Corralling The Paleo “Movement” is Like Herding Cats

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If you stop to consider all the variously different diet and lifestyle movements out there—low fat, vegetarian, vegan, Weight Watchers and so on...or even Bodybuilding, Pilates, Yoga, etc.—one aspect of them is that they tend to operate from a solid foundation with some clearly laid out principles. For the most part, those principles get carried consistently through the whole system by practitioners, advocates and fans.

But while Paleo arguably begins with the best possible founding principle—human evolution and its science—that's kinda where it stops being the same for one and all.

What gives?

How is it that so many other movements in the same general category of self improvement can actually begin with a faulty premise or set of facts, yet so effectively dive into the mainstream in relative solidarity and integrity to those premises and principles up and down the spectrum; while for the Paleo peeps, almost nobody can seem to agree on anything for sure or very long...and it often seems as though there's 100 differing prescriptions for every 100 people, promoters, advocates or fans?

It's because Paleo are Cat People. Moreover, I think it's a good thing. Perhaps the best thing. In other words, some of the lament I see about various people doing this & that, advocating this & that, associating this way and that way is needless. It's a good thing it's working out that way.

So let's see where were are.

  • Paleo has low-carbohydrate advocates, high non-processed carb advocates, and everything in-between.
  • Some think calories count and others could care less.
  • Some use the caveman metaphor and others despise it.
  • There are Paleo religious folks, Paleo atheist folks, those who don't give a damn, and those practicing a human evolutionary blueprint that don't believe in human evolution.
  • In a social context, even though a centralized State is Neolithic, some Paleos are as Statist as they come, while others are anarchist like me.
  • Some, like me, wash with water only, while others who agitate endlessly about trace chemicals in food, spread all manner of bottled chemicals over their largest organ.
  • Some are cliquish, some open to association with anyone and everyone, and others stay very local so they can see eyeballs.
  • Some blog for the fun of it, some to make money; some hate that anyone makes money and others salute it.
  • Some use Neolithic dairy and rice, while others think both an abominable blasphemy.
  • Some go running and others think it's the worst form of exercise you can do.
  • Etc.

Get the picture? Paleo is completely anarchist—"state" taken to mean some sort of real or imagined entity that establishes doctrine and catechism for one and all. I know there's a lot of folks out there who seem to agitate for that, but: it's never going to happen!

And here's the beauty in that. There's no established central authority to attack & criticize (wouldn't it be so convenient if there were?). So there's no massive population or congregation to get on your side. Paleo is highly decentralized and so, all that can be done is to attack one advocate or a few out there and even if you get 100% of those fans to energize, it does nothing to the Paleo body at large. Everyone else just goes on about their day and the vast majority of them probably don't have any real sense of the controversy or drama. And that's not even addressing care. See, Paleo teaches people to care about their most important thing(s). Try undercutting that and good luck.

For my part, I've become increasingly amused with myself the farther I've distanced myself from any particular drama. And then when the deadline came and past to submit a proposal to present at AHS13 in Atlanta, I laughed out loud. Don't get me wrong; I love & support the Ancestral Health Society; but really, it's still only one sliver of the general Paleo movement. I came to realize that I was willingly submitting to having an implied set of standards, determined by others, influence my thinking and actions (to very bad effect, rebel I am). But I really don't want to uphold any standards but my own. My blog is a revolving door. Several thousand people see it for the first time every day. Some stay around for a while, some for a long while but most people eventually go on their merry way. That too, is a good thing.

For the better, and without anyone engineering it this way, Paleo has become as diverse as all the populations, ethnicities, cultures, religions and no religions on the planet. No one single monolith like America, EU, or Asia—anywhere—begins to explain the entirely of it. It makes more sense to think of it as an entire diverse human-system that's evolving separately from the conventional neolithic one, divergent from convention and divergent unto itself. This is good. There are feedback loops. Good too.

I say: embrace it! Remember why you love cats. They can't be herded. Imagine you could talk to a cat and you asked it: "take me to your leader." All of the drama has presumed that there is or ought to be a "leader." There never was, is, or will be. Everyone gets to promote any influence they want, and when I look around, I see dozens and dozens of diverse forms of influence and leadership. That too is a revolving door.

