What is a carnivore, a herbivore and/or an omnivore?   These terms refer to what we eat.  Not only what we eat but what other animals eat.  A meat eater, a plant eater or an everything eater.  Now, how about a starchivore?  A cool term coined by Nathaniel Dominy, Ph.D., Anthropologist and Associate Professor, Dartmouth College, has spent his life in the Study of the Human Diet.  It has been assumed that early man was primarily a meat eater.  The Paleo diet is the main opposition to a plant-based diet today, displacing the Atkins diet as the most popular proponent of an animal-based diet. With Dominy and others’ evidence, Paleo’s last convincing argument can be defeated.

I just listened to a lecture by Dr. John McDougall whose new book, The Starch Solution: Eat the Foods You Love, Regain Your Health, and Lose the Weight for Good!, has just come out.

As Dr. McDougall states, “We must eat.  We eat for energy and we must eat for calories.”  The primary source of this energy comes from sugar or carbohydrates.  We must also take in fat for future energy needs.  He goes on to say, “Rice turns to sugar and sugar turns into fat.”  The primary diet of 1.7 billion Asians is rice.  Now, unless those Asians have moved to the United States or someplace where there is a MacDonalds on every corner, those people are slim, full of energy and long lived.

Foods such as potatoes and pasta are comfort foods.  We hear about all kinds of diets but we don’t hear about the Rice Diet or a diet of potatoes.  That’s why the diets don’t work.  In order for a diet to work that diet has to be something that we can do all our lives…not just for a month or two.  The diet has to be something that brings us comfort.  How many of you could eat potatoes every day?  I could.  I just love potatoes.  That doesn’t mean a diet of french fries fried in some kind of oil and it doesn’t mean that we only eat potatoes.  But there are so many people around the globe who think that potatoes have very little or no nutrition and make you fat.  These concepts are incorrect and need to be changed.

In the Andes where potatoes are the mainstay of the diet the people freeze these potatoes for their very cold winters.   The Chuño (or tunta) has fed families in Peru’s altiplano for more than seven thousand years. Today, with the growth in popularity of Novoandina food, the humble chuño has been thrust to the forefront of Peru’s gastronomic scene.

3,800 metres above sea level, the locals of the district of Ilave, in the province of Collao in Puno, produce a dried potato they call the tunta. Details of its preparation have been passed down from generation to generation, feeding the population of Peru’s high altiplano for thousands of years.

What are starch foods?  Foods such as pastas, potatoes, sweet potatoes, corn, beans or legumes, millet in Africa, wheat in the Middle East and rice in Asia.  These are all plants and plants make sugar through photosynthesis.  Only plants make sugar.  There are the above ground starch vegetables such as beans, wheat, millet, corn and rice and the below ground vegetables such as potatoes, sweet potatoes and various tubors.  These are not green and yellow vegetables.  Those contain starch but very little.

Through years and years of research it has been shown that millet was in the African diet 6,000 years ago, rice in Asia 13,000 years ago, 105,000 years ago grass seeds have been found in humans of the Middle Stone Age.  The Astecs and the Mayas are known as People of the Corn.  Evidence even points back to Neanderthal Man where skeletons containing starch granules between the teeth existed 44,000 years ago.  The Barley Men were the Roman Gladiators while Roman soldiers asked that meat be taken out of their diets so they could fight more effectively and have the energy to do so.  Along with starch granules in the teeth the enamel on the teeth, because of its thickness, shows that the people were starch eaters.  Today many of our best atheletes are starchivores!

Starches are clean.  They are low in fat, contain no cholesterol, the plants do not grow human pathogens and they don’t store poisons such as chemicals, hormones etc.  Crops may be sprayed with insecticides but these can be washed off for the most part unlike eating animal products that are full of chemicals, mercury and the like.
Starches also contain plenty of protein, anywhere from 6% to 28%, plenty of vitamins, minerals, dietary fiber and high energy carbohydrates.

The year 2008 was designated the Year of the Potato by the World Health Organization.  Dr. McDougall believes, and it makes all kinds of sense, that the potato will determine if we are to survive with what is going on with our planet and our food.  The potato can lead the fight against world hunger and poverty.  Think of this…the health of the Peruvian People is the same today as the health in the United States was 100 years ago.

We can feed the world on a starch based diet.  Do yourself and your loved ones a favor and check out “The Starch Solution” by Dr. John McDougall.

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