Legumes in Hunter-Gatherer Diets - Primal Wisdom

Did hunter-gatherers eat legumes?


According to Sigrid Leger, author of The Hidden Gifts of Nature, Bushmen ate the following legumes:

  • Wild Coffee Beans Bauhinia petersiana "The seeds are edible and can be gathered from February until May. The pod is removed, the seeds are put into hot ash for a minute and are cooked in this way. After that the seeds can be eaten just as they are or they are pounded and then eaten."
  • Marama bean(Tylosema esculentum)The whole pod is put into hot ash for a short time and removed again. After having cooled down, the pods are opened, the skin of the seed is removed and the seed itself is eaten."

These examples appear to illustrate that the absence of pots and pans in the archaeological record does not serve as evidence that prehistoric people did not eat cereals or legumes. Anyone who has eaten popcorn or peanuts might realize that people can eat grains and legumes roasted as an alternative to boiled.

According to Brand-Miller and Holt, Australian Aborigines also made use of legumes:

"Although seeds, particularly cereals (seeds of the family Gruminae) are thought to have played only a minor role in palaeolithic diets, they appeared to be important in the diet of at least some groups of Australian Aborigines (AA). Before European occupation, collection of seeds was widespread, particularly in arid areas. It was predominant in the grassland areas of Australia but also in the desert areas where acacia trees (wattle trees) yielded abundant seeds. Grindstones used for seed grinding have been found in many areas."
"It appears that ~ 50 of the 800 species of Acacia (wattle trees) native to Australia were used by AA for food. Despite the wattle being Australia’s national flower, the seeds are generally unknown to non-AA as food sources. But Acacia seeds are outstanding in their nutrient content, being much higher in energy, protein and fat than any cereal crop such as wheat and rice. Their composition more closely resembles that of the legume family to which the Acacias actually belong."
According to some, legumes are among the neolithic foods that cause disease because of their supposed discordance with human genetics, yet both !Kung and AA appeared to have a high immunity to modern diseases of affluence.