C4 Grasses and Sedges In Human Evolution: Gatherer-Gatherers

Here’s an example of the intransigence I see so often when considering new pieces of the puzzle, or even considering new perspectives on existing ones.

A Grassy Trend in Human Ancestors’ Diets

…But new studies show that human ancestors expanded their menu 3.5 million years ago, adding tropical grasses and sedges to an ape-like diet. The change set the stage for consuming more modern fare: grains, grasses, and meat and dairy from grazing animals.

In four studies of carbon isotopes in fossilized tooth enamel from scores of human ancestors and baboons in Africa from 4 million to 10,000 years ago, researchers found a surprise increase in the consumption of grasses and sedges–plants that resemble grasses and rushes but have stems with triangular cross sections.

I recall when that came out back in 2013 to great wailing and gnashing of teeth by the anointed. Can’t be right! You’re totally fucking with our cool narrative! We’re meat and fat hunters! Look at our big brains and small guts! We’re supposed to be keto-adapted! We’re natural fat burners! Like war, starches are unsafe for children and other living things!

A very nice comment conversation took place the other day between Duck Dodgers and Dan Bassett, PhD  (some may recall Darwin’s Table from way back). It begins here with Duck.

Interestingly, Cordain tried to refute the June 2013 revelation by the National Academy of Sciences that multiple studies had shown increased C4 intake from eating sedges. But, his argument was fairly weak as while he acknowledged that the researchers had concluded that plants likely contributed to the bulk of C4 intake, he responded, “Nevertheless, when the isotopic data is triangulated from archaeological, physiological and nutrition evidence, it is apparent that the C4 signature in ancestral African hominin enamel almost certainly is resultant from increased consumption of animals that consumed C4 plants.”

Well, no. Unfortunately for Cordain, anthropologists had already tossed aside the idea of a carnivorous hominid, since dental morphology did not present as carnivorous and hominid tools were too primitive for butchering when the timeline showed a significant jump in C4. And just a few months after he wrote a formal letter to the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences complaining about the findings, researchers from Oxford University discovered that it was indeed Tiger Nuts that contributed to higher C4 intake in P. boisei making his scrambled rebuttal look fairly weak. If I remember correctly, researchers showed evidence that these early hominids ate nutrient-dense sedge tubers, ate termites and likely scavenged animals when they could obtain them. So, I guess you could say Cordain tried to refute the National Academy of Sciences, but he soon quit once the evidence piled up against him.

I’ll not copy the whole thing here. Read the nicely organized, mutually respectful thread if you please. Nice to see this level of discourse on FTA. Here’s one additional comment by Duck in reply to Dan that really gives and excellent overview of the science of this new discovery.


I’m familiar with the Hadza as an example. National Geographic recently referenced that sentiment, explaining that most anthropologists believe that these “fallback” foods likely made up the majority of the diet, as the hunters usually come back empty-handed.

National Geographic : The Evolution of Diet

They even use the Hadza’s reliance on “fallback” foods in the article to prove their point.

“Every ecological study that tracks predator and prey populations (even if prey is grass) shows that predator populations grow in relation to the prey population.”

Well, I believe that’s a gross oversimplification. For instance, if that rule were always true, we’d expect to see anteaters everywhere, since there is virtually an unlimited supply of ants. But that isn’t the case. Clearly there are other factors involved that limit populations (higher prey, disease, etc). With hominids, the factors limiting populations were likely disease and infant mortality (just guessing).

“I draw this conclusion because in your post you mention there incredible abundance and growth rates, and how the paper you mentioned talks about how it would take a few hours to get enough calories for the day. If this was true, however, it would mean we would expect to see a population increase in hominids to match that abundant food source.”

Let me clarify. It supposedly takes 3 hours of foraging for a single hominid (like P. Boise) to obtain 80% of its calories from tiger nuts. If you are gathering for two or more, it will take longer. If you are gathering tiger nuts for a population of people, you need the skills of agriculture and lots of slaves—which is what we see in Ancient Egypt.

In other words, it’s “easy” for a single hominid to gather tiger nuts for 1 or 2 individuals. But it’s much harder to gather other people’s tiger nuts. You need slaves or machinery for that.

