Lately, I’ve been reading a lot about the Paleo diet, a newly popular diet that tries to mimic the food habits of our ancient ancestors. I got pretty interested in it, and I’m even thinking about trying it. What is it? As Wikipedia (good ol’ reliable Wikipedia!) states:
The “contemporary” Paleolithic diet consists mainly of fish, grass-fed pasture raised meats, vegetables, fruit, fungi, roots, and nuts, and excludes grains, legumes, dairy products, salt, refined sugar, and processed oils.
Now, I’m never one for diet fads—or diets in general, because life is too short and I love cheese—but something about this interests me. I even went so far as to do some preliminary research into trying it out, but I decided that trying a new diet right before going home to visit my family for a week was maybe not the best plan (my fams loves to eat, and I love them for it). I may, however, try it when I get back.
Something else interested me about this, though. I’ve noticed that there is a general trend in contemporary culture to believe that everything that happened in the past was somehow inherently better or better for us than what we’re doing now (with the exception of the 50s, food wise, because we all know that casseroles and butter-on-everything are not good for us). Even so, there is something super extreme about assuming that our way-back ancestors had life figured out in any sense.
There is definitely a good intention behind it—eat what is readily available and naturally grown—but are we forgetting that our Paleolithic great-to-the-nth-degree aunties and uncles usually only lived for like, 40 years (if that)? They had lives that were definitely nasty, brutish and short, sometimes due to violence, but also due to lifestyle. And was their diet inherently good because they were from a “simpler” time? I’m not so sure.
Yes, processed food is, generally, bad. But some processes (like pasteurization) were very good for our society. Just like life wasn’t simpler in the 50s—watch the first few seasons of Mad Men if you don’t believe me—nor was eating necessarily better thousands of years ago.
That being said, apparently the Paleo diet worked so well for this guy in North Carolina that he’s in hot water with the law for recommending it vehemently. So…maybe there’s something there after all! And if I could stop eating peanut butter, I might lose a few pounds…
Have you tried the Paleo diet? Tell us about it in the comments.