Recently by Allan Stevo: Why We Shouldn't Want the Media'sHelp
There seems to be a new trend in the libertarian movement — "going paleo" is how it is commonly referenced. Usually it means cutting out the sugars and grains in accordance with what researchers believe was the human diet for most of our history. These are foods, with which, according to the theory, the human body is therefore more comfortable. This diet takes on many forms, but as far as I can tell they all talk about reducing the amount of heavily processed carbohydrates and fats in the diet and in other ways seeking to eat foods that are more natural. There are several factors that have come together that has made this a popular diet among libertarians I've met.
There’s a segment of society that is contrarian by nature. They will automatically challenge everything that they are told is received wisdom. These are people who almost always swim against the stream and tend to feel more comfortable in the role of opposition. Libertarians tend to be composed disproportionately of these people.
Taking that into consideration, it would only make sense that the medical establishment would say “You must eat a diet low in fats, especially saturated fats” and many libertarians would respond resoundingly “No!” Instead of simply denouncing all health advice, going paleo offers another structured path, while diverging from the government pronouncements on diet and nutrition.
There's an anti-state/anti-government trend in libertarianism that doesn't just advocate for smaller government, but totally rejects the legitimacy of government. Accordingly, it totally rejects the legitimacy of anything the government has to say about health.
Realizing the prevalence of special interests in seeking special favor and status from government, libertarians tend to reject advice of government because it is typically not the impartial advice that we are often told it to be, but is rather very biased advice that comes from whoever the highest bidder is or from lobbyists who have some other type of non-financial influence. Lobbyists get government to take controversial opinions and declare those opinions unquestionable truth.
Taking into account these tendencies to let lobbyists create policy, it’s no wonder libertarians tend to challenge government-praised "improvements" in life rather than blindly accepting them. Vaccines, fluoridated drinking water, the carbohydrate-heavy food pyramid, or amalgam fillings are just a few aspects of conventional wisdom that many libertarians have yet to be convinced of.
While some may feel that libertarians tend to be too critical of government, even sometimes erring on the side of caution by blaming government even for problems with which government has nothing to do, libertarians tend to be incredibly astute observers of when government has failed in its duty to the governed. This duty of government doing good by people (beyond bare bones protections on life, liberty, and property) is a widely perceived notion that libertarians love to smash. Accordingly when three decades of the Department of Education correlates positively with three decades of lower test scores, something in the libertarian cringes (and probably rejoices a little too!) at the failure of government.
When the lobbyist-created and government-praised food pyramid of healthy eating coincides with higher rates of obesity, libertarians are quick to take note of the correlation.
When the government is insisting that people follow a broken diet and other healthcare pronouncements, it should surprise no one when many, many libertarians are among the early pioneers to say "I want to try something else, because it's clear the government model is not working."
The purpose of running a campaign is to win office. That, I believe, has been and remains the goal of Ron Paul 2012. Many added benefits come about from an independent thinker like Ron Paul running nationally. One of those benefits is that the proverbial pot gets stirred.
During a vigorous national campaign like the one Ron Paul is running, libertarians and libertarian-leaning folks from all over the country end up meeting each other and talking. Those who would never have talked to each other under any other circumstances suddenly find themselves having an engaging discussion that goes far beyond the usual formalities that often take place when two strangers meet and exchange a few words for the first time. Social circles change and expand, Facebook friend lists grow, the informal non-media channels that libertarians use to pass along information develop and are strengthened.
Because of Ron Paul 2012 some ten or twenty thousand libertarians met people for the first time who looked at the free campaign pizza being offered to them and refused to eat it because they were paleo. Hear that enough and you start asking questions about this lifestyle and maybe even start trying this paleo thing out for yourself. There’s no way to quantify how effective Ron Paul 2012 was in stirring the pot of ideas among libertarians. One small, symbolic example is its impact on diet. There are dozens of other impacts in dialogue that came about.
While popular lore speaks of Lew Rockwell as a vegetarian, his website encourages a specific form of the paleo diet – Mark Sisson’s Primal Diet, which seems to be the ultimate bloody meat eater's guilt free diet. As long as you keep it within some set parameters of the meats being relatively well-raised, there’s not much you should shy away from in this diet – loads of fat, including a super high daily intake of saturated fats if you'd like that, and heck eating fresh lard, fresh butter, lots of fresh meats is all encouraged — even eating offal is encouraged if that's your scene. None of that is a problem.
At the same time energy levels rise and the pounds fall away, blood pressure and bad cholesterol drop, and common illnesses become less of a problem, sometimes even entirely disappearing – as is often pointed out on Fridays at Sisson’s website Mark's Daily Apple. This is all despite eating some of the things we’ve been told are bad for us — which is, again, lots and lots of red meat, saturated fats, and overall increased dietary fats. Sisson goes much further and presents an overall plan for wellness that he crafts out of his theories about how Grok the fictional everyman of cavemen may have lived.
Rockwell also regularly features work by the contrarian and well-read Dr. Joseph Mercola. Taken together Mercola and Sisson form a paleo tour de force, but my guess is that neither one of them knows the other, making the harmony and occasional discordance of their views even more enjoyable to observe, especially since one is a practicing doctor and the other is simply well-read and in great physical condition.
Mercola probably wouldn’t call himself something catchy and trendy like “paleo,” but he and Sisson share a lot of the same values – meat can be good, eat natural whole foods, stay away from sugar, stay away from Frankenstein oils and foods, and go easy on the carbs. Their ideas have much overlap.
As Ron Paul’s campaign progresses, I’m hearing the same thing said more and more “look at all the weight you lost” or “what happened to you, did you go paleo or something?” Decades ago doctors knew that high fat, high protein, low carb diets could drastically reduce weight and heal many ailments. It was once a standard treatment for epilepsy. Today with natural food becoming increasingly easier to come by in all corners of the U.S. that diet is starting to feel a whole lot healthier and intuitive. If canned spinach were all you could get 9 months out of the year, a diet high in vegetables wouldn’t sound all that appetizing to you. However, lots of affordable, fresh, high quality produce and meats are increasingly becoming the norm year round all over the U.S.
Interestingly, libertarians have come upon this method of eating that seems foolproof and nutritious to many people who try it. It's an equation that proves consistent and enjoyable results for anyone disciplined enough to make the change. This seems so much to be the case that I wonder if we are looking at the end of the fat libertarian. The only question remains therefore – is there enough discipline in the individual to follow a diet of this nature? Perhaps this offers some enterprising young Austrian an opportunity for a real-world study of rational behavior in humans.
As the rest of society seems to increasingly lose grips of what is taking place around them, I increasingly see libertarians preparing themselves and becoming increasingly well-positioned in society. I've seen this happening as members of the liberty movement grow more nicely groomed, well dressed, and poised, slender and fit, politically active, likely to use the Internet to learn, courageous enough to take risks, skilled at marksmanship, positioned to be in good condition no matter how strong or weak fiat currencies are, well-travelled and knowledgeable about the world. When I hear about the popularity of the primal diet and many others success-generating trends among libertarians, I recognize that what was once a movement largely populated by social misfits is becoming a training ground for success in life.
Allan Stevo [send him mail] is a writer who remains on the campaign trail for Ron Paul, because he recognizes the importance of that support. He is the author of How to Win America for Ron Paul and the Cause of Freedom in 2012.