Finally, P. Boisei was not just a “snapshot”. P. Boisei was one of the most successful hominid species—its reign lasting millions of years. Though we aren’t descended from them, the same shift in C4 isotopes was simultaneously observed a wide array of hominid species, as shown by multiple studies covered by the National Academic of Sciences announcement last year. So, this isn’t just one snapshot. It’s actually many snapshots showing the same thing over and over again as homo moved into the grassy savannas.

Now, another clarification… P. Boisei is only significant because it had the largest levels of C4 of any hominid—nearly 70%! Combined with its dental morphology and dental calculus, all signs point to high tiger nut consumption.

But, Homo was a bit less (50-55% C4), indicating that our diet was more varied than P. Boisei. If we consider that Homo consumed animal foods, and we know they did (we are omnivores after all), then we can imagine that early humans probably consumed tiger nuts alongside a wide variety of foods. I never said that homo sat around just eating tiger nuts all day.

P. boisei is mostly useful because its diet probably wasn’t very varied (and it did evolve with a very unique jaw musculature…they called it “nutcracker man”). But, as I pointed out in my last comment in that other thread, we still see evidence that our direct ancestors ate starchy sedges as well as Neanderthals and early humans ate them too. But, again, I never said that humans sat around eating tiger nuts all day. They were likely just part of a varied diet.

I think that tiger nuts were used to fill in the nutritional holes in the homo diet and were a reliable source of carbohydrates. Tiger nuts are very rich in magnesium, calcium, potassium, Vitamin E and folate. Not coincidentally, these are the very nutrients that are often lacking from a modern “paleo” diet.

So, while tiger nuts are easy for a foraging primate to pluck right out of the ground and chomp on—dirt and all. I think that tiger nuts are a massive pain in the ass for agriculture. The Egyptians figured out how to cultivate them, and even turn them into flour, but it required a ton of work and skill. Unlike wheat, tiger nuts are by no means easy to harvest in large quantities. The paleo Indians at Mashantucket only used wild / weedy tiger nuts as a supplement to their maize and sorghum, but never figured out how to cultivate them—nor did they care to.

Read more about The Incredible Edible Tigernut. Did you know they have the same macronutrient profile as mother’s milk and pack more micronutrient nutrition than red meat?

Memberships are $10 monthly, $20 quarterly, or $65 annually. The cost of two premium coffees per month. Every membership helps finance the travel to write, photo, and film from interesting places and share the experiences with you.


  1. Jake on October 21, 2014 at 09:26

    A short n=1 walk thru the weedy patch that passes for my back yard in NJ (of all places) bears this out. Sometimes I will see a deer or other furry critter, more often not. I always can find some Nut Sedge, tho. If I could whack one of them critters I’d be set, but they’re kinda unpredictable and hard to catch. If not and I was hungry I’d certainly take the time to dig up some tubers, pain in the ass as it might be to get em out of the ground I’m sure I could get enough for a meal in fairly short order.

    • rob on October 21, 2014 at 11:33

      Also if you do manage to whack the deer, its flesh spoils pretty quickly which is a problem if you don’t have refrigeration.

      The kid in “Into The Wild” had a rifle and still managed to starve to death, probably didn’t know about nut sedge.

    • Duck Dodgers on October 21, 2014 at 11:43

      Well, from what I have seen in the literature, prehistoric humans were believed to have killed an animal a few miles from base camp and just select a few of the fattiest pieces or bones to bring home to the tribe/family. But, most of the time they came back empty-handed.

      It has been suggested by some that the men would go out on this kind of venture to “get out of the house,” or so to speak, and show off amongst their male friends. :) Whereas the women were the ones actually gathering and proving a reliable meal every day.

    • Duck Dodgers on October 21, 2014 at 11:45

      And there is also some evidence/hypothesizing that carcasses that could not be transported were sometimes buried for recovery at a later date (the practice depends on the culture and habitat from what I understand). Doing this is a form of pickling (i.e. fermented meat). You can find some references to it if you search around.

    • Richard Nikoley on October 21, 2014 at 17:20

      He died of stupidity and ignorant hubris. Uniquely human diseases.

  2. Duck Dodgers on October 21, 2014 at 10:23

    When we open this can of worms of Underground Storage Organ (USO) reliance, we are left with even more questions in regards to habitat, gathering practices and even bipedalism. I found the following paper incredible fascinating for resolving some of those questions and perhaps posing even more questions we must ponder…

    Shallow-Water Habitats as Sources of Fallback Foods for Hominins

    • Gemma on October 21, 2014 at 13:00


      you are digging up new, fascinating reading faster than P. boisei his tigernuts!

