16

votes

Why do animals have it so easily figured out, and we don't know what to eat?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created June 17, 2011 at 3:33 AM

This is strange to me: humans, just by observations, can figure out what most animals eat, and far beyond the simplistic terms like carnivore, omnivore, herbivore. Cows and goats for example, just eat grass and bark in the case of goats. Sure they get some bugs and stuff too, with that, but their needs are simple and they don't get bored.

Ok, so those are bad examples perhaps because they are domesticated. but certain species of turtles eat ONLY certain things, wild snakes only eat certain things (and often, while still alive), some wild animals eat almost exclusively dead, scavenged flesh (yes, the buzzards really do circle) along with a bunch of "whatever" and it's very predictable in the animal kingdom. Least Flycatchers (a kind of North American bird) catch flies. So do barn swallows in flight, others like woodpeckers, pick them out of trees, while some want nothing more than to scarf growing seed plants like grains and berries, only to poop them out and thusly playing Johnny Appleseed for more of those same plants.

Nature has it figured out. Why don't we?

(and I have some ideas about this, but want to know what others think. And please, please don't say "I have a theory" because you probably actually have an untested or only anecdotally tested hypothesis, or are interested in the better-tested theories which are more developed from others. If you really do have a theory you've been testing scientifically for many years, then please do share... I just have a real pet peeve about the overuse of the term "theory" because a theory is more than just a bunch of ideas that make sense. A real theory has had many people conduct experiments to test its merits.)

So, we don't seem to possess the natural instincts to eat the most optimally healthy foods for us the way animals in natural habitat can. In fact, in our modern world, most people eat that which is really destructive. Why/how are we apparently alone in this phenomena?

A2c38be4c54c91a15071f82f14cac0b3

(12682)

on September 07, 2013
at 01:28 AM

As long as we're doing the meme thing, this is in response to your last paragraph: http://files.sharenator.com/memes_need_calcium_eat_bones-s500x500-164191.jpg

56c28e3654d4dd8a8abdb2c1f525202e

(1822)

on September 05, 2013
at 10:56 PM

How do I give this gal a best question vote? It is something that bothers me too. Chickens know more about nutrition than we, on average, do. You give them many food choices (say, fresh grass/bugs, discarded fruit peels and vegetables, and the store feed) and they go paleo in one day, alas, not touching the feed at all. I looked at their movements in a friend large backyard, and they know how to find bugs. You may see grass land, but they know which weed patches have the goods. And they go for fat above all else.

Bfd70bb38267fcc2d762063d691fa226

(723)

on January 26, 2013
at 03:09 AM

hahaha I had to read Guns Germs and Steel for history class in high school. It was very dry and boring to read for the class. However, it is a fascinating book to read at leisure. It's literally an amazing read, and I have come to appreciate it much more since adopting the paleo lifestyle.

4303a65967884e68bfae59817c227351

(1881)

on January 13, 2013
at 08:09 PM

This is absolutely the answer to this question.

3bc294cb7745a5e99612ff886ca00101

(1186)

on November 19, 2012
at 01:10 PM

From the original question: 'I just have a real pet peeve about the overuse of the term "theory" because a theory is more than just a bunch of ideas that make sense'.... How about a bunch of ideas that make not a lick of sense? Is that a theory?

61f9349ad28e3c42d1cec58ba4825a7d

(10490)

on November 18, 2012
at 10:14 PM

Me when I read that part about, "God went around to different planets and collected life from everywhere, and brought some here to earth, causing an imbalance in our habitat." ---- http://i.imgur.com/Oifg9.gif

78cb3c4f70de5db2adb52b6b9671894b

(5519)

on March 25, 2012
at 08:45 PM

I know a dog that ate an ENTIRE bag of dog food when he broke into the cabinet. That's like 20 pounds of food...he spent a lot of the time at the vet hospital getting his stomach pumped. Hardly "intuitive" eating.

