12

votes

The Paleo label, veganism, wealth, and race.

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created June 26, 2012 at 11:19 AM

Where does the paleo diet stand on a social standpoint?

Diets, such as veganism, are connotated with higher socioeconomic class, which is even further associated with race. You may have heard the phrase, "veganism is for rich (white) people". I hear it every time someone mistakes me as a vegan and ridicules me (no wonder vegans are angry all the time). It's a stereotype and it bothers me, but stereotypes are based on real life. I live in SoCal, where racial diversity is even. Yet, the paleo foodists I met were white and I found them all at Whole Foods. Now that I think about it, all the people I've known who were vegan, pescetarian, or on other optional diet restrictions (unlike diabetes, high blood pressure, or celiac) were white. From what I saw on paleohacks, everyone who had their photos up were white. These often made me think, "where's everyone else?" I know that there are non-white paleo people out there, but haven't met them.

Even though everyone I saw who proclaims themselves as paleo were white, it seemed that virtually all traditional diets are acceptable on paleo principles without the "paleo" label. For example, I realized that pretty much all Korean and Japanese recipes are paleo-acceptable as long as they're not cooked with PUFAs or milk, which didn't exist in their ancient cultures. Mexican foods, when the legumes are traditionally prepared, are also paleo-acceptable, which may explain the Mexican Paradox. Thus, I can eat Mexican food at a friend's house, but break into hives from eating Chipotle stuff cooked in vegetable oil. You'll disagree with me if you're a strict paleo who only eats grass fed meats and such, but if you allow butter, kefirs, and sprouted grains, then anything traditional is edible.

So, is a paleo way of eating, without the "paleo" label, really as elitist and racially exclusive? I am tired of being judged as "picky" for not eating bread, while I can eat anything traditional. I've never met a "paleo" Mexican, but plenty of healthy Mexicans who eat traditionally.

Bb3d1772b28c02da2426e40dfcb533f5

(5381)

on August 23, 2012
at 02:08 AM

I find it insteresting that cultural practice and genetic skin colour are used interchangably, in the terms "ethnicity" and "race". I would have thought that cultural practice and beleif was more important than skin colour, and worth preserving regardless of the genetics of its participants, but unfortunately often these practices are genetically exclusive.

Bb3d1772b28c02da2426e40dfcb533f5

(5381)

on August 23, 2012
at 02:06 AM

Surely its "race" that is exclusive, not a dietary pattern.

Bb3d1772b28c02da2426e40dfcb533f5

(5381)

on August 23, 2012
at 02:05 AM

I find it insteresting that cultural and genetic skin colour are used interchangably, in the terms "ethnicity" and "race". I would have thought that cultural practice and beleif was more important than skin colour, but unfortunately often these practices are genetically exclusive.

F9638b939a6f85d67f60065677193cad

(4266)

on June 28, 2012
at 02:21 PM

It seems you are taking everything I say as some kind of anti-white person thing or anti-American thing. The fact is, people leave their traditions behind in America eventually and the longer they are here the less they know of them, the more diluted and mixed they get with the dominant culture. There is nothing wrong with that; it is what makes America wonderful. But it leaves some people wishing for an ancient tradition to claim. That those people tend to be white has a lot to do with the historic patterns of immigration.

Ebcbbdcb8b727e69e06eaa102d49a84c

(1804)

on June 27, 2012
at 08:35 PM

+1 for referring to the Diane Sanfilippo article. It is a great read and something to remember.

8e10b687e328468783a72c55b64710e8

(1453)

on June 27, 2012
at 05:07 PM

Race exists. We have similar genes and two Chinese people may be as genetically different as comparing them to a German, but ancestry still counts (especially if you're not mixed).

8e10b687e328468783a72c55b64710e8

(1453)

on June 27, 2012
at 05:05 PM

May not be paleo, more like WAPF style, but I eat anything that existed hundred years ago. Still, my diet is mostly fat and meat and rice.

8e10b687e328468783a72c55b64710e8

(1453)

on June 27, 2012
at 05:03 PM

Our food culture isn't cohesive because we are a multicultural society, that's a good thing. What about non-white people, do they not go around trying other people's foods too? I have Korean friends who like Chinese food, and I am not Indian but I make a lot of Indian dishes. What I consider American: grills, variety of steaks drizzled in BBQ, burgers, hot dogs, sandwiches, fried chicken, clam chowder... and others. Sure, a lot of things aren't original, but no country is. Everyone took from everyone else and made their own style. AMERICAN PRIDE

8e10b687e328468783a72c55b64710e8

(1453)

on June 27, 2012
at 04:52 PM

I also talk about food politics, Monsanto's monopoly, lobbying, and other things... if someone asks. But others often think I am judging them for eating "normally", and buying Monsanto stuff, when I really don't. I know we're all trying to do our best and what we can afford, that's why I don't judge. I even applaud vegans, the ones who do it for themselves I mean

78fcdeee6ac4ee7d071bbac56b9e359f

(1035)

on June 27, 2012
at 04:20 AM

Yes, great answer, wish I could give you more ups for acknowledging privilege!