    • Karen on October 23, 2014 at 12:51

      Finally read the article. Ties in nicely with the aquatic ape theory. I always liked the aat especially since I was a competitive swimmer, grew up on the north shore of oahu, and always felt more ‘graceful’ in water then on land!

  3. Gilnut on October 21, 2014 at 11:00

    To be honest my personal interpretation of “Paleo” has always consisted of whole/unprocessed food, as ‘natural’ as I could source it. (i.e. grass fed, free range, etc.) This really stems from my understanding of omnivore’s in the animal kingdom. “Omnivores often are opportunistic, general feeders which lack carnivore or herbivore specializations for acquiring or processing food, but which nevertheless consume both animal protein and vegetation.” (Wikipedia)

    It just makes sense.

  4. Dan on October 21, 2014 at 12:47

    Yes it was a good conversation Duck. I’m glad we reached the same conclusion. I think it is an incredibly interesting area of research. I’m not too strong in the anthropology aspect, but I do know about evolution and ecology, and because I spend so much of my time looking at animal species, I think sometimes I see things that maybe other people don’t care about, hence my replies.

    • Duck Dodgers on October 21, 2014 at 18:57

      Nice to hear that Cordain keeps an open mind. Guess we’ll see in a few years where he lands.

      “I mean ‘no soap’…..come on!”


      Well, Richard is a no-soaper. (I’m guessing you knew that). But, interestingly he’s right about that one when we look at the research.

      See: Soil bacteria, nitrite and the skin (free download)

      And the Backstory history guys had an episode on that one too.

      Backstory: The History of Cleanliness

      In this episode, they look at how people used to view cleanliness, from never bathing, to having to be convinced by soap marketers (Ivory Soap, from Proctor & Gamble, in particular) and public works organizations that “filth” needed to be eliminated. And there’s a particularly interesting investigation on how race was associated with cleanliness or uncleanliness — which caused for the separation of bathrooms and water fountains.

      When you combine this with the medical use of antibiotics, this history lesson gives us an idea of just how quickly our microbiomes have shifted in the past few decades. I had no idea the shift was as drastic or as manufactured until now.

      So, while the “no soap” movement seems a little odd on the surface, in reality the idea of purifying your skin something that’s only been going on for a few decades.

    • Duck Dodgers on October 21, 2014 at 13:30

      I enjoyed it as well. I’m certainly not in this to refute the current research. Rather, I just want to understand it better. And your questions certainly helped me do just that.

      I’m struck by Cordain’s decision to immediately refute and dismiss the research on sedges and USOs in some knee-jerk reaction to defend his work. Yet, researchers seem to be uncovering more and more evidence for USOs with every passing year.

      Instead of relishing over new anthropological discoveries, he’s clearly trying to defend a preconceived notion of dietary ideals.

      When I look back at the modern interpretations of the “Paleo Diet,”™ it seems like a bunch of dietitians—with preconceived notions on what macronutrient ratios they thought a healthy diet should look like—did their best to back their way into a set of anthropological data that supported their modern hypotheses.

      So, instead of having a Paleo dietitians who is scouring the data for new discoveries on what foods we may have evolved with, we have people like Cordain and Anna who seem to be purposefully ignoring/dismissing the ever-mounting data on USOs to promote their extreme dietary theories. (Meanwhile, a women comments that she stopped getting her period while following a VLC interpretation of the Paleo Diet™).

      This patterns happens over and over again. In 1975, Voegtlin wrote the Stone Age Diet to promote a LCHF lifestyle. In 1988, Eaton published the Paleolithic Prescription to promote the “Prudent Diet.” Cordain jumped on the bandwagon with his fear of starches. Phinny cited Stefansson’s very loose observations to promote LCHF, and so on. Even Atkins, Taubes and Eades referenced these Paleofantasies to ease readers’ concerns.

      None of these dietitians ever cared about what early humans were actually eating. They were just looking for a convenient set of data to promote their whacky macronutrient ratios so that they didn’t have to live up to any decent set of evidence to support their hypotheses. Using anthropological data is by far a lower standard of evidence than just promoting a dietary theory and testing it appropriately.

