The Right Food in the Right Place for the Right People?

(Disclaimer:   I am a thinker.  And I think about weird things sometimes.  I start wondering about some little thing and then I just take off with it.  The following might seem wacky or odd or out-there to you but, well, it’s a look inside my head.)

It all started with this question:


“Mommy, do you think penguins like salmon as much as I do?”


My six year old, you see, loves both penguins and salmon.  So this was a natural question for him.  And, to be truthful, it made me pause for a minute and think before I answered,


“Well, sweetie, I’m guessing penguins would probably like eating salmon, but I don’t think they do.  Not like bears, for example.  Salmon aren’t plentiful down in the Antarctic, as far as I know…”


“Why not?”  (I totally should have seen that one coming.)


“Well, because God puts the right food in the right place for the right animal.  There’s a reason why antelope live in grasslands, for example, and not in the rain forest.  It’s all a balance.  So, the fish and krill that are down there with the penguins must be the best thing for them to eat.”


“‘Cause God doesn’t make mistakes.”


“That’s right.”


And it is.  That’s right.  God doesn’t make mistakes and he makes sure the right food is in the right place.  I definitely believe this.


But then, as I continued rolling the pasta dough for our ravioli that night, I kept thinking…


I wonder what that means in terms of people?  I mean, we have so much technology these days that I can get my hands on almost anything to eat!  The fact that I can’t grow papaya around here is irrelevant.  Moving beyond that…  I wonder if nationality/heritage might not play a role in what we *should* be eating?  Bear with me for a moment…


My ancestors are German and Norwegian.  Is it possible, then, that my body might thrive on foods that are indigenous to those countries?  Could it follow that the cold-water fish and late ripening berries of Norway might be just the ticket to best meeting my nutritional needs?  Perhaps the game meats that are readily available in Germany might be an optimal protein source for me.  It might just be that asparagus, so common in Germany that it’s sometimes served as a main dish, might be a vegetable I should be consuming more frequently…


Who knows?


We talk a lot about eating “local”, and this is something that I whole-heartedly embrace.  It makes total sense that foods grown closer to us would be fresher, tastier, and have less negative impact on the environment.  The crops that can thrive here in my New England climate are the ones that will taste the best, plain and simple.   But what is “local” to me here is simply what happens to grow in the place in which I’ve CHOSEN to live.  In my 35 years, I’ve lived in Illinois, Ohio, New York, Rhode Island, Florida, Virginia, Indiana, and Connecticut.  Certainly my “local fare” has changed throughout the years as I moved from region to region.  So, while I can ensure I’m eating the freshest possible food by choosing local, part of me wonders what kind of impact it would have on me to, well, eat what God intended me to eat.  Would I feel better?  Would my body better process the types of foods found in the places that provide my roots?


I don’t think feasting on mangos and bananas is doing bad things to me… but are those things I was actually “meant” to eat?  While it may seem abundantly clear to us that we should try to avoid “man-made”, “fake” foods, what if we could really thrive by focusing on the foods indigenous to our heritage?  Is it possible?


I really have no idea.  And I don’t even know how I would pursue that experiment.  But I find it intriguing… and interesting… and it’s something I’ve enjoyed (pardon the pun) chewing on for the past few days.


What do you think?  Is it possible that different nationalities might thrive on different diets?  Do you believe God puts the right food in the right place for the right people?  I’d love to hear your thoughts.


UPDATE:  I will be trying this out for a week in June!  I will eat only foods native to my ancestors’ lands– in my case, Germany and Norway.  Interested in giving it a try?   Pick a week (any week) in June and eat what your ancestors ate– only foods indigenous to where you come from.  Let me know you’re participating and I’ll send you more info.  I’d love to have lots of participants of varying nationalities!


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19 comments to The Right Food in the Right Place for the Right People?

  • Hm. That’s really interesting. Maybe we should unite blogs and do an eating-German-foods experiment. ;)

    (You’ve seen my maiden name on FB, right? HELLO long-German-last-name.)

  • So I was initially going to answer your question by talking about genetics, and how we as humans are all remarkably similar all across the globe. So similar we even have the same dietary requirements.

    But… that didn’t answer your question, your question was about what God wants.

    When I look at my family history, and how my ancestors came to the USA, and how I ended up living where I do, I see God’s hand.

    My ancestors left Ireland at the peak of the potato famine, they left Austria 2 months before the start of WWI, they came from poverty in France in the 1600′s to live for centuries (not decades) eeking out a living in the backwoods of Canada. Sure they worked hard, but it was clearly God who helped them get to a place where they could have good food to feed their children, and their children’s children each day.

    So I agree it is God that puts the right food in the right place for some people (not everyone unfortunately). I just think God puts the people in the right place too :-)

    • I like where you went with this, and I agree about God providing by getting people to the right places.

