OK, I know this can be a controversial topic, but I think it's very relevant to the whole idea of "Paleo". Because of reading about food I've been reading about food politics (e.g., the role of agriculture in the development of hierarchical and oppressive societies). I have to say it's a HUGE eye opener and I'm sure there's a big opportunity for a ton of heated discussion.
I've read some great books on this recently (and before my diet changes too). Off the top of my head some standouts include:
Against the Grain: How Agriculture Has Hijacked Civilization, by Richard Manning - I highly, highly recommend this one!
Good Calories, Bad Calories: Fats, Carbs, and the Controversial Science of Diet and Health, by Gary Taubes - most of us have read this. It might be a lot of wordage to those who already get the principles, but I thought the historical stuff was absolutely gripping when I read it as a newbie.
The Unsettling of America: Culture & Agriculture, by Wendell Berry - I'm a big WB fan and this book had a huge impact on me when I read it years ago.
The Wayfinders: Why Ancient Wisdom Matters in the Modern World, by Wade Davis - he wrote the excellent The Serpent and the Rainbow which was made by Wes Craven into a horror film with NO relationship to the book... but if you like horror films it was a pretty good one :-)
Joel Salatin's books are great - although I disagree with some of his political conclusions. Lately Ray Peat has been very valuable to read - and not just because of his uncanny dietary knowledge: almost as an aside he constantly points out how much of our diet is designed to make people as fat as possible as quickly as possible - because the research is for animals in FEED LOTS not for real people... And of course there's Michael Pollan.
I could go on and on but you get the idea - and I'm sure you have your own suggestions (I'd be very interested...)
I started as a 'Liberal' but the more I do this and read about this, and learn how "they" have utterly manipulated our food supply and choices, I've taking on a somewhat more cynical and even paranoid angle. I could almost say "Libertarian" but it's NOTHING like Ron Paul; to me, whenever anyone advocates "getting rid of government" or "cut taxes - keep your own money" it's code for "let us enfeeble and manipulate you and make huge profits". Society - and government - HAS a role, and it's a role to protect and empower the individuals and social groups within it, NOT to protect and empower the predators that feed on and profit off those individuals and groups.
Said another way, whenever a political idea can be expressed in cheap feel-good slogans, stay as far away as possible. Wendell Berry once wrote a great essay on the difference between between "Complex" and "Complicated" - working social systems ARE COMPLEX. Broken ones are COMPLICATED.
What 'Paleo' has changed for me is that I see more clearly how the food systems are part of the political system, and how we and our government are manipulated by the industrial food system. I definitely think government SHOULD be participating in food choices - but would like all the corporate profit motives stripped out of it entirely. Is that likely to happen? Probably not.
I'm pretty cynical about any real progress - anytime the door is opened to change any part of the system, the powers-that-be rush in and tweak it to their advantage.
Frankly, I just don't see any way out of the dilemma, certainly not as individuals or small groups of enthusiasts. Right now all I can do is buy organic, pasture-fed products, cook my own meals and try to keep my daughter as healthy as possible because one day it will be her turn.
So, finally, to the Question: how has thinking about Paleo changed YOUR thinking about politics? I'm sure you all have different angles on this and some might even contradict mine and that's fine - I'd like to know.
asked byCaveRat (2997)
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on July 22, 2011
at 09:02 PM
Caverat - paleo hasn't swayed my political thinking as I've always been a Marxist. I've also been an anti-corporatist since forever. The problem as you suggest, is that our politics has fallen to the evils of sound bites. Our people no longer have the mental capacity or energy to look at topics beyond the "either/or" construct. There is no discourse in our country.
It has come to Bread and Circus in the form of Hot Pockets and Jersey Shore. Even reading through the questions on PH I see that people ask the same damn questions without even looking through tags. People pose questions as "Is it this or this". Anything that challenges the "paleo" way of eating is quickly shuttered. Very few go the extra mile to really find an answer for themselves. Granted, there are some on here who are quick to say they mispoke or quoted faulty science. Yet the majority are looking for a quick and dirty solution. Those Paleo-ers who actually tweak their diets, track their nutrition, seek out new ways of eating and approaching the whole self (not just weight loss) are the people who are a minority in this country.
So excuse me, I retract the first statement. My political views HAVE changed in that I refuse to vilify any choice made by a person who is truly seeking a better way and challenges their thoughts about something. If that happens to be a vegetarian way of life, so be it. As long as they seek truth, not to prove themselves correct, but actual truth.
on July 22, 2011
at 08:18 PM
The government (both parties) has no interest in our health, wealth, or safety. I think that this quote from the classic "Network" says it best...
