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How to Live on Wheat

Why the World Lives on Grain

         Many books have been written on creating the optimum diet for your body type or blood type. The theory is that the diets of our ancestors affected our genetics and that a diet similar to that of our ancestors is likely to be optimum for us as well.

         Here is a thumbnail sketch of recent human history. During the end of the last ice age, around the period of 10,000 B.C. to 18,000 B.C., there were fairly rapid and dramatic changes in climates and ecosystems.

         As far as we know, the majority of our ancestors were part of a primitive nomadic hunter-gather culture. The hunter-gatherers lived on the "cave man" diet. That is, they ate everything edible that they could find. That included plants, animals, fish, etc. A particular ecosystem can only sustain a limited number of humans in this manner. As populations increased, some humans began domesticating animals, for meat, dairy, wool, and skins.

         Controlling herds of animals was more efficient than hunting. The curly bashar horse from Mongolia is known as a superior forager. It provided the tribesmen with milk, wool, meat, and transportation. Goats, cattle, yaks, llamas, sheep, camels, and other animals are all used in similar fashion by nomadic herdsmen. This evolution allowed for higher population densities of humans and the evolution of a more stable culture.

         Nomadic cultures developed around herding herbivorous animals. A nomadic culture, by nature, has limited possessions because it is always on the move and cannot carry many material possessions. In addition, the time and attention of its members are occupied by daily survival and domestic life. There is not much time available for the development of art, architecture, literature, etc. There are small surviving bands of herder cultures in Africa and other areas which have not changed for thousands of years.

         As the climate and ecosystem stabilized and warmed, human populations began to grow and the demand for food grew as well. In areas suitable for farming, the cultivation of cereal grains and other crops increased the food supply dramatically. This allowed a much higher density of human population, and more organized, and more controlled, cultures. It was the wheat and barley fields that enabled the building of the cities of the Fertile Crescent and ancient Egypt.

         From a nutritional and physiological perspective, a grain based diet is very different from an animal protein based diet. Some authors have proposed that humans evolved different physiological types based on the diets of their ancestors, with some being more adapted to grains, some dairy and some to a "hunter-gather" mix. There may be some truth in this.

         Nevertheless, this planet runs directly or indirectly on a grain based diet, driven by economic considerations. It is possible to feed more people by growing grain than by living as hunter-gatherers. Wheat is less expensive to produce than beef.

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