Modern Man vs Primal Man


Banksy’s caveman

In a sense, our daily lives share many similarities with the lives of pre-agricultural man, ten thousand years ago. We still work to procure food, we raise children, we hang out, and we sleep – all things that our Paleolithic ancestors did. Still, many things have changed. We now have much more of the many things we don’t need and much less of the few things we do need.

A juxtaposition of modern man beside his Paleolithic predecessor exemplifies the increased complexity and the decreased beauty of everyday life.

Fresh Food

Modern foods are processed and “clean” for mass production. Foods are grown from depleted soil where they are sent to factories to be further stripped of nutritional benefits. They are sterilized and pumped with preservatives rendering them poisonous and lacking in important enzymes required for absorption. Modern man also consumes grains –  an activity in which no other earthly animal partakes. These grains are themselves responsible for many of the discomforts from which modern man suffers as we are not equipped to digest them. We have been consuming grains for a measly 10,000 years – since the agricultural revolution – a relative blink in the history of human evolution. A couple of thousand years ago modern man learned how to refine grains into sugars and our health began deteriorating further ever since.

Primal man’s diet might have consisted of the foods readily available which amounts to about five types of foods, namely, wild meats, fish, leafy plants, roots, and fruits. Wild meats and fish provide omega 3 fatty acids which nourish surface and connective tissues. Farmed meats do not contain any of this vital nutrient which the human body requires. Primal man ate all edible portions of the animal including organs and bone marrow, giving him a level of nutrition which cannot be derived from most typical American fare. The wild fruits, roots, and vegetables he foraged were extremely nutrient dense, not very sweet, and provided high nutrition with less mass, making them easier to digest. Primal man experienced times of scarcity during which meals were skipped. We would call this fasting. Our bodies evolved over millions of years to not only handle this lack but also to mobilize fat stores.


Modern man has been trained to rise to the pulsing buzz of gut-wrenching alarm clocks. This is usually after getting to bed late and tossing and turning throughout the night. Modern man works through the afternoons and doesn’t make time for naps, except maybe on the weekends, if there’s time. Millions take sleep medications which themselves interfere with natural sleep cycles. While sleep may be longer for the pill poppers it is not nearly as rejuvenating and usually leads to dependence.

There was nothing really pressing that anyone had to wake up for, except maybe a beautiful sunrise. Primal man rose with the light of day and to the sound of birds. They worked to procure food in the mornings and then were free to relax, play, and nap in the afternoons. But for a guard or two staying watch, the tribe would sleep deeply throughout the night.


Modern man experiences nearly constant low-level stress. Our bodies go into a stress response when the morning alarm sounds; as we rush our kids out the door after a high carbohydrate/low protein, stress-hormone-releasing breakfast; as we wait in traffic; as we pour caffeine down our throats several times a day; as we dodge obstacles on the road; as we pursue the ever illusive American dream, as we await the bi-weekly paycheck; as we fight with our partners, our children, our parents; as the multitude of things we use break; as we swipe our credit cards and wonder how we will ever pay it back; until we finally begin to worry about how we will pay the medical bills in old age.

Just about the only two stressors of old were attacks and famine. Life was predictable for the most part. Occasionally primal man ran for his life and occasionally he suffered famine but over the millennia his body adapted to this type of stress response and so it didn’t negatively affect the delicate hormonal balance of the human body. When it comes to low-level, constant stress he didn’t have it. Deadlines existed only when the weather changed and they had to scramble for shelter; fear only when attacked by wild animals or dueling bands.

Exposure to the Elements

Modern man drives through storms with the heater on and takes daily hot showers. We watch outside our windows as the snow falls in the winters. We carry umbrellas in the spring and blast the AC in the summer. While all of this sounds like the obvious benefits of civilization, on the contrary, exposure to the elements actually comes with healthy hormonal regulating chemicals.

Primal man basked in the sun – he may have rolled in the mud while migrating midday when the sun was at its hottest, but he didn’t use chemical sunscreens, blocking all the benefits of the sun’s rays and simultaneously poisoning his body. Primal man bundled up and waked through storms. He bathed in cold bodies of water which actually stimulates the release of growth hormone. He was tolerant and tougher than his modern successors.

Raising Children

Modern man’s isolated four person or single parent families are the norm, particularly in the US. We typically don’t have a tight family unit upon which we can draw for assistance. Instead of sharing the load of child rearing with our extended family, we send our children to daycare and early preschool to to do much of the parenting for us. Once home for the evening, the mother is typically responsible for the myriad domestic duties which compounds the stress of her already stressful work day and makes her annoyed and testy with her children. Because women work and don’t stay at home with their children, babies are typically not breast fed for long, if at all. This leads to developmental difficulties, allergies, and other ailments which only contributes to the family’s stress. Family Child rearing strategies are not passed down and when they are they come from some article read on the internet by some psychologist trying to understand what tradition already knows. The techniques to calm babies and the strategies of building tight bonds are a mystery to most parents these days.

Homes were simple and families shared care. Children had other children to play with, which itself released parents from constant parenting. Parents had other parents from whom they could gain support. No family had a large house to clean and piles of clothes to wash. They didn’t drop the kids off at day care. They didn’t drive off to work each day and come home worried about their future. The issues of society were fairly constant and new parents learned a great deal from their elders so they didn’t have much difficulty relating to their kids as they approached puberty and adulthood.


Modern man’s food is pumped with preservatives, flavor enhancing chemicals, hormones, and antibiotics. Our water is polluted with unused medications flushed into the city’s water source and is “fortified” with fluoride – a known neurotoxin. Our toys and most of the stuff we own are made of plastic. We breathe pollution. We use cosmetics with hormone altering compounds. Our daily lives are soiled with chemicals that we cannot escape and can only hope to excrete.

Only the earth and its natural substances were present in the ancient world.


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