat Tenderizer.
It allows your meat to cook more quickly, but it also allows you to marinate things faster. I've been able to get shoulder to be grill cut for curries rather than a braising cut with this neat device. For the goat leg I used it to get a good lime-curry marinade. I also did a dry cooking method, which worked amazingly. Usually I cook with some sort of liquid in my crockpot like wine or broth, but this time I didn't use anything. In the morning there was a nice fatty broth. The meat had a better texture too.
Someone posted on paleohacks about the layer of solid fat that such leftovers develop when you put them in the fridge. While it looks unappetizing, when you heat the leftovers up it will melt into the meat. It's also worth saving to use on cuts of the animal that are less fatty. There is no need for added fat (butter/ghee/coconut) in cooking most grass-fed meat if you buy a whole animal as long save fat from some braising cuts to use on the leaner parts. Some animals will be leaner than others though, depending on the pasture, age, breed, and season of slaughter.
I learned about this meat tenderizing from The Butcher's Guide To Well-Raised Meat, by Joshua and Jessica Applestone, a married couple who own an organic butcher shop called Fleisher's. They have a location north of the city in Kingston, but will be opening in Park Slope this fall.
Now while I have my meatshare buying club that allows me to buy good meat for very affordable prices. I'll be writing a booklet about how to organize one soon. But I do sometimes go to butcher shops like Fleisher's, The Meat Hook, and Dickson's. A butcher shop is going to cut with more of an eye towards customer needs and be able to make more delicious secondary products than the slaughterhouse butchers that my meatshare meat goes through. If I am strapped for time, I often go to the butcher and pick something up, like marrow bones or sausage. I don't get these in my meatshare. If you have more money than time, a butcher shop is probably a better place to get meat than a meatshare. Sadly, good butcher shops are few and far between. NYC is a rare hotspot of butcher shops selling pastured meat, some of them sell it exclusively. I've heard of such shops in Seattle, Austin, San Francisco, Portland, and Chicago...but even some major cities seem to lack them. I couldn't find one in Boston when I was there recently.
The Butcher's Guide explains how this happened, how small butcher shops were crowded out when the industrial model emerged that emphasized cheap meat by cutting out the middleman. The cost of this cheap meat was disconnection from the source of the meat and a low-quality product pumped with additives. At the butcher shop you can learn so much about how to cook cuts you didn't even think about buying before and you can also quiz the butcher on the conditions that the animals lived in. Joshua Applestone was a vegan for over a decade because he objected to the way most animals were treated, so he vets his suppliers with care. His suppliers are mostly people who wouldn't work with a meatshare. They represent a different niche of medium-size operations where the farmer often has other jobs and lacks time and marketing know-how. Most meatshare farms are tiny operations that don't have enough product to fill a butcher counter for even a month.
A butcher shop needs a regular supply of consistent products. That's a bit of a limit, as truly grass-fed beef is a seasonal product, so some of the meat they sell in the winter is grain-fed. They also couldn't find a supplier that could provide them with enough pastured chickens, so they buy organic chickens instead. It reminds me of something I've been thinking about, that in the past chicken and pork were secondary products on a small farm. They were fed waste from grain and vegetable agriculture, which was a sustainable model, but didn't produce the amounts of chicken and pork that Americans are used to eating now. There was a kerfluffle in the paleo blogosphere about bacon, which I pretty much ignored since my suppliers are very small and slaughter seasonally. I really only end up getting pork once or twice a year. If they were truly only feeding the pigs secondary products, it would be once a year. Some of my friends who are from Eastern Europe fondly remember the yearly pig their family raised with spoiled crops and leftovers, which was slaughtered on Christmas. Soon the EU will make this home-slaughter illegal.
A butcher shop also needs to move a variety of products because whole animals aren't just a butch of tenderloins and steak. I am skeptical when I visit restaurants that market themselves as sustainable, but that serve the same meat dishes day in and day out. A sustainable system is represented by restaurants like Northern Spy Food Company, a restaurant that goes through a whole Fleisher's pig a week, each day serving a different delicious part.
Besides lots of information about the economics of meat and why you should buy pastured products (did you know that chicken waste is still considered an acceptable feed for cattle??), I also appreciated the book's practical tips on supplies like knives and cutting boards. Also information on basics like tying a roast. I didn't grow up cooking meat so some of this basic stuff is new to me. I was also interested to know that vacuum packed meat lasts much longer when sealed in the fridge than I thought, around 2-3 weeks!!! They also tell you what cuts need to be braised. For the more advanced, the book has instructions on DIY pig roasts and breaking down a lamb. There are also some interesting recipes I'm looking forward to trying. Overall this is a great and easy to read book that can help you purchase meat with more awareness of how the process works and also prepare it properly.
What purpose in these deeds
Oh fox confessor, please
Who married me to these orphaned blues
"It's not for you to know, but for you to weep and wonder
When the death of your civilization precedes you,"- Neko Case, Fox Confessor Brings The Flood
I've been reading Tyler Cowan's The Great Stagnation, which is what he calls the period we are in. I believe it. Maybe it's just the fact I graduated college in this period, but it does feel like stagnation is a very palpable part of my life. I sometimes imagine I am part of a new sort of people- the nouveau poor. We make much less money than our parents did at our ages and don't have many career advancement opportunities. We aren't impoverished, but some of us linger below the federal poverty line, as I did for the year or so after I graduated.
But we grew up in the middle or upper middle class and went to college, so we don't fit the "poor" stereotypes. We are used to a certain standard of living and maintain it somewhat, even if it means scrimping by to do it or approaching it in a novel way. We live in pretty nice areas, but share our tiny apartments with an inordinate amount of roommates. We eat good food, but save money on it through buying clubs, community gardens, and DIY processing. We shop in thrift stores and scavenge furniture from the trash. Time consuming things like canning or backyard chickens don't have a high opportunity cost for us because there isn't much work to go around. Most of us are "creatives," but almost all of us have college degrees that aren't easily convertible to work skills such as those in English or History. A lot of us pay the bills in unrelated fields as baristas or waiters.
If we can afford to have families, many of us chose to spend more time with the children realizing it doesn't make sense to work 40 hours of a job that has nothing to do with what you like so you can give 80% of your income to paying someone else to raise your children and quite a bit of the rest to a government that seems like a dying dinosaur. In fact, there is a general return to homemaking and a greater value placed on quality of life. More time is spent on things like cooking and gardening. The paradox is while we might make less money than our parents did, we might be much healthier since many of us have more time for good food, family, and exercise. The idea that housekeeping might be banal has fallen in the face of the fact that most of us will never posses the fulfilling careers our college counselors promised.
Other nouveau poors might be more stressed because they still have dreams about their creative career and are trying to balance it with bartending. But most of us have given up on that sort of thing. It's not that there is no innovation or ambition, we're just learning we shouldn't base our lives on our careers.
The downsides are real of course. There is a worry that men aren't "manning up", but in reality many men and women seem stuck in adolescence because they cannot afford to start households. Another problem is that some people spend an exorbitant amount of money on education that may not have much of a payoff, such as graduate school in British Literature or expensive private colleges. As a result, many of us have large amounts of debt and no hope of ever paying it off.*
*I've been lucky in this respect since I went to a state school
What about The China Study?
Why did you stop being vegan? Isn't veganism more sustainable?
What do you think about carbs?
My diet is more about real whole foods than macronutrients. A low-carb diet can be therapeutic for certain illnesses like migraines, but I do not think they are optimal for everyone. You can see all my posts on the subject of carbs using the tag system.