Are We Too Developed?

by Suz on January 11, 2013 · 9 comments

in Children, Paleo

I’ve just returned from an amazing trip to Indonesia (I went to Bali, the Gili Islands and Lombok), which turned out to be a great Paleo adventure. As a “developing Country” I was surprised how many differences I noticed compared to how things are done here, in the “developed” World. The surprising thing was how many of these differences actually seemed far better in Indonesia. Perhaps being “developed” in not such a good thing after all?

Indonesia Bali Lombok Rice Paddy

Pregnancy, babies and children.

I spent all of my time in small villages, completely off the tourist track. In all of my time, I did not see a single pram/ pushchair/ stroller (whatever you like to call it!). Babies too young to walk were tied to their mothers side by a piece of material and their weight supported by the mothers arm. Whilst pavements aren’t suitable for pushchairs (thanks to lots of open drainage holes), this does seem to be a far more sensible way of transporting a baby around, don’t you think?

In the “developed” world you always see mothers distractedly pushing along a pram. Often the pram is completely covered by a rain protector and you can’t even see the infant. The mother is busy chatting on her phone or rushing to her destination. I can’t help but wonder how much better it is for the Indonesian babies, who are constantly in physical contact with their family.

Whilst I don’t doubt a pram is very convenient and get for carrying shopping bags, is it best for the baby? I also regularly see rather old toddlers being pushed around, when surely they should be encouraged to walk.

The other striking difference I noticed was that the Indonesian children were given far more freedom then their counterparts in the developed World. They seemed to have a lot more free reign to explore, without being permanently attached to the apron strings.

Infants Baby Weaning Playing

I was impressed to see one young mother weaning her baby, by chewing up food herself, before feeding it to her baby. I didn’t see a steriliser, jar of baby food, blender or piece of cutlery involved!

I had the opportunity to visit a maternity clinic, which has been set up as a charitable foundation and is supported by volunteers. Compared to a harshly light, sterile busy Western maternity ward, this clinic was far more homely and open planned. In the typical Indonesian style, the delivery rooms were all open at the top of the walls, allowing air (and noise!) to circulate freely. I was interested to hear that women in Indonesia are typically very quiet in delivery, rarely have drugs (epidurals and the like aren’t available in the particular clinic I visited) and “100% of women breastfeed”.

Teeth

The other big contract was around teeth and face shape. Almost all of the locals I met had wide faces and the most beautiful teeth I’ve seen outside of Hollywood. Their teeth were naturally straight, with no crowding – and they were also very white. With a Weston A Price perspective, it seems clear how the right diet helps to form a proper shaped palate – and good teeth.

Weston A Price Palate Dentist

Food

For my whole trip I ate local (I’ll tell you more about the food in Indonesia in a future post). Everything the locals eat can typically be found within a few minutes walk of their home. Most families have a plot of land on which they grow rice for their family and perhaps a few other things. There were chickens everywhere and local markets in most villages for everything else. There are (or course) some Western snacks, but these didn’t seem to purchased by the locals at all – and certainly weren’t in the types of quantities we see in the Western world.

Local Organic Food Farmers Women

Happiness and Family

Another key observation was that everyone seemed happy, with very little stress! People would work hard to get food (i.e. on the rice paddies), but then they would also spend a lot of time sitting in the shade with their family, chatting. How many people get to do that in the developed world?

Women

Oh – and you know some people say women shouldn’t lift heavy weights? Try telling the Indonesian women that!

Strong Weights Rocks Head Balance

What do you think about how they do things in Indonesia? Do you think we’re too developed?

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{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Carla January 11, 2013 at 10:30 pm

I know what you mean about babies/toddlers being pushed in strollers and otherwise being totally ignored whilst Mum/Dad or carer talks on the phone. This cuts out so much early development, social & empathy skills in the growing child. Meaning that the child often starts nursery school rather ‘backward’ in many ways.
How totally natural to chew the babies food & then just feed it to baby. (wouldn’t get through health & safety here though!)

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Suz January 18, 2013 at 10:14 pm

Agreed Carla, I’m sure there are some important developmental milestones that are lacking in some children from developed countries!

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Barnie January 12, 2013 at 9:50 pm

Kids not having freedom is something that hits a nerve. Not good the way youngsters are so controlled, where they are, what they are doing. You just want to make sure that they are safe, the downside to that is they grow up less streetwise/much more computer wise though.

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Suz January 18, 2013 at 10:14 pm

I guess it’s difficult to balance safety and freedom.

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Wenchypoo January 12, 2013 at 11:41 pm

For the last few years, I’d say we’re DEFINITELY over-developed…at least in the technology side of things. So many plug-in creations have come out that (and continue to come out) that really do nothing to enhance anybody’s life except the creator–through sales. Convenience has been poisoning our lives since the Depression ad WWII, and now our (U.S.) economy’s grown dependent on us rushing out and buying the next “time-saver” or “money-saver” that comes along, only to find out these things don’t really save time OR money!

Want to explore more of that last thought? Read the book “Better Off: Flipping the Switch on Technology” (http://www.amazon.com/Better-Off-Flipping-Switch-Technology/dp/0060570059)

Marketing has really weakened our BS immune systems, hasn’t it!

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Suz January 18, 2013 at 10:15 pm

Thank for the link Wenchypoo, looking forward to reading.

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five May 31, 2013 at 6:31 am

I’ve thought this most of my life. Things are so upsidedown and backward in “developed” countries and we don’t even know it.

The saddest part is that kids can’t explore. I allow my children to climb trees, wade in streams, and play in dirt. More than one complete stranger has chased them off and scolded me for my negligence. Kids are rubber, why would i wrap them in shipping peanuts?

But at the same time I can’t let them go unsupervised lest they get hit by a car or taken by some sicko.

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Piet January 7, 2014 at 3:02 pm

You’re onto it ‘Five’. Read Jean Liedloff’s ‘The Continuum Concept’ – or check out the website of that name – for a very strong validation of your intuited response.

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Suz January 25, 2014 at 9:12 am

Thank Piet, very interesting, will have to read more!

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