This blog is about the intersection between evolutionary biology and food. But also about practical applications, sustainable agriculture, and general tasty things.
This blog wouldn't exist if food wasn't important to me, but it amazes me how I can continue to have experiences relating to food that change my view of things. That's one of the reasons I haven't written a book. I'm just not there yet in terms of experience, even though I've made great improvements in my life and maintained them, there is still much to learn. How could I ever put the pen to the page knowing that my words would be a static representation of my views for months and even years?
Last year when I lived in New York City there was a little tiny diner on a remote corner of Long Island City, one of my favorite parts of the city. It's so close to Manhattan, but oddly desolate. Standing alone amidst the glittering lights of the city, with the roar of the highways in your ears, is a surreal Blade-runner esque experience. One that many people miss out on because of an irrational skepticism towards Queens, which has some of the best food in the city.
But M. Wells, that little diner, was special. And I ate there at exactly the right time. It's hard to explain, but it was during a time when I was trying very hard to make myself someone I wasn't for the sake of a relationship. I have an unfortunate predilection towards this whole "destiny" thing, perhaps that is just the way my mind works. It helps me craft narratives, but it also makes me try to craft my own life into a story sometimes, with signs and wonders guiding me. Doubts that don't fit the story often get ignored in the name of these destinies.
And there were many doubts about all kinds of things in this relationship, one of the major ones was that I had to adopt a particular religion in order to go forward with it, a religion that required very regular fasting from almost all animal products. There were many beautiful things about this religion and I felt drawn to it in many ways.
And I thought, well, I can do this. With all I knew then, compared to when I was vegan, I could make it work for me. But I was miserable. One priest told me I could try vegetarianism instead, but it didn't seem to help.
I might never know why. I was reading The Meat Fix recently, which is the story of a man who was vegan and suffered from terrible health problems which went away when he added meat to his diet. Why does this happen? There are so many potential explanations, but for me even supplementing with carnitine, taurine, b12, and DHA didn't make a difference. I was depressed all the time. I started having menstrual irregularities. My list of food sensitivities seemed to just keep growing and growing. All the sudden, for example, I was sensitive to shrimp, one of the few animal products legitimately allowed. One thing I have been proud of with my dietary experiments was that they have allowed me to travel. But here I was throwing up violently in a bag on the train to Manhattan. And missing work because my period cramps had become crippling, so painful that they brought me to tears.
I felt more socially isolated than ever too. Why me? Why this? Why can't I just make this work like it's supposed to? Why does my body seem to rebel against me after even a week without meat? I was told to pray harder.
FAUST. The pain of life, that haunts our narrow way,
I cannot shed with this or that attire.
Too old am I to be content with play,
Too young to live untroubled by desire.
What comfort can the shallow world bestow?
Renunciation! - Learn, man, to forgo!
This is the lasting theme of themes,
That soon or late will show its power,
The tune that lurks in all our dreams,
And the hoarse whisper of each hour
And then one day I read about M. Wells, opened by Hugue Dufour and his partner Sarah Oberatis. I found myself there almost as if in a trance, I found myself there at the counter, eating bone marrow, brain, liver, and butter...lots and lots of butter. I was eating everything I wasn't supposed to eat, dusted with gluten, cheese, and irrevocably impious in its decadence, but I felt so energized, so alive again. I continued to cheat on my destiny there, becoming more bold to live the life I really wanted to live, powered grilled cheese sandwiches layered with liver.
At the same time, I was also reading the book Blood, Bones, and Butter, the autobiography of chef Gabrielle Hamilton. I never reviewed it here. It was so well-written, but her relationships made me intensely uncomfortable. I saw in her tense relationship, what my own could become if I continued to try to make myself into someone I really wasn't. Mired in doubt and contempt, irrevocably tied together by children.
I gave up on my "destiny". I ended my relationship, quit my job, and moved to Chicago. I have never regretted this.
Now I am wise enough to realize that I should only be with someone who accepts me for who I am now, whether then what I might be. And now I really do feel like I'm living rather than just coughing under a constant miasma of doubt and misery.
M. Wells tragically closed when the landlord doubled the rent. I would have felt worse about leaving Queens though if it had stayed open. But I had fallen in love with that ridiculously fatty food from Montreal. And looking up the Dufour online, I found he was once involved with a restaurant in Montreal called Au Pied Du Cochon. I made it my mission to someday eat there despite my inability to pronounce it correctly.
