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votes

Paleo: the greatest marketing stunt ever?

Commented on February 27, 2014
Created February 25, 2014 at 3:00 PM

This is purely tongue in cheek. A bit of devil's advocate based on a book I'm currently reading (Salt, Sugar, Fat). Not aiming to be alarmist, it's just some food for thought I wanted to share and get a pulse on.

Over the last century big beef, dairy, the USDA and many other organisations have painstakingly crafted marketing campaigns and the likes to peddle products to us without raising alarm bells. I'm interested in the idea that Paleo may be just another card in the widely varied deck.

The USDA & Big Beef have been working together for decades on how to get the public to consume more red meat. It was introduced into schools, then bolstered with 'double burger' days. Multiple meat versions of pasta, pizza, soups etc. were put on store shelves by the likes of Kraft, General Foods & co.

Even whilst the USDA was announcing that saturated fat should not exceed 7% of total daily calories, they were still aiding in marketing regular consumption of beef whilst lean beef was scarcely available in supermarkets.

Numerous MDs and highly respected professionals have come out in support of Paleo. Numerous MDs and highly respected professionals have also come out to support a myriad of other nutritional paradigms.

We can't cheat the results though? Well yes and no, whether or not Paleo is healthy is neither here nor there. People have lost significant amounts of weight on every diet, and as losing weight typically makes us 'healthier' - by BMI and other governmental standards - then surely there's some validity that can be drawn from each of those.

But the blood work doesn't lie. Lowered triglycerides, higher HDL, more buoyant LDL. Lesser advanced glycation end products etc. Again, yes and no. The mind is a powerful precursor to any and all of the blood work metrics. Lowering stress, both physically through less inflammation and mentally through a healthier mindset and play, could very well contribute to the re-adjustment of these off kilter metrics.

Perhaps you purchase grass-fed beef from independent farmers in which case you'd state, "my monies don't benefit either of those organisations". You're correct, but if Paleo goes mainstream (as it's teeing up very nicely to do) your average consumer only sees what the blurbs emphasise - "more meat, more fat". The same way the Atkins renaissance, which was far more than 'eat meat' was turned into 'eat meat', so Paleo diet is being positioned in the same light. I'm in the UK, but I've heard the same said of 'the Paleo diet' across the world. In turn, the quality of the meat is secondary to the primary message - which is what consumers will bank on when they head to their supermarket butchers.

Again, this is not about whether or not Paleo is healthy for us. It's simply a speculation into whether or not Paleo could be just another shiny monicker put fourth by bigger industries looking to push more of their (excessive) surplus stock. And these organisations and the intelligence they commission are experts at pivoting marketing tactics. Let's never forget that Betty Crocker did wonderful things for General Mills, processed bake goods and the ever expanding waistlines of America by writing 'home' recipes and espousing on her love for all things homely and American. Let's also not forget that Betty Crocker wasn't real.

Also keep in mind that this way of eating is still in its infancy. It took decades for the results of Ancel Keys' and the Nixon administrations dietary guidelines to shine through. It's only ever 20/20 in hindsight.

Eed7dabde3d61910685845e04605267f

(2934)

on February 27, 2014
at 01:06 PM

Avergae low fat diet, I agree. Average atkins style high fat diet, also not what I'd call healthy... This isn't to say that both low fat and high fat can't be healthful... (by low fat I meanroughly less than 50g on 3000 calories diet...). It's possible to eat nutrient dense diet on that is relatively low in fat, maybe not ideal, but who knows abotu that...? Not me.

Medium avatar

(10611)

on February 27, 2014
at 11:52 AM

You have to eat something. The greatest damage whole grains and low fat have done is in creating an anti-meat culture.

8b9c2dcd3dfc929a0428d3d6dac4918e

(70)

on February 27, 2014
at 01:14 AM

I don't see how it could be a wordview, to deny that any harm has even been done. I mean, low carb paleo has caused some people harm (probably because they were doing it wrong, or went too far too fast, but all the same). People are killed by flat surface falls, and "beards", everything has some measure of associated risk.