Fd70d71f4f8195c3a098eda4fc817d4f

(8014)

on June 27, 2012
at 02:26 AM

My friend the former Peace Corps volunteer now works for them, doing recruiting. She's told me stories of having to reject people because they absolutely *would not compromise* their vegan or vegetarian beliefs. She would explain to them that in some of these countries, the people they'll stay with are truly dirt poor, and any offer of food they make you is their way of treating you like royalty, and you damn well better be gracious and EAT IT. People struggling to survive simply cannot make sense of an American turning her nose up at homemade food prepared with love - *especially* meat!

Fd70d71f4f8195c3a098eda4fc817d4f

(8014)

on June 27, 2012
at 02:21 AM

Holy cow, More Butter Please. (No pun intended, hehheh.) *Fantastic* answer!

Fd70d71f4f8195c3a098eda4fc817d4f

(8014)

on June 27, 2012
at 02:17 AM

@KarenP - I have to agree, at least partly. I'm not sure how much the gut flora determines which specific foods we tolerate well (but I agree that it plays a huge role in overall health and GI tract functioning). My ancestry is Eastern European, but you'll have to pry the coconut oil from my cold dead hands. So I think yeah, there are certainly foods people thrive on that fall outside their ancestral norm. Maybe it's just a good starting point - or a place to look when people are thinking about adding things back in - corn, dairy, beans, etc.

5e63e3fa78e998736106a4a5b9aef58c

on June 27, 2012
at 12:52 AM

@Diane: I've known dirt hippies who did the same thing. They weren't poor; just cheap. And they weren't exactly thriving; I've never seen such runny-nosed children in all my life.

5e63e3fa78e998736106a4a5b9aef58c

on June 27, 2012
at 12:34 AM

@Paleomofo: I don't feel guilt for things I can't fix--be it societal problems or the contrary demands of my own body. It solves nothing, so I reserve guilt for when I actually do something that warrants it. That said, I'll keep eating paleo. And I'll also keep talking about food, farm subsidies, GMOs, why people get sick and fat, and why poor people so often end up eating the worst crap (when often they'd really rather not) to anyone who cares to listen. That's honestly the best I can do, as far as I can tell.

F9638b939a6f85d67f60065677193cad

(4266)

on June 26, 2012
at 11:14 PM

Some poor people have been known to buy bags of soy beans at the feed store and make their own tofu and tempeh and eat it with bags of grains also purchased at the feed store.

F9638b939a6f85d67f60065677193cad

(4266)

on June 26, 2012
at 11:10 PM

Our food culture is not very cohesive. There are regional differences in the US as well as ethnic ones. I cross cultures food-wise all the time. I like authentic Mexican, Indian and Japanese food and I have not knowingly ever had the cuisine of my ethnicity: Swedish or Finnish. I suppose steamed chicken, a dry baked potato, canned green beans and a glass of milk might be considered American cuisine, but I certainly wouldn't want to claim it with any pride. I'd rather claim Paleo as my birthright.

8e10b687e328468783a72c55b64710e8

(1453)

on June 26, 2012
at 10:57 PM

You are absolutely right. This is what I pictured too, and I often feel guilty for eating paleo. As if I am a douche for trying to be healthy. As if I am just a picky pain in the butt for having gluten intolerance. I have no car, but I hitch rides to the grocery store.

F5f742cc9228eb5804114d0f3be4e587

(7660)

on June 26, 2012
at 10:28 PM

I think it's more about the microbiome in our guts than it is ancestry. The most prominent ancestries for me are Danish and Cherokee, but pineapples and mangoes don't seem to cause me any issues. Anecdotal, sure, but I think as research goes on, the combination of bugs in our intestinal tracts will dictate food tolerance and metabolism more than we ever thought possible.

F5f742cc9228eb5804114d0f3be4e587

(7660)

on June 26, 2012
at 10:26 PM

Also? Non sequitor.

8e10b687e328468783a72c55b64710e8

(1453)

on June 26, 2012
at 09:33 PM

I see, thank you Kelly

8e10b687e328468783a72c55b64710e8

(1453)

on June 26, 2012
at 09:33 PM

Don't attack veganism, we're all trying to find what is best for us.

8e10b687e328468783a72c55b64710e8

(1453)

on June 26, 2012
at 09:32 PM

Same with me. With my ethnic group, our traditional foods are paleo acceptable, but they would ridicule me if they found out that I was "eating like a caveman".

8e10b687e328468783a72c55b64710e8

(1453)

on June 26, 2012
at 09:30 PM

Exactly, this is what I am saying. Ancestral is still pretty paleo in my book. I am not mixed with Mexican at all, but I still thrive on Mexican food. I also can't tolerate cow milk, even raw milk, yet thrive well with goat, and turns out my ancestors drank a lot of goat milk.

8e10b687e328468783a72c55b64710e8

(1453)

on June 26, 2012
at 09:26 PM

America has its own cuisine, its own culture, and white people as a group have Europe to count. Unless you buy into the "white people have no culture" hogwash.

8e10b687e328468783a72c55b64710e8

(1453)

on June 26, 2012
at 09:23 PM

You're right Corbab, a lot of Mexicans subsist on processed food just like other people.

