One Side of De-fence or the Other

Scho Bus

We’re not the kind of people who feel that pushing our views on anyone is the right thing to do. We don’t want it done to us and therefore do our best to refrain. It’s nice to think that maybe if we offer our point of view in it might help someone else, but are fans of autonomy. We also don’t mind anyone having alternate beliefs to ours…we know there is real value in staying as open-minded as possible.

Something we do take offense to, however, is when self proclaimed pontiffs wish/wash around based on the time of day and what suits their needs (and wallets) at the time. They will admonish someone based on a certain value set today, but then change (or bend) that value set as it suits them tomorrow. This really annoys us, and maybe we harp on it too much. So be it.

This was a really long way to say…hypocrites are bothersome. You may say :

  • “Don’t let it bother you so much.”
  • “Why are you wasting your time even reading their website if you’re so secure in what you believe?”

Well, you may be partially right…I do feel a sort of competition with those that seek to discredit part of what we do…or what we believe. I feel that this is natural…and not jealousy that they are popular or something to that effect. What we want is to state our OPINION without someone else discrediting it based on their OPINION-OF-THE-DAY disguised as a FACT. If you’re going to disagree…keep it consistent. Otherwise, I reserve the right to question your validity.

Enter Whole 9 and Primal Pacs:

Primal Pacs…”the first Whole 9 approved snack pack”…”no added sugar in their ingredient list, not even in the jerky!”

But Whole 9, what about the apple juice they sweeten the cranberries with? I thought you said no added sugar but it’s hard to hear you from way up there on your horse. Did you say something about an evangelist?

Ohhhhh? You say… “We know, apple juice is technically ‘sugar’, but fruit juice is Whole30 approved, and cranberries don’t sweeten themselves.  We were more than okay with this one small concession, given the number of cranberries in each kit is small.  The bulk of the carbohydrates come from the dried mango, which has a modest sugar content with no added sweeteners.”

The almonds don’t have any carbohydrates? That’s neat…magic almonds. Do they grow a stalk up to a giant’s house? And by “modest” amount of sugar in the mango do you mean 73 grams of sugar per 100 grams compared to 97 grams/100 g in pure sugar? Maybe I’m splitting hairs.

Well, what the hell Whole 9?…still, even with your “concession” that kinda sounds like a Whole 7.66? Oh, I see you’ve been “in talks” with the company. Oh, ok now it’s ok because you are somehow making money off of this. Yes, I get it now. Thanks for explaining that to me. When you do it, it is definitely different than the other “sell outs” you just spent a few posts throwing under the bus (cough Mark Sisson cough).

revision: When you click the “posts” link above you will no longer find anything about Mark Sisson. Originally the post I referenced criticized Primal Fuel, Mark’s protein powder meal replacement. This has since been removed from the website.

I thank you for making me feel all warm and fuzzy about fruit juice since it’s quote, unquote Paleo…by your gospel. See, I used to use my brain and I thought that “sugar is sugar” and I was especially concerned about fructose. Now I see that apple juice is a better sweetener at (estimated) 70% fructose than cane sugar at 50% fructose. All we have to do is make sure we tell our body that it is “Paleo” and it will not mind all that fructose. It won’t glycate and cause inflammation or put a burden on our liver and produce uric acid and triglycerides as long as we tell it Whole 9 said it was ok. Pheww, what a load off. Makes sense for the mango as well.

I’m curious? Why didn’t you warn your readers that even a “small pac” contains 2 servings like you would have with everyone else’s product? Oh, yes, yes…I forgot, sorry…they’re paying you.

Revision: Whole 9 has stated that they were not compensated monetarily by the manufacturer. Please determine for yourself if a discount for Whole9 readers qualifies as compensation.  Forgive my speculation.

So, 28 grams of food with 5 grams of sugars? 2 servings for the “small pac”?

1 cup of slivered almonds is about 108 grams. I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt on density of the whole mix and let’s say a “Pac” would be 80 grams for 1 cup. That means that I can eat a whopping 1/3 (probably less) of a cup of food and get 5 grams of sugar…mostly fructose. That should keep me full and happy for 18 seconds.

What? What’s that? Don’t blame you, you don’t make the “Pacs”…you’re just doing the best you can?

