Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Ground acorn patties called Twinkies of the paleolithic...

... by a researcher who has never eaten - or even seen - one.  Actually, by a reporter making a "clever" comment based on the "research" of a researcher who has never tried one.  Read this and weep for the level of what passes for research and reportage.

Louise Humphrey, a paleo-anthropologist at the Natural History Museum of London, is shocked - SHOCKED I TELL YOU - that paleolithic people who made their home in a Moroccan cave 12,000 to 15,000 years ago exhibited significant levels of tooth decay.  I know!  I am as blown away as you that people living thousands of years before the advent of modern dental hygiene (as opposed to us, living as we are about a hundred years before the advent of modern dental hygiene) might have had the odd cavity... or ten.

To Humphrey this apparently is proof that the so-called Paleo Diet isn't as healthy as its adherents claim.  Here's a tip Louise:  NO DIET is as healthy as its adherents claim.  No eating regime with the word diet attached to it is healthy.  Apparently "we" all thought that tooth decay started after the advent of agriculture. Apparently "we" are idiots. No Louise, agriculture spawned moral decay and environmental decay, not tooth decay.

Humphrey based her conclusions on two facts:  These folks had really bad teeth (insert British dental care joke here) and they clearly ate a lot of acorns.  She added two and two... and came up with 137, that acorns cause massive tooth decay.

Here's the part that drives me crazy:

"There's not one kind of paleo diet," Humphrey says. "I think wherever people lived, they had to make best of the wild food resources available to them."

In this case, Humphrey believes, ground acorn patties. She hasn't tried them herself, but she plans to.

"I would like to," she says. "I imagine that they would be something like sweet chestnuts."

Kind of like the Twinkies of the paleolithic.

This is a perfect example of the one-two punch of modern environmental and food reportage:  The researcher with no first hand experience with the subject matter making sweeping conclusions based on what she "imagines," and the reporter summing it all up with a glib turn of phrase.

You know what causes tooth decay?  Food.

You know where paleolithic people would have been without acorns?  Dead.

You know where we would be if acorns once again became a significant part of our diet?  A whole lot better off, teeth and all.

You know where the planet would be if we relied more on permanent woody tree crops like acorns and less on beating the soil to death to grow cereal crops?

... now I am off to go eat a Twinkie.  Then visit my dentist.

1 comment:

  1. I stumbled upon this, and applaud your commentary. Turns out that, according to the researchers, there were other plants that may have led to the dental decay (wild pulses and oats), and that the acorns may have been consumed raw. There's always more to the story than what the media reports. Keep up the good work! Best wishes.