I added Joe Beef to the itinerary after reading it about it in Lucky Peach, which was fortunate since Au Pied and Joe Beef are "friends" if restaurants can be friends. The staffs share ideas, friendships, and meals together.
I ate there first, with fellow blogger Easy as Pi, one of the few dietetics students in the world who could enjoy such a meal. The thing about Joe Beef is that there is only one menu in the entire restaurant. And it is written, in French only, on a chalkboard we were facing away from. It was also really dark. So we asked our bald tattooed waiter for a recommendation. He said "no." I was a bit miffed, but just named two random things I had heard the restaurant is good at: bone marrow and horse. He said we also needed the guinea hen. OK...
It is only lately that I have been learning to appreciate meat as it really is, not the meat that most of us are used to, bland and standardized, but the meat of animals that have had varied, often long, lives. In Sweden earlier this year they had on my menu at Frantzen/Lindeberg tallow and tartare from a 7-year-old dairy cow. I thought it was intoxicating, earthy, and maybe just a bit eccentric. And then I met Magnus Nilsson, a renowned Swedish chef, on a book tour here in Chicago. His cookbook is a revelation to me, especially since I help my family with our relatively new farm where we are raising our own beef. Old cows, I thought, were not much good, except for ground beef that maybe you could turn into chili. But Magnus explains in his book that he prefers older cows because of their deeper more complex flavor which he enhances through dry aging. According to him, this meat has real marbling caused by the use of the muscles as the cow ages, interspersing it with fat, whereas corn-finished young cattle marbling "is just blubber."
Joe Beef's Bathroom Bison
I think Magnus would have loved the horse at Joe Beef. It had so much savoriness and character that it tasted much like an aged cheese. The guinea hen was also very powerful, with the dark meat tasting almost livery, amongst wild mushrooms with their own characteristic umami flavor enhanced by the gamey fat. What can I say about the bone marrow? It was perfect. We were stuffed, like the giant bison head that startles you in the bathroom.
Breton buckwheat wheat with butter, cheese, ham, and mushrooms
The next day I ate a Breton buckwheat crepe at La Bulle au Carré and then we had coffee with the awesome people of Eating Paleo in Montreal, at secret paleo hangout The Knife/Le Couteau, which serves amazing coffee and properly-brewed tea, as well as very good "paleo" treats from Almond Butterfly. Joshua, the organizer, compared it to Bierkraft in Brooklyn, which also serves a paleo crowd despite being a beer store (my kind of paleos).
Unfortunately I had a little too much coffee and felt like my heart was beating out of my chest when I ate my wild boar and mushroom risotto at Bistro Cocagne, which has a nice late-night tasting menu that is pretty cheap for the quality.
The next day I knew I had to eat lightly in order to prepare for my meal at Au Pied. I ate some little treats at the Jean Talon Market, where I mostly bought things to take home. I love that Quebec has a wild food movement that is all about reflecting the local northern boreal terroir. There were a variety of places selling things like cattail shoots, birch syrup, Labrador tea, and spruce beer. I wish I had known about Les Jardins Sauvages, because I would have loved to do one of their wild food dinners. I was interested, as I always am, in local cider, but was skeptical when I found most of it was "ice cider." When I lived in Sweden, I visited a vineyard there that made ice wine, which is created from grapes left to wither on the vine in the frost, the sugars concentrate as the fruit shrivels. It wasn't far off from very very oversweet mead. Ice cider is largely made the same way, with frosted apples, but the ones I tried were really nice and dry, so I actually brought some home.
Mushrooms and ice cider
I had a light lunch at Omnivore, a Lebanese spot that uses locally raised meats, and then a perfect afternoon tea with Japanese snacks at Maison De Thé Camellia Sinensis, a peaceful little tea house with a large variety of very good teas, as well as a nice boutique.
It rained much of the time I was in Montreal, which I don't mind, but later that afternoon the rain broke. And as I walked to Au Pied there was a perfect double rainbow arcing between the fiery autumn leaves. And one end led right to Au Pied, where the staff joyfully gathered outside to see it. And I try very hard not to believe in destiny now, but this was hard not to notice.
