What do I call this diet again?

On March 30, Kurt Harris launched his Paleo 2.0 dietary salvo on the Paleo community. From my understanding of it, he declares his separation from the hard-line Paleo diet, having determined that his perspective differs enough to merit its own movement. Perhaps you’ve sensed by my tone that I’m a bit skeptical.

Disclaimer: I have an MFA in Creative Writing—Poetry. I spent over 7 years studying the English language to the point that I quit writing all together for awhile. I began to understand how truly flawed language is and how sticky of a medium it is between people. But in the end, I came to the sad realization that it’s all we have.

Why do I mention this? Because Paleo 2.0 strikes me as a mostly semantic argument:

  • The total number of people who identify as eating a Paleo/Primal/Archevore-inspired diet is very small. We’re going to divide this already small group into smaller factions? Really? The fact is that we’re more alike than we are different. I see this schism as being potentially harmful by dividing—and thus causing duplication of—efforts. Also causes problems when trying to recruit newbies to the cause. It’s like asking what separates Lutherans from Episcopalians from Presbyterians? In the grand scheme of things…not much. Is the umbrella really not big enough for all of us? Can’t we disagree and still belong to the same overarching idea? This is going to cause some serious confusion. And where does this leave Mark Sisson with his Primal Blueprint? His style of eating was basically Archevore before there was Archevore. Are we going to continue going around and around about this? And I’ve already been saying Paleo/Primal on the blog. Do I now have to say Paleo/Primal/Paleo 2.0/Archevore?
  • Yes, the name “Paleo” conjures up all sorts of silly things. Yes, we all get made fun of by Uncle Bob at Thanksgiving, “Hey, where’s your loincloth?” Ha ha. But it’s what we’ve got. In choosing the title for my blog (admittedly not the sexiest), I knew I wanted Paleo in the title for search engines, even though I personally disagree with Cordain et al about several things, mostly the lean vs. fatty meats issue and salt intake. I eat Primal, but nobody knows what that is, but they have heard of Paleo. Do we really think that we’re going to be able to turn that bus around? It’s the most recognized term for this WOE.

That being said, I thoroughly understand Harris’s rationale. I completely agree with Archevorism (see here for the run-down). But the funny thing is, this is the way I’ve been eating. I’ve been an Archevore all this time and didn’t know it! (Maybe with more pork and chicken in my diet…) So do I now have to identify myself as an Archevore? And who out in the land of the SAD is going to know what I’m talking about? Maybe as time goes on, this will catch on and this will all seem quaint. People dislike change and sometimes all we have to do is wait and acclimate. Kinda like how on Facebook, every time there’s a format change, everyone’s status update for days is about how they all hate the new format, and then everyone gets over it and continues to use it anyway.

Here’s what I agree with:

  • All the dietary suggestions.
  • Rather than having a title that looks backwards (Paleo), it would be useful to have a title that honors the fact that we embrace our traditional dietary wisdom, eschew the current popular dietary recommendations, and use modern research to help guide our decisions as we go forward. Alright, fine. But I’m still going to wait to see if Archevore sticks.
  • I’m tired of the orthorexics too. But we can’t control their party-crashing and should do our best not to let their orthorexicity taint our efforts.
  • Macronutrient tracking is not my cup of tea either. When people start discussing things in terms of macronutrients, I worry that they’re committing the same sins of CW in thinking we know more than we do. This stuff is still being worked out and is easy to study in a petri dish or mouse, but not so much in a person. Another fundamental flaw in tracking is believing that it gets you closer to perfection or to the “right” diet (see orthorexia above). But people are different, and if they want to get all technical about it, then more power to them.

I’ve also seen Just Eat Real Food (JERF) floating around as a result of Sean Croxton’s recent blog post at Underground Wellness. Which is nice and succinct, but doesn’t help with the confusion that many Westerners have about what constitutes real food.

So now what?

I guess I declare my stance. How about: Taubesian post-Primal Archevore?


6 Responses to “What do I call this diet again?”

  1. Sounds like a perfect name for a diet. It’ll probably take me a few days to learn how to spell it though! Nice post!

  2. Great article. I’m glad I’m not the only one that feels there is no real need for a new name. Of course I’m an introvert too and I like to keep things simple. I named my blog Primal Bodhi because I’ve liked Mark Sission’s take on Paleo from the time I started investigating the subject.

    • Thanks! Yeah, I really appreciate Mark’s work. Even the name “Primal” sounds more intuitive, more body-based than the distant, removed, and mental “Paleo.” I kinda jumped in to this blog as soon as I realized we were going to stick with this, partly because I wanted to track the trajectory of my journey in real time and not through a rearview mirror. Maybe someday I’ll change my blog name too, just like Kurt.

  3. I dunno, I don’t see any issue with the distinctions. (I, too, have a linguistic background and generally tend to overanalyze word choices, but I tend towards being wordy as opposed to laconic.. :) ) I suppose it’s because they do differ from each other.. he explains his new word choice in that “paleo” carries a bit of fanaticism with it.. I’ve definitely seen this in the community, just normally tend to filter it out automatically. The only thing I can say regarding Archevore is that there is no corresponding forum or other means of mass communication (he’s turned off commenting in his blog entries also..) so I can’t really see a reason for a separate name in THAT aspect.. But, for me, when I’m searching Google for a particular answer/viewpoint (let’s say iodine supps), I’ll put in “paleo iodine supplementation” or “primal iodine supplementation” or “eades iodine supplementation” or whatever to find what …

  4. …that specific source thinks about iodine supplementation. If Archevore had a forum or comments or question/answer, this would be a great reason to distinguish between slightly varying diet philosophies, but they don’t.. so I can’t see a good reason for it, but it definitely doesn’t bother me.

    He does also explain that he doesn’t take the “old is good, new is bad, let’s do what we think cavemen did on principle” stance so much as the one he outlines, which differs a bit from what I see on mannnnnnny paleo sites. So there’s that too.. Eh. Who knows. I like his site though, would be sweet if he posted on it more often!

    ((Just as a note, your “leave a reply” thing starts jumping around when a comment goes past its window, so I put two comments to avoid that..))

    • Wow, thanks for such a thoughtful reply!

      Yeah, I dunno where Kurt has gone. He’s dropped off the radar. And I understand his rationale, I’m just still not sure it necessitates such drastic measures.

      Hmm…not sure what’s going on with the comment field. Sorry about that! I noticed that WordPress recently changed it. I don’t have any control over it directly, but will send them a note about it. If you have a chance, let me know what browser you’re using. Thanks!

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