A is for Ancestral

Our Great-Grandmothers or the Pre-Agricultural Era?

How far back exactly is “ancestral”? Do we mean our great-grandmother or our pre-historic ancestors? The answer is: Both. In the case of the recipes in this book, I mean traditional dishes passed down over generations calling for fresh, seasonal ingredients and which are mostly free of sugars, grains and legumes. (3-footnote). The recipes in The Bordeaux Kitchen steer clear of industrially-refined “foods” and oils (such as canola, cottonseed, safflower, sunflower, soy, and “vegetable” oils) and recommend instead animal fats from pastured animals (including butter, fat from fowl, lard and tallow), fish, herbs, pressed olive oil, coconut oil, ground root or nut flours of chestnut, cassava or walnut, spices, meat and cheeses from grassfed animals, sea salts, vegetables, whole nuts and seeds. These foods for the most part comprise those that would have been grown, prepared, and eaten by our nearer ancestors, our great-grandmothers and great grand-fathers.

In the case of advocating for an “ancestral lifestyle,” I mean what is usually referred to as a Primal or Paleo approach to eating and living. These approaches are rooted in the theory of evolutionary biology (see the following entry on Evolutionary Biology). For almost 2.5 million years, humans were primarily nomadic hunters and gatherers, prior to our transition approximately ten to eighteen thousand years ago to an agricultural, settlement-based culture.

Today, with the myriad choices available to us (hyper-palatable chips, candy bars, and sugary drinks available to us at an arm’s length in vending machines, for example), and lacking the selective pressures of our evolution (lacking a sense of what is in season, what herbs or greens are medicinally helpful, having light available to us at night and in winter when we might otherwise be resting)  we live, according to Nora Gedgaudes, under a “collective illusion of creature comforts and conveniences” and no longer have “the wiggle room enjoyed by our ancestors” to make errors in our diet and lifestyles. The good news is that “we do have a choice to complement, not compromise” our health.[4] We make this choice every time we procure, prepare, or share a meal, for example.

[4] Ibid (Nora Gedgaudes). Besides Nora Gedgaudes’ Primal Fat Burner, excellent references in which these theories have been developed are Lights Outby T.S. Wiley, Chris Kresser’s The Paleo Cure, and Robb Wolf’s The Paleo Solution. Additional resources can be found in the Resources and Further Reading section in The Bordeaux Kitchenbook.

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