Q: Is it possible for a human to live and thrive on a bear’s diet? Not so much in reference to the quantity of food, but the menu. —Patrick Roberts, via email
A: OK, so let me get this straight. Are you after my food stash? I mean, I know I’ve raided your garbage can or pack a few times in the past (OK, a lot), but this is over-the-top, buddy.
Now that I’ve calmed down a bit, I think I can see what you’re after. The short answer is yes: After all, I’m a voracious omnivore just like you, and many of the foods I dig on—nuts, fish, honey—are things you’d enjoy as well. In fact, your recent culinary trends in going as natural or wild as possible with ingredients reflect what I eat every day (not that you could get even close to as natural a diet as me). My dessert tray is one of the best in the animal kingdom: fields of fresh blueberries, huckleberries, salmonberries…I could go on.
But though we share similar tastes,our palates differ as well. Several of my favorite snacks would be nutritious but unpalatable to you—things like army cutworm moths, grubs, or bitter but edible buffalo berries. Other menu items would be undigestible or even dangerous. Bacteria in a lot of the carrion I eat would probably kill you, and you can’t digest the grasses, shoots, or some of the tubers and roots I eat.
But if you ate in my restaurant, sure, there are some menu items you’d like, and a few you’d even love (like berries and salmon). Boy, all this food talk has set my furry stomach to growling….
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