001cd8e3885a870edc0ea8323ad9c719

(260)

on June 24, 2011
at 06:28 PM

Sorry, I hesitated to link to my "review" of it, but since you asked: http://blog.2sparrows.org/2010/11/09/the-omnivores-dilemma-michael-pollan/

9a5e2da94ad63ea3186dfa494e16a8d1

(15833)

on June 20, 2011
at 01:25 PM

A friend of mine keeps horses, and she said that some horses will just eat themselves to death if there is enough food around. They evolved grazing and if there is a big bag of food, they'll eat so much that they can't digest it and get sick. I think this is animalcule's point - if you take any animal out of its natural habitat and put a bunch of appetizing but harmful food in front of it, it will likely eat it and get sick.

26b7615ef542394102785a67a2786867

(7967)

on June 18, 2011
at 05:41 PM

Cool article kate

26b7615ef542394102785a67a2786867

(7967)

on June 18, 2011
at 05:40 PM

Pigs, ducks, finches, foxes, rabbits, dogs, skunks, mice, geese, possums, horses, sheep, chickens: all animals who I have personally observed pigging out on processed foods that are evolutionarily appropriate and would give them chronic diseases of civilization in the long run!

26b7615ef542394102785a67a2786867

(7967)

on June 18, 2011
at 05:39 PM

Pigs, ducks, finches, foxes, rabbits, dogs, skunks, mice, geese, possums, horses, sheep, chickens,: all animals who I have personally observed pigging out on food that's not evolutionarily appropriate and would give them chronic diseases of civilization in the long run!

Cc93847bfa820f0f2da654060b401fa5

(746)

on June 18, 2011
at 06:56 AM

It comes without thought. They don't try and restrict the realfoods they like that keep them thriving. They could give two sheets about macro/micro nutrients, weight loss, and studies. People with healthy relationships with food possess this, however there's not many of those in western society ;)

A968087cc1dd66d480749c02e4619ef4

(20436)

on June 17, 2011
at 06:59 PM

Just like that opening scene from 101 Dalmations (The original animated version).

0da5765a48caf2a44d9816ca4caf612b

on June 17, 2011
at 06:26 PM

And apparently, so will bees... http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/30/nyregion/30bigcity.html

667f6c030b0245d71d8ef50c72b097dc

(15976)

on June 17, 2011
at 05:30 PM

And I'd have to add that most of the fat dogs near me have fat owners. Digression, my bad;)

Af1d286f0fd5c3949f59b4edf4d892f5

(18472)

on June 17, 2011
at 04:45 PM

... so will rats

26b7615ef542394102785a67a2786867

(7967)

on June 17, 2011
at 03:37 PM

My dog (who eats zero carb, raw meat and bones only, but is still a pig for any sort of human food) just recovered from over a week of illness from eating a *bag of dry gluten-free pancake mix* -can you imagine anything less palatable?- that my sister left at my place when she moved out. She definitely doesn't know what's good for her, the dumbass, even though for a dog she seems very bright. And she's 14 years old and has made herself sick eating stupid things many times before.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on June 17, 2011
at 02:41 PM

You can't trust smell, but you can trust how you feel after you eat something. However, if you are eating several ingredients at once, you won't know what is making you ill. Big part of paleo is knowing every ingredient you eat, and thinking of food as like taking medication.

0bc6cbb653cdc5e82400f6da920f11eb

(19245)

on June 17, 2011
at 02:06 PM

Goats will attempt to eat almost everything.

77732bf6bf2b8a360f523ef87c3b7523

(6157)

on June 17, 2011
at 01:29 PM

This is not really helpful. Can you at least add a 1-sentence summary of Pollan's thoughts on the OP's actual question instead of saying "go read this"?

0bc6cbb653cdc5e82400f6da920f11eb

(19245)

on June 17, 2011
at 01:24 PM

My family's dog once stole a large bar of dark chocoalate and managed to eat half of it. He spend the night at the vets with mild chocolate poisoning.

