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* Human ancestral diets changed substantially approximately four to
five million years ago with major climatic changes creating open
grassland environments.

* We developed a larger brain balanced by a smaller, simpler
gastrointestinal tract requiring higher-quality foods based around
meat protein and fat.

Journal Human Evolution
The human adaptations to meat eating: a reappraisal
Hladik C. M. 1 and Pasquet P. 2
(1) Laboratoire d'Ecologie, Éco-Anthropologie, CNRS (FRE
2323) and Museum National d'Histoire Naturelle, 4 avenue du
Petit Château, 91800 Brunoy, (France)
(2) Dynamique de l'évolution humaine CNRS (UPR 2147) 44,
rue de l'Amiral Mouchez, 75014, France
Received: 10 April 2001  Accepted: 28 December 2001


In this paper we discuss the hypothesis, proposed by some authors,
that man is a habitual meat-eater. Gut measurements of primate species
do not support the contention that human digestive tract is specialized
for meat-eating, especially when taking into account allometric factors
and their variations between folivores, frugivores and meat-eaters. The
dietary status of the human species is that of an unspecialised frugivore,
having a flexible diet that includes seeds and meat (omnivorous diet).
Throughout the various time periods, our human ancestors could have
mostly consumed either vegetable, or large amounts of animal matter
(with fat and/or carbohydrates as a supplement), depending on the
availability and nutrient content of food resources. Some formerly
adaptive traits (e.g. the "thrifty genotype") could have resulted from
selective pressure during transitory variations of feeding behaviour
linked to environmental constraints existing in the past.

'Frugivory is an intellectually demanding feeding behaviour demanding
the development of strategic planning, whereas the folivores feeding
behavior engages relatively simple tactics. According to Caroline E. G.
Tutin et al. 'Allometric analyses suggest a relation between brain size
(relative to body mass) and diet, with frugivores having relatively larger
brains . . . Maintaining a frugivorous diet presents huge intellectual
challenges of memory and spatial mapping compared with the relative
ease of harvesting abundant foliage foods.
Anthropologies 'Man The Hunter' concept is still used as a reason
for justifying the consumption of animal flesh as food. This has even
extended as far as suggesting that animal foods have enabled or
caused human brain enlargement. Allegedly this is because of the
greater availability of certain kinds of fats and the sharing behaviour
associated with eating raw animal food. The reality is that through
natural selection, the environmental factors our species have been
exposed to selected for greater brain development, long before raw
animal flesh became a significant part of our ancient ancestors diet.
The elephant has also developed a larger brain than the human brain,
on a diet primarily consisting of fermented foliage and fruits. It is my
hypothesis that it is eating fruits and perhaps blossoms, that has, if
anything, contributed the most in allowing humans to develop
relatively larger brains than other species. The ability of humans to
develop normal brains with a dietary absence of animal products is
also noted.
Given a plentiful supply of fruits the mother does not have to
risk expending much of her effort obtaining difficult to get foods
like raw animal flesh, insects, nuts and roots. Furthermore, fruits
contain abundant supplies of sugars which the brain solely uses
for energy. The mother who's genes better dispose her for an
easy life on fruits would have an advantage of those who do not,
and similarly, the fruit species which is the best food for mother
and child nutrition, would tend to be selected for. There is now
little doubt amongst distinguished biologists that fruit has been
the most significant dietary constituent in the evolution of humans.
What are the essential biochemical properties of human metabolism
which distinguish us from our non-human primate relatives? One,
at least, is our uniquely low protein requirement as described by
Olav T. Oftedal who says:

"Human milk has the lowest protein concentration (about 7% of
energy) of any primate milk that has been studied. In general, it
appears that primates produce small daily amounts of a relatively
dilute milk (Oftedal 1984). Thus the protein and energy demands
of lactation are probably low for primates by comparison to the
demands experienced by many other mammals." The nutritional
consequences of foraging in primates: the relationship of nutrient
intakes to nutrient requirements, p.161 Philosophical Transactions:
Biological Sciences vol 334, 159-295, No. 1270

