April 11, 2013

"If we could strip away the influences of modern Western culture and media and the high-fructose, high-salt temptations of the junk-food sellers..."

"... would we all be eating like Inuit elders, instinctively gravitating to the most healthful, nutrient-diverse foods? Perhaps. It’s hard to say. There is a famous study from the 1930s involving a group of orphanage babies who, at mealtimes, were presented with a smorgasbord of thirty-four whole, healthy foods. Nothing was processed or prepared beyond mincing or mashing. Among the more standard offerings— fresh fruits and vegetables, eggs, milk, chicken, beef— the researcher, Clara Davis, included liver, kidney, brains, sweetbreads, and bone marrow. The babies shunned liver and kidney (as well as all ten vegetables, haddock, and pineapple), but brains and sweetbreads did not turn up among the low-preference foods she listed. And the most popular item of all? Bone marrow."

Mary Roach, "Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal." (pp. 63-64).

61 comments:

Bob R said...

Mmmm-sweetbreads.

Tim said...

"If we could strip away the influences of modern Western culture and media and the high-fructose, high-salt temptations of the junk-food sellers..."

Yeah, good luck with that.

Although MSNBC would surely love to lead the parade for this bone-headed idea, we'd end up throwing away an awful lot of good meat if all we ate was brains, sweetbread and bone-marrow.

YoungHegelian said...

would we all be eating like Inuit elders...[?]

You mean, raw meat & fish, heavy on the blubber?

Not a lot of fruits & vegetables in the traditional Inuit diet, except maybe in high summer.

edutcher said...

The Indians ate what they could get their hands on.

And they ate all of it. One problem they had was what the French called la mal de vache, which came from eating a high (in some cases exclusively) meat diet.

They missed their veggies.

Synova said...

The stuff we don't eat is habit, really. We'd probably eat bugs quite a lot, too, if we didn't have aversions to crawly things.

Sort of related... my husband and I are doing a sort-of paleo thing and so far I haven't craved what I can't have but today I decided to have a diet Dr. Pepper with lunch instead of water. I got the munchies SO bad.

Dante said...

10 to 20% of the brain is composed of cholesterol, containing 40 times more cholesterol than muscles, and 7 to 10 times more than the liver, where cholesterol is produced.

So much for the healthy part of the diet.

James Pawlak said...

I understand that Inuit Ice Cream is available in Alaska and parts of Canada. That is wild berries and whale blubber whipped together.

Yummy, Yummy, In My Tummy!

traditionalguy said...

The best marketed food these days seems to be bacon.

IMO sugar and salt is food for you, bacon not so much.

The answer may be Turkey Bacon.

YoungHegelian said...

@Dante,

So much for the healthy part of the diet.

When I visit Alabama to check in on the maternal unit, I sometimes see items on the grocery shelves not found up north, such as Amour Pork Brains in Milk Gravy.

You won't be surprised to discover that a serving of scrambled Pork brains & eggs contains 1000% of one's recommended daily allowance of cholesterol.

Rusty said...

Inuit are accustomed to a diet high in vitamin A.
An Inuit diet would kill the rest of us.

Inga said...

The children chose the sweet meats instinctively because they are rich in choline, an essential nutrient.

Inga said...

And bone marrow is mostly fat, essential for brain development in children. Humans instinctively like high fat foods.

CEO-MMP said...

The children chose the sweet meats instinctively because they are rich in choline, an essential nutrient.

Liver is higher. And fresh liver is high in many other good things. And in case you didn't notice, the most popular was bone marrow. Pure fat and not much else.

Go play high speed nutritionist someplace else.

CEO-MMP said...



And bone marrow is mostly fat, essential for brain development in children. Humans instinctively like high fat foods.


protein is more essential.

didn't you claim to be a nurse? Did you go to nursing school before or after you scaled the Alps with the von Trapps?

somefeller said...

And bone marrow is mostly fat, essential for brain development in children. Humans instinctively like high fat foods.

And it's tasty!

Basta! said...

"like Inuit elders, instinctively gravitating to the most healthful, nutrient-diverse foods?"

More romantic Noble Savage BS

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

Yesterday Instapundit linked this, a roundup of really fatty foods from the 50 states. There are some truly nauseating things in there. (The item from my state, Oregon, really doesn't bear close inspection.) Also some "what is your problem?" things. The worst the authors could come up with for Wyoming was (OMG!) lamb. For Virginia, country ham. Other states are less lucky.

Shouting Thomas said...

Cholesterol intake is probably the most controversial subject in nutrition. Body chemistry is incredibly complex.

Cholesterol is pretty directly related to brain health and functioning.

