Dr. Bill Schindler is an internationally known archeologist, primitive technologist, and chef. In today’s episode, Dr. Bill shares his book, Eat Like a Human, where he discusses how modern food and the way we eat are working against us, rather than for us. Listen in as Dr. Bill explains ways to preserve and revive ancestral dietary approaches in order to create a nourishing, ethical and sustainable food system.
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Dr. Bill Schindler Discusses His New Book “Eat Like A Human”
I’ve got a phenomenal guest with you. This is Dr. Bill Schindler. I’ll tell you about him but first of all, let me say hello, Dr. Bill. How are you doing?
I’m good. How are you?
I am doing wonderful. Let me get it right out there. I love your new book and the swag you’re wearing, “Eat Like A Human.” We’re going to dive into the book. You got the endorsement by Mark Hyman on the front and some phenomenal practitioners and authorities on the back. Let me give a little intro to Dr. Bill Schindler. He’s an internationally known archeologist, primitive technologist and chef.
He is the Founder and Director of the Eastern Shore Food Lab with a mission to preserve and revive ancestral dietary approaches to create a nourishing ethical and sustainable food system. He’s an adjunct professor of Archeology at University College in Dublin. Dr. Bill, you’re one of those guys who I point to whenever I get off on these paleo rants and why we should be eating this way. I’m like, “If you don’t want to trust me, trust the PhD, Dr. Bill Schindler.”
This approach to food has transformed mine, my family’s life and anybody that we have as students or customers here at the Modern Stone Age Kitchen. It is the right way to look at these things. It’s weird me coming at this and for a lot of people coming at this from an archeological perspective but it is exactly the right place to come from. We’re living in Stone Age bodies with the same dietary needs and requirements. We’re faced with this weird modern food system that we’re trying to get our nutrition from. It’s a great perspective and I’m happy to talk about it.
If we’re homo sapiens and we’ve got predecessors, maybe 15 to 20 different species that we’ve evolved from, take us back to how long we’ve been eating meat.
There’s archeological evidence for the butchering of animals 3.4 million years ago. The animals that were being butchered at that time were not hunted by our ancestors. They were taken down by a predator. We didn’t have any hunting technology at that time but we had stone tool technology that allowed us to carve these animals up and take the meat off.
When a predator takes an animal down on the African Savanna, whether it’s now or millions of years ago, we know what these behavior patterns were like. They take on a large animal, dive inside, rip them apart with their canines and eat the blood, fat and organs, gourds themselves, go off and sleep. Typically, they’re leaving these massive animals corpses covered in flesh.
Humans are omnivores, but we’re not omnivores by design.
These other animals, like the ancestors of modern-day buzzards and hyenas would go in. They’re biologically equipped. They have the right equipment on their bodies to scavenge the meat but our ancestors didn’t until they created stone tools that allowed them to overcome their physical limitations and carve these animals up with these stone tools.
We have the bones of scavenging animals that were butchered by our ancestors 3.4 million years ago. To date, the earliest stone tool we found is hundreds of years later. We’re doing the best we can with what we have. Since then, we started introducing meat into our diet. This is the important part. Somewhere around two million years ago, we started to hunt, became the predators and had the opportunity to eat any part of that animal we wanted. We relish the blood, fat, organs, as well as meat.
Dr. Bill’s book is called Eat Like a Human. I interviewed Dr. Bill years ago and this was before the book, then we got the book out. It’s a fantastic book, full of stories, funny and has great experiences. Some of the ones about your TV show experience, diving into the cold water, great visual for anyone interested in reading about Dr. Bill diving and into the cold water and some of these survival shows, I love the modern survival shows because it shows how people truly did it. The book tells 75 delicious recipes to allow you to eat like a human. We’ll dive into that. Bill, let me ask you, throughout these numbers, three and a half million years, how do we date those? What’s the technology that we use to tell us that’s the timeframe?
It depends on what you’re trying to date and how long ago it was. Anything up to about 40,000 years ago, we can use techniques like carbon-14 dating and things that are a little bit more recent. We can use things like tree ring dating, which we can get to the actual year of the event we’re trying to date. When we go back in time that far, we have to rely upon some other techniques like potassium-argon dating.
