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Paleo diet impossible 'unless you're willing to hunt your food,' says critic

Willing to hunt your own meat? That's required for Paleo diets, says critic.
Willing to hunt your own meat? That's required for Paleo diets, says critic.
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If you think you're emulating caveman Fred or cavewoman Wilma Flintstone by following the traditional Paleo diet, it's time to sharpen your hunting spear. Food and diet expert Michael Pollan contends that "unless you're willing to hunt your food," actually eating like our Paleolithic ancestors is impossible, reported Mother Jones on Jan. 17.

"I don't think we really understand…the proportions in the ancient diet," says Pollan. "Most people who tell you with great confidence that this is what our ancestors ate—I think they're kind of blowing smoke."

Author of "Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation," Pollan views the differences between the food available today and the food available to our hunter-gatherer ancestors as vastly different. In particular, he scoffs at the concept that the meat eaten by Cousin Caveman thousands of years ago is akin to that eaten by Cousin Camille today.

Paleo diet advocates are "assuming that the options available to our caveman ancestors are still there," Pollan argues. But "unless you're willing to hunt your food, they're not."

What's the beef? Pollan says that the animals bred by modern agriculture—which are fed artificial diets of corn and grains, and beefed up with hormones and antibiotics—have dramatically different nutrition than wild game.

Moreover, Pollan has a beef with the bread ban in low carb diets like the Paleo plan. He feels that traditional bread provides us with valuable nutrients.

"You could not survive on wheat flour. But you can survive on bread," University of California-Davis food chemist Bruce German told Pollan in an interview.

As for the theory that eating more raw food is good for you? Pollan spears the concept.

"It's very hard to have culture, it's very hard to have science, it's very hard to have all the things we count as important parts of civilization if you're spending half of all your waking hours chewing," he says.

And thus, rather than follow the Paleo diet whole-heartedly, Pollan recommends that modern men and women tune into and turn onto the concept of cooking foods from scratch.

In addition to making your diet healthier, cooking is also "one of the most interesting things humans know how to do and have done for a very long time. And we get that, or we wouldn't be watching so much cooking on TV. There is something fascinating about it. But it's even more fascinating when you do it yourself," declares Pollan, who also authored "The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals."

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