One might imagine that given our comparatively 'low protein' milk,
we would not be able to grow very fast. In fact, as the image on the
right shows, human infants show very rapid growth, especially of
the brain, during the first year of life. Human infants are born a full
year earlier than they would be projected to, based on comparisons
with other animals. This is because of the large size their brains
reach. A human infant grows at the rate of 9 kg/year at birth, falling
to 3.5 kg/year a year later. Thereafter its growth rate is about half
that of a chimpanzees at 2 kg/year vs. about 4.5 kg/year. Humans
are relatively half as bulky as the other great apes, thus allowing
nutrients to be directed at brain development and the diet to be less
demanding. The advantages of such an undemanding metabolism
are clear. Humans delay their growth because they 'catch up' later,
during puberty as seen on the graph. Even so, the growth rate never
reaches that of a newborn infant who grows best by only eating
breast milk.
According to Exequiel M. Patińo and Juan T. Borda 'Primate milks
contain on the average 13% solids, of which 6.5% is lactose, 3.8%
lipids, 2.4% proteins, and 0.2% ash. Lactose is the largest
component of the solids, and protein is a lesser one'. They also say
that 'milks of humans and Old World monkeys have the highest
percentages of sugar (an average of 6.9%)' and when comparing
human and non human primate milks, they have similar proportions
of solids, but human milks has more sugar and fat whereas the non
human primate milks have much more protein. They continue 'In
fact, human milk has the lowest concentration of proteins (1.0%)
of all the species of primates.' Patińo and Borda present their
research in order to allow other primatologists to construct artificial
milks as a substitute for the real thing for captive primates. It is to
be expected that these will have similar disasterous consequences
as the feeding of artificial bovine, and other false milks, has had on
human infants.

Patińo and Borda also present a table which compares primate
milks. This table is shown below and identifies the distinctive
lower protein requirements of humans.  [see link]

Undoubtedly these gross metabolic differences between humans
and other mammals must have system wide implications for our
metabolism. They allow us to feed heavily on fruits, and may restrict
other species from choosing them. Never the less, many nutritional
authorities suggest that adult humans need nearly double (12% of
calorific value) their breast milk levels of protein, although it is
accepted that infant protein requirements for growth are triple those
of adults. The use of calorific values might also confuse the issue
since human milk is highly dilute (1% protein), and clearly eating
foods that might be 25 times this concentration, such as meat, are
massive excesses if constantly ingested. Certainly the body might
manage to deal with this excess without suffering immediate
problems, but this is not proof of any beneficial adaptation. It also
needs to be pointed out that berries, such as raspberries, may yield
up to 21% of their calorific value from protein, but are not regarded
as 'good sources' of protein by nutritional authorites. There are
millions of fruits available to wild animals, and blanked
generalisations about the qualities of certain food groups, need to
be examined carefully, due to some misconceptions arising from
the limited commercial fruits which we experience in the domestic

The weaning of a fruigivorous primate would clearly demand the
supply of a food with nutritional characteristics similar to those
of the mothers milk. We must realise that supportive breast
feeding may continue for up to 9 or 10 years in some 'rimitive'
peoples, and this is more likely to be representative of our
evolutionary history than the 6 month limit often found in modern
cultures. This premature weaning should strike any aware
naturalist as being a disasterous activity, inflicting untold damage.
However, what we do know of the consequences is that it
reduces the IQ and disease resistance of the child, and that the
substitute of unnatural substances, like wheat and dairy products,
is pathogenic.

Finally we need to compare some food group compositions with
human milk in order to establish if any statistical similarity exists.
This would demonstrate that modern humans have inherited their
ancient fruigivorous metabolism. This data is examined below in
the final sections of the article.

* Anthropological evidence from cranio-dental features and fossil
stable isotope analysis indicates a growing reliance on meat
consumption during human evolution.

See below.

* Study of hunter-gatherer societies in recent times shows an extreme
reliance on hunted and fished animal foods for survival.

'Ethnographic parallels with modern hunter-gatherer communities have
been taken to show that the colder the climate, the greater the reliance
on meat. There are sound biological and economic reasons for this, not
least in the ready availability of large amounts of fat in arctic mammals.
>From this, it has been deduced that the humans of the glacial periods
were primarily hunters, while plant foods were more important during
the interglacials. '

* Optimal foraging theory shows that wild plant foods in general give
an inadequate energy return for survival, whereas the top-ranking food
items for energy return are large hunted animals.