7d0c3ea9bf8be00b93e6433d8f125ac3

(7540)

on June 17, 2011
at 12:53 PM

And most people with a dog can tell you that they'll basically gorge themselves on almost any human food if given the chance, including things that are downright poisonous for them like chocolate.

E35e3d76547b18096a59c90029e7e107

(15613)

on June 17, 2011
at 09:36 AM

Isn't this the "omnivore's dilemma" (Pollan). Humans evolved to be able to make use of a wide variety of possible foodstuffs in a wide variety of contexts, which ensures that there's a huge gap between what we is tolerable and what is optimal, unlike with lots of animals where it's [bamboo] or nothing.

Af1d286f0fd5c3949f59b4edf4d892f5

(18472)

on June 17, 2011
at 05:23 AM

this is an awesome question. we are so smart that we are foolish.

E7be2ce38158357f5dacae07b43d1b29

on June 17, 2011
at 03:47 AM

Good point, Mark. Maybe we've spent more energy, as a species, adapting to/selecting for cultural norms over food? I have to wonder, among a lot of other things, if we've somehow bred out a good sense of smell. Obviously, a lot of unhealthy things still taste or smell bad, and a re bad for us. But fresh, hot crunchy bread smells amazing, and I have celiac disease. I had to mentally learn it was poison, while animals naturally eschew things that are bad for their health or even sub-optimal. We know so little about evolution, and much less about how diet affects us now or then.

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21 Answers

20
26b7615ef542394102785a67a2786867

on June 17, 2011
at 03:49 AM

Take many an opportunistic species out of it's natural habitat and give it ready access to all types of unnatural, savory foods, and they will gorge and get fat and sick just like us. Goats will choose grains, fruit and other sweet/starchy foods over grass, bark and weeds any day - they'll eat them until they're severely ill if they get the chance (take if from someone who spent her formative years around plenty of goats!).

Some animals truly are specialized in their eating habits, so much that they will starve and die if their one usual food source is taken away. But humans are one of the ultimate omnivores. We're hardly alone however.

Most of the bird species you mentioned for instance are seasonal/local opportunistic eaters. You may see them eating mass amounts of one available food source but they are actually well-adapted to a variety of foods, depending on where they are and what is available. A good example is the American robin; did you know the majority of their calories come from fruits and berries? The worms and larvae we seem to see them hunting all day are mostly for feeding their babies. Give robins unlimited access to fermented sweet fruits, and they show a preference for eating them until they are thoroughly intoxicated (and can't fly). Hardly any wisdom involved there.

When we're living in our natural environment we have limited access to the naturally-occurring foods that aren't ideal (honey, mass quantities of fruits) and usually plenty of access to those that are (animals, vegetables, tubers, nuts).

0da5765a48caf2a44d9816ca4caf612b

on June 17, 2011
at 06:26 PM

And apparently, so will bees... http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/30/nyregion/30bigcity.html

26b7615ef542394102785a67a2786867

(7967)

on June 18, 2011
at 05:41 PM

Cool article kate

Af1d286f0fd5c3949f59b4edf4d892f5

(18472)

on June 17, 2011
at 04:45 PM

... so will rats

26b7615ef542394102785a67a2786867

(7967)

on June 18, 2011
at 05:40 PM

Pigs, ducks, finches, foxes, rabbits, dogs, skunks, mice, geese, possums, horses, sheep, chickens: all animals who I have personally observed pigging out on processed foods that are evolutionarily appropriate and would give them chronic diseases of civilization in the long run!

0bc6cbb653cdc5e82400f6da920f11eb

(19245)

on June 17, 2011
at 02:06 PM

Goats will attempt to eat almost everything.

26b7615ef542394102785a67a2786867

(7967)

on June 18, 2011
at 05:39 PM

Pigs, ducks, finches, foxes, rabbits, dogs, skunks, mice, geese, possums, horses, sheep, chickens,: all animals who I have personally observed pigging out on food that's not evolutionarily appropriate and would give them chronic diseases of civilization in the long run!