I’m happy to expand as much as needed but very quickly, anything that’s organic and fits within that less than a 40,000-year timeframe, we can use carbon-14 dating with but things that weren’t alive like a stone tool, we can’t use those methods. What we can do is understand how different processes in the earth happen like volcanic eruptions, how soils form and those sorts of things.
If we’re very careful when we’re excavating and this is a simplified version of it but if we find a tool, we can often date the layer above it and the layer below it because of a particular volcanic event that happened, which resets some things that we can date. We know that event of the use and deposition of that tool happened between those two time periods. When we’re talking about things like three and a half million years ago, if we’re off by 1,000 years, it’s not a very big deal for the kinds of conversations that we want to have.
Humans have been eating animal products for all those years. Presumably, seafood would be around that time as well. We may be even able to safely assume it may have been going on for eons before that as well. Would you say that our bodies are fully equipped to eat these animal foods?
It’s complicated. It’s one of the things I dive deep into in the book. Humans are omnivores but not by design. We didn’t appear and had this digestive tract, teeth and everything designed to eat all the foods in front of us and all the foods that we eat. What we are equipped with is this brain. This incredibly powerful organ allows us to overcome our biological limitations.
We have an incredibly inefficient digestive check compared to other animals, especially for certain kinds of foods but we don’t need it. What we’ve been doing for three and a half million years is creating technologies that allow us to extract more resources from our environment that we don’t necessarily have the biological makeup to do and transform that food into the most nourishing and safest form possible before we put it into our bodies.
When you look at it like that, we’re omnivores by technology. We can’t escape that fact. If you look at most of the technologies of the past several million years involved with getting and processing food, when it comes to animals, most of those technologies we developed were about hunting, trapping or fishing.
We were overcoming our limitations to get the thing itself because we couldn’t run that fast and fly through the air. We don’t have huge canines but we can make bows, arrows, laterals, boomerangs, throwing sticks, traps and things. Most of our brainpower for millions of years, as far as animals were concerned, was getting the animal.
With plants, it’s a completely different thing. Plants have all sorts of toxins and issues. Even though plants have nutrition in them, most of that nutrition is locked up and requires us to do all sorts of things like fermentation to access those nutrients. Most of our brainpower concerning plants up until the agriculture revolution went into making plants safe and making the nutrients in those plants available to our inefficient digestive tracts. You take that on animal and all you have to do is have a sharp edge to open that up. Almost the entirety of that nutrition is not only safe and nutrient-dense but incredibly bioavailable. Even for our digestive tracts, all we got to do is start eating.
Let’s take it to fire. When does the fire come into the picture? Are fire and heating good or bad for food? What are the changes? Most people, when they are consuming animal products are in a cooked state. Tell me about the fire. How does that impact the food?
There’s a huge debate. A whole bunch of other anthropologists and I believed that fire began as early as two million years ago. What’s very interesting is that the time that we start hunting and the time that we begin to control fire are at a very similar time. It’s at that moment that our ancestors jumped in brain and body size the most that we ever have. Something is going on then that is incredibly important.
Fire is important for ancestors for a lot of reasons. It’s important for warmth and safety. Even though we’re bipedal, walking on two legs since 5 to 7 million years ago, we think our ancestors still lived in trees at night and slept in trees until we developed the technology of fire, which is when we could protect ourselves from all the nasty things that are out there.
We’re omnivores by technology, and we can’t escape that fact.
It’s for safety and extending our day. All these things fire is great for but also for processing food. Fire can be used in a way that makes food inedible and unsafe in certain ways if you can use it the wrong way but in many cases, it improves safety and our ability to access the nutrition in it. There’s a fantastic paleoanthropologist from Harvard who has done a lot of work with red meat, the human digestive tract and how we consume it best and most efficient ways. There’s a lot of work with chimpanzees as well.
What he’s found is if I gave you a hunk of raw red meat and you ate it, you would get a bunch of nutrition out of it but our bodies would work a little bit less hard and get a little bit more nutrition out of it if we, A) Physically broke it down in some way. Either you sliced it, ground it, cut it up or something and then, B) We did a little bit of cooking. We didn’t overcook it. In reality, the best way in my mind to access the most amount of nutrients from a huge hunk of beef is a medium-rare hamburger.