8e10b687e328468783a72c55b64710e8

(1453)

on June 26, 2012
at 09:23 PM

I mentioned the $7 bread. And, paleo is definitely more about eating real food. God forbid, I am an elitist douche for buying REAL FOOD that doesn't turn my skin into a bloody mess! How dare I! It's as if my presence alone makes them go mad. I don't give what others eat because everyone's trying to do their best, but don't judge me for MY choices for MYSELF.

6426d61a13689f8f651164b10f121d64

(11478)

on June 26, 2012
at 05:19 PM

"Identity politics in general is associated with economic privilege"--hogwash. Identity politics is generally associated with rent-seeking.

1bbcd2122d9c75b07440f22ef57d6448

(2934)

on June 26, 2012
at 04:54 PM

In response to the comment about the obese Mexican immigrants— Overall health, healthy weight, etc, are closely linked to socioeconomic standing. As TraneTrax said, paleo isn't cheap. I'm reminded of the section of "Food, Inc." that follows the family, living on a single income, that has few options for healthy eating when fast food and processed foods are so much less expensive.

F0e558010a2ecb31fa37b7c491596b8e

(3850)

on June 26, 2012
at 04:04 PM

[Meaning in that case, I wouldn't take it personally]

F0e558010a2ecb31fa37b7c491596b8e

(3850)

on June 26, 2012
at 04:03 PM

I tend to think a lot of people are "close" happy on this site and the threshold is too low, but aside from that there is a lot of concern about the whole "offering unqualified medial advice" issue, and when there seems to be a serious or immediate medical issue, people tend to vote to close so as not to run afoul of it.

8e10b687e328468783a72c55b64710e8

(1453)

on June 26, 2012
at 02:41 PM

TraneTrax, I personally did have a problem with how people responded to my question, and I felt a lot of apathy due to class differences. For example, I wasn't able to afford a dental check up right away (and I explained that in my question), but my question was locked with a "go to a dentist" within a day. It did change how I see this place.

8e10b687e328468783a72c55b64710e8

(1453)

on June 26, 2012
at 02:37 PM

Whenever I explain to people that I have to watch what I eat, they probably picture the typical "diet" things, such as $7 loaf of gluten free bread, $10 vegan kelp noodles, $50 worth of Lean Cuisine, all that jazz. I know because they scrunch up their noses and go, "I am too poor to eat like that"... even though I NEVER asked them to change THEIR diets, and I can make cheap stuff from scratch. My problem is more about dealing with the judgement and bs I get from other people, and the general out-of-placedness I get from the paleo community.

D19fa7b7fc8b5430c7d62447ed155fd7

(35)

on June 26, 2012
at 02:26 PM

Thanks for clarifying, Paleomofo. I'm not rich either, and I get the whole judgement thing (even from my own family). You asked a fair question that gets to the heart of how we communicate the paleo lifestyle (not on the offensive, but in response to others' questions/interest/judgement).

8e10b687e328468783a72c55b64710e8

(1453)

on June 26, 2012
at 02:05 PM

TraneTrax, my point is, since "paleo" (by label not practice) seem to be majority white thing, and also mostly by middle-upper class, people are likely to brush it off as another elitist fad on the same level as veganism. Sure, there are poor vegans and non-white vegans, but you can't deny that most of them are at least middle class, and veganism gets attacked for that. I am not a rich white person, and I am sick of being scrutinized whenever I choose a shabu shabu over a Kroger hamburger, or raw mushrooms at a party over pork cooked in vegetable oil and flour.

8e10b687e328468783a72c55b64710e8

(1453)

on June 26, 2012
at 01:44 PM

A "paleo" lifestyle requires high quality, fresh food, and I can find those in "ethnic" stores. Making homemade broth from the bones I bought at Mitsuwa is no more expensive than Subways and KFC's every day, yet it's perfectly "paleo". Halal animals were treated much better, though not labeled grassfed or organic. Were you guys ever judged in a way that vegans are? No wonder vegans are angry and defensive (another stereotype). I don't say anything about my paleo diet, I just eat how I eat, and it seems that anyone who watches what they eat or "eat healthy" is frowned upon. Jesus.

47edf681280750c3712a3a56f2eae33b

on June 26, 2012
at 01:24 PM

I'm black, samoan and philipino~ of color but definitely of a middle-upperclass socioeconomic background and I'm new to paleo but admittedly eat very white with my wine and my vodka. I'd have to say my ethnic background left me quite competent in the kitchen so adapting to paleo lifestyle has been a creative and tasty challenge for me. Although we see the benefits of adopting a whole food diet it is important not to think of the way that we eat as elite or better than the diets of people we can't eat for or don't feed. Keep educating friends, restaurants & family so you have something to eat.

D19fa7b7fc8b5430c7d62447ed155fd7

(35)

on June 26, 2012
at 01:22 PM

Aaron, I agree that others' race/status does not affect me. I also think Paleomofo's premise is that "only whites eat Paleo" = "Paleo is elitist and racially exclusive", which should be challenged. If anything, socio-economic status (which happens to be correlated with race - not because of skin color but because of history/culture/geography) provides a context within which someone is informed about and chooses his/her diet. So a low-income, uneducated individual may not be aware of healthy choices or have access to good food. Race happens to be correlated with socio-economic status.

