Why are we so fat in rural areas – Part 4 – We don’t fit the culture

In this last post of this series, I will explore the downside and the upside of our special tribal Gael and First Nations culture in rural Canada and America.

We have seen that there are many physical reasons why those who live in big cities tend to be thinner/healthier than the rest of us who live in rural settings.

We have seen that a major factor is also status. In a city like Paris, London or New York you are part of the elite of the Industrial world. In rural areas like PEI or Louisiana we get the crumbs of this system. They tell us what we can have and it’s not much.

We have seen that a factor for why we are fat is that we are influenced by our friends and family.

We have seen that our ancestry plays a role too. Most of us are Gaels or First Nations. We are the last of the Western Hunter Gatherers and so we are the least adapted to the modern diet.

Today we are going to look at our culture. This too is a factor in why we mainly live in places outside the best oportunities in the industrial system. It is why if we have to leave to go to the big city for work, we long to come home. To come home to a place where there are few jobs. It is why we like the seasonal nature of our system.

We don’t want to make working for the man the centre of our life.

Our Hunter Gatherer culture is a powerful force that lingers on in us. Culture hard wires into behaviour. You can see this easily in dogs. A Border Collie that has never seen a sheep will still have all its cultural wiring in place to herd. Even a Pekenese will defend her owner as she was once a guard dog.

So do we. For, underneath the veneer of modernity, we Gaels and Native North Americans are still Tribal Warriors.

This is a reason why we are not well adapted to industrial life. This is why if given a chance we want to live on PEI, in Appalachia or in a tribal setting.

Not having been farmers for millennia we don’t do “clock” very well. We don’t like to be told what to do. We love working out doors and don’t like the inside that much. We don’t take well to roles that are not earned. We like to know who people really are by reputation. “Who is your father?” is not a stupid question. Nicknames based on character are common. Your name is very important. Your family is important. Your place is important.

This has meant that we make poor peons and serfs.

So our health is further compromised by poor opportunity and poor fit with the prevailing system. We remain the outcasts and the edge dwellers. We are the butt of jokes and prejudice. We have among the lowest status in our nations.

But I think that we are just the right people to get our power back when a new form of Tribal/Networked/Local/Dispersed econonmy takes over from the impersonal money based power based Industrial system.

We have the best chance to get our health back by going back to our traditional diet. And we are best suited to a new economy that is based on the personal, the trusted and the tribe.

Those who laugh at us now will find life outside their comfort zone very challenging.

That is quite a statement. So I will post a series on this next week. I will explore the new emerging reality of the new Tribal Economy where people live again, but in modern circumstances, the lives of Hunter Gatherers.

But in closing this post on Canada day weekend and with July 4th on Monday – I would like to show you how much we have in common with each other. I would like to show you what special people we are.

We love to dance.




We love music

Irish roversbetter


Our women are tough and noble


Irish president

Lady allan

My Great Great Aunt Marguerite (Mackenzie) Allan – who lost these,both her daughters, on the Lusitania, her son on his first mission and who stayed on and founded a hospital to look after wounded Canadians.

Our men are tough and noble

Indian braveregalia


Highland games

We are a warrior society


Irish brigade

Scotsoldier burial

We love our place.




It stirs me to see these pictures – for they remind me of who we are.

I think that our future is in remembering our past.

It is in bringing our cultures back to the fore. It is seeing the principles that embody them and in applying them to how we live our lives again.

The hunter gatherer and heroic society has been crushed by the Industrial culture – crushed but not broken.

The next economy will be Tribal – parts of it are here already. It will be possible – no essential – to master the culture of the hunter gatherer again. I don’t mean live the exact life but the DNA of that life.

A life lived where, once again, the kind of man and woman you are is your “brand”. Where your wealth is your tribe and how your peers regard you. Where none of your economic eggs are all in one basket. A life where you have real skills. Skills that can’t be learned in 3 years from a series of books but have to be absorbed by working alongside others. A life where there is no separation between work and family. An economy, where your kids grow up with you and your wider family and learn from your life and the stories of their family.

A life where the meal and sharing food is the centre of the system. Where we know where our food comes from. A life where home is a place we would die for.

Next week I will put flesh on these bones. But for now, as we take pride in our wider nations of Canada and America, let us also take pride in our tribes.

This entry was posted in A New Vision, Ancestry, Complexity, Context, Diet, Environments and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Why are we so fat in rural areas – Part 4 – We don’t fit the culture

  1. Kim says:

    Thank you so much Michael! I’m almost in tears reading these posts on ancestry and carbohydrate intolerance. My ancestors were the Maxwells (father’s family) and the Friedenbergers (mother’s family). I have always felt such an affinity for the Celts & Indigenous people in general-especially as I’ve seen how western culture and diet have caused them so much harm. Now I understand that affinity a bit better maybe. I am 51 yrs old and have struggled with binge eating, compulsive eating and weight issues forever (grade school anyway). I started eating low carb 4/1/11 and couldn’t believe how easy it has been to give up grain, starches & sugars of all kinds. I cannot believe so much of my life’s energy was wasted on the struggle. I really believed I had a mental illness/eating disorder that was intractable. Since starting low carb I’ve had no cravings to speak of and no bingeing (on anything). But one thing has troubled me. Almost every low carb testimonial I’ve read is an account of rapid weight loss and a sudden return of energy. This hasn’t been my experience. My weight has gone down slow but steady, maybe 1-1 1/2 lb a week (no “15 lbs the first month” weight loss for me). And, although I’ve had a few days of good energy, mostly my chronic fatigue is about the same as it’s always been. I was so thrilled to read on your blog today that it took you 3 months before you started feeling better and that you expect it could take up to 5 years to return your metabolism to where it should be. That makes sense to me. I ate high carb & binged on carbs for at least 30 (40? 50?) years. Of course it’s going to take my body longer to recover. And, as you said, maybe I’ll never be able to totally repair the damage I’ve done. But today I know I’m doing everything I can to heal and recover, so that feels good. It’s just so sad that so much of my life was swallowed up in unnecessary carbohydrate addiction.
    Thank you-

  2. Kim says:

    Thank you Rob-forgive my oversight-I see you were the author of these articles…(new to the site)

Comments are closed.