Didn't think I would ever see a Marxist critique of the paleo diet. I wonder what grade this paper got?
Anyway, it seems like the implication is that those eating an ancestral diet are starting from a point of anti-consumerism and then spinning The Wheel of Subculture Diets and choosing whichever one the arrow lands on. I may be going out on a limb here, but I think nearly all of us are first and foremost trying to be healthier (though we may use different metrics to measure that). If being healthier means that my food budget doubles, then so be it. Historically speaking, Americans spend much less on food as a percentage of income than they used to, though our taxes feed the subsidies, so maybe it's at least partly a wash. The truth of it is though that the cost doesn't really go up, and that the only difference is that you tend to spend more time preparing your own food and your grocery bags get heavier.
The author seems to think that our food actually isn't of better quality and that we are unable to know where it comes from or how it's produced. In some cases that's true, but a lot of the farms that create the food I eat welcome people to come visit them and see how everything runs. I'm tempted to delve into minutiae of why the food is better here, but to speak generally, an ancestral diet isn't a fad diet, it's a form of nutrient acquisition that more closely matches what our DNA "expects" as a result of millions of years of evolution. The last 10,000 years have been, evolutionarily speaking, a series of fad diets. "Paleo" is simply a minimzing of toxins and a maximizing of nutrients. There's nothing totemic about it, it's the most obvious route.
That all being said, I think ZC and VLC are terrible dietary missteps that most people who think they know what paleo is would ascribe to the diet. I feel like ultra low carb is kind of like "pork" that has been slipped into a paleo bill before congress. I think nearly all of the problems that people encounter, whether they be new health issues or simply a lack of fat loss, stem from this in one way or another. Eating the minimum number of grams of carbohydrate needed to replete glycogen stores has always seemed to me to be the obvious choice. Relative to the SAD, this is technically "low-carb" in most cases however.
The term "paleo" is such an easy target, but its only importance in my opinion is as a thought exercise initially. "You know your idea of food that you've held dear your entire life? It's only 10,000 years old at most and it's not actually food."
I think people like this author are assuming that there is an evolving set of arbitrary edicts being handed down that people are checking their diets against constantly, but we're actually taking the knowledge at hand (gleaned from scientific papers and anecdotes) and finding the safest way to eat. I think most people are unaware of the sheer magnitude of the average person's daily toxin load. We're exposed to huge amounts of toxins pretty much no matter what we do. Without relocating, we can't really control the multitude of airborne toxins we breathe constantly. We try to filter our water and eat foods that aren't dense sources of toxins. The bioavailability, such as it is, of the many heavy metals, (fat soluble) persistent organic polluntants etc. and our bodies' lack of mechanisms for excreting them is a woeful thing indeed. That's to say nothing of the more "natural" toxins such as WGA and gluten that are linked to a whole host of diseases. Who knew that plants would be pissed if you ate their method of reproduction? It may not be enough and we all may still get cancer at some point but I'll fucking be damned if I'm gonna give up without a fight.
Sidling up to the putrid trough of the SAD is not an option.