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Archive for » April 9th, 2017«

Competing visions of Monroe Street cause ‘road diet’ division to linger – The Spokesman

Two glimpses of the future are grappling along the claustrophobic North Monroe Street, the choice of thousands of motorists commuting into the heart of downtown each day.

One sees the cars speeding in narrow lanes right outside storefronts and pedestrians meandering outside of few and poorly lit crosswalks transformed into the neighborhood feel of Spokane’s Hillyard and Perry districts. The other sees the gaping immense disruptions of downtown street construction last year that scared away foot traffic and left some merchants worried for their businesses’ survival.

With a 2019 deadline fast approaching to take advantage of grant money to rebuild the street, leaders at City Hall will soon have to decide whether to trust the decade of work that has led to the so-called “road diet” plan that would reduce traveling lanes from four to two on a mile-long stretch populated by dozens of businesses, or step in on behalf of proprietors who distrust the city’s reasoning and feel their legacy in the district is being neglected.

“To me, it’s not an across-the-board no,” Mayor David Condon said of the opposition to the project, which has been plastered on signs and billboards outside businesses along the corridor. The mayor said he believed those frustrated with the project felt left out of planning or were upset with the construction timetable, areas he said should improve as larger road projects funded by a voter-approved levy move to fruition.

“Both sides have their strong arguments,” said City Councilwoman Karen Stratton, who represents the district encompassing the Monroe corridor. “I sympathize with people that have put their heart and soul into a business, and they see past construction projects in the city that have gone on too long. I also see the point of the neighborhood.”

Opponents have targeted Stratton and her colleague, City Councilwoman Candace Mumm, ahead of a future vote that may never occur. City Council President Ben Stuckart said he believes a majority of his colleagues and Condon are on the same page in support of the construction, based on a planning process that began years ago, and no one has brought forward a proposal to return the money or nix the plans.

“We have to do something different,” Stuckart, who recalled at least two near-misses with cars while touring the district with then-Councilman Jon Snyder years ago, said. “The current situation, the status quo, is not working.”

No controversy

Ask those who support or oppose the so-called “road diet” that will alter lanes, sidewalks and signs along a stretch of North Monroe Street, and they’ll agree on one thing.

There should be no controversy.

“I tell people this: It’s like a pregnancy, and the baby is nine months along,” said Gina Campbell, who opened the vintage shop 1889 Salvage Co. about a half year ago on the bottom floor of the historic Lloyd apartment building. “This is going to happen.”

Spokane expects to begin construction on the project in time to take advantage of $4.6 million in grant dollars awarded to reduce crashes along the corridor. The project would reduce traveling lanes from four to two between Indiana to Kiernan avenues.

Another group of proprietors, many of whom have been in business for decades, still believe they can sway City Hall against the idea. They say it will kill commerce and change the character of a neighborhood and road that acts as a north-south arterial for commuters.

“If people perceive they can’t get here, they won’t come,” said Jan Richart, who’s operated the Vintage Rabbit Antique Mall on Monroe for 23 years.

Each day, the 1.1-mile stretch of Monroe sees anywhere from 16,000 to 19,000 motorists, based on historic traffic counts and where you’re counting from. Traffic is heavier near the base of the hill up to Garland.

Fewer drivers will make that trip after the road is changed. Supporters say traffic reduction, both during construction and after, will be justified by features attracting customers to local businesses. Opponents say those that choose alternate routes won’t pick up dinner at a restaurant, drop off their car at a mechanic or pop in to their favorite antique shop to browse without the hassle of congested roadways. They also argue that they may lack the ability to make money during construction.

Richart said she depended on her customers having an easy path to her front door.

“People don’t follow detours for products they don’t need,” she said. Several of the businesses in the area follow the boutique model.

The road is 50 feet across, with four-foot wide sidewalks branching out to 11 feet at intersections. The proposal would increase sidewalk widths to as much as 12 feet and allow more room for on-street parking.

Engineers estimate the traffic changes would cause about 15 percent of rush hour commuters to pick other routes, resulting in about 235 cars leaving the Monroe corridor each day. Almost half those vehicles (40 percent) would be diverted to Division, with the others split between the Maple and Ash couplet, Post Street and other smaller roads. Drivers would not have to wait longer than a minute at any of the intersections affected by the traffic shifts, according to city estimates.

