An Anthropologist by the name of Barbara J King got a gig on NPR to ostensibly critique “The Paleo Diet.”
The problem is: the problem is baked into the cake. We live in the Neolithic Zoo Human, where everyone’s problems are your problems and everyone’s expenses are your expenses…while everyone’s well being is theirs alone, and their fortunes are guarded to the death…so you lose, if you don’t care to spend your life paying attention. Individualize the gains and profits. Socialize the costs and losses. Create a perfect storm of tribal antagonism…only these tribes count into the hundreds of millions in America and now, worldwide. And who profits from such antagonism? That’s the cleverness, because, the lefties think it’s the corporations and the righties think it’s the politicians. The righties don’t realize that the big corporations are getting what they’ve paid for — with a big fine now and then for show, passed onto you — and the lefties don’t realize their knights in shining armor politicians are bought and paid for like cheap whores.
…Newsflash: they’re all whores: the white collar scam-scum, and the politician scam-scum. …Do you see your local coffee artisan, cheese artisan, clothing artisan, organic farmer — and I could go on and on — as part of this problem, or a spark of solution?
Both they — the whores — need things, which ought to come as no surprise: that you remain relatively helpless, needing guidance…seeking authority that’s passed down through filters. To sum it up, they need dependents. And the Barbara did exactly what she was supposed to do. I dunno, but I find it difficult to find her article as serving science and honest inquiry more that it serves: don’t do it!
Barbara made all the goofs one can make in such an article. And while there are now a number of valid critiques, I’m going to focus on only one.
…Oh, wait, can’t resist this one, because it’s so fucking stupid.
In a few days, the world’s population will reach 7 billion. Only a tiny fraction of this number still makes a living by hunting and gathering, the way all our ancestors did before about 12,000 years ago. […]
Our ancestors began to eat meat in large quantities around 2 million years ago, when the first Homo forms began regular use of stone tool technology. Before that, the diet of australopithecines and their relatives was overwhelmingly plant-based, judging from clues in teeth and bones. I could argue that the more genuine “paleo” diet was vegetarian.
Shorter Barbara: skip that last 2 million years of evolution, in favor of all the elements that brought us to that point. Just forget it ever happened. Anthropologist? Biologist?
Oh, OK, one more example, but more of ignorance than of the aforementioned abject stupidity.
Here’s where science most forcefully speaks back. First, ancient hunter-gatherer groups adapted to local environments that were regionally and seasonally variable — for instance, coastal or inland, game-saturated or grain-abundant (eating grains was not necessarily incompatible with hunter-gatherer living). Second, genes were not in control. People learned what worked in local context for survival and reproduction, and surely, just as in other primates, cultural traditions began to play a role in who ate what.
“Paleo is equator to arctic/antarctic circle, and sea level to 16,000 feet, and everything in-between.” Someone said that a time or two, and you’re at the right address. This speaks to the last two italicized words in the title, which is that this simply doesn’t compute, because Paleo is not a specific set of prescriptions and proscriptions, but a general evolutionary framework, and then you’re on your own. That is, you really do have to figure this out on your own. I have no doubt you’re competent to do so.
Uh oh…you don’t need the Barbara, and of course, along with NPR, that can be worrisome. People who make their life’s work, in part, to minister to the poor Zoo Human Animals really resent anything that doesn’t ultimately conclude that you need to consult with the “authorities,” First.
Don’ try this at home.
Her last paragraph was the main point of her entire post, if you’re used to seeing such things:
It’s not paleo-fantasy that’s going to help us negotiate a healthy future, the 7 billion of us together, on this environmentally-endangered planet.
She’s a collectivist — a “commie” on my worst days — and that’s just my personal schtick, so welcome commies, if you’re inclined to read on. Let me ask you a very simple question: Do you really have to worry about the problems of 7 billion people? Here’s one thing for sure: no one will ever come knocking at your door to tell you that his & hers in Ethiopia got a windfall and that you’re due reimbursement. The simple fact is that you are not evolutionarily endowed — as may be a bee hive or ant hill — to concern yourselves with the misfortunes, dangers, risks, or shortfalls of everyone else.
This is purely a scam that is largely self-perpetuating at this point, because everyone really believes they have a voice, and power at the voting booth, when they would be far better off, and would get a lot more out of it, just jerking, or making little circles — depending upon gender. But I digress to the real.
You know what? I cherish the fact that there are people in this world who really actually care, and that they don’t try to force others to help — or write an article for NPR. They actually get up off their asses, put their values to bear, and really do something. Because…at a point, nutrition, even if porridge in a bowl, has to go from field to processor, to packager, to truck, to ship, back to truck…and finally, bowl to mouth. It’s an individual endeavor with life & death consequences for which some have my utmost respect — even those diametrically opposed to me ideologically — because they put their ideology into actual physical action and that costs them.
But with the nature of the media, now, everyone pretends. Not many are actually feeding the starving (that’s meant literally, because human beings actually starve to death). Is Barbara? No, I doubt it. She’s simply content to write an article for the most elitist of institutions (yes, you read that right) pretending to the exact opposite (I listen to local Public Radio/NRP/PRI exclusively).