'It has long been held that big game hunting is THE key development
in human evolutionary history, facilitating the appearance of patterns
in reproduction, social organization, and life history fundamental to
the modern human condition. Though this view has been challenged
strongly in recent years, it persists as the conventional wisdom, largely
for lack of a plausible alternative. Recent research on women's time
allocation and food sharing among tropical hunter-gatherers now
provides the basis for such an alternative.

The problem with big game hunting

The appeal of big game hunting as an important evolutionary force
lies in the common assumption that hunting and related paternal
provisioning are essential to child rearing among human foragers:
mother is seen as unable to bear, feed and raise children on her
own; hence relies on husband/father for critical nutritional support,
especially in the form of meat. This makes dating the first
appearance of this pattern the fundamental problem in human
origins research. The common association between stone tools
and the bones of large animals at sites of Pleistocene age suggests
to many that it may be quite old, possibly originating with Homo
erectus nearly two million years ago (e.g. Gowlett 1993).

Despite its widespread acceptance, there are good reasons to be
skeptical about the underlying assumption. Most important is the
observation that big game hunting is actually a poor way to support
a family. Among the Tanzanian Hadza, for example, men armed
with bows and poisoned arrows operating in a game-rich habitat
acquire large animal prey only about once every thirty hunter-days,
not nearly often enough to feed their children effectively. They
could do better as provisioners by taking small game or plant
foods, yet choose not to, which suggests that big game hunting
serves some other purpose unrelated to offspring survivorship
(Hawkes et al. 1991). Whatever it is, reliable support for children
must come from elsewhere.

The importance of women's foraging and food sharing

Recent research on Hadza time allocation and foraging returns
shows that at least among these low latitude foragers, women's
gathering is the source (Hawkes et al. 1997). The most difficult
time of the year for the Hadza is the dry season, when foods
younger children can procure for themselves are unavailable.
Mothers respond by provisioning youngsters with foods they
themselves can procure daily and at relatively high rates, but that
their children cannot, largely because of handling requirements.
Tubers, which require substantial upper body strength and
endurance to collect and the ability to control fire in processing,
are a good example.

Provisioning of this sort has at least two important implications:
1) it allows the Hadza to operate in times and places where they
otherwise could not if, as among other primates, weaned offspring
were responsible for feeding themselves; 2) it lets another adult
assist in the process allowing mother to turn her attention to the
next pregnancy that much sooner. Quantitative data on time
allocation, foraging returns, and changes in children's nutritional
status indicate that, among the Hadza, that other adult is typically
grandmother. Senior Hadza women forage long hours every day,
enjoy high returns for effort, and provision their grandchildren
effectively, especially when their daughters are nursing new
infants (Hawkes et al. 1989, 1997). Their support is crucial to
both daughters' fecundity and grandchildren's survivorship,
with important implications for grandmothers' own fitness.

* Numerous evolutionary adaptations in humans indicate high reliance
on meat consumption, including poor taurine production, lack of
ability to chain elongate plant fatty acids and the co-evolution of
parasites related to dietary meat.

'Analyses of data from the China studies by his collaborators and
others, Campbell told the epidemiology symposium, is leading to
policy recommendations. He mentioned three:

* The greater the variety of plant-based foods in the diet, the
greater the benefit. Variety insures broader coverage of known
and unknown nutrient needs.

* Provided there is plant food variety, quality and quantity, a
healthful and nutritionally complete diet can be attained without
animal-based food.

* The closer the food is to its native state - with minimal heating,
salting and processing - the greater will be the benefit.


Anthropologists have long recognised that the diets of palaeolithic
and recent hunter-gatherers (HGs) represent a reference standard for
modern human nutrition and a model for defence against certain Western-
lifestyle diseases. Boyd Eaton of Emory University (Atlanta) put this
succinctly: 'We are the heirs of inherited characteristics accrued
over millions of years, the vast majority of our biochemistry and
physiology are tuned to life conditions that existed prior to the
advent of agriculture. Genetically our bodies are virtually the same
as they were at the end of the palaeolithic period. The appearance of
agriculture some 10,000 years ago and the Industrial Revolution some
200 years ago introduced new dietary pressures for which no adaptation
has been possible in such a short time span. Thus an inevitable
discordance exists between our dietary intake and that which our genes
are suited to'. This discordance hypothesis postulated by Eaton could
explain many of the chronic 'diseases of civilisation'. (1) This
review presents an anthropological perspective on what HG populations
may have actually eaten.