8b9c2dcd3dfc929a0428d3d6dac4918e

(70)

on February 27, 2014
at 01:12 AM

Clearly for celiacs (common), grains have been a nightmare. For the egyptians that first introduced it as a major part of their diet, the massive stillbirth rate must be catergorized as harm. For those with heart disease from too little fat, or diabetes from too much sugar, these also must be catergorized as harm. The spreading of the now disproven anti-fat dogma (disproven by animal models of heart disease which show that oxidation is at fault), has been matched, with lower fat eating, and increasingly higher rates of heart disease.

2eb1b3e896624be5506029e3fec3e9e2

(10)

on February 27, 2014
at 12:44 AM

ive done my research, thanks. theres no need to condescend me for holding a worldview thats different from yours :)

8b9c2dcd3dfc929a0428d3d6dac4918e

(70)

on February 27, 2014
at 12:17 AM

^ lol. Science bro. Low fat diets are associated with increased risk of heart disease (and low fat foods are high in sugar). They also tend to be low in nutrients. Try tracking an average low fat diet through a diet tracker and see where your nutrients land. You should read more.

2eb1b3e896624be5506029e3fec3e9e2

(10)

on February 26, 2014
at 09:54 PM

none :)

Be157308a0438e382b88d9db4c12ab30

on February 26, 2014
at 04:05 PM

You sir, are quite lucky. Grass fed beef your entire life? That's awesome.

8b9c2dcd3dfc929a0428d3d6dac4918e

(70)

on February 26, 2014
at 01:27 PM

Ive never eating grain fed beef in my entire life (i live in NZ. We don't have it), but the right cuts of grass fed beef are marbled (scotch fillet is my fave), and juicy - assuming its quality meat. If its a tough cut, you just roast or stew it, then it becomes soft. I know that grain fed meat is insanely, artificially marbled (i saw a picture of some once and it looked so wrong, the fat was also the wrong colour, like oxidized or something), but all the same, if your grass fed steak is dry, or tough, your getting it from the wrong source IMO.

47cbd166d262925037bc6f9a9265eb20

(55)

on February 26, 2014
at 12:48 PM

Why don't you use a time switched steamer ? Once you found the right time to heat it enough to make it just above the minimum safe cooking temperature, you can go with that time always.

Medium avatar

(10611)

on February 26, 2014
at 10:53 AM

I used to be the same way about clams and oysters. You have to be very careful how you cook them or they get tough, and there's nothing instantly appealing about the flavor. They have to be eaten very fresh for health - and taste - reasons. Yet for thousands of years Salish women gathered them in burden baskets which easily held 100 lbs. If it's all you have to eat you eat it. There's NO way the public would develop a mass appetite for them, nor any way Big Food could profit from them. On most beaches I collected from I was the only one out there.

7fb4e9fb1162999cdd5099fee49dd0a7

on February 26, 2014
at 01:03 AM

I liked this answer very much. Very though-provoking.

Be157308a0438e382b88d9db4c12ab30

on February 25, 2014
at 09:55 PM

Nicely done lol.

3ce6a0d24be025e2f2af534545bdd1d7

(26217)

on February 25, 2014
at 09:38 PM

It was a joke. I took big beef from the OP

Be157308a0438e382b88d9db4c12ab30

on February 25, 2014
at 09:36 PM

Big Beef? At least you didn't say Big Meat, the puns would have been endless. Anyways, what's wrong with beef?

3ce6a0d24be025e2f2af534545bdd1d7

(26217)

on February 25, 2014
at 09:27 PM

The Sisson compound could not be funded by book sales alone. I'm sure that Big Beef is using Sisson as a front man.

Medium avatar

(10611)

on February 25, 2014
at 09:20 PM

Angry Caveman brand with the slogan Fight Back?

