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The Biocultural Evolution of Cuisine:

Evolutionary Nutrition, Paleodiet Fantasies, Indigenous Knowledge, and the Future of Eating

Dr. Barrett Brenton, Binghamton University

Monday, November 19, 2018

5:15 pm - 6:15 pm, LH 14


About the seminar

What we eat, and what we choose to eat clearly have both a biological and cultural, or biocultural evolutionary legacy. The search for macro-nutrient patterns of eating that are more pristine, original, and/or basal to humans is nothing new and continues to be an ongoing quest for nutritionists, anthropologists, and proponents of various contemporary "Paleo" diets. To this point, a brief history and critique of the evolutionary and ethnographic bases of human diet and nutrition used to make recommendations and prescriptions for "healthy" food choices will be provided. In addition, evolutionary adaptations to dietary changes that have defined our genus will be discussed in the context of the role that indigenous knowledge plays in our understanding of the biocultural evolution of food processing and the micro-nutrient dimensions of cuisines of our species. The recognition of half-baked paleo-fantasies and evidence-based nutritional realities that emerge will serve as cautionary tales for the field of evolutionary nutrition and the future of eating.


About the speaker

Dr. Barrett P. Brenton is a Faculty Engagement Associate in Binghamton University's Center for Civic Engagement where he works with faculty and students to develop a variety of community-based teaching, learning and scholarship activities. He is an active practitioner of applied community-engaged learning and research, with a broad record of national and global scholarship that developed with his position as a Professor of Anthropology at St. John's University in New York. Dr. Brenton's research experience in the areas of evolutionary nutrition, food security, health disparities and sustainable food systems has included fieldwork with indigenous communities in North America, South America and Sub-Saharan Africa, and with both rural and urban U.S. communities. He received a BA in anthropology from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and a MA/PhD in Biocultural Anthropology from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst.

Last Updated: 12/9/19