Chew Like a Caveman?
We’re told to “chew like a caveman for good teeth” by pundits who don’t have a clue.
These “experts” — including Pf. Jimmy Steele, head of the School of Dental Sciences at Newcastle University, and Dr. Nigel Carter, of the British Dental Health Association — obviously don’t know the difference between hard food and tough food.
Henry Percy Pickerill (The Prevention of Dental Caries and Oral Sepsis, 1919) wrote …
“5. The following are quotations from replies to inquiries that I have recently made in Fiji and the New Hebrides groups:
“Fiji. — The staple foods are vegetables. ‘Puddings with cocoanut dressing, made by first roasting taro or bread-fruit, and then pounding it into a stiff paste, are practically swallowed without chewing.’
“‘On the whole, a native repast is not masticated so much as an English meal, because there is less to chew.’
“Mota, New Hebrides. — ‘Their [the natives] staple food is cooked yam; it is eaten morning and evening — generally roasted, sometimes boiled, often grated and made into a sort of pudding (loko) in the ground oven. Bread-fruit is next in utility, and is either roasted or converted into a dainty mash called ‘lot.’ Bread-fruit is dried in the off season, when it becomes crisp, like hard biscuit, and is thus eaten (kor) or softened in cocoanut sauce, which is a mixture of young cocoanut flesh and sea-water.’
“‘No, I should not think that an islander’s ordinary meal would require more mastication than do our meals.’
“Sir George Simpson, who visited Hawaii in the early part of last century, states that the natives’ staple food was poi, a sour kind of porridge, which was bolted in enormous masses without mastication.
“Professor Marshall, who has just returned from Tahiti, informs me that the ordinary food of the natives certainly does not require so much mastication as does our ‘civilized food.’
“6. From actual subjective experience of living amongst the less civilized Maoris I am able to corroborate all the above statements. Meat, when cooked by Maoris, was always extremely tender, and their meals called for little or no trituration. I examined numbers of children with perfect jaws and teeth, yet these same children lived almost entirely on soft cooked kumara [sweet potato] and riwai [purple potato], and occasionally maize. Not only so, but they actually refused to eat the crust of ordinary white bread when offered to them, saying that it was not soft enough.
“7. Very much more meat is being consumed in the present day than ever before by civilized communities — in some cases as much as 240 pounds per head per annum; and I venture to assert, from personal experience, that for the most part the meat when cooked will be vastly tougher, and hence require more trituration, than would be the case if cooked by primitive peoples. Again, take another staple article of diet, bread. As it is usually cooked nowadays, the crusts are tough and rubber-like instead of being crisp and hard.
“Now, the important point is that tough things, especially if incision (as it is) is avoided, call for a lateral grinding movement of the mandible and a development of the pterygoid muscles. This, as has been shown, leads to contraction and not to expansion of the jaws.”