You get both of them. You get that physical processing already that chemical changes that happen when you do a little bit of heating. You don’t overcook it and that’s great. The awful organs, blood and most nutrient-dense bioavailable part of it are ready to go. As far as nutrition is concerned, you can get an incredible amount of nutrition by eating it raw. Cooking it in some cases, depending on what you’re cooking and how you’re cooking can reduce some of the nutrients and the availability of them slightly but the reality is most people like these things cooked a little bit. I’d rather have some cooked liver going into somebody than no liver at all.
Most of the people that are reading that are part of our tribe are familiar with my work and my book, The Paleo Cardiologist. Certainly, they’re going to be coming at it from, “Yes, I’d like to eat meat and seafood. I understand the importance of all those as well.” I’m trying to get people to gravitate towards the awful, the liver, the kidney, the heart, that nose to tail eating but if you look at some of the corner or authorities, a lot of them have swung in that almost close to 100% animal products.
What I love about your book is that it is eat like a human. Humans have been eating for hundreds of thousands of years. What’s great about your book is that it opens up so many food categories but does so in a safe way. Providing the recipes with it is fantastic. Let’s dive into the plants and how you talk about when plants are prepared. Plants don’t exist to make us healthy. They’re there for their benefit. They are producing their biowarfare against predators like us. Over the years, our ancestors came up with these technologies and processes to make them healthy and beneficial for us to consume.
There are a couple of things everyone needs to recognize and I know we know this innately but sometimes we may forget. The plants and animals we’re eating are different than the plants and animals we ate in the past for most of us because all of the plants and animals were wild. What we have access to in the grocery store but also for thousands of years through selection have been genetically modified.
With other people growing our food, we’ve lost the connection and understanding to a lot of the things about that food. Anybody reading that is a forger will know that there are real dangers out there in the plant world. Not only do you have to identify the plants properly and harvest them at the right times but even if you do those things, there’s a lot of post-processing that has to happen after you get those plants to make them safe and unlock those nutrients.
When we started farming 12,000 to 15,000 years ago, we’ve taken a lot of those plants through selective pressure that lessened some of the toxic load in those plants. We’ve never erased it all in the plant. Every single vegetable and plant somewhere has toxins in it. Some of those toxins are canavanine and don’t bother us. Some of them will kill us outright but a whole large host of them will cause problems if we eat too many of them or they can build up in our bodies over time.
One of the real dangers is that many of us are so disconnected from our food. Other people are preparing things and dealing with safety that we walk into the grocery store with this mindset, “All of this is safe for me, especially in the produce section. The salad is good. The more of it is better. I’m going to turn my brain off. All the senses that I typically would have used to try to decide what I should eat and load my cart.” That’s problematic.
What we found is that so many of these plants require some approach to make them as safe and nourishing as possible. Quite often, it’s something as simple as fermentation, which is incredibly easy for everyone to do on their kitchen counters with a mason jar, a little bit of salt and water. We go through that extensively in the book. Fermentation is a thread throughout the entire thing.
Other things like eating seasonally can help rectify a lot of issues. Spinach is one of the most dangerous plants in the produce section, especially because of oxalates. Spinach itself isn’t necessarily something that will cause a lot of issues. You ate the spinach when it grew in your area that time of year for that two-week window but we’ve touted it as a super-food and ship it all over the world.
We have it in the frozen food section and some people are eating spinach every single day. That act is causing problems, not necessarily the spinach itself. Simple things like understanding things like seasonality, a little bit of fermentation and selecting plants on a lower oxalate load can make a humongous difference.
What do you think about the concept? Most of us live in the Northern Hemisphere. Not many people live along the equator, certainly in developed countries. I tend to tell people that the wintertime is more of a time for nutrient-dense animal products and seafood. It’s not a time to import oranges from South America or plums from around the world.
As summer rolls in, intuitively, things will be much more natural. Fruits and vegetables are eaten in the summertime based on your location. Do you think that is a good basic foundation? Other people talk about different cycles. Some people go in and out of ketosis. They’ll go higher carb for a week and maybe a low carb for a week. My way is maybe a little bit better of an approach.
