Scott Joseph may not be the ultimate athlete but he thinks he knows how to eat like one. All it took was a look at one of his closest relatives: the chimpanzee.
The chimp’s diet, and a lean physique that makes them several times stronger than humans and able to outsprint Olympians, was the inspiration behind Chimp Food, a new-as-of-March, offering of shakes and bars that Joseph promises will transform anybody willing to live on the Chimp Food diet, or at least a more Chimp-like diet with some Chimp Food for convenience.
“I lost 100 pounds in two months,” boasts the Fort Lauderdale entrepreneur. “Every day the weight went off and the energy went up.”
He only found success after trying all the human diets: Atkins, South Beach, Mediterranean, low fat, high fat. “Nothing worked,” he says. “I actually gained a lot of weight juicing.” The Chimp Food inspiration came, he says, when he was outside with friends and saw a flock of birds. The ability to fly certainly implies food fitness.
“We said ‘Oh my god, how come every single animal that’s not touched by man is in perfect health.'” If he was going to eat like an animal, Joseph decided to look to his closest relative: the Chimpanzee. Closest relative when Joseph says it refers, of course, to the startlingly similar genetics. Chimps and humans share 96 percent of the same DNA. We came out of the same family tree, so to speak.
They still live in it, in fact.
And they are in really good shape, making Cross Fit fiends look sedentary and making the rest of us look like Jabba-sized couch blobs. “They are 100 percent healthy and we are only 5 percent healthy,” Joseph maintains. “No other species is littered with coronary disease and diabetes and Alzheimer’s.”
The research started with some basic “What do chimps eat?” reading and a trip to the produce section with a stop by the bulk bins for nuts and seeds took the project into the lab: Joseph’s kitchen counter and a blender. The result that wound up on store shelves was a high-pressure pasteurized, high-fiber shake made with seeds, nuts and whole fruits and vegetables, peels and all. If not part of Joseph’s “chimpatarian” philosophy, Chimp Food might be called Raw Paleo, maybe Pre-Paleo. “Chimps don’t eat grains. No wheat. No dairy. No corn or rice. No food pyramids.”
They don’t cook either.
Joseph would prefer “True Paleo” but he doesn’t really like the paleo label at all. Junglevore might be the right word. The philosophy is simple. “If chimps aren’t eating it, I don’t think we should be eating it, ever,” Joseph says.
Some of Joseph’s proclamations might seem overstated coming from a man who worked in the private investigation world before he had his ape-iphany. Joseph calls chimps vegetarians while science holds that meat is part of their diet. He is skeptical about the size of the protein serving on the USDA’s optimum dinner plate. “I don’t want to follow a government percentage. I want to follow a chimp.” Too much protein is the problem, he says. “Gorillas get about 3 percent protein,” he insists, a figure highly debatable given headlines like the New York Times’ “Protein-Rich Diet Helps Gorillas Keep Lean.”
Whatever the science, Chimp Food is selling. From a March launch, Joseph has his product in 70 stores, looking to boost that to 100 in coming weeks as Whole Foods Market begins stocking Chimp Food in south Florida stores. He has paperwork moving to get sales online as well. “We could be less than a month away from getting on with Amazon.”
The packaging is bold. The concept is at least thought-provoking. Joseph has his sights set high and a 2013 BevNET new products competition continues to boost his confidence. “Five judges gave me third place out of 600 entries,” he says.
Joseph truly believes the you-are-what-you-eat and he’d rather be a chimp than a modern American. It seems to be working for him. “I see more vivid than anyone else. I hear more acutely,” Joseph says. “My passion is insane. My energy is insane.”
Maybe he’s right. Maybe we need to de-evolve our diets to evolve our experience.