Language and the Palaeo diet

Cover of NorthThis was first published on the now-retired polarcosmology.com website, a companion site for the book North: The Rise & Fall of the Polar Cosmos by Gyrus – an epic, animism-infused history of cosmology. Check out more information, or buy from Strange Attractor Press.

I’m all for critical discussion of stuff like the ‘Palaeo diet’ — which probably has a lot going for it, but which’ll certainly suffer from the lack of attention to complexity that comes with faddish territory. But this piece in The Guardian fights fire with fire.

The guy tries to say something about Palaeolithic diets by talking about reconstruction of Proto-Indo-European language. Now, PIE reconstruction’s a tricky business in any circumstance. But we do know that PIE people¬†were a late Neolithic bunch who lived off domesticated herd animals and cereal agriculture. The author brushes this huge problem aside; he says PIE people were ‘still stone age, and before, or at the very dawn of agriculture’. Unfortunately, that’s bullshit. We’re looking here at a time thousands, perhaps tens of thousands of years after the era that Palao diet people are talking about.

I could understand the piece if the author was trying to tenuously latch onto a current news story (in this case, the opening of the first ‘Palaeo’ restaurant in London) in order to sell a new book. But this isn’t even opportunistic — he’s just filling up those column inches.

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