I was very lucky to be seated at the bar far end of the bar where the drinks are made. I'd heard some complaints from friends that service is bad at the tables. The service I had was excellent, from Florant, who came from the border of France and Italy. He stopped me from ordering several things, urging me to order things that were the most distinctive about the restaurant and that also wouldn't be impossible for little folk to eat. I started with the half order of the duck fat poutine, which is a signature dish there. It was good, but of course it was good, it's duck fat poutine after all. It's covered with gravy and cheese and fatty liver. The real skill was displayed in the second dish I had, which was fresh eel wrapped in pastry with potato, apple, and sage. The dish wasn't beautiful, but in all other respects it was perfect. I had their own beer, which was only so-so, but Florant gave me resinous spruce beer, which was amazing and I only regret I didn't bring any home, but I've made my own before and when spring comes and the spruce shoots are out, I'll have to make it again. Amazingly, the whole trip I was able to tolerate alcohol, even my arch-nemesis red wine, which normally gives me leg cramps. Maybe it was the sheer fattiness and richness of the food? I don't know.
Food at Au Pied was not photogenic, but it was delicious!
It was interesting that the people there seemed pretty svelte, not much different than the people in Sweden, despite having such meaty fatty food. It is also a place where you can get non-aged raw milk cheese. If the FDA's pronouncements were true, it's amazing that Quebec isn't a wasteland of food poisoned zombies. Either way, I ate plenty of it.
And when it came time to leave, I was sad and I hope to go back, maybe to visit Au Pied's Sugar Shack or Les Jardins Sauvages. And to see all the amazing people I met again. I also connected through Toronto and from the Porter lounge stared out at that glimmering city. I'd like to visit there some time too, and Porter seems to fly there from Chicago 17 times a day. A bonus for being a cold-loving creature is that I didn't encounter many tourists at all and none of my flights were full.
It was an adventure, and adventure I might never have had in another less happy life. Sometimes I imagine there are parallel universes, that versions of me from them reach out, to tell me even there I would have made similar decisions. That this is why the pilot mistook me for someone for Toronto, that a man at a coffee shop there told me "hello again," that someone had checked in under my name before me at Joe Beef. But these are once again my brain trying to make a grand story out of a mundane life. The word "mundane" comes from the Latin root of "belonging to the Earth", and if my life is about that which comes from the Earth, that is the home of apples, mushrooms, wild geese, birch and all I know that is good and green, then I don't mind.
When I was a freelancer and I worked from home it wasn't so obvious to me why Americans are so unhealthy. Now it's tottally obvious. Cooking and the housekeeping the accompanies it takes time and when every adult member of the household works 40 hours a week, that becomes very difficult. It's even worse because most people don't particularly enjoy their jobs and would like to come home and do something they enjoy. Wouldn't it be great if everyone loved cooking? But it just doesn't work that way.
I don't have children and I struggle to cook every day. What's the point of all the productivity gains we've made if we all have to work the same amount of hours? When I first started working I once tallied up the percentage of my life that would be spent at work or commuting at the current rate and it was too depressing a calculation to repeat.
Housekeeping is very difficult when there is no one keeping house, when it's an afterthought in an exhausting day. Me? I'd love to work fewer hours and while I'd have to cut back on some things, I feel my quality of life would be higher. But there aren't many jobs available for 15 or even 30 hours a week and almost none provide any kind of benefits.
Perhaps we should just give up and acknowledge that the price of the American workforce is that few people have time to cook healthy meals. Then we need to focus on having better restaurants. Right now if you are eating out a lot, you are probably getting tons of vegetable oil. Even Thomas Keller, Michelin-Starred Chef, uses canola oil at his enourmously expensive restaurants.
Workplaces could also pick up some slack, but in an era of budget cuts, few will. You are lucky if your workplace has a microwave and even luckier if it has a fridge. I know a few highly-skilled technology workers at very succesfull companies where they have excellent food, but that's an exception.
The idea that career is a form of fulfillment is a fantasy for all but a lucky few. In reality, this idea is just a way to make people feel better about having to give their lives away for trivial things. By the time they retire, their health is so battered that they spend the remaining years shoveling pills into their mouths in a nursing home. It's time to put work back in its place- it's a way to make a living for most of us and a lot of us would be willing to trade off some income for more time. More time to acquire healthy food, cook it, keep house, spend time with our own children, enjoy life...
This article in the NYtimes just bolsters the fact that our lifestyles are untenable: sitting is deadly. Um, that's a problem since most jobs involve sitting. i'm not sure that standing in one place at a standing desk is really that much better, though it's a start.
