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Health care crisis hits hard

This article drives the point home that the DFL-created health insurance crisis isn’t just a story on the news. It’s about families in our city, in our neck of the woods. In this case, Rose and John Lang, farmers from Richmond are getting hurt by the ACA. According to the article, Rose said “I have […]

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Dayton shafts farmers, rewards cronies

In mid-June, Gov. Dayton pocket vetoed a tax relief bill that would’ve provided tax relief to lots of middle-class people, which I wrote about here. The editorial I quoted got it right when it said “when Gov. Mark Dayton pocket vetoed HF 848 which would’ve provided significant tax relief to the citizens of Minnesota, it […]

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DFL, Dayton driving away farmers

This article makes it pretty clear that farmers aren’t fond of Gov. Dayton. It isn’t a stretch to think that farmers aren’t happy with DFL legislators, either. Farmers are upset with Gov. Dayton because “farmers were not happy when Dayton tried to do an end-around the legislative intent of the new buffer law and make […]

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Kresha opponent hearts farmers?

Ron Kresha represents Little Falls in the House of Representatives. Rep. Kresha is the incumbent running for re-election in District 9B. (The main cities in Rep. Kresha’s district are Little Falls, Long Prairie and Pierz.) It’s safe to say that HD-9B is a district with tons of farmers. Though the district has changed since I […]

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Bonding bill basics, blather

Yesterday, negotiators from the Minnesota House and Senate theoretically met in the hopes of hammering out a bonding bill agreement. That wasn’t the DFL’s goal. DFL senators, led by Jeff Hayden, blamed Republicans for not getting the bonding bill passed. The DFL used the same misleading arguments they’ve been using since the DFL Senate sabotaged […]

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DFL’s Marty in charge of environment

The Senate DFL held out against the Metrocrats longer than I’d expected. Unfortunately, Sen. Bakk caved to the environmental activist wing of the DFL when they put John Marty in charge of “environment, water and energy issues.” It’s a dark day for Minnesotans living in exurban and rural Minnesota. Sen. Marty is one of the […]

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The Department of Agriculture Is a Welfare Scam

I may have to change my mind. When asked a few years ago to pick which department in Washington most deserved to be eliminated, I chose the Department of Housing and Urban Development. And HUD unquestionably is a cesspool of waste, so it certainly should be shuttered. But the more I read about the bizarre […]

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Why on Earth do You Want to Farm 2.0 | Gardens, Combines, and Memories

This gentleman, who I have just found thanks to Lafayetteangel, who earned her screen name this time, is like me a refugee from Indiana, who has found a home out here on the Nebraska prairie. He’s had many of the same experiences, and in fact, I suspect he lives less than twenty miles from me, […]

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More about the Citizens Board

Bill Hanna’s article has a great explanation for why eliminating the MPCA’s Citizen Board is such a good thing: ST. PAUL — Sometimes the best offense is a good defense. And Iron Range lawmakers were at the top of their game in that regard to forge a hard-fought good end to the 2015 legislative session. […]

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Bakk, DFL break promise

Prior to the start of Friday’s special session, Speaker Daudt, Rep. Thissen, Sen. Hann and Sen. Bakk signed an agreement with Gov. Dayton to pass the bills that they agreed to. Part of that agreement was that neither body would amend the bills that were pre-written and posted on the legislative website. When Sen. Bakk […]

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Sen. Franken’s energy ‘solution’

Sen. Franken’s solution to high home heating prices isn’t a serious proposal: The Democratic senator’s measure would put in place a coordinated response to growing coal supply emergencies that affect power plants across the country, including in Minnesota. “In Minnesota, we know that our utilities need dependable fuel supplies so they can provide heat to […]

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The ‘Good’ Old Days, or Were They?

We often talk here about ‘The Good Old Days’ but you know, for those of us who have been around a few years, we often look back through our rose tinted rear view mirrors. In many ways, things are much better than they ever have been. I’m an electrician, mostly. I can hold my own […]

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Farmers vs. unhinged environmentalists

This article is worth reading just based on this quote alone: But opponents argued that the pipeline will worsen the problem of climate change by continuing reliance on fossil fuels, instead of developing renewable energy. “It’s a not a matter of how safe that pipeline is, better than trains,” said Dave Carroll. “We’re looking at […]

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Where are the pipelines?

One question that Gov. Dayton and the DFL have continually refused to answer is where the proposed pipelines are. Gov. Dayton, the DFL and their allies in the environmental movement constantly cite the need for additional studies to make sure the pipeline won’t hurt Minnesota’s supposedly pristine waters. Whatever their arguments, the truth is that […]

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Dayton-Johnson debate highlight

I’ll risk saying this but the professional political punditry needs to get start seeing things through a policy impact perspective, not through a ‘will it play politically’ perspective. During this morning’s gubernatorial debate, Gov. Dayton said that he’s long advocated for a single-payer health care system. What was the collective reaction from the professional political […]

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Westrom blunts Peterson’s issue

Collin Peterson’s calling card throughout the years has been that he’s an influential member on the Agriculture Committee. He’s still running on that calling card, though it’s fair to question how potent it is this time. Torrey Westrom is reminding people Peterson isn’t the only candidate in the race who knows agriculture issues: Agriculture is […]

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Klobuchar whines about Klobuchar-created crisis

Create a crisis, then criticize others when the crisis you created hurts a key constituency. That’s a trusty tactic frequently employed by the DFL. It’s the tactic of choice Amy Klobuchar used during her testimony about railroad delays hurting the Iron Range: “Cliffs Natural Resources’ mines in Minnesota are among a number of industrial facilities […]