'Anthropologically speaking, humans were high consumers of calcium
until the onset of the Agricultural Age, 10,000 years ago. Current
calcium intake is one-quarter to one-third that of our evolutionary diet
and, if we are genetically identical to the Late Paleolithic Homo sapiens,
we may be consuming a calcium-deficient diet our bodies cannot adjust
to by physiologic mechanisms.

The anthropological approach says, with the exception of a few small
changes related to genetic blood diseases, that humans are basically
identical biologically and medically to the hunter-gatherers of the late
Paleolithic Era.17  During this period, calcium content of the diet was
much higher than it is currently.  Depending on the ratio of animal to
plant foods, calcium intake could have exceeded 2000 mg per day.17
Calcium was largely derived from wild plants, which had a very high
calcium content; animal protein played a small role, and the use of
dairy products did not come into play until the Agricultural Age
10,000 years ago. Compared to the current intake of approximately
500 mg per day for women age 20 and over in the United States,18
hunter-gatherers had a significantly higher calcium intake and
apparently much stronger bones. As late as 12,000 years ago,
Stone Age hunters had an average of 17-percent more bone density
(as measured by humeral cortical thickness). Bone density also
appeared to be stable over time with an apparent absence of

High levels of calcium excretion via renal losses are seen with both
high salt and high protein diets, in each case at levels common in the
United States.10,11
The only hunter-gatherers that seemed to fall prey to bone loss were
the aboriginal Inuit (Eskimos). Although their physical activity level
was high, their osteoporosis incidence exceeded even present-day
levels in the United States. The Inuit diet was high in phosphorus
and protein and low in calcium.20

Contrary to views that humans evolved largely as a herbivorous animal
in a 'garden of Eden' type of environment, historical evidence
indicates a very different reality, at least in the last four to five
million years of evolutionary adaptation. It was in this time frame
that the ancestral hominid line emerged from the receding forests to
become bipedal, open grassland dwellers. This was likely


by dietary changes and subsequent physiological and metabolic
adaptations. The evolutionary pressure for some primates to undergo
this habitat and subsequent diet change involving open grassland,
foraging/scavenging, related directly to massive changes in global
climatic conditions, primarily drier conditions followed by worldwide
expansion of the biomass of temperate climate (C4) grasses at the
expense of wetland forests, (2) accompanied by a worldwide faunal
change, (3) including the spread of large grazing animals. Thus, the
foods available to human ancestors in an open grassland environment
were very different from those of the jungle/forest habitats that were
home for many millions of years.

"Studies of frugivorous communities elsewhere suggest that dietary
divergence is highest when preferred food (succulent fruit) is scarce,
and that niche separation is clear only at such times (Gautier-Hion &
Gautier 1979: Terborgh 1983). - Foraging profiles of sympatric
lowland gorillas and chimpanzees in the Lopé Reserve, Gabon, p.179,
Philosophical Transactions: Biological Sciences vol 334, 159-295,
No. 1270


The lines of investigation used by anthropologists to deduce the
evolutionary diet of our evolving hominid ancestors are numerous: (i)
changes in cranio-dental features; (ii) fossil isotopic chemical
tracer methods; (iii) comparative gut morphology of modern humans and
other mammals;

Journal Human Evolution
The human adaptations to meat eating: a reappraisal
Hladik C. M. 1 and Pasquet P. 2
(1) Laboratoire d'Ecologie, Éco-Anthropologie, CNRS (FRE
2323) and Museum National d'Histoire Naturelle, 4 avenue du
Petit Château, 91800 Brunoy, (France)
(2) Dynamique de l'évolution humaine CNRS (UPR 2147) 44,
rue de l'Amiral Mouchez, 75014, France
Received: 10 April 2001  Accepted: 28 December 2001


In this paper we discuss the hypothesis, proposed by some authors,
that man is a habitual meat-eater. Gut measurements of primate species
do not support the contention that human digestive tract is specialized
for meat-eating, especially when taking into account allometric factors
and their variations between folivores, frugivores and meat-eaters. The
dietary status of the human species is that of an unspecialised frugivore,
having a flexible diet that includes seeds and meat (omnivorous diet).
Throughout the various time periods, our human ancestors could have
mostly consumed either vegetable, or large amounts of animal matter
(with fat and/or carbohydrates as a supplement), depending on the
availability and nutrient content of food resources. Some formerly
adaptive traits (e.g. the "thrifty genotype") could have resulted from
selective pressure during transitory variations of feeding behaviour
linked to environmental constraints existing in the past.

