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  #1  
Old 01-29-2010, 06:15 PM
sweeteviljesus sweeteviljesus is offline
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Is there one food you could live on?

Is there one food (+ water) that you could eat for the rest of your life and not suffer from malnutrition? We know from Cecil's column that bread and water won't do it.

Thanks,
Rob
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  #2  
Old 01-29-2010, 06:47 PM
Polycarp Polycarp is offline
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Obviously you'd need fluids plus nutrients/bulk, which will not all come in a single food. On the presumption that the question would be, "Is there a food such that water + single foodstuff will be adequate nourishment?" I would suspect not.

I'll report, as merely a UL from which to work on the right answer, that peanuts were once said to be the most nearly perfect food, contaiing almost all nutrients that humans need, though not necessarily in the proportions humans need them in. Someone with a knowledge of nutrition minima and the nutritive value of peanuts and other foodstuffs migth be able to analyze that better than I.
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  #3  
Old 01-29-2010, 06:58 PM
carnivorousplant carnivorousplant is online now
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Whatever provides the necessary nutrients, yes if I can put Hollandaise sauce on it.
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  #4  
Old 01-29-2010, 07:14 PM
Superfluous Parentheses Superfluous Parentheses is offline
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I want to bake it, make alcohol out of it, and it should be filling.

I suppose grain is the best choice. I'm sure it won't keep me alive.
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  #5  
Old 01-29-2010, 07:27 PM
Wesley Clark Wesley Clark is online now
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Smoothies made out of fruit, vegetables and milk might do that. But that probably isn't one food.
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  #6  
Old 01-29-2010, 07:30 PM
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Lots of people live on pretty much nothing but rice and beans. That's two foods, though.
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  #7  
Old 01-29-2010, 07:41 PM
faithfool faithfool is online now
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I guess pizza is really not the answer you're looking for....
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  #8  
Old 01-29-2010, 07:45 PM
carnivorousplant carnivorousplant is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by faithfool View Post
I guess pizza is really not the answer you're looking for....
Maybe with Hollandaise sauce on it...
I had a history prof in college who claimed to feed his family on a Roman Empire diet of bread and lentils.
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  #9  
Old 01-29-2010, 08:22 PM
Perciful Perciful is offline
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Iams dry dog food.
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  #10  
Old 01-29-2010, 08:47 PM
twhitt twhitt is offline
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Purina Monkey Chow? That should do it.
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Old 01-29-2010, 08:50 PM
friedo friedo is online now
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Purina Monkey Chow? That should do it.
This guy did it. As for dog food, I wouldn't recommend it. That stuff often uses ground bonemeal as a bulking agent. Perfectly fine for dogs, but it will tear up your delicate intestines.
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  #12  
Old 01-29-2010, 10:02 PM
rhubarbarin rhubarbarin is offline
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Meat has all the nutrition necessary for human life. Some fat in it is necessary (if you eat fatless rabbits you die right quick), and if you were allowed the whole animal -muscle meat, fat, skin, liver, kidneys, bone marrow- you'd be set up for good health, not just survival.

So my vote is for a nice fatty beef steak. Unless 'cow' is an acceptable answer (and you could eat other parts).

There are lots of people who eat animals alone with no evidence of ill health. Google 'zero-carb'. There are also human populations who have reproduced long-term with apparently excellent health on all-animal diets.
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  #13  
Old 01-29-2010, 10:15 PM
Sehmket Sehmket is offline
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Would something like K-Rations count? If so, I would go for that.
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  #14  
Old 01-29-2010, 10:20 PM
elfkin477 elfkin477 is offline
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My nutrition teacher in the late 90s told us that people could survive on chicken eggs and oranges. Eggs only lack vitamin C, so that's why you'd need some oranges too occasionally.
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  #15  
Old 01-29-2010, 10:30 PM
Hazle Weatherfield Hazle Weatherfield is offline
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Beans.
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Old 01-29-2010, 10:36 PM
garygnu garygnu is offline
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Well, most of what we consume today in America is corn.
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  #17  
Old 01-30-2010, 12:21 AM
needscoffee needscoffee is offline
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Meat is the correct answer. It contains all the vitamins and minerals you need, and as Rhubarbarin pointed out, there are peoples who exist entirely on it for most of the year, specifically Eskimo populations.

