Naturalism and the Anthropology of the Human Diet
by Mark Blackburn, MBA
Summary: This paper will answer the question, "what is a proper human diet?" It will
ask three fundamental questions to arrive at it's conclusion:
1. What is the historical human diet?
2. What can we infer about diet from human taxonomy and biological adaptation?
3. What does the most current, unbiased scientific research into human health & diet
This 'paper' was delivered as a presentation to the Monterey County Vegetarian
Society on September 7, 1999.
Dedication: I dedicate this paper to the memory of a fine young man and friend, Fred Lee.
Even though a young man, Fred struggled valiantly against the inertia of family, society, &
the medical industrial complex. He discovered apparently too late in his life the benefits of
avoiding toxins (even if called "medicine") and avoiding toxic (but widely acclaimed) "food."
The USA is increasingly losing it's young people to cancer. This is unprecedented in human
history, and is a wake-up call to the fact that we are killing our own children with "food"
which is simply not fit for human consumption. To my exceeding great dismay Fred Lee passed
away on September 18, 1999 at the age of 22. Fred, I dedicate this information to you!
"Why do you eat what you eat?"
Ill bet if I asked some of you, youd say I eat what I eat:
"Because it tastes good" -or-
"Because I can afford it" -or-
"Because Id die if I didnt eat" -or-
"Because this is how I was taught to eat" -or-
"Because this is what my Mother or Wife cooks for me" -or-
"This is what the Government says I should eat" -or-
"I eat this because its quick, easy, and cleans up fast"
How many would reply that you eat what you eat because youíre a Human Being? And,
if that is the case, what do Humans eat? And, are Humans eating today as they did 8000
years ago? Has the advent of technology including refrigerators, freezers, cookware, farm
machinery, biotech agriculture, appliances, and fast food restaurants changed how humans eat?
<Profoundly would be the correct response>.
What is a Human Diet? Is it:
What the USDA says it is?
What the Cattlemans Association says it is?
What they still eat in rural China, where they never have heart attacks or cancer?
Is a human diet similar to what some other animals eat? And, if so, which animals?
The Importance of Natural History (Anthropology)
When I was a boy I read most of Edgar Rice Burroughs Tarzan books. These books were about
life in the strange dark continent" of Africa. They detailed the (then) sum of manís knowledge of
life in the jungle, and life among the wild beasts of the jungle.
The point was often made that part of the reason Tarzan became so much stronger than a normal
or 'civilized' man was because he ate so much meat. He ate the same as the great anthropoid apes
from whom [some say] we are descendedÖfresh meat (uncooked meat) from the kill. I didnít
really like eating meat, but, because I wanted to be strong like Tarzan, I gave in to my Fatherís
demands that I eat more meat.
Burroughs was enormously successful in promoting two radical ideas around the turn of the
century--One was that humans should eat more meat. This coincided with the British Beefeater
movement which was a concerted effort to get the British to eat meat. The other was to reinforce
the then recently introduced Darwinian "Theory of Evolution," in which it was postulated that the
ancestors of man were apes.
The Caveman illusion:
Most of us think about early man in terms of a Neanderthal stooping in front of a fire on which
he just roasted a brontosaurus burger, or perhaps a drumstick from a pterodactyl. I know all the
books I read as a boy had just such an illustration.
So, I ask you three questions:
Did your ancestors eat mostly meat?
Did man eat more meat 10,000 years ago than today?
Were our ancestors carnivores?
Does it matter what apes eat? Does it matter what early man ate?
Let me ask another question. Most land animals are divided into one of the following dietary habits:
Carnivore, Herbivore, or Omnivore.
Into which of these do you see Humans as fitting?
__Carnivore (Dogs, Cats, lions, tigers, wolves, etc.)
__Herbivore (cattle, rabbits, elephants, horses, most dinosaurs, sheep)
__Omnivore (Pigs, Bears)
We are modern men and women. We live in houses, we drive cars. We buy stocks, food,
drugs, sex, rock 'n' roll, and books, over the Internet. Most of us get most of our food from
grocery stores or at restaurants. But as advanced and dignified as we all are, we all arrived
in this life naked and helpless. With a very cursory look to the other mammals, we should be
able to deduce that we (as Human infants) should subsist for our first few years almost entirely
on Human breast milk. How many know that they did? I did not. If you did, you have a much
lower incidence of allergy, asthma, and have a stronger immune system. Your IQ is also higher
than those who like me who were given some substitute for what is obviously "Human Baby Food."
