7

votes

What social/policy changes should paleos push for?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created November 09, 2010 at 2:50 AM

I take it we all agree that there are things that governments and society are doing that make it more difficult to live and eat well. Now, I'm sure we all come from a variety of ideological persuasions, but there are lots of areas where we could work together to make things better.

Most of time we're talking about personal lifestyle choices, but I'm interested in your opinions about public policy and social norms. What should paleos be working for in these areas?

Some things I've thought of: Obviously the USDA has to get with the program- I think it should just be abolished, but clearly something's gotta change here. This kind of stuff is just ridiculous.

Public spaces like parks should be more dynamic, with rocks and trees for climbing. This would be especially great for kids.

Obviously- eliminate farm subsidies, especially for corn.

Make it easier for farmers to directly sell to consumers- aren't sanitation laws making this harder? Here in China I can go to the market and see various animals chopped up, or still alive, waiting to be chopped up. I can just pick up a pigs heart that was likely in a live pig a few hours ago. This may also just be about cultural differences.

What do y'all think?

Fe29f6658ce67c1ecc4a22e960be7498

(2997)

on May 12, 2011
at 04:13 PM

This is something I think about. Not only 'Home Ec' but also wood shop and metal shop. People don't learn how to *make* thinks or *do* things. And it's a self-perpetuating problem: since we don't make our clothes or chairs, we buy them. Since everybody is buying (and the economy 'needs' that activity) shop/home ec is considered unimportant and is defunded - and then even fewer people can make stuff than before. It's a self-fueled degradation.

D30ff86ad2c1f3b43b99aed213bcf461

on November 10, 2010
at 08:39 PM

Oh, that home ec had been a requirement for graduating at my high school. Being a hard-charging college bound student I skipped it in favor of college prep courses and paid the price by not figuring out how to cook until well after I had gotten married!

02736efa3fda31740e8890eed0cb663d

(1813)

on November 10, 2010
at 08:19 PM

Ed, Melissa- I'm totally with you on this. Seems to me that this is something most paleos could get behind.

02736efa3fda31740e8890eed0cb663d

(1813)

on November 10, 2010
at 08:16 PM

gn- I don't think this is the right forum for this debate, but I should just mention that I don't think morality is "completely relative" insofar as morality is a social institution which creates general rules. That doesn't mean there are "moral truths", but I think it does suggest that, as a matter of fact, people don't just make up their own moral rules- they get them from society- and from certain innate sensibilities, such as empathy, that almost all humans share (apart from psychopaths and severe autistics, etc). This morality is socially emergent- not just created by the state IMO.

02736efa3fda31740e8890eed0cb663d

(1813)

on November 10, 2010
at 08:10 PM

I don't think the government will ever ban the sale of grain-fed meat, nor do I think they should. Plus, if they ever were to get to that point, it would be because popular opinion had swung in that direction, meaning that there were already a lot of people buying grass-fed meats. In the end, I think we'd be better off leaving things to the market. Of course, there are many things governments are currently doing to support industrial food production, such as subsidizing corn. So the first step should be to get rid of those policies.

02736efa3fda31740e8890eed0cb663d

(1813)

on November 10, 2010
at 08:06 PM

Yup, that's pretty much what I believe the policy should be. But, if we're going to get there, it's going to take a coalition of people to push for it. I also think there's a role that social mores play- for example, a lot of Americans are incredibly squeamish about seeing the heads of dead animals, seeing animals killed, etc. EVEN THOUGH they eat factory farmed meat-out of sight, out of mind... So I think we should also work toward a culture that puts people closer to the sources of their food. I don't think this is a matter of government policy, however.

B2157bdf4a217ac943c41125d1a67845

(258)

on November 10, 2010
at 11:43 AM

Morality is a social convention that we apply to others out of respect. Whatever your morality is, it means nothing if it's not applied universally. To make an exception for any group of people, is to negate any type of morality at all, and the results are as expected: more and more laws; higher and higher debt; endless wars; and an emerging police state -- all because we tell the people in power that their actions are outside the realm of morality.

04293f705870e1837b8670d3c1cd5f67

(2261)

on November 10, 2010
at 03:22 AM

My home economics teacher retired a couple years ago...her position never to be filled again! tragedy, sadness. My daughter's were hoping to get the cooking and sewing classes she taught. I learned so much from her. I guess no one see's the importance of home economics anymore & apparently not a college offering for a degree either. Not sure if that is true or not, but the way things are going, no one knows what real food is anyway.

