Marks Daily Apple
Serving up health and fitness insights (daily, of course) with a side of irreverence.
29 Feb

Can We Feed the World on the Primal Blueprint Diet? – Part 1

Every couple weeks, I get an email that asks about the global sustainability of the Primal Blueprint diet. It’s a common question, one that probably deserves a comprehensive answer – or as close to one as I can muster. See, the problem is that the world is really, really big. And the problems that affect the world have many layers. Each of those problems is made up of dozens of smaller problems, localized issues whose solutions – if they even exist – don’t necessarily apply to the others.

Indeed, the question posed in the title of today’s post isn’t just one question. It is many. Next week, I’ll attempt to answer the question(s) as best I can.

But for now, I just have to ask: is it even a valid question?

Let me start this by saying that my gut reaction to this question is largely a logical response. The question is usually presented in a way that implies that if everyone went Primal at once the economies and biosystems of the world would go into a catastrophic death spiral. That a population solely comprised of Primal enthusiasts could never work. I can’t help but think that this concern is somewhat like being worried about what would happen if everyone on earth became hairdressers (or lawyers, or ballerinas, or…). With 7+ billion barbers on our hands and no scissor manufacturers in sight we’d have more than a few problems on our hands, but I won’t be losing sleep at night over this vastly small potentiality. No, that isn’t defeatism rearing it’s ugly head, and yes, it’s not a perfect analogy, but the question has always struck me as a little strange in the first place.

In any case, I think it is safe to say that the chances of the entire world going Primal anytime soon are, well, slight. Yeah, it’s almost December 21, 2012, but I somehow don’t envision a huge Primal paradigm shift happening overnight (starring a Fivefingered John Cusack)

For that to happen…

US corn, wheat, soy, and other grain subsidies that have been firmly entrenched since the 1920s and 1930s would need to be abolished.

Authorities the world over would need to revise their health recommendations, thus admitting that they were wrong on a whole lot of important stuff.

Fast food would have to stop tasting so good to so many people (I know, I know, I find the stuff pretty awful myself, but millions obviously do not share our opinion).

The list goes on and on…

No, the infrastructure, and policies and systems we need to make this a reality may not be here now, but I do think feeding the world on a diet like this might be possible in an ideal world. The raw land, the means, the animals, even the methods all exist. People can physically grow herbs and leafy greens in their backyards, on their windowsill, or in a community garden. They might have to skip an hour of TV to have enough time for it or maneuver past archaic and ridiculous city ordinances to finagle a community garden out of an abandoned lot, but it’s physically possible. Cows already eat grass for most of their lives before heading to the feedlot, so the land’s there, and methodologies like rotational grazing really do seem to work. We couldn’t be living off of roasts and ribeyes, but a global diet of real food raised/grown the right way is entirely possible.

The challenges we face aren’t insignificant, but that’s not going to stop me from trying and it shouldn’t stop you either.

You know what will send a message and have an effect, however faint and minor (for the time being)? Voting with your dollar by eating Primally. Shopping at farmers’ markets. Growing your own vegetables. Raising some chickens or perhaps even a goat, or giving your money to people who do. Buying meat, berries, and greens, not white flour and soybean oil. These actions will draw attention and have an effect because they concern money. And when you proudly eat four pastured hard boiled eggs at lunch while turning down the last of the donuts (that’s been halved and quartered until oblivion by officemates who don’t want to be the person to finish them off) and someone notices that you’ve “really slimmed down” then puts two and two together, you may have unwittingly created another person who votes with their dollar for the same things you do.

And the more individuals get on board with Primal eating, the closer we’ll get to having a chance at real, lasting, “global” change, because every one of those individuals will influence others with their results and their dollars, and the effect will snowball and pick up momentum.

Grass-fed meat, pastured eggs and bacon, organic produce grown in rich soil? Yeah, it’s not for everyone right now. The thing is, though – nothing will ever change if we let the unfortunate global realities dictate our individual diets and render us too guilt-stricken to do the right thing (for our bodies). Vote with your dollar, I say. If enough people put an extra $2 toward pastured eggs instead of the cheaper blander ones, industry will notice. If we throw in the towel because everything isn’t perfect for everyone in the world right away and right now, nothing will ever change.

