There is plenty to learn from traditional cultures, but it's also important to remember that they didn't know everything and there are plenty of traditions that are foolish in the light of modern science. I thought of that because of an article I was just reading about malnutrition in Vietnam in Fast Company called Find A Bright Spot And Clone It adapted from the upcoming book Switch. Apparently many poor children were malnourished, but not all; these were the "bright spot kids". What made the healthy kids different? Apparently, what their mothers fed them:
The healthy kids were eating different kinds of food. The bright-spot mothers were collecting tiny shrimp and crabs from the rice paddies and mixing them in with their kids' rice. (Shrimp and crabs were eaten by adults, but they weren't considered appropriate food for kids.) The mothers also tossed in sweet-potato greens, which were considered a low-class food. These dietary improvisations, however strange or "low class," were doing something precious: adding sorely needed protein and vitamins to their children's diet.
In many ways the paleo diet is about tradition, but it does better than that by adding in the scientific and analytical aspect. Seaweed isn't traditional Southern food, but by bucking Southern traditions I've provided myself with a good source of iodine.