If you think this is an important message for Paleos to take in, then spread it around. There are some buttons below to facilitate that for you.

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Comments

  1. Just could not agree more. There is excitment in diverstiy. The paleo concept is not a dictatorship or a monotheism but more an unfinished canvas to which each can add personal experience or the latest paleo/archaelogical discoveries. It also remains open to discussion etc. If we think that the grandfather of the paleo movement Boyd Eaton eats grains…this is how open it is. Let’s enjoy it :-)

  2. Good post. I’ve blogged before on how every movement splinters as it becomes more popular. It is a ‘natural evolution/progression’ seen in everything from swimming and running to rock climbing and motor sports. We are edge dwellers and explore the extremes. This leads to ‘specialisation’ for want of a better word.

    Any talk of ‘the one true way’ brings to mind this quote from C.S Lewis “The most dangerous thing you can do is to take any one impulse of your own nature & set it up as the thing you ought to follow at all costs.”

    Embrace change indeed.

  3. ChocoTaco369 says:

    I agree with this. I wish people would simply embrace “read food” as a whole. You may not like starchy carbs and unprocessed dairy, but you can’t argue that it isn’t real food. Last week on MDA, someone told me I wasn’t Primal because Primal is a high fat diet where you can’t eat more than 150g of carbs a day. That will win the award for Dumbest Quote of 2013, and it’s only January. Apparently, potatoes and bananas are only Primal if you eat less than 7 in a day. If you eat 8, you aren’t Primal anymore.

    That being said, there is one glaring error in this post, and mind you, this is not coming from a religious person. Richard, you said: “…and those practicing a human evolutionary blueprint that don’t believe in human evolution.”

    The problem with this statement is there are many definitions to the word “evolution.”

    First off, you can easily believe in God and the concept of evolution simultaneously. I think most of us believe that somewhere out there there is life on other planets. Well, wouldn’t God have to create that life, too? It seems to me that a truly intelligent God would have only created the Universe once, and allowed a mechanism for life to continue and multiply and spread on its own, right? It would be kinda silly for God to have to do this process a trillion times on a trillion planets when nature can just do it on its own. What a waste of time.

    Second, there is a big difference between an ape mutating into a human and humans adapting to their environment. I believe almost everyone accepts adaptation, and if humans develop in a certain environment for nearly their entire existence, they will function best in said environment. You’re not going to find much resistance there from the staunchest Bible-thumper.

    I guess my point is you can believe in God and that man descended from apes, and you can believe in adaptation (which is what Paleo is – an adaptation diet) and not believe man descended from apes, and neither contradict each other.

    • “First off, you can easily believe in God and the concept of evolution simultaneously”

      Granted. Many Catholics. “God created evolution.”

      Yes, religions have been hedging their bets since Darwin. Incidentally, I’ve always given Catholicism its due credit in learning their lesson with geocentricism/heliocentrism.

      The point in my post was the extremes, not all the varied position.

      • ChocoTaco369 says:

        Religious idealism is completely ridiculous in my opinion, Richard. To think anyone has the “one true religion” is laughable. Even if at some point some religion got it right 100% (which is impossible), text has been translated so many times so much would be lost in translation. That’s why it’s useless to thump your (insert holy book here).

        However, spirituality is extremely logical. To think that the Universe literally appeared out of nowhere some finite time ago, that everything is completely random and nothing has any meaning is so incredibly narcissistic only humanity can come up with something so incredibly insulting. We aren’t that special. If we are the best that the Universe has to offer, then Mother Nature is pretty pathetic.

        Science is the new religion. Your God is some self-appointed know-it-all scientist in a white coat – the exact same conventional wisdom so-called paleos rail against every day. It’s stupid to think any religion is perfect. It’s also stupid to be a smug atheist that thinks we are the center of the Universe and life holds no meaning. Both are not lives I want to live. I guess I believe some convoluted mix from all parties, while acknowledging that no one, including myself, will ever have the answers.

        And I am fine about that and choose not to stress over it. We’ll all find out in due time, I suppose. Birth and death are things we all have in common.