Gary Jarvis, owner of Skippers restaurant at the north end of the construction area, disputes those numbers and believes the reported support for the project ignores the customers who walk in his door for clams, shrimp and fish and chip baskets.

“Ask anyone who comes in up Maple, they’ll say it takes four lights just to get here,” Jarvis said.

Where some business owners see a loss of clientele, others see an opportunity to make shopping safer and thus attract more visitors.

“This is definitely a transition neighborhood,” Campbell said. “I think this will give the business and residential community a sense of pride. People take care of things they’re proud of.”

The road hasn’t received significant updates since 1997, according to city records. Campbell said the city will have to come in and rebuild anyway, so businesses might as well take advantage of the federal grant dollars and the attention of City Hall while they have it.

“We’re excited for more parking, and I think it’s going to bring more people in,” said Dave Musser, who opened Bellwether Brewing Co. close to a year and a half ago after living in the neighborhood for a decade. “Hopefully, people will have a reason to stop here.”

“It’s definitely going to change people’s driving patterns,” said Joellen Jeffers, who owns Boulevard Mercantile at the corner of Northwest Boulevard and Monroe and belongs to the business group in favor of the project. But Jeffers realizes her location may mean she doesn’t lose as many customers as her colleagues farther north on Monroe.

“I do worry about a lot of these businesses,” Jeffers said.

Driving down Monroe, the proliferation of red signs calling to cancel the project, and the social media campaign by Campbell, Jeffers and others to promote the businesses along the corridor in anticipation of a long construction season, could give visitors the opinion everyone’s mind is made up. But many still have questions.

“I see what they’re trying to do,” said Jay Troutt, who opened Classic Cuts barbershop a about a year ago on the first floor of the Hoban building, 2311 N. Monroe Street, in a shopfront that had been vacant for more than two decades. “I don’t mind change. I’m a big picture kind of guy.”

Troutt said he likely would be unaffected by the construction because of his client base. He said while the construction could cause a revival of the neighborhood like in Perry and the Garland district, he wasn’t ready to get fully on board because the potential shuttering of some businesses was “something to think about.”

Blossom Quirke, who operates an antique shop that also sells online in a former single-story home at 2415 N. Monroe, said she agreed the city needed to slow traffic. But she had several questions about details, including whether she’d have to pay taxes during construction and whether alleys to provide off-street access would be improved.

A lack of trust?

Karen Stratton, the city councilwoman representing the neighborhood, said she first attended a meeting between city engineers and business owners about the Monroe project shortly after joining the council in 2014.

The Emerson-Garfield neighborhood already had adopted a plan calling for changes to the corridor, citing the input of 53 businesses. After a series of pedestrian collisions, including one that killed a 5-year-old girl in October 2013, the city applied for and received the grant money to reduce the lanes on Monroe, what supporters say is the only option to increase safety on the road.

Stratton said at that first meeting, it appeared as though business owners believed they were being dictated to about the future of their street. That sentiment lingers in the campaign against the project by business owners who believe they weren’t consulted and aren’t being heard.

“That’s when I started thinking, there’s a real lack of trust in this room, with the businesses and the city,” Stratton said.

Condon said the lack of an organized business group on Monroe, compared to other neighborhoods that have seen similar street work, made it more difficult for the city to consult their opinion early on.

“Those typical avenues for communication didn’t exist in this part of the city,” Condon said. “We’re doing a door-to-door initiative, we’re doing a mailer initiative.”

Jarvis said local media has minced his words and failed to report the true economic effect of closing the street for the project.

“Go back and look at the track record of the city and see how they’re going to do construction,” Jarvis said. He pointed to last summer’s downtown work that blocked access to businesses for weeks and still isn’t complete. City street officials said a labyrinth of utility lines and a lag in federal approval for the project led to the delay.

Gary Hustad, whose family has owned Custom Body at 3104 N. Monroe St. since 1949, said the views of “heritage” businesses along the corridor weren’t being considered because of the momentum for something new.

“It’s putting us on the defensive, that if you’re a business that doesn’t like it, you get a negative connotation,” Hustad said. “I don’t think that’s fair.”

Dale Hearn, owner of Hearn Brothers Printing, Inc., said it appeared City Hall was trying to impose a character on the neighborhood that defied its history.

“Monroe is the lifeline to the city,” Hearn said. “It’s just going to choke the traffic down.”

