Monday, October 4, 2010


A guy at the airport last night was reading the latest issue of Scientific American. The cover story was, "Human Evolution Is Not Over."

And here I thought that the Earth's 4.5 billion years of existence and hundreds of millions of years of evolution culminated with... me.

I am sure the article is not nearly as inane as the headline, and that it makes valid points about the ways in which natural selection is at work within the human population without us thinking about it in those terms or being aware of it.  (Luckily for me - although decidedly not for my sons - baldness doesn't set in until after we have found the person who against all odds and reason became my life's partner.)

However one thing is certain regarding human evolution:  We sure haven't evolved as fast as our diet has changed.  The cultivation of grains is about 10,000 years old - the blink of an eye in evolutionary terms.  The complete corn-ification of our diet is less than 50 years old.  I was just reading in The Omnivore's Dilemma that the ratio of Omega-3 fatty acids (from fish and grass fed animals) to Omega-6 fatty acids (from grains) has changed in a relatively short period of time from 1:1 to 1:10.  Many people (including me) believe that this change is an underlying cause of the complex of diseases considered to be "Western diseases":  Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, etc.

We are what we eat.  And we are what what we eat eats.  Say that five times fast.  And we're meant to eat nuts, predominantly acorns, and we're meant to eat animals that eat acorns and perennial grasses.

Maybe the sign that humans are truly evolving is when we realize what our slavery to cereal crops has done to our planet and ourselves, and go back to food production systems that are "less evolved."

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