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Friday, June 21, 2019
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The dawning of starch-eating

Sira-sira store

I WAS weeding and clipping hedges all over the internet while looking for something to trigger my sluggish mind, when along came this news from Science Daily online, linking the consumption of starchy foods to people who lived 120,000 years ago. I call this the dawning of starch-eating.

Researchers found charred food leavings in hearths in Klasies River Cave in South Africa’s Southern Cape. This is the first evidence that plant starches were being consumed by humans as early as 120,000 years ago. Tubers, rhizomes and roots from plant sources were part of the diet of early humans. The findings discovered by a team of international archaeologists were published in the Journal of Human Evolution.

This is an exciting piece of news for me, a man who enjoys starchy meals. Starchy tubers, roots and rhizomes have been part of early man’s grocery list.

I dug up the earth for more information about starches and carbohydrates. After I gathered the complicated information from all over the internet, I carefully chopped them up. Then, I plopped them into my Information Blender to derive a scientific but educational smoothie.

It is a matter of sugar content. Carbohydrates are classified as sugar, starch and fiber. And there are two groups: simple carbs and complex carbs. Sugar is composed of oxygen, hydrogen and carbon, and is termed as one unit.

Complex carbs (fructose, fibers and starches) contain many units of sugar, starch and fibers, so they are complex. Simple carbs (sugar) have only one or two units. This is the reason why nutritionists tell us to prefer complex carbs over simple carbs. Complex ones are better for the health as they also contain fiber and vitamins.

Hundreds of years ago, man had not yet invented chocolates and high-calorie recipes such as spaghetti, hamburgers, cakes and buttered potatoes with gravy. He, therefore, had the benefit of simple food that offered the best value for effort.

There were no malls back then. So man maybe spent the daylight hours to dig up roots and tubers for his lunch or dinner to pair with meat. Maybe he used more hours hunting bison, buffalo and other animals the previous day. To improve the flavor, he grilled his meat along with the starchy crops.

Whatever cooking methods my brothers used 120,000 years ago, I salute them for discovering wild, edible roots and tubers; cultivating them; and making them part of their diet.

I am nutritionally richer today because of this brilliant group of people who, 120,000 years ago, discovered that a balanced diet is the key to good health.


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