Abstract

Paleo diets are both myths and manuals: they are myths of a lost golden age and utopian manuals for better bodies and a more perfect world. Paleo dieters believe that the human body is not adapted to civilization and reject modern ways of eating for foods that could have been hunted or gathered in the Paleolithic Era. Many of the estimated three million American Paleo dieters not only follow the dietary prescriptions, but also adopt the social, moral, and philosophical aspects of the Paleolithic way of life. The Paleo myth pathologizes the relationship between health and modernity, claiming that civilization has outpaced evolution and created a world hostile to human biology. Dieters believe that modern life has created a modern body hounded by false hungers, trapped in a fallen world, and overwhelmed by sadness, sickness, and stress. In turn, these diets promise that pre-agrarian or primitive living will restore the health and beauty enjoyed by our Paleolithic ancestors. Unlike earlier dreams of Lands of Plenty, Paleo diets promise refinement, paucity, and the instinctive recognition of natural pleasure. I argue that this mix of myth and manual creates a new type of embodied utopia in response to changing concepts and conditions of modernity.

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Additional Information

ISSN
2154-9648
Print ISSN
1045-991X
Pages
pp. 101-124
Launched on MUSE
2015-04-17
Open Access
No
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