Campbell, the owner of 1889 Salvage Co. who’s helping recruit businesses to assist each other during the upcoming construction, said the project shouldn’t shove a wedge between her colleagues. Instead, they should be working together to support each other.

“When this issue is over, we will all be one,” Campbell said.

Eric “EJ” Iannelli, former chairman of the Emerson-Garfield neighborhood who helped develop the plan and has served on an advisory panel overseeing the Monroe project, said the city shouldn’t be faulted for communication. They’ve been talking with residents and business owners for two years before putting shovels in the ground, what Iannelli called an “insane” amount of lead time for construction.

“Some of the communication, as always, could have been handled better,” Iannelli said. “But they’re human.”

Iannelli says he visited many of the businesses that have now come out against the project and encouraged them to participate in planning for the street, without success. It’s frustrating to see those same businesses saying they weren’t included in the conversation, he said.

Appealing to City Hall

While opponents hope they’ll find a sympathetic ear on the City Council, there are no pending proposals before the panel to alter the lane reduction plan.

“The council doesn’t typically vote on individual projects,” said City Councilwoman Candace Mumm, who also represents the district encompassing the neighborhood.

Stuckart said the council could adopt a resolution opposing the project that requires the city to pay back the grant money. An additional $2.5 million will be spent by the city in support of the project.

“I have not contemplated that. I haven’t seen anything brought forward,” said Stuckart. “The neighborhood put this in their plan. We’ve had a lot of public input.”

Condon said the city still is seeking opinions on the project, which is backed by the plans of the neighborhood, the city and public transit systems, which enabled the awarding of the grants in the first place.

“That’s what community engagement is about,” Condon said.

That includes the results of an online survey, indicating initial support for the project. City staff asked participants to read through a presentation about the construction, then answer whether they believed it balanced safety and the needs of businesses and residents. Nearly 2 in 3 respondents, 65 percent, said it did. Follow-up surveys, delivered by mail and by hand to business owners and other neighborhood stakeholders, are being collected and compiled for city review this month, said Marlene Feist, director of strategic development for the public works and utilities department.

Mumm, Stratton and Stuckart said they were skeptical of a proposal to add temporary fixtures along Monroe that would illustrate the changes to the road. That would include more than just painting stripes because of the signficant changes to the streetscape, including pedestrian bumpouts and larger parking spaces, Feist said.

The price tag of a temporary, trial project – at least $300,000 – has also raised concern, Stratton said.

“I think it’s a lot of money,” Stratton said. “I’d rather see that money put somewhere to help businesses survive during construction.”

Condon said the cost of temporarily striping Monroe “raised my eyebrows” and the city would need to decide in the next month if the price tag was worth it.

Mumm said she also believed the temporary striping wouldn’t receive the full support of the council.

On Monday, the City Council will vote on a systen that would be used to score future projects in neighborhood cores and whether there’s enough support from residents, business owners, public service providers and other groups to merit moving forward with projects similar to the Monroe Street plan.

“We’ll have a way to measure all these projects, in a more even way, and allow them to consistently be measured against each other,” Mumm said.

If the system is approved, city staff would score the Monroe project based on the criteria, Feist said, providing the City Council another source of information.

“It’ll take the emotion out of it,” Stratton said.

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Commentary: Promote health benefits of a plant-based diet

“You should eat more fruits and vegetables as if your life depended on it, because maybe it does.” — Dr. Michael Greger, “How Not to Die”

By Michele Graves

A year ago, my mom was lying blood-spattered and shaking at the University of Washington Medical Center after a heart procedure.

Maybe you know how helpless this feels.

I was relieved but also scared, angry and frustrated. After a decade of illness, here we were again.

What could I do? How about: Take mom on a cruise.

I couldn’t fly mom to treatment at one of the nation’s best cardiovascular prevention and reversal programs: an Ornish Program, the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute, or the Kahn Center for Cardiac Longevity.

But I could take mom on a seven-night cruise with nutrition experts including Drs. Caldwell Esselstyn, T. Colin Campbell, Michael Klaper, Neal Barnard and Joel Kahn.

The Holistic Holiday at Sea, earlier this March in the Caribbean, was a tropical end run around a flawed medical system.

Doctors gave lectures (with continuing medical education credits available) on how to prevent and heal chronic disease including heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s and cancer.

Theme: Eat a whole foods, plant-based diet.

Meta-analysis after meta-analysis (not one, but a collection of scientific studies) showed the benefits of eating vegetables, whole grains, fruits and beans.