Lots of people out there believe that the Paleo diet is best. Unfortunately, the people I know who are really enthusiastic about this diet are popular writers who tend to look at things far too much from a standpoint of literary metaphor.

I'm in early states of the process of shedding 50 pounds. My lead guitar player, Big Joe, took off 100 pounds and has kept it off for three years.

I'm using the same scheme Big Joe used. Calorie counting, bicycle riding, weight lifting and yoga. Today, 20 miles on the bike. 45 minutes of yoga. About 2,200 calories.

I'm eating whatever I want, just a hell of a lot less of it. I always ate a healthy diet, just way too much of everything.

Michael said...

Jack's restaurant (rip) in the San Francisco financial district would offer bowls of marrow with their steaks. You could smoke too, of course. Good times. Gone for good.

SteveR said...

These people who ate these amazing diets had a lifespan of about half or less than we have now. Sure we have a lot of medical knowledge that extends our lives in spite of our terrible diets but nothing wrong with enjoying life. A hot fudge sundae once in a while, sex not for procreation, an ice cold Rolling Rock on a summer afternoon. Eating like a cave man, not so much.

Basta! said...

What, no cheese for those poor little orphans?

If it were offered, I would expect them to have gone for it.

Dogs, cats, kids, and I lo-o-o-ove cheese

Michael said...

ST. The bike is the best if you have time for it. The 20 and 30 milers are more agout the time spinning than the effort. Much better than running because I cant bring myself to run for two hours any more but I can do it routinely on the bike. Good luck with your program!

Michael said...

Jack's restaurant (rip) in the San Francisco financial district would offer bowls of marrow with their steaks. You could smoke too, of course. Good times. Gone for good.

Shouting Thomas said...

@Michael,

I'm semi-retired. All I do now is my work with the Old Dawgz and my solo and session work, along with my work as a church musician. A lot of that weight is the result of years spent hunched over a computer in the cube farm.

So, I've got the time.

Biking also doesn't put a lot of stress on knees and ankles, which is important to me.

Thanks for the good wishes.

Inga said...

Liver also has a strong flavor CEO. I came over from Europe on a ship at three years old. Too young to be a nurse. Excessive amounts are protein are not healthy. Fat is more essential to cell metabolism.

chickelit said...

Dogs, cats, kids, and I lo-o-o-ove cheese

Fish bait too. Put some on hook and reel 'em in. Wisconsin cheddar works best. Cheese is miracle food.

Ann Althouse said...

"You mean, raw meat & fish, heavy on the blubber?"

She means animal parts other than the muscle:

"I asked Nartok to go through the [cutout pictures] and show me what he ate.... 'Caribou liver, yes. Brain. Yes, I eat brain. I eat caribou eyes, raw and cooked.' Nirlungayuk looked on, nodding. 'I like this part very much.' Nartok was holding a cutout labeled Caribou Bridal Veil. This is a prettier way of saying 'stomach membrane.' It was dawning on me that eating the whole beast was a matter not just of economics but of preference. At a community feast earlier in the week, I was offered 'the best part' of an Arctic char. It was an eye, with fat and connective tissue dangling off the back like wiring on a headlamp. A cluster of old women stood by a chain-link fence digging marrow from caribou bones with the tilt-headed focus nowadays reserved for texting. For Arctic nomads, eating organs has, historically, been a matter of survival. Even in summer, vegetation is sparse. Little beyond moss and lichen grows abundantly on the tundra. Organs are so vitamin-rich, and edible plants so scarce, that the former are classified, for purposes of Arctic health education, both as 'meat' and as 'fruits and vegetables.' One serving from the Fruits and Vegetables Group in Nirlungayuk’s materials is “1/ 2 cup berries or greens, or 60 to 90 grams of organ meats.” Nartok shows me an example of Arctic 'greens': cutout number 13, Caribou Stomach Contents. Moss and lichen are tough to digest, unless, like caribou, you have a multichambered stomach in which to ferment them. So the Inuit let the caribou have a go at it first. I thought of Pat Moeller and what he’d said about wild dogs and other predators eating the stomachs and stomach contents of their prey first."

Palladian said...

Sugar is the devil. Fortunately I don't like sugary things. My problem is with starchy foods. For the past month (partially out of necessity) I've drastically reduced my food intake, and completely removed wheat products from my diet and not only have I lost weight, but I feel much, much better. I have 75% less aches and pains.

I think wheat doesn't agree with me.

Inga said...

Have you read Dr Davis' book, "Wheat Belly", Palladian?

Michael Haz said...

Looks like this blog is skipping any discussion of the Gosnell trial.

Palladian said...

I love "variety meats", though it all depends on preparation. Nothing is worse than a big, old, badly-prepared beef liver.