Yes I know that…I’m not against a little sugar here and there…perhaps you haven’t noticed that is part of my entire point. We eat a little dried fruit and even a little white (gasp) sugar every now and again. I’m not even saying I wouldn’t eat a snack just like that.  I just want this snack to be looked at under the same microscope and reasoning as ANY sugar would be. I just think that using information asymmetry to promote fruit juice and demonize other sugar is misleading. And I’m not against the manufacturer…aside from having a completely out of place, hokey dinosaur on their package, which is slightly patronizing to “Paleo”… they seem to live on one side of the fence…and I’m alright with that.

You see…you guys spend lots of time on both sides of the fence and that’s just not right. It’s the contradiction and self-aggrandizing that annoys me. I guess that’s just the way it will be, but while you’re crossing back and forth from one side of the fence to the other…watch out for that bus.


31 responses to “One Side of De-fence or the Other”

  1. Hi! Long-time reader, first time posting…

    I gotta say before I dig in that I, generally, love your attitude, content, ideas, etc. so I’m coming from a place of seeing us in the same community.

    But yowza! That’s a lot of venom. I’d stake my last jar of organic, sugar-free Sunbutter on the fact that Melissa Urban and Dallas Hartwig are pretty dedicated to helping people fight the sugar demon and if they’re recommending Primal Pacs, it’s because they think they’re a good emergency snack pack. The blog post announcing the Primal Pacs included this admonition at the end:

    “And now, just a little reminder… Primal Pacs, while delicious and healthy, shouldn’t replace your built-on-real-food MealSimpleâ„¢ breakfasts, lunches and dinners. They’re a great, portable snack when you’re on the go, but don’t rely on them as your primary nutrition source!”

    I don’t think of the Whole30 folks as the food police — they’re the providers of inspiration, motivation, and solid information about food that makes us healthier… but they’re human, too, and I love that they recognize sugar will make a minor appearance in most peoples’ lives from time to time.

    It’s important to note that there’s a big difference between a Whole30 (i.e., 30 days of “no cheats”) and the rest of our lives. Perhaps the problem lies in “allowing” the Primal Pac during a strict Whole30… but I think as an on-the-go snack, they’re not bad, right? And Melissa and Dallas are not sugar devils in disguise.

  2. i said i’d eat something just like that, and do. it’s that they’ve played both sides that bothers me, i don’t know what else to say. i’m not saying they are sugar devils…i feel like that’s what they’re saying about bloggers like you and i. but then they turn around and rationalize this snack. this snack is fine but they wouldn’t have said so if i made it.

    maybe it is all a bit dramatic but hey, it got your attention.

  3. here is a quote from Dallas in the comments to “Paleo Schmaleo”:

    “We don’t like people who deliberately mix truth with half-truth (and straight-up lies) to pad their pocketbooks.”

    i think they just did EXACTLY that, just calling it how i see it. i don’t even care if they do it…just don’t get on other people for doing it if you are going to as well.

  4. Brendon Cechovic

    Aren’t those serving sizes measured by the FDA? I thought we now know servings are proportionate to body type, size, etc? I also agree Dallas and Melissa are out to help people. There is alot of hate in this post.

  5. You are incredibly disturbed. Did seething venom drip from your chops as you wrote this? Get over yourself.

  6. i am sure they do help people, i don’t think i ever said they don’t. most doctors and nutritionists (whole grains, low fat, etc.)… are a whole lot more to worry about than the definition of Paleo not Whole 9. i know that. but i stand behind what i said as it applies to a subject in which they stepped on peoples toes and then turned around and directly contradicted themselves. it bothered me and i wrote about it. i’m not sure how anyone could argue that this is not what happened. did anyone tell them they were disturbed when they linked directly to other products in the marketplace and denounced them? i think most were wooed.

  7. we’re non-venemous. hopefully that comes through more often than not. it’s interesting to get people commenting on how they feel about it though.

  8. Normally I love your posts, but I’m disappointed to see you trash talk a small business that actually creates a healthy product which is the perfect alternative to all the grain, sugar, preservative laden granola bar/snack packs out there…

    FYI – you can order ‘jerkey only’ snack packs and skip the fruit/nuts all together.

