Stop Using Cavemen as an Excuse for Your Fad Diet

The ladies over at Jezebel said what I did in Cooked Meals For A Million Years?, but in a much more satisfying way:

Anthropologists have uncovered “unambiguous evidence” in South Africa that our Homo erectus grandpas were cooking their food as far back as one million years ago. Previous to this discovery, the earliest conclusive evidence of deliberate, human-controlled fires dated back only about 400,000 years. Now, I know what you’re thinking: How do I know it wasn’t just spontaneously-combusted bat guano?

Don’t worry, they covered that.

snip …

On principle, I 100% do not care what anyone else eats. But I do care about judgmental condescension shrouded in pseudo-science—the idea that certain behaviors are “healthier” or “more natural” because “that’s how the cavemen did it.” That’s some bullshit that you hear all the time, from raw- and/or paleo-foodists and those barefoot people and the strident anti-monogamists. And I really honestly don’t give a shit what any of those groups want to eat/wear/fuck, but can we just PLEASE leave the “cavemen” out of it?

Full article.

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4 thoughts on “Stop Using Cavemen as an Excuse for Your Fad Diet”

  1. That was well-said. Some of these people seem to forget that “cavemen” didn’t eat food with hormones, antibiotics, flavor enhancers, preservatives, or that’s been genetically modified or bleached, either. I would think that’s a bigger problem than eating whole grains themselves.

  2. A few years ago after reading Jean Auel’s books, I became very interested in “cavepeople”. I still read all of the articles that come up in the news. The experts, the people who educations in that area and who do research in it for a living all agree that it is next to impossible to know ANYTHING about prehistoric humans with certainty…….let alone their eating habits.

    People don’t want to hear that they to get the benefits they want that they have to apply a modicum of self discipline in their dietary choices. So, if you want to sell a pop diet book, you need a gimmick.

    The “this is our natural diet, this is the way our ancestors ate” is a common one.

    The other common gimmick is “You can eat all you want just don’t eat [carbs|fat|or some other forbidden thing]”

  3. Funny – I read her books too, I think when I was a kid! It’s good to know that the experts admit it’s tough to know much about how our predecessors lived. The overuse of “this is how we evolved” is common in the behavioral/dating areas too – the Jezebel writer mentioned the whole polyamory thing. It’s easy to formulate a theory and then use evolutionary arguments, which are impossible to prove or disprove.

  4. I think it is past time for a charismatic anthropologist to become a celebrity and be famous for a sound byte along the lines of “We don’t know shit about cave people”

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