Kidneys are great too, when well-prepared and small.

I don't, however, eat animal brains of any kind. It's partly because I don't like the texture, and because of the dangers of prion diseases and partly just the idea of it.

I don't eat octopus because I like them too much.

Palladian said...

Looks like this blog is skipping any discussion of the Gosnell trial.

There have been several posts about it. Take your dudgeon elsewhere.

Of course, we could turn this thread into a discussion of the Gosnell trial, but given the circumstances of his crimes, and the topic of this thread (variety meats), I don't think that would be a good idea.

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

Michael Haz,

Looks like this blog is skipping any discussion of the Gosnell trial.


Well, yes, it does look like that, but I don't really think a discussion of "variety meats" is really the best place to bring it up. Just sayin'.

Palladian said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Palladian said...

Have you read Dr Davis' book, "Wheat Belly", Palladian?

It's been recommended to me, and a friend is currently reading it, so perhaps I will.

Michael Haz said...

Why thank you, Mr. Hall Monitor.

Erika said...

I can't think of Inuits eating without remembering a line from a childhood reading of Julie of the Wolves where she waxed rhapsodic about the delicious, delicious seal eyeballs.

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

Palladian,

Two minds with but a single thought, but different inclinations. I have any amount of "dudgeon" about Kermit Gosnell, and that there is not more than local coverage of the trial of an alleged mass murderer I find staggering.

Palladian said...

I can't think of Inuits eating without remembering a line from a childhood reading of Julie of the Wolves where she waxed rhapsodic about the delicious, delicious seal eyeballs.

I recall someone showing me an Anthony Bourdain thing (I don't generally like him) where he dined on seal with an Inuit family and much was made of the eyeballs.

Cedarford said...

Kind of dumb to have "The Children!! The Children!!" -presumably free of the biases of the evil Western male patriarchy and the evil fast food/agribiz industries determine an ideal diet.

1. Toss cheese, cheetos, gummi bears, ice cream at the rug rats and they'd eat little else.

2. The "study" as it were, was of random foods that really didn't typify the foods available to people in a caveman, nomadic, early agriculture life. Fat and protein were scarce. Stuff like brains and bone marrow were rare and luxuries and unlikely for kids at the botom of the pecking order to get.

3. Different racial, ethnic groups have different palates and in some cases, different ability to digest. Completely apart from cultural bias.
So dairy products would fare badly with Asian tykes once they associated them with stomach aches and diarhhea.

Palladian said...

I have any amount of "dudgeon" about Kermit Gosnell, and that there is not more than local coverage of the trial of an alleged mass murderer I find staggering.

Dudgeon is not what I think of when I think of Kermit Gosnell. Bludgeon is more like it, a just fate for a horrible murderer.

I just don't like the off-topic attempt at shaming, especially given that Althouse has posted about that trial.

rcocean said...

I know zillions of old Asian Americans who live on rice, fish, vegetables, and relativity small amounts of meat and chicken.

Look at the Japanese before they "westernized" their diet. Long lives and little meat. Lots of rice though.

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

Palladian,

Dudgeon is not what I think of when I think of Kermit Gosnell. Bludgeon is more like it, a just fate for a horrible murderer.

I just don't like the off-topic attempt at shaming, especially given that Althouse has posted about that trial.


Agreed, both as to what he deserves and as to the blog-management. Althouse has devoted more space to the case than have most papers. The Philly Inquirer and the (UK!) Daily Mail are the primary sources, which is preposterous.

rcocean said...

And peanut oil and soy sauce.

rcocean said...

Why don't we hear about Gosnell? Well, why don't we ever hear about how bad it is to live under Castro's dictatorship, or the evils of illegal immigration, or all the poor whites who got denied jobs/college openings because they were white or male?

Yeah, I wonder. Its a mystery.

Synova said...

Wait... Mary Roach? I have "Packing for Mars" but haven't read it yet.

What a weird combination... Inuit diets and packing for Mars.

madAsHell said...

Coffee enemas for all!!

Yeah...the idiots are in charge of the media.

William said...

This sounds like a variation of Rousseau's noble savage. Man is born thin but is everywhere in scooters. There is no more reason to think that Inuit infants instinctively know any more about nutrition than Aztec priests.

creeley23 said...

I took Tai Chi for several years and one weekend my teacher's teacher's elder teacher came all the way from Hong Kong to San Francisco, so they threw a big shindig for him at a Chinese restaurant in the Richmond. I go and figure I'm going to get the real Chinese food, and it was, but not what I expected.

Plate after plate was served of fatty, greasy cuts of beef and pork with rice, of course, but not many vegetables. I can't say I cared for it.

