The paleo diet first came to my attention in the Tweet of Geoffrey Miller, the professor who says fat people are too lazy and fat to earn PhDs. I quickly found myself in an online pro paleo forum in which, as in many online mosh pits, young women (no old ones except me ventured where angels feared to tread) were being stomped, regularly, as the paleo diet was clearly the perquisite of digital oligarch males.
The cherry on that narrative arc was the controversy over a recent Craigslist want ad by San Francisco toolies for a paleo chef/slave/office serf.
I’ve always had lots of problems with it, aside from the fact it seems to be the new men’s rights movement diet. In the blue zones, where people today live to be 100 years old as a matter of course, meat is the one significant thing absent from their very diverse diets. Legumes, dairy or grains sustain the centenarians in Okinawa, Sardinia, Loma Linda CA, Costa Rica and Ikaria with the Loma Lindans being vegetarians by religious scruple. Each obviously adds regional specialties to the diet — cloudy red wine rich with anti-oxidants, green tea, lime-slaked tortillas, tomatoes, oranges, olive oil — but meat is mostly off the menu for the oldest healthy people on the planet.
The second big reason is that the paleo diet is for rich people, and grass fed beef is unsustainable. This new piece on the rise of paleo in the New Yorker reminds us of what major food sustainability research has been saying for 20 years — beef is not sustainable. Something the healthy, but significantly not wealthy, centenarians have known for millenia.
“Pound for pound, beef production demands at least ten times as much water as wheat production, and, calorie for calorie, it demands almost twenty times as much energy. Livestock are major sources of greenhouse-gas emissions, not just because of the fuel it takes to raise them but also because they do things like belch out methane and produce lots of shit, which in turn produces lots of nitrous oxide.”
My observation is that Peter Pan guys who grew up eating Slim Jims and cereal for dinner have found something to do with their money. Paleo.
Here is the classic piece by Candace Bushnell, one of her original Sex and the City pieces, about the most profoundly unsexy men of all. The paleo boys.