International location shoots, which included parts of England, France, Germany, Canada and the United States, for my first documentary The Perfect Human Diet™ began in the summer of 2006. At that time I was attending San Francisco State University to learn TV and Film production, with an emphasis on documentary production.
As a broadcast journalist, my plan for the film was to shoot it as an investigative documentary looking for solutions - not make an attack film trying to beat up perceived "bad guys", or setting out with an agenda to prove one way of nutritional thinking over another. In fact, when I started the search, I only had a few USA based experts in mind. I didn’t know anything about many of the international scientists I would eventually meet and interview, or the fascinating (and truly breakthrough) science I would be introduced to over the course of the shoot.
My original goal was to do what other journalists had not done at that time. Look beyond the regular "go-to" players for TV news and talk shows, e.g. ADA dietitians and popular book authors that didn't push the envelope too much, and seek out new information that was unexposed and under the radar. Make an unprecedented scientific exploration for the solution to the epidemic of obesity and its associated chronic diseases. But before it was over, that initial goal was not only answered, the search became something quite unexpected. More than traveling with my small film crew. More than shooting interviews and obvious locations. It became, honestly, rather magical... it became, literally, a treasure hunt. Guided not by my initial plan, but serendipity (so much for leaving my metaphysically driven youth behind).
Here's what I mean. The first interview I conducted was in Ft. Collins Colorado with Professor Loren Cordain in the Department of Health and Exercise Science at Colorado State University, author of The Paleo Diet. At the conclusion of my time with him, he added, “You know who you should go talk to? Mike Richards at the Max Planck Institute in Leipzig, Germany…”
This kind of voluntary mention at the end of each interview became the norm, and that directed the course of filming. If you've seen the film, you know these unexpected moments and mentions took me from excavations containing the remains of Neanderthals and Upper Paleolithic* Modern Humans (pre-agriculture) in Jonzac, France, to the bio-molecular anthropology analyses labs at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, and more.
What fascinated me most during the filming is that every expert and every destination provided more groundbreaking evidence of a "perfect human diet" that shouldn’t be ignored.
The point we don't want to miss is that this new scientific research not only revealed the authentic human diet, putting to rest the popularized "early modern humans ate mostly vegetables" theory, but demonstrates that optimal human health, our health, is dependent upon animal proteins and fats - they are essential and irreplaceable.
The proof? This new form of bio-molecular analyses and the archeological record both show clearly that when humans started eating grains as a primary replacement for animal foods, our heath declined. Plants and grains won’t do it.
For me, this revelation was unexpected treasure. For all of us.
As always, comments (below) and questions are welcome. If you are enjoying the blog posts, please feel free to share them with your friends and family.
The Upper Paleolithic (or Upper Palaeolithic, Late Stone Age) is the third and last subdivision of the Paleolithic or Old Stone Age as it is understood in Europe, Africa and Asia. For more, see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Upper_Paleolithic
The Archaeological Record is the body of physical (i.e. not written) evidence about the past. For more, see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Archaeological_record