      • There’s also the problem of people misunderstanding biological evolution and how humans have evovled e.g. thinking people comes from apes or as you put it “ape mutating into a human”. Humans, chimps, gorillas, etc. all share a common ancestor, a proto-ape but we didn’t evolve from chimps or any other living primate.

        And I agree there are smug atheists that are assholes but thinking you’re the center of the universe is more likely found in religions like Christianity. Anthropocentrism is inherent in most religions and understandably as ancient people not only knew nothing about their origins but it made them feel special and safe to think that.

      • ChocoTaco369 says:

        People “thinking you’re (they’re) the center of the universe” isn’t a religious thing. It is a human thing. Humans are egomaniacs and incredibly selfish. That’s where it comes from. The “proto-ape” as you put it is simply a leap of faith – a symbol. If you look hard enough, everyone has a God and a religion. Yours is clearly this belief. We share what, 95% of the same DNA with a redwood tree? Clearly, all life on Planet Earth must share almost the same DNA to survive here. Our DNA may be very similar to that of apes, but it’s also very similar to lizards, dogs, swordfish and apples. I’m okay with never knowing the answers.

      • “If you look hard enough, everyone has a God and a religion”

        Utter conflation bullshit.

        What it is, is a desire for people with fuckud up thinking to essentially say, “I’m Einstein.”

      • ChocoTaco369 says:

        Bullshit to your bullshit. Everyone believes in things they can’t see or prove. You believe in countless things you can’t see or don’t fully understand, Richard. The entire paleo premise is based on belief. No one can prove how ancestors ate, yet we try and emulate it daily. What you know and what you think you know are drastically different things.

      • “Everyone believes in things they can’t see or prove.”

        How about speak for yourself? Just because you have that affliction and can’t grasp the fact many others don’t is your problem, not mine.

        “ou believe in countless things you can’t see or don’t fully understand, Richard.”

        Nope, not a single thing. I may have suspicions or some chain of reason that motivates me to suspect something might be true, but I don’t “believe” anything unequivocally that isn’t well established.

        Again, just because you’re afflicted with an undisciplined mind doesn’t mean I am.

        “The entire paleo premise is based on belief.”

        That’s just a lie. We know without a shadow of any doubt that paleo people ate real, unprocessed foods. In what proportions is simply a function of what was available in the environment. The only way to know what’s best for any individual is to experiment.

  4. I think a huge part of the diversity comes from the kind of person [as if there's just "one," ha] who is attracted to Paleo: the scientist, the thinker, the tinkerer. You listed Weight Watchers in your examples at the beginning, and that strikes me as a system good for people who don’t want to think about what they’re eating — just give me my formula, and let me get on my way. And sure, there are Paleos of that stripe in the movement too; the popularity of Mark Sisson’s “Is It Paleo?” series attests to that. Just tell them what they can and can’t eat and let them go.

    But in this movement, there’s a huge sense of experimentation and re-discovering fire, because in our modern era, we’ve truly forgotten so much of “how to eat” that sustained us for our human history. I generally turn my nose up at creative anachronism, but if our ancestors were to get anywhere at all and survive, they must have been constantly experimenting and tinkering. They didn’t have monocultures they could rely on for baby carrots, each one indistinguishable from the others.

    • “I generally turn my nose up at creative anachronism, but if our ancestors were to get anywhere at all and survive, they must have been constantly experimenting and tinkering. They didn’t have monocultures they could rely on for baby carrots, each one indistinguishable from the others.”

      1. We evolved to account for the values and actions of 30-60 other people.

      2. We migrated to the far corners, equator to arctic, sea level to 16,000 ft.

  5. CatherineakaCate says:

    See also: Emergent (disambiguation), Spontaneous order, and Self-organization

    Snowflakes forming complex symmetrical patterns is an example of emergence in a physical system.

    Spontaneous order, emergence
    “In philosophy, systems theory, science, and art, emergence is the way complex systems and patterns arise out of a multiplicity of relatively simple interactions. Emergence is central to the theories of integrative levels and of complex systems.”
    I seek free speech and zero thought police.

  6. EXCELLENT!

    retweeted…needs to be read widely.