If you go to the farmer’s market or you belong to a CSA, Community Supported Agriculture, this happens by default because those things that are available are the things that are available at that time. One thing you’ll notice is the vegetable selections change and the fruit selections change but the animals are always there all the time to eat.
Their fat content will sometimes fluctuate, especially in Northern and Southern climates but the animals are always there. I do believe when we could harvest animals at will, they were the mainstay of our diet throughout the entire year. As the plants come in and out, you can very easily see what’s happening.
Cian Foley is a great guy. I don’t know if you’re familiar with him. He’s Irish and wrote a book called Don’t Eat For Winter. He found himself in his late 30s and 40s incredibly overweight. I’ll give you a quick story because it’s directly related to this. He lives in Southern Ireland. He was looking out of his window eating an apple in December. He looked out an apple tree in his yard and noticed that not only didn’t that apple tree have any apples on it but it had no leaves on it. He said, “All I’m going to do is change it. I’m going to eat as hyper seasonally as possible.”
He has won several International Bodybuilding Championships, and he’s an International Kettlebell Champion. The only thing he changed about his diet was eating what was in season and what wasn’t in season. What he noticed is that most animals eating for winter are the available plants, which are high carbohydrate plants, fruits, underground storage organs, roots, corms, tubers, potato-like things. You don’t see that stuff in other parts of the year. His body fat content and weight fluctuate throughout the entire year as the foods come in and out of his diet. I do think there’s something to that for sure. Your approach is spot on. I love it.
As far as nutrition is concerned, you can get an incredible amount of nutrition just by eating raw meat.
It brings in that whole spectrum of what I think of vegan, vegetarian, paleo and then dipping into some of the keto carnivore aspects. You’re showing people from all around the world, not just because you sat behind a desk and read textbooks. You traveled to all these locations. You’ve got crazy stories. Bringing your family this whole story of the blood and milk mixture is fantastic. Your youngest child tapped out, “I know I’ve traveled across the world with you but I’m not drinking that.”
There are so many great stories in the book that makes it very readable. The references are there and your credentials speak for themselves with amazing recipes. I love your take on dairy. As a paleo guy, I have the understanding that if you go up to an animal that has milk, that means it’s nursing its young and it will kill you.
It’s not paleo food. We consume our mother’s milk but even dairy and hunted animals that we’re able to enjoy some of that in limited amounts. Many people love dairy. There are a lot of positive attributes. You talk about raw milk in the book and that has fully supported you. Break down the dairy that you discuss in the book.
I do believe we are not designed to eat almost every single food that we consume and that includes animals. We’re not designed to do it. We create technologies, whether it’s a bow or stone tool, to help us overcome that. All the time, when people are trying to figure out what they should be eating, we say, “Should we be eating this? Are we designed to eat this?” Those conversations are dead-end conversations. There’s not a real answer to it because the real answer is we’re not but we have figured out ways to overcome our limitations and make foods as safe and nourishing as possible. We can talk about it with grains, animals and dairy.
I do believe that Dairy is the one food that humans are perfectly designed to consume at a short time in our life when we’re infants like every other mammal. Like other mammals, when we get weaned off of our mother’s milk, we suppress or lose a lot of our ability to safely and efficiently fully digest that milk. When we think about it, a lot of us have lactose intolerance around the world. Those of us who aren’t lactose-intolerant think, “They’re weird.”
The reality is it’s flipped on its head. The people that can tolerate lactose as adults are weird. We’re the new ones. Sixty percent of humans on the planet are lactose intolerant. The people that are lactose tolerant are somewhere in their ancestry, a genetic mutation that allowed them to continue to produce that enzyme lactase into adulthood.
In other animals, it’s the same thing. When they get weaned off of their mother’s milk, they start to lose the ability to produce the enzymes needed to safely and efficiently digest that milk. If I stopped there, you’d say, “Humans shouldn’t be drinking milk.” Humans shouldn’t be eating most of the foods that we can because we aren’t equipped.
Often when we process food, we’re mimicking what other animals naturally do who are designed to eat those foods. That’s what we do, whether we’re producing a sharp edge like a canine on a predator, fermenting grains like a granivorous bird does inside of their stomachs or fermenting tough vegetable materials like a cow or ram that animal does in the room. We do these things before they go into our mouths.
