It was always clear that sugar and fat are unnatural – at least as we have them today, i.e., in limitless quantities.
In primeval times, god knows what we ate – bugs, nuts, roots, fruit. Pure sugar was only in the occasional treasure-trove of honey. Otherwise we had to make do with what we got out of fruit, which was often underripe and not all that sweet. Fat? From nuts, I guess, and gathering, cracking and chewing away wasn't like our handy bottles of oil and blocks of butter. Meat was hard come by – whatever we could get from pit-traps and crude weapons, and it was hardly marbled, since it came from active game, not feedlot animals.
But (in case you hadn't yet deduced, I'm currently doin' the Atkins) that hadn't occurred to me about starch.
Recently I commented somewhere, maybe on Facebook, about gluten-intolerance how eating grass-seed was not really natural. Figuring out how to do so constituted one of the early unnatural (i.e., all too human) technologies that allowed us to expand our numbers and take over the world.
I like to imagine our ancestors, chewing disconsolately on a bushel of leaves, perhaps a salad of sorts festooned with a few high-protein grubs, staring out at a herd of grazing cows. Those behemoths grow to their immensity by eating grass, for chrissake. Also all those leaping gazelles and the like. Mope, mope. We couldn't eat grass, or much of it. Only one stomach instead of four, for starters.
Some antedeluvian genius got the idea of gathering up grass-seed, not much more promising than grass itself. Crushing it, getting rid of a fair amount of the cellulose protecting the bit o' starch. Enough of it and you can make a pita. (Works best if you've already mastered fire.)
Okay, there is a theory that people did the beer trip first – moldering heaps of ripe grass, maybe after a rain, and the magic of fermentation. Can't eat the damn stuff and get strong like bull, at least suck down the bubbling juice and forget one's hunger for a while.
But let's not get off on a tangent. However it happened, in various parts of the world we figured out how to get a staple food from the unlikely source of teeny seeds – grain, or rice, or corn. Voila – practically pure starch. Ready energy. Bread (noodles, tortillas, bowl o' rice) – the foundation of civilizations.
But really, the innards of grass-seed is not a natural food for us. (And so, as I suggested in my comment referred to above, a proportion of the population with gluten-intolerance shouldn't come as a surprise.)
Anyway, getting back to my point, if any: With sugar and fat being rare in the wild, we don't have any shut-off point; rather, our bodies want as much of it as we can lay our hands on and stuff into our mouths. Thus, after getting the basic starch thing down, we have worked on making sweet and fat infinitely available. Too damn smart for our own good. Waddling towards extinction.
I used to like sugar. These days I can, and mostly do, bypass its temptations with scarcely a quiver. Fat I can take or leave alone.
Ah, but starch. Living w.o. starch. No bread, or noodles, or tortillas, or bagels, or muffins, or buns and rolls – today I had a croissant. I'd been thinking about Paris (and what fun it would be to have a meet-up there with Alysa when Joan goes, as she says she WILL, someday), and about the croissants they casually toss off there, and how somehow, even this nice flaky one (starch AND fat, yum) just doesn't measure up. Is it the butter? The water? The Parisian air? The skill of centuries?
But I bypassed the bread. The walnut and cranberry (lightly poked it, oh so nice and spongy, with crisp surface), the flaxseed, the oatmeal, the whole-wheat, the multi-grain, the baguettes ... ah, I remember that day on the French Riviera, late fall, so no crowds, a cafe on the beach, wonderful seafood, but the BREAD ... my friend and I, each trying to maintain our figures (or keep them from going further to pot) tried to have just a bit, but, bit by bit, we demolished the bowl. It was one of the most wonderful things I've ever eaten. Again, nobody can make a baguette like French. DAMN them.
Anyway, thing is, we humans are supposed to be lean and hungry, trekking across the savannah looking for grubs, or competing with the hyenas for leftover lion-kill. And, like, walking and running all day. None of this sitting in front of the computer eating lovely bread with butter. Or even bread w.o. butter, dammit.
Or, like tonight, just thinking about it.
Nothing momentarily stems the eternal hunger like a hit of starch.
A clue to its unnaturalness: As with sweets and fats, it slips down easily, no wasted energy in chewing (well, except with those baguettes), and there's no shut-off. Who can eat salad endlessly, or even meat (in the forms in which we gorge these days, it rates as unnatural), and even fruit – an apple, okay another apple, not not apples all night like we can eat starch (and sugar, and fat, or some unholy combination of all three – the French do pastry pretty good too).
I remember periods when I did fasts. All senses heightened. Especially smell – especially re food. And energized, as reserves kicked in so I could go trekking across the savannah. Even the hollow feeling in the gut felt good.
But, of course, the fast finished, and I was back to ensuring that other way of feeling good: virtually no trekking, no hollow feeling.
The low/no carb diet is a kind of fast, a kind of reverting back to the natural way of being. If you can call eating barbecue chicken and some perverted kind of (them damn French again) rotted butterfat natural.
Like, who wants natural? Hair down to our ankles and an interesting collection of parasites, tigers and wolves and bears on our scent, bedding down in a hollow log or something. WE'RE HUMAN! FOR US, IT'S NATURAL TO BE UNNATURAL.
As soon as I drop 15 or 20, I'm headed for the nearest bakery. I may even walk.
(This has been a post for Lammas, the feast of the new grain.)