  9. rachel,

    i replied to you on facebook as well, just thought i’d copy it here.

    i didn’t mean to bash the manufacturer…so for the record, we’re not against the product at all. and all in all not even against whole 9, people think i said they don’t help people…but that’s far from my argument. primal pacs sounds tasty (and interesting, which is a big part of sustainably eating well, in our minds – so thumbs up)…and we eat that kind of stuff regularly…and feel that everyone can decide for themselves if they want to eat fruit…sweetened with fruit or sugar if they’re just given the facts about fructose/glucose. i guess i could have made that more clear. i don’t know if our audience is enough to help them but maybe they’ll get some orders out of it. who knows? any press is good press, right? the issue i took was just in what i felt was a massaging of the data (maybe a little wool over the eyes)compared to what whole 9 would usually say if we made something with fruit juice or a little sugar for example. i thought in any other situation they’d warn us about the sugar and make us feel bad about a Paleo-ified food. doesn’t make it any more or less good for you, their offering is up for reasonable scrutiny of what’s in it just like anything else. even with all i said i didn’t mean it’s a product that’s bad for you if you understand what’s in it.

  10. The way I see it, you’re kinda pissed… I kinda am too. It just seems like a bit of a contradiction when a website will bash paleo friendly recipes on blogs because there was cheese or a little bit of sugar in the recipe… yet, they’ll promote a “real paleo friendly” snack that has been sweetened (apple juice may be healthier that high fructose corn syrup, but it’s still sugar!!!).

    I do think that Whole 9 is ultimately out to help people, but so are tons of other blogs out there. While some of the “paleo recipes” on my blog may have a bit of cheese or some white wine, they are, ultimately a heck of a lot better than 95% of “health food” out there. When I read Whole 9’s blog post, I actually felt bad because on my blog, I post “paleo” recipes that aren’t always 100% true paleo. But then I figured, what the heck?! Who are you to tell me that my food isn’t good for our bodies? I can cook damn good food and if I can help a few people realize that eating healthy isn’t that hard, then I’ll do it!

    I totally understand where you’re coming from guys… it’s hypocritical for a website to mock another for the same thing they do… it’s just another case ofthe so called pot calling the kettle black.

  11. […] This article came at a very eerily perfect timing. I was up this morning thinking of writing a blog post about not taking any one principal as gospel when it comes to health, fitness and wellness. Not CrossFit, not Paleo, not any of this stuff. No matter what one person says is a good thing or a bad thing, you have to do the research yourself and find out what works best for you. Article courtesy of Health-Bent […]

  12. Of all the snack choices out there for people trying to live paleo, primal pace are one of the best, great when you are on the go, traveling or out of grain free options on the run. A small, start up company trying to make a healthy difference.

  13. another rachel

    I’m with you, Brandon. Whole9 had taken on a bit of a strident & evangelical tone recently though they may be dialing that back a bit now (see today’s interview with Mark Sisson).

    I find lots of information of value here and through the other hundred-or-so RSS feeds for paleo, primal, movnat, crossfit, and related topics. It’s interesting to watch teachers cycle through various presentation and style issues, and it’s up to each individual to figure out what works best for them. (Some folks take the option of allegiance to teachers, some have the time and energy to do deeper experimentation and reading.)

    Keep having fun with food! I’m noshing on pumpkin bars with cinnamon icing later tonight. 🙂

  14. Reading some of these responses I feel like some of you have seen what you want to believe and not actually understood the entire point of what Brandon is trying to say.

    He is NOT attacking Paleo Pacs. In fact…

    “And I’m not against the manufacturer…aside from having a completely out of place, hokey dinosaur on their package, which is slightly patronizing to “Paleo”… they seem to live on one side of the fence…and I’m alright with that.”

    The whole point, and correct me if I’m wrong, is that Whole 9 demonizes sugar (OF ANY FORM!) and only when they’re padding their pockets ( Quote from Whole 9 “We don’t like people who deliberately mix truth with half-truth (and straight-up lies) to pad their pocketbooks.”), do they ‘approve’ a product that has a hefty amount of sugar in it.

  15. I can’t believe how angry people are over this! I only started eating Paleo three weeks ago and found myself on the whole 9 website to try to find guidelines for the first month. I distinctly remember them saying that they do not condone using fruit juice as a sweetener. I also remember them going off on the whole paleo-pancake thing.

    So, I agree, while the packs might be good (although they sound really small and easier to make at home), the whole point here is the hypocrisy of some people, who trying to help others, lambasted people for doing the same thing.

    Plus, I think Brandon and Megan have gone out of their way in just about every post to allow that different people do things differently, and even include substitutions for those who don’t eat dairy. This article doesn’t come across as venomous, maybe frustrated and irritated, after being attacked for doing previously at no charge what the whole 9 people are now doing for profit.

