I’ve been reading a lot lately about Primal Eating. Have you? I’m sure you have, since I’m usually about two years behind anything that’s trendy or cool. If you are unfamiliar with the Primal Diet, here is the short version:
You can’t eat anything except grass-fed meat and certain vegetables. For real.
Everything else has too much sugar and too many carbs, including most fruit. And grains of any kind? Wheat, rice, quinoa, barley, bulgar, farro, kasha? Forget it. Grains are disdained–no, feared–on the Primal Diet.
The diet is based on the assumption that cavemen (Primal eaters call him “Grok”) lived a much healthier, leaner life than we do today. Thus, we should try to mimic Grok’s prehistoric diet, which existed before grains, sugar, and even most fruits were introduced to the human family. Mark Sisson, one of the leading Primal Diet gurus, also advises against dairy or artificial additives of any kind. Even some seasonings are off limits, because hey–Grok didn’t have them! Why should we?
For all my cynicism, I must begrudgingly admit that this diet holds a certain appeal. Mark Sisson looks like a bodybuilder, his wife like a model, and they have an enormous following of believers whose lives have apparently been changed by cutting out the modern garbage the rest of us (I) eat regularly. I think Mr. Sisson seems like a nice guy who’s sincerely convinced of, and committed to, the Primal lifestyle. The whole back-to-Mother-Earth thing is attractive, and I was intrigued by his approach to health when I first started reading about it. For over an hour, I even thought about trying it. And then I saw something that gave me pause.
It was a video of Mark Sisson selling a recovery drink. A recovery drink! As in, something man-made in a lab, full of synthesized arginine and glutamine and creatine and–hold onto your clubs, my three cavewoman–carbohydrates! In fact, there were more carbs in it than anything else. Yep, Grok’s favored drink is chock stinking full of man’s vilest invention. And for two bucks a pop, no less. And yes, your body needs at least one of these “primal” drinks per day.
And then it all began to take shape. Sincere as Mr. Sisson is (and I believe he is), effective as this diet may be (and I believe it is), there is still, and ever will be, a buck to be made. And you know what? That realization made me feel better. It tempered some of the guilt I’d been feeling about giving my kids string cheese after school and baking whole-wheat bread. Sure, Grok didn’t have string cheese, but he didn’t have a recovery drink, either. So why should we?
Here’s the deal, Primal Diet: You spend your money on grass-fed ribeyes and recovery drinks. I, on the other hand, will be buying that new bedding I’ve been eyeing at Target, and getting the pretzel/icee combo while I’m there. Altogether, we’ll break about even for the month. And next month I’ll still have my new duvet cover, but you’ll have to buy a whole new round of magic powder. How did cavemen pay for their recovery drinks in 10,000 B.C.? However they did, I’m sure it was in a cleaner, purer form than we do today. After all, besides chapstick and toilet paper, what good has humanity come up with since then?