D19fa7b7fc8b5430c7d62447ed155fd7

(35)

on June 26, 2012
at 01:12 PM

I wonder if this has more to do with the correlation between income and race than anything. A paleo lifestyle requires higher-quality, fresh, whole foods, which are more expensive than the SAD grocery list and fast food. "Minorities" (I hate the word) are correlated ON AVERAGE, with lower income, geographic isolation from fresh markets, and geographic proximity to fast food restaurants, at least in the U.S. This isn't a racial cause-and-effect, just a correlation that's inherent in the demographics of our country (due to history, education, geography, etc...).

F9638b939a6f85d67f60065677193cad

(4266)

on June 26, 2012
at 12:42 PM

Unless they are children, the Mexican immigrants in my neighborhood are almost universally obese. Oddly, the Mexican grocery has the best selection of organ meats. Paleo is kind of my ethnicity's traditional food: reindeer, roots and tubers, greens in spring, berries in summer.

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41747)

on June 26, 2012
at 12:21 PM

Paleo is an artificial construct. It is as exclusionary as you choose to make it.

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14 Answers

9
Fd70d71f4f8195c3a098eda4fc817d4f

(8014)

on June 26, 2012
at 03:44 PM

The funny thing is, if you extrapolate from the work of Weston Price, one could argue that a vegan/vegetarian diet is more a "poor man's diet" than an elitist, expensive one!

A vegan diet is only "elitist" in industrialized countries, where it (maybe) consists of - as another posted pointed out - sprouted grain bread at $7/loaf, raw seed and dried fruit bars at $2/pop, etc. In the developing world, it might more closely resemble nothing but rice and beans, and they certainly wouldn't consider their diet to be one of wealthy folks! In underdeveloped countries, meat is a luxury and a privilege, not sprouted lentils, y'know?

Like Chris Rock said: "People are starving all over the world, what do you mean, 'red meat will kill you?' Don't eat no red meat? No, don't eat no green meat. If you're lucky enough to get your hands on a steak, bite the sh*t out of it!"

Veganism has an expensive/elitist air here because it's not just vegetables and fruit, but rather all the ridiculously expensive vegan processed foods. I am not kidding when I say I probably eat more vegetables (and a wider variety!) than most self-proclaimed vegans and vegetarians who do not eat many vegetables, but rather live on rice, buckwheat, quinoa, couscous, soy "chicken," soy "cheese," and soy milk. Right now, I have 10 different vegetables in my house: cucumbers, yellow peppers, yellow squash, zucchini, cabbage, beets, carrots, celery, broccoli, and onions. I know vegetarians who wouldn't know what kale was if it bit 'em on the you-know-what.

Aaaaanyway, in terms of "Paleo," I do think it can (incorrectly) be interpreted as elitist by those who don't know better. Yes, the ideal is for all grassfed, pastured, organic, hormone free, etc. But I would imagine the number of people who actually attain that ideal is extremely small. Most people probably buy the best they can afford while sticking with REAL FOOD. That is, conventional meat and produce from the regular supermarket. Is it the best? No. But grain-fed conventional beef, CAFO chickens, and non-organic veg and fruits are still better than Eggo waffles and Lean Cuisines.

It's a shame that "Paleo" has the elitist air among some, because it probably stops a lot of people from even trying. ("I can't afford wild-caught salmon and organic spinach, so I guess I'm stuck with pasta and breadsticks for dinner!" COME ON.) Diane Sanfilippo posted a really wonderful piece about this just the other day.

Paleo Perfectionism

8e10b687e328468783a72c55b64710e8

(1453)

on June 26, 2012
at 09:23 PM

I mentioned the $7 bread. And, paleo is definitely more about eating real food. God forbid, I am an elitist douche for buying REAL FOOD that doesn't turn my skin into a bloody mess! How dare I! It's as if my presence alone makes them go mad. I don't give what others eat because everyone's trying to do their best, but don't judge me for MY choices for MYSELF.

Ebcbbdcb8b727e69e06eaa102d49a84c

(1804)

on June 27, 2012
at 08:35 PM

+1 for referring to the Diane Sanfilippo article. It is a great read and something to remember.

7
5e63e3fa78e998736106a4a5b9aef58c

on June 26, 2012
at 09:25 PM

If veganism and paleo are perceived as "for rich (white) people," that's in part because being able to reject entire commonly-consumed categories of food is a luxury.

It means you have the money to buy other, often more expensive, foods to replace sugar, refined grains, or cheap cuts of meat, and that you have easy access to stores that carry them. It means you have a functional kitchen, with safe, pest-free food storage and a refrigerator that works. It means you have time and energy to cook. It means you have suitable cookware and equipment, or can easily acquire it. It means you already have some cooking knowledge, and know what to do with those fresh ingredients so they don't go to waste. It means that you can choose restaurants based on your dietary preference, rather than what is cheapest. And if you're living with other people and cooking for them, it means you have their support.

