So I was reading an article on WholeHealthSource.com about the importance of fiber in the human diet (which I highly recommend everyone here read: http://wholehealthsource.blogspot.com/2009/12/butyric-acid-ancient-controller-of.html) and one of the comments provided a link to an anthropological study that provided evidence that humans began consuming tubers and grains as early as 105,000 years ago. I didn't read the actual study except for the abstract because I didn't have access to it, but it definitely challenges one of the fundamental principles of the modern understanding of the Paleo diet and lifestyle. So what is your opinion? Bogus research or Paleo game changer? Here is the link to the ScienceDaily article describing the study: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/12/091217141312.htm
If anyone can access the actual study please provide a link, it will be much appreciated.
We should keep in mind that if they did eat grains they probably took steps to make them more digestible by fermenting them. Also, what the researchers call "grains" aren't the grains that the agricultural revolution started mass producing many years ago and not even remotely close to the genetically engineered grains we eat today http://huntgatherlove.com/node/418. For more on that read Dr. Davis's book Wheat Belly or check out his blog. Loren Cordain isn't too convinced by these findings http://donmatesz.blogspot.com/2009/12/loren-cordains-responds-to-mercader.html. Just because there were seeds found and tools to grind them doesn't mean grains became a staple of their diet. They may have tried to eat them a few times and gave up, realizing the energy required to process the grains wasn't worth the energy the grains provide when they could just find a fruit tree and pick fruit instead. Mark Sisson also isn't buying the conclusions of this research http://www.marksdailyapple.com/stone-age-grains/. Eating the non-gluten grains won't hurt you in moderation, but there's plenty of other sources of carbs for the people who wanna avoid grains altogether.
It's neither bogus research nor a game changer.
Sorghum residue in one cave, found 70,000 years previous to any other evidence of regular seed processing and among many other plant residues, could be a trace of a thriving culture of grass-eaters; it could be a temporary response to a drought or a crash in prey population; or it could be the final meals of a family that starved to death.
“Early homo sapiens relied on grass seeds” is, in my opinion, a transparently silly assertion to make from such limited evidence. The first evidence we have of regular seed harvesting and consumption by any group of humans is from Ohalo II in Israel, 19,400 years ago. It took over 8,000 more years before deliberate agriculture was practiced anywhere, and many more thousands of years before it spread beyond a small region of the Middle East.
Most importantly, as Dr. Cordain points out in his response, there’s no evidence of all the other technologies necessary to make sorghum edible to humans.
I think you'll have a much better idea of the issues and context of archaeological evidence in general after reading this article.
it's a common misunderstanding of the ideological paleo mindset that all grains were verboten to our ancestors. here is the study you're referring to: http://www.sciencemag.org/content/326/5960/1680
the bottom line is largely that the grains consumed by pre-agricultural man were not gluten-containing, wheat remaining one of the earliest domesticated crops. obviously this means some people consumed wheat as soon as they were in its proximity (and hungry enough), but most did not.
ultimately in my opinion what this should mean to you, in the 21st century, is that there is no "one way of eating" that fits everyone. evaluate your situation, test and experiment, and do what works for you.
There is better more current research where they found the plant microfossils on hominid fossil teeth that I've blogged about. I guess if all you read is Gary Taubes and Cordain it might seen shocking, but a lot of paleo bloggers and writers enjoy tubers and certain grains in small seasonal amounts.
I always understood that archeologists could tell when humans started to actually cultivate grain by the increased incidence of arthritis. My bet is that before agriculture, humans ate wild grains, but not in the quantities that would qualify them as a staple.
Maybe it's true, I don't know. But we should not forget that modern wheat is very mutated, to the point that it's dangerous (its gluten makes holes in our guts). Maybe if we were to eat less of it, and more ancient varieties (like einkorn, which its gluten has 12 chromosomes instead of 48), we wouldn't have the problems many of us have today (that lead us to Paleo). So it's not exactly black and white either...
Even if they did consume grains, that doesn't change humans' current physiological response to them i.e. reaction to problematic proteins, phytate's nutrient stripping properties, etc. The anthropological lens is just way one to approach current food choices. Additionally, they probably weren't consuming mass quantities. For the sake of argument, let's say they were eating large amounts. They still had to work infinitely harder than we do for similar foods today.