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“I see two streams of thought that nicely connected libertarian philosophy and the paleo lifestyle,” says Michael Ostrolenk, a policy advisor with the Ancestral Health Society (a co-sponsor of the Harvard conference) and senior coach with SEALFIT’s Unbeatable Mind Academy, in remarks that echo Brito’s.
“The first being the generally anti-authoritarian and post-conventional streak in the paleo movement,” says Ostrolenk. “That lines up very nicely with my understanding of libertarian thought in the U.S. Both paleo as a lifestyle and libertarianism as a world view mostly reject the corporate/state view of how people should think and live their lives."
“Secondarily, as post-conventional thinkers, paleo folks do not tend to throw out the baby with the bath water but attempt to integrate ancient wisdom and modern science,” he says. “I find the same attempted integration in many of my libertarian leaning friends.”
It would be a grave mistake to argue that only libertarians or those who practice (or might otherwise practice) a paleo diet are uniquely harmed by incompetent and biased federal dietary policies. Another group that in many ways couldn’t be more different than the meat-first paleos—vegans—sees some of the same problems with federal policies.
“By giving billions in subsidies to artificially decrease the cost of producing meat, eggs, and dairy, the federal government helps promote the false impression that plant products are somehow more expensive than animal products,” says Paul Shapiro, vice president of Farm Animal Protection with the Humane Society of the United States. “In much of the world, the opposite [is] the case: regular meat-eating is reserved for the wealthy.”
He’s right. But so are Ostrolenk, Brito, and Taubes.
It’s nearly impossible to implement federal policy that squares the diets of those practicing a vegan diet with those practicing a paleo one (and vice versa). So which one should the government favor? Neither, of course. Not only does the government have no role to play in making decisions about what we should eat, but the government has proven to be an abominable decisionmaker when it comes to influencing dietary choices. Individuals and families are much more capable of making such choices on their own.
Like me, one need not have adopted a paleo diet to think the government's dietary policies and priorities are out of whack. That’s not a paleo principle. And it’s not a vegan one—nor a notion unique to kosher, halal, lacto-ovo-vegetarian, raw, macrobiotic, Atkins, Pritikin, or South Beach dieters, either. No, it's just common sense that's free and available to all by the spoonful.
Baylen J. Linnekin, a lawyer, is executive director of Keep Food Legal, a Washington, D.C. nonprofit that advocates in favor of food freedom—the right to grow, raise, produce, buy, sell, share, cook, eat, and drink the foods of our own choosing.