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Anyone else think that small towns are more "paleo" than large cities?

Answered on September 12, 2014
Created August 05, 2011 at 8:27 PM

I saw some recently published research about how the city seems to have lasting negative effects on our brains. Sure, there are unmatched career, shopping and entertainment options there, but are cities truly healthy for us in the long run? Paleo humans certainly lived in smaller bands of people, maxing out at perhaps a few hundred people.

66974b2cb291799dcd661b7dec99a9e2

(11121)

on August 06, 2011
at 12:19 AM

Not all native reservations are the same, the ones I frequent are great and the people are warm and accepting, a large family, where everyone one is called uncle or auntie and everyone helps everyone else.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on August 06, 2011
at 12:11 AM

Well, we still get together up here in the country. Nearly every weekend we and our friends have potluck suppers at one cabin or another. They are like our extended family. We do stuff like trade fish for raspberries, or jam for a helping hand on getting the dock in. I think this sort of thing happens with greater ease in a small place- when we lived in the city it was harder to feel close to our neighbours.

5437163ddf70d4532f196bfb4333753e

(3614)

on August 05, 2011
at 11:23 PM

Unfortunately, the reservations I've spent a lot of time in are pretty much dominated by alcoholism, lethargy, and gambling.

8634d4988ced45a68e2a79e69cc01835

(1617)

on August 05, 2011
at 08:49 PM

All I know is that large cities are very fragile as far as food-security. They are one catastrophic event away from utter chaos.

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7 Answers

4
3aea514b680d01bfd7573d74517946a7

(11996)

on August 05, 2011
at 08:45 PM

This is an interesting question (great handle, too, spacedog). There's no doubt city living is new and overwhelming in terms of sheer numbers of people, and continually shifting relationships with strangers.

On the other hand, one of my favorite iconoclastic thinkers, a guy named Robin Hanson, has a theory that the more urban we become, the more we return to forager-like lifeways. It's counterintuitive (one of the reasons I like him so much -- he's often proposing counterintuitive ideas), but not totally off the wall:

Two Types of People

TYPE A folks eat a healthier more varied diet, and get better exercise. They more love nature, travel, and exploration, and they move more often to new communities. They work fewer hours, and have more complex mentally-challenging jobs. They talk more openly about sex, are more sexually promiscuous, and more accepting of divorce, abortion, homosexuality, and pre-marital and extra-marital sex. They have fewer kids, who they are more reluctant to discipline or constrain. They more emphasize their love for kids, and teach kids to more value generosity, trust, and honesty.

Type A folks care less for land or material posessions, relative to people. They spend more time on leisure, music, dance, story-telling and the arts. They are less comfortable with war, domination, bragging, or money and material inequalities, and they push more for sharing and redistribution. They more want lots of discussion of group decisions, with everyone having an equal voice and free to speak their mind. They deal with conflicts more personally and informally, and more prefer unhappy folk to be free to leave. Their leaders lead more by consensus.

TYPE B folks travel less, and move less often from where they grew up. They are more polite and care more for cleanliness and order. They have more self-sacrifice and self-control, which makes them more stressed and suicidal. They work harder and longer at more tedious and less healthy jobs, and are more faithful to their spouses and their communities. They make better warriors, and expect and prepare more for disasters like war, famine, and disease. They have a stronger sense of honor and shame, and enforce more social rules, which let them depend more on folks they know less. When considering rule violators, they look more at specific rules, and less at the entire person and what feels right. Fewer topics are open for discussion or negotiation.

Type B folks believe more in good and evil, and in powerful gods who enforce social norms. They envy less, and better accept human authorities and hierarchy, including hereditary elites at the top (who act more type A), women and kids lower down, and human and animal slaves at the bottom. They identify more with strangers who share their ethnicity or culture, and more fear others. They are less bothered by violence in war, and toward foreigners, kids, slaves, and animals. They more think people should learn their place and stay there. Nature???s place is to be ruled and changed by humans.

More posts on his "foragers vs. farmers" idea here.

2
B14dc4aa1ddefbec3bc09550428ee493

on August 06, 2011
at 03:06 PM

It does seem to be easier for the average person to get paleo foods in a city though, unless you have a farm and raise your own. There tend to more stores like Whole Foods, etc., while in a rural area you are probably less likely to have that.

