I first heard of Paleofantasy when our rep from WW Norton, David Goldberg, came in to the bookstore to talk about some upcoming releases. Naturally I snatched up the book as though everyone in the room would immediately lunge for it, but, as usual, my co-workers just stared at me. It’s no secret that I love science, but this whole paleo-diet trend that’s been making the rounds has made me even more passionate about my desire to see science finally being taken into account before anyone jumps on the paleo-bandwagon.
and lovers of the caveman lifestyle believe that homosapiens stopped
evolving some time around moving into caves and that modern man is not
fit for our current lifestyle. They blame all manner of diseases on the
idea that humans were not meant to live as we do now and that
agriculture is killing us. Marlene Zuk, a biologist and professor at
the University of Minnesota, argues that evolution doesn’t stop and to
argue that we were “meant” to do something is an argument that evolution
has some kind of end goal, which is a little ridiculous. Zuk combines
biology and anthropology to disprove many of the myths that
paleo-lifestyles are based on. Although we don't know exactly how early
man lived, Zuk dispels the most common ideas through meticulous
research and, best of all, science.
book isn’t an attack on paleo-lovers, it’s a scientific answer to the
believe that we’d all be better off as hunter-gatherers. In many cases
the arguments made about caveman lifestyle are not true to begin with,
so there is no reason to believe that living that way now will be any
healthier. Zuk’s overall point was that there is no one way that
cave-dwellers lived. There were multiple societies, each with their own
way of living and eating. For example, Zuk explains how our ability to
digest dairy and grains has been a recent(relatively speaking) product
of evolution. However, there is evidence to suggest that some groups of
early-man did eat grains or dairy, while others didn’t.
Paleo-enthusiasts may be healthy because they make an effort to
exercise and not eat processed foods, but not because they don’t eat
grains or abstain from dairy.
isn’t on a mission to make paleo-people feel bad, or ruin their dreams
of caveman rockstardom; her only desire is to shed some light on the
science behind the the trends. In some cases, there is scientific
evidence to back up the healthfulness of paleo-lifestyles. For example,
barefoot runners run differently than those in sneakers and tend to
suffer fewer injuries. In terms of child-rearing, there seems to be a
case for raising children with alloparenting, letting a newborn set it’s
own eating and sleeping schedule, and keeping the child either in, or
near the parents’ bed.
is a fascinating and accessible read that I had trouble putting down.
This book shows that while it’s no secret that many of our modern
problems are caused by poor lifestyle choices, that doesn’t mean we all
need to give up eyeglasses, stop eating quinoa, and give blood as often
as possible to try and imitate the life we think (without any real
scientific evidence) cavemen may have lived.
Buy it indie!