I once read (was it in The Straight Dope?) that potatoes will tide you over for a very long time because they contain a small amount of vitamin C. I have no idea if this is correct, though; it sounds doubtful to me.
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  #18  
Old 01-30-2010, 12:31 AM
twhitt twhitt is offline
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A large baked potato with the skin contains 48% of your RDI of Vitamin C. It's also a fairly complete source of essential protein. It's short on most other vitamins, and has rather more iron than men would need. Not a terrible choice, really.
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  #19  
Old 01-30-2010, 12:42 AM
Hazle Weatherfield Hazle Weatherfield is offline
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I think I'm remembering "Tortilla Flat" where a woman and her kids ate nothing but beans and were totally thriving.
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  #20  
Old 01-30-2010, 12:52 AM
vifslan vifslan is offline
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If quinoa had more vitamins and fat, it might be a strong contender. At the very least, it was a sacred food to the Incas until the Spanish started to suppress it.
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  #21  
Old 01-30-2010, 02:06 AM
Rhythmdvl Rhythmdvl is offline
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You may be interested in a couple previous threads on the subject:

cat food has everything needed for life....why isn't there a "people" food?

Why No Human Chow?
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  #22  
Old 01-30-2010, 02:54 AM
njtt njtt is offline
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Originally Posted by garygnu View Post
Well, most of what we consume today in America is corn.
And that is definitely not the answer: How long could you live on popcorn and Gatorade?
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  #23  
Old 02-01-2010, 10:43 AM
sweeteviljesus sweeteviljesus is offline
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No, K-, C-rations, MREs, etc. don't count. Anyway, I don't believe you are supposed to consume them for more than thirty days in a row.

I thought meat might do the trick, but how much?

Thanks,
Rob
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  #24  
Old 02-01-2010, 11:16 AM
jasg jasg is offline
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Soylent Green
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  #25  
Old 02-01-2010, 01:17 PM
Slypork Slypork is offline
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Bachelor Chow
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  #26  
Old 02-01-2010, 01:20 PM
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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wolfberry#Nutrient_content
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  #27  
Old 02-01-2010, 01:49 PM
Chronos Chronos is offline
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Meat has all the nutrition necessary for human life. Some fat in it is necessary (if you eat fatless rabbits you die right quick), and if you were allowed the whole animal -muscle meat, fat, skin, liver, kidneys, bone marrow- you'd be set up for good health, not just survival.
With the caveats that you need to eat the organs, too, and at least some of it will have to be raw, or you won't get all the vitamins you need. If you just ate nothing but steak, you'd get scurvy pretty quickly.
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  #28  
Old 02-01-2010, 01:54 PM
Rumor_Watkins Rumor_Watkins is offline
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lentils?
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  #29  
Old 02-01-2010, 02:01 PM
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  #30  
Old 02-01-2010, 02:09 PM
kanicbird kanicbird is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rhubarbarin View Post
Unless 'cow' is an acceptable answer (and you could eat other parts).
I was thinking cow also, which would include milk, and if allowed a bit of leeway, cheese and fermented drink, along with, if really needed, the contents of it's stomachs.
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  #31  
Old 02-01-2010, 04:35 PM
Derleth Derleth is offline
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Originally Posted by rhubarbarin View Post
Unless 'cow' is an acceptable answer (and you could eat other parts).
Cow might do it if you eat the organs, the stomach contents, and ground the bones into meal for calcium (would that work?). I don't know if you'd need to drink the blood, but I don't see how it would hurt. (The Masai drink cattle blood as a matter of course in their diet. It allows them to get nutrition from the animal without destroying it.)

(Of course all of this assumes a healthy animal. Eating diseased just about anything is unhealthy.)
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  #32  
Old 02-01-2010, 04:45 PM
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Cannibalism. As long as you clean your plate and ate some of everything.

Regards,
Shodan
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  #33  
Old 02-01-2010, 04:47 PM
Shot From Guns Shot From Guns is offline
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Crap I'm remembering off the top of my head, so no cites, unfortunately:

You could get all your nutritional requirements from Guinness if you drank about 40 pints a day. (No info on how long your liver would be able to keep up.)

