5/27/09

Eat this, conservation movement!

The options available to the average hunter-gather apparently put the Cheesecake Factory’s treatise to shame.

After examining fine details in the teeth of our ancestors, anthropologists recently adjusted their reading of the early menu available to humankind. In contrast to the caveman diets preached by fad gurus – with their focus on a few weeds and rare surpluses of fruit and meat – what actually made early man’s table so healthy was the broad range of foods.

A diverse diet has long been associated with greater disease resistance and, according to ecologist Vadana Shiva, humans have gobbled up over 80,000 different plant species. When I compare that with the modern menu, I can’t help but become green with envy.

Today, three-quarters of all human food intake comes from just eight plants, mostly genetically-modified corn and soy. Worse, we are losing varieties within species every year.

The best way to save them, paradoxically, is to eat them.

Heirloom plants and heritage animals can be found in many farmer markets, on-line and some specialty stores. And with names like Striped Toga Eggplant, Christmas Lima Beans and Red Wattle Hog, they are sure to get the imagination salivating.


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