And it still might not, despite our best efforts. But at least we’ll eat well and live healthier lives than we otherwise would have. In the end, that’s what really matters.

Be sure to leave a comment, and don’t hold back. I’m hoping we get a good discussion going. Thanks for reading, and stay tuned for Part II where I’ll be digging deeper on this topic next Wednesday!

You want comments? We got comments:

Imagine you’re George Clooney. Take a moment to admire your grooming and wit. Okay, now imagine someone walks up to you and asks, “What’s your name?” You say, “I’m George Clooney.” Or maybe you say, “I’m the Clooninator!” You don’t say “I’m George of George Clooney Sells Movies Blog” and you certainly don’t say, “I’m Clooney Weight Loss Plan”. So while spam is technically meat, it ain’t anywhere near Primal. Please nickname yourself something your friends would call you.

  1. I hope the rest of the world doesn’t go primal – who would I get to feel smugly superior to then?

    Interesting article, I look forward to part II.

    Stevemid wrote on February 29th, 2012
    • Oh good, it’s not just me that feels this way! I kind of enjoy I am a bit better and smarter than the rest of the people I see at the store.

      kris C wrote on February 29th, 2012
      • I think you might have said the loud part quiet and the quiet part loud on that one.

        Tina wrote on March 2nd, 2012
      • I disagree I hope more people eat healthier and primal. When people are in good shape it motivates me to do even better and strive for a higher level of excellence.


        Kung fu Master wrote on March 3rd, 2012
      • Don’t forget the people at the office. Including the ones who are celiac disease and eat everything gluten free. Why not exclude wheat altogether folks?

        Ellen wrote on January 16th, 2014
    • But, if the world goes Primal then don’t you agree that living this way would become easier? One would not have to worry about how the cow they are about to eat was grown.

      Any and all restaurants would be Primal and thus ordering off the menu would be tons of fun.

      Everyone would be happier. More people would smile and laugh. More folks would be spending time outdoors and having FUN.

      Perhaps we would all be working less and just enjoying our short stay on Earth.

      Not all 7 billion (or 10 billion at some point?) people will be Primal in my lifetime but that does not mean that tens of millions, maybe 1 billion can be before my time is done.

      You’ll just have to work harder in order to feel smugly superior 😉

      Primal Toad wrote on February 29th, 2012
      • How is it hard to live Primal? I don’t know about you but I find it easier to sit and eat an entire head of lettuce and a half a pound of meat. It saves a ton of time too.

        Nathan wrote on February 29th, 2012
        • Same here! I only have a meal once a day. Around one hour cooking and eating total! Easy peasy!

          andrea wrote on February 29th, 2012
        • It takes a lot more work in the part of the country I live in to find clean meats and sometimes even organic veggies, so I would say it’s harder to eat Primal than like everyone else. Not to mention all the irritating comments I get from my food choices.

          Otherwise, yeah it’s pretty easy deciding what to eat.

          Jen wrote on March 7th, 2012
      • Agreed, Toad. Society is just not set up to make primal easy. I always have to cook ahead of time and plan out my meals if I’m at school all day. Although I like being different than the conventional wisdom, it would be nice if society were more inviting to this lifestyle!

        Brendan wrote on February 29th, 2012
        • Schools have kitchens…….

          cjbrooks wrote on March 13th, 2012
      • And we wouldn’t have to pay healthcare for all those sick people…that money could be put to better use.

        Jen wrote on February 29th, 2012
        • You raise an important issue. Instead of Mark’s introductory question you are actually asking: “Is the non-primal way of living sustainable?” How can we feed the world by growing food that makes most people sick?

          Karl wrote on March 1st, 2012
        • Very excellent point. A large reason why our economy is a joke is because of health care.

          Sure, the all the medical interventions are great as its saving lives but in the long run, in the grand scheme of things is it hurting society more than its helping it? I mean, people aren’t really living anymore. They are just existing. They get sick and just exist for the last 10-20 years or so or for much longer.

          The state of our world at this moment is not sustainable. We absolutely must make some dramatic changes.

          We thrived in this world for tens of thousands of years out in the wild. You would think that we wouldn’t be suffering as much as we are right now.

          Primal Toad wrote on March 1st, 2012
        • Yeah, and Americans are so concerned about the cost of health care. Especially universal health care. Going Primal would take care of so much of the escalating costs we are projecting! Can you imagine???

