“I was once told it takes 20 generations for a species to adapt fully to a place genetically” says Roxanne Swentzell of The Flowering Tree Permaculture Institute in Northern New Mexico. Roxanne has started a study group of Pueblo People who are participating in The Pueblo Diet/Food Experience in which only foods that were available to the Pueblos pre-European contact are eaten. This diet consists of strawberries, currants, spinach, corn, squash, beans, turkey, and other crops naturally supported by the New Mexican environment. Blood tests before and after have shown great health improvements in people who had been eating the typical highly processed American diet and then participated in this Pueblo Food Experience. Dylan McLaughlin made a video of the first test group in which you can witness the health transformations for yourself.
As a seed saver, Roxanne has observed the genetic adaptation of the seeds to the Northern New Mexican climate. However, it is not just the seeds that have adapted genetically to the climate, it is the people as well. The Pueblo people have lived here and eaten traditional foods for at least 20 generations. “Their genes fit the sunlight, the food, the cold and the hotness of [this] place… this is why we get all different human races on Earth,” says Roxanne. Jared Diamond’s book Guns, Germs and Steel is full of examples on how environment shapes the evolution of “civilization.” Diamond explains that the evolution of food production is a major factor in the way the world came to be what it is today. The varying climates and environments played a large part in the food and types of nutrition available to different groups of people. These groups spent thousands of years surviving off of whole, unprocessed foods found in their particular geographic areas.
Today in America we have access to foods produced all over the world and a majority of our nutrition — or more often lack of nutrition — comes from highly processed foods high in sodium, carbohydrates, and sugars. In Michael Pollan’s article “Unhappy Meals,” he explains that recently (during the last 80 years or 3 generations) the majority of our diets has consisted of processed food, as opposed to the entirely whole food diets humans had been eating for the past 200,000 years. Pollan uses the term “whole foods” to mean food that has not been processed, for example everything in the produce section of the market. In the last 80 years, along with the rise in processed foods we have seen an increase in health issues like obesity, high blood pressure, and hormonal imbalances.
The Pueblo Food Experience is an inspirational experiment that is showing significant results in the health of the participants. When I use the term health I use it in an all encompassing way, meaning both mind and body health. The Pueblo Food Experience is just that — an experience — not just with food, but with community and the environment. It is exciting to look into what foods might benefit your physiology. What foods did your family form a symbiotic relationship with? What diet would make you feel the best you could feel? I write this to encourage you to find out what that diet might look like.
When I asked Roxanne how the Pueblo Food Experience has influenced her life she said, “The Pueblo Food Experience has been one of the greatest experiences of my life. I knew it would be interesting but I had no idea how profound it would be in a cultural sense. It’s hard to put into words, but maybe I would say that no ceremony or activity connected me with my ancestors like the diet did. I see things slightly differently now…..the story got clearer….we have gotten so far from our source and the diet helped me connect to who we were and still could be as Pueblo people.”
-Posted by Anastassia