(iv) the energetic requirements of developing a large
ratio of brain to body size;

Fructose and carbohydrate.

(v) optimal foraging theory; (vi) dietary
patterns of surviving HG societies; and (vii) specific diet-related
adaptations. Findings from each of these fields reveal a changing
dietary pattern away from low-quality/highly fibrous, energy-poor
plant stables to a growing dependence on more energy-rich animal
foods, culminating in palaeolithic Homo sapiens being top-level
carnivores. (4)

Changes in cranio-dental features

Early hominid fossil remains already show clear cranio-dental changes
which indicate a move away from a specialised structure suited to
coarse foliage mastication to a more generalised structure indicative
of dependence on fruits and hard nuts but also incorporating changes
that indicate meat consumption. Such changes included a decrease in
molar teeth size, jaws/skull became more gracile, front teeth became
well buttressed and shearing crests appearing on teeth, all indicative
of less emphasis on grinding and more on biting and tearing of animal
flesh. (5)

Sure... Humans tear into bloody still-warm-from-the-kill animal flesh
all the time....  (I can just see it now, ball, you and the squirrel.... 

'Natural selection dictates that primate tooth shape should reflect the
mechanical properties of foods. As shown by numerous workers,
variations in tooth shape are a means of adapting to changes in the
internal characteristics of foods such as their strength, toughness, and
deformability (Lucas and Teaford, 1994; Spears and Crompton, 1996;
Strait, 1997; Yamashita, 1998). Clearly, foods are complicated structures;
thus it is impossible to describe all of the internal characteristics that
might have confronted the earliest hominids' teeth. However, another
approach is to describe the capabilities of those teeth.

For example, tough foods are sheared between the leading edges of
sharp crown crests whereas hard, brittle foods are crushed between
planar surfaces. As such, reciprocally concave, highly crested teeth
have the capability of efficiently processing tough items such as insect
exoskeletons and leaves, whereas rounder and flatter cusped teeth are
best suited for a more frugivorous diet. Kay (1984) has devised a
"shearing quotient" (SQ) as a measure of relative shear potential of a
molar tooth. He and colleagues have demonstrated that more
folivorous species have the longest crests, followed by those that
prefer brittle, soft fruits. Finally, hard-object feeders have the shortest
crests and bluntest molars (Kay, 1984; Meldrum and Kay, 1997).

Shearing crest studies have been conducted on early Miocene African
apes and middle to late Miocene European apes. Such studies show a
considerable range of diets very much consistent with microwear
results for these same taxa. For example, Rangwapithecus and
Oreopithecus have relatively long shearing crests suggesting folivory,
Ouranopithecus has extremely short crests suggesting a hard-object
specialization, whereas most other Miocene taxa studied, such as
Proconsul, and Dryopithecus have the intermediate length crests of
a frugivore (Kay and Ungar, 1997; Ungar and Kay, 1995). Thus,
shearing crest study results suggest that Miocene apes, especially those
from the later Miocene of Europe, show a substantial range of diets.

As for the early hominids, Grine (1981) has noted differences between
Australopithecus africanus and Paranthropus robustus in molar form,
such that the "gracile" species had more occlusal relief than did the
"robust" form, suggesting a dietary difference. While no shearing
crest length studies have been conducted on early hominids, all
australopithecines have relatively flat, blunt molar teeth and lack the
long shearing crests seen in some extant hominoids (e.g., Kay, 1985).
By itself, this indicates that the earliest hominids would have had
difficulty breaking down tough, pliant foods, such as soft seed coats
and the veins and stems of leaves -- although they probably were
capable of processing buds, flowers, and shoots.

