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Sitka, AK


Frozen-at-Sea Alaskan Salmon 




dylan lared

The increasing popularity of the paleolithic diet-fad-cult is a veritable God-send for anyone in the business of trading in high quality animal or non-starchy plant parts. There is a ready made collection of marketing materials and an established consumer base surrounding the paleo movement just waiting to be tapped into. The praise for the diet is intense, bordering on fanatic: one crusader-for-the-cause posted that "The Paleo diet is the healthiest way you can eat because it is the ONLY nutritional approach that works with your genetics to help you stay lean, strong and energetic!" (caps, bold, and exclamation mark all his). The only problem is, I'm not sure how good I feel about telling you that any food-stuff added to the collective species-pantry after the advent of gardening is responsible for everything from hypertension to shortsightedness. I'm no evolutionary biologist, but I've read that we've been eating these grain things for a very long time. 

Now don't get me wrong, I'm as in touch with my inner Neanderthal as the next guy (in fact, I've been told rather more than most, though I don't think it was meant as a compliment.) I don't really eat refined sugar or wheat much anymore and have even been known to go for a bare-foot run now and again. It just seems to me that caveman-nostalgia is a convenient way of projecting all of our modern problems on a mythical past. If you are curious about the evolutionary, biological, dietary, and generally scientific discussions of this phenomenon, I've been told that there are many excellent resources out there. Marlene Zuk's book Paleofantasy; Melissa McEwen's blog HuntGatherLove; and many other intelligent experts. I am not (an intelligent expert) and so I will not comment on the biological and physiological pros and cons of paleo diet. I am a sometime pseudo-student of philosophy and have, in my pseudo-studying, come across various ideas which share psychological territory with our modern paleofantasies. 

For every ancient people there is an ancient-er one (that's archaeology right?) It is from the archetype of the ancestor that we inherit, or create, our mythologies. Behind so much of our  Western mythos there is the shadow of the ancient Greeks, passing down their Gods and art and philosophy as part of the scaffold on which we built our modern identity. But the ancient Greeks had their ancestral scaffold as well. Homer, who was already pushing ancestor-status for the Hellenic peoples, tells us of the Golden Age; that pagan-Eden of harmony and prosperity. Even after that, in the time of the heroes and the Trojan war, we are given a standard by which to compare our degeneracy. The Iliad is rife with various Greeks throwing rocks "which not two men today could lift" at each other like badminton birdies. Think, if we've had another three thousand years to degenerate, how big must those rocks have been? I bet Achilles was on the caveman diet... 

Ancestor worship is not exactly a recent addition to cultural praxis. Just because we dress it up in fancy jargon doesn't mean it isn't part of that fundamental human craving for myth-making. I'm not saying that it is necessarily wrong, but I don't know if it is right for the reasons it says it is. After all, do we need to refer to our hunter-gatherer predecessors to believe that fresh fruit, vegetables, and meat are better staples than Wonderbread and beer? (Not that you could get Wonderbread anyway. RIP Hostess, I miss your apple pies.) 

All this to say that I don't think I need to dress up Wild Alaskan Salmon in tiger skins and  use only flint hooks with cat-gut line (which of course we do, being Alaskan and all) to convince you that it is a healthy protein source. Fanaticism is a non-essential part of dietary health, in my opinion. 

That said, let us remember the important place fish has in Western mythology. After all, how many of the Apostles were fishermen? Remember that symbol of persecuted Christianity ( I know you've seen it on bumper stickers)? The paleo diet may let you lift boulders not two men today could manage, but wild salmon lets you walk on water. Just sayin'.