Its interesting to note that no other mammal drinks the milk of another mammal. Only Western
man in his arrogant ignorance has vastly degraded his own health and well-being through such an
illogical, costly, contrivance. It might interest you to know that while Mothers milk has life-giving
enzymes, no formula and no cows milk (as its served in the USA) has any at all. In fact, due to
our pasteurizing of commercial cows milk, it is rendered toxic to calves! Pasteurizing kills all the
essential enzymes. Therefore, if you took a calf nursing milk from its mother, and pasteurized it's
milk before feeding it to the calf, the calf will die within several months, for lack of enzymes and
Nature would instruct us that drinking the milk of another animal is foolish. If weíre a duck, we
should quack like a duck. If weíre a human baby, we should eat natureís obvious food for human
babies, not a hideously distorted and depleted substitute from another species, which has
components such as lactase to which all humans are allergic.
Natural man lived without our houses and cars. He had no personal computer. He entered the
world naked as we have, but he was more comfortable that way than Americans seem to be.
He had few clothes until he ventured into colder areas. He interacted directly with his
environment in a wonderful way.
Do you know what it is like to interact directly with your environment for more than a few
hours? Iím reminded of the charming story of the Igor Boutenko Family of Ashland, Oregon.
This family of four went on a little hike together in 1997. They hiked from Mexico to Canada
in six months along Pacific Crest Trail. During this time their food consisted 80% of edible
plants found on the trail. Although they saw many animals, they did not find it necessary to
hunt, kill, or eat any of them.
Obviously ancient men and women lived in a natural setting. There were no gas stations,
McDonalds, or Drug Stores--not even a Borderís Bookstore. There was just the environment
and humans. That environment was populated with many other animals and plants. How did
early man know what to eat? There were no Chocolate Chip Bushes, no Big Mac Trees.
To determine a proper diet from a natural and anthropological perspective, letís examine 3
1. Human History
* Manís natural diet in his natural setting is probably his correct diet. By studying what
man ate in his natural environment, we can come to some conclusion about the original
& optimum diet for man. It is necessary to study the diet of man prior to 10,000 BC to
get correct information, as since this time electricity, refrigeration, biotech agriculture,
machinery and modern appliances have greatly degraded the diet of man. And, the
distortions brought about by grain agriculture beginning about 10,000 years ago should
be dismissed as the beginning of distorted, mechanized human feeding.
2. Human Taxonomy and Biological Adaptation
* Man is classified as a primate. As such our bodyís structure and system bears much in
common with other primates. We are 98% anatomically identical to a chimpanzee. Our
digestive system from our dentition to our colons are structurally and functionally very
similar to the rest of our primate cousins. Throughout the animal kingdom similar digestive
systems digest similar types of food. Therefore it should be assumed that our natural diet
could quite easily be very similar to, or identical to other primates. Biological adaptation
includes the study of the character, temperament, and behavior of living things by species
3. Human Health
* Manís health is largely affected by his diet. So is his longevity. If we want to study
proper diet, we should embrace the latest information on diet and itís effect on health & longevity.
An Excursion to our Natural Roots
Letís suppose I take you to a remote but tropical part of the planet. There are no other humans
within 100 miles. I wind you up and let you goÖ.except for one thing. Iíve removed from your
memory banks all memory of eating. You have no recollection of what you used to eat. You are
in your "natural" environment. What will you eat? Are you a carnivore? Will you accelerate rapidly
and viscously pounce upon your prey, sinking your teeth into its neck? Will the victim's blood
spurting into your mouth increase your blood-lust? Or, will you be attracted instead to beautiful
and fragrant flowers and to the soft sweet juicy fruits, which abound in your natural habitat?
Anthropologists say we were once exclusively fruit eaters
The most recent and widely held view of the historical diet of humans is that early man was
exclusively a fruit eater. Dr. Alan Walker, an anthropologist of John Hopkins University has
turned the science of Anthropology on itís ear with his abrupt dismissal of the "cave-man-as-carnivore"
theory. Using electron microscopes to study fossilized teeth and fossilized human remains,
Dr. Walkerís research team has proven that our ancestors until quite recently were total fruitarians.
The essence of the Walker research is that even though humans have adopted omnivorous eating
practices in very recent history, our anatomy and physiology have not changedówe remain
biologically a species of fruit eaters. The adaptation to fruits (and some vegetables) has occurred
over 60 million years. A few hundred years or even a few thousand years of perverted eating will
not change our dietary requirements.
Although confirmed and accepted by the scientific world, this disclosure of early manís diet is
still not widely known or understood by the general public. The New York Times carried a
feature article on the Walker research on May 15, 1979.
We have answered the question of the history of the human diet. This history has profound
bearing on current human dietary needs.