I was a vegan in my 20s, when I was also poor. But I'd come from a middle-class family who saw to it that I moved out on my own with cookware, utensils, and food storage containers--so I had a reasonably well-equipped, if cramped, kitchen. I had a good landlord, so that kitchen was also rodent-, bug-, and mold-free; it had a reasonable amount of clean, dry storage space, and all of the (full-sized) appliances worked. I also had a regular kitchen sink.

By comparison, the building across the street was full of efficiency studios with tiny galley kitchens. These had small stoves, a mini fridge, about 3' of counter space, and bar sinks smaller than my big salad bowl (with low water pressure, to boot). If cooking was hard under those circumstances, cleaning up--especially anything fatty--was even worse. The people I knew who lived there generally microwaved everything and used paper plates, or else lived on fast food and snacks, because real cooking was just too damned difficult. Other people I knew, with crappy landlords, went weeks, months--or even permanently--without a working stove, fridge, and/or oven, and lacked the resources to assert their rights as tenants.

I lived in an urban neighborhood that had a lot of Latino and Asian immigrants, so there were produce stands nearby and being a vegan was cheap. I had enough education to know how to use the library (back in those pre-Internet days), where I read books on vegan nutrition and cooking. I already knew how to cook well enough to risk spending money on new grains or vegetables, knowing that I would not end up throwing away unpalatable food nobody would eat.

I didn't have a hungry partner, or children dependent upon their free, crap-laden school lunch, clamoring at me to cook animal foods and refusing to eat vegan options. My home environment was stable--I didn't live with domestic violence, criminal activity, or the constant possibility of eviction or deportation. I lived alone, so I could stock up on food, knowing nobody else would eat it and that I wouldn't be forced to leave and have to abandon it (or all my kitchen stuff) because I didn't have a car. Despite being poor, I managed to juggle the utility bills well enough to keep them all on so I could keep storing and cooking whole, perishable foods.

Among my friends and family, indulging in idiosyncratic diets was almost expected. As a middle-class white female, turning down food and living on plant-based starvation rations was perfectly normal "dieting" behavior anyway, so I didn't catch any real grief for it. There was very little significant social pressure to eat animal foods. And I wasn't dependent upon my friends and family for financial or practical support (i.e., child care, rides to the store), so I could afford to hold firm to my way of eating without fear of losing that support if I pissed anyone off.

And because I knew I would not always be poor--that poverty was just a bump in the road I would one day look back at--it was a lot easier for me to care about the long-term consequences of what I ate. I didn't have any money, but I had shitloads of privilege--enough to assume that of course the future was going to be better. How could it not?

To choose a more health-oriented diet that goes against the norm does not necessarily have to be for "rich people" as far as grocery bills are concerned (though I'm not going to lie and say that paleo is cheap). But it does take a lot of other resources. Education--especially the ability to formulate questions, seek out answers on your own, and evaluate your findings--is a HUGE one. So is social support, domestic "infrastructure," and reliable access to food. And for many people living in entrenched poverty, those resources simply don't exist. That's why it's so easy to dismiss paleo or veganism as part of the realm of "rich white people." They might as well say it's for "people who live on the moon."

Eating off the dollar menu, or living on other cheap, heavily-processed convenience foods is not simply about being too stupid, lazy, or ignorant to do better. For the truly poor and marginalized (which, here in the US, strongly correlates with being non-white in most areas), there are so many other social and material factors that make eating vegan or paleo seem like self-indulgent luxuries for the (white) elite. And even when an individual or family manage to create some success for themselves, make more money, and enjoy a wider array of choices, those food habits formed in poverty tend to die really, really hard. It usually takes at least a couple of generations of middle-class comfort and college education before someone feels they can confidently reject the abundant food they've always been able to take for granted as inferior and unhealthy.

Oh, wow--that's a whole lotta tl;dr, isn't it? Okay, I'll stop now.

Fd70d71f4f8195c3a098eda4fc817d4f

(8014)

on June 27, 2012
at 02:21 AM

Holy cow, More Butter Please. (No pun intended, hehheh.) *Fantastic* answer!

5e63e3fa78e998736106a4a5b9aef58c

on June 27, 2012
at 12:52 AM

@Diane: I've known dirt hippies who did the same thing. They weren't poor; just cheap. And they weren't exactly thriving; I've never seen such runny-nosed children in all my life.

F9638b939a6f85d67f60065677193cad

(4266)

on June 26, 2012
at 11:14 PM

Some poor people have been known to buy bags of soy beans at the feed store and make their own tofu and tempeh and eat it with bags of grains also purchased at the feed store.

Fd70d71f4f8195c3a098eda4fc817d4f

(8014)

on June 27, 2012
at 02:26 AM

My friend the former Peace Corps volunteer now works for them, doing recruiting. She's told me stories of having to reject people because they absolutely *would not compromise* their vegan or vegetarian beliefs. She would explain to them that in some of these countries, the people they'll stay with are truly dirt poor, and any offer of food they make you is their way of treating you like royalty, and you damn well better be gracious and EAT IT. People struggling to survive simply cannot make sense of an American turning her nose up at homemade food prepared with love - *especially* meat!