      I’m not so much considering that “God wants” me to eat a certain diet… I’m just considering if perhaps I’m not wired (or “designed”) to better process a certain diet based on my ancestry. And, while I think we, as humans, have much in common when it comes to dietary requirements, I’m not sure I would say that our needs are identical. So many things can impact that, to my understanding. An athlete would certainly need require different (and more) food than someone who’s largely inactive. Darker skin tones do not absorb Vitamin D from the sun as readily as lighter ones. Even I, with my pale skin, need to consider my vitamin D intake in the winter months when sunlight and exposed skin are minimal. While there is definitely more that unites us than divides, I just wonder how nationality and heritage might impact optimal nutrition.

      Again, I really just don’t know and I’m not in any way trying to declare anything here. Just wondering “out loud.” :)

  • Totally intrigued! I went right from your fascinating thinking to thinking from the other direction: are food allergies and sensitivities caused because we’re eating the wrong food at the wrong time? Maybe my Irish/French Canadian/etc. husband shouldn’t have gluten because that’s not the right grain grown in those areas. ???

    Great topic! I wonder if there’s any research on this….

    :) Katie

    • Oh, that’s a great train of thought, Katie, and would make sense. Blessedly, none of us seem to have food sensitivies/allergies really so I hadn’t even pondered that aspect. I, too, wonder if there’s research… there would almost have to be, wouldn’t you think?

  • That’s really interesting. I bet it would make a great study if someone hasn’t done it already.

  • So you and your hubs should go ahead and test this out and get back to me. Except it would be a better study if you guys were sort of unhealthy to start with.

  • I think this is a fantastic idea! Ever since I’ve dipped my toe in the real food world, I’ve wondered why people don’t talk about this more. If we make such a big deal about eating the way humans were designed to, the next logical step is the eat the way our particular ancestors did. Because while it is fascinating to learn about how the indigenous peoples in Africa or South America eat/ate, my English/German body has not had the benefit of developing along those lines.

    • Yes! This is exactly where my mind was going with this train of thought. I’ve had the idea of “eat local” hammered into my head (and it totally makes sense), but I finally took it to the next step of, “But what really SHOULD be local to me?” Interesting stuff to think about! :)

  • Renee

    I’m in! I just need to figure out which ethnicity is dominant in me. I’m Slovak, German, Polish, French, English, and Scottish. I can see ethnic variances between myself and my 5 living siblings, so I wonder if our “ideal” diet would vary even within our family.

  • Fascinating! I love the way you think. Actually, my husband and I have found that we are most comfortable when we travel abroad and eat the foods that are fairly common in our ancestors’ nationalities. For instance, we both have some Russian, some German, and I have some Polish. So eating anything made with cabbage, potatoes, etc, makes our tummies happy. We both do well with sausage, too.

    On the other hand, I’m a quarter Icelandic, and I’m definitely not a fan of fish. Though it might agree with my system, my mouth comes first, and it says, “No!” ;) Of course, I’ve had the ability to make that choice.

    Even more intriguing, I was born and raised in California, living there for my first 24 years. Although my ancestral makeup (50% Russian/Polish, 25% German, 25% Icelandic) doesn’t include areas where fresh fruits and vegetables were part of the steady, year-long diet, that’s what was common where I lived, and what I feel most happy eating. So part of it might be an ability to accommodate what you have around you. After all, if humans couldn’t eat what was nearby, back when they were migratory, they would have died.

    Love thinking about these things and look forward to hearing how your experiment goes. Have some lingonberries for me!

    • What a great– and really intriguing– comment, Laurie! Thanks so much for sharing your experiences! I’m a little nervous about all the fish I’m likely going to be eating in June… it’s a big part of the Norwegian diet, too, and I’m not a big fan. But I’ll give it a go– I can do anything if I know there’s an end in sight! :)

  • I’ve thought of this before, JessieLeigh! And exactly what Katie said about the food sensitivities/allergies. My husband just cannot do grains as well as I can. And if you look at his whole family it’s the same way. I can definitely see that it could be ancestral.

    The only hard part is for us mutts who don’t have a big clear heritage. What should we eat? Moo Goo Gai Pan with a side of biscuits and gravy? ;)

    • Ha! It does present a challenge, to be sure, when there are lots and lots of different ancestries involved. I certainly have several myself, but I’m going to try to focus on the main two and see where that takes me. :)

  • [...] diet as in weight loss– diet as in specific type of food.) In case you missed it, it was this post that got my wheels turning. Interested in trying it yourself? Pick a week in June and see our group [...]

  • [...] what life was like on my Eating by Ancestry plan. I ate foods that are common and indigenous to the lands of my heritage. I may have thrown a [...]

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