Political Wednesday: Bread as Tool of Oppression

I’ve been kinda on the “Paleo” diet for a few months. “Kinda” because I still retain a sweet tooth that needs satisfying at least once a week. Despite what my wife says about my Type-A approach to life, in the diet area I definitely am an 80/20 guy. Every Friday night, and all day Saturday I let loose and eat whatever I want, including sweets, wheat-based foods, and beer.

Paleo is a simple, but still controversial approach to diet. Based on genetic research, which supposedly explains how hormonal responses to the government-approved grain-based “Mediterranean” diet cause all sorts of maladies including obesity, Paleo proponents  have cobbled together a very loose set of scientific justifications for returning to a basic, pre-civilized diet of animals and plants.

The movement began years ago with Robert Atkins, the new torch-bearer is Mark Sisson with his “Primal Blueprint” approach that advocates Paleo not as a weight loss device but as a perpetual lifestyle modeled after what he thinks a caveman would actually do – eat meat and plants, lift heavy things frequently, spring at least once a week, get a daily dose of sunshine, etc.

I’ve noticed with Sisson’s writings on the topic a distinct anti-establishment tone. Its natural – to go up against the government’s grain-centric Food Pyramid, buck conventional dietitians and “official” science requires the same chutzpah and idealism as found in a hard-core libertarian. My favorite libertarian/anarchist intellectual Lew Rockwell regularly features paleo-friendly journalists and dietitians on his website.

The reality of the grain-political-industrial complex hit home to me when reading through this random guy’s article on Lew’s site titled: The Anarchist’s Diet. This guy make an interesting point – agriculture and the settled society that it enabled during the so-called Neolithic Revolution had an unintended ill side-effect: government.

I remember my anthropology teacher in college attempting to brainwash me and the other students into believing that agriculture is what ruined man-kind. I had a natural resistance to this mind-set, since it was usually accompanied with environmental over-tones that insinuated man became a cancer on the planet with his farming, multiplying and crowding out the ferns and poor spotted newts with his dirty, Manifest Destiny-approach to civilization.

But there’s something to this idea that grain surpluses, and the governments and standing armies it enabled have a correlation. Bread and Circuses have been the admitted tool of tyrants to appease and pacify their otherwise rowdy populations since before the Romans.

Does the rise in popularity of counter-conventional diets like Paleo signal a more generally rising distrust of government and the state? Hope so!