          Michele wrote on March 1st, 2012
        • +1

          Primal Blueprint Danmark wrote on March 2nd, 2012
        • +2

          BillP wrote on June 19th, 2012
      • I couldn’t agree more.
        Time and energy into health and happiness.
        I like the thought.

        ElyseRenae wrote on February 29th, 2012
      • Everybody interested in primal living should read Ishmael by Daniel Quinn. I just finished it for about the 50th time and am all amped up about it, again! Differences between Takers (us) and Leavers (primitives) deeply explored with emphasis on food.

        primalgrandma wrote on March 1st, 2012
        • Completely agree! Ishmael is an amazing book and it changed my whole outlook on the way our society sees its “truths” and the voice of Mother Culture :) If you get a chance, pick it up!

          Alison Elaine wrote on March 1st, 2012
        • Also, anything by Paul Shepard.

          BillP wrote on June 19th, 2012
        • +1 to Ishmael! I read it recently….I think it goes hand in hand with the Primal Blueprint as the two most important books I’ve ever read!

          Jeff wrote on October 15th, 2015
      • Toad, I 100% Agree!

        I remember when looking at a menu used to be fun. Now it’s mostly just a waste of time.;)

        Chris wrote on March 1st, 2012
      • +1 Toad!

        I say Toad for President. :)

        Cal wrote on March 1st, 2012
        • Lol. Maybe primal president…

          Primal Toad wrote on March 2nd, 2012
      • Totally agree Toad. Eating would be stress-free if you didn’t have to worry about what oil was used to cook the chicken you had on your salad for lunch, or what the pig ate that supplied the solstice ham, etc. Plus everyone would be happier and less grumpy, and the people you saw walking down the street would mostly be lean and attractive instead of mostly looking like boats.

        I would definitely rather live in Primaland than SAD country.

        Uncephalized wrote on March 2nd, 2012
    • That’s too funny. I try not to feel that way. It’s actually kind of sad when I see folks so miserably out of shape and knowing how they could turn their life around.

      Corey wrote on February 29th, 2012
      • I’m the same way. I see people out of shape and want to preach the Primal/Paleo fire and brimstone sermon I have welling up inside of me. My family and friends hear it and pay it no mind. However, I do have a work friend who just ate some of the Hungarian goulash I made from Mark’s previous post and she said it was yummy. She’s jumping on board. So, it really is a one person at a time thing.

        Todd Watson wrote on February 29th, 2012
        • I feel that way too, especially when I have overweight and unhealthy friends who complain to me about their weight. I’ve provided the information to them, even offered to share some cooking, but really the change has to be on them. And they won’t make the change. It’s really frustrating and hard.

          But in the meantime, it really does come down to what Mark said – vote with your dollar, and if nothing else, you can live knowing that you are optimizing your own health and enjoying your own life to the max!

          Re: sustainability – I’ve seen pretty good studies comparing organic crop yields to conventional crop yields. Organic yield is only a fraction, a SMALL fraction less than conventional, and in some crops organic yield is more. PLUS, organic has a much higher profit margin because it sells for a much higher price, making it a better investment for the farmer.

          Abby J. (formerly C.) wrote on February 29th, 2012
        • Congrats!! It’s a huge success to get another person on the primal bandwagon!!

          Alyssa wrote on March 1st, 2012
        • I quit preaching. If people are interested, they will ask me questions and I answer. But I really quit trying to convince the diabetics in my family to stop shoving cakes, candy and pasta in their mouths. It just didn’t work, they only get angry with me. And even though I think their idiots for not even trying a different diet, I still love them very much, so I just let them be.

          Fair Flavors wrote on March 3rd, 2012
    • Exactly my Option, The First thing that came to my mind!

      May they Contiinue to eat cake!

      Pat wrote on February 29th, 2012
      • I think almond flour tastes like cake.

        Animanarchy wrote on March 1st, 2012
        • aww man, i want almond flour in my mouth right now!

          JDub wrote on April 19th, 2012
    • I posted this on the last page, but reposting here. Sincerely apologize, but I believe this is important!