You’ve heard it before: Eat more fruits and vegetables. But when these experts say “more,” they level it up, recommending a lot more than the typical American eats.

Try tracking whether you eat five servings of fruit and vegetables each day for a week. The latest study boosts that to 10 servings.

Dr. Esselstyn, a fellow with the American College of Cardiology says, “Coronary heart disease is a benign food-borne illness which need never exist or progress.”

This year, look for studies by Dr. T. Colin Campbell in the journal Nutrition and Cancer on preventing and reversing cancer with food.

The data, and their experience, says good food saves lives.

They recommended against meat, dairy products and processed food. Maybe you’ve seen that the World Health Organization put red meat in the same category as smoking.

Again and again, taxpayer-funded science links animal products to chronic illness. Meanwhile, taxpayer dollars fund these industries’ production — and advertising campaigns! It doesn’t make sense.

At the UW, following mom’s procedure she was given a “heart healthy” menu, which included eggs and pork medallions. Really?

Science shows that genes aren’t destiny. They’re flexible, not static (look for the latest from NASA’s Human Research Program — Are astronauts and identical twins Mark and Scott Kelly still identical?). We can affect the expression of our genes and those of our children and grandchildren.

Instead of being doomed to poor health, we can be empowered.

While a cruise is not cost-effective health care, preventive medicine is — food as medicine is — and it gives us more quality time with our loved ones (outside of sad hospital visits).

While people don’t like paying to sit in exam rooms, they may be willing to pay more for empowering services like nutrition counseling and education.

As Dr. Esselsytn noted, doctors either don’t have the latest nutritional information or the time to share it with you. But providing patients with up-to-date health information shows respect.

“How do you give a patient respect? How do you get compliance? You give a patient time,” he said. “Patients are empowered by the knowledge that they are in control of their disease.”

On the cruise I met a physician starting a plant-based education program in a small town in Oregon using Dr. Michael Greger’s book “How Not to Die” and free videos from nutritionfacts.org. I’d like to see something similar in our community and hope our medical experts will refer people to these programs.

I can’t accept family and friends being denied the opportunity to make life-saving and enhancing changes, because industries profit off continued illness, prevention isn’t funded and doctors assume we can’t make good decisions. We have a right to good information.

We deserve to make informed choices. What if there’s already a cure?

Michele Graves is a communications professional with a background in business, education and health care, works as a freelance writer in Everett.

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How to lose weight and overcome food addictions | Fox News

I honestly can’t remember a time when I wasn’t consumed by thoughts of food. My childhood memories of places and events are all linked to what was served, what I could get away with, and I struggled with my weight throughout my teenage years into early adulthood.

It wasn’t until my 20s after I got sober from drug and alcohol addiction that my weight spiraled out of control and I began seriously considering making a change. I distinctly remember thinking, how is it that I can harness the resources to get my Ph.D. at one of the top brain and cognitive programs in the country, but I can’t stop eating food I know is killing me? Where is the disconnect? 


And yet, I failed again and again at every popular diet on the market — until I finally understood, through my study of the brain, that the only way to bring my eating under control was to apply the exact same principles that had helped me successfully get and stay sober to my perspective on eating.

That a-ha moment led me to design Bright Lines, a plan based on four non-negotiable boundaries — sugar, flour, meals and quantities — that work to make eating foods that get and keep you slim automatic. 

Through my research, I have found that flour and sugar rapidly re-wire the brain to make you eat more of them. They literally hijack the organ to make the body block weight loss. Without those ingredients, in the span of about six months, the brain heals from food addiction and insatiable hunger, and overpowering cravings go away.  


The second two Bright Lines — meals and quantities — help make eating the right amount of food at the right time automatic. These tenets also help make turning down the wrong foods in between second nature, which is essential in a culture where food is present from the conference room to the cup holder in your car. Once a behavior is automatic, it requires no willpower.  

For this reason, I strongly discourage people from exercising while they are losing weight. Let’s put it this way: For some people, forced exercise can deplete willpower, leaving them vulnerable to making poor food choices that do more harm to the healing brain than the workout did good. Our data shows that the people who insist on exercising while doing Bright Line Eating lose weight the slowest.  


