Living “off the Land”

What kind of foods are naturally abundant where you live? Do you have access to foods from the sea?  Maybe produce grows easily in your location?  Could you ’live off the land’ and maintain (or develop) excellent health?  Studying the native cultures that Dr. Weston A. Price visited, it is apparent that there was not one ‘perfect’ diet but several depending on what was abundant in the area studied.  My husband loves to talk about what people living in our area (central Wyoming) would have eaten. 

Antelope in my Backyard

Antelope are certainly abundant as are mule deer.  We are several miles from a river but I would guess that people would have lived near there for water and fish. There are some tubers that grow wild. And plenty of sage brush. Our area is probably not the most hospitable as far as weather is concerned. In some ways I suspect it is better than the civilizations in this week’s chapters of Nutrition and Physical Degeneration.  But it would have been rough living here without today’s modern conveniences!

 

 

Chapter 13: Ancient Civilizations of Peru

Up to this point, Dr. Price had been studying living groups of people. In this chapter he studies the remains of the ancient Peruvians.

Dr. Price describes one of the areas of study as being very arid but teaming with sea life.  He also goes into details about the mass amounts of birds (and bird droppings) in the area. 

His study of the remains of the people confirms many of his previous thoughts.

“Since our study was primarily concerned with the shape of the dental arches and facial form, these characteristics could be studied and recorded with the straight rooted teeth removed. Fortunately, there are some excellent collections of skulls in museums in Peru, with the skulls in position where they can be readily studied for the shape of the dental arches. When we have in mind that from 25 to 75 per cent of individuals in various communities in the United States have a distinct irregularity in the development of the dental arches and facial form, the cause and significance of which constitutes one of the important problems of this study, the striking contrast found in these Peruvian skulls will be seen to constitute a challenge for our modern civilizations. In a study of 1,276 skulls of these ancient Peruvians, I did not find a single skull with significant deformity of the dental arches.   Since these investigations have apparently established the fact that this problem is related directly to nutrition, and chiefly to nutrition in the formative period, and, as we shall see, to a very early part of the formative period, we have here evidence of a system of living that is very closely in accord with Nature’s fundamental laws of reproduction.”

So what were these people believed to eaten to have such wonderful facial structure?

“The ancient Peruvians of both the coastal area and high plateau country had developed superb physical bodies in each of the several cultures. This development had been brought about in spite of the bad conditions prevailing with arid desert land extending from the coast to the mountains, and in spite of the severe climate of the high Sierras. The people utilized the wide variety of animal life from the sea in conjunction with the excellent plant foods grown in the river basins with the aid of irrigation. Over twenty of our common plants had their origin in ancient Peru. In the high Sierras, their animal foods were largely limited to the llama, alpaca and wild animals. Each household, however, maintained a colony of guinea pigs. Owing to the difficulty of boiling in the high altitudes, they found it necessary to roast their cereals and meats. Their vegetable foods included potatoes, which were preserved in powder form by freezing and drying and pulverizing. Corn and several varieties of beans and quinua were their principal cereals. The latter is a small seed of very high nutritive value.”

Chapter 14: Isolated and Modernized Peruvian Indians

The current descendants of the Ancient Peruvians were the focus of this study. As usual, Dr. Price does an excellent job describing the area in which they live and difficulties they face.  Also noted was the “satisfaction they get from chewing cocoa leaves from which is made our modern cocaine”.  It increased their endurance and allowed them to need very little food. Yeah, I bet it did.

I found it interesting that Dr. Price noted the lack of dairy products in the diet and how they were able to still achieve ‘physical perfection’.

“The physical perfection and development of the present and past Andean population has been accomplished in spite of the difficulty of building and maintaining good bodily structure at the high altitude where dairy products have not been and are not at present a large part of the nutritional program. In this regard the ancient and contemporary peoples of the Andes differ radically from the present and past groups of people who live in the high valleys of Switzerland and Tibet where milk is plentiful.”

And as suspected, once modern foods are introduced we see an increase in dental problems.

“In another tribe, however, of the same racial stock, efforts to modernize had been in operation for some time by a mission. The food of this latter group had been distinctly affected by their contact with the modern group. By reducing the animal foods, the change in physical efficiency, and appearance of tooth decay, is most marked.”

So what did these people eat that kept them so healthy?

“The native foods of these Amazon Jungle Indians included the liberal use of fish which are very abundant in both the Amazon and its branches, particularly in the foothill streams; animal life from the forest and thickets; bird life, including many water fowl and their eggs; plants and fruits. They use very large quantities of yucca which is a starchy root quite similar to our potato in chemical content. This is not the yucca of North America.

The Peruvian Indians, in the highlands and in the eastern watershed of the Andes, and also in the Amazon Basin, have built superb bodies with high immunity to dental caries and with splendidly developed facial and dental arch forms while living on the native foods in accordance with their accumulated wisdom.”

Final Thoughts

Once again, I am struck by the simplicity of these diets compared with our modern meals. I think the simplicity is possibly part of what leads to good health. As long as there is no access to the ‘modern’ foods, the temptation to eat them are not there. It makes sense that if you can’t eat a donut, it’s not going to cause issues.  So now my thinking is how do we find the proper balance in our modern world? Or can we? Should I just be convincing my family that antelope is all they really need to be healthy? That probably wouldn’t go over very well. ;-)

What did you find interesting in these chapters? Would you have difficulty relying on native foods where you live?

Read all posts in this series.

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3 comments to Living “off the Land”

  • Very thought provoking article! I’m from the south coast of BC, and I believe the diet of our native people consisted hugely of fish and salmon, shellfish (clams and oysters), small fowl, probably deer, a few vegetables spouts, roots, and bulbs…. and they foraged tons of berries in the summer. I’ve definitely foraged a few berries in my day and picked a couple oysters off the beach for a bbq… the thought of harvesting sea vegetables has crossed my mind as well….. but I’ve certainly got a long way to go :D
    Tracy recently posted..The Caveman Regimen Experiment – My Day 30 UpdateMy Profile

    • Millie

      Tracy,
      I used to live in the Pacific Northwest and loved going berry picking! Definitely some wonderful choices in your area foodwise.

  • I feel that many of us completely overlook the many dietary options we have available to us. We are so engrossed by what everyone else says we should be eating as apposed to discovering what is around us. Very interesting post!

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Hi and Welcome! I'm so happy that you have found your way here. I hope that you will find useful information in your real food journey. Our real food journey has changed over the years to include a small two acre farm with a larger 20 acre farm in our future. I'm excited to share our busy, and sometimes crazy, adventures as we learn new things. We're also working hard to be completely debt free so you'll find information on finances and general frugality along with various family adventures plus the occasional 'odd' category depending on what's going on in our world. Thanks for joining along! ~ Millie

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