The Humble Libertarian

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Sunday, December 11, 2011

The Caveman Diet: A "Conservative" Diet?

Here's what conservative columnist Jack Hunter recently had to say about The Primal Blueprint, a book advocating the "paleo diet" or "caveman diet" (a diet of mostly meats and vegetables):

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.

According to Sisson, "The Primal Blueprint is validated by the magnificent 2-million-year scientific study that is human evolution. Our genes prefer natural hunter-gatherer foods, such as vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, meat, fish, fowl, and eggs." What we should avoid are grains and sugars, writes Sisson. "Processed carbohydrates drive excess insulin production, which can lead to lifelong insidious weight gain. Even if you don't have excess body fat concerns, a high-insulin producing diet promotes systemic inflammation, fatigue, and burnout."

Hat tip: Karen De Coster

How's it working out for Jack? He writes:

I could never be a vegetarian. For me, it's not a true meal if it doesn't have meat. So giving up grains, bread, and sugar and eating as much meat and vegetables as I wanted was an easy adjustment. But giving up two of the "bad" foods I loved the most — movie theater popcorn and my grandmother's macaroni and cheese — would be more difficult. So I decided I would continue to eat both as freely as I always had, but the trade-off would be that I would become hardcore in following the plan in my everyday diet.

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?

Jack concludes:

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?

At LewRockwell.com, Karen De Coster writes:

The main thrust behind the paleo or primal lifestyle is that we humans are hunter-gatherers, and our genes are partial to the real food just like our ancestors. We have not evolved to adapt to the heavily processed, high-carbohydrate, grain-loaded, industrial oils-based garbage diet of the modern era. Those of us who reject this conventional diet negatively refer to it as the Standard American Diet (SAD). The effects of this food have been devastating on all of human health, and not only in America. Everywhere the SAD is embraced, people are suffering all of the same afflictions associated with modern western civilization: obesity, diabetes, inflammation, autoimmune disorders, heart disease, cancer, ambiguous mental disorders (such as depression and anxiety), and dubious behavioral disorders.

...

One thing is clear about the SAD - individuals adhering to it have given up responsibility for their own health and they have delegated authority for life-and-health decisions to umpteen food manufacturers and feedlot farm operations while they put their trust in public health bureaucrats and believe that anything sold as "food" must be consumable, and therefore not harmful. Most SAD disciples have never bothered to try and understand the ingredient list on the products they buy – a simple task that takes only a small effort. How did a culture born on a model of independence ever get so far away from its people owning themselves and being responsible for their own quality of life?

De Coster makes a fantastic point. Can we call ourselves truly libertarian, truly free, while taking the most urgent need and fundamental aspect of our existence: the very food we put into our mouths, and turning it over to communist-style, central food planning authorities? You really want to trust them? If you don't trust them to listen to your phone calls, you can't trust them to tell you what to put in your stomach. Libertarians might benefit by starting with what they eat.






Wes Messamore,
Editor in Chief, THL
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