0
Fe33d1321dad116f6fedd60266d0498b

on August 07, 2011
at 04:58 PM

It depends on the city, the small town, or suburb of which you speak. There are huge variations in each. If a city is "walkable" or "livable," then it may well be much more paleo than a suburb in which every house has an acre of land. Also, how you (choose to) interact with your city/suburb/town has a huge impact on how paleo it is (to you, at least). If you're in an apartment building, yet do not interact with your neighbors at all- is that paleo? No. Same no matter where you live- if you don't form some sort of bond with those around you, then you're probably in the wrong place. It doesn't have to be "spend every weeknight with" sort of bond- it could just be a "hey, your dog is really cute. what's its name? oh, i had a cocker spaniel growing up, too!" bond.

Look into cohousing, into "livable cities," and so forth. Look for cities with good nonmotorized transportation infrastructure, with open space/green space, that put an emphasis on accessibility as much as mobility. Cities that protect their water and air resources. And if you live someplace that doesn't do these things- work to change that, if you can. Contact your local elected official, etc etc. Join/start your neighborhood association.

0
2f931662684a7747be36255c8b486228

(1049)

on August 06, 2011
at 08:10 AM

I lived in the city for years and insisted on moving out when my daughter was born. With plenty of land and a large home (stressful upkeep), we are so much more relaxed. Just the quiet is something we miss when we travel, the view of nature from every window. No parking struggles, no traffic, no horns honking. Costs are lower in general, food, restaurants, ecc.

I did read the statistics, sorry can't post them now, but they concern life expectancy in the US. The life expectancy in the city was only something like 3-5 yrs less, but there is also healthy life expectancy, which for those who are in non-rural areas (not too far from medical care) is much longer (a good 5 yrs if I recall). Meaning you may only live 3 yrs longer than your city friends, but you will have at least an additional 5 yrs of good health, while your city pals are darting in traffic for medical exams.

Of course, I can't tell you now just how these statistics were arrived at. Other health factors, diet ecc.

There are plenty of stats out there concerning ground flour city living and IQ, ground floor city living and long-term exam results up to high school. Train vicinity, river and ports and increased leukemia and cancer risk. Living in the vicinity of a train station and high blood pressure, aggression, and hearing sensitivity.

So looking for the healthier option does not have to necessarily be called paleo.

0
44348571d9bc70c02ac2975cc500f154

(5853)

on August 06, 2011
at 07:32 AM

Yes, and even if you source best produce in large city, you are still inhaling a ton of pollution.

0
77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on August 05, 2011
at 09:54 PM

Affirmo! Go live on an Indian("native american" PC-revision) reservation and you'll see the noble savage in his true environment. A better world than suburbia thats for sure. Currently I am 2 hours aways from such a place and though the people are hickish they area strong and aggressive bunch.

5437163ddf70d4532f196bfb4333753e

(3614)

on August 05, 2011
at 11:23 PM

Unfortunately, the reservations I've spent a lot of time in are pretty much dominated by alcoholism, lethargy, and gambling.

66974b2cb291799dcd661b7dec99a9e2

(11121)

on August 06, 2011
at 12:19 AM

Not all native reservations are the same, the ones I frequent are great and the people are warm and accepting, a large family, where everyone one is called uncle or auntie and everyone helps everyone else.

0
3846a3b61bc9051e4baebdef62e58c52

(18635)

on August 05, 2011
at 08:38 PM

I find in general we have less "tribe" mentality as grown ups in general. I dont know about this group, but when i get home its me and my family. Thats it. Some thing I have been thinking about is how each night when the work was done the whole community would get togeather for a feast and socialize. This isn't twitter or facebook or even a forced business event. Just everyone of your neighbors throwing in and enjoying. Something of a throwback that would be beneficial in my book. City or small town I dont see this anymore. Neighbors hardly even talk these days. Just a thought.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on August 06, 2011
at 12:11 AM

Well, we still get together up here in the country. Nearly every weekend we and our friends have potluck suppers at one cabin or another. They are like our extended family. We do stuff like trade fish for raspberries, or jam for a helping hand on getting the dock in. I think this sort of thing happens with greater ease in a small place- when we lived in the city it was harder to feel close to our neighbours.

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