9a5e2da94ad63ea3186dfa494e16a8d1

(15833)

on June 20, 2011
at 01:25 PM

A friend of mine keeps horses, and she said that some horses will just eat themselves to death if there is enough food around. They evolved grazing and if there is a big bag of food, they'll eat so much that they can't digest it and get sick. I think this is animalcule's point - if you take any animal out of its natural habitat and put a bunch of appetizing but harmful food in front of it, it will likely eat it and get sick.

5
A45955e4c4cbe88ed6645828ba13f75a

(132)

on June 17, 2011
at 09:03 AM

I know plenty of people with overweight dogs that get fed plenty of human food. Maybe animals don't always instinctively know what's good for them, it's just that they don't have easy access to bad foods like humans.

0bc6cbb653cdc5e82400f6da920f11eb

(19245)

on June 17, 2011
at 01:24 PM

My family's dog once stole a large bar of dark chocoalate and managed to eat half of it. He spend the night at the vets with mild chocolate poisoning.

7d0c3ea9bf8be00b93e6433d8f125ac3

(7540)

on June 17, 2011
at 12:53 PM

And most people with a dog can tell you that they'll basically gorge themselves on almost any human food if given the chance, including things that are downright poisonous for them like chocolate.

26b7615ef542394102785a67a2786867

(7967)

on June 17, 2011
at 03:37 PM

My dog (who eats zero carb, raw meat and bones only, but is still a pig for any sort of human food) just recovered from over a week of illness from eating a *bag of dry gluten-free pancake mix* -can you imagine anything less palatable?- that my sister left at my place when she moved out. She definitely doesn't know what's good for her, the dumbass, even though for a dog she seems very bright. And she's 14 years old and has made herself sick eating stupid things many times before.

667f6c030b0245d71d8ef50c72b097dc

(15976)

on June 17, 2011
at 05:30 PM

And I'd have to add that most of the fat dogs near me have fat owners. Digression, my bad;)

A968087cc1dd66d480749c02e4619ef4

(20436)

on June 17, 2011
at 06:59 PM

Just like that opening scene from 101 Dalmations (The original animated version).

78cb3c4f70de5db2adb52b6b9671894b

(5519)

on March 25, 2012
at 08:45 PM

I know a dog that ate an ENTIRE bag of dog food when he broke into the cabinet. That's like 20 pounds of food...he spent a lot of the time at the vet hospital getting his stomach pumped. Hardly "intuitive" eating.

5
66974b2cb291799dcd661b7dec99a9e2

(11121)

on June 17, 2011
at 04:38 AM

Humans have lost touch with the natural world. Our ego's have surpassed out natural instincts and we think we know better than nature does. Our big brain can be a double edged sword. We spend too much time 'thinking' and not enough time just 'being'.

3
96440612cf0fcf366bf5ad8f776fca84

(19463)

on June 20, 2011
at 10:59 AM

No, that's absolutely untrue. We do have it figured out. Evolution has provided us with specific sensors for what makes good foods for us - based on what was available in the wild 10K years ago.

Tastes like sweet and salty are rare in nature, so we crave them and seek them out because they represent high octane fuel, or rare minerals. When we did come across and ate rare fruits that are bright in color and fragrance, or veggies that taste good, we provided our selves with high quality vitamins and minerals. The fructose in fruit was mostly available when the fruit was ripe and the fructose signaled our bodies to store those calories for when winter came.

We otherwise got most of out our calories from fat and protein when hunting.

What you are looking at now is a wholesale hijacking of our evolved senses. Stuff that comes prepackaged is not food. The manufacturers, because that's what they really are, add sugar (if we're lucky), high fructose corn syrup (if we're not), artificial sweeteners, bright artificial colors, salt (NaCl or nitrates), various fragrances (some artificial), and flavors (some artificial, some which are excitotoxins such as MSG or yeast sources of MSG).