    Marc

  7. “How is it that so many other movements in the same general category of self improvement can actually begin with a faulty premise or set of facts, yet so effectively dive into the mainstream in relative solidarity and integrity to those premises and principles up and down the spectrum”

    My guess? Beginning with false premises provide two ‘advantages’. The first is you create your own narrative, rather than discover it. If you are creating this narrative and half a brain, you anticipate and avoid or preemptively refute most contradictions. Second, since these narratives are highly faith based, rather than evolving based on evidence (lack of trial, error, and adjustment), it is easy to just excommunicate heretics.

    Is the vegan “meat is murder” mantra, which ignores all the animals necessarily killed in agriculture much different than the Christian claim of an all-loving God, who still punishes sinners?

  8. I think the diversity you mention is more important than skin color, etc. but I do find it curious that there isn’t much in the way of black uptake for paleo concepts.

    I’d guess that black Americans and Australians would benefit from paleo concepts even more than whites.

    • I think that it’s likely that modern civilization is an outgrowth of the amazing success of Euros surviving the ice age. And I think it’s left other peoples a little in the lurch in terms of best diet. I may be wrong, just a suspicion.

      So yea, above all, I really want black and brown to consider all this a lot, get real food, get in the sun, etc. I want to see them thrive in health.

  9. Great Ideas are like DNA once it becomes generally successful ,it can then evolve to better exploit different niches.

  10. Earl Cannonbear says:

    Please consider:

    A survey of the fossil record reveals that new species appear suddenly and without predecessors.

    The best example of these creation events is the geologically instantaneous appearance of almost all of the major phyla or body plans in the event known as the Cambrian explosion.

    Inexplicable by appealing the slow gradual change characterized by natural selection operating on random genetic mutations.

    One of Life’s big bang, the other being the appearance of life itself; an intractable problem proving more mysterious despite advances in micro-biology and the advent of the molecular biological revolution.

    In a moment of rare honesty a leading proponent of neo-darwinism was forced to admit that:

    “Paleontologists have paid an enormous price for Darwin’s argument. We fancy ourselves as the only true students of life’s history, yet to preserve our favored account of evolution by natural selection we view our data as so bad that we almost never see the very process we profess to study. …The history of most fossil species includes two features particularly inconsistent with gradualism: 1. Stasis. Most species exhibit no directional change during their tenure on earth. They appear in the fossil record looking much the same as when they disappear; morphological change I [sic] usually limited and directionless. 2. Sudden appearance. In any local area, a species does not arise gradually by the steady transformation of its ancestors; it appears all at once and ‘fully formed.'”

    (Gould, Stephen J. The Panda’s Thumb, 1980, p. 181-182)

    • Earl:

      Can you please just come clean? Is you assertion that God is planting fossils?

      Yes or no question. And I mean, yeas or fucking no.

    • “A survey of the fossil record reveals that new species appear suddenly and without predecessors.”

      Trying to use fossil evidence as a counter to evolution is like saying
      “this number series: 1, 2, 5, 6, 7, 10, 12, 15 *proves* that certain numbers that we “believe in” aren’t real.”

      The fossil record is SOOOOOOO incomplete and disjointed that trying to conclude: because we don’t find the missing links, therefore they didn’t exist, is intentional blindness. The chances of any dead animal being fossilized is SO slim, that we’re lucky we have as many fossils as we do!

      Your “new species appearing without predecessors” CANNOT be either stated or tested because you CANNOT fill in the holes in the fossil record (except by imagining a Great Designer).

      If you were to put together a genealogical record for your family, and the records for your 10-times-greats were lost in a fire — does that mean those folks NEVER EXISTED!?!? And some Metaphysical Magician just skipped over those generations and created the rest of your family from the air? (Or from someone’s rib?!) Intentional blindness won’t do!

  11. Earl Cannonbear says:

    Fucking no.

    The fossil record is not a trick.

    It tells a story and the story is it tells that the history of life on earth was and is not random but purposefully and intelligently designed.

    The most complex and technologically advanced creation in the universe.

    You and I are the pinnacle of that design and life is great.

    • So intelligently designed that 98%+ of all species to ever exist on the planet are now extinct? What possible point would that serve in the grand design?

      To say that the fossils we’ve found is an incomplete list would be the understatement of the century. Be right back, I see some more gaps that need a God.