      And that’s why the state of “Paleo” is just a bunch of fairytales. Rather than cross-referencing with the thousands of studies and decades of research on the importance of a variety of plant fibers (RS, NSP, inulin, FOS, pectin, etc) and their effect on human health, we just have a bunch of extreme diets that are just being defended with anthropological fairy tales, to avoid any semblance of proper due diligence.

      But, of course, that’s what the recent National Geographic article was all about, in the first place.

    • Duck Dodgers on October 22, 2014 at 08:29

      “I appreciate your ‘no soap’ views Duck, I’m just glad we get to work together via email.”

      Well, interestingly, this fits in with our discussion on shallow-water habitats. An early hominid may have regularly (and perhaps, inadvertently) “bathed” when mucking around in the water near their water-loving sedges. But, we know they wouldn’t have used soap. Rather their skin would have been teeming with ammonia-oxidizing bacteria (AOB). And if you think about the stench that most Westerners have on emanating from their bodies, it tends to come from excess ammonia.

      Now, we can certainly joke around that if I don’t use soap on my skin, it should smell. And that wouldn’t even be that surprising since that’s what tends to happen to most Westerners. Oddly enough, I used to smell when I showered daily and ate a SAD. However, after switching to an ancestral diet (pastured animals, raw milk, whole foods, etc), that ripe smell of ammonia is nowhere to be found on me even if I don’t shower for a week. I can’t tell you why that is, but my money is that the microbiome has something to do with it.

      What’s really interesting, to me, is that “body odor” didn’t even exist in the English lexicon until indoor plumbing began arriving in people’s homes—despite the fact that few people ever washed or bathed more than once a year or less before the 20th century. In fact, there is almost no record of people talking, writing about or complaining about body odors until soap manufacturers (mostly Proctor & Gamble) made it something for people to be self-conscious about.

      Now, it’s certainly fun to make a fuss about someone not using soap in the shower but would we make fun of African cultures who do not use soap? My guess is no. Should we assume that they smell terrible, or that early hominids all smelled terrible? Actually, my guess is they wouldn’t have the kind of body odor like Westerners do. Could it be that body odor wasn’t a major problem before the 20th century? If the microbiome is playing a role, it’s entirely possible that body odor might be a consequence of a modern lifestyle.

      Anyway, it’s fascinating to think about now that shallow-water habitats are in the picture!

    • Dan on October 21, 2014 at 18:35

      Well I can understand from where you are coming from but I have a different take on it. Loren Cordain seems quite interested in the research I have read, seen and watched other people talk about how he has libraries of papers on the subject. I think he does have a genuine interest in paleo nutrition.

      As a scientist myself I know it can be hard sometimes to let go of pet theories in the face of mounting evidence. But to his credit he has changed his viewpoints when the evidence has mounted i.e. saturated fats. Sometimes I feel he is caught between a rock and a hard place. When he said not to eat saturated fats a lot of the paleo community trashed him for it, then when he admitted it was ok to eat saturated fats everyone labelled him as a cop out. As if changing his mind showed him as some bad scientist. I feel for him in that respect. The fact that he was willing to change his mind proves to me that he will if the evidence suggests something different than what he believes.

      He has definitely stated his viewpoints against the sedges and grasses but lets not forget this was early in the piece when the studies had just started. I think it is reasonable of him to view this critically and with suspicion. I certainly wouldn’t want a scientist to change his mind on any flimsy piece of evidence that came along. I would certainly need to be convinced by quite a bit of evidence before I gave up a paradigm that I believed to be true. But he has proven to do that so I think that is encouraging and something to be admired. He seems to have gone quiet on the issue so it’s hard to tell what he is thinking now. I’m sure as more evidence comes out he may change his mind.

      Now Loren Cordain I like. And he never really pushed a low carb diet (even when others were) he was always pushing a more moderate diet. He never banned carrots, pumpkin etc and so he isn’t against some root vegetables. His studies even show that carbs were about 30-50% of the diet or something like that. But certainly not low carb.

      I trust Loren Cordain is keen to push the truth out, even if he may be wrong. I have communicated with him a few times and he gave me the impression he genuinely cared about the topic. Now OTHER dieticians and paleo bloggers I completely agree pushed their own agenda and didn’t care about what the actual research showed. I am more careful to separate Loren Cordain from them though. I really used to get annoyed with these people that hijacked the paleo research to bend the movement to their own beliefs. So I definitely undersstand you frustration. I mean ‘no soap’…..come on!

