Back to Basics

Dr. Bill Schindler is on a mission to share how you can thrive eating as a modern hunter-gatherer.

Written by Joe Willey | Photography by Jill Jasuta

There is an obsession with diet and health in the United States. New fads rise like hopeful green shoots from soft spring ground, only to wither in the heat of summer. But instead of developing a new 21st-century way of eating, what if collectively, we look to the past for clues? In his recent book, Eat Like a Human, Dr. Bill Schindler asks provocative questions and gives profound answers on how to reconnect with our food.

Throughout his childhood and early adulthood, Bill struggled in his relationship with food. He saw food as something that made him ugly, not a resource that nourished him. In college, as a wrestler for The Ohio State University, he was superficially healthy, but his then obsessive relationship with food led to physical and psychological damage. 

Passionate about primitive skills—he has hunted and trapped throughout his life—Bill became a prehistoric and experimental archaeologist. He married Christina and started a family, but he still struggled.

Hours each day, Bill would be in the garage perfecting his stone tool-making skills. It was his passion. Christina stepped into the garage and asked him a simple question that changed his life and his family. “Can you come inside the house?” she asked. Her question wasn’t about making tools at the kitchen table but deeper, existential. Could he make his passion a practical part of the family? He did.

The desire to bring his knowledge inside to his family birthed a restaurant—Modern Stone Age Kitchen in Chestertown—and a book—Eat Like a Human. The book is the foundation for the restaurant and a testament to 20 years of learning how to nourish his family.

With insightful knowledge and inquisitive thinking, Eat Like a Human challenges many suppositions about dietary progress. Most assume that ancient hunter-gatherers survived on a meager subsistence diet and scraped out a living among gravel and thorns. But he says hunter-gatherers were not worn out and nutritionally deficient but eating a nutrient-dense diet. And the hunter-gatherer food system was sustainable and connected. It hasn’t been like that for centuries. Historically, we are living during the ultimate disconnect from what we eat. “We rely on others to tell us what is in the food,” he says.

Dr. Bill Schindler teaches a variety of high-intensity classes from his Eastern Shore Food Lab in Chestertown.

“Based on the simple premise that food should be nutritious, safe and bioavailable, Eat Like a Human: Nourishing Foods and Ancient Ways of Cooking to Revolutionize Your Health guides readers to consider not just what people should eat, but how people should eat to achieve optimal health.”

— Shahina Piyarali

Eat Like a Human encourages readers to consider both taste and nutrition. The book outlines a powerful way to think about food, how to look for ingredients high in nutrients, and how to prepare meals to make the nutrients available to our bodies. Bill believes the foundation of a healthy diet is nutrient density and bioavailability. He provides practical steps that are successful in his family and anchors the Modern Stone Age Kitchen restaurant. He knows it works. “I’m very hopeful,” he says, “that people can do this.”

Eat Like a Human is not a book demanding monastic severity during meals. Instead, the book encourages people to enjoy food. “Eating the most nourishing diet should make you feel the best,” he says. No one needs to suffer. What you eat should not be a punishment but the key to living an energetic life connected to food and others.

Most people automatically assume that “healthy eating” means following the newest confusing and contradictory trends. But maybe we are looking at things all wrong. Dr. Bill Schindler has not created another fad but instead has written a reminder of what works and why and provided recipes to help people live healthier lives. The way forward may be to go backward, living like a modern hunter-gatherer and relearning how to be human. 

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