  16. another rachel,

    thanks for the comment. i hadn’t seen the interview with Mark until you mentioned it. yeah, they did some backtracking huh…looks a little like they want to have their cake and eat it too. now they need some help and exposure from Mark. i’m not expecting them to endorse our site but if they wanted to you think they’d let me smooth this article over…”let’s just be friends shall we?”

    i loved your perspective on the cycle of the blogs and styles and such. do you have a blog? have you written about this any more? i’m curious to hear what else you’d have to say about it.

  17. bridget,

    thanks so much…i’m glad a few folks got the message the way i intended it.

    1. Yup! Agreed with what Jenn said too.

  18. Why are people so mad? What this blog posts says is the truth. I honestly really enjoy reading Whole9, Melissa is hilarious, but I do find it frustrating at times not knowing what they believe in.

    I do understand that diet beliefs do change on a regular basis. I know i’ve gone from zone (eating oats) to strict paleo to eating paleo but including butter and bacon and cheese. It’s all what works for that individual person. What i love about this website is that real-food ideas. You include ingredients that taste delicious, but also give substitutions and variations to suite each person’s needs.

    Whole9 does a great job with telling people how it is and helping them get on the right track. But dissing the paleo pancakes and going back and forth with what is ok to eat and what’s not can get frustrating and almost play a mind game with people. Nutrition and eating healthy should taste good, if it doesn’t, it’s not a sustainable lifestyle change…so yes, i eat paleo pancakes every couple weeks, and i feel good about eating them.

    All i am saying is i understand the frustration and i have felt the same way after reading different posts. Keep up the awesome work you two. You both are so incredibly helpful and knowledgeable and all the athletes at my gym live by your blog 🙂

  19. Health Bent,

    We (Whole9) would like to clear up one large misconception, around which this entire diatribe was based.

    We are not compensated financially from the sale of Primal Pacs. Not one cent. Never have, never will. We’ve had many talks with the company, yes – to discuss their ingredient list (highest quality), their business philosophy (we like it), and to negotiate a discount for Whole9 readers (forthcoming, once the company grows a bit more). But we have not “lined our pockets” by endorsing this product. We like the Pacs, and use them ourselves when traveling, and simply were happy to pass another good thing along to our readers.

    We would respectfully request that you perform a few basic fact checks before posting libelous information in a public forum. That kind of stuff gets you in trouble (at worst), and just makes you look petty (at best). Trust us on that one – we’ve made our share of public mistakes… but have made sure to make our due apologies, too. We are not, however, expecting one from you.


    Melissa & Dallas

  20. Justin in ATL

    This whole situation makes me sad. 🙁 For a number of months, I have followed the Whole9 blog (and indeed did a Whole30 [45 in my case] a few months ago) and UGD before that… and have made a number of the Health-Bent recipes, and they’ve been awesome. I’m quite fond of both of yunses.

    I don’t know Melissa and Dallas personally, but the information they do and have provided has been valuable to me. Before I stumbled across Melissa’s old blog via the CF forums, I was eating crap (but in the right proportions!). I have learned much from them and their site and blog, and my own “Whole 45”. I honestly believe they are trying to help people be healthier and happier, as I have become, at least partially on their leadership/advice.

    I also don’t know Brandon and Megan personally, but the recipes y’all have provided (at least the one’s that I’ve used) have been nothing less that fantastic (OM NOM NOM!!) and most of them VERY good/healthy for me and would qualify as “Whole30/Whole9 approved (not that I’ve asked)” And, yes, I greatly prefer to have a “not-as-bad” “cheat” as opposed to some processed neolithic garbage in a package when I want to go off the reservation. So thanks for recipes for “Paleo” pancakes (FSM knows I wouldn’t eat regular pancakes today, even as a cheat) and other such non-“Paleo” paleo stuff.

