Many researchers and health enthusiasts believe that the abandonment of our "Paleolithic" diet and lifestyle with the onset of agriculture some 10,000 years ago has lead to a rapid decline in health and perpetuated countless "diseases of civilization." While diet fads come and go, it seems this new enthusiasm for "Paleo diets" is here to stay. But what is a "Paleo diet" anyway? Through a comparative evolutionary and anthropological approach we will examine the diets of extinct hominins, our extant primate relatives, ethnohistoric and contemporary foraging peoples, and even our own dietary habits. We will strive to answer key questions about diets in prehistory and their implications for living people today: How do we know what our ancestors ate? How have dietary hypotheses been used to explain processes in human evolution? How bad is agriculture for global health? What role did certain foods play in shaping our modern physiology? Are we maladapted to our contemporary diets? What does it mean to eat "Paleo"? A mix of discussion and lecture will encourage students to develop their own interests in human evolutionary nutrition.
Course Attributes: EN S; BU SCI; AS SSC; FA SSC; AR SSC