Monday, 2 May 2011

We're Calling B.S. on the Paleolithic "Lifestyle" Trend

Ever wonder why girl babies love pink and boy babies love blue? A new study by Chinese scientists, the Daily Mail reports, suggests that women respond to pink and purple based on instincts developed from their berry-gathering female ancestors, while men prefer blue because blue skies suggest good hunting weather. Pastel pink and blue onesies were just a logical next step.

This is only the latest piece in a growing fascination with the Paleolithic "lifestyle." More than ever, we're looking to the wisdom of cavemen for "new" routines on sleep, exercise, and yes, even food. A New York Times piece from January highlighted the basics of the caveman diet: meat--lots of it--as well as fasting and high-energy running and jumping exercises. Anything from the agricultural revolution onward is off limits--no grains, no dairy, no peas, beans or nightshades. As evidence that the trend is going strong, a new Paleolithic diet book landed on our desks this morning with a thump, promising weight loss, more muscle, and increased endurance. We will note that Fred Flintstone, patriarch of the modern stone age family, wasn't exactly trim.

Of course running and jumping and not eating refined sugar is going to improve your health. And the desire to look to our ancestors for answers, given that 10,000 years of evolution has brought us the Double Down, is understandable. But forsaking all dairy and bread for nuts and berries to recreate a body that flourished when middle age meant 15 years old just doesn't make sense to us. While we may not have biologically evolved all that much, our intellectual development has brought us a greater scientific understanding of the nutrients our bodies need to be healthy. In addition--and we'll admit that here at Bon Appetit we are a little biased--10,000 years ago, food was pure nourishment, a necessity and nothing more. We now have advanced to a place where eating is more than just consumption: food is culture, history, art, and science, all on one plate. Pomegranates are Pom Wonderful!

As for this recent revelation about gender preferences, call us skeptical. Aren't some delicious and nutritious plants, um, not pink? (See: vegetables. And well, blueberries?) In our own unscientific study of our May issue's Rhubarb and Raspberry Crostata, we've found both genders demanded seconds. Yabba dabba don't mind if we do.

-Aiden Arata

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