Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Neolithic Oatmeal?

In a dog bites man kind of story, looks like the food fundamentalists were wrong again.

Paleo? Modern? Or just plain human food?
Humans have sought a diverse diet whenever given the opportunity.  The evidence of plant based food, however, is just less likely to survive the eons.  But sometimes archaeology and modern science give you a gift.
The researchers sealed the stone in plastic to preserve it for future research. But they left exposed small patches that they washed with a gentle stream of water to loosen debris. In the water were hundreds of starch granules of five main types. The most plentiful, says Mariotti Lippi, were from oat seeds, almost certainly Avena barbata, a wild species still common across much of Europe. The stone also processed other edible plants, including acorns and relatives of millet. 

Most intriguing, many of the starch grains were swollen and partly gelatinized, which is consistent with them being heated before grinding. Because the climate 32,000 years ago was cooler than it is today, seeds gathered in autumn might not have had enough time to dry naturally. Perhaps, Mariotti Lippi speculates, those seeds were first dried over a fire, which would have made them much easier to grind and digest than freshly gathered seeds. And ready-ground flour, she notes, would keep longer and be easier to transport.

In other words, we've been processing foods since the beginning.  We've been mixing sources of nutrition every time a new source became available.

Set aside the food fundamentalists.  Eat smart, eat diverse, but unless you want to be debunked, don't be an ideologue about it.

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