photo by Spencer Arnold, Getty Images file
I am reading Michael Pollan’s, "The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals" and Jared Diamond’s, "The Third Chimpanzee: The Evolution and Future of the Human Animal." Last year I read David S. Wilson’s, "Evolution for Everyone: How Darwin’s Theory Can Change the Way We Think About Our Lives." These three books read in short succession, have got me thinking about what the human species is best designed to eat. There is certainly much debate over what single human diet is considered the healthiest. But if such a diet does exist, or even if there are several perfect diets, looking to evolution to help guide us in this search should be an obvious path. However, if you look at all the latest trendy diets, evolution and the significance that natural selection plays in our diet is barely mentioned, if at all. This is one of the main points in David S. Wilson's "Evolution for Everyone," in that he points out that there is so much the average person can learn from studying evolution. David S. Wilson argues that if we want to truly and thoroughly understand human psychology, language, art, medicine, and even the human diet, we must do so through the lens of evolution by natural selection.
In having just celebrated the 200th birthday of Charles Darwin, along with the 150th anniversary since he first published "On the Origin of Species, we should now try to reexamine how we as a species feed ourselves by using the ideas that Darwin introduced to help guide us. We can do this by reevaluating our modern ideals regarding diet and nutrition by looking at the evolutionary journey humans have taken and how it influenced our species survival and apply it to our continued survival through a better understanding of our diet. If evolution can help explain the perfect human diet, then the search should be a worthwhile endeavor. Since food research today is telling us that much of our health is determined by what we eat, this reexamination of the human diet to include human natural selection should pinpoint modern-day lapses in our diet and leave much room for improvement. Therefore, in upcoming blogs I hope to look at and discuss the many sources involving evolutionary influence on diet to help me piece together what it truly means to eat like a human.
post by Eric Beiter