Are there paleo people eating ONLY locally grown foods?

by 0 · February 02, 2014 at 11:23 AM

I'm from the Mediterranean and I live in Middle Europe. I try to eat according to traditional cuisines of these regions as much as I can, mostly limiting imported food to a few exotic spices. Even though there are many foods that didn't originally grow here, I consider it okay to eat if it can be naturally grown in Europe, with no help of greenhouses.

But many paleo recipes use coconuts, avocados, bananas etc. Especially coconut, which is being praised for all its parts and uses.

Also, what about eating sea fish when you're hundreds of miles away from sea? That's also not how your ancestors would have eaten had they lived where you live now.

I believe that we can find everything we nutritionally need in our surroundings, because that's how it used to be. And what if our guts are not built to be able to process exotic foods, like people in tropical countries can?

I guess it can't hurt once in a while or moderately (as I wrote, I do use exotic spices) but basing whole meals on coconut oil and filling desserts with bananas doesn't seem right.

I guess my question is - Why quit grains and dairy when many people are more adjusted to that then to exotic fruits?


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390 · January 31, 2014 at 11:53 AM

One option might be to get something like 23andMe done and figure out where your genes fall, then try to eat according to the heaviest regions that comprise your DNA. Might be false logic, but seems like it would be interesting.

942 · January 31, 2014 at 02:19 AM

I totally disagree with this. We have sub zero here too, but apples, turnips, beets, rutabaga, potato, carrot, parsnip, cabbage, squash, onions, leeks and garlic are readily available. Fresh eggs are available (granted, those coops must be both heated and have artificial lighting), regrettably raw milk is illegal so no dairy, summer or winter. I have always two types of sprouts going in the house. The freezer has mostly meat (goat, pork, chicken and beef), but it has also cranberry, summer vegetable mix (ratatouille), ten lbs of blueberries, and tomato sauce. With a little exertion, you can find sunchokes, yacon, seaberry. I have collards under unheated hoop houses, which I pick monthly (they do last one month in the fridge). Of course I eat rice, kiwi and oranges too, which come from balmier climates, although except for rice I could substitute them with more summer berries. I think you can eat locally everywhere except Alaska.

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0 · January 31, 2014 at 01:34 AM

Eating locally without eating food grown in greenhouses is nearly impossible for many parts of the United States. We have had sub zero temps for weeks in the midwest and eastern part of the US. If we only ate locally grow things, we would all be starving by now. Obviously, some things are not going to be accessible, like fresh fish for someone who is miles from the ocean and in the dead of winter. Paleo can be practiced at many different levels and I always recommend just getting as close as you can to the diet without it being an inconvenience.

The differences between exotic fruits and grains/dairy is that the grains and dairy are almost all processed by humans before consumption. Fruits on the other hand can be plucked and eaten and they are complex carbohydrates instead of simple carbs.

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942 · January 30, 2014 at 09:20 PM

For me 50% in northern-central Italy, and 25% each somewhere in Poland/Bielorussia and Northern Balkans. The italian side does not show though, although italian food was the norm in my youth (lots of wheat). This may be why local Michigan fare agrees so well with me, I have Northern genes and I was supposed to eat turnips, cabbage and meat all along.

15 · January 30, 2014 at 03:27 PM

By the way, as I thought about this more, your question apparently presupposes that a "local" diet based upon where one lives now is equivalent to the diet of the area in which that person's ancestors lived. Quite apart from the environment, climate, terrain, and soils being very different in modern times, you are also assuming that a person's ancestors can be determined simply based upon where they live now. Given that the Paleolithic spanned many tens of thousands of years before 10,000 years ago. and hunter-gatherers' nomadic lifestyle, and this being an era before written records were invented...

How, exactly, do you know where a person's Paleolithic ancestors evolved? Have you done genetic testing or research? Otherwise, where you live now seems irrelevant to where your Paleolithic ancestors lived. (i.e. Why would it matter that you currently, or for the last couple of decades, live somewhere landlocked?) The Paleolithic was pre-farming, and humans have also migrated quite a lot in the past 3-6 centuries as technology and travel have developed. Where we currently live is often very displaced from where ancestors did in the Paleolithic.

(Would it be acceptable for someone whose Paleolithic ancestors lived in the tropics and fished often but now lives in a landlocked, northern location to import fish, bananas, avocados, or coconuts for their consumption? Would you insist they eat "local" to their current location?)

Correct me if I'm wrong, but this question appears to be based on a "ideal" of "eating locally" rather than really rigorously thought out reasons that "eating locally" would apply to eating healthily and ancestrally.

942 · January 29, 2014 at 10:23 PM

European soils are deficient in iodine and selenium, and some of them are in various states of disrepair after millennia of agriculture. Eat a strictly local diet at your risk. At the very least, eat seaweed and some fatty fish (which, besides being fatty, also tend to be Se-rich) weekly to make sure you are getting those minerals. Other than that, you can thrive on a local diet and all long-lived groups eat essentially local. I do the same in Michigan, and find that the local Michigan diet (meats, eggs, roots and local apples being the main ingredients) is very healthy.

15 · January 29, 2014 at 05:11 PM

One thought along this line may be that Paleolithic peoples didn't eat human-grown crops at all, so, evolutionarily speaking, humans may be much more adapted to plants like coconuts or varied spices compared to grains/dairy because the biological makeup of those foods are far more similar to things humans ate in the Paleolithic.

Eating grains/dairy for a few decades of one's lifetime does not, as far as I know, change a human being's genetic or epigenetic makeup so that we are somehow more "adapted" to them. (And, as far as I know, any more prevalent genes relating to digestion of grains that have evolved in the Neolithic have not become significant enough to provide full adaptation to grains - both in terms of digestion and elimination of the numerous potential toxins in them.)

(Raw dairy is a potentially questionable grey area of "okay" foods in Paleolithic eating.)

Paleolithic humans also ate a very large variety of different plants, often up to 150+ different species. Modern humans eat a very small percentage of this variety in species. Most nutrient-dense wild plants are not, or cannot be, cultivated en masse. (They were also eating plants grown in nutrient-rich soils and had access to their natural diet's proportions of animals, plants, etc. Modern humans do not necessarily have access to this same diet, if only because of severe soil depletion and pollution affecting both plants and animals.)

Would eating different plants from other regions be significantly different from obtaining a larger variety of plant species in one's diet? Conversely, only eating a small variety of exotic plants regularly (such as bananas or avocados all the time) isn't a terribly diverse diet, either.

As a further question, what exactly in the exotic plants you're thinking about (bananas, coconut, avocado, etc.) prompts you to think that certain humans may not be "adapted" to consuming them? Differing glucose/fructose content? Plant proteins? Fats or fatty acids? As-of-yet undiscovered substances? :)

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