8e10b687e328468783a72c55b64710e8

(1453)

on June 26, 2012
at 10:57 PM

You are absolutely right. This is what I pictured too, and I often feel guilty for eating paleo. As if I am a douche for trying to be healthy. As if I am just a picky pain in the butt for having gluten intolerance. I have no car, but I hitch rides to the grocery store.

8e10b687e328468783a72c55b64710e8

(1453)

on June 27, 2012
at 04:52 PM

I also talk about food politics, Monsanto's monopoly, lobbying, and other things... if someone asks. But others often think I am judging them for eating "normally", and buying Monsanto stuff, when I really don't. I know we're all trying to do our best and what we can afford, that's why I don't judge. I even applaud vegans, the ones who do it for themselves I mean

5e63e3fa78e998736106a4a5b9aef58c

on June 27, 2012
at 12:34 AM

@Paleomofo: I don't feel guilt for things I can't fix--be it societal problems or the contrary demands of my own body. It solves nothing, so I reserve guilt for when I actually do something that warrants it. That said, I'll keep eating paleo. And I'll also keep talking about food, farm subsidies, GMOs, why people get sick and fat, and why poor people so often end up eating the worst crap (when often they'd really rather not) to anyone who cares to listen. That's honestly the best I can do, as far as I can tell.

78fcdeee6ac4ee7d071bbac56b9e359f

(1035)

on June 27, 2012
at 04:20 AM

Yes, great answer, wish I could give you more ups for acknowledging privilege!

7
Eedf46c82d0356d1d46dda5f9782ef36

(4464)

on June 26, 2012
at 12:42 PM

Two thoughts:

  1. I'm not sure how the way I choose to eat and live has anything to do with anyone else's race, social or economic status. Paleo, for me, has been a personal journey, not a social-economic one.

  2. By this logic wouldn't traditional Mexican food also be elitist and racially exclusive because it's mostly consumed by Mexicans?

D19fa7b7fc8b5430c7d62447ed155fd7

(35)

on June 26, 2012
at 02:26 PM

Thanks for clarifying, Paleomofo. I'm not rich either, and I get the whole judgement thing (even from my own family). You asked a fair question that gets to the heart of how we communicate the paleo lifestyle (not on the offensive, but in response to others' questions/interest/judgement).

D19fa7b7fc8b5430c7d62447ed155fd7

(35)

on June 26, 2012
at 01:22 PM

Aaron, I agree that others' race/status does not affect me. I also think Paleomofo's premise is that "only whites eat Paleo" = "Paleo is elitist and racially exclusive", which should be challenged. If anything, socio-economic status (which happens to be correlated with race - not because of skin color but because of history/culture/geography) provides a context within which someone is informed about and chooses his/her diet. So a low-income, uneducated individual may not be aware of healthy choices or have access to good food. Race happens to be correlated with socio-economic status.

8e10b687e328468783a72c55b64710e8

(1453)

on June 26, 2012
at 02:41 PM

TraneTrax, I personally did have a problem with how people responded to my question, and I felt a lot of apathy due to class differences. For example, I wasn't able to afford a dental check up right away (and I explained that in my question), but my question was locked with a "go to a dentist" within a day. It did change how I see this place.

8e10b687e328468783a72c55b64710e8

(1453)

on June 26, 2012
at 02:37 PM

Whenever I explain to people that I have to watch what I eat, they probably picture the typical "diet" things, such as $7 loaf of gluten free bread, $10 vegan kelp noodles, $50 worth of Lean Cuisine, all that jazz. I know because they scrunch up their noses and go, "I am too poor to eat like that"... even though I NEVER asked them to change THEIR diets, and I can make cheap stuff from scratch. My problem is more about dealing with the judgement and bs I get from other people, and the general out-of-placedness I get from the paleo community.

F0e558010a2ecb31fa37b7c491596b8e

(3850)

on June 26, 2012
at 04:04 PM

[Meaning in that case, I wouldn't take it personally]

8e10b687e328468783a72c55b64710e8

(1453)

on June 26, 2012
at 02:05 PM

TraneTrax, my point is, since "paleo" (by label not practice) seem to be majority white thing, and also mostly by middle-upper class, people are likely to brush it off as another elitist fad on the same level as veganism. Sure, there are poor vegans and non-white vegans, but you can't deny that most of them are at least middle class, and veganism gets attacked for that. I am not a rich white person, and I am sick of being scrutinized whenever I choose a shabu shabu over a Kroger hamburger, or raw mushrooms at a party over pork cooked in vegetable oil and flour.

8e10b687e328468783a72c55b64710e8

(1453)

on June 26, 2012
at 09:33 PM

I see, thank you Kelly

F0e558010a2ecb31fa37b7c491596b8e

(3850)

on June 26, 2012
at 04:03 PM

I tend to think a lot of people are "close" happy on this site and the threshold is too low, but aside from that there is a lot of concern about the whole "offering unqualified medial advice" issue, and when there seems to be a serious or immediate medical issue, people tend to vote to close so as not to run afoul of it.