John Durant's latest post on Before & Afters reminded me of this pair of photos:
Eating a bagel
It's funny because my skin was pretty clear in the bread photo, but overall I think I looked more bloated or chubby back then. But attached to that picture is memories of all the time I used to spend at the school medical clinic and all the classes I missed because I was sick. I was thinking about what degree I might like to peruse recently and while I'm immensely grateful for my current health, it's hard not to be bitter about what I missed out on. I remember dropping out of some advanced math and stats classes because I was just too sick to keep up. Even though I know they'd take over my life, I am sort of tempted to take them now just to prove I can.
I had a great New Year's. I had a rough year last year, as my regular readers know, which involved an eviction, job loss, and some possible health problems among other unpleasant complications. As I watched the fireworks in the park, I thought for a second "Wow, I feel great and it's wonderful to feel this way considering how the year started out."
Honestly, I have no idea what was going on earlier this year, but one of my main symptoms was very low blood pressure. My doctor told me if I couldn't fix this on my own, he was going to have to put me on medication.
I'm happy to say that my symptoms are gone! I could speculate on what caused them, but honestly I'm not sure. Stress, lack of sleep, and undereating were regular parts of my life back then. These are the things I think might have worked:
The last part was facilitated by my purchase of large quantities of grass-fed lamb in bulk. I pretty much mostly eat that now. It means I don't worry very much about shopping which is nice. Some health complaints that have disappeared since have caused me to question some paleo paradigms. All plants have potentially problematic chemicals in them, no matter where they are from or how much of them your ancestors eat. Chris Masterjohn and I have talked extensively about this and he's writing a series about it.
Choosing plant foods because of their history without taking biochemistry into account is dogma, not science. I strongly believe that switching from yams to white potatoes as a carb source had an immensely positive effect on my health. There is something in yams(Ipomoea) that bothers me, which is absent in white potatoes. Not all domestication is bad. Many crops have been bred to be LESS toxic.
So I won't be avoiding nightshades for the paleo challenge. Avoiding grains mainly to see what happens and because I'm due for a dental checkup in Feb and Stephan's post on Dr. Mellanby intrigued me. I'll also avoid nuts, but I don't eat much of those anyway. I have some leftover grits from a wonderful New Year's brunch at Applewood and then I'll be grain-free for 30 days.
I'm more concerned about exercise this new year. I'm going to try to do that more systematically and get outside more. I also want to learn some new recipes...by actually following them. I think I've reached a plateau in making up recipes and need some wisdom.
My New Years wish for the paleo community is less reduxctivism. I would like to see fewer books saying that some parts of an animal are healthy and others are unhealthy based on fat content. I think the healthiest balance is found is eating ruminants nose to tail. No, drinking butter and eating lard are not paleo (though not paleo doesn't mean bad), they are more traditional nutrition(and can be a great part of a healthy diet), but lamb chops are.
Unrelated, but I'd also like to somehow figure out a way to clear my email backlog...sorry if I owe you an email!
It's a testament to the size of this city that there are several "cult" paleo restaurants frequented by various "tribes." I don't know all of them and most of them I know from the grapevine, but Crossfit South Brooklyn's are Bierkraft (ask for the paleo "muffin") and Palo Santo. Apparently Crossfit Virtuosity's is Fette Sau, a famous Williamsburg BBQ place. Lately Eating Paleo in NYC's has been Takashi, which serves Korean-Style Japanese BBQ in the West Village. John and I have entertained various people here, including the reporter for a show that will be airing in January. Last Weekend we hosted the Eades alongside Jenna from Lean Machine NYC. All I can say is that it's great to meet authors that look as good in person as we're supposed to look on this diet. Remember, if you are representing paleo or high-fat it's your absolute responsibility to look as sexy as possible.
So about Takashi: imagine a temple of meat. The walls are decorated with praises to the wonders of liver and the health benefits of short ribs. Underrated cuts of meat are elevated to the point where eating liver is a joy and not a chore. Did I mention they serve their liver raw? It's fresh from the farm and marinated in a bit of sesame oil. You dip it in a bit of sea salt and it tastes like good fresh bluefin tuna. There is no hint of the deep bloody mineral taste that makes liver normally such a difficult meat to sell. Now that we are overfishing bluefin, perhaps this is the future of sushi? I did try to replicate this at home (I was unsuccessful) and my roommate's horrified reaction reminded me that this is not something normal people eat. But they would want it if they just tried it once here! This is the sort of place where you should go to dive into offal because they do it so well.