7fb4e9fb1162999cdd5099fee49dd0a7

on February 25, 2014
at 03:45 PM

Your point on the variability of meat is valid - but the availability of beef, and the myriad of traditional recipes that include its use trump that of any other red meat on offer.

7fb4e9fb1162999cdd5099fee49dd0a7

on February 25, 2014
at 03:42 PM

I agree with you wholeheartedly, however the sheer amount of meat we're consuming (and that's available and in surplus) is not the same as what our ancestors had access to.

The food industry also has little resistance in selling junk food as they've engineered it's balance of fat, sugar and salt, not to mention its price point, so perfectly that the craving goes far beyond being seen as an occasional 'treat'. The average person doesn't even see the majority of 'junk food' as junk food (breakfast bars and lunchables being a wonderful feat of marketing over sense).

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9 Answers

0
Medium avatar

on February 26, 2014
at 09:28 PM

Low fat foods are a good marketing trick. Whole grains is another. How much damage have those memes done?

Medium avatar

(10611)

on February 27, 2014
at 11:52 AM

You have to eat something. The greatest damage whole grains and low fat have done is in creating an anti-meat culture.

2eb1b3e896624be5506029e3fec3e9e2

(10)

on February 26, 2014
at 09:54 PM

none :)

0
B8f1900ac88f2b39642cacd6bb356e83

on February 26, 2014
at 08:00 PM

Agree - the corps and gov are not out for your health but rather your wallet. So the story will be spun any which way to encourage that. What needs to occur is a greater understanding of the quality of the food supply - but likely to only come from grassroots

0
3491e51730101b18724dc57c86601173

(8395)

on February 26, 2014
at 01:59 AM

I often think of Guyenet's "food reward theory" when I eat grass-fed meat. It's not tender and juicy like a grain fed cut, it's dry and often turns to shoe leather if you don't cook it exactly right in terms of temperature and time. It just doesn't have that taste appeal of a nicely marbled piece of grain fed beef. I eat it out of a sense of responsibility to my health, and to my wallet which paid three or four times the price of CAFO meat to put it on my table. I think this is going to be a very hard sell to the American public. So I'm not too worried. And I try to find menu plans that use very little meat. ;o)

Medium avatar

(10611)

on February 26, 2014
at 10:53 AM

I used to be the same way about clams and oysters. You have to be very careful how you cook them or they get tough, and there's nothing instantly appealing about the flavor. They have to be eaten very fresh for health - and taste - reasons. Yet for thousands of years Salish women gathered them in burden baskets which easily held 100 lbs. If it's all you have to eat you eat it. There's NO way the public would develop a mass appetite for them, nor any way Big Food could profit from them. On most beaches I collected from I was the only one out there.

47cbd166d262925037bc6f9a9265eb20

(55)

on February 26, 2014
at 12:48 PM

Why don't you use a time switched steamer ? Once you found the right time to heat it enough to make it just above the minimum safe cooking temperature, you can go with that time always.

8b9c2dcd3dfc929a0428d3d6dac4918e

(70)

on February 26, 2014
at 01:27 PM

Ive never eating grain fed beef in my entire life (i live in NZ. We don't have it), but the right cuts of grass fed beef are marbled (scotch fillet is my fave), and juicy - assuming its quality meat. If its a tough cut, you just roast or stew it, then it becomes soft. I know that grain fed meat is insanely, artificially marbled (i saw a picture of some once and it looked so wrong, the fat was also the wrong colour, like oxidized or something), but all the same, if your grass fed steak is dry, or tough, your getting it from the wrong source IMO.