"You have meddled with the primal forces of nature, Mr. Beale, and I won't have it! Is that clear? You think you've merely stopped a business deal. That is not the case! The Arabs have taken billions of dollars out of this country, and now they must put it back! It is ebb and flow, tidal gravity! It is ecological balance! You are an old man who thinks in terms of nations and peoples. There are no nations. There are no peoples. There are no Russians. There are no Arabs. There are no third worlds. There is no West. There is only one holistic system of systems, one vast and immane, interwoven, interacting, multivariate, multinational dominion of dollars. Petro-dollars, electro-dollars, multi-dollars, reichmarks, rins, rubles, pounds, and shekels. It is the international system of currency which determines the totality of life on this planet. That is the natural order of things today. That is the atomic and subatomic and galactic structure of things today! And YOU have meddled with the primal forces of nature, and YOU... WILL... ATONE! Am I getting through to you, Mr. Beale? You get up on your little twenty-one inch screen and howl about America and democracy. There is no America. There is no democracy. There is only IBM, and ITT, and AT&T, and DuPont, Dow, Union Carbide, and Exxon. Those are the nations of the world today. What do you think the Russians talk about in their councils of state, Karl Marx? They get out their linear programming charts, statistical decision theories, minimax solutions, and compute the price-cost probabilities of their transactions and investments, just like we do. We no longer live in a world of nations and ideologies, Mr. Beale. The world is a college of corporations, inexorably determined by the immutable bylaws of business. The world is a business, Mr. Beale. It has been since man crawled out of the slime. And our children will live, Mr. Beale, to see that... perfect world... in which there's no war or famine, oppression or brutality. One vast and ecumenical holding company, for whom all men will work to serve a common profit, in which all men will hold a share of stock. All necessities provided, all anxieties tranquilized, all boredom amused. And I have chosen you, Mr. Beale, to preach this evangel."
on July 22, 2011
at 08:16 PM
CaveRat makes an excellent point. Everyone who likes Salatin should read Wendell Berry. They should also read Ivan Illich, who pointed out that the greatest obstacle to freedom is a society that relies on the commodity form. Hell, Salatin should read these guys.
I also gotta recommend Michael Perelman, who writes analysis of agriculture that is truly excellent. Here's an interview that is seriously worth reading. Check out his book on The Invention of Capitalism to see how history reveals that the state isn't an obstacle to capitalism, it brought capitalism into being.
Perelman teaches at Chico. Can we get him on Robb Wolf's podcast?
on July 22, 2011
at 08:19 PM
People need to be free to pursue happiness in their own uniquely individual way. To the extent government interferes with that it is wrong and it needs to stop doing it. The problem with most political parties is that they want control different aspect of our lives using the power of government. The purpose of political parties, therefore, is to wrest control of the government from everyone else. And the only reason to want to control government is to control people.
Paleo has not changed my political views, it has only cemented them. I don't do dairy, but who the hell is the government to tell me I can't drink raw milk? It's my body, and even if it hurts me, it won't hurt anyone else, so back off. Same thing with pot. This once common weed has been transformed by government into a sinister force for evil. I have never used any mind-altering substances, but again, it's my body. Same thing for vaccinations. I have always been vaccinated and always will be, but if others decide not to get them, that's their choice.
If you're not free enough to decide for yourself what to eat, you're not free. Viva la Ron Paul
on July 22, 2011
at 10:15 PM
"Paleo" by itself hasn't changed my political views. However, what I've learned about how conventional wisdom regarding "healthy" foods came to be has made me more likely to look for hard facts behind decisions. I used to have this perception of the government having done its homework and made recommendations or decisions based on what has been proven to be best. Now I see my former blind trust (food pyramid, anyone?) as naivete and I understand that I need to be the one to do my homework.
on July 22, 2011
at 09:56 PM
Paleo hasn't changed my political views. If anything, it was any easy fit into my mutualist/voluntaryist/anarchist outlook.
The State originally derived its power from agriculture and the scarcity that it created. Thus begun the large-scale centralization of all facets of life. But, I believe it to be a temporary phenomenon. As we draw closer to a post-scarcity society, it will be harder and harder for the State and its acolytes to justify its existence. I suspect a slow withering will occur as the means of self-sustainment become easier due to technological advancement. De-centralization of all life, including the food system, will become the norm; albeit in completely new ways.
Corporate power is derived directly from State power. Wither one, wither all.