Friday, August 5, 2011

How Far Has Paleo Come?

I have been following the paleo/primal/stoneage/evolutionary/caveman/traditional/ancestral nutrition scene for almost 5 years now.  It has definitely grown.  But how big is it?  Is it mainstream?  If you surveyed 100 people off the street, how many would know what the paleo diet is?  Most everyone knows what the Atkins diet is.  Could they explain the difference between that and paleo?  Someone near a busy sidewalk, please do that survey.

How Much Bigger Will It Get?
The magic Google fairies send me an email whenever a new paleo article shows up on the World Wide Web.  Within the last 6 months or so, I have seen a big uptick in media articles done on the paleo diet.  I would say about half of the writers are open minded enough to realize the opposite of conventional wisdom may be what people need to be healthy.    I suspect the uptick in attention is because of a few successful paleo book releases recently and some celebrities espousing the merits of paleo.  Oh yeah, there was also a US News review of paleo that got a lot of attention.  Either way, the little snowball I saw as just a few flakes of snow 5 years ago is rolling faster and getting bigger everyday.  But I will ask again, how big is it?

Today begins the first ever Ancestral Health Symposium.  It is basically a gathering of Who's Who in the paleo world.  It would have been pretty cool to get together with this group of pioneers I have observed and gotten to know only through a computer screen.  Being the inaugural event, space was limited.  I hope this was just a dry run for future events that will be much bigger and draw a wider audience.  This first event is basically preaching to the choir.

Being that it is relatively small, it still got a lot of talk in the paleo sphere of influence.  What I am curious about is whether this event will get any media attention?  Sure it is not big but it is revolutionary.  So many people getting together to espouse a lot of ideas so counter to the mainstream.  Avoiding "healthy" whole grains, eating fat, standing up at work, not wearing shoes, not running miles on a treadmill, buying food direct from farmers, spending time in the sun, and not relying on medications.  All this seems so whacky to many that it is hard for them to believe that more than one person would live this way.  The media should be all over this freak show, right?  

Only time will tell.  I am curious to see what comes of this conference.  Will these experts toil in anonymity or will the rest of the world take notice and take them seriously?



MAS said...

I always say Follow the Money. For Paleo to go mainstream, there needs to be a financial incentives. The sad thing is Paleo is not a high profit margin diet like Weight Watchers or Jenny Craig. It is more about empowerment. That means less of a profit motive. So the results will need to speak for themselves.

Chuck said...

you are probably right. paleo doesn't haven't the financial potential of the diets you mentioned. it also doesn't have the moral and/or ethical undertones of the vegetarian/vegan diet. They are going to have to get some backing from the medical community like the mediterranean diet did. I feel like that is happening.

Be said...

I agree with MAS. Nobody advertises local food, unprocessed food, wellness health, etc. etc. The other thing that worried me about the symposium is that the schedule seemed absolutely frantic! To ask all these great speakers to limit themselves to such short sessions seems a waste. I would probably be in the bar half way through the day - having been overwhelmed. Of course, it might have been worth going just to sit in the bar with these folks. I too will be curious, but doubt it will get mainstream attention.