Paleo: the greatest marketing stunt ever pulled?

Asked on February 25, 2014
Created February 25, 2014 at 2:56 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.

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