Much of the ancestral health movements discussion regarding the authentic human diet - and by that I mean specifically the diet of our species, early modern humans pre-agriculture - revolves around the assumption we did in fact want to, or need to, eat significant amounts of plant matter.
Using that assumption, the question then becomes which vegetables and fruits did we eat? How much? And how often? Because, (from this assumption) our species must have supplemented our basic carnivore diet with plants, even tubers, some will insist.
The sometimes hard to swallow fact for many folks is, as Prof. Mike Richards shared with me in the Dept. of Human Evolution labs of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, we ate very little in the way of plant foods during the Upper Paleolithic in Europe. The last 3rd of the paleolithic period when our species actually walked the face of the earth, beginning approximately 160,000 years ago (or so). And it's not just the EU, MPI dig sites from all over the world show early modern humans eating the same things when we were at our peak.
Um, OK. "I get that"..... you might say. So, what does that have to do with Eating Seasonally?
I categorize it under "Solutions by Understanding." It's the kind of personal clarity about being part of the human species that helps you make choices. By choosing your foods with this self-empowering concept, this kind of simple understanding, it can bring you the health and life you deserve.
It's a new opportunity to do a reality check about today's exploding enthusiasm for eating plants by understanding plant foods original place in the bigger picture of our "becoming human" story.
Particularly since we can now eat above, and below, the ground plants of all kinds all the time. And in many places around the globe, in vast quantities 24/7... no matter which method of eating you choose to follow.
It's likely you already know our species entered Europe and experienced one of the coldest times in our history. The climate did not support plant agriculture. And when man did happen to stumble upon some edible wild plants, it was only when that area was warm enough - and those plants were in season.
There was no world market at the time, so blackberries (for example) only ripened once a year and only for the very short time. It is possible that man on his daily hunt might stumble upon this ripening fruit and sample it, but it could ever become a staple of the diet given its inconsistent, seasonal, supply.
Tubergate is a subject that justifies it's own post or podcast, but in brief, the ever popular question (or justification) of introducing tubers into current versions of "paleo" eating doesn't apply to early modern humans in the Upper Paleolithic.
My business partner George, a truly talented chef who contributed the Ratatouille recipe below, is fond of saying to me whenever I bring up the "tubers in paleo" controversy: "Ok, when was the last time you ate a raw potato? My bet is it would have been spit out and ignored…remember, this was the time before we regularly used fire for cooking our food." (my note* or altered domesticated tubers toxicity though selective plantings, or now, GMO)
Eating Seasonally: We now have a world food market where you can find almost any fruit or vegetable in your supermarket during any month of the year. The availability of these plant foods should not be a green light to ignore the evolutionary history of our species diet and what made us who we are. When you enjoy them, vegetables and fruits should supplement our diet's healthy proteins and fats, not replace them.
In any case, this is the season for a wide variety of ripening vegetables at your local farmer's market... or perhaps your own backyard garden. Of course, now we do cook our food, so enjoy the bounty of the season.
Santa Fe Seasonal Ratatouille: 10 Pictures & 10 Steps
The companion book to the film features a number of recipes at the end of the book. Below is an additional recipe that did not make it into the book that George wanted to share with you. I hope you enjoy it!
*The "how-to" companion book to the film officially launches this Thursday October 1, 20015. The link is below Georges' recipe.
Here's the Amazon direct link to the book. More bookstore links are here on our book page. Of course, the book is also available from your favorite bookstore.
As always, comments or questions are welcome.