The cool thing about dairy is that we don’t have to turn to another animal for advice. We turn to our species as infants. If we replicate the process that our bodies were doing inside, when we were consuming dairy and when we were designed to do it when we were infants, I do believe many of us can safely and efficiently consume milk and make it part of a healthy diet. The short answer all the way, to dive deep into the book here, is raw fermented dairy is replicating what’s going on in our bodies when we’re young.
We live in Colorado. We have a small, sustainable farm that’s near us. We enjoy raw dairy. They do sell raw kefir over there. They sell raw butter and also have other grass-fed animal products that we’ll consume. Reading your book gave me the enthusiasm to get a hold of good starter culture to be able to ferment that milk into kefir. I’m excited to try that.
They do it over there but that is where you’re going. What your passion is about bringing us back into our food system and food supply, teaching your children what it means to secure, procure and process food in such a way. We had some friends from out of town a couple of years ago and we took them to this farm. The kids went out and collected the eggs.
The mother who was originally from Hong Kong looked at us and said, “Wow, how fun. Who hides the eggs?” I’m a city slicker Chicago guy, the son of a cardiologist. I’m not going to pretend that I grew up with any great knowledge by any means but that little microcosm right thereof where many people are at where they don’t even know that is a chicken that is up in the roost laying the eggs. People are so far from that.
I want it to make a fun, enjoyable, informative but mostly empowering book. It’s one thing to talk about food, walk away and have this newer understanding but it’s quite another thing to have that and then be able to turn around and execute it in your kitchen. That’s exactly what I tried to do here. What is very interesting for us to think about and empower is that all of the major food processing technologies, the ones that allowed our ancestors to unlock nutrients from their environment in a way that built us as a species biologically and culturally, are incredibly powerful but simple.
They were doing these things in caves with sticks, stone tools, rocks and clay pots. Everybody who is reading has a kitchen that is better equipped than our ancestors had in their cave. If there’s food that you can’t make in your house and I don’t mean because of knowledge, I mean because of equipment, space and that, you should question whether or not it’s something you should be eating. These recipes are taking all the lessons from the book and make them approachable.
In my mind, the best way to inform yourself is to try to cook your food from scratch. Not that you have to cook all your foods from scratch but the food that you eat every day or you feed your family every day or every week should be the foods that you’re focusing on. You should understand as much as possible because even if you don’t make them every week, understanding how they’re made allows you to not only purchase the food from the right people but also support those people who are doing it right. That’s where the recipes come from.
60% of humans on the planet right now are lactose intolerant.
I want to put a quick plugin for this. I had a wonderful response to the book and a bunch of people saying, “This is great but I’m still a little nervous to ferment dairy, do some Lacto-fermented vegetables and do a little butchering. Can you help?” We do a lot of courses here at the Modern Stone Age Kitchen in person but they were asking if we could do something virtual.
If anybody’s reading and wants to take a deep dive into this book, on February 1st, 2022, we are launching a ten-week intensive virtual program where we go week by week through every chapter. There are behind-the-scenes stories. I’m around the world to do this research. My family and I met some incredible people. We’re going to bring a bunch of those people on for some live chats, some conversations, questions and answers. Every single one of these classes, once a week, we will cook a bunch of recipes from the book. It’s an incredibly empowering way to take that next step. If you’re a little bit nervous about trying some of these things, that’s a great way to do it.
That sounds like a phenomenal opportunity. Tell me about that because this is a chapter in a book. It’s called Bugs: Protein, Not Pests. I always tell people that all animals on planet earth either eat other animals and/or insects. It is only the vegan that does neither. If you’re talking about a giraffe, a giraffe on the African tundra is consuming a lot of insects, with the plant-based materials that they’re eating and even primates or insects. In your ten-week program, tell us about insect week.
You bring up a great point about vegans and insects. It’s not just the giraffes eating the leaves on the African Savanna that are getting insects into their diet that may not be realizing it. If anybody wants to do something fun, start Googling the USDA allowances for insects in our food. How many insect parts are allowed in a bottle of ketchup?
There are tons of insects in vegan food that we don’t realize. I’ve heard people suggest that one of the things that are helping keep vegans alive is the fact that they’re eating a whole bunch of insects and they don’t realize it. Insects have been in our diets way longer than anything else that’s been in our diets. We’re confident of this. Before we were scavenging on the African Savanna, probably the most nutrient-dense bioavailable food in our ancestors’ diet was insects. They continue to be a major part of the human diet in different parts of the world.
