Panera Bread's Hidden Menu

The paleo and primal diets have become quite popular.  There is a big overlap with libertarians.  I suppose that libertarians would be attracted to the paleo diet because it is somewhat contrarian and goes against the establishment line on diet.

As Gary North has said, I think the paleo diet is not properly named.  I can understand the name and the appeal, but it really isn't that accurate.  The paleo diet consists of eating natural foods like meat, seafood, vegetables, eggs, and fruit and nuts to a lesser extent.  You can eat saturated fats.  Most people can eat as much as they want, as long as they stick to the menu.  You aren't going to get fat by eating another plate of vegetables.

This is not really a caveman diet because cavemen were lucky to find any food.  Thousands of years ago, it was a struggle just to put food on the table (or whatever they ate on).  There was no refrigeration, unless it was really cold outside (and then you had other problems).  There certainly was no grocery store.  For this reason, I don't think bread was a bad thing.  Give me a choice between eating bread and starving, and I will choose the bread.

But if you live in a half-decent country today, then food is mostly abundant.  You can basically eat all of the meat and vegetables that you want, assuming a modest income from somewhere.

My diet right now is mostly paleo-primal.  It is more for health reasons than weight reasons.  Perhaps I will tell my story at some point in the future.

Interestingly, Panera Bread now has a hidden menu that you can order from.  While it is still fairly limited, it is basically a paleo menu.  I had the Mediterranean chicken salad there recently and it was quite good.  Karen DeCoster recently pointed out this hidden menu on the blog.

When I tell people about the hidden menu, they wonder why it is hidden.  I have given this some thought and I can only speculate.  Panera Bread has a niche of bread and pastries.  This stands for everything that is opposite to the paleo diet.  I don't think they want to advertise the paleo diet, as it would be advertising against their very brand.

On the other hand, it makes sense that Panera Bread would offer paleo meals.  It is like McDonald's offering salads.  They understand that not all individuals in a family are the same.  Sometimes the family wants to go to a particular place, but it makes it hard if one person in the family is trying to eat healthy, or just a particular way.  It is providing options.  It shows that the paleo diet is becoming more popular.

I don't think the paleo diet is just another fad.  I'm sure people will take it and tweak it, but I think the general basis of it will stay around.  Americans have an epidemic of different diseases and a huge factor in that is diet.  When more Americans start eating paleo, or at least cutting back severely on high carb foods and processed foods, then we will see a decline in auto immune diseases, psychological disorders, and other health problems.

I celebrate Panera's hidden menu.  It simply means that they are responding to market demand.  I look forward to more restaurants doing the same.