6426d61a13689f8f651164b10f121d64

(11488)

on November 09, 2010
at 11:52 PM

The raw milk raids by totalitarian "jack-booted thugs" are symptomatic of what's wrong with our state and federal governments. The State has no business interfering with harmless private commerce between consenting individuals.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on November 09, 2010
at 09:21 PM

"morality" / "moral code" - they are completely relative, conventional, different for different individuals, and contingent on a particular situation. location and cultural context - everyone has its own truth thus only STATE, LAW and ODER protects people from annihilating each other

4e40d2b9e1a762949a25b958762aa10d

(762)

on November 09, 2010
at 05:04 PM

One use for the government is in doing things that no one else wants to do perhaps because they aren't immediately profitable or because we prefer it done in a less profitable way. For example, Congress could enact laws (this is fantasy now) prohibiting the sale of grain-fed cows. Grain-fed cows are cheap enough to raise and kill that industrial farming wouldn't change on its own unless enough of its customers stopped buying their product. It's tricky though because unless enough people believe the government is acting in their best interest, they will perceive this regulation as intrusion.

D4586f8cac3bbbd49c3540f774247256

(270)

on November 09, 2010
at 02:38 PM

True, the government policies are already making it harder to 'vote' for "better" products. But isn't the real problem exactly that the government tried to do sth good? (of course they probably Believed they were doing good giving subsidies to corn and such [just like we Believe paleo is best]). Maybe the answer would be less policy, if possible? (making all foods equal with no gov't support, instead of choosing "better" foods for others)

02736efa3fda31740e8890eed0cb663d

(1813)

on November 09, 2010
at 02:24 PM

I think this can definitely count as a social change- and I agree. Richard Nikoley, while I- uh- object to a lot of his style, wrote very beautifully about the importance of cooperation, and how our present society devalues it. I think education plays a role in that- we turn everything into a competition and get everyone to believe that your ranking in a certain kind of hierarchy is really important.

02736efa3fda31740e8890eed0cb663d

(1813)

on November 09, 2010
at 02:19 PM

It seems like libertarians are disproportionately represented among paleos. Not that there's anything wrong with that :-) Just to clarify, by "policy changes" I also meant to include just plain old repealing policies- stopping the government from doing stuff.

02736efa3fda31740e8890eed0cb663d

(1813)

on November 09, 2010
at 05:26 AM

I'm skeptical that labeling laws would be much help. My feeling is most people know that processed food is not good for them, but eat it anyway. The government so far has intervened in such a way as to push "healthy whole grains" and other stuff that is not actually healthy. They do this because of a combination of mistaken science and special interest lobying. I think, ulimately, people have to take charge of their own lives if they want to be healthy, and the best thing the government can do is get out of the way.

02736efa3fda31740e8890eed0cb663d

(1813)

on November 09, 2010
at 05:23 AM

Petur- I completely agree that the government tends to scew things up. As MikeD alluded to, the problem is that the government is already screwing up a lot of things threw regulations and other policies which favor entrenched interests at the expense of everyone else. I of course agree that more people should buy pastured meat, but there are changes in policy that would make pastured meat easier to buy and cheaper, such as the policy Mike mentioned, and also subsidies for corn, which make corn-fed beef artificially cheaper, and thus crowding out grassfed to some degree.

691f120a3e7a1a036845d105d86c99a3

(3641)

on November 09, 2010
at 03:43 AM

the problem with voting for grassfed beef by buying it is that current government regulation requires beef producers to slaughter their meat in massive slaughter houses that also handle the CAFO varieties. so at the moment government is messing it up so we need to be active to stop it.

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7 Answers

5
95601768ec9cb75cc3a9cbcd2271ed14

(2206)

on November 09, 2010
at 10:37 PM

I do think continuing to oppose things like the food pyramid guidelines and food subsidies is important, however resistance is just going to continue to be symbolic at this point.

Rather than focusing exclusively on anything at a national or global level, I choose to invest most of my energy in things on a local level. Supporting farmers markets and community gardens, working to oppose any state legislation that tries to further limit small-scale homemade food operations/working towards legislation that lifts bans already in place, volunteering to maintain my city's wide network of trails (and publicize their existence) and towards the establishment of new ones & better pedestrian access on roadways, helping local "primitive skills" schools get press/money/resources, etc.