The first course is raw grassfed meat, the second is thin slices that you BBQ at the table's grill. Both are very good. The chuck tartare, liver, and spicy tendon are outstanding for the first course. If you want some balance the bowl of pickled and fresh fruits and vegetables, called namul, is a good choice. For the second there are succulent fatty sweetbreads that crisp perfectly. I was afraid of sweetbreads, the euphemistic name for the thymus gland or something horrible sounding like that. But they are nothing but goodness. The stomachs are good two, but mainly a reflection of their marination. This isn't to denigrate the muscle meats, which are also excellent. I believe John and I have eaten everything here.
Now that winter is coming, there are the kind of things I need. Though winter has been slow to come this year, perhaps to keep the birds from flying away. I suppose it's strange to have been here long enough to be saying goodbye to people who are moving on. I know I can't tarry here for too much longer myself. I enjoy the city, but I don't love it. When I see ads for travel on the subway my heart leaps a little. And I'm not thinking about just going for a week, I'm talking leaving— immersing myself in another place again. Maybe it will be a place that refreshes me rather than steeps me in a type of fetid torrent like this city often does.
At least lately I am certainly well-nourished. I have been struggling to eat all my food before I go away for Thanksgiving, including a pork roast from Meatshare, blood pudding from Mosefund, beef liver, and turkey sausages from Brooklyn Cured. I've also been on a bit of a kimchi kick. I think I've probably eaten 4 types of kimchi this week. Maybe I need to move to Asia? But you know I also have this desire to settle down and find a place I'm not afraid to plant trees. I have all these tree catalogs on my nightstand and I always like to read them to relax. Some of them take nearly a decade to bear fruit or nuts. I don't feel my current life in on that kind of a timescale. It would be wonderful to be somewhere I loved well enough to put down those sort of literal roots.
"That's creepy. Why are your walls so empty?" my friend asked
"I don't know" I answered. Though I suppose I did have some reasons for the walls being starkly white. One was that I wasn't sure how long I was going to stay and I didn't want to have to plaster over any nail holes. Or get attached. And what would I put up anyway? Someone had suggested prints from my year abroad, but I didn't want to see those every day. It was enough that I compulsively looked at them when feeling upset. I don't think they comforted me much. They did make my heart beat louder. At some point a few wires in my brain got crossed and instead of being heartbroken for just a relationship, I became heartbroken for a place.
And perhaps it's a foolish thing to post about here, but this is Hunt, Gather, Love. And I did love this place and my life there, perhaps more than I've loved anything in my entire life. And the things I've done and not done since have had much to do with this.
Last night I thought about the day I left Sweden. When the taxi came, what if I'd refused to go? What if I had dug in my heels and stayed? Would I have been able to make it there as an expat? Would we still be together?
The taxi came and I put my small duffel bag in the back. I was illegal there anyway at that point. He left me at the gate and I spent all the time waiting for my flight in a teary daze. It's funny because I had arrived that same way. My boyfriend back then was moving to Hong Kong and didn't want to try things over the distance. He told me weeks before, but I hadn't believed him until that last day when we sat in the parking lot and he firmly told me it was over. The next day I woke up and my eyes were red and swollen. I frantically visited my allergist for conjunctivitis antibiotics before my flight that afternoon.
A month later he sent a letter begging me to come back to him in a few months when he'd come to Urbana, Illinois. But by then I had fallen in love with Sweden and the freedom I had there. It was August and I believe that's the month when things are really perfect in Sweden, though there were days of unremitting rain and it took me some time to figure out how to pay rent, buy groceries, and do other necessary things. I lived out in the country next to the Agricultural School in a big red house with large picture windows. Beside the house was a beautiful forest and over the hills there was the gently winding Fyris river.
Sometimes I find myself absentmindedly clicking through Google street-view of Uppsala. Unfortunately the camera stops at that forest path and I can't go any further. I walk up the path in my mind, trying to burn it into memory.
All my life I'd felt like I wasn't from anywhere, that I could never fit in because of my chaotic background. But finally I was in a place where the fact I didn't have an anchor didn't matter. All the expats were in this together. There were no best friends from kindergarten to compete with. There were apples everywhere. We'd gather them in our bicycle baskets after class. There were trips to lovely pockets of the countryside with vineyards and deep dark pine-bordered lakes. There were dinner parties by candlelight. At one of these I met a Swedish man. And it wasn't like here, where every relationship is cheap and full of foolish little games in the name of whatever stupid little relationship philosophy is fashionable these days. When he held my hand and took me home, he meant it. And here where is doesn't seem to mean anything...I feel bewildered and lost. And I'm a little afraid to say it, because in this city it sometimes seems like it's all about keeping your head above the dust and pretending your eyes don't hurt. But I'm going to be honest here and say I can't do that. I want these things back: a place I actually want to be in, neighbors, apple trees, my silver bicycle, and perhaps love that isn't reluctant and halting.