But I will caution you: This diet is not for everyone. If you are someone who was able to do Weight Watchers 10 years ago, and then lose the weight and keep it off long term, that puts you in the 1 percent of dieters, and you don’t need Bright Line Eating. But for the 99 percent of people who have yo-yo’d for years, Bright Lines may be the solution.  

For more information, visit BrightLineEating.com.

Susan Peirce Thompson, Ph.D. is an Adjunct Associate Professor of Brain and Cognitive Sciences at the University of Rochester and an expert in the psychology of eating. She is author of the New York Times Bestselling book Bright Line Eating: The Science Of Living Happy, Thin, and Free. She is President of the Institute for Sustainable Weight Loss and CEO of Bright Line Eating Solutions.

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Open Mic at ACC: Tribal Diet; ‘Jeopardy!'; How to Retire

There was more to the American College of Cardiology meeting in Washington, D.C., than the featured late-breaking clinical trials that took the spotlight.

With a camera rolling, we asked cardiologists attending the meeting to tell us about interesting, exciting, or just plain memorable happenings outside the main tent. They shared: a “Jeopardy!”-style competition among state chapters, a South American tribe with the world’s cleanest arteries, and a discussion of how and when to retire from practice.

In this exclusive video, you’ll hear from:

Healthy Diet Improves Depression – Medical News Bulletin

Depression, which nearly everyone will have to face in their life, has been shown to correlate with diet. In a recent study published in BMC Medicine, it was found that a healthy diet effectively treats depression better than a social support program.


Depression is a major mental health problem that affects nearly all people; it can be acute or chronic, that is, short or long-lasting. Chronic depression most often requires clinical treatment to overcome or live with. Current treatments involve pharmacological and psychotherapeutic approaches. Many people with depression take medication to treat or aid in the treatment of their depression. Meta-analysis of many studies has shown an association between diet and mental health, specifically an “unhealthy” diet and poor mental health. An unhealthy diet, in this case, refers to one that is low in dietary fibre, lean proteins, fruits and vegetables and a high intake of sweet foods, salty foods, and processed meats. In turn, a healthy diet can be illustrated by the Mediterranean diet; a larger quantity of fruits and vegetables, lean proteins (such as fish), whole grains and healthy fats, like olive oil.

A study recently published in BMC Medicine set out to examine, in a clinical trial, the effect of diet on depression. Patients participating in the study all were over the age of 18, had depression or a major depressive episode based on the DSM-IV and the Montgomery-Åsberg Depression Rating Scale (MADRS), and had a poor diet (a low score on the Dietary Screening Tool). Patients were excluded from the study if they had conflicting mental disorders, were unable to follow the diet for a variety of reasons (one being pregnancy), and other confounding factors. Altogether there were 67 participants at the beginning of the study: 33 were assigned to the intervention group (the diet group) and 34 were assigned to the control group. The control group was enrolled in a social support program otherwise known as a “befriending” program, in which the participants met with individuals to discuss neutral topics or to play games (such as cards) on a regular basis. The diet group followed a Mediterranean diet with the help of seven individual dietary support sessions conducted by an Accredited Practising Dietician. The diet was allowed to be followed freely (without consumption limits), as the study was not concerned with weight loss or change in BMI. At the start of the study, a baseline measurement of depression was taken from the participants’ DSM-IV and MADRS scores. After the 12 weeks, the full course of the study, 31 participants remained in the diet group and 25 in the control or social support group, due to individuals dropping out. The results showed that the diet group had significantly greater improvement on the MADRS than the social support group.

Dietary improvement, in this study, proved to be a more effective treatment for depression than the social support program. To reiterate, changing to a healthy diet effectively treats depression better than befriending, according to this study. Diet is a non-medicinal and somewhat easy to administer as a treatment. While healthy foods can be expensive, the participants in this study did not end up spending a significant amount more on the Mediterranean diet than they did on their previous, less healthy diet. That is not to say that this study was not without its limitations. The sample size was quite small. There was a greater number of dropouts in the social support program as opposed to the diet program which might be due to depression itself—a depressed individual might find it easier to manage tasks related to diet than social tasks. Either way, hopefully, there will be more clinical trials examining the effect of diet on depression and mental health in general, as this study was very preliminary.


Written By: Brian Jones

Food for thought? Diet helps explain unique human brainpower

Human brain ‘connectome’ illustrating axonal nerve fibers determined by the measured directionality of water molecules inside them (Credit: jgmarcelino from Newcastle upon Tyne). Credit: Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA

It’s the mystery of all mysteries of science. Why is it that humans are so unusual compared to all other life? The key to solving this riddle lies in explaining the evolution of our large brains and exceptional intelligence.