You can get almost everything you need from potatoes, if you eat them in large enough quantities. That's why potatoes were a staple food in Ireland and why the potato "famine" was so devastating: it wiped out the one crop that a huge percentage of the population depended on almost entirely.
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  #34  
Old 02-01-2010, 06:00 PM
Chronos Chronos is offline
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Actually, the Irish diet was mostly a combination of potatoes and cabbages, with a little milk and other things thrown in. While you can get everything you need from potatoes, if you eat a heck of a lot of them, it's more efficient to get most of your calories from potatoes, and most of your vitamins and other nutrients from cabbage.
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  #35  
Old 02-01-2010, 06:45 PM
Dickerman Dickerman is offline
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Breastmilk?
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  #36  
Old 02-01-2010, 06:48 PM
Arnold Winkelried Arnold Winkelried is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by needscoffee View Post
I once read (was it in The Straight Dope?) that potatoes will tide you over for a very long time because they contain a small amount of vitamin C.
Could I survive on nothing but potatoes and milk? (December 5, 2008)
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  #37  
Old 02-02-2010, 12:52 AM
needscoffee needscoffee is offline
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Originally Posted by Chronos View Post
With the caveats that you need to eat the organs, too, and at least some of it will have to be raw, or you won't get all the vitamins you need. If you just ate nothing but steak, you'd get scurvy pretty quickly.
Apparently not the case. When eating only meat, the amount of vitamin C it contains is sufficient. After all, the animal you're eating wasn't vitamin-deficient. In fact, early polar explorers eating animal livers overdosed on fat-soluble vitamins.
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  #38  
Old 02-02-2010, 12:59 AM
Chronos Chronos is offline
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After all, the animal you're eating wasn't vitamin-deficient.
Well, no, but that doesn't mean those vitamins are evenly distributed-- They're mostly in the organs. And I think that the vitamin overdose only happens with polar bear livers, not, say, caribou.
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  #39  
Old 02-02-2010, 01:01 AM
needscoffee needscoffee is offline
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Originally Posted by needscoffee View Post
I once read (was it in The Straight Dope?) that potatoes will tide you over for a very long time because they contain a small amount of vitamin C. I have no idea if this is correct, though; it sounds doubtful to me.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Arnold Winkelried View Post
The piece I read was at least 10 years old, but this is a much better reference. The reason I was doubtful was because of the lack of protein. The piece I read I think said you could survive for 4 months or so on taters alone (but my memory is fading quickly, probably from some vitamin or mineral deficiency.)
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  #40  
Old 02-02-2010, 01:46 AM
rhubarbarin rhubarbarin is offline
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Potatoes may have the vitamins needed for survival, but they don't have any fat, and you need fat in your diet to process many vitamins and minerals, as well as for normal hormonal functioning. I give someone on the all-potato diet a couple months, tops. If you give them lots of butter on their potatoes - much longer.

They were the staple of the Irish poor pre-famine, but their prized foods and secondary sources of calories were mutton (one of the fattiest meats existing), cow's milk products, buttermilk in particular (extra-fatty), and fish in populations on the coast. As well many of them kept chickens so got eggs on a regular basis. And of course some grains and bread. Irish peasants in the 1800s knew better than we do now- animal products full of delicious saturated fat have more available nutrition than any other food and as much of them should be eaten as you can afford.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Derleth View Post
Cow might do it if you eat the organs, the stomach contents, and ground the bones into meal for calcium (would that work?). I don't know if you'd need to drink the blood, but I don't see how it would hurt. (The Masai drink cattle blood as a matter of course in their diet. It allows them to get nutrition from the animal without destroying it.)

(Of course all of this assumes a healthy animal. Eating diseased just about anything is unhealthy.)
I know people who have eaten nothing but factory-raised (usually in compromised health) beef cuts for years, and they are in good health. Eating plain muscle-meat with a normal proportion of fat seems to be just fine for survival. Probably not ideal for a life-long diet, or reproduction.

Last edited by rhubarbarin; 02-02-2010 at 01:47 AM..
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  #41  
Old 02-02-2010, 01:51 AM
rhubarbarin rhubarbarin is offline
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Originally Posted by sweeteviljesus View Post
No, K-, C-rations, MREs, etc. don't count. Anyway, I don't believe you are supposed to consume them for more than thirty days in a row.

I thought meat might do the trick, but how much?

Thanks,
Rob
The people I know who eat only meat eat about 1400-2000 kcal worth per day. They naturally eat less - it's tough to overeat on meat-only - and tend to lose body fat and build muscle easily. Calorie content depends on whether it is fowl, pork, or ruminent and what cut it is..

Most of them are not as extreme as the beef-only crowd I mentioned before. In general they prefer organic and 'pastured' animal products and they eat a variety of animals and include some liver, kidneys and sometimes sweetbreads (all cooked). Most also eat eggs and use additional fat (lard, etc) for preparing meat.

Last edited by rhubarbarin; 02-02-2010 at 01:53 AM..
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  #42  
Old 02-02-2010, 02:41 AM
Chronos Chronos is offline
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Irish peasants in the 1800s knew better than we do now- animal products full of delicious saturated fat have more available nutrition than any other food and as much of them should be eaten as you can afford.
That may be true when you can only afford as much as a 19th-century Irish peasant, but that still left them eating a heck of a lot less meat than modern Americans do.