To tie this back tangentially to paleo, I read in Robb Wolf's book that stress-related cortisol elevation impedes memory formation. Perhaps that's why looking back, that year seems so perfect and my year in NYC seems so empty.
When I look at these pictures I worry that I'll never have these things again. But today I ordered prints for my white walls. I'm here for awhile at least, might as well make the most of things. When I remember them I'm going to try not to keep them in the past, I'm going to love them as if they were still possible. I'm still sorry I lost him and that place I loved, partially at least because of my own stupidity. I can't go back to that, but there are lovely things still left for me and I don't have to compromise that.
I made this last week hoping to use it as a tool to talk with people about paleo and other alternative diets. It can be often be difficult because so many people tell me that foragers are not healthy and that our modern life is the best. They have images from National Geographic of impoverished "primitives" and the "didn't they only live to be 30" meme in mind. Often they will tell me that they are so glad for modern life because if they had been born back then they would have died because they need a C-section or had some horrible case of strep throat.
They aren't really separating environmental issues from food. In much of modern middle class America, our environment is low-risk. Notice that I didn't say better. There are plenty of things wrong with our environment ranging from over-sanitation to lack of sunlight. In fact there might be chronic low grade risks in the modern environment from environmental contamination, too much light, etc. But we generally don't have to worry about risky childbirth, lions, tribal warfare, malaria, tuberculosis, hunting accidents, and all kinds of nasty things that are out there in the wild.
Our hazards are largely caused by an inappropriate diet that leaves us with obesity, diabetes, cancer, IBS, GERD and other diseases that are almost exclusively present in modern society. The standard american diet leaves us in quadrant III, not worrying about lions, but worrying about blood sugar and BMI instead. Pairing nutrition appropriate for human beings with the benefits of modern life allows us to move to quadrant IV. Notice I include Whole Foods Vegan there. I certainly believe you can lose weight on such a diet, I just don't believe it's an optimal diet. A truly optimal diet like WAPF or paleo allows the possibility of raising truly healthy children with well developed teeth and bones. Personally veganism also wasn't adequate to help me heal from GERD and my teeth weren't in such great shape afterwards either. But I'm throwing a cookie here to vegans that at least don't eat processed crap, vegetable oils, and sugar. They are better off than most, especially if they are utilizing fermentation of grains, legumes, and vegetables. A vegetarian diet that includes fermented dairy and eggs is even closer to being appropriate nutrition for our econiche.
You'll notice that modern hunter-gatherers have less appropriate nutrition and a harsher environment than their paleolithic predecessors. Civilization has pushed them into unwanted land that less oppressed foragers would have shunned. They also struggle with diseases introduced by outsiders.
Nomads and agrarian peasant cultures are also relatively healthy. They are eating neolithic foods, but they have been eating them long enough to know how to derive nutrition from them and minimize their antinutritional factors through fermentation and soaking. Lots of people look at these cultures and think "oh, well I guess their genes adapted to agriculture and it's OK for me to eat this Nutrigrain bar since my ancestors were agrarian." Nope, most of the adaptation was not genetic, but technological. People figured out that if they fermented and limed their corn they didn't have malformed bones. I tell people who are skeptical of paleo to go ahead and eat grains, but at least embrace the technology so many of us have forgotten that allows us to not poison ourselves with them. So many people read about the Tarahumara made famous in Born To Run and think that their health means some boiled corn on the cob is superfood. Wrong- the Tarahumara soak and lime their corn.
I don't do grains much myself because while these technologies these traditional societies came up with are amazing, they don't completely rid grains of their problems. Most of these cultures still preferred meat and ate grains and legumes only because they couldn't afford it. Traditional agrarians aren't fat or diabetic, but their height and bone structure just doesn't approach that of coastal foragers from the studies I've read.
Regardless, this chart isn't any sort of rigorously scientific study- we could probably argue for days where to place things, but it's a decent matrix for separating appropriate nutrition from other factors. That's definitely only one part of the picture, but it's a very important part. The other pieces are important too- sunlight, community, loving child rearing, a not too sterile environment, and being physically active for example. But dealing with the diet is a great first step.