    • Duck Dodgers on October 22, 2014 at 10:02

      And that paper on skin bacteria is well worth reading. Here’s one interesting passage discussing the hypothesis:

      From: Soil bacteria, nitrite and the skin (free download)

      “An early effect of economic development in modern times is abundant clean water for food preparation and hygiene. The transition in bathing practices due to migration between areas of different economic development times is much more abrupt than was the change during historic development. The ‘germ theory’ and improved public health education were responsible for the changes in attitudes and hygiene and habits in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries; but the timing of the adoption of individual personal hygiene practices was not rapid and is not always well documented. ‘The Great Unwashed’ were unwashed largely due to lack of opportunity…Further dramatic changes in personal hygiene practices have occurred due to the affordability, due to mass production, of sophisticated bathroom equipment and hair/body care products in the last 20-30 years. We hypothesize that modern hygiene practices, in particular the custom of frequent baths or showers with abundant warm water and lavish use of shampoo and liquid soaps, have led to the efficient removal of skin bacteria, including those that were once an important part of the ‘normal’ commensal microflora of the skin. The very recent practice of using antimicrobial agents in virtually all bathing products can only exacerbate the loss of normal commensals.

      An important group of microorganisms, now virtually absent from the skin of most individuals, are AOB, bacteria ubiquitous in soils and natural waters. AOB play an important role in the global nitrogen cycle by catalysing the first step of the nitrification process, the oxidation of ammonia to nitrite which provides their sole source of energy for CO2 fixation and cell growth. Mammals likely evolved with AOB on their skin, providing their host with nitrite by conversion of ammonia in sweat with scalp, pubic and underarm hair providing a suitable niche due to enhanced sweat production, increased warmth, increased relative humidity, and protection from light (the latter is important as ammonia monooxygenase activity is inhibited by light). Low NO increases androgen levels which increases growth of public hair, expanding the AOB niche thereby increasing NO/NOx production and absorption in a feedback loop…”

      (Hat tip to Gemma for finding that paper! And thanks to Richard for pointing out AOBs in the first place.)

      The skin is the largest organ and the paper goes on to hypothesize how the skin microbiome may play a role in our health. Really interesting stuff.

      And back on topic… I do find that very few people in the Paleo™ community are interested in talking about the microbiome and the importance of plant fibers, starches and bacteria in the evolving human. It seems to be off their radar. Maybe over time they’ll look into the smaller details a bit more. In the meantime, we’re pouring through the tons of available research and uncovering whatever we can!

    • Daniel on October 21, 2014 at 21:49

      I appreciate your ‘no soap’ views Duck, I’m just glad we get to work together via email.

    • Richard Nikoley on October 21, 2014 at 21:53

      Over six years without a drop of soap or shampoo. And my hair is almost long enough now to do a pony tail for the first time in my life.

      Future blog on that.

    • Duck Dodgers on October 22, 2014 at 05:35

      “His studies even show that carbs were about 30-50% of the diet or something like that”

      As I would expect to see given the known habits of documented indigenous cultures. But, I wonder how one is supposed to obtain 30%-50% of their calories from carbs without eating fruit or starchy vegetables? Even if you eat starchy vegetables, it’s still difficult to eat that many carbs. For someone eating 2000 calories, 30% carbs is roughly a pound of potatoes a day!

    • Dan on October 22, 2014 at 13:19

      Right but thats my point though. Loren Cordain never pushed a low carb diet. I think he mentioned it was ‘lower’ in carb compared to the western diet. He got flamed for this too, especially when paleo movement went low carb. But he stuck to his guns, and in this context, he was right to do that. He might not have a problem with tiger nuts. He only really has a problem with potatoes, but not any other root vegetable or fruits. Remember he was arguing against grasses been eaten not tubers.

    • Duck Dodgers on October 22, 2014 at 15:53

      Well, it would be difficult for him to find a problem with tiger nuts. It’s a fascinating tuber because they are one of the few starchy tubers that are totally safe to eat raw, they have twice the starch content as a potato, but they are a low-glycemic food that is safe for diabetics (likely due to its fiber/resistant starch). The macronutrient profile itself is similar to that of human milk and they are more nutrient dense than red (muscle) meat. And they taste like candy. What’s not to like?