4
F9638b939a6f85d67f60065677193cad

(4266)

on June 26, 2012
at 04:17 PM

Having dietary choice is associated with economic privilege. Economic privilege in the US is associated with being white and also with being educated and middle class and above.

Associating your diet with identity politics is a white thing. Identity politics in general is associated with economic privilege and whites generally don't do identity politics with their race so they do it with other things like their diets or their music or other things.

Except for the deep south and maybe Thanksgiving dinner, there really isn't a strong, cohesive American traditional cuisine. The more acculturated we Americans get, the more tendency we have toward pining for some long lost tradition. Paleo might fill that need for some people.

6426d61a13689f8f651164b10f121d64

(11478)

on June 26, 2012
at 05:19 PM

"Identity politics in general is associated with economic privilege"--hogwash. Identity politics is generally associated with rent-seeking.

F9638b939a6f85d67f60065677193cad

(4266)

on June 26, 2012
at 11:10 PM

Our food culture is not very cohesive. There are regional differences in the US as well as ethnic ones. I cross cultures food-wise all the time. I like authentic Mexican, Indian and Japanese food and I have not knowingly ever had the cuisine of my ethnicity: Swedish or Finnish. I suppose steamed chicken, a dry baked potato, canned green beans and a glass of milk might be considered American cuisine, but I certainly wouldn't want to claim it with any pride. I'd rather claim Paleo as my birthright.

8e10b687e328468783a72c55b64710e8

(1453)

on June 26, 2012
at 09:26 PM

America has its own cuisine, its own culture, and white people as a group have Europe to count. Unless you buy into the "white people have no culture" hogwash.

8e10b687e328468783a72c55b64710e8

(1453)

on June 27, 2012
at 05:03 PM

Our food culture isn't cohesive because we are a multicultural society, that's a good thing. What about non-white people, do they not go around trying other people's foods too? I have Korean friends who like Chinese food, and I am not Indian but I make a lot of Indian dishes. What I consider American: grills, variety of steaks drizzled in BBQ, burgers, hot dogs, sandwiches, fried chicken, clam chowder... and others. Sure, a lot of things aren't original, but no country is. Everyone took from everyone else and made their own style. AMERICAN PRIDE

F9638b939a6f85d67f60065677193cad

(4266)

on June 28, 2012
at 02:21 PM

It seems you are taking everything I say as some kind of anti-white person thing or anti-American thing. The fact is, people leave their traditions behind in America eventually and the longer they are here the less they know of them, the more diluted and mixed they get with the dominant culture. There is nothing wrong with that; it is what makes America wonderful. But it leaves some people wishing for an ancient tradition to claim. That those people tend to be white has a lot to do with the historic patterns of immigration.

4
Fd70d71f4f8195c3a098eda4fc817d4f

(8014)

on June 26, 2012
at 04:01 PM

I'll add another answer, since it's mostly unrelated to my first one:

Let's not forget the issue of "food deserts." There are poorer (and generally more dangerous) sections of urban areas where literally the only place to buy food is 7-11. Nicer supermarkets won't dare open stores there, and people often have to rely on public transportation to get around. If you're talking about single parents trying to hold down a job and raise the kids, they are not gonna make it to the farmer's market.

I dunno. It does seem that people sticking to their culturally/ethnically traditional foods might not be "Paleo" per se (rice, corn, beans, etc), but they are definitely ancestral, which might be a better guide for people's individual health anyway. Is your genetic heritage from Polynesia? Then you probably don't do so well with cow and sheep dairy. Are you of Scandinavian descent? You might want to stay away from mangoes and pineapples. Know what I mean?

The thing is, most of us are "mutts" at this point. Our ancestors have intermingled so much that unless we know for sure what our bloodline is like, we're all mixed to some degree. Even more so if you know that your mother's from Nigeria, say, and your father's from Scotland.

The more I learn about nutrition and health -- and EPIGENETICS, the more I believe that ancestry should guide our individual food choices rather than what our hominid ancestors may or may not have eaten. There really is credibility to different groups being better suited to different diets based on their genetic heritage. I think this is why Dr. Price saw such wide variability in the specific foods different groups were eating yet they ALL were robust and free from mental degeneration and our "diseases of civilization." Some ate dairy, some ate grains, some ate high fat, some ate high fruit. All were WELL.

The one thing we can agree on for sure is that regardless of genetics, there are brand spankin' new manmade "foods" that NO ONE, no matter where they come from, is suited to eat. (HFCS, GMO soy oil, aspartame, etc.)

8e10b687e328468783a72c55b64710e8

(1453)

on June 26, 2012
at 09:30 PM

Exactly, this is what I am saying. Ancestral is still pretty paleo in my book. I am not mixed with Mexican at all, but I still thrive on Mexican food. I also can't tolerate cow milk, even raw milk, yet thrive well with goat, and turns out my ancestors drank a lot of goat milk.

