From microwaving a bag of popcorn for movie night to running to the grocery store for a carton of milk, our access to food in 2016 is something we really don’t have to think about. When we’re hungry after a challenging hike or a long day at work, relief is only moments away. It takes five minutes to scramble eggs, two minutes to throw together a sandwich, and 10 seconds to rip open a granola bar wrapper.
But what if we still had Paleolithic technology? How long would it take us to prepare those eggs, brew that cup of coffee, or crisp up those slabs of bacon using 50,000-year-old tools?
We were intrigued by this question, so we did the math.
Paleo Breakfast Prep: Now vs. Then
What would it take to make today’s breakfast with the tools of our Homo erectus or Neanderthal ancestors? Let’s use a basic morning meal of bacon, eggs, and coffee as an example.
Prepping breakfast these days only takes about 15 minutes, depending on how crispy you want your bacon.
Back in the Paleolithic era? Well, after hunting and killing a wild pig with a spear, butchering it, curing and smoking the bacon, stealing bird eggs, frying them up on a rock, and harvesting and then roasting coffee beans our estimate is somewhere around 20 days.
Of course, convenience doesn’t necessarily equal health. Single serve coffee makers, with their ever-full reservoirs of water, have raised concerns about mold and bacteria growth. And most of the bacon and eggs you’ll find in a regular grocery store are from animals raised with antibiotics – a practice that evidence suggests creates antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
A Step-by-Step Breakdown of Paleo Breakfast Prep
As you know, when it comes to making that modern plate of crispy bacon, over-easy eggs (perhaps with a dash of spice), and dark-roast coffee, the steps are few. In fact, we estimated it takes about five steps to serve up that steaming breakfast.
In Paleolithic times with Paleo tools, however, the same end result would take a whopping 19 steps – all of which is labor intensive.
Breakfast Habits Today
Aside from the difficulty of preparation, how have our breakfast habits changed over time? A recent survey of 9,630 people yielded some surprising results.
Turns out, fewer than 50 percent of respondents eat breakfast every day. It's hit or miss for about 40 percent of us. And while about a quarter of us munch on the run or at our desks, 72 percent of those who eat breakfast do so at home.
Cereal is the most popular breakfast food, followed by eggs. Fast food, yogurt and bagels are also common choices.
Coffee Drinkers Today
We couldn’t discuss modern breakfast habits without looking at America’s breakfast drink of choice: coffee.
A recent Gallup survey found that that 64 percent of adult Americans drink at least one cup a day, while the average is 2.7 cups per day. Additionally, women drink more than men – 2.9 and 2.6 cups respectively.
Outside of the home, Americans spend an average of $21.32 per week on their caffeine habit. That’s $1,109 per year and $44,346 over the approximate 40 years most people work before retiring. With all that data, it’s fair to say that Americans are a little coffee-obsessed.
Even with those statistics, though, the U.S. isn’t even among the top 10 most coffee-loving nations in the world.
The Paleo Breakfast Balancing Act
Certainly, today’s tools – from sharp chef’s knives and gourmet coffee grinders to nonstick pans – make it easier to throw together a warm, tasty breakfast (something that’s important for your health). But perhaps these same tools have also made it easy to forget where our food comes from and what processes it goes through to get to our plate.
At Kettle & Fire, we’re pretty big on healthy, organic food, which is made slowly and savored. That’s why, while we’re grateful for modern convenience, we slow simmer our bone broth for 24 hours to extract all of the protein and make sure what we eat is still close to nature.
If you feel the same, this Paleo versus modern food series is for you. Today, we’ve shared our research on Paleo breakfast. Coming soon, we’ll also be serving up Paleo lunch and dinner. Stay tuned!
The descriptions and times listed for each step are estimates based on a collective analysis of a variety of reputable sources.
Infographic & Video Sources
We’re happy to share our work with people who are interested in natural food. Feel free to reproduce any of the images or information in this project. All we ask is that you please credit the source and link back this page.