Paleo Diet: A client asked me “When was the Paleo Diet popular” and “What changes occured in our diet since?”
The answer to this question is quite variable. There are probably as many legitimate answers to this question as there are readers of this response.
Here are a few thoughts:
Paleo diets began to be displaced in the Fertile Crescent about 12,000 years before present. But who knows how long it took to make a complete shift? Further, these people formed only a tiny part of the world’s population at that time. In some parts of the world, the Paleo, hunter-gatherer diet persisted in human populations well into the Twentieth
Century. Vilhjalmur Stefansson wrote several books about the diet of the Inuit with whom he lived for about 11 years early in the 20th Century.
The agricultural revolution made grain-based foods more affordable to everyone. Those who cultivated these crops had historically grown them as cash crops and enjoyed such foods only on special occasions. A variety of perspectives identify the agricultural revolution in Great Britain at different times. The Agricultural revolution is usually seen as occurring in the 18th and 19th centuries following several inventions that made
cultivating, sowing, and harvesting more efficient and less labour
intensive. However, others point to the use of an internal combustion engine combined with the use of chemical fertilizers as constituting the largest leaps forward in agricultural production.
As for the “fast food” diet, there are a variety of ways of seeing that as well. When I was a child growing up in Los Angeles, during the 1960s, we were very aware of fast foods. I could have milk and cereal out of a box at breakfast, a Coke in a bottle at lunch, buy donuts in between, and later that day pick from A & W, Jack-In-The-Box, McDonalds or a host of other fast food restaurants. In High School, “The” place to hang out with friends was a deli while having coffee with sugar. Candy bars and cookies were commonplace.
The general notion about paleo is that if we evolved eating a particular food, we are more likely to thrive eating this same food. In broad terms, that eliminates refined sugar, dairy, and gluten. Some people insist that legumes be completely eliminated from a paleo diet, while others are less rigid about legumes. Still others argue that only raw foods are truly paleo, while others harken to archaeological proofs of when humans harnessed fire (although nobody really knows when we began to cook
I think that if we can stick to eating more fresh fruits, vegetables, and meats, our chances of being close to human eating habits prior to the Neolithic are pretty good. I hope this proves helpful.