Letís return for a moment to our "excursion to our Natural Roots." Will you find a few juicy
scorpions and maybe a lizard to eat? How about a freshly hatching ostrich chick and a small dog?
If you have revulsion at the thought, it is because you are not a carnivore or omnivore. Besides
having none of the anatomical traits of a carnivore, there is nothing in the character of a man
that seeks to hunt and kill other animals the way a carnivore or omnivore would. Since you are
a fruit eater you would be guided by your sense of sight and smell and taste very readily to a
sweet tasting piece of fruit. Incidentally, next time an ever-so-helpful meat eater tries to tell you
thereís no variety in a vegetarian diet, you might mention that there are, in fact over 160,000
edible plants in the world. If you tried a new one every single day from your birth, youíd be 438
years old before you tried them all.
When you eat one simple apple, you are ingesting over 191 known friendly phyto-chemical
compounds. Many of these are much more valuable than the outdated vitamins we learned
of as children. Eating one apple launches over 1300 chemical reactions in your frugivore gut
to properly break down and dispatch the molecular components of the apple.
If you ingest a piece of meat or dairy your gut does not have the strong acid required to digest it.
An allergic reaction takes place. Excess mucous is summoned to coat the toxins and pass them as
quickly as possible. But, because meat or dairy have no dietary fiber, they pass extremely slowly,
putrefying along the way, filling your digestive tract and body with toxins and varnishing your
colon with layers of impacted mucous.
Human Taxonomy and Biological Adaptation
But, wait! What about the great Anthropoid Apes--the ones who taught Tarzan how to hunt
for wild game? Sorry, friends, this only occurred in the fictional world of Tarzan. Real apes,
just like gorillas, monkeys, chimpanzees, orangutans, humans, etc. are frugivores (meaning
"fruit eaters"). All are members of the Primate order, and all are anatomically similar. With
minor exception all primates are frugivores. When Burroughs wrote Tarzan of the Apes, he
was either complicit with the Beefeater movement, or just plain ignorant. Clearly, however,
Burroughs understood the extreme importance of identifying the ancestral human diet. By
propagating the myth that early man ate meat, Burroughs gave license to millions of people
to eat something they were not otherwise disposed to do. He even convinced many of you
who thought early man ate more meat than we now do. Contrary to what we might think,
during the period of recorded human history beginning with the Egyptian empire on and
through the 1800s, eating of animals was rare and indulged in generally only by the rich
and then on special occasion.
Please note that the amazing, highly dexterous and articulated hands shared by most primates
allows us to peel bananas and pick and eat fruits very easily. No other order besides primates
can pick a soft ripe peach from a tree and eat it. You are marvelously adapted to be a fruit eater.
Let's face it--most animals can run away from humans. They are faster than we are. If we
were meant to be carnivores, would we not be faster than our prey? But there is another answer:
we can eat food which doesn't run away---food like bananas, berries, or celery.
It should be noted that Primates who stick to a primate diet of fruit do not get diabetes, cancer,
or heart disease, or any of the other leading causes of death in omnivorous America. Incidentally,
all primates have blood types like humans. None of them eat differently in a natural setting based
upon their blood type (debunking "Eat Right for your Type").
I recall telling my good friend Doug at Hewlett-Packard that I was a "frugivore." He had inquired
about my eating habits. Then, one day when he and a group of my colleagues were discussing
sending out for a pizza, he said, "Oh, Mark wont have any of thathes a frugivore." I'm sure
none of them had ever heard the term frugivore. Well, Doug was right on both counts. I
wouldnt have pizza, and I was a frugivore. What struck me, though, was the fact that they
were all frugivores, too. They just didnt know they were!
What is the cost of not knowing youre a frugivore? Its Staggering! Its living in the
most unhealthy country in the world--a country where over 50% of its citizens have at least
one chronic illness. Its living in a country where over 50% of its men will die of heart disease,
and another 30% will die of cancer. Its a country where 6 of the 10 leading causes of death are
quite preventable--but arent prevented, simply because almost nobody knows they are actually
Our own Department of Health, Education, and Welfare in its landmark 1977 study entitled
"Dietary Goals for the United States" wrote "it has become clear that only by preventing disease
rather than treating it later, can we hope to achieve any major improvement in the nation's health."
"Our diets have changed radically within the last 50 years with great and very harmful effects on
our health. Too much fat, sugar, or salt can be and are linked directly to heart disease, cancer,
obesity and stroke, among other killer diseases. In all, six of the ten leading causes of death in
the US have been linked to diet..." the study states. Yet, in many countries which still eat a
frugivore diet our six leading causes of death in the USA are unheard of.
