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Andrew Scott

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since Mar 17, 2013
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Boreal Alaska
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Recent posts by Andrew Scott

Hi Mick, thank you for your comments. Your message was posted while we were in a power/internet drought (which is often, really), and we are just now seeing it. My overall impression is that you believe we can create a perfect utopian situation. We don't believe this is possible. Our goal is not to create a perfect world, merely one that moves us as far toward peaks in well-being as we can.

I am currently traveling (and taking advantage of fast internet), and time is very limited. So I will provide a general statement that your examples cover a broad range of examples which are unreferenced. That's not a problem other than it makes it difficult to know which examples we're actually discussing so we may provide any kind of intelligent perspective. I will say that your interpretation of the anthropology of immediate-return hunter-gatherers does not match ours. A full elaboration of this would require more time and more information about your sources. With that said, please understand that this reply will necessarily be partial.

Mick Fisch wrote:...I think it would be pretty difficult to get a group of any size who all buy into the same world view and set of societal rules... Among hunter/gatherer groups that I've read about there were and are a lot of blood-ties and a  very homogeneous world view and what the rules of behavior are in each group. When a family goes from one band to another, they are usually going from one part of the extended family to another, and they all play by the same rules (not necessarily our societies rules).

Here's an article that provides an overview of the kind of cultures we have in mind. The subheading "Cultural Instability" seems like it would be more precise if it was "Cultural Variability", but it's close enough either way. From "Immediate-Return Societies: What Can They Tell Us About the Self and Social Relationships in Our Society?" by LEONARD L. MARTIN and STEVEN SHIRK

Cultural Instability
In a society that values equality as highly as immediate-return societies do, there can be no single, correct version of events or values. After all, if the values of one person are considered correct, then a different set of values held by another person must be incorrect. This dichotomy implies inequality, which is actively avoided in immediate-return societies.

The concrete result is that individuals in immediate-return societies have few verbalized rules of behavior, their rituals are highly variable (and may even be dispensed with altogether), and the individuals have no single, clear idea of a moral order  (Brunton, 1989).  Knowledge in immediate-return societies is idiosyncratic and gained by personal experience. It is not handed down by others. As one individual put it,  “None of us are quite sure of anything except of who and where we are at that particular moment” (quoted in Brunton, 1989).

Among hunting and gathering cultures, most rules seem to be relating to sharing and the avoidance of individuals attempting to maintain dominance. If you haven't yet, the linked article by Woodburn in the OP is worth a read.
5 years ago
Since our project is off the ground in the sense that we have land that's paid for, and some momentum, the difficulties Radine mentioned often get mentioned as barriers to individuals getting started.

Even if feralculture isn't the right fit (because it's definitely not right for everyone), I'm still curious whether the model might help people get over that first big hurdle.
6 years ago
Radine, Tyler and I have started discussing a project (feralculture) I co-founded which may not be exactly what you're envisioning, but might actually be mutually beneficial.

Basically, we're putting together a community that's more like a distributed network. Instead on one large property, we want to have a bunch of small properties that community members can migrate between as they so choose (or stay at one if that's their preference).

Where I think this fits into what you're trying to do is that existing community nodes could easily function as incubators for people who want to acquire more land. But rather than that shared effort being effectively lost in a disbanding after 3-5 years (or whatever timeframe), the people who want to expand into other landscapes would maintain membership in the original community, and add to its landbase. In a sense, it could be a way to have our cake and eat it too.
6 years ago

Tyler Ludens wrote:I'm interested in your project, Andrew, but it looks like you're staying up north?

For various reasons (zero property tax, zero building codes, big salmon runs, moose and small game hunting, access to huge tracts of state land, Alaska pays people to live here, etc.) our first property is here. However, our project really is about the network of clustered nodes of properties situated in various bioregions, and explicitly to foster nomadism (though voluntary nomadism, individuals can stay longer at a node for their own reasons.

We've paid off the first node, and we're still working on putting together the network, and have people actively looking across US/Canada. We have had a few people excited interest in rolling their properties/communities into the network, and we're still working on the mechanics of that.
6 years ago
Our project, feralculture, is working on something very similar. We're actively looking for people and projects to team up with to create a network of properties folks can migrate between. Here's an older thread about the concept: https://permies.com/mobile/t/29025/intentional-community/Hierarchical-Paleo-Permaculture-Hunter-Gatherer?foo=a

Our first "node" is fully paid for and things are moving in a positive direction. Even if people in this thread don't want to integrate with our project, we might all benefit from comparing notes.
6 years ago

August Hurtel wrote:I've seen suggestions that the lectins in most legumes are rather effectively destroyed by cooking.
I would exclude soy because of the phytoestrogens.

There are all sorts of studies showing some lectins being destroyed by cooking. Time and again, there are also studies that show we don't even know the right questions to ask. For example: Rice, Potatoes, Wheat, and Other Plants Interfere with Human Gene Expression

"These findings demonstrate that exogenous plant miRNAs in food can regulate the expression of target genes in mammals."

“the tested plant miRNAs were clearly present in sera from humans, mice, and calves… when compared to the endogenous mammalian miRNAs known to be stably present in animal serum, these plant miRNAs were relatively lower, but in a similar concentration range.”

And here's the rub with reference to the last few comments:

“Interestingly, plant miRNAs were stable in cooked foods.”

So cooking destroys some things, but it still leaves lingering compounds. The cited papers show micro RNA from plants impacting mammals, including humans, at the level of gene expression. Maybe that's significant, and maybe it's not, but it does indicate that this is all much more complicated than our current understanding illuminates.