Not to mention that they may well as stabilizers including things such as trans-fats, or actual preservatives that are, or may well be harmful to our health so that their product can survive sitting on shelves for months, or inside vending machines.

All of these things are designed to fool our senses and make palatable that which would gray and taste like cardboard, to us and would otherwise not be acceptable as food.

This is the ultimate result of chasing the cheapest ingredients to be sold at the highest profit, of publicly traded corporations, where they don't answer to their customers, but to a board of directors.

Horrors such as trans fats, and fake blue berries made of blue paint and aroma in rainbow colored cereals claiming to be "a healthy part of your breakfast." Not my breakfast, and not my kids' breakfast, never again! Or chicken "nuggets" made mostly from corn and a little bit of CAFO chicken, filled with salt and trans fats, and ketchup made from HFCS, advertised as kids' meals.

Even things that look like chocolate bars are really a thin shell of low-cocoa chocolate, sometimes without even any cocoabutter to be replaced by trans fats, that cover something like fake marshmallow fluff made from HFCS and a few peanuts, because actual solid chocolate is too expensive to their bottom line.

So no, please don't blame our highly evolved senses for what has only recently become available as fake food.

1
2e6e673ce3eb647407d260d4d57a731b

(1021)

on January 12, 2013
at 10:59 PM

the issue is very complicated, but in general humans do in fact have it figured out. today many americans are trained from young age to not think for themselves and take advice from other people who are being paid by big industries whose only goal is profit. scare tactics, guilt trips and promises of the next big health food are several methods of influencing what people eat. this all stems from the fact that so many authority figures would not be happy with their lives if they didn't tell everyone else what to eat in order to feel important. the whole thing reeks of depression and insecurity

4303a65967884e68bfae59817c227351

(1881)

on January 13, 2013
at 08:09 PM

This is absolutely the answer to this question.

0
F26fbc92b18f4689769d6f8746ea40f7

(334)

on September 06, 2013
at 12:39 AM

I don't think anyone brought up the issue of eating/drinking having a significant social aspect. Food choices are significantly impacted by our peer group. Individual animal species all eat the same, and that's passed on across generations. Every human family eats differently ... that's passed on as well (positive and negative habits), and along with social dynamics that creates an unbelievable heterogeneity across populations. And on top of that there are all the religious and cultural aspects! Finally, humans seek immediate reward. We have pinpointed what creates pleasure (i.e. sugar/fat/salt) and some people make loads of money providing it to the general population. It takes a lot of steps back to realize that although we are the most developed species on the planet, we have become a pretty pathetic one as well (obviously I am specifically addressing our interactions with food ... not all the rest ... because we can be pretty awesome!!).

0
736662d9fd6314d426cc6de1896aa045

(175)

on September 05, 2013
at 11:54 PM

Give a dog a chocolate - total poison, but he'll eat it.

0
Eb3c83c339e81d0bd6e1b6b97148af65

on September 05, 2013
at 06:56 PM

Any trip to a national park will disprove this. Signs everywhere saying "do not feed the animals". After a bear gets used to human (junk) food it usually has to be put down.

0
2c496ce433f053f92f2a41ac7f813bcd

on September 05, 2013
at 06:33 PM

Animals NEVER experiment with food. It's as though they have a specific food in mind that they are seeking. When that specific food is not in sight, they result in eating everything in that target foods food group. When that food group is not in sight, they pick up an alternate food group, just like the squirrel does out of season.

0
651b74dfbf378ac90ff3eb183f54944e

(351)

on July 08, 2013
at 11:45 PM

I have horses and they will actually eat themselves to death if given access to high calorie foods like grain (they colic). Animals eat what is best for them by necessity, not choice. Unfortunately their willpower is even worse than ours :(

0
5e36f73c3f95eb4ea13a009f4936449f

(8280)

on July 08, 2013
at 10:36 PM

"Why/how are we apparently alone in this phenomena?"