For that matter, it's been true for almost all of human evolution that "as much as you can get" was a good amount for meat (as well as for other fats and for sugar), which is why meat, fat, and sugar taste so good. We didn't need to evolve a sense for when something tasted "too fatty" or "too sugary", because for the vast majority of our evolution, it was just never an issue: You'd never manage to get that much, as a practical matter, anyway.
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  #43  
Old 02-02-2010, 03:13 PM
rhubarbarin rhubarbarin is offline
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Originally Posted by Chronos View Post
That may be true when you can only afford as much as a 19th-century Irish peasant, but that still left them eating a heck of a lot less meat than modern Americans do.

For that matter, it's been true for almost all of human evolution that "as much as you can get" was a good amount for meat (as well as for other fats and for sugar), which is why meat, fat, and sugar taste so good. We didn't need to evolve a sense for when something tasted "too fatty" or "too sugary", because for the vast majority of our evolution, it was just never an issue: You'd never manage to get that much, as a practical matter, anyway.
Well, I would disagree with half your point. In the beginning of time sweet came only in the form of honey and fruit (and some tubers), and was seasonal and more rare than the savory foods high in fat and protien that were a diet staple- in the form of coconut, insects, small animals, and shore seafood (gathered) and large animals and fish (hunted - and every last bit consumed with the fat prized above all).

This was still largely true with the advent of agriculture. When we made the switch from hunting and gathering to farming and herding, staples were grains and full-fat animal products. Average people had no access to fruit orchards.
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  #44  
Old 02-02-2010, 04:34 PM
sweeteviljesus sweeteviljesus is offline
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When I asked how much meat, I was asking if you might wind up overdosing on some nutrient in order to get enough of another.

Also, the poster who cited wolfberries (aka goji berries) should note that that section's cites regarding the berry's purported nutritional content were flagged as unreliable. I guess that was probably a whoosh.

Also, I don't believe buttermilk is especially fatty since it is the stuff left over after churning the butter (in the old days anyway).

Thanks,
Rob
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  #45  
Old 02-02-2010, 11:52 PM
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Breadfruit, possibly? Like the potato, but it has seeds and some fat.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Breadfruit Institute
Breadfruit is a versatile crop and the fruit can be cooked and eaten at all stages of maturity. It is an important staple food in the Pacific region, parts of the Caribbean and other tropical regions where it is mainly grown as a subsistence crop in home gardens or small farms. It is an excellent dietary staple and compares favorably with other starchy staple crops commonly eaten in the tropics, such as taro, plantain, cassava, sweet potato and white rice. Carbohydrates are the main source of energy with low levels of protein and fat and a moderate glycemic index. It is a good source of dietary fiber, potassium, calcium, and magnesium with small amounts of thiamin, riboflavin, niacin and iron. Some varieties contain small amounts of folic acid. Yellow-fleshed varieties can be a good source of provitamin A carotenoids. The seeds are edible and can be boiled, roasted, or ground into meal. They resemble chestnuts in flavor and texture. They are a good source of protein and minerals.
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  #46  
Old 02-03-2010, 05:27 AM
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Originally Posted by needscoffee View Post
Meat is the correct answer. It contains all the vitamins and minerals you need, and as Rhubarbarin pointed out, there are peoples who exist entirely on it for most of the year, specifically Eskimo populations.
So...would seal meat be better, or whale?
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  #47  
Old 02-03-2010, 10:47 PM
devilsknew devilsknew is offline
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Sounds like a Breadfruit, Wolfberry, and Olive Orchard is in order.
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  #48  
Old 02-04-2010, 12:05 AM
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On a hillside you could alternate large breadfruit trees for wood and fruit, with similarily ancient and sustaining olives, Inbetween the rows you could stake out the wolfberries, maybe a ground cover of melons and cukes to be hyper efficient. Be an excellent soil and ground conserve for tropical and subitropical areas. Could probably grow all of those outside my door, here on the suncoast.
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Old 02-04-2010, 12:38 AM
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Of course, you need fish guts, and shit to fertilize that hillside sustaining orchard.
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  #50  
Old 02-04-2010, 09:58 AM
rhubarbarin rhubarbarin is offline
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Originally Posted by sweeteviljesus View Post
When I asked how much meat, I was asking if you might wind up overdosing on some nutrient in order to get enough of another.

Also, the poster who cited wolfberries (aka goji berries) should note that that section's cites regarding the berry's purported nutritional content were flagged as unreliable. I guess that was probably a whoosh.

Also, I don't believe buttermilk is especially fatty since it is the stuff left over after churning the butter (in the old days anyway).

Thanks,
Rob
It's nearly impossible to eat enough muscle meat to overdose on any vitamins.

If you are eating a diet very heavy in organs, especially raw organs, vitamin A toxicity is a concern.
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