    • I expected you’d dodge the question, Earl. Thanks for not dissapointing me.

    • Rich7252 says:

      Really? I respectfully disagree. We can’t know the validity of that statement.

    • The fossil record is a trick. We see regular patterns in it because that is the trick built into our brains by GOD (the Genome Ordering Device), and we use those patterns to babble a lot of interesting bullshit. We are pinnacles of design the same way Lehman Brothers was. What a complex organism that company was! How its designers must have been proud of their baby. How they took credit for all its achievements! (See, I built that! Intelligent design! Fall down and worship, ye mere mortals who have not made a company as big and mighty and well-engineered as mine! How Zeus and Odin must envy me!) Then it achieved something really spectacular: it died overnight because of features whose significance escaped its “intelligent” designers (ha!) entirely. Even if we are the GOD’s best design (and that is a really big “if” for me), that isn’t saying much. What are we really? A bunch of apes prattling on about how the fate of the entire universe hangs in the balance every time they fart, and then trying to make this come true by coming up with WMDs (really intelligent design at work, there, too: maybe the GOD is Satan?).

      • Earl Cannonbear says:

        We all have free will.

        We can choose to cheat, steal and lie.

        We can also choose to view ourselves (as you view yourself apparently) as an “Ape prattling on about..”. .. whatever.

        We also have to live with the choices we make.

        Good luck to you.

      • This sounds a little more realistic to me, although “free will” is something I mistrust. My free will won’t let me choose not to get infected by viruses. If I choose to combat viruses by exerting “free will” every time the thought occurs to me, I still get sick (or don’t: honestly, my will doesn’t seem to have much to do with it).

        I have to live with some free choices I make (like the choice to come on here and say provocative things), but other things (often more important ones) come into my life through no agency of mine. I did not will myself to be born a Mormon, and yet I have to live the rest of my life with the fact that I was. “Free will” is a dodgy thing to invoke without caveats, I guess I’m trying to say.

        Good luck to you, too! (And I am not even being facetious here. I really mean it.)

      • “My free will won’t let me choose not to get infected by viruses.”

        In fairness to Earl, that’s dropping context. Free will is concerned with what actions you take and has zero to do with actions others—or organisms—take with respect to you.

        Will means actions you will to take, or don’t take, or do NOTHING (that too, is an exercise of free will). You can’t free will another entity to not act freely, as that would be a stark contradiction in terms.

  12. Earl Cannonbear says:

    The 98%+ of the species that preceded us served a number of purposes but among the most important was to pave the way for us.

    When life was created 3.8 billion years ago the earth was not hospitable for anything but single celled organisms.

    All subsequent life forms prepared the atmosphere and the biosphere in anticipation of the most bad ass predators and conquerors ever seen… that’s you and me my friend.

    I’m not effected by the environment, I affect the environment.

    I happen to believe that I was put here for a purpose, and that purposes includes taking domain over everything I see and I intend on doing just that.

    • “most important was to pave the way for us.”

      So, your god didn’t want to just poof us into existence (wait — isn’t that what your bible says happened?) Your god decided to go the slow route and use earlier (evolving?) animals to create a hospitable environment, but then poof — made humans after he’d redecorated the place? (Thought he built the place ready for inhabitants… He an Architect or Rental Agent?)

    • The most bad-ass conquerors ever seen? You mean viruses?

      You’re not effected by the environment? Let me guess: your mom was a virgin named Mary who was never really born (at least not the “normal” way). You’re from outside the environment. It cannot touch you, until you will it, too. (Seriously, Earl, do you think you are Irenaeus’ Jesus? That is how you sound. Coming from Jesus this kind of hubris may be expected, but from you it sounds way out of touch. If you exist independent of your environment then you are a god among men.)

      Your purpose is conquering the world? That was the Intelligent Designer’s aim? I see. He really is Satan, then. Well, what about those viruses? What is their purpose? (Killing apes who think they are the GOD’s gift to the universe? Or at least making them poop their pants and lie helpless every now and then.)

    • Wait are you jack nicholson from the departed? he’s got a similar line in that movie, “I don’t want to be a product of my environment. I want my environment to be a product of me.”