0
8b9c2dcd3dfc929a0428d3d6dac4918e

(70)

on February 26, 2014
at 12:21 AM

Whereas agribusiness used low fat, to sell cheap items that it used to throw away (or get given to animal) -- milk whey, and fiber, and bolster the shelves with low cost high mark-up processed goods, on the basis of questionable links that despite forty years of research could not complete the research links, paleo is far less economical for the meat industry demanding high standards, and higher costs. However there is some money involved. The research research showing dairy for example is linked to lower BMI, like coconut oil, was funded by farming consortiums. Pretty much all research is funded by the interested party, and as paleo gathers more research, it seems likely it will come from farming, and organic agribusines. However, it pays to remember, these guys are much smaller than the likes of monsanto, and whole industries revolve now around the low fat dogma - if they ever are forced to admit they were wrong, its seems likely trust in govt health advice will fall, and its even possible lawsuits may occur, due to loss of life and wellbeing. There is a deep price for that wrongness, and they will be doing everything they can to make sure that date is as far off as possible.

7fb4e9fb1162999cdd5099fee49dd0a7

on February 26, 2014
at 01:03 AM

I liked this answer very much. Very though-provoking.

0
96440612cf0fcf366bf5ad8f776fca84

(19463)

on February 25, 2014
at 10:10 PM

Absolutely, Paleo is a ~2MYO fad. The SAD? A mere 40 years.

I'll take the 2 million year old fad, thanks.

0
Medium avatar

on February 25, 2014
at 08:53 PM

As far as I can tell the only thing proponents of paleo are selling are books and private consultations. However, this paradigm could certainly be turned around by big industry and used to push their products. "Eat like a cave man for better health" sure sounds easy to embrace and the dummer public at large will take that at face value and go plow into a meaty, fatty dinner and call it a day.

While it could be turned into a marketing tool, I don't think that's what it is right now. Most serious paleo proponents would have you buy all your meat and produce from small, local farmers and butchers, or if possible grow it yourself.

3ce6a0d24be025e2f2af534545bdd1d7

(26217)

on February 25, 2014
at 09:27 PM

The Sisson compound could not be funded by book sales alone. I'm sure that Big Beef is using Sisson as a front man.

Medium avatar

(10611)

on February 25, 2014
at 09:20 PM

Angry Caveman brand with the slogan Fight Back?

0
Medium avatar

(10611)

on February 25, 2014
at 04:12 PM

Doubtful. Big meat needs big hooks, like "Beef it's what's for dinner" and "Pork the other white meat". The Sainsbury and Walmart crowd are not going to get something like "Beef it's what Grok ate, or something very close" or "Pork it's what you should eat instead of that cookie".

0
7fb4e9fb1162999cdd5099fee49dd0a7

on February 25, 2014
at 03:44 PM

Your point on the variability of meat is valid - but the availability of beef, and the myriad of traditional recipes that include its use trump that of any other red meat on offer.

0
Dc51832f923955ad555d824b1b01704a

on February 25, 2014
at 03:25 PM

People have eaten red meat forever, its not anything new. The food industry, if anything, would be trying to market chips, ice cream, etc. because these things are far more addictive than what is found in the paleo diet, and therefore, sells better. Also, if you don't like red meat, no one is forcing you to eat beef on the paleo diet. There are many other protein sources that do not contain high levels of saturated fat.

7fb4e9fb1162999cdd5099fee49dd0a7

on February 25, 2014
at 03:42 PM

I agree with you wholeheartedly, however the sheer amount of meat we're consuming (and that's available and in surplus) is not the same as what our ancestors had access to.

The food industry also has little resistance in selling junk food as they've engineered it's balance of fat, sugar and salt, not to mention its price point, so perfectly that the craving goes far beyond being seen as an occasional 'treat'. The average person doesn't even see the majority of 'junk food' as junk food (breakfast bars and lunchables being a wonderful feat of marketing over sense).

7fb4e9fb1162999cdd5099fee49dd0a7

on February 25, 2014
at 03:45 PM

Your point on the variability of meat is valid - but the availability of beef, and the myriad of traditional recipes that include its use trump that of any other red meat on offer.

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