Should you drink milk?
Only babies should drink milk?The whole only babies eat milk is clever play on words but has no bearing in reality. It's not a nature based argument. If you would visit our farm and stay a spell, you would find that the "baby" calves will nurse as long as their mother will let them, which is often well past their fist year. Translated to human years, well into their "adolescence."
What stops nursing is not magical transformation into an adult, but the arrival of a more needy member of the herd, another calf.
Some people cannot digest milkI don't disagree that some people just cannot handle milk, just like some people cannot handle a high fat diet, or wheat, but does this mean that every human on the planet should stop drinking milk? This is what many food purists like the Paleo diet folks want us to believe.
The Paleo philosophy basically eliminates any food except what our hunter-gatherer ancestors could find. This includes all dairy, all grains, and legumes. Essentially, all foods that were developed as civilizations shifted toward the agrarian.
The Masai culture is a milk based cultureThere are cultures who have relied on milk for thousands of years. For example, the traditional Masai culture of nomadic cattle herders is not what we would consider an agrarian culture, yet their diet consists largely of a mixture of cow’s blood and milk. Don't you think 5,000 years or so of living like that is enough to work out the kinks? Should the Masai give up milk?
Innovations in food technology create the cultureFood innovations, created huge leaps forward in civilization. If the choice is bread made from grain stored during the proverbial seven fat years, or starvation during the seven lean years, I know what I would choose.
Plentiful cheap food is a headacheThat's the other interesting anthropological aspect to this whole "what to eat" debate. Until post WWII America, you pretty much ate what you could get your hands on. It's amazing the confusion cheap and plentiful food has created.
That doesn't mean we should keep all foods around, but if I can handle drinking raw milk, or the occasional sourdough bread slathered with grass fed butter with no adverse effects, I'm not going to stop for the benefit of of keeping a philosophy "pure."
Eliminate a food only because it’s bad for youI believe in eliminating a food only because it actually causes damage for an individual and not because of some theoretical threat to human health as a whole. Nature and human nature is too vast and too varied to create simple rules. We need some flexibility in our thinking and generosity in our spirit.
The danger of tunnel thinkingIt's dogmatic tunnel thinking that got us in this nutritional mess in the first place when our government decided we should all eat a low-fat high carb diet. One nutritional size does not fit all. Once we become dogmatic, whether, low-fat, low carb, Paleo, vegan, whatever, we will always do harm to others by insisting everybody follow our path. Remember one person's food is another's poison, or n=1.
Just to be clear, this is NOT and anti-Paleo post. I think Paleo is wonderful and might be the best starting place for figuring out how to nourish your particular metabolism. In fact I'm considering adopting it as the nutritional foundation for my acupuncture practice instead of simply low carb. So you don't have to defend Paleo, but feel free if you wish. ;)