And to take what Vrimj said and use it as a springboard, I don't think we can underestimate the value of what a little leading by example/being the change we want (i know, motivational poster slogans, but still powerful ideas...) can do. Be it in a purely dietary realm (living examples of the health benefits of kicking CW to the curb) or otherwise. Paul Shepard's Coming Home to the Pleistocene really pushed my thinking on what "being Paleo" (maybe as opposed to "doing Paleo"?) could be and the implications of that. In the book he lists 71 aspects of a Pleistocene paradigm (here) and suggests that reclaiming some of them in our own lives can start to create more livable communities in the here-and-now as well as create a ripple effect that could lead to larger systemic changes. I've been trying to do this to the best of my ability, and found my life much richer as a result.

"Must we build a new twenty-first-century society corresponding to a hunting/gathering culture? Of course not; humans do not consciously make cultures. What we can do is single out those many things, large and small, that characterized the social and cultural life of our ancestors-the terms under which our genome itself was shaped-and incorporate them as best we can by creating a modern life around them. We take our cues from primal cultures, the best wisdom of the deep desires of the genome. We humans are instinctive culture makers; given the pieces, the culture will reshape itself"--PS

3
9d43f6873107e17ca4d1a5055aa7a2ad

on November 09, 2010
at 10:40 PM

Fixing what's in Joel Salatin's book Everything I Want to Do is Illegal. I think these guys are making some headway on that http://www.ftcldf.org/

I'm not a big fan of the owner of Humanewatch, but I think their overall goal of exposing the Humane Society of the United States as an animal rights organization is important. HSUS is very powerful and has pushed for laws that would affect small farmers, hunters, and trappers.

02736efa3fda31740e8890eed0cb663d

(1813)

on November 10, 2010
at 08:19 PM

Ed, Melissa- I'm totally with you on this. Seems to me that this is something most paleos could get behind.

6426d61a13689f8f651164b10f121d64

(11488)

on November 09, 2010
at 11:52 PM

The raw milk raids by totalitarian "jack-booted thugs" are symptomatic of what's wrong with our state and federal governments. The State has no business interfering with harmless private commerce between consenting individuals.

2
D4586f8cac3bbbd49c3540f774247256

(270)

on November 09, 2010
at 03:12 AM

I believe the strength of the concept is in keeping it "individualized", the gov't (or any institution) would probably find a million ways of screwing it up and somehow making it worse. That being said, things like "voting" for grassfed meat, by buying it, is in my opinion a darn good way (both in doing good, and not allowing "do-goodery" institutions to screw it up). ...I haven't really thought about this angle that much though, been too busy trying to implement it on myself ^^

691f120a3e7a1a036845d105d86c99a3

(3641)

on November 09, 2010
at 03:43 AM

the problem with voting for grassfed beef by buying it is that current government regulation requires beef producers to slaughter their meat in massive slaughter houses that also handle the CAFO varieties. so at the moment government is messing it up so we need to be active to stop it.

D4586f8cac3bbbd49c3540f774247256

(270)

on November 09, 2010
at 02:38 PM

True, the government policies are already making it harder to 'vote' for "better" products. But isn't the real problem exactly that the government tried to do sth good? (of course they probably Believed they were doing good giving subsidies to corn and such [just like we Believe paleo is best]). Maybe the answer would be less policy, if possible? (making all foods equal with no gov't support, instead of choosing "better" foods for others)

02736efa3fda31740e8890eed0cb663d

(1813)

on November 09, 2010
at 05:23 AM

Petur- I completely agree that the government tends to scew things up. As MikeD alluded to, the problem is that the government is already screwing up a lot of things threw regulations and other policies which favor entrenched interests at the expense of everyone else. I of course agree that more people should buy pastured meat, but there are changes in policy that would make pastured meat easier to buy and cheaper, such as the policy Mike mentioned, and also subsidies for corn, which make corn-fed beef artificially cheaper, and thus crowding out grassfed to some degree.