In the book, we go to Thailand and do a bunch of work in different places there. There could be stories all over the place about insects. Insects are incredibly important and fun to cook with. They’re nutritious, nutrient-dense and safe, except for the quick caveat that if you have a shellfish allergy, you probably shouldn’t be eating insects. Typically, there’s some crossover there as well but they’re also incredibly sustainable. When you look at the numbers for the amount of feed for the insects compared to the output, it’s mindblowing. It’s the same with water and how much waste comes out.
It’s a win-win all the way around. It’s nutritionally, ethically, sustainably and, believe it or not, taste-wise. We have this ick factor when we think about insects but they have unique textures, flavors and aromas that you can celebrate if you cook them right. We’re going to focus on crickets when we get to the insect chapter for a couple of reasons. One, they’re easy to deal with. Two, there are some awesome farms all over the world, including here in the US, that are organically growing crickets for human consumption. They’re easy to access as well.
I haven’t looked much into it, although one of my lead health coaches, Carrington Beauchamp talks about using cricket flours as well. It was a few years ago that I looked into it but how do you find that clean source of crickets from a cricket farm?
I started eating insects years ago and it was difficult to find. We were going to bait shops and pet stores for lizards, mealworms and crickets. There are some wonderful farms. The one I use is Entomo Farms out of Ontario. They organically grow crickets and mealworms. They produce mealworm and cricket flour as well.
It’s a great, easy way to introduce incredible protein and fat, depending on the insect that you’re using into your diet without a whole lot of work. You could throw that cricket flour into all sorts of things very easily. We’ll talk about different ways of cooking insects in general or you can celebrate the actual thing itself and include insects hole in your food.
In your book, Eat Like a Human, you break down how all cultures around the world processed various foods to make them digestible, nutritious and beneficial to humans. You talk about whether it’s corn, grain and turning that into sourdough. You talk about dairy and fermenting vegetables but are there any foods that would you say are off in the human palate?
Refined sugar should be off our palate.
Artificial things, refined sugars, processed foods but is there anything else? Is it potatoes or vegetables that, under no circumstance, become palatable? Maybe talk about beans.
Beans are incredibly dangerous. Nuts, seeds, grains, legumes are all the same thing for a plant. That’s where they’re going to reproduce. That’s where a lot of thought and energy goes. That’s the mechanism right there that allows that particular species to survive. You think we need to do to not become extinct. Every species needs to reproduce viable offspring and that offspring needs to stay safe and viable until they reproduce viable offspring.
If that continues, your species will survive. If that fails at any one of those places, you end up going extinct. The grains, nuts, seeds and legumes are their offspring. Plants are toxic. You can imagine the parts of a plant that need to protect themselves more than anything are probably going to be the most toxic. There are and that’s exactly the case.
That’s why we have so much trouble digesting grains, beans or believe it or not, even nuts. We could sit back and say, “I don’t want them in my diet.” It is fine but there are some nutrition and pleasure we can get from them if we enjoy eating these foods. Where are we left with after the same argument or discussion that we had with the dairy or other foods in our diet? What can we do to these foods to make them as safe and nourishing as possible?
Probably the most nutrient-dense bioavailable food in our ancestors’ diet was insects.
Physically, if you look at the shape of most seeds and nuts, they are designed to withstand the digestive tract of the animal that’s eating them, whether it’s a human or another animal. They’re designed like a bullet to go right through you. Chemically, they’re designed to do the same thing. If they have so many chemical defenses, especially on the outside, to keep them dormant and safe until they’re in the right environment to let down their defenses and be sprout, they’re incredibly dangerous to eat raw.
3 or 4 red kidney beans will land you in the hospital if you eat them. That’s how dangerous they are. Beans, in general, require not only soaking but also cooking to detoxify them to the point where they’re even close to being safe for human consumption. A quick aside, one problematic thing is many pressure cookers are getting pushed out like the Instapot and all the other ones.
