Thursday, July 25, 2013

Petty tribalism helps no one, or why that WAPF hit piece on paleo is beyond stupid and ill-conceived

By now you may have heard that Sally Fallon at the Weston A. Price Foundation did a piece in the latest WAPF journal "Wise Traditions" that had a sizable chapter called: "Myth: the WAPF diet is like the Paleo diet." You can read the whole thing here.

You may also have heard that Diane Sanfilippo and Liz Wolfe devoted an entire episode of their Balanced Bites podcast to a rebuttal of that anti-paleo aspect of Fallon's piece.

Diane and Liz do a great job of going point by point through Fallon's article and shredding nearly every aspect of it. Fallon has, in essence, set up a straw man just to knock it down -- presenting an uber-narrow version of paleo that is, at best, already a few years out of date, and then going after it as if it is some sort of threat to WAPF principles.

But, really, Diane and Liz do so well at handling the minutiae of this mess, that I will just urge you to go check them out if a point-by-point smackdown/rebuttal is what you are looking for. Honestly, you ought to be listening to Diane and Liz anyway. They present a super-knowledgable and, get this, *flexible* approach to paleo/ancestral eating that is the envy of anyone not named Wolf and Everett. But they (and let's give credit where it's due to Diane for particularly ranting on this episode with abandon, whereas Liz chose her moments) particularly did really well this time around. Yeah, the humor factor that's been ruling their roost lately wasn't as prevalent on this episode, but it's well worth your while just on smarts alone.

So what do I have to add to all that? Just one thing, and it's more of a generality than an attack on any one aspect of Fallon's article. Here's my beef (and yes, I'm yelling):


Yes, the WAPF has a slightly different approach to food than traditional paleo. Hell, within the overall confines of "paleo" you can find a bunch of different approaches. There are intermittent fasters and carb-backloaders and low-carbers and paleo-treatmakers and paleo "police" and all sorts of permutations of a relatively simple (at its core) concept. And step just a few feet away and you run into the "primal" crowd and the Wheat Belly folks and, really, I hate to start quoting Rodney King, but....

Can't we all just get along?

Every one of our approaches is miles beyond the horror story of the standard American diet.

Fallon's article sounds like the dying gasps of a monarch whose kingdom is decaying around her. Apparently desperate to prove her organization's worth -- and let's be clear about something: I am (was?) a proud WAPF member and think the organization does very good things to promote what I will generally call "ancestral" eating and lifestyle, so I truly had no anti-WAPF ax to grind before all this -- Fallon has lashed out utterly inappropriately at the (relative) newcomer on the block, despite the (fairly ironic) fact that said newcomer is doing more right now to change more lives in a positive way through sensible eating than her organization is.

Or, as Diane Sanfilippo said, paleo is sending more people to check out WAPF than vice versa.

A lot more.

This type of "Look at me! I'm still relevant! Pay attention to meeeeee!" high-school-clique tribalism does nothing to further the overall goal that I thought we all wanted to reach: getting a whole lot of people healthier than they are.

So yeah, Sally Fallon, you should retract your anti-paleo statements. Your article was a petty, silly, ridiculous exercise in line-drawing and wall-building when we ought to be getting together figuring out how to fight The Man and all that.

WAPF does good things. So does paleo. Isn't that enough to make us get along?

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad


  1. I agree. It is the WAPF that got me going and it's Paleo that has taken me a step beyond the level of health I reached through the principles of WAP. Both are on par where avoiding the SAD diet is concerned and both present different angles to the story as far as the reasoning why we should be following a traditional diet. What I really like about the works of Weston A Price is the documentary and scientific aspects. It gives those of us who follow Paleo principles an alternative view point as to what we should and shouldn't eat. Looking at aboriginal and traditional diets informs us that people in Ireland thrived on oats that had been grown on land enriched with the ash from their roof thatching. That treating corn with lime helped the Spanish avoid pellagra which ravaged people who ate corn without this vital process. Also that many Islanders enjoy tuberous roots. We need to embrace scientific knowledge wherever it is found, not denigrate other points on the same spectrum.

  2. It's not just Paleo or Primal--ANYONE who eschews grains, legumes, and potatoes gets a hugh "thumbs down" from WAPF.