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The Paleo Diet

Island Epicure

You have probably heard or read of the Paleo or caveman diet. Heck, you may even already be on it. It’s theory is that we will thrive if we’ll eat as our remote ancestors did. Enough with all this GMO and Genetically Engineered food. Down with forbidding meat, or fats. Enough with all the sugar, MSG, and other chemical additives. Faugh to packaged foods. Cavemen were omnivorous. They were accustomed to fasts, forced by deep snows, earthquakes, broken bones, and other disasters to get by on whatever little edible stuff they could get their hands on.

In the long ago in which we evolved, people were omnivorous. Once we captured fire, we grew stronger, bigger, and numerous. We got better at running deer and popping them with rocks. We didn’t have salt, but we had some flavorful plants, nourishing nuts, and berries in their seasons. We made bags out of animal skins in which we could store nuts, dried berries and fruits. It was a low carbohydrate diet. It took too long to gather a handful of emmer, the early wheat, heads. Emmer produced only one grain of wheat per stalk. We didn’t have any dairy products. There were wild cattle and bison but we hunted them and ate their meat, roasted and cracked their bones for the rich, fatty marrow.

Even if the hunter didn’t succeed in bringing home a deer, his wife would have been out gathering wild greens, berries or nuts, She’d have something ready for him to eat. Few children lived past five years of age, so families were small even without birth control. We kept a fire going in the front of the cave to ward off predatory cougars that would snatch a small child if they dared come into the cave. Somebody always had to be on watch, making sure the fire didn’t go out. Archeologists have guessed that the adults slept and guarded in three-hour shifts.

The women turned animal hides into cooking vessels. As long as they had to have a fire going, the slung a deer hide bag from a tripod and boiled tough cuts of meat. In the morning, they tossed in wild onions, a handful of emmer grains, some turnip greens, and a few skinny wild carrots.

It would have been a women who invented pesto as a baby food or food for oldsters who had lost their teeth. However, most old people—people more than thirty years old—had strong teeth. They had well developed jaws that held more molars than some of us modern people ever grew. The Paleo era women would not have had salt or oil, but it doesn’t have the cheese a modern era pesto usually does.

She would have made her pesto with a hollow rock and a stick for mortar and pestle.

  Paleo Pesto
  Makes 1 cup

 1 bunch parsley
¼ cup pine nuts or walnuts
1 garlic clove
2/3 extra virgin olive or walnut oil
Pinch of freshly ground pepper
Pinch of sea salt

Put all the ingredients in a blender or food processor. Process until creamy. Store in a covered jar in the refrigerator for up to one week. If the oil in it makes your pesto hard, let it rest at room temperature until it softens, 10 to 15 minutes. Shake or stir. This is good on pasta, potatoes, and other vegetables.