For as long as humanity has been contemplating our existence we must surely have been struck by the fact that we are the only species capable of doing so.

I don’t believe it’s an exaggeration to say that the evolutionary arrival of humankind – some 200,000 years ago – was a decisive moment in the long history of the universe. After 14 billion years in the making, and in the blink of an eye of cosmological time, human intelligence arrived and gave the universe the ability to comprehend itself.

Maybe this all seems a little too anthropocentric for your taste? Smacks of literary indulgence on my behalf? Perhaps. But the simple matter is that we can’t avoid the fact of human uniqueness, and explaining it is tied to understanding the evolution of our extraordinary brainpower.

The eighteenth century British anatomist and creationist Richard Owen, one of Charles Darwin’s foremost foes, thought humans were so unusual that we ought to be classified in our own sub-class – the ‘Archenecephala’ as he dubbed it – on account of our highly advanced brain.

It rather conveniently stood us apart from the apes, confirming his view of the specialness of humankind.

By the standards of today’s biological classifications this would place us in a position in the tree of life above all of the orders of mammals, making us about as exceptional as the monotremes are to the placentals.

But with the facts of our evolution now well and truly established we have a much better understanding our place in nature, as members of the primate order, and particularly as African Great Apes.

To really understand how the human brain emerged we must first recognise that we share big brains with other primates. It’s our evolutionary inheritance, as primates are among the brainiest of all mammals; when taken kilo for kilo against body size. And apes are especially well endowed in the brains department.

Why? Well, this has been a major puzzle for anthropologists for decades, and the most widely accepted explanation has been the cognitive demands placed on us by living in large social groups; the so-called ‘social brain hypothesis’ or ‘Dunbar’s Number‘.

The main alternative has been that braininess evolved in response to the demands of sex. Polygynandrous species – where males and females have multiple partners in a given breeding season – possess larger brains than those using other systems of mating, such as a harem or monogamy.

Now a new study by Alex DeCasien and colleagues published in Nature Ecology and Evolution has turned the debate completely on its head. They’ve found that the kind of diet a primate species consumes offers the best explanation for its brain size.

While this idea is not an entirely new one, their work provides strong validation for the diet- connection.

When it comes to apes it turns out that fruit eating – the dietary niche present in most living apes and the one our ancient ape ancestors indulged in – is so cognitively demanding that it led to a big evolutionary leap in intelligence when it began.

How come? Well, challenging diets require individuals to seek out or capture food; they have to judge whether it’s ready to be eaten or not; and they may even need to extract it, peel it, or process it in some way before it can be ingested.

Sound familiar? It should. Humans have the most specialised and challenging diets of all primates; and I have in mind here hunters and gatherers not urban foodies.

The human dietary niche is exceptionally broad and involves behaviours aimed at not only obtaining food but also making it more palatable and digestible; activities like extraction, digging, hunting, fishing, drying, grinding, cooking, combining other foods to add flavor, or even adding minerals to season or make food safe to eat.

What other species would so gleefully jiggle their jaws on the flames of a Jalapeno or lap up the tongue curling delights of a lemon?

What’s more, our large fruit eating ape brains got even bigger late in human evolution because our diets became ever more challenging to obtain and prepare, especially as a result of our ancestor’s penchant for eating meat.

Hunter-gatherers typically have a diet comprising between 30% and 80% vertebrate meat, while for chimpanzees it’s only around 2%. Instead, chimps get 60% of their diet from fruit, but hunter-gatherers typically obtain only 5% or 6 % (on the odd occasion a lot more) of their nutrition from fruit.

Humans rarely eat raw meat though, and we cook many of our vegetables as well, so even after expending huge efforts to collect it we still have to process much of our food in drawn out ways.

All of this throws up a paradox for us. Why is it that our closest and now extinct relatives, such as the Neanderthals, who were capable of complex behaviours like hunting, cooking and perhaps even cultural activities like art, lacked the smarts to ponder the ultimate questions of life?

Why is it us, and not them, that are capable of pondering and explaining the existence of life and the universe, including human life itself? There is clearly something very unique about and a lot more to this evolutionary tale than mere food for thought.

Explore further:
Why are primates big-brained? Researchers’ answer is food for thought

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