As an archaeologist, I am frequently asked questions about the Paleodiet. The diet fad has been steadily gaining popularity around the country, and I think it’s fair to say that it is now considered mainstream. However, there are a number of glaring nutritional and historical problems with the diet.
Biologist Marlene Zuk’s recent book “Paleofantasy” addresses some of the unfounded nutritional claims of the Paleodiet, and anthropologist Katherine Milton has written about the inaccuracies of how hunter gatherer populations are often imagined, and she refutes several specific claims made by Loren Cordain, founder of the modern Paleodiet movement. Recently, anthropologist Barbara King has contributed a series of short articles on NPR.org and provided some much needed context to understanding the appeal that the Paleodiet in contemporary America.
I’ve recently weighed in on what I see as the ways in which proponents of the Paleodiet fundamentally fail to understand Paleolithic, Neolithic, and modern diets. The trademarked “Paleo Diet” is much closer to an early 20th century affluent farmer’s diet than anything our Paleolithic ancestors would have ever eaten. I explain what we actually know about Paleolithic diets, how we know it, and what I believe are the real lessons we can learn from the past.