      “Great article Mark. I’ve been discussing this a lot with my (non-primal but recently less bread-eating) brother lately, with me arguing basically the same thing you do. Something that really caught my attention a few weeks ago was a lecture by Allan Savory. For quick info on Savory and his methods for reclaiming desert using grazing animals, check out:

      And of course, the lecture, which starts out a bit slow, but the potential impact is huge!

      Savory won the Buckminster Fuller Award in 2010, which lends him a lot of credibility.

      I have posted a ‘request’ to invite Allan Savory to do a TED Talk, but only two people have replied so far, which is really sad (considering how the quality of TED talks has slipped of late)

      If at least some of you other primal enthusiasts posting here would visit the link below, register at TED forums and post a reply, something could happen! So, if you’ve read some of the material on Savory and are as excited as I am, please help get the attention of the TED people!

      Read more:

      Henrik wrote on February 29th, 2012
    • Human population was estimated to be 1 million 10,000 years ago; today its 7 billion. In other words, 99% of homo sapiens that have ever lived, did so eating grains. If we are going to use the relative time argument to talk about evolution, lets count total human days, not linear time. In this regard, the football field analogy doesn’t hold water.

      I agree that each individual is different and must experiment; some people are completely lactose intolerant, some allergic to gluten, and some break out in hives when they eat peppers, eggs, or mushrooms (that’s right, foods considered paleo staples). The human dietary spectrum is wide ranging and cannot be reduced to a single maxim, such as WWGD (What Would Grok Do?). Such unequivocal positions are best left to religious fundamentalists.

      I think a far more balanced approach would be to posit that dietary optimization may resemble a bell curve, with the mean being the paleo diet and the standard deviation being unknown.

      The paleo lifestyle is a scientifically backed movement, but sometimes these sites tend to be dogmatic or products of group think. I think the mainstream would be much more receptive if paleo advocates acknowledged the limitation of nutritional research. Also, using evolution as a basis for the paleo diet only invites an onslaught of skeptical questioning, which no one on this site, including to my knowledge even Mark Sisson has really answered. Giving 10,0000, 400 generations, or 5 yards as an indication of the relative recentness of agriculture means nothing.

      Also, I would love for mark to step in, but he probably won’t. He has to realize this contradiction, but relies on Grok as his marketing tool. Takeaway his mascot and he is the South Beach diet.

      Jimmy wrote on March 1st, 2012
      • Hey Mr. Big Words. Don’t knock it ’till you try it :)

        rabbit_trail wrote on March 1st, 2012
        • Um…I’ve been paleo for 2 years. I am just frustrated that the movement has been hijacked by dogmatic people.

          Jimmy wrote on March 1st, 2012
      • I get it. :-)

        rarebird wrote on March 1st, 2012
      • Well said Jimmy, I totally agree. I don’t think there’s any such thing as a ‘bad food,’ provided its REALLY FOOD (naturally grown/raised, whole; don’t go telling me a Twinkie is food!), and is properly prepared (grains soaked, etc…). I like your idea of a bell curve; plants and animals probably work best for most, but you will encounter a few who just can’t tolerate so much meat/fat and do better on grains or legumes.

        I’ve been paleo for 3 years and am going into public policy/public health in college to try and make it more of a widespread lifestyle, so I’m absolutely not criticizing the diet. I just think that when trying to get through to the world, it does pay to be as un-dogmatic as possible.

        Additionally, you bring up a good point about the evolutionary basis of the diet. As a strong Christian, sometimes I have a hard time reconciling these two bits of my life with each other. Again, I think it pays to be as uncotroversial as possible. The evolution argument might convince many people, but straight up results might convince more, and those can’t be denied. What we really need are more studies comparing the general health of a population eating healthy CW style, and a population eating healthy paleo. Hopefully I can facilitate something like this in college :)

        Alyssa wrote on March 1st, 2012
        • Alyssa,

          Best of luck to you. I’m like you, trying to challenge old paradigms, but on issues of transportation and city planning. When advocating for change, its important to remain humble and not become too wed to your own ideas, lest you become like those you are trying to help and ingrained in your own static paradigms. You sound like you understand this, so I’m sure you will have plenty of success!

          Jimmy wrote on March 1st, 2012
      • Btw, I have run across several mentions – including in comments here – that the Paleo community is known for followers and for a lack of “critical thinking”. How does that advance the cause – not to mention conform to ancestