I typically hate drawing attention to people who are looking for it and don’t deserve it but in this case it’s too good an opportunity to kick off something I have been meaning to do for a while.
AiPS (Absurdities in Plain Sight) is my shortcut/acronym for pointing out things that are just patently ridiculous yet somehow managed to make it into “print” anyway. While I generally am against ridicule of any kind these AiPS scream out for abuse. They completely lack reason and are often ill intentioned in their effort to promote a personal agenda rather than to educate the public.
An example is this post at Food Safety News. The title, “Don’t Eat Like a Caveman” is intentionally provocative but that’s not really the issue. The issue is that author is offering up unsubstantiated opinions as if they are fact in the manner of a carnival barker.
A final problem with the Paleo Diet is that it promotes a high protein, low carbohydrate intake ratio, which puts stress on the body. High protein, low carbohydrate diets have been linked to high cholesterol, heart disease, cancer and kidney damage.
Really? Does it? Interesting, would love to read more about that, however, not a single reference is provided. Forget about a footnote, not even a “according to so and so x causes y.” One of my favorite things about the uninformed knocking the paleo diet is that they fail to notice the nuances, they also fail to notice that vegetables and fruits are a healthy, nutrient dense, source of carbs.
More importantly, I take issue with the following:
Another problem with the Paleo Diet is that it’s not environmentally sustainable if adopted on a mass scale — not to mention expensive (grass-fed, pasture-raised meats that the Paleo Diet encourages are more expensive and less available than conventional meats). Ninety-nine percent of farmed animals bred, raised and slaughtered for human consumption in the U.S. don’t roam on grassy fields, but are confined in factory farms – -a far cry from the animals that our ancient ancestors hunted and consumed. Animal agriculture is also considered the greatest contributor to global warming — producing more greenhouse gases than all forms of transportation combined.
Holy crud! Is she really criticizing Paleo for promoting the consumption of healthy, environmentally friendly, meat production and consumption because not enough of it is available? Even crazier, she is trying to subtly paint Paleo as a contributor to global warming and factory farming while acknowledging in the prior sentence that Paleo promotes the consumption of non-factory farmed meats (hence its limited availability). This whole paragraph stinks of the kind of petty manipulation that a well educated eight grader should be able to spot.
Moving on she writes:
Based on the evidence available today, it’s smart to stand by a plant-based diet. Consuming more whole, plant-based foods benefits everyone’s health. The phytochemicals, antioxidants, fiber, vitamins and minerals that are abundantly present in plants are essential components of a long-term healthy diet. A whole foods, plant-based diet includes liberal quantities of vegetables, fruit and legumes, hearty amounts of whole grains, nuts and seeds, and sparing amounts of dairy, eggs, seafood, meat and refined sugar.
Ok, sounds good, I’m pretty sure I saw the word evidence above. As in research, the kind you can read, evaluate etc, getting to the end of the article and still looking for a single reference. Interestingly, not a single mention on the authors part to the quality of the food that should consumed other than the earlier blatantly manipulative knock at Paleo.
Lastly, and quite humorously, the author is not a doctor, or nutritional expert of any sort. She is a psychologist, who likely knows better than to make extensive claims in a “public interest” article without providing useful and substantiated references. What is worth mentioning though is that Loren Cordain‘s writings provide extensive references to source materials.
In terms of Paleo, it is unfortunately subject to tremendous amounts of misunderstanding. For a modern day approach I suggest reading Kurt Harris’s post on Paleo eating. He is a physician and has some fantastic practical thoughts on eating safely in a continually changing and challenging food environment.