oh, hai

Stephen Murray

engineer, dog fanatic, erstwhile vagrant

The Taco Bell & Paleo Conundrum: My Musings and Failings

There was an interesting Twitter thread I had the chance to participate in yesterday regarding the recent news that Taco Bell is launching a Paleo-inspired menu. The hallmark of the new selection? High-protein.

Yo quiero @TacoBell. Taco Bell hops on #Paleo bandwagon: Rolls high-protein Cantina Bowls http://t.co/c2ChYrKsAU #lchf #health #fitness

— Samantha Chang (@samantha_chang) July 11, 2014

As soon as I saw Samantha's tweet, I jumped all over it like it was a pile of bacon. As is typical in the real-time cesspool that is the Twitterverse, my fervor and consequent impulsiveness to press "Tweet" betrayed what I was actually trying to say.

.@samantha_chang @tacobell @carolsalva1 Yikes. The high-protein misnomer about paleo can be so frustrating at times

— Stephen Murray (@spmurrayzzz) July 16, 2014

Clearly my explicit viewpoint here was needlessly reductionist and a discussion ensued which revealed the pertinent kernel of truth: Paleo is, at its core, macro-agnostic. I even eroded my original claim when, following up my initial commentary, I decried the lack of low-carb language in the press coverage. Contradictions abound, my friends.

I wish more people on the internet (and perhaps the world writ large) would say the following more often...

I was dead wrong.

So why did I react so strongly to this particular headline? Challenging myself to decipher precisely what drew my ire about this Taco Bell piece, I distilled the truly problematic part of all this madness:

What about Taco Bell's processed-food-from-a-tube approach is even remotely Paleo? Even if it was low-carb, high-fat, and moderate protein (my preferred macro composition), there's no chance that any well-reasoned individual would dare to call that whole/real food. Not by any stretch.

The Paleo community is quick to defend itself when its characterized as a "fad diet." But in the efforts to dispel this notion, I see no boon by allowing Taco Bell to go unchecked in commodifying the Paleo name in a ploy to create a new revenue stream for their inherently deleterious product model.

This sentiment was brewing in my mind when I made that first tweet. I was just too wrapped up in my own hubris and incredulity to clearly communicate that particular point.

Lessons learned:

  • Samantha was on point — commentary about Paleo and macros is ill-wrought
  • Think, and take a breath before you tweet (this message is 100% directed at myself)
  • We should fight against the commodification of the Paleo nomenclature, it does service to no one