They’re great for many things like making bone broth and yogurt because you can time them and do all these things but as far as beans are concerned, there’s a huge danger here because many of them tell that you can skip the overnight soaking process for the beans and you can pressure cook a bean from a raw dry bean into a finished being that you could eat in one go. Even if it makes it soft enough for you to eat, that doesn’t mean it’s safe enough for you to eat. Do not skip the overnight soak. If you’re cooking beans from scratch, I don’t care how expensive and amazing your pressure cooker is.
Beans are incredibly dangerous, especially kidney beans. The other ones, like white navy beans, are a little bit better. In almost every case that I’ve found some a toxin or a problem with plants, somebody or some groups around the world have figured out how to overcome that issue, whether it’s through soaking, fermentation, sprouting, a whole host of things or a combination of many of these.
The one thing that I haven’t found a good anecdote for is the oxalates. The fermentation shows some promise. Cooking with dairy helps a little bit. Cooking depending on the food, several changes of water and throwing the water out are helpful but to mitigate the dangers of oxalates, I haven’t found a good solution for it yet. I’m still looking at it because I have a huge oxalate problem. It’s one of the reasons I brought it up several times. Completely off the table, I don’t know but the high oxalate plants are ones that I would limit in my diet, especially if I had an oxalate problem.
The recipes are in your book. I love the simplicity because that’s historically right. You’re pulling these recipes from tribal societies. These were basic ways to process your food into an edible form that allows us to extract all the nutrients no matter where we live on the globe. Let me say this, for an example, for maybe years as a single male living in Chicago, if I didn’t go out to a restaurant or a bar, I would typically have a meal and be over my sink or a garbage can. It wasn’t a very spiritual thing. In religious societies, they make the meal a celebration of family and respect for the food. Break that down a little bit. Maybe even for the single guy who is reading in Chicago eating over the sink, how do we bring that spirituality back to our lives?
There is so much of my life that all I was focused on was trying to find out how to biologically feed myself and my family to meet our biological needs. What I was missing was this whole other component, which for humans, it’s so incredibly important. Humans are the only species on the planet that share food.
Other animals eat at the same time as one another. If you have three dogs and you put all the food down in front of them, you can see them all eating at the same time. Other than maybe a parent-child relationship like a bird feeding the baby bird thing, other animals don’t share food. Not only do we share food but we also celebrate sharing food. We go to great lengths and spend a lot of money to share food. We make reservations and travel around the world to go and share food.
Think about how crazy it is that act. If you can take a bunch of hungry animals, sit them around one another and put food in the middle of the table, number one, eye to eye contact is a sign of aggression. Showing your teeth in the animal world is a sign of aggression. If you’re hungry and there’s a plate of food in the middle, it’s an all-out mainly but humans celebrate that.
I truly believe and understand that to be fully nourished as a human, we have to meet or exceed our biological needs and also our cultural and emotional needs. Things like sharing food, how fast we’re eating, what the setting is like, all of those things are incredibly important to our health. Some people will go to great lengths to try to seek that out.
I believe it was in Korea where they have something called mukbang. Certainly, there are a lot of late teens, early twenties, people working these high-stress fast-paced jobs, living single and wanting to eat with somebody. There are these mukbang stars that you can sign on and virtually eat with somebody at the same time. That’s how strong that human drive is and that needs to be eaten with somebody at the same time.
There are so many periods of my life where my lunch consists of trying to drive and eat at the same time. For some people, their breakfast and their lunch are that. We can’t necessarily measure it. We can measure calories, vitamins or minerals in our food but for what the return is for slowing down, making a plate of food that looks appealing, eating slowly, eating with somebody that we love or with somebody that we respect, having a conversation, we can’t put our fingers and measure that very easily. I can promise you that is part of the human eating experience and it’s incredibly important to be fully nourished.
The slow act of eating is a parasympathetic part of our body. The autonomic nervous system is divided into sympathetic parasympathetic. Sympathetic is fight or flight when you’re getting chased by the tiger. Parasympathetic is when you’re resting and digesting. If you’re on the go and not taking that time to slow it down, that’s why many people have digestive issues, whether it’s heartburn, diarrhea, constipation and all these different things. This is all super fantastic stuff.
