Legalizing the Paleo Diet

Last week, Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg announced that, beginning in April, her office will quit prosecuting those who follow the Paleo diet. In making the announcement, Ogg said

While Harris County prides itself on being progressive, sometimes the best way to move forward is to look to the past. And in this case, we are talking way, way in the past.

Ogg said that the county’s jails and court system are being overworked prosecuting individuals for eating too much beef and berries. She added that, while she doesn’t subscribe to the Paleo diet, she doesn’t think that government should be telling people what they can or cannot put into their own bodies.

Reaction to Ogg’s announcement was mixed. A spokesman for Black Lives Matter applauded the new policy, saying that the Paleo diet is a public health issue and its advocates need counseling, not incarceration. However, vegans who attended the announcement were opposed, claiming that meat eaters should be prosecuted for murder.

The Paleo diet has been the source of great controversy since it was introduced more than 50,000 years ago. For millennia, it was embraced by virtually all of mankind, but it began falling out of favor with the introduction of agriculture. Numerous civilizations, including the Egyptians and Phoenicians, launched intense campaigns to discourage the diet.

In recent decades, the Paleo diet has gained popularity. But food companies, such as Kraft and Nabisco, have led efforts to portray the diet as dangerous. The video, “Eat Like a Caveman, Act Like a Caveman,” had more than 2.5 million views on You Tube in its first month and motivated legislators in nearly every state to criminalize the diet. And more than thirty states imposed additional taxes on grass-fed beef, one of the staples of the Paleo diet.

The higher taxes on grass-fed beef quickly resulted in a black market, and beef cartels formed in Texas and Colorado to meet the demand. The cartels grew increasingly violent, as each sought to protect its market share.

Law enforcement officials have increasingly urged legislators to reduce the taxes and legalize the Paleo diet. Physicians have advocated making exceptions for “medical Paleo,” arguing that the diet provided definite benefits for some of their patients. To date, only Maine and Rhode Island have legalized “medical Paleo.” If Ogg’s policy takes effect, Harris County will be the first jurisdiction in the nation to decriminalize Paleo.

In closing her press conference, Ogg noted that Houston is the most diverse city in the nation.

We accept people from different cultures and with different lifestyles. That is what makes Houston great. We recognize the right of individuals to live as they choose, so long as they recognize the rights of others to live as they choose.

Legalizing Paleo is a step in that direction.

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