Picture it–mom, dad, kids, baby cavemen–all gathered around a great stone table sitting on old tree stumps. They’re talking about the day’s events, maybe complaining about the hunter gatherer chores they had been doing. Mom sighs as she sets a stone dish on the table. She’s been slaving over an open fire.
You see the crude wood plates. Of course there are no utensils–everyone knows that cavemen eat with their hands. There’s a big clay water jug in the middle of the table that they pass around with a grunt or two. Shadows flicker on the wall. Some prehistoric wolfish pet perks its ears.
But what kind of food is it?
What was on that prehistoric table seems to be at the heart of our everlasting debate over what should go on ours. If we could just solve that conundrum we’d know what we were supposed to eat. We’d know which foods coincide with our evolution.
Unfortunately we probably can’t ever know exactly. And does it really even matter? Actually it probably does. When you think about thousands to millions of years of evolution it seems intuitive that our bodies would become more suited to certain foods. When you think about it our current diet has really only evolved over the past 50 to 100 years. Not long in the grand scheme of things.
But I think that we can actually learn much more from what we know cavemen DIDN’T eat. And we can be much more certain of this. I doubt for example that our caveman ancestors were eating Hamburger Helper or Lucky Charms. There were no hot pockets roasting on spits over the coals.
We know none of their foods came in boxes or packages. There was no freezer section. No ramen or macaroni and cheese (I would have starved to death in my late teens). They didn’t have any sugars other than maybe some honey. There were no additives or colorings. Alas–no red vines or ice cream.
So maybe we should forget trying to go paleo and instead try to go not-paleo. Maybe a better rule of thumb is to look at what cavemen didn’t eat. Like I said, we probably can’t really re-create their foods at this point anyway. I mean didn’t they eat giant chicken legs and brontosaurus burgers? Maybe they were eating stuff like bats and chipmunks.
What we do know is that they were eating whole, unrefined, unprocessed foods. They were eating whole bats and whole chipmunks–not bat nuggets and chipmunkfurters.
So when it comes to food ask yourself–did cavemen NOT eat this? If they didn’t then you probably shouldn’t either.