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Farm Bureau endorses Johnson

Late Monday afternoon, the Johnson for Governor campaign issued this statement: GOLDEN VALLEY—Jeff Johnson received the endorsement of the Minnesota Farm Bureau today, adding to his credentials as a candidate for all of Minnesota. “I am proud to be endorsed by the Farm Bureau,” said Johnson, who was born and raised in Detroit Lakes and […]

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Westrom fights for farmers

This article highlights the intelligent fight Torrey Westrom will fight in Congress if he defeats Collin Peterson: “The Keystone pipeline needs to be built, I am here to tell you, and it should have been built last year, not delayed another several months as we are seeing under this current Administration,” Westrom said. Without the […]

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A Diet Dug Out of Anthropology

The Big Bang took place 13.7 billion years ago. Earth formed about 4.54 billion years ago out of “stardust.” So our planet is not nearly as old as our universe (which consists of clusters of galaxies). It was not until 1.8 million years ago that our species, homo sapiens, took shape, formed by the forces of natural selection. We are relative newcomers to our planet’s existence, yet much of what we encounter, make, or use in the modern world has existed as only a mere flicker in our species’s 1.8 million year life as a species.  

For example, it was not until about 70,000 years ago that our ancestors’ brains developed to the extent that a fictive imagination was possible. That is, the homo sapiens brain was no longer dependent on the senses (e.g., touch, sight, smell) and thus empirical observation of one’s environment (e.g., appearances). The brain could imagine a unicorn, justice as an ideal (even as a Platonic form!), and a utopian vision having little if anything to do with how the world is at the time.  

It was not until 9,500 BCE that homo sapiens settled into permanent settlements to farm. Only a relatively few types of plants were grown and animals were domesticated as a result of the agricultural revolution. For example, wheat originally grew only in a small area in the Middle East; by the end of the twentieth century, the crop’s area had reached 200 million hectares.[1]From roughly 6,000 BCE, wheat has been a basic staple food of Europe, West Asia, and North Africa.

It was not until the eighteenth century that the scientific revolution found some traction. At that time, the gravitational pull of the past, through tradition and custom, began to lose out to an orientation to the future, and thus to discovery and innovation. This was a major shift in the history of our species. As a result, the modern world as it exists would look like another world to a person living in the sixteenth century, whereas the same person would find the life of people living in the eleventh century to be familiar.

As a result of the agricultural and scientific revolutions, we moderns have a myriad of processed foods (e.g., hormones, preservatives). Paradoxically, even though agriculture has essentially mass-produced only a relative few of the foods that our ancestors ate from one day to another in the eons of time in the Stone Age, the advent of long-distance transportation has extended the reach of otherwise geographically limited foods (e.g., pineapples) as well as the agricultural staples (e.g., wheat). This all sounds well and good, but a subtle problem festers that can only be discovered by taking a very long historical perspective grounded in anthropology—the study of the homo sapiens species.

I have been applying my own study of what almost two million years of natural selection has etched in our biology to this day to dieting. The forces of natural selection have not had nearly enough time to tweak our bodies (including our brains) to the modern world in which we live. For example, we eat much more in complex carbohydrates (e.g., wheat, so breads, pasta, etc.) than our stomachs are designed to digest. In other words, it is difficult for our species to digest wheat because that food was not factored into the equation by the forces of natural selection in adapting the stomach of a homo sapiens over almost two million years. How long out of the 1.8 million years has wheat been a staple food for us? Almost a blink of an eye.

Additionally, sugar is difficult for our livers to process because that organ was formed when sugar was only consumed when fruits were in season. Accordingly, besides being overworked, the human liver produces cholesterol particles in the process. Coca-Cola is like a frontal assault on the liver, with the heart being hit as collateral damage through a lifetime. It is no wonder that heart disease is the leading killer of modern man.

Combining these snippets of anthropological food science with the fact that few of us get anywhere near the amount of exercise of the prehistoric hunter-gatherers, we cannot count on the burning of calories nearly as much. By the way, the hunting made our ancestors more muscular and fit (and without the pathogens that have plagued our species ever since we created large societies and domesticated animals).  Even with regular visits to a fitness center, we moderns really must attend to the intake side of the energy budget wherein a surplus of retained calories is bad. To reduce current and accumulated surpluses, we can apply a bit of anthropology with beneficial results.

Because complex carbs can turn into fat while a person sleeps and most exercise typically occurs during the day rather than at night (except, perhaps, in the bedroom), I have shifted my intake of “heavy foods” like bread, pasta, meat, and potatoes to breakfast and lunch. In this mix I have drastically reduced my intake of wheat foods (even whole wheat bread!) because I know my stomach is not well-suited to digesting them. Because fruits and vegetables are of relatively few calories and natural selection has taken them into account in adapting the human stomach, I emphasize them for dinner. I make sure the proportion of fruits and vegetables is than that of wheat foods.

In short, both timing and proportions are in the mix along with food servings when anthropology—taking the millions of years of natural selection as the default—is itself added into the equation in formulating a diet to lose weight. As Plato wrote, much of being virtuous is changing habits. I would add self-discipline in countering the lure of instant gratification as a vital ingredient. In terms of dieting, a changed habit that a person sustains can actually result is a smaller, shrunken stomach. This physiological change can in turn take away some of the pain in applying the self-discipline. Although I do not read published diets, I suspect that this anthropological approach is quite novel.


[1]2 million square kilometers or 77,204 square miles.

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