Interestingly, as suggested by Lucas and Peters (in press) another
tough pliant food they would have had difficulty in processing is
meat. In other words, the early hominids were not dentally
preadapted to eat meat - they simply did not have the sharp,
reciprocally-concave shearing blades necessary to retain and cut
such foods. By contrast, given their flat, blunt teeth, they were
admirably equipped to process hard brittle objects. What about
soft fruits? It really depends on the toughness of those fruits. If
they were tough, then they would also need to be precisely
retained and sliced between the teeth. Again, early hominids would
be very inefficient at it. If they were not tough, then the hominids
could certainly process soft fruits.

In sum, Miocene ape molars show a range of adaptations including
folivory, soft-fruit eating and hard-object feeding. This range exceeds
that of living hominoids, and especially the early hominids. While
comparable shearing crest length studies have not been conducted
on early hominids, australopithecines certainly have relatively flat
molar teeth compared with many living and fossil apes. These teeth
were well-suited to breaking down hard, brittle foods including some
fruits and nuts, and soft, weak foods such as flowers and buds; but
again, they were not well-suited to breaking-down tough pliant foods
like stems, soft seed pods, and meat.


'There appears to be no threshold of plant-food enrichment or minimization
of fat intake beyond which further disease prevention does not occur.
These findings suggest that even small intakes of foods of animal origin are
associated with significant increases in plasma cholesterol concentrations,
which are associated, in turn, with significant increases in chronic
degenerative disease mortality rates. - Campbell TC, Junshi C. Diet and
chronic degenerative diseases: perspectives from China. Am J Clin Nutr
1994 May;59 (5 Suppl):1153S-1161S.'
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Posted: Jan 28, 2008 4:04am
Mar 13, 2006
Type: Tribute (for the living)
To Honor: Individual(s)
Location: , United States
March 10, 2006
Books of The Times | 'American Green'

Why Grass Really Is Always Greener on the Other Side

Many of the approximately 60 million Americans with lawns can understand the feeling. A well-tended yard is not only personal territory, to be defended unto death, but also a work of art. Like a painting, it has form and color. Like a child, it is alive. No wonder feelings run high, and the lawn, as a canvas for personal expression, engages the suburban American male at the deepest possible level. Americans like Jerry Tucker, who turned his yard into a replica of the 12th hole at Augusta National Golf Club.

The often-crazed love affair between Americans and their lawns is Ted Steinberg's subject in "American Green." Mr. Steinberg, an environmental historian at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, likens this relationship, and the insane pursuit of lawn perfection, to obsessive-compulsive disorder, and he may very well be right. That would at least explain the behavior of a homeowner who clips her entire front yard with a pair of hand shears, or Richard Widmark's reaction on waking up in the hospital after a severe lawn mower accident in 1990. "The question I asked the doctors was not 'Will I ever act again?' " he later recalled, "but 'Will I ever mow again?' "

How did a plant species ill suited to the United States, and the patrician taste for a rolling expanse of green take root from the shores of the Atlantic to the desiccated terrain of Southern California? The short answer is that it didn't, not until after the Civil War. Although Washington and Jefferson had lawns, most citizens did not have the hired labor needed to cut a field of grass with scythes. Average homeowners either raised vegetables in their yards or left them alone. If weeds sprouted, fine. If not, that was fine, too.

Toward the end of the 19th century, suburbs appeared on the American scene, along with the sprinkler, greatly improved lawn mowers, new ideas about landscaping and a shorter work week. A researcher investigating the psychology of suburbanites in 1948 observed shrewdly that the American work ethic coexisted uneasily with free time, and that "intense care of the lawn is an excellent resolution of this tension." At least until the moles arrive.

Mr. Steinberg cannot decide whether he is writing a cultural history, an environmental exposé or a series of Dave Barry columns. As cultural history, "American Green" is relentlessly superficial, a grab bag of airy generalizations and decrepit clichés about the cold war and the conformist 1950's. As environmental exposé, it is confused and poorly explained. It is impossible, reading Mr. Steinberg on lawn-care products, to assess risks. At times, it sounds as if any homeowner spreading the standard lawn fertilizers and herbicides might as well take out a gun and shoot his family. A few pages later, the environmental threat seems trivial.