7 years ago

Jason Silberschneider wrote:My worry is that paleo is going to lose popularity due to the many strawmen that exist because of the insistance of some to exactly copy the paleolithic diet. So then you get the argument that paleo excludes legumes and dairy because paleolithic man didn't eat them. And you should only eat food from your local region because paleolithic man didn't travel all over the world to collect fruits and vegetables.

This might be the perfect jumping off point for the permaculture diet. Once again I think of what Jack Spirko says about his "mostly paleo most of the time diet", and it seems to define a permaculture diet. He mentioned in one podcast about paleo, something along the lines of if you can eat it raw, then you can eat it as part of your diet.

Meat can be eaten raw, so therefore you can eat it raw, cured, cooked, however you want.

Grains cannot be eaten raw, so they are not eaten cooked either.

I do like the raw heuristic. It does have some problems, as August pointed out, but it does provide some useful insight.

Here's the questions it raises in my mind:
  • Was the human value of cooking that it increased metabolic efficiency? I think there's good evidence from that written into our anatomy.
  • Was the human value of cooking that it killed pathogens on partially spoiled meat (bacteria, etc.)? I think there's good evidence from this in the archaeological record pertaining to hominin scavenging pratices around 2 MYA.
  • Was the human value of cooking that it destroyed toxic plant compounds? This is fuzzier. I would suggest that this may have been a nice side-effect, but that it was not the main thrust of cooking's advantages.

  • Jason Silberschneider wrote:Now we can include legumes and dairy - both very nutritions and healthy - as part of a permaculture diet as they can be eaten raw, even though they aren't part of a paleo diet.

    I think we have to be really careful here. Only something like 1/3 of the global population has genetic mutations conferring lactase persistence. That means that a significant majority of adult humans on the planet do not simply get nutritious and healthy benefits from dairy, but also a lot of negatives.

    Jason Silberschneider wrote:How does that sound as a rough framework for defining a distinct permaculture diet?

    I think this is getting very close. I question dairy, and think recommending legumes across the board is borderline.

    7 years ago

    Paulo Bessa wrote:Paleo is mostly a fad

    True, "Paleo, the 2 million+ year fad." When it comes to fads, I'll take the only examples we have of true permanent culture over the fad of agriculture, states, sky god cults, and hyper-domesticated veg*n diets any day. Bummer that armies started for, and fueled by, the farming fad have been actively exterminating participants in the paleo fad since a few humans put seeds in the ground and mistook themselves for gods.

    Paulo Bessa wrote:Actually a paleo diet is very specific to the place in the world that we talk about.

    This is well known and endlessly discussed among paleo circles.

    Paulo Bessa wrote:One thing is being a paleo in Europe or Canada, another is being paleo in the Amazon jungle or the deserts of Africa.

    That has an air of truthiness to it. Let's keep in mind though, at the fundamental level, paleo frameworks are about heuristics informed by evolutionary biology. All humans don't share common ancestors from anywhere but Africa (so far as we know), and anywhen but the paleolithic. This is why it's important to keep the "paleo" in focus. We can certainly learn things about human health from extant populations, but we cannot use said populations as direct representations of our common ancestry. This is the mistake Amazon Anthropology Celebrity #1, Napoleon Chagnon and his adherents, continue to make. R. Brian Ferguson (Rugters) and James C. Scott (Yale) both have plenty to say about the problems with this attempted move from the perspective of anthropology.

    I think the anecdotes about your experience are beautiful, and no doubt imbued you with a depth of experience others are not privy to. Based on the recounting, it seems safe to say that the eyes of a trained biologist see very differently from those of a trained anthropologist. Time and again we have seen even the well-trained miss things, misinterpret things, or be lead astray by their own biases, or even the people they're studying (hunter-gatherers are notorious pranksters) even after spending decades with people. R. Brian Ferguson's work concerning Amazonian peoples highlights many of these mistakes. Because of the relatively early time of contact in the region, there is almost always colonial influence dating back decades to centuries, that isn't apparent on first glance, and especially with the present bias inherent with firsthand accounts.

    Paulo Bessa wrote:My point is: climate matters. Paleo can be very different, region to region.

    For comparisons of modern populations, yes. For evolutionary hypothesis of our common ancestors, not so much.

    Paulo Bessa wrote:Second point is: much of the romantic paleo image is wrong. For a starter, paleos always have a home.

    Whose romantic image? Perhaps I've missed the romance in this thread thus far. This is a common strawman, and would seem to require a lot of assumptions about your fellow conversants.

    Paulo Bessa wrote:
    The inuit in Greenland however had a different diet; they weren't farmers, so barely no meat, except ocasional seal, and plenty fish (even less plant food than the Icelanders). Also sea birds and their eggs. And seaweed and some shore plants. Although nomadic hunting for people, they also had "homes", otherwise they would die with the cold.

    It would be truly remarkable for the Inuit to have developed such amazing sea hunting technology--highly refined kayaks, harpoons, clothing, etc., and a culture surrounding the training of of remarkable paddling feats, and eat barely any meat. Just as with the Amazon, I suspect such reports are because many Inuit cultures have been significantly altered by what one Greenland Inuit community refers to as "gas and sugar culture". There's a good documentary highlighting the impacts of colonization and adoption of imported food and fuel on various Inuit communities, "Vanishing Point".

    Paulo Bessa wrote:Difference is, they don't practice agriculture or animal farming. They just use/eat whatever is around.

    So far, from the experienced in the Arctic, India and Amazon, I haven't met tribal people foraging or cows or sheep or eating beef (sorry paleos). Just fish+seals+birds+seaweed, plants+ocasional animals, or plants+fish+insects, ways I never see in the western world nor in so-called paleo diets.

    I like that you went through all of this to agree with my original post.
    7 years ago