    • GTR on October 25, 2014 at 06:44

      “Well, it would be difficult for him to find a problem with tiger nuts.”

      There’s apparently the whole lifestyle concerned with MYCOTOXINS avoidance, and tiger nuts coming from wet environments, and also some greedy producers failing to dry them properly…

      The percentage of contaminate samples with one or more emerging mycotoxins was 21.3%. EN A1 result the most common EN found with the highest prevalence of 17% with levels ranging from 32.3 to 4400 μg/g. EN B1 and BEA were present simultaneously in 5 samples, whereas the maximum contamination observed of the EN B1 was of 346 μg/g. ”

      Basically you’d need to buy more expansive tiger nuts made by a special production process, designed to eliminate mycotoxins.

    • Duck Dodgers on October 25, 2014 at 07:19

      “Basically you’d need to buy more expansive tiger nuts made by a special production process, designed to eliminate mycotoxins.”

      Or you could just grow your own tiger nuts. It’s pretty easy. From what I understand, you can just take a few old ones from a bag and put them in the ground…and stand back.

      It’s fun to think about “Paleos” being concerned with toxins. Apparently the Museum of Natural History, in New York, has a terrific exhibit on the history of poison. The one thing the exhibit makes clear is that our recent ancestors had to deal with way more toxins in their food than we do now.

      And since domestication of plants involves selecting and hybridizing for lower toxin load, it stands to reason that our distant omnivorous ancestors consumed some very toxic plants. And it’s not difficult to find significant quantities of these toxins being ingested by indigenous cultures. The Inuit constantly drank toxic Labrador Tea. The Masai used acacia barks with every meal (full of the same toxins that are feared on the modern “Paleo” diet). The Andean Indians ate wild potatoes that had far more glycoalkaloids than the wussy modern potato varieties do. (They also consumed them with clays to detoxify). The more we look into traditional diets, the more you see that early cultures weren’t afraid of low-level exposure to toxins.

      (I know you already know all this, GTR. Just pointing it out for others.)

    • Gemma on October 26, 2014 at 02:30

      Haha, only for animals.


      “Mycosorb is a patented broad-spectrum mycotoxin binding feed supplement derived from yeast. To prepare Mycosorb a specific strain of yeast is grown under prescribed conditions, inactivated and fractionated to separate the cell wall glucomannan from the rest of the yeast cell. The glucomannan is then processed to enhance its ability to bind with mycotoxins. Mycosorb is indigestible, so toxins that bind with it are removed from the body with the excreta. ”

      Just eat some mushrooms, people.

    • GTR on October 26, 2014 at 02:24

      I think the point Dave Asprey made about mycotoxins is that they become much worse after the invention and massive use of fungicides. That is that modern fungicides eliminated like the majority of mold, but that majority included the lest strong, the most benign of it, while the minorty of the worst mold survived the fungicide and was awarded the whole niche to thrive that previously was occupied by the benign mold. That was actualy Asprey’s critique of Paleo – that they don’t include such information about the change in contamination that the food supply underwent since then.

      An example of not hamful mold contamination in ancient cultures:
      “Blue cheese is believed to have been discovered by accident, when cheeses were stored in naturally temperature and moisture controlled caves, which happened to be favourable environments for many varieties of harmless mould. Roquefort is mentioned in texts as far back as 79 AD.”
      So after the revolution you are getting like aflatoxin producing aspergillus than the molds like above.

      An interesting example given by him is zearalenone which is a fattening estrogen. Meaning you can eat according to a great, proven-to-work diet book, and still get fat from it – because of some hidden toxins in your food. That adds another dimension to this whole diet confusion… And the toxins accumulate in animal fat – which may cause some “fat makes you fat” correlations.

      Notice that we have an equivalent of those Indians clays that could protects us from consumed mycotoxins, but it is only for animals.

    • Duck Dodgers on October 27, 2014 at 09:38

      Ever since Asprey bungled the research linked to the lectins debate and the RS debate—showing up just to both just plug his book—I sort of stopped taking him too seriously. Though, I commend him for at least taking the time to briefly discuss them before demonizing them.

      Asprey seems to have a fairly compromised immune system, so yes, tiger nuts from Valencia are definitely NOT bulletproof due to the fact that they must be dried for 3 months in warehouse pits.

