Deadly Harvest by Geoff Bond

 

Deadly Harvest:

The Intimate Relationship Between Our Health & Our Food by Geoff Bond

Special Note:
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!

 

The Paleolithic Diet

My daughter and daughter-in-law heartily subscribe to the Paleolithic Diet, also known as the Paleo Diet, the Caveman Diet, or the Stone Age Diet. Of course, Paleolithic humans did not need to diet. Their hunter-gatherer existence required a great deal of physical exertion, and if humans of that prehistoric time saw us exercising on a treadmill, they would probably laugh!

What I like about this food plan is that it is very simple. No need to count calories, carbohydrates or portions. The harder part for most people is that the program recommends eating nothing from a can or box, that is, nothing processed by machines. The foods that are allowed are: fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, seaweeds, spices, eggs and all lean animal meats. What is to be avoided are: sugar, salt, dairy, potatoes, corn, legumes (peanuts, all beans, peas) and grains. While early humans had no oils in a jar or brewed coffee, this diet does permit some good oils for cooking, with walnut oil having the best ratio of Omega 6s to Omegas 3s.

As my younger daughter explained to me, there are “Open Meals,” that is, meals which include some of the above foods to avoid, that is, what you ate before starting the Paleo Diet. There are three levels of the diet, which allows three, two, or one open meal each week, depending on which level of compliance is chosen. For example, you can pick two Open Meals a week, perhaps a weekday meal and one week-end meal. In this way, one is not predisposed to binge on a favorite, non-Paleo  food. Also, my daughter explained that there are different levels of compliance. Some people on the program may avoid all the non-Paleo foods except cream in their coffee (coffee is an allowed food).

In Loren Cordain’s book, The Paleo Diet, author of The Paleo Diet Cookbook, he notes that to lose weight, Level III is recommended, that is, one Open Meal per week with Paleo Snacks listed on p. 144, which contain such items as: (The entire list has 12 items)

Fresh fruit of any kind
Raw veggies
Cold, skinless broiled chicken breast
Avocado or tomato slices
Hard-boiled egg
Unsalted sunflower seeds (limit to 4 oz. if trying to lose weight)
2 oz. dried fruit per day

What I like about this  book’s approach is that he Dr. (PhD) Cordain discusses the Paleo Diet from a health viewpoint, spending many pages on insulin resistance, exercise, diet-related diseases and other topics besides weight loss. The idea is to eat basic foods that are our genetic predisposition, before agriculture and before highly processed foods such as sugary soft drinks, white bread, factory meats, farmed fish, and deep fried foods.

Since I do not eat meat, but have been experimenting with fresh fish, I am always working my way towards the idea of only fresh, organic whole foods with as little processing as possible. To experiment with this diet, I am adding tempeh* and sprouted chickpeas* for additional protein sources. I am eliminating dairy, potatoes, corn, and grains, except as possibly part of my Open Meals.  (*While legumes  are not part of the Paleo Diet because they are considered to cause inflammation, tempeh is fermented and I sprout my own chickpeas. I believe that fermentation and sprouting eliminate some of the issues that this diet has with beans.)

I like the premise behind this diet, that is, you can stay slim and healthy by eating the foods that Mother Nature intended. Wild animals did not create the problem we have today of processing the meat with huge amounts of water, fossil fuels, and grains that could be used for human consumption. (If you Google or Bing “Environmental Impact of Animal Production,” you will find many articles on this topic.) As a vegequarian+, I do not readily endorse a meat-based diet, but if you can obtain meat from free-range animals that are not treated with cruelty (ex. baby calves kept in stalls to keep their meat tender for veal), then this may be a good plan for you to explore further.

My daughter-in-law lost 35 pounds on this diet, coupled with her exercise program. (Dr. Cordain explains how exercise alone is generally not enough to lose weight.) Her blood profile is “pristine,” according to her doctor, so I know the diet works as a weight loss program and probably as an overall healthful food plan, because all the food is fresh and prepared with additives, preservative, sugar, etc.

+ My older daughter eats no meat and very little dairy or eggs, but she does eat fish & seafood, so she calls herself a vegequarian. I borrowed this term from her.

Personal Research Note: If you are familiar with the Blood Type Diet, you will know that early humans were blood type O. After Agriculture was developed, the next blood type to develop was A. I believe O blood types do well on meat, while A blood types fare well of a vegetarian or near-vegetarian diet, so I feel comfortable with my diet because I have an A blood type. Most people have O blood type, so they would probably do well on the Paleo Diet.

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