We aren't. The initial premise is incorrect and invalid. As noted by others in the thread, animals do eat things that are bad from them.

Another to add on is the Panda. It has a carnivore's teeth/intestines and eats animals/meats, but preferentially eats a plant that doesn't have the nutrients to completely keep it alive.

0
Edf4384c48c8b88ebb8ed5fa1ef8c979

on July 07, 2013
at 11:12 PM

Yes animals have different preferences in what they want to eat, but the thing that puzzles me the most is how they know they can eat that certain thing, why dont we see a deer chewing on poison ivy, orsome animal eating a poisonous mushroom. As a human with no foraging skills and i get hungry go into a forest pick a random berry i would not know if its poisonous, but an animal would know they know what not to eat and what to eat.

0
0b7c3e7fd96005f0b2dfd781e512fc2e

(1237)

on January 12, 2013
at 11:46 PM

If animals had the intellectual capacity to manipulate their environment to the extent that humans do, they would likely expand their diets to include unnatural foods.

0
2c496ce433f053f92f2a41ac7f813bcd

on January 12, 2013
at 08:05 PM

When you think of domesticated animals, you have to first realize that WE predict what they eat, so Target food will not apply.  However you might see them act as through they are in one of the three phases of hunger as they may not appeal to the manufactured food.  As an example, we produce dog food for dogs.  Yet we still find them going through the garbage can from time to time.  Your first idea is that he is hungry, and that is correct, but it could go a lot deeper as he isn't being satisfied by the food your giving him.  No man made food could ever equate to target food for any species as it can never be as specifically perfect as such.

0
2c496ce433f053f92f2a41ac7f813bcd

on November 18, 2012
at 08:37 PM

Author, your findings are dead on, there are however some things you missed. It would actually appear that species are directed to their food, as though there is some type of pre-programming that tells them what to eat. We know this to be fact because we don't hear about species going through an experimental stage where they are eating rock and dirt to find they don't like them. Not to be confused with starving species, which can eat anything and this is a serious clue. Why aren't they eating anything right off the bat?

Target food

My observation, and its open to anyone that can prove it wrong. Species appear to know what they are suppose to eat. A very small percentage are shown what to eat by the parents, where does this leave the rest? From what I'm able to figure out, each species is suppose to only eat around one to three things in food. Thus the term target food. This food is ideal in every way to the consumer. It's ideal in nutrition, and vitamins, and will appear to be perfect for the species.

When a species is not subject to target food either because its gone extinct or either had moved location, then the species starts to enter one of three phases of hunger. Phase one can be identified easily because you will see a species eating almost everything within a food group, its as though they are looking for the target food. What we call a food group and what they see as a food group could vary with common sense.

Phase two is where the species would additionally pick up a new food group. This is going to happen when that target food and phase one food, for whatever reason is not available. You can observe the squirrel in wiki with a phase one diet, but then they also list a second diet he turns to when those aren't available,

Phase three is eating rocks and dirt, total starvation. This is where target food, phase one and phase two foods are no longer in reach.

So now your question about humans, and why we seem to eat everything under the sun. It states in the bible that many things were placed on earth, every herb, every plant, and every animal. It also states that none of these things are from our home, yes big surprise, earth is not our home, and that’s a quote. So in other words nothing here is our target food, which also explains why we make some of our own food and process the hell out of a lot of it.

We have no target food, this is the reason why we have so many problems with the food we eat, we have to process the hell out of it, even cooking is a process. Why we have supplements too, because its hard to get a good balanced diet from food that was not intended for you. Yes intended. It would appear that this balance in life is staged and not even the theory of evolution can explain tandem symbiotic food sources. Either way you slice this, there has to be intelligence involved at some point.