Sometimes, he simply punts. Building a case against power mowers, which Mr. Steinberg regards as unsafe at any speed, he introduces the story of a "lawn professional" who lost the fingers on both hands while trying to keep a wayward mower from rolling into a lake. This might be a damning piece of evidence if Mr. Steinberg did not then add, sheepishly, that "perhaps this is a suburban legend." Half-serious, intellectually incoherent, "American Green" shambles along like this, scattering bits and pieces of history, sociology and consumer advice as it goes.

There are just enough fascinating bits to keep the pages turning. It is gratifying to learn that grass really is greener on the other side of the fence. An observer looking down at his own lawn sees brown dirt along with green grass blades, but only grass blades next door, because of the angle of vision. It is useful to focus on one of the pet claims of the lawn-care industry, that a lawn 50 feet square produces enough oxygen to satisfy the respiratory needs of a family of four. This is probably true, but, as Mr. Steinberg points out, superfluous, since there is no oxygen shortage on Earth.

Mr. Steinberg does make the case fairly convincingly that the pursuit of the perfect lawn cannot be explained without golf, which has played on the homeowner's weak sense of self-esteem by rubbing his face in fantasy images. Perfection at Augusta requires a team of specialists and a multimillion-dollar investment in infrastructure. The average golf green gets more pampering and primping than Heidi Klum's cheekbones, but that is the lawn that suburbanites want. Companies like Scotts have convinced them that to achieve it, they need to follow a regimen of constant seeding, watering, fertilizing and herbiciding.

The future looks troubled for the American lawn. Some homeowners have given up entirely, paving over their yards to create more parking space. Others are embracing the native-plant movement and turning their lawns into miniature prairies and meadows. Nellie Shriver, of the Fruitarian Network, stopped mowing for moral reasons. "It is impossible to mow the grass without harming it," she said. "We believe grass has some sort of consciousness, that it has feelings."

Even more alarming, for the lawn-care industry, is the kind of post-lawn sensibility exhibited by an Atlanta real estate broker. "When something bores me, I get rid of it," she said. "Lawns bore me."

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New Petition! Speak out against Time-Warner Merger with Comcast! Let your opinion be know before your bill goes up and your programming choices dwindle.\\r\\n\\r\\nUrge DOJ and FCC to Not Allow Merger of Time-Warner and Comcast\\r\\nhttp://www.t hepetitionsi...
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New Petition! Speak out against Time-Warner Merger with Comcast! Let your opinion be know before your bill goes up and your programming choices dwindle.\\r\\n\\r\\nUrge DOJ and FCC to Not Allow Merger of Time-Warner and Comcast\\r\\nhttp://www.t hepetitionsi...
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\\nI have recently posted some BlogSpot radio interviews and YouTube videos, publicizing my two new books,\\r\\n1) Deepening Your Personal Relationships: Developing Emotional Intimacy and Good Communication.\\r\\n2) Psychological Healing Through Creative S...
by Ys A.
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\\nCoretta Scott King: “We have done what we can to reveal the truth, and we now urge you as members of the media, and we call upon elected officials, and other persons of influence to do what they can to share the revelation of this case to the ...
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\\nWe declare that no man nor nation nor race have a greater right than others to enjoy the fruits of their work, as the ecological sphere is our common condition of life http://www.beat Nous déclarons qu\\\'auc...
by Ys A.
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\\nauthor: Ralph Nader\\r\\n\\r\\nAn epidemic of sky-rocketing medical costs has afflicted our country and grown to obscene proportions. Medical bills are bloated with waste, redundancy, profiteering, fraud and outrageous over-billing. Much is wrong with t...
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\\nDear Friends:\\r\\n\\r\\n\\r\\ n\\r\\nMy two current books have been published and are available for sale through Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and the publisher’s website, Hammer. Reading these books can be very helpful for anyone...
by Fred H.
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\\nA stainless steel tank the size of a basketball court lies buried in the sandy soil of southeastern Washington state, an aging remnant of U.S. efforts to win World War II. The tank holds enough radioactive waste to fill an Olympic-sized swimming poo...
by Fred H.
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\\r\\nThe Olympic Peninsula is home to important state-owne d forests and many of our state’s most iconic creatures. To keep these forest ecosystems healthy, WEC and our partners at Conservation Northwe st and Olympic Forest Coal...