02736efa3fda31740e8890eed0cb663d

(1813)

on November 10, 2010
at 08:06 PM

Yup, that's pretty much what I believe the policy should be. But, if we're going to get there, it's going to take a coalition of people to push for it. I also think there's a role that social mores play- for example, a lot of Americans are incredibly squeamish about seeing the heads of dead animals, seeing animals killed, etc. EVEN THOUGH they eat factory farmed meat-out of sight, out of mind... So I think we should also work toward a culture that puts people closer to the sources of their food. I don't think this is a matter of government policy, however.

1
1568416ef28477d1fa29046218d83ddd

(6235)

on November 09, 2010
at 01:41 PM

This is not a policy change, nor do I think it is truly a social change, but I would hope we would all seek to be respectful listeners, people who accept others choices and genuinely supportive of each other.

I know that is not a political platform, but I think every time people build community they are building a set of social expectations that leak in to all of the other things they do.

So what I would hope for is a community that can be respectful dissenters, something that there is always room for more of in civil government.

I would also hope that we could use evidence and research instead of emotion or antidote when and if we do lobby for policy changes. This will explain why I think we simply do not have the quality of research to push for paleo specific changes.

02736efa3fda31740e8890eed0cb663d

(1813)

on November 09, 2010
at 02:24 PM

I think this can definitely count as a social change- and I agree. Richard Nikoley, while I- uh- object to a lot of his style, wrote very beautifully about the importance of cooperation, and how our present society devalues it. I think education plays a role in that- we turn everything into a competition and get everyone to believe that your ranking in a certain kind of hierarchy is really important.

1
B2157bdf4a217ac943c41125d1a67845

(258)

on November 09, 2010
at 11:41 AM

What should government do? :) hehe...

1) We need to live with a moral code. 2) Morality should be universal. 3) Government should not be exempt from morality; (So if I can't steal, then either should the government.) 4) Therefore we should make government a completely voluntary organization. No taxes. Sell and privatize everything.

02736efa3fda31740e8890eed0cb663d

(1813)

on November 09, 2010
at 02:19 PM

It seems like libertarians are disproportionately represented among paleos. Not that there's anything wrong with that :-) Just to clarify, by "policy changes" I also meant to include just plain old repealing policies- stopping the government from doing stuff.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on November 09, 2010
at 09:21 PM

"morality" / "moral code" - they are completely relative, conventional, different for different individuals, and contingent on a particular situation. location and cultural context - everyone has its own truth thus only STATE, LAW and ODER protects people from annihilating each other

B2157bdf4a217ac943c41125d1a67845

(258)

on November 10, 2010
at 11:43 AM

Morality is a social convention that we apply to others out of respect. Whatever your morality is, it means nothing if it's not applied universally. To make an exception for any group of people, is to negate any type of morality at all, and the results are as expected: more and more laws; higher and higher debt; endless wars; and an emerging police state -- all because we tell the people in power that their actions are outside the realm of morality.

02736efa3fda31740e8890eed0cb663d

(1813)

on November 10, 2010
at 08:16 PM

gn- I don't think this is the right forum for this debate, but I should just mention that I don't think morality is "completely relative" insofar as morality is a social institution which creates general rules. That doesn't mean there are "moral truths", but I think it does suggest that, as a matter of fact, people don't just make up their own moral rules- they get them from society- and from certain innate sensibilities, such as empathy, that almost all humans share (apart from psychopaths and severe autistics, etc). This morality is socially emergent- not just created by the state IMO.

1
62ed65f3596aa2f62fa1d58a0c09f8c3

(20807)

on November 09, 2010
at 03:15 AM

I remember a few years back, a sushi restaurant in LA was taking live fish and cutting them up fresh in front of customers (only those who wanted it of course). THey became very popular among discerning Japanese until someone got upset about it and they were charged with animal cruelty! I don't remember all the details, but I do remember, the restaurant was forced to stop. I just remember thinking, what difference does it make where the fish is killed? Humans are weird sometimes.

Anyway, I'd go for the area where we would get most support and most bang for the buck, and that would be with education. Try to make labeling laws to force them to be more honest on what goes into the food. Most people live in denial. Truth in advertising would make it harder for people to not notice how unhealthy processed foods are. And for grains, I would push their basic lack of nutrition. That is something you just can't argue about. Grains have very little nutrition and lots of calories.