F5f742cc9228eb5804114d0f3be4e587

(7660)

on June 26, 2012
at 10:28 PM

I think it's more about the microbiome in our guts than it is ancestry. The most prominent ancestries for me are Danish and Cherokee, but pineapples and mangoes don't seem to cause me any issues. Anecdotal, sure, but I think as research goes on, the combination of bugs in our intestinal tracts will dictate food tolerance and metabolism more than we ever thought possible.

Fd70d71f4f8195c3a098eda4fc817d4f

(8014)

on June 27, 2012
at 02:17 AM

@KarenP - I have to agree, at least partly. I'm not sure how much the gut flora determines which specific foods we tolerate well (but I agree that it plays a huge role in overall health and GI tract functioning). My ancestry is Eastern European, but you'll have to pry the coconut oil from my cold dead hands. So I think yeah, there are certainly foods people thrive on that fall outside their ancestral norm. Maybe it's just a good starting point - or a place to look when people are thinking about adding things back in - corn, dairy, beans, etc.

8e10b687e328468783a72c55b64710e8

(1453)

on June 27, 2012
at 05:05 PM

May not be paleo, more like WAPF style, but I eat anything that existed hundred years ago. Still, my diet is mostly fat and meat and rice.

3
A994080d499afca98cdc9de896701ebd

on June 26, 2012
at 04:30 PM

It's hilarious to read that vegans are upperclass over there.

Here in Europe (especially witnessed in Berlin), the perfect vegan is a student in philology/pedagogy, left-wing and definitely not elite or rich in any way.

Offal eating/traditional eating has never really died out here, but it's becoming more and more popular again. Restaurants were the first to pick it up and so the upperclass that frequents good restaurants is happily munching on calf's liver again.

2
F0e558010a2ecb31fa37b7c491596b8e

(3850)

on June 26, 2012
at 04:19 PM

Honestly, I think there is a bit of truth to this, in the sense that "eating paleo" is mostly something that really educated people seem to do. And demographically it does skew to education = income = more white.

But at the same time, growing up in a relatively educated but not wealthy environment, I think it also has to do with the fact as white 4th generation American lower-middle-class mutts, our diets growing up were the worst of the worst. We had zero traditional/ethnic foods, and everything was the cheap convenient food from a box/can/mix (frozen vegetables if we were lucky). So someone who at least has a tradiditional food background can fall back to eating that way without considering it a "paleo" diet. For us it's a complete rejection of how we were raised to eat, and how our parents and grandparents still eat. And it's very difficult to explain to them and our peers, without giving it some sort of label, because they have no context for it. And also why we have to hang out on message boards like this one, because we're trying to learn more about how to fix our resulting health problems.

8e10b687e328468783a72c55b64710e8

(1453)

on June 26, 2012
at 09:32 PM

Same with me. With my ethnic group, our traditional foods are paleo acceptable, but they would ridicule me if they found out that I was "eating like a caveman".

1
D979c5c48086fccb8d7bbacc44a59722

(8)

on June 27, 2012
at 02:46 PM

Let's recall race theory was discredited when biologists showed all humans have the same genes [just to mention that really race is not a good word --- because of its connotation --- even though widely and regrettably employed in colloquial american]

8e10b687e328468783a72c55b64710e8

(1453)

on June 27, 2012
at 05:07 PM

Race exists. We have similar genes and two Chinese people may be as genetically different as comparing them to a German, but ancestry still counts (especially if you're not mixed).

Bb3d1772b28c02da2426e40dfcb533f5

(5381)

on August 23, 2012
at 02:05 AM

I find it insteresting that cultural and genetic skin colour are used interchangably, in the terms "ethnicity" and "race". I would have thought that cultural practice and beleif was more important than skin colour, but unfortunately often these practices are genetically exclusive.

Bb3d1772b28c02da2426e40dfcb533f5

(5381)

on August 23, 2012
at 02:08 AM

I find it insteresting that cultural practice and genetic skin colour are used interchangably, in the terms "ethnicity" and "race". I would have thought that cultural practice and beleif was more important than skin colour, and worth preserving regardless of the genetics of its participants, but unfortunately often these practices are genetically exclusive.

1
7cf9f5b08a41ecf2a2d2bc0b31ea6fa0

on June 26, 2012
at 01:25 PM

Is it a socioeconomic issue, in that black people tend to be poorer and so perhaps less concerned with quality of food?

0
77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on August 23, 2012
at 07:35 AM

spam spam spam spam spam spam spam spam spam

0
3b8c1cd0aa9526c41376cf0bb8bb97a7

(156)

on June 26, 2012
at 04:19 PM

Veganism is an for ignorant skinny-fat people

F5f742cc9228eb5804114d0f3be4e587

(7660)

on June 26, 2012
at 10:26 PM

Also? Non sequitor.

8e10b687e328468783a72c55b64710e8

(1453)

on June 26, 2012
at 09:33 PM

Don't attack veganism, we're all trying to find what is best for us.

-1
77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on August 23, 2012
at 01:53 AM

spam spam spam spam spam spam spam

-1
77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on August 23, 2012
at 01:50 AM

spam spam spam spam spam spam

-1
77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on August 23, 2012
at 01:48 AM

[spam spam and more spam deleted]

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