    All that said, can I see where Brandon is coming from? Yes, yes I can. If you read all of what has been posted/written on the Whole9 blog, you can find some seeming/actual contradictions. I’m not supposed to eat ANY sugar (and sugar is sugar is sugar), but you guys put maple syrup stuff high on the F-off scale (hence the name :)). Heck, I gave them some light crap for eating (organic) popcorn with (organic, grass-fed, clarified butter) not too long ago. But you gotta not take stuff personally, man. Brandon, I’d venture that your average person/dieter type who has not fully bought into the whole “paleo”/health/fitness lifestyle all-in probably would benefit from being alerted that just because something is labeled as “Paleo” does not mean that it is good for you/will make you healthier! Would I eat “paleo” pancakes every day? Hell, no. Brandon, I would guess that you guys would agree… from time to time, we humans need to enjoy something that may not fall into the “definitely makes us healthier” category, and some of your recipes for “treats” are FANTASTIC for such occasions.

    I guess all I am really trying to say here is “Aren’t we really all on the same team? And nobody’s perfect.” I personally think that the Whole9 folks, Mark Sisson, Robb Wolf, Health-Bent, EveryDay Paleo, et al all have great things to add to the Paleo community, and that I think we should all do our best to keep it just that… a community.

    Bottom line? Keep posting your kick-ass recipes, and brush off perceived (or real) criticisms. Don’t tale that shit personally. What YOU do and add to the community (which is significant, IMO) is what’s important, not what others may or may not have to say about it.

    Much love, and hopefully happiness!

    Justin (in ATL)

  21. Melissa and Dallas,

    i suppose i made it clear that i did not appreciate some of your posts. this is all the post was really about. you’ve stated for the record that you were not compensated and i can make a revision, i apologize for the speculation. i stated my opinion when i felt my toes were stepped on as you are here when yours were. understandable i hope.

  22. justin,

    there are disagreements in communities aren’t there? ha. it’s true that there’s a whole lot more to worry about with CW bs than between two slightly differing Paleo philosophies. and yeah, i got ticked off with a few things that i felt tried to pigeonhole or monopolize “Paleo” to just their version of the philosophy…when it denounced mine (not even just whole 9). we don’t all have to agree (and probably shouldn’t) but i’d appreciate open mindedness about other well explained, rationalized possibilities…and i didn’t think i was getting it. don’t be sad, as far as i know (at least on my side) this isn’t as huge of a chasm as my frustrated sarcasm reads as. i’m not intending to run for mayor of Paleoville by running constant negative ad campaigns. this site IS about the recipes…and only occasionally do i feel the need to have to defend them. thanks so much for the support and the nomnoms.

  23. Wow. Scathing. It is purely astonishing that one could take such an inspiring team (Whole9) who’s mission is to create a knowledgeable and healthful society and bash them to this extent. Really, there are no words. Whole9 teaches how to achieve OPTIMAL health and it is one’s responsibility to decide on his/her own how to live it and OWN his/her food choices. End of story.

  24. you’re right, could have been nicer. i’ve said in the comments a few times that i know whole 9 helps people. i don’t even think they’re entirely wrong to warn about “Paleo” “treats”. however, i’d argue that we help people too but whole 9’s tone was trending toward implying that we don’t because we believe Paleo treats can be beneficial if you know the difference. i took offense to it…and this was the result. in a way you’re arguing exactly what i am…that each individual can decide if fruit juice or even table sugar is something they want to include a little of…armed with the knowledge of their similarities/differences. i found it misleading to be told that fruit juice was an ok concession but absolutely not to table sugar. to each their own but in some ways fruit juice could be worse. they did not arm people with the information to deduce this in this instance.

  25. elitist jerk

    So… since you guys spend a lot of time modifying dessert recipes, and then putting the word “Paleo” in front of them so folks searching for healthy food (Paleo) find YOUR site, you’re pissed that other people say that chocolate cookies and brownies aren’t health food? As I see it, you’re simply upset because someone took a stance on something, and it was different than your selling-cookies-as-Paleo “health-bent” food. Your article smells of sucrose-sweetened venom.

  26. i think you may have read what you wanted to read.

    i’m not going to repeat the many statements i made in the article that are contrary to what you took from it.

  27. Wow. Elitist Jerk really gave him/herself the right name, and obviously hasn’t read anything you have posted….

  28. i appreciate the comments and thoughts and don’t even mind the nom de plume. but elitist jerk…seemed a little off to me. so i compared the ip addresses of ‘dallas & melissa’ and ‘elitist jerk’ and came back with some interesting results. maybe it’s just a coincidence….

  29. […] Health-Bent – We’re not the kind of people who feel that pushing our views on anyone is the right thing to do. We don’t want it done to us and therefore do our best to refrain. It’s nice to think that maybe if we offer our point of view in it might help someone el… […]

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