On another front, I would continue to educate about weight loss and diabetes control. These are already where more paleo style eating have made huge inroads because diabetes and excess weight are major issues to most of the public and paleo works really really well for those. In fact, even main stream medical is coming around nicely about the importance of cutting carbs for diabetes and eating less processed foods. THe momentum is really starting to gain on those issues and it is where we are strongest. And although cutting carbs for weight loss is no longer the big trend it was for a while, I still know a lot of people who know and do not argue with the fact that it really works for weight loss.

Of course, there are many other areas I think are very important, but I would suggest we push hardest on those things that people are more able to understand and agree with. Once people have better understandings of the situatoin and what works, I think it will be easier for them to take a new look at some of the other issues as well.

Right now, there is no money for parks and even if there was, you could run into liability and lawsuit issues if making things for climbing. This is becoming more of an issue every year. And emotionally, most of the city dwelling public in the US will not get behind the idea of home butchering or loosening standards on that kind of thing. Just because the idea will gross them out. (heck it even grosses me out a bit even though I logically understand the health benefits) As for subsidies in general, arg, I am against them in general, but they seem to have gotten rather entrenched. It's the quiet little secret that all the politicians like to pretend is not there. Perhaps the trick there is to just educate on healthfulness and lack thereof and perhaps the demand for corn will go down and growers will shift to planting something else, or they will find some other use for corn like making cat litter or whatever.

But I think overall, the trick would be to target areas where large segments of the public would quickly and easily agree with emotionally and would really get behind us on. If you want to take down a wall, the trick is to target the weakest part of it first.

02736efa3fda31740e8890eed0cb663d

(1813)

on November 09, 2010
at 05:26 AM

I'm skeptical that labeling laws would be much help. My feeling is most people know that processed food is not good for them, but eat it anyway. The government so far has intervened in such a way as to push "healthy whole grains" and other stuff that is not actually healthy. They do this because of a combination of mistaken science and special interest lobying. I think, ulimately, people have to take charge of their own lives if they want to be healthy, and the best thing the government can do is get out of the way.

4e40d2b9e1a762949a25b958762aa10d

(762)

on November 09, 2010
at 05:04 PM

One use for the government is in doing things that no one else wants to do perhaps because they aren't immediately profitable or because we prefer it done in a less profitable way. For example, Congress could enact laws (this is fantasy now) prohibiting the sale of grain-fed cows. Grain-fed cows are cheap enough to raise and kill that industrial farming wouldn't change on its own unless enough of its customers stopped buying their product. It's tricky though because unless enough people believe the government is acting in their best interest, they will perceive this regulation as intrusion.

02736efa3fda31740e8890eed0cb663d

(1813)

on November 10, 2010
at 08:10 PM

I don't think the government will ever ban the sale of grain-fed meat, nor do I think they should. Plus, if they ever were to get to that point, it would be because popular opinion had swung in that direction, meaning that there were already a lot of people buying grass-fed meats. In the end, I think we'd be better off leaving things to the market. Of course, there are many things governments are currently doing to support industrial food production, such as subsidizing corn. So the first step should be to get rid of those policies.

0
D10ca8d11301c2f4993ac2279ce4b930

(5242)

on November 09, 2010
at 10:52 PM

Restoration of home economics.

04293f705870e1837b8670d3c1cd5f67

(2261)

on November 10, 2010
at 03:22 AM

My home economics teacher retired a couple years ago...her position never to be filled again! tragedy, sadness. My daughter's were hoping to get the cooking and sewing classes she taught. I learned so much from her. I guess no one see's the importance of home economics anymore & apparently not a college offering for a degree either. Not sure if that is true or not, but the way things are going, no one knows what real food is anyway.

D30ff86ad2c1f3b43b99aed213bcf461

on November 10, 2010
at 08:39 PM

Oh, that home ec had been a requirement for graduating at my high school. Being a hard-charging college bound student I skipped it in favor of college prep courses and paid the price by not figuring out how to cook until well after I had gotten married!

Fe29f6658ce67c1ecc4a22e960be7498

(2997)

on May 12, 2011
at 04:13 PM

This is something I think about. Not only 'Home Ec' but also wood shop and metal shop. People don't learn how to *make* thinks or *do* things. And it's a self-perpetuating problem: since we don't make our clothes or chairs, we buy them. Since everybody is buying (and the economy 'needs' that activity) shop/home ec is considered unimportant and is defunded - and then even fewer people can make stuff than before. It's a self-fueled degradation.

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