      But, when I said, “difficult for [Cordain] to find a problem with tiger nuts,” I meant with the species itself (not the manmade conditions imposed on the species). As a plant, they are difficult to match and easy to grow.

  5. Dan on October 21, 2014 at 12:54

    Oh and I should add. My main issues, and I was probably been a bit pedantic, was just that I didn’t see how tubers were superabundant throughout Africa. However, I actually think that if humans survived in East Africa near freshwater or marine sources, where the tubers grow, this makes sense. It also links in with the idea that humans evolved from the East African Rift Valley where all those water sources are.

    The other important factor that I mentioned was how omega 3 fats were a limiting factor in the evolution of the brain for all land-based animal species. Omega 3 fats are abundant in aquatic ecosystems, but not so much in terrestrial ecosystems. I have read that our brains developed in those groups within the Rift Valley that lived on the coast or on the Great Lakes or other aquatic ecosystems because they could access foods high in omega 3 (woman collected shellfish for example). It seems to me that our evolutionary history is very much tied up with a land-water interface. if you consider both the omega 3 argument and the tuber argument that becomes even stronger.

    I actually plan on writing a post on this now you have peaked my interest. I would love either you (Duck), or Richard, checking it out beforehand if you have the time due to my lacking knowledge base in anthropology.

    • Gemma on October 21, 2014 at 13:21


      DHA is linked to brain evolution AND fertility.

      Do baboons, living close to aquatic food sources, such as tigernuts, have mating seasons?

    • Duck Dodgers on October 21, 2014 at 13:36

      Dan, I’d be happy to! I left a comment on the latest post on your blog.

    • Richard Nikoley on October 21, 2014 at 17:28


      I’m in. I’ll show you where to properly place f-bombs and a few wry or ironic memes. :)

    • Dan on October 21, 2014 at 18:26

      Excellent sounds good. I will work on it this weekend and then you guys can run over it and tell me where i have gone wrong etc, and add extra bits of info that you think are relevant.

  6. Zach on October 21, 2014 at 17:00

    (Not related to the post, just a thought I’ve had about all the resistant starch news lately, and stirring the pot, so to speak…)

    I’ve been considering oatmeal a lot lately. I’m a pretty picky eater, as is my partner, and there are limited sources of RS we can stand to eat. It has been a staple food of the scottish, who prepared it by bringing it to a boil the night before, letting it cool, then reheating it in the morning with a little milk and butter. Doesn’t that sound like a familiar pattern?

    A lot of people are down on oats, but I think it’s a wonderful way to bring people into a healthier diet without giving up their comfort foods.

    • Douglas on October 22, 2014 at 06:31

      I think the problem with oats is one of culture proximity with wheat or other gluten containing crops and also of being processed in the same environment = gluten containing by proximity/contamination. If you have no problem with gluten it is a no issue. I occasionally indulge on week-end but I have found for myself to better avoid it as a regular staple after being fed mass amount of it all my life (I am now 50). Just a thought…

    • Richard Nikoley on October 22, 2014 at 14:43


      Be sure to put a little sugar on it. :)

    • Douglas on October 23, 2014 at 07:34

      Ah yes – full fat cream and maple syrup! Yummy!

    • Zach on October 23, 2014 at 13:30

      Oh, I did. It’s funny how a teaspoon of brown sugar can completely change a dish. A sliver of butter and splash of full fat milk doesn’t hurt, either.

      I soaked some steel cut oats for 24 hours before cooking them and letting them cool overnight. It turned out exactly like porridge should, thick and consistent but not sticky.

    • Richard Nikoley on October 23, 2014 at 20:14

      I thought No True Scottsman puts sugar on their porridge. :)

    • Zach on October 24, 2014 at 07:19

      I prefer to keep fallacies out of breakfast. :)

  7. Marc on October 21, 2014 at 18:35


    Oats seemed to work pretty well for Mr. Clarence Bass….

    Thank you Duck, awesome stuff.

  8. Geoffrey on October 22, 2014 at 17:48

    Is tatertot still around? does he have a new screen name?

  9. michael+goroncy on October 23, 2014 at 16:19


    Tim Steele (tatertot) is here

  10. James H on October 26, 2014 at 09:51

    While I do prefer meat and fat–vegetable matter just doesn’t cut if for me–the anti-carb crowd drives me nuts because they simply cannot get it into their heads we are omnivores; we’ll eat anything that is not currently eating us at the moment.

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