What do you think of the term Neo-Paleo?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created October 29, 2010 at 5:37 PM

Frank Forencich (from Exuberant Animal) wrote a really nice piece about paleo lifestyle (a chapter from his new book). You can read it here

In this chapter, he introduced the term: neo-paleo. Which I actually like very much. The new-old lifestyle. The new-but-in-some-way-slightly-improved-old way (less childbirth death and so...).

What do you think of it?

He also has this really nice cartoon:

alt text



on October 31, 2010
at 02:46 PM

I love cooking over my fire pit. =) But doesn't that look like cornstalks growing in the background?



on October 30, 2010
at 11:50 AM

Glad you like it and find it of-utility!



on October 30, 2010
at 01:44 AM

I think "species appropriate" might be my favorite. We use it in the canine world regarding feeding raw meat, bones etc to our housewolves and the thinking is the same.



on October 29, 2010
at 05:39 PM

that's a great comic :-)

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8 Answers



on October 30, 2010
at 01:30 PM

It makes sense, insofar that technically we're clearly implementing paleo practise in a new context, not recreating paleo tout court. That said, it's not strictly necessary to qualify, I think, since every-one recognises that we are proposing to adopt the diet of the paleolitic era now (i.e. not in the paleolithic era). If there were consistent confusion that we were calling to recreate absolutely every element of paleo lifestyle and/or to recreate the paleolithic historical environment, then there'd be merit in adopting the term to make clear that we're in favour of adopting and adapting the paleo lifestyle to the modern context (this is precisely the move that Marxists and others constantly feel forced to make, to stress that they don't believe in something farcically anachronistic), but the bigger problem for most of us is simply people viewing paleo as a quirky, overly complex idea, so better not to add more qualifications and technicalities.

I don't think the term is necessary to capture the idea that we ought to improve on traditionally paleo diet/lifestyle and seek optimal health (using paleo ideas as a means to understand what this is). This is intuitively clear anyway and the term isn't particularly suggestive of the idea.

Also I'm not a fan of the term "tradition" in this context. It's often used to include things that have been used extensively in neolithic/comparatively modern cultures (e.g. WAPF and fermented breads etc), which I think is a far worse heuristic than paleo.



on October 29, 2010
at 10:15 PM

I don't like it. I think it's confusing. Sounds like neolithic which paleo eaters tend to frown on. I think using the term 'neo' for a paleo thing that is supposed to be good would just be confusing. Plus the term would need explaining. IMO, a better term would be intuitively somewhat self explanatory and also have an intuitively healthy and good sound to it, something like 'ancestral foods' or something to that effect. You would want everyone to automatically have a positive response to the words, even before any explanation was given. That means it can't be confusing or sound weird or bad in anyway. I don't like 'natural' anymore because most people think grains and soy and all kinds of stuff are 'natural.' So the word 'natural' is not only overused but also already terribly polluted beyond recognition. And 'traditional' in America can be something that is not that old, like traditional birthday cake. Or the word 'traditional' to some can even have negative connotations as if it is something that is old and tired and getting in the way of progress.


on October 31, 2010
at 02:34 PM

I don't see how it's an improvement over "Paleo". We're not actually claiming to be paleolithic hunter-gatherers, just attempting to approximate their diet and exercise patterns, so I don't have an issue with using a contraction of the actual scientific term.



on October 31, 2010
at 02:03 PM

I'm a pagan, and I get annoyed by the term "neo-pagan", because it seems to me to be an attempt to cast modern pagans in the light of trend followers and phonies who adopt the appearance of a thing and not its authenticity. I am sure that if the term "neo-paleo" ever gains traction, it will be used as another underhanded way to deny the validity of our dietary choices.


on October 30, 2010
at 11:38 AM

I do see what he is getting at, but maybe Retro-Paleo makes more sense to me.

We are the ones taking inspiration, tips, and improvements from the prehistoric past, so we can call it what we like.

I'm not a paleo re-creationist, I'm a scientist identifying the best biochemical pathways, skills, and talents that I inherited... and then seeing if I can maximize my own health and utility. If I encourage or inspire others, that's a great social feeling, and 'social good' is quite 'retro-paleo', IMNSHO.

Maximizing these things seems to make me feel Fan-frickin-tastic, so it is a self-encouraging loop.



on October 29, 2010
at 08:31 PM

I don't like it! It's clever, but neo-__ terms always remind me of Republicans or skinheads.

Whenever I periodically (and strangely) give myself nicknames, I always consider "The Natural". It has a certain appeal to it--acting in a way that matches one's survival instincts, but also peaceful sounding.


on October 29, 2010
at 06:46 PM

I've always like the word "Tradition"

Traditional food. Even if we broke tradition in the short term, we've returned to traditional eating by going paleo.

Traditional has many positive connotations associated with it.

I'm a big fan of Neolethal, coined by Adam Crafter, here at Paleohacks.



on October 30, 2010
at 11:50 AM

Glad you like it and find it of-utility!


on October 30, 2010
at 03:10 AM

It sounds like a combo of neolithic and paleolithic, and therefore contradictory. I actually wish there wasn't a name.

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