The Intimate Relationship Between Our Health & Our Food by Geoff Bond
In light of the Corona virus pandemic, I cannot ignore the coincidence of reading author Geoff Bond’s take on modern-day life (in developed countries) and the lifestyle diseases that accompany this life, including the deadly COVID-19. The diseases that Geoff Bond lists were virtually unknown in prehistoric times: cancer, heart disease, diabetes, osteoporosis, etc. He calls them “diseases of civilization,” and believes they are “self-inflicted.” (If you read only his last chapter, you can decide for yourself if his “Bond Effect,” as he calls it, is an accurate portrayal of the ills of modern-day life or not; you should then read the first part of the book, to see if his conclusions make sense to you.)
Geoff Bond is a nutritional anthropologist, a relatively new science field in which its practitioners investigates “what it means to be human—in nutritional terms.” Another way to put it, as Bond does in his book Deadly Harvest (Square One), is to ask, “What feeding environment are human bodies designed for?” According to one of the many information boxes throughout Bond’s book, we learn that modern humans began life with the East African Homo erectus more than one million years ago; and these early people did not leave Africa for other parts of the world until only about 60,000 years ago. An interesting map shows what I call the “diaspora of modern human beings,” from the time when the environment of Africa formed the bodies that we still possess and were not yet damaged by modern-day illnesses. He calls this period the “African Pleistocene,” and that is where his research takes him: to the Savanna Model way of life.
In his book, Bond explores the background of the people living then and focuses on the San Bushmen (the !Kung people) as our role model for exploring how these people worked and fed themselves. They were hunter/gatherers, with men doing the hunting and women and children—perhaps even the elderly—doing the gathering. This Paleolithic (Paleo) diet was derived eighty percent (80%) from plants (greens, nuts, seeds, etc.), and twenty percent (20%) from animals that were hunted; and not always successfully. Plant food was more accessible. The only “sweet” was honey, which was scarce; and the search for honey took effort, smarts, and time, so it was a real treat of perhaps the equivalent of a candy bar four times a year, according to Bond.
Based on this information in the beginning of the book, Bond then moves on to how agriculture was introduced. He calls this chapter “The Farming Revolution and Its Consequences,” which meant that humans stayed in one place and did not wander to new places to hunt or to gather. We moved away from the original diet and began eating food that Bond demonstrates is not really in keeping with the basic tenets of the Savanna Model. This is a most interesting chapter that seems to challenge farming and farm foods (grains, beans, etc.) as being not really suitable for our bodies.
Perhaps the most practical chapters of this book are: “The Owner’s Manual,” and “Eating the Savanna Model Way,” with basic instructions on how to eat a Paleolithic (Paleo) diet—changing our eating patterns slowly over time, to acclimate our bodies to more fresh plant matter and less animal matter, reflecting how the San Bushmen lived and thrived.
For me, reading this book was like taking a crash course in early (positive) eating habits and their comparison with today’s (negative) eating habits. The book would serve well as a text for a class in nutrition, and might very well explain why we suffer from so many “modern” ailments—while our ancestors did not. Additionally, the Resources (including his online newsletter, www.TheBondEffect.com) and the References section (see pages 283–315) are a clear indication that Bond has done his homework.
I am still “digesting” this information, and recommend that anyone really concerned about staying in good health or repairing his or her body to a state of well-being would do well to read this book cover-to-cover, slowly. It contains so much information that the general reader will not be able to absorb it all if read too quickly. There’s no “padding” in this book; it’s all well-resourced information, gathered into a meaningful message about how are health is still linked to our very early ancestors.
Deadly Harvest (325 pages) is published by Square One Publishers, Inc. and costs $16.95 in the US and $20.95 in Canada. Read it and be inspired to eat 80% plant foods!