It’s almost impossible to make sense of any discourse once the terms “nature” and “natural” turn up in it. There is no single “natural” way for humans to eat, because there is no single “natural” way for humans to live.

The Ihalmiut Eskimos of the Great Barrens of Canada thrived on a diet that consisted of virtually nothing but the meat of the deer that migrated through their homeland above the Arctic circle (where NO vegetables edible by humans grow). You and I would probably be unable to survive on such a diet, but the bodies of the Ihalmiut had adapted to it over countless generations. It became for them a completely “natural” way to eat.

Just as the bodies of the Ihalmiut adapted to the food that was available to them, the bodies of agricultural peoples have adapted to the food that is available to them, over a period of thousands of years, so that it becomes meaningless to think of ours as a diet that is “unnatural.”

In the last century (and even more intensely) in the last half-century, people in industrialized nations have been presented with a diet of highly processed foods loaded with preservatives. If any diet can be called “unnatural,” it’s this one, though I think the important point is not whether it’s natural but whether it’s healthy (and it clearly isn’t, for many people).

There is certainly something to be learned from a study of the Paleolithic diet, but this doesn’t automatically make it the “One Right Way” for people to eat (and I don’t believe that Audette is making such a claim).

ID: 460
posted: 12 Mar 2000
updated: 12 Mar 2000