You can't even argue that a species goes by personal taste, or smell, or observation, because its a little to odd how everyone in a species always eat the exact same thing, (excluding humans) providing location and access of course. If there was personal choice in these decisions, we would also see an experimental stage, which we also don't find anywhere, again not to be confused with starvation.

Target food actually reveals that there is some type of organized intelligence. There is no way that a species could be programmed with knowing what their food is suppose to be without the programmer first knowing about the food itself. It's something that evolution totally fails at producing. There excuse is that the food evolves along with the species, but that in itself would also require intelligence of some sort. Natural selection doesn’t appear to afford the answer.

All of the things that were brought to earth have caused a big problem. (Including humans) God went around to different planets and collected life from everywhere, and brought some here to earth, causing an imbalance in our habitat. This is why we are in the 6th largest extinction looking at a loss of 99% of all life as we know it. You can't just remove or add species to a balanced planet, it knocks off the balance. So right now all of the apex predators are winning. This has stumped scientists because they are first making the wrong assumption that all life that is here, belongs here.

There is another problem, we have no natural source for calcium. Humans, not including teenagers and pregnant women need 1000mg a day. The highest item on the list is sardines, and you will still need 5.4 servings a day, or 16 ozs a day. Fruits and veggies do not measure up to what we need. Cows milk is NOT a natural supplement, and it has to be processed to be safe from bacteria as well, however if you choose to go that rout I think 4 servings a day will suit you. Processed cheese is the best, and at the top of the scale is seaweed, 7 to 14 times higher than cows milk, of course it has to be processed as well.

61f9349ad28e3c42d1cec58ba4825a7d

(10490)

on November 18, 2012
at 10:14 PM

Me when I read that part about, "God went around to different planets and collected life from everywhere, and brought some here to earth, causing an imbalance in our habitat." ---- http://i.imgur.com/Oifg9.gif

3bc294cb7745a5e99612ff886ca00101

(1186)

on November 19, 2012
at 01:10 PM

From the original question: 'I just have a real pet peeve about the overuse of the term "theory" because a theory is more than just a bunch of ideas that make sense'.... How about a bunch of ideas that make not a lick of sense? Is that a theory?

A2c38be4c54c91a15071f82f14cac0b3

(12682)

on September 07, 2013
at 01:28 AM

As long as we're doing the meme thing, this is in response to your last paragraph: http://files.sharenator.com/memes_need_calcium_eat_bones-s500x500-164191.jpg

0
25329057c9d5f6364a74787c8c2302e7

on June 17, 2011
at 03:51 PM

We evolved in a scarce environment. We (First World, anyway) are no longer in that environment. Most (wild) animals still are.

Long story short, they have no choice but to eat their 'paleo'. We have, as a society, engineered an option that is convenient in the short term but disastrous over the long term.

Alex from PaleoPax

0
667f6c030b0245d71d8ef50c72b097dc

(15976)

on June 17, 2011
at 12:45 PM

Isn't it simply because we have the ability to think and decide our actions? Rather than, say, all the other animals, following their instincts (if not only instincts, than at least to a far great degree than we do) to simply eat what their parents/peers eat.

We can think/plan/pick/choose/work cooperatively - all that good stuff. Isn't the flipside of these abilities that we have to understand what will hurt us and what will not?

0
001cd8e3885a870edc0ea8323ad9c719

(260)

on June 17, 2011
at 11:48 AM

I'd highly recommend Pollan's "The Omnivore's Dilemma" which goes into this (and much much more).

77732bf6bf2b8a360f523ef87c3b7523

(6157)

on June 17, 2011
at 01:29 PM

This is not really helpful. Can you at least add a 1-sentence summary of Pollan's thoughts on the OP's actual question instead of saying "go read this"?

