I have a Google Alert on the term ‘biophilia’ and last week it threw up a link to a website called PaleoHacks. I’d heard about the concept of paleo in relation to eating i.e. the paleo diet, but didn’t realise that now there is a whole paleo lifestyle, and that biophilia is part of it. Is technobiophilia relevant too, I wonder?
So what is this movement about Paleo? This poster from Primal Palette seems to sum it up. According to Wikipedia, “The paleolithic diet (abbreviated paleo diet or paleodiet), also popularly referred to as the caveman diet, Stone Age diet and hunter-gatherer diet, is a modern nutritional plan based on the presumed ancient diet of wild plants and animals that various hominid species habitually consumed during the Paleolithic era—a period of about 2.5 million years which ended around 10,000 years ago with the development of agriculture and grain-based diets. In common usage, the term “paleolithic diet” can also refer to actual ancestral human diets, insofar as these can be reconstructed.” The Paleo diet consists mainly of fish, grass-fed pasture raised meats, eggs, vegetables, fruit, fungi, roots, and nuts, and excludes grains, legumes, dairy products, potatoes, refined salt, refined sugar, and processed oils.
But as the poster indicates, paleo is not just about food. It’s an entire lifestyle. For example, Paleo Magazine contains an article on learning how to crawl again. It’s written by Colin Pistell who runs a business called Fifth Ape which offers courses in ‘evolutionary fitness’ and ‘natural movement’. There seems to be quite a conversation about being alert to the way we move (which ties in with some research I’ve been doing on somatics, which aims to integrate body and mind), and then there’s a parallel conversation about lifestyle in general. The item which showed up in my alert because it was tagged ‘biophilia’ turned out to be this short blog post by Pieter D: What have you done to change your house or workplace to make it more paleo? which poses the question
What have you done, or what would you like to change about your house/workplace/office to make it more paleo. I don’t (necessarily) mean paleo re-enactment, but inspired by evolutionary reasoning? Minimalist material approach? Natural materials like wood? Plants? View? Birdsong cd’s? Standing desk? Open windows? Chillier at some times? Cave decoration?
The answers in the comments certainly have a biophilic tinge, and many of them echo the recommendations I make in Chapter 6 of Technobiophilia. Kimmie mentions a host of examples such as sitting in sunlight, having broad-leafed plants in the house, allowing the lawn to grow tall, keeping chickens, and – here comes the technobiophilia – running f.lux on her PC. f.lux ‘makes the color of your computer’s display adapt to the time of day, warm at night and like sunlight during the day’. I did try this software, or something like it, a couple of years ago but rather than see my dimming screen as a signal for me to sleep, I got annoyed with it because it made me squint. So I’m not the ideal customer! Still, it’s an interesting experience to try for a while. Another commenter, Jodi, turns off the electric lights and burns beeswax candles instead. And Mari also uses f.lux and a stand-up computer. Such comments are good examples of how the paleo lifestyle intersects with technology when it is mediated by biophilia. There seem to be some promising synergies here.