Paleo 2.0 – The Name

Paleo 2.0This is more of a comment for Kurt Harris’ blog, but I am still in two minds about what I am about to write, so I’d rather have the opportunity to edit it. The thing is – I am not too fond of the Paleo 2.0 name and I think we should eventually change it. But just to be clear: this is not the priority – the priority should be to get the content right first and foremost. And I am actually rather excited about the fact that this is happening right now!

The first intuitive reason why I was not too fond of it was that it is a bit like “Web 2.0” – but that catch-phrase had a pretty short shelf-life and so it feels a bit like flogging a dead horse when you want to have something forward looking. I sort of got used to it though, and now I think that P2.0 is as good as (actually, much better than ….) any of the other Paleo variation, say neo-Paleo, post-Paleo, or Paleo-The-Next-Generation.

The issue I am having now is actually more fundamental. Firstly – the Paleo choice of name is just really unfortunate if you want something to gain wide acceptance. I mean, lets face it, you tell the average person that you are eating (and living) “Paleo” they think you dont wash, maybe you grunt, you jump up and down like a monkey, and you are not sophisticated but primitive. Now Mark Sisson has done an amazing job with (a) moving Paleo to Primal which is slightly better, and (b) introducing Grok who – even though at first quite silly – is a real hero and admired by everyone who has read the Primal Blueprint.

The issue is of course that most people you meet in real life have not read PB. So when I am at dinner in polite company, I can talk to them why I eat Zone and why I target a certain macronutrient ratio, and supplement with fish-oil etc. I can not really tell them that I dont eat grain because Grok, my hero, does not eat grain. So the whole Paleo branding is really a non-starter in that you get off with a negative image, so you will have to lead an uphill struggle.

This is even worse for kids by the way – imagine a 8-12 year old boy whose parents eat Paleo and whose friends parents all eat conventional, food pyramid and stuff. He will already be the odd-one out for not agreeing with the teacher who is telling him that grains are the basis of what we eat, and we should eat little fat (my 4 year old daughter recently explained this to me, and I saw the food pyramid that they had lovingly put together at the wall of their school today) – disagreeing with this will not necessarily make him very popular either with the teachers or with his peers. But the worst is his argument: I eat that way because cavemen ate that way – I can literally see a whole class of boys jumping up and down in front of him pretending to be monkeys. Not fun, and not good for his development. So getting rid of this primitive / paleo / caveman image and replacing it with something more positive would certainly be helpful.

Paleo 2.0 Venn Diagram from PaNuThere is an additional – and more fundamental – point that I have just realised: Paleo 2.0 is not Paleo. Just look at the diagram: In Paleo 2.0 we are eating Neolithic foods – and I would think that if we would make the surface of the circles be proportional say the respective calorie intake then we could argue for a much bigger blue “neolithic” circle, especially if we put dairy, eggs, the good carbs, and maybe the new-world plants like potatoes and night shadows into it.

If I understand Kurt Harris correctly then the bona-fide Paleo (and our understanding of the hunter/gatherer) lifestyle is only one ingredient into the mix that he wants to call Paleo 2.0. Other ingredients are Neolithic foods, the adaptations that have allowed humans to process those, and last but not least modern science. Calling all of this Paleo is a bit of a misnomer.

Alright, that was the easy part – criticizing someone else’s ideas…. Unfortunately I have to admit that I dont have any better one’s for the time being (I do like “Primal Blueprint” by the way, because Mark has made a big step into making Paleo more acceptable in polite company, but of course this one is taken).

I still stand to what I have said in my previous post – Paleo 2.0 is a great working title for the next iteration, but I do really hope that we can rally behind a more socially acceptable name, for a similar reason why I believe that the future of barefoot shoes outside a very specific market is not the VFF’s but rather the Merrell’s (which of course have Vibram soles) even though they might be slightly less barefoot.

2 thoughts on “Paleo 2.0 – The Name

  1. Aw! You beat me to it! I agree wholeheartedly with all of this.

    The crux of Harris’s argument seemed to me to be one of mostly marketing/branding. But from my perspective, all these schisms are artificial, meaning we’re all more alike than we are different. Do we really need to fracture this down such hard-and-fast lines?

    Our diet’s name has to be easy and descriptive, as you mentioned. But what I don’t understand is why we can’t keep “Paleo” and just evolve within it as we learn more. I agree that Mark’s PB is essentially what Harris is getting at, but yeah, no one knows what I’m talking about if I say “Primal,” even though that is a more accurate descriptor of my diet.

    It’ll be interesting to see where this all goes. 🙂

  2. I guess that Kurt and Mark are pretty well aligned. It seems that the more traditional Paleo’ists – eg Cordain – do run a substantially different line in particular with respect to saturated (animal) fats. I guess this is a big difference…

    As for the name – Paleo obviously works well within the community but I really feel that it makes it more an uphill battle than it needs to be when you talk to the non-initiated….

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