What gave them all that time? Their food. In addition to
bison, they also ate deer, pronghorn, rabbits, hares, turtles,
and the occasional camel. These are all signs that Ice Age
North Americans were living high on the hog (even though
there were no hogs on the continent back then).
Their diet also included plenty of carbohydrates. In summer, “they could munch their way through the landscape,
like Pac-Man,” LaBelle says. They would start low, where
the first nuts and berries were ripening, and then climb to
higher elevations to find the same plants reaching maturity
later in the season.
Standing on the Lindenmeier overlook, you can imagine
a time when there was boundless food, water, and fresh
air; when everyone got plenty of exercise; when people had
the time to create objects that were beautiful for beauty’s
sake; and when there was no such thing as organized
warfare. (That’s not to say violence wasn’t a fact of life
back then; assholes existed long before Jersey Shore.)
“People remained hunter-gatherers until they were
forced to change,” LaBelle says, which leads to the obvious
question: What forced prehistoric humans to give up
such a productive, satisfying, and—more to the point—
nourishing way of life?
THE STORY OF US
ere’s a condensed history of the human
species: Six to 7 million years ago, the
human evolutionary line became sepa-
rated from the great apes. A human
ancestor, Australopithecus anamensis,
began regularly walking upright some
4 million years back, even though he was
still somewhat chimpishly long-armed and short-legged.
The Paleolithic, marked by the first use of stone tools,
started about 2. 6 million years ago. Around this time, Team
Hominid figured out that the ability to hit soft things with
hard objects presented exciting new culinary options. Thus,
our guys started consuming meat, first probably only scavenging and later hunting, and providing themselves with an
unprecedented supply of protein, along with fat from brains
and bone marrow. This infusion of nutrients played a great
role in our evolutionary history. The human brain of Homo
habilis around 2 million years ago grew 50 percent larger to
become the Homo erectus brain just 300,000 years later,
and it would grow another 50 percent in modern humans,
who emerged around 200,000 years ago. With the bigger
brain came the first true hunter-gatherer lifestyle.
Good times, right?
Not really. Life often would’ve sucked hard for those first
Homo sapiens. Scientists believe a prolonged ice age until
about 70,000 years ago may have reduced the human population to a mere several thousand.
The stretch of the Paleolithic in which humans hit the
top of the food chain and lived large was surprisingly brief,
roughly 25,000 to 10,000 years ago. It was the true sweet
spot of human evolution: We had the world to ourselves,
having outcompeted (or bred with) the Neanderthals who
occupied the same areas in Europe and Asia. We had plenty
of game to hunt and relatively few predators. (Giant cave
bears, for example, were mostly extinct by then.)
But then the planet warmed up and it all went to hell.
Animal migration routes changed, leaving the humans in
Europe with more mouths to feed but less prey to hunt (and
smaller prey at that). Fishing made up for some of the
reduction in available game, but when agriculture arrived
in what we now call the Neolithic, it wasn’t because people
were tired of hunting. It was because, for the first time in
eons, the planet was warm enough and wet enough to pro-
vide actual growing seasons, and our ancestors were smart
enough to take advantage of that.
OF US LIVE
BECAUSE OF THE
FOODS WE EAT.
Eat Like a (Cave)Man
No Need to club a bisoN for diNNer. Just reprogram your carb craviNgs,
says mark sissoN, author of THE PRIMAL BLUEPRINT. saNdwich bread? “it’s
oNly aN edible way to traNsport meat to your face,” he says. with these
swaps, you’ll be oN your way to fewer graiNs aNd fewer (weight) gaiNs.
egg white omelet
burger on a bun
turkey on rye with
lettuce, tomato, and onion
cakes and pastries
Nacho tortilla chips
whole-egg and vegetable
omelet with bacon
burger between two
firm lettuce leaves
spaghetti squash “pasta”
with marinara sauce
without the bread
berries topped with a mix
of whipped cream and
PALEO BONUS TIP
well-cooked bacon is a
great substitute for the
crunch of toast.
sturdy romaine leaves can
support a patty—and its
ridges hold in condiments.
prick and bake 1 hour at
375°f. halve, scoop seeds
out, and shred with a fork.
caveman roll-up: layer cold
cuts, cheese, and vegetables.
add mustard. roll and eat.
a drop of vanilla extract
will make this topping taste
buy a low- or no-sugar
variety to cut carbs.