Let me ask you one more thing too and I’m not sure if I encountered this in a book or not. Tell me about water. You’ve traveled all around the world and get a lot of authorities recommending drinking half your body weight in ounces of water daily. I haven’t seen any literature that tells us how much water to drink. Do you have any insight into that question?
Number one, I’m surely not the authority on this, so I won’t speak out of turn but I will tell you what I’ve seen if that’s helpful. My family and I have been very fortunate. We’ve been able to travel the world, live and work with indigenous groups all over the place from South America, Africa, Asia, all over. There are a couple of things that were consistent across the board, the timing of eating.
In these indigenous groups, there is some almost built-in mechanism that resulted in looking like intermittent fasting with the way that they eat, almost every single day, which was very interesting. Animal products with a focus on meals whenever they could be and if they weren’t, it was because of some modern phenomenon where people were pushed to or the ability to access these things but there wasn’t a constant with water.
In many of the places I was, water was fairly difficult to access. A lot of the people I’ve been with were not living in the areas they had been living in for the past 40,000 years. They’ve been pushed to marginal areas and that could explain part of it. I spent time with the Hadza in Tanzania, the oldest hunter-gatherer group in the world. They have very little access to water. The majority of the liquid that they took in for the day came from these tubers they would dig. I believe they’re corms officially.
They would spend a lot of time pulling out these corms, which were very similar to jicama. They would eat this and shred it. It’s very fiber. You couldn’t just dive into it but they would get the liquid from 1 or 2 of those and that’s what they had for the majority of the day. I don’t want to even speak to what our biological requirements are but I have spent a lot of time with incredibly healthy people that were drinking a lot less water than half their body weight of water on a given day.
I don’t think that there’s good science behind it necessarily. Everybody says, “Always drink lots of water.” I would say, “Probably drink when you’re thirsty.” From your experiences in the real world of what you saw, that says it all from there. It’s been a fantastic interview with Dr. Bill Schindler. Eat Like a Human is the book. Dr. Bill, this is available on Amazon. Is there another location people can go to get this book that would be different? Maybe tell us a little bit more about how we can find out about you.
That book is on the bookshelves in Barnes & Nobles throughout the country. I believe Target may have it too, we found out, but I’m not positive about that. A lot of independent bookstores have it. Any major online resource has it as well. If you want an autograph copy, it’s the same price. You can contact us. It’s on Audible as well.
Our website is EatLikeAHuman.com and also ModernStoneAgeKitchen.com. In both of those places, you can find out information on how to get an autograph copy of the book, the course we were talking about earlier and any of our other resources or online resources. My wife, I and the whole family have started the Modern Stone Age Kitchen.
We launched it in June 2021. We call it Foodery and storefront. We’re making almost all of the recipes from that book come alive to feed the community and you can find out information about that online as well. On Instagram and social media, I’m @DrBillSchindler and you can also follow the Modern Stone Age Kitchen there as well.
Dr. Bill, it’s an absolute pleasure as always to connect with you. Congratulations on your book. Everybody go out and get a copy of Dr. Bill’s book. It’s funny, entertaining and trainable. The man we’re talking to is a PhD. He’s got Archeology, Anthropology, Paleontology, all the ology, all that real-world experience getting out there with him and his family. Dr. Bill, thank you so much for being on this episode.
It’s always a pleasure.
When you follow the information of people and experts like Dr. Bill Schindler, you’re going to get that 100-year heart. Be well. We’ll see you next time.
- Eastern Shore Food Lab
- Modern Stone Age Kitchen
- Eat Like a Human
- The Paleo Cardiologist
- Community Supported Agriculture
- Don’t Eat For Winter
- Entomo Farms
- Amazon – Eat Like a Human
- Barnes & Nobles – Eat Like a Human
- Target – Eat Like a Human
- Audible – Eat Like a Human
- @DrBillSchindler – Instagram
- Modern Stone Age Kitchen – Instagram
About Dr. Bill Schindler
Dr. Bill Schindler is an internationally known archeologist, primitive technologist, and chef. He founded and directs the Eastern Shore Food Lab with a mission to preserve and revive ancestral dietary approaches to create a nourishing, ethical and sustainable food system. A co-star of the National Geographic Channel series The Great Human Race, Dr. Schindler’s work has been covered by the Washington Post, the Atlantic, and the London Times, among other publications.