I take it we all agree that there are things that governments and society are doing that make it more difficult to live and eat well. Now, I'm sure we all come from a variety of ideological persuasions, but there are lots of areas where we could work together to make things better.
Most of time we're talking about personal lifestyle choices, but I'm interested in your opinions about public policy and social norms. What should paleos be working for in these areas?
Some things I've thought of: Obviously the USDA has to get with the program- I think it should just be abolished, but clearly something's gotta change here. This kind of stuff is just ridiculous.
Public spaces like parks should be more dynamic, with rocks and trees for climbing. This would be especially great for kids.
Obviously- eliminate farm subsidies, especially for corn.
Make it easier for farmers to directly sell to consumers- aren't sanitation laws making this harder? Here in China I can go to the market and see various animals chopped up, or still alive, waiting to be chopped up. I can just pick up a pigs heart that was likely in a live pig a few hours ago. This may also just be about cultural differences.
What do y'all think?
I do think continuing to oppose things like the food pyramid guidelines and food subsidies is important, however resistance is just going to continue to be symbolic at this point.
Rather than focusing exclusively on anything at a national or global level, I choose to invest most of my energy in things on a local level. Supporting farmers markets and community gardens, working to oppose any state legislation that tries to further limit small-scale homemade food operations/working towards legislation that lifts bans already in place, volunteering to maintain my city's wide network of trails (and publicize their existence) and towards the establishment of new ones & better pedestrian access on roadways, helping local "primitive skills" schools get press/money/resources, etc.
And to take what Vrimj said and use it as a springboard, I don't think we can underestimate the value of what a little leading by example/being the change we want (i know, motivational poster slogans, but still powerful ideas...) can do. Be it in a purely dietary realm (living examples of the health benefits of kicking CW to the curb) or otherwise. Paul Shepard's Coming Home to the Pleistocene really pushed my thinking on what "being Paleo" (maybe as opposed to "doing Paleo"?) could be and the implications of that. In the book he lists 71 aspects of a Pleistocene paradigm (here) and suggests that reclaiming some of them in our own lives can start to create more livable communities in the here-and-now as well as create a ripple effect that could lead to larger systemic changes. I've been trying to do this to the best of my ability, and found my life much richer as a result.
"Must we build a new twenty-first-century society corresponding to a hunting/gathering culture? Of course not; humans do not consciously make cultures. What we can do is single out those many things, large and small, that characterized the social and cultural life of our ancestors-the terms under which our genome itself was shaped-and incorporate them as best we can by creating a modern life around them. We take our cues from primal cultures, the best wisdom of the deep desires of the genome. We humans are instinctive culture makers; given the pieces, the culture will reshape itself"--PS
Fixing what's in Joel Salatin's book Everything I Want to Do is Illegal. I think these guys are making some headway on that http://www.ftcldf.org/
I'm not a big fan of the owner of Humanewatch, but I think their overall goal of exposing the Humane Society of the United States as an animal rights organization is important. HSUS is very powerful and has pushed for laws that would affect small farmers, hunters, and trappers.
I believe the strength of the concept is in keeping it "individualized", the gov't (or any institution) would probably find a million ways of screwing it up and somehow making it worse. That being said, things like "voting" for grassfed meat, by buying it, is in my opinion a darn good way (both in doing good, and not allowing "do-goodery" institutions to screw it up). ...I haven't really thought about this angle that much though, been too busy trying to implement it on myself ^^
I remember a few years back, a sushi restaurant in LA was taking live fish and cutting them up fresh in front of customers (only those who wanted it of course). THey became very popular among discerning Japanese until someone got upset about it and they were charged with animal cruelty! I don't remember all the details, but I do remember, the restaurant was forced to stop. I just remember thinking, what difference does it make where the fish is killed? Humans are weird sometimes.
Anyway, I'd go for the area where we would get most support and most bang for the buck, and that would be with education. Try to make labeling laws to force them to be more honest on what goes into the food. Most people live in denial. Truth in advertising would make it harder for people to not notice how unhealthy processed foods are. And for grains, I would push their basic lack of nutrition. That is something you just can't argue about. Grains have very little nutrition and lots of calories.
On another front, I would continue to educate about weight loss and diabetes control. These are already where more paleo style eating have made huge inroads because diabetes and excess weight are major issues to most of the public and paleo works really really well for those. In fact, even main stream medical is coming around nicely about the importance of cutting carbs for diabetes and eating less processed foods. THe momentum is really starting to gain on those issues and it is where we are strongest. And although cutting carbs for weight loss is no longer the big trend it was for a while, I still know a lot of people who know and do not argue with the fact that it really works for weight loss.
Of course, there are many other areas I think are very important, but I would suggest we push hardest on those things that people are more able to understand and agree with. Once people have better understandings of the situatoin and what works, I think it will be easier for them to take a new look at some of the other issues as well.
Right now, there is no money for parks and even if there was, you could run into liability and lawsuit issues if making things for climbing. This is becoming more of an issue every year. And emotionally, most of the city dwelling public in the US will not get behind the idea of home butchering or loosening standards on that kind of thing. Just because the idea will gross them out. (heck it even grosses me out a bit even though I logically understand the health benefits) As for subsidies in general, arg, I am against them in general, but they seem to have gotten rather entrenched. It's the quiet little secret that all the politicians like to pretend is not there. Perhaps the trick there is to just educate on healthfulness and lack thereof and perhaps the demand for corn will go down and growers will shift to planting something else, or they will find some other use for corn like making cat litter or whatever.
But I think overall, the trick would be to target areas where large segments of the public would quickly and easily agree with emotionally and would really get behind us on. If you want to take down a wall, the trick is to target the weakest part of it first.
What should government do? :) hehe...
1) We need to live with a moral code. 2) Morality should be universal. 3) Government should not be exempt from morality; (So if I can't steal, then either should the government.) 4) Therefore we should make government a completely voluntary organization. No taxes. Sell and privatize everything.
This is not a policy change, nor do I think it is truly a social change, but I would hope we would all seek to be respectful listeners, people who accept others choices and genuinely supportive of each other.
I know that is not a political platform, but I think every time people build community they are building a set of social expectations that leak in to all of the other things they do.
So what I would hope for is a community that can be respectful dissenters, something that there is always room for more of in civil government.
I would also hope that we could use evidence and research instead of emotion or antidote when and if we do lobby for policy changes. This will explain why I think we simply do not have the quality of research to push for paleo specific changes.
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