001cd8e3885a870edc0ea8323ad9c719

(260)

on June 24, 2011
at 06:28 PM

Sorry, I hesitated to link to my "review" of it, but since you asked: http://blog.2sparrows.org/2010/11/09/the-omnivores-dilemma-michael-pollan/

0
Cbb1134f8e93067d1271c97bb2e15ef6

on June 17, 2011
at 05:07 AM

I think the answer to this question is the same answer to many of the problems of our times. We humans have the capacity to abstract and conceptualize. We can use our minds to completely change and combine raw materials in novel and powerful ways, and to even take these raw substances and create substances (including foods!) that are far removed from that which is naturally occurring.

We have only to look at the experiments involving rats who when fed what is essentially a combination of the ingredients of these "improved-created" food-like-substances , to see that there is something highly addictive - compelling beyond conscious comprension - about these created, manufactured combinations of substances that have become food for us, because rats will endure repeated shocks to get at these substances, where they will not endure this to access normal rat food.

So, should we cease to use and develop our abilities? Certainly not. But we need to learn to consistently apply a deep kind of discernment process to what we do and create.

Everything we do and create simply isn't good for us. And some things we do and create (and eat!!!) are grossly disasterous for us...on a very, very large scale.

IMHO, we are at a crucial time in our evolution. There are other parts of ourselves and our brains that need attention and development of a different sort.

To put it very, very simply, I think you could say that we need to become much more mindful people, and to never forget , in any moment, that the word connection as applied to all that exists, should, perhaps, be a guiding light.

Nothing exists in isolation in our world.

But, we as humans are "alone" as you put it, in large part due to our ability to abstract, conceptualize and imagine as Robert Sampolsky would put it. We can imagine that which does not exist. And we can imagine combining substances which do exist in completely novel ways.

Hmmm..I didn't write the word "theory" anywhere, and it isn't some special theory anyway...

0
Medium avatar

(19479)

on June 17, 2011
at 04:16 AM

I heartily recommend reading Jared Diamonds "Guns, Germs, and Steel" to get the full breakdown on the most likely reasons why some of us transitioned from our former default lifestyle of hunting/gathering to agriculture.

This relates to the question of "Why do animals have it figured out and we don't know what to eat" because humans (which are animals btw) set out on a path to conform nature to our perceived needs rather than vice versa. To me, this is like Gary Taubes' explanation of obesity as a symptom of an underlying metabolic/hormonal imbalance and overeating/sedimentarism as effects rather than causes.

As soon as we had a reliable excess of food (specifically grains that could be stored over long periods of time) our collective metabolism was sent into a tailspin. The limits imposed by the productivity (or lack thereof) of natural environments were obliterated and our species was sent down a feed-forward path that may now be reaching it's climax.

Bfd70bb38267fcc2d762063d691fa226

(723)

on January 26, 2013
at 03:09 AM

hahaha I had to read Guns Germs and Steel for history class in high school. It was very dry and boring to read for the class. However, it is a fascinating book to read at leisure. It's literally an amazing read, and I have come to appreciate it much more since adopting the paleo lifestyle.

0
77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on June 17, 2011
at 03:39 AM

This may seem like a simple question, but it's more valuable of a question than all those scientific sounding ones. I think the answer is because if we were to really exist in nature, much of our pride and respect would be lost for not being a part of normal society.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on June 17, 2011
at 02:41 PM

You can't trust smell, but you can trust how you feel after you eat something. However, if you are eating several ingredients at once, you won't know what is making you ill. Big part of paleo is knowing every ingredient you eat, and thinking of food as like taking medication.

E7be2ce38158357f5dacae07b43d1b29

on June 17, 2011
at 03:47 AM

Good point, Mark. Maybe we've spent more energy, as a species, adapting to/selecting for cultural norms over food? I have to wonder, among a lot of other things, if we've somehow bred out a good sense of smell. Obviously, a lot of unhealthy things still taste or smell bad, and a re bad for us. But fresh, hot crunchy bread smells amazing, and I have celiac disease. I had to mentally learn it was poison, while animals naturally eschew things that are bad for their health or even sub-optimal. We know so little about evolution, and much less about how diet affects us now or then.

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