It’s really the most tawdry sort of bullshit. Forget that you have found your way. It’s not “sustainable” for 7 billion. …Notice that I never even try to take up that argument because, principally, as a selfish bastard who cares about myself, loved ones, friends and blog readers, I simply can’t care. Let me be be explicit: It’s not I don’t want to, or refuse. I simply recognize reality: I can’t “care,” not really, and even if I was to go spoon gruel into the mouths of children with distended bellies and weep my eyes out daily — because that’s exactly what I would do — it would never make a dent and ultimately, I would be forsaking what I really love the most, which is my own life for my own sake, and my loved ones and friends for theirs.
We’re not God, because he’s not real either — obviously — and neither are we Super-Human. We’re just part of the whole messy, purposeless spectacle — except for the purpose you can make for yourself. We’re limited, just like everything else, and while division of labor makes super-creativity possible and is largely what has allowed for the feeding of 7 billion people anyway, it’s not my fault or pleasure, and it’s probably not yours either. God didn’t make 7 billion people. People fucking made 7 billion people.
To the extent I can largely eat what I want, I choose for myself, most of the time, to eat the best, which means I go to the market, come back, cook it at home. While Barbara didn’t explicitly make an argument for Pop Tarts, Hot Pockets and Pizza Hut, I’m pretty sure she wants you to keep supporting some of the largest corporations in the world with your purchases of breads and cereals. Really? Because it’s ‘not Healthy for the Planet, not for 7 Billion,’ if you choose your own way?
You have one fuck of a hell of a lot on your shoulders. So Feel the guilt.
My last post asked “Why Are You Paleo.” And people actually got the individual connotation. While this might get Barbara’s panties in a bunch because people are going it on their own, and NPR might have to reevaluate their inherent snobby demeanor they like to think of as “excellence in broadcasting,” here it is, just selecting select goodness out of 135 comments, at this writing:
~ I am the sort of woman who says FUCK BEING WEAK and FUCK HURTING and FUCK BEING LESS THAN AMAZING. I am Paleo because it helps me to be amazing, a mean and lean and whip-smart primate who can survive just about anything.
~ Us crossfitting paleo steak eating people do not tone anything the fuck down. If anything, we get louder, more obnoxious, and are the devil to deal with.
~ I’m Paleo because when you take a young, strong, healthy human male eating processed crap and feed him real food he becomes unstoppable; physically, mentally, and emotionally.
~ Because I do not need a book to do it. I can strip down to my pure humanity and follow my ‘gut’ while checking my results. I swerve and change as needed.
~ I am Paleo because today my blood pressure was 110 over 70, and in January of 2010 it was about 190 over 140. I weighed about 215 back then, today I am about 145, and I am not a weak lean.
~ I’m Paleo Because I Chose to be, it Makes Sense, if you’re even marginally intelligent you can’t fuck it up. My Paleo is -MY- paleo, the journey is individual, validation from peers is nice, but I don’t need it to be healthy. I’m Paleo because I was Tired of being sick, Fat and unhealthy. I keep learning and applying Paleo, it’s a lifestyle with more than Diet to offer. I did this for my four children, so that I will get to see their children.
~ I’m paleo because I accept my personal responsibility for my own life.
~ Because once you have experienced the joy of a nice big steak for breakfast, there’s no going back to a bowl of cereal.
~ I’m Paleo because it’s the only diet that doesn’t leave me hungry all the time.
~ I am Paleo-ish because I got tired of people telling me that how I felt was “just getting older”. I looked at my grandmother, who lived in good health until the ripe old age of 99, and my great-aunt, who lived in good health until 95, and I called BS. If they could feel good, look good, and have boundless energy right up until weeks before their deaths, then, damn it, I wanted the same thing. So, I ignored everyone and kept looking. I found Paleo via Nourishing Traditions (which made a lot of sense but didn’t work for me) and I was stunned at how quickly I felt better. From that I found Crossfit and have just gotten stronger and healthier at 48 than I’ve been in 15 years.
~ In ’02 i was dx with non-hodgkins lymphoma in my stomach. A bit of radiation, nothing to it. A clean PET in ’07 and ’09 and onc cut me loose. I got fat. 6′ 265. Double-bypass in ’06. Stumbled across Devaney, then Sisson, then here, then Peter, then Masterjohn. Easily shed 80 lbs. and read a lot about ketogenic diet, near-ketogenic diet and just did a lot armchair research into paleo in a concerted cancer direction.
Did you get the Fuck You! in all of that, because that’s certainly the theme, as it should be, Barbara. And there’s a lot more Fuck You! where that came from, and with over 100,000 readers per month you can be fucked almost endlessly.
There are about 135 stories, there, and I’m not 100% sure, but I’d bet a lot that not a one single one of them counted on anything the Barbara is peddling, or anyone else trying to prop up the #FAIL of status quo and conventional “wisdom.”
The main reason to consider the Barbara a moron is not really because of her post, but her ignorance, and willingness to spread her legs wide open so easily.
But the worst of it is her stupidity, or lying.
When I’ve interacted online with paleo-diet fans, though, I’ve found the great majority to be measured and thoughtful. With them, I worried aloud about the consequences of urging even more carnivory than we’ve already got.
Either she didn’t interact much, or she’s lying. That’s probably a better final judgment than having interacted a lot, and then written such an ignorant and stupid piece of crap.
Finally, I sure hope to hell that she didn’t consider any of my readers “measured & thoughtful.”
Update: Oh, my. Joyce Slaton at Chow.com makes a silly ignorant fool of herself.