The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Full Moon Feast

Full Moon FeastWhen Sheila sent me Full Moon Feast by Jessica Prentice a week ago, I flipped it open to peruse the recipes then got sucked in and stayed up until after midnight reading it.  First, let me be up front about the book's downside --- I don't think I would ever try a recipe out of the book since every single one calls for exotic ingredients I am unlikely to own.  (Orange blossom water, anyone?)

But the text, which makes up about three quarters of the book, covers a fascinating range of history, myth, and psychology about our relationship with food.  I particularly liked one of the winter chapters which asserted that electricity has changed our winter sleep patterns which in turn has changed our winter eating habits.  The author says that without electricity, we would sleep for fourteen hours on these long winter nights, half waking in the middle for a few hours of near meditation.  (In passing, she also notes that in nature most women give birth between midnight and 4 am for this very reason --- that at that point in the night, you are in a slightly altered state of consciousness and don't feel pain in the same way.)

I know that as the nights get longer and longer, my body wants to sleep more and more, and I have to poke it to get up right at dawn to match my usual summer wake-up schedule.  The book makes me wonder if perhaps I should be sleeping more in the winter.  I'm such a creature of habit and efficiency, I find myself pondering how I would get all of my winter chores done if I slept more in the winter.  And how sound is her science --- after all, didn't humans evolve in the tropics where the nights would have always been the same length?  Needs more thought....  Still, I recommend the book to anyone interested in how food affects our lives.

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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I've heard that theory before, though the childbirth angle is new to me. If you pay attention to your circadian rhythm, it can make a lot of sense.

AFAIK, circadian rhythms are mostly determined by exposure to light. So humans transplanted from the tropics to the north don't need to evolve to change their sleep cycles.

Comment by joey [] Fri Dec 26 14:33:39 2008
That makes sense about circadian rhythms being just exposure to light so it wouldn't make a difference if humans didn't evolve nearer the poles. Good point!
Comment by anna Fri Dec 26 17:25:38 2008

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