What would you feed an “orphaned” animal?

10 06 2012

Suppose one day you came across an orphaned tiger and it’s only chance of survival was for you to intervene and take care of it.  What would you feed it?  Let’s say it was already weaned and not reliant on it’s mother so it’s really just a matter of working out what a “natural” diet for a tiger is right?

I bet the answer is pretty obvious.  A tiger in the wild hunts and eats prey so providing for a tiger would mean finding raw meat, organs, bones and if possible, maybe even some live animals for it to capture and kill.

What about if the orphaned animal was a deer?  Again most people would think about what a deer might eat in a natural setting and realise that they need pasture, grasses and open space.  It’s not exactly rocket science and you could repeat this process for virtually any animal you could think of.

So why is it that when humans think about food we don’t follow the same logic?  Why don’t we think about what a human animal would eat in a natural setting and then feed that to ourselves?  Is it because it’s not available any more?  Is it because it’s hard or costly to find?  Or is it because we simply don’t see ourselves as a biological animal because we have somehow evolved past the need to be biologically sound?  I blame religion for a lot of our dietary problems 🙂

The fact is that humans have evolved to be opportunistic omnivores.  We can eat both plants and animals and in a natural setting would take advantage of pretty much any situation we came across.  Pigs, chickens, goats, rats and humans, we’re all great at eating pretty much any available food on offer.  Yet somehow we’ve become removed from this natural and instinctive pattern and an ever saddening proportion of the worlds population only eat food that comes out of a package.  Most people now days will cringe at the thought of eating liver, hearts or brains, but will gladly scoff down something wrapped in colour despite it being produced in a chemical factory.  I am truly saddened by the knowledge that many people have never, ever, picked fruit off a tree, or harvested vegetables from where they grow let alone caught and slaughtered their own meat.

Getting back to a “natural” human diet isn’t really that hard and just takes a bit of conscious thought and nature can be a great teacher here too.

My loves of omelettes means I go through a lot of eggs, around 6 a day, and so I have chickens in my back yard.  My chickens have a healthy appetite for a whole range of plants and animals in my garden including a love for weeds and plants.  They will literally strip bare a whole range of weeds and plants over the course of normal feeding.  Every now and then however I let them into the front yard where they normally cannot roam. Here there are stacks of the very same weeds and plants that they greedily strip in the back yard every day, yet the run straight past them.  Why?  Because they are looking for meat!  The opportunity of fresh hunting grounds means that there are all sorts of bugs, grubs and insects available to them so vegetable matter is of little interest.  They’ll do the same when presented with kitchen scraps in that they will eat kale, spinach and lettuce before even looking at other lowly items like tomatoes, carrot or fruit.  It’s literally like they have a priority list inside their head that will not let them eat a “lower” order food if there is a “higher” order one on offer.

Ironically it’s this very same food “order” that is at the heart (pun intended) of the obesity epidemic and the cause of so much of the worlds health problems.  For generations now we’ve been force fed the food pyramid claiming that whole grains and cereals are the primary food we should be seeking, followed by fruits and vegetables, then moderate amounts of meat, seafood and nuts, and only very small amounts of fats.  What complete and utter bullshit!

Any animal worth a pinch of instinctive advantage knowns that when you make a kill you fill up on the fattiest, most nutrient rich parts of an animal first and only eat the rest if you can.  In fact Grizzly bears, one of the largest animals in the world and one with only a limited feeding season hunt salmon but only eat the skin and eggs and discard the rest because it will only fill them up and not provide enough nutrients.  Our food order needs to be drastically re-callobrated to ensure that we are eating bone marrow, organs and fat as much or even more than lean meat.  I like to think of it this way.  In a survival situation, would I only slice off the rump of an animal and throw the rest away?  Well aren’t I in a survival situation every day?

Now there is an element of balance needed in the modern world because food is so easy to come by now.  If we only ate the top of the food order foods we wouldn’t eat anything but that now, and that’s not natural.  In a natural setting we wouldn’t make a kill every day so we would also eat fruits and vegetables, in fact tubers and salads would make up a huge proportion of our natural diet as this is what would be readily available.  Accordingly we need to ensure that we are getting a good balance of nutrient dense food and natural staples to ensure a more realistic and natural diet.  Seasonal eating supports this well.

So next time your thinking about what you “should” be eating.  Ask yourself this.  If I was to find an orphaned (weaned) human, what would I feed it?