If 6 of the 10 leading causes of death are dietary diseases, isn't it OBVIOUS that there exists
a profound problem with our DIETS! Is this rocket-science?
Every major independent health study conducted in every country of the world confirms
what we know in our frugivore gut: being a complete vegetarian (avoiding all animal foods
including dairy) is the healthiest possible diet. Followers of vegan diet reduce the likelihood
of dying of America's number 1 killer by 95%!
In the early 1990s Dr. T. Colin Campbell was winding down the largest dietary study
ever undertaken: the Cornell-Oxford-China Study. This study was independently funded
by Cornell and Oxford Universities, and not by any government or farm bureau supported
by a conglomeration of factory farms. It was unbiased. It is the ĎGrand-Prixí of all dietary
studies. This study has profound implications for all unhealthy Americans:
|1||"There is no threshold of health improvement as one removes animal products from the diet: "Our study suggests that the closer one approaches a total plant-food diet, the greater the health benefit."|
|2||Consumption of cooked animal-based proteins are more closely correlated to cancer than is consumption of dietary fat.|
|3||A diet rich in a variety of plant foods--stems, roots, shoots, fruits & flowers .(the historical human diet) is clearly optimal for health.|
Another prodigious diet-researcher I would like to cite is Dr. Joel Fuhrman. His "Fasting
and Eating for Health" is an outstanding reference on proper human diet. Dr. Fuhrman
stresses that being slightly hungry much of the time is a good thing. He confirms that in
all laboratory observations all test species live longer as they eat less food. Indeed in many
cases cutting the food intake in half will nearly double the lifespan. For this reason,
Dr. Fuhrman presents the concept of eating the "Highest Nutrient per calorie Ratio."
What foods is he speaking of? Not potato chips. They would have among the lowest
Nutrient/calorie ratios. Besides fresh fruits and vegetables, Dr. Fuhrman stresses eating
lots of leafy green vegetables.
Another implication of research of others as well as Dr. Fuhrman is that of each man or
woman having an allotted amount of food to eat. When you have eaten your allotment,
you die. If you eat your allotment more quickly, your life span is shorter. If you eat your
allotment more slowly, your life span is longer.
Many of us have recently concluded a raw foods prep class in Carmel. I have made the
transition to 100% raw or living foods, with excellent results. From the perspective of
replicating the natural human diet in a natural setting, eating raw or living foods is about
as good as you can get.
We have answered the following 3 crucial questions:
What did early man eat? Fruit & Vegetables
What do other primates eat? Fruit & Vegetables
What does the latest diet research teach us to eat? Fruit & Vegetables
Now, one last time I will ask you, "Why do you eat what YOU eat?"
Go back to that remote place where your memory of what you eat had been removed.
Start living again as a natural man or woman!
Yours for health & longevity,
Mark Blackburn, MBA
September 7, 1999
References and recommended reading:
How I eat by Mark Blackburn
WEB-BASED INFORMATION FOR FRUIT EATERS, GROWERS
(In order of Value)
The China Study : The
Most Comprehensive Study of Nutrition Ever Conducted and the Startling
Implications for Diet, Weight Loss and Long-Term Health
||Ph.D., T. Colin Campbell,||2005|
|Death By Medicine (Mercola's Review) (LifeEnthusiast Review) (Gary Null's Website Outline) This book is a blockbuster! It meticulously documents how going to a doctor is the leading cause of death in America. MUST READING for anyone considering seeing an American Physician. Written by 3 MDs and Gary Null, a noted PhD Health Researcher.||Gary Null PhD, Carolyn Dean MD ND, Martin Feldman MD
Debora Rasio MD, Dorothy Smith PhD
|Breaking the Food Seduction: The Hidden Reasons Behind Food Cravings---And 7 Steps to End Them Naturally||Dr. Neal Banard, President, PCRM||2003|
|Eat to Live: The Revolutionary Formula for Fast and Sustained Weight Loss||Dr. Joel Fuhrman||2003|
|Awakening Our Self Healing Body||Baker, Arthur M||1994|
|Fasting and Eating for Health||Fuhrman, Joel||1995|
|The Food Revolution*||Robbins, John||2001|
|Fit for Life (and updates)||Harvey Diamond||1987|
|Diet for a New America||Robbins, John||1987|
|May all be Fed: a Diet for a New World||Robbins, John||1993|
|Reclaiming our Health: Exploding the Medical Myth||Robbins, John||1998|
|The McDougall Plan||McDougall, John, M.D.||1985|
|Click Above for Amazon's Description (yes, I own Stock in AMZN)|
|* Read this, it supercedes several other John Robbins Books.|
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