      So people can only view themselves as you say as “apes prattling on about” or like you, the pinnacle of life who’s been designed by god to conquer the world? Hmm maybe there’s middle ground there where you don’t sound fucking crazy and stupid.

  13. Paleo has always been diverse. Look at all the existing paleo societies and note their diverse diets (i.e. Kitavans, Inuits, etc.).

    Unfortunately, many people – perhaps due to insecurity or laziness – have a need to believe in something they think is “greater” than themselves, and this attitude has permeated into some paleoists.

  14. Galina L says:

    It seems to me that some people are like dogs, they feel more comfortable while following somebody, but some are like cats.

  15. CatherineakaCate says:

    I like it Earl

  16. haha! this is awesome. i’ve been on the paleo/primal whatever kick since Nov 2012. i went hogs wild in the beginning, then the more i read, the more confused i got (and i’m a pretty smart gal, i like to think). most recently, i read robb wolf’s revolt against the staunch LC advocates, not to mention several other opinions like Anthony Colpo etc. all this to say, i came to, what was the most lightbulb moment i’ve had over 2 months (could it be due to low carbs!?)…just eat real food, move.
    i am a fit woman, 39, could lose a little belly fat but happy with my body. i also exercise a lot. so low carb was weird for me. BUT now i’ve mainly learned that i needed to increase fat a lot, protein a little and be more selective in my carbs…i.e., no more runs to the corner store for candy!
    so after over 2 months of blogs/forums/books, i feel REALLY good about where i am and the direction where most people seem to be moving…that of qualifiers and acknowledgement that there is no one recipe in life or diet.
    anyhoo, thanks! this is a great entry. :)

  17. I think at moment, paleo movement is more like Game of Thrones.

  18. Rich7252 says:

    I really enjoy your blog, Richard. This post is one of your best. I am not a cat person, I use them to control the rodent pests, and pet them, occasionally. I prefer dogs. But my diet, it is varied, I am always experimenting; with Paleo as a starting point. Since I have been doing so, about 3 years, my health has greatly improved. The basic ideas only make sense, live according ones genetic code, in diet, life style, exercise, etc. All this other discussion, is just entertainment for me. Thanks for what you do.

  19. Gordon Shannon says:

    Good post. I hadn’t thought of it like this (specifically: I hadn’t made the connection between paleo and anarchism/spontaneous order). That’s why I come here: you make connections. Definitely one of the most fundamentally important connections you’ve made as well. Hopefully others take away the *moral* message, that this is to be embraced, and is to everyone’s *advantage*.

    As a side note, this has me reflecting on my professional methodology.

  20. Ben Cohen says:

    Great website, Richard. I first got into “paleo/primal” by reading articles by Mark Sisson on lewrockwell.com. I was at first skeptical, but I decided to buy Mark’s “21 Day Total Body Transformation” and implement it. I lost 20 pounds but plateaued and couldn’t understand why I wasn’t losing more weight to reach my goals. I was in ketosis, which brought problems such as feeling cold all the time, feeling lethargic, and being obsessive about counting carbs, when I really should of been counting calories. That’s when I did research online and found out that people on similar low carb/ketosis/ paleo diets suffered from the same symptoms. I will not go after Mark Sisson though. He’s a great guy with great intentions even if I don’t agree with his low carb approach. He introduced me to healthy eating (sans carbs) and healthy living so I am in debt to him.

    I forgot how I came across some articles whereby you were going after Colpo for his arguments with Dr. Eades, but this article was the first one: http://freetheanimal.com/2010/03/isnt-it-time-for-anthony-colpo-to-get-a-life.html. Looking into Colpo I did the research and realized that carbs weren’t the problem, but certain types of carbs that are nutrient depleted (you can’t fool the body long term) and stimulate the appetite so that you consume more calories. He also taught me how to eat high quality/high glycemic carbs safely, by mixing them with low glycemic carbs and some fat.

    I bought both of Colpo’s books, read them, and implemented them. I am probably considered a light exerciser, but my carb intake is probably around 30-40% of my macronutrient intake, which according to some paleo dieters disqualifies me as paleo. Regardless, I think what you’re trying to do is invaluable in terms of educating people to understand that it isn’t a macronutrient like carbs (which are actually critical to a properly functioning body, just like protein and fat), it’s the quality of the macronutrient. Also, exercise cannot be dismissed as just a plus. It is part of a necessary recipe in order to build a healthy body.

    Again, awesome website and don’t stop arguing. You’re helping more people than you’ll ever know. People who read websites such as these and implement the ideas with great results.

    • Great comment Ben, I I don’t know why it got got up in the filter, but anyway, yea, a sort of synthesis of Sisson, Wolf, Colpo, McDonald is what’s called for and you figured it out for yourself, which makes it very real.

      Good for you.

    • +1. I could have written this, though I stumbled into Paleo through De Vany (via Clarence Bass) rather than Sisson. Whatever the particulars, the generic narrative here of my journey to a theory of personal health looks a lot like yours, Ben.

  21. Gabriella Kadar says:

    Richard, when your father was a child he didn’t have options. Neither did mine. They had potatoes. Mine had dried beans and cabbage. There was no paleo, no vegetarian (except enforced), no vegan, no lacto-ovo, macrobiotic……raw food, fruitarian…..blah and blah. I’m sure there’s more out there but the list was getting tedious. If various forms of Paleo are anarchistic, so be it.)

    In the old days (my family included) people ate what they had or grew. That’s it. There were basic food shortages in Europe all the time up till the middle of the 20th century. There are still basic food shortages in most parts of the world (not North America and most of Europe). Look at Venezuela or Cuba. Or all over Africa, India ………… People came to America to eat.

    This paleo business is all about affluence. There are people who read this blog who cannot afford all the Paleo bells and whistles but by comparison to what’s for dinner in India, even a poor American can eat like a king.

    There have not been many urban societies or large societies anywhere in the world that had the availability of the foodstuffs, nutritious or otherwise, that are available all year round in the urban centres of North America. Petroleum based transport has made it possible for people to eat like it’s summer all year round. Give people choices, they get picky and choosy, then justificatory and then obnoxious zealots. It seems to be the way in which people distinguish themselves these days. It’s not religion or politics anymore.

    As you so rightly have realized the important thing is to eat real food and don’t gorge. Forget about factory produced million ingedient science degree required to understand processed packaged crap in a wrapper.

    Paleo is another fad. It can’t achieve cult status: too many cats. It’s also changing away from a fictitious mythology of what Paleo people ate which we cannot actually fully determine even from careful archeological digs. Damn Paleo people! They didn’t leave detailed cooking instructions anywhere.

    And have a few shots of whiskey or brandy to stay lubricated. (The old folks did that for breakfast!) Everything in moderation.

    Cheers.

  22. A view of paleo a little too romantic and masturbatory, imo.

  23. I like this. To me Paleo seems to be a node. There are a few templates that most people follow when they start… but as they continue, they find ways to make it work best for them thus leaving the node and branching out on their own path. The original node is maybe a good baseline, but not the start and end of the lifestyle.

  24. Clayton Olley says:

    Nice to see a fellow Doctor Fun fan… I was a huge fan of his comics in college, despite our wretchedly slow T1 connection and it took 30 seconds to download his 640×480 images… oh how times have changed. Anyway, I’m really enjoying your site!

    • Clayton:

      Well, thanks for letting me know. In truth, I simply did a Google image search for “herding cats” and while there are real images of such things for fun, they were of too low quality. This one won out. Thanks for inserting the credit where due and deserved.

  25. Danielle LeBest says:

    Great post! The beauty of this whole paleo/ancestral/primal whatever thing is that it is free of dogma and allows for self-experimentation. For one to truly embrace it, I feel that it’s necessary to take the time and read about the effects of neolithic foods and lifestyles, as well as conduct some experiments on oneself in order to find out what really works.

    The thing is, most people lack the time, will or intelligence to figure out what paleo/ancestral/primal means to them, and how they are willing to implement it into their lives. We are taught to associate diet and exercise with very prescribed rules in order to succeed, and this results in the rampant misinformation and dogmatism within the community.

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  2. [...] cats, that aren't exactly like gerbils & goldfish. I really haven't looked into cats. For one, I just blogged about why. For two, their domestication has not deprived them of their essential survival abilities, which is [...]