This is not a question that I had ever considered asking myself before, “is the Paleo diet conservative?” I figured it was an eating plan, a lifestyle, basically a way of living to improve one’s health that was entirely unconnected to politics. But there is one conservative writer who seems to think it is. Jack Hunter, official campaign blogger for GOP presidential candidate Ron Paul, wrote recently on his blog about his experience with Mark Sisson’s “The Primal Blueprint“.
Conservatism has at least two running themes. One is deference to custom and tradition. Or to put it another way: the notion that our ancestors knew better. The other is a gut distrust of self-appointed “experts,” or what 18th-century English statesman Edmund Burke called society’s “sophists, calculators, and economists” who seek to quantify and regulate humanity.
In its philosophy, the Primal Blueprint is essentially a conservative diet. Author and Primal Blueprint creator Mark Sisson says, “Forget everything you thought you knew about diet, exercise, and health. It’s time to go back to the beginning.” He believes that the “experts” at the Food and Drug Administration, with their food pyramid and nutritional advice about what constitutes a well-balanced meal, are full of it.
Mark Sisson MIGHT be considered a self-appointed “expert”, except for the probability that he does not seek to control anyone. He just wants to share his knowledge and experience of eating the primal or paleo way with others to improve their health. But if one’s definition of conservatism is to look to our ancestors for guidance, then the paleo diet is indeed conservative. We are constantly looking back, through the archeological and anthropological records to determine what our pre-agricultural ancestors would have eaten.
And if the definition of a conservative is to distrust government agencies, like the FDA, then that reinforces the idea of the paleo diet being conservative. From a personal stand point I see the activity of the FDA and other government agencies like the USDA and even the CDC, as detrimental to the health of the citizens of the US. The effort that these agencies put into shutting down small farmers who provide raw dairy products to willing customers is one testament toward that point. You would think that these farmers are selling dangerous drugs. You can read more on this here. Read about the health benefit of raw dairy here and here.
I’ve never been on a diet my entire life, but the older I get, the more I try to be health conscious. This has typically meant just riding my bike for exercise and not eating crappy food all the time. Yet, during a business trip to Jacksonville, Fla., in October, my friend and author Thomas Woods kept telling me about how many intelligent people he knew had tried the Primal Blueprint diet and claimed it worked. Many said it changed their lives. I watched Tom order Mexican food, sans the tortilla wrap and corn chips, and devour a pile of ground beef and vegetables as he promoted the healthy virtues of this primal, caveman-style of eating…..
…..The first week I lost 10 pounds. I wasn’t even trying to lose weight, but did anyway. That week I ate steak, bacon, sausage, eggs, ribs, fish, chicken, and ground beef. I thoroughly enjoyed each meal, and I felt healthier quickly. Now, when I see rice, bread, or pasta, it’s easy to avoid them because I don’t want to feel sluggish and tense. As I write this, I’m enjoying a sausage and ham omelet with a side of fresh veggies — no potatoes, home fries, or biscuits. This is a diet? Really?
Really Jack! Paleo is a breeze, once you get past the carbohydrate addiction, and it is a true pleasure to follow. Absolutely no deprivation. I find that when people say “I could never give up pizza or pasta”, it’s the carbohydrate addiction talking ( read about getting past the carb addiction, click here). And as you proved Mr. Hunter, you can still enjoy some carb heavy foods, on occasion, if you are careful.
I’m not sure I buy into this whole caveman narrative (didn’t they die early and suffer from all sorts of diseases?) and my commitment to this plan has been entirely dietary — I remain a workaholic night-owl. Given my line of work, Sisson’s advice to chill out is not something I can afford to do. I still do my minimal biking for cardio. But that’s it.
The caveman narrative, as Jack Hunter puts it, is usually misinterpreted. Our Paleo ancestors may have died, on average, younger than us (about 35 years – see this site for a full breakdown), but their shorter lifespans were due more to injury, bacterial infection, childhood death and death at child birth. There were no nice ERs or EMTs to call if you broke your leg. But what they did NOT die or suffer from were the modern diseases. No diabetes, heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s and more, since these are all driven by diet. You eliminate modern grains, excess starches, beans and sugars and you eliminate the disease. I suspect that with or modern technology with child birth, healing physical wounds and avoiding lethal bacterial infections our caveman ancestors would have lived much longer lives on average.
But what continues to fascinate me is the generally conservative premise of the Primal Blueprint — that the experts who’ve told us for years that eating whole grains and fiber was a healthy alternative to fatty foods have been completely wrong and that our meat-and-plant-eating ancestors had it right. I know the “experts” at the Federal Reserve with their Keynesian economic approach to government “stimulus” and bailouts have been completely wrong in their analysis and prescriptions for the financial crisis. Perhaps the Food and Drug Administration and the entire health establishment are just as ass-backward?
Then again, I don’t need to wonder. My body has already told me. I feel great.
So is the Paleo diet conservative? I now believe it is. Perhaps that explains all of the libertarians and Ron Paul supporters on the International Paleo Movement Group on Facebook. Well, at least it seems as though they are in a majority. It might just be that they are a little more outspoken. To find out the political trend of Paleo or Primal diet followers, take our non-scientific poll!
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