I asked my teacher about it, and she said it was the real deal, but it was what they eat in restaurants on special occasions.

wyo sis said...

I can't eat mutton or lamb. The fat is too thick and yucky. So much for Wyoming's fattiest food.

My mother fried beef liver with a flour coating that was melt in your mouth good, but I haven't eaten liver for probably over 40 years.

Funny they didn't mention pronto pups. Batter dipped deep fried hot dogs. Much better than corn dogs.

chickelit said...

If we could strip away the influences of modern Western culture and media and the high-fructose, high-salt temptations of the junk-food sellers...

I'm growing little fructose factories in my yard: three varieties of citrus and also red grapes. The citrus should bear fruit this year but I don't expect the grapes to produce until next year.

Chip Ahoy said...

A friend and I went to Star Restaurant where they advertise lobster for $20.00. iirc

I expected them to be those fake-o miniature not-really lobsters, the things you see that would be a crime to remove for being too small as actual legal lobsters, so they're another species, and due to that cynical lack of trust I ordered the Peking duck as well expecting that to be some rip-off too, a miniature dim sum version, but no, I was wrong on both counts, totally wonderfully wrong, they served regular size lobsters and the duck was a full-size version, and I learned about the glory of steamed buns which I duplicated immediately. Oh man, this is making me hungry all over again.

Surprisingly paleo, at least I felt like a caveman.

Kirk Parker said...

edutcher,

Given the Inuit (and other) success with a mostly-meat diet, I suspect le mal du vache is either bogus, or else a conflation with rabbit starvation, a condition caused by subsisting too much on lean protein. You have trouble getting enough calories on protein alone w/o succumbing to issues related to your inability to dispose of all the urea. A little fat goes a long way to alleviate this condition...


MDT,

Oh come on! "Ingredients: Egg, ham, Spam, bacon, and American cheese on a beef patty, between two grilled-cheese sandwiches on thicker-than-normal Texas Toast bread in the place of a bun"???

Sounds like something to be proud of!!!! Not some sissy anybody-can-do-this thing like a mere ham! Ham? Where's the creativity in that???????

rhhardin said...

If you have marrow bones cut up in to one and a half inch lengths and freeze them, the babies can spend a contented hour digging the marrow out, if they're like dogs.

Erika said...

I am disappoint that they claim New Mexico came up with the Frito pie, and they give Texas stupid old corn dogs which you can get in any grocer's freezer. I don't even want to look up the truth because I'm afraid of it. If there is anything on this earth better than sitting at a Little League game on a breezy south Texas spring night eating a Frito pie from the concession stand, I don't know what it is.

Peter said...

I'd guess that a traditional Inuit diet contains about three times as many calories as a mostly-sedentary American should be eating.

And, I'd also guess that many Inuit never got to be elder Inuit.

But other than that, it sounds like a great idea. If you're living a traditional Inuit life.

And, BTW, you shouldn't judge the book by that quote. It's really a good read.

EMD said...

The answer may be Turkey Bacon.

Turkey bacon offers none of the pleasures of real bacon, but a lot more sodium, if you're into that.

Bacon is not that bad for you in moderation. I prefer center cut.

Rusty said...

Peter said...
I'd guess that a traditional Inuit diet contains about three times as many calories as a mostly-sedentary American should be eating.

And, I'd also guess that many Inuit never got to be elder Inuit.

But other than that, it sounds like a great idea. If you're living a traditional Inuit life.

And, BTW, you shouldn't judge the book by that quote. It's really a good read.


In their location -arctic-calories from fat are more important than lean calories from straight protien.
The Louis and Clark expedition suffered from severe malnutrition in their Columbia River camp despite consuming thousands of calories a day from red meat. The natives told the them they needed to eat more oily fish and less elk.

Shanna said...

I love how they just list fried catfish for Arkansas. Boring but at least it's legit.

Turkey bacon offers none of the pleasures of real bacon

Indeed. Without the fat it doesn't crunch properly. I don't see the point.

Ann Althouse said...

"This sounds like a variation of Rousseau's noble savage. Man is born thin but is everywhere in scooters. There is no more reason to think that Inuit infants instinctively know any more about nutrition than Aztec priests."

The orphans weren't Inuit....

Bruce Hayden said...

You mean, raw meat & fish, heavy on the blubber?

I saw how Ann clarified this a bit by pointing out that they ate the entire animal, not allowing some of what we consider the less appetizing parts go to waste. But, my experience of seeing Inuit is that the women tend to be quite rotund, while the men are typically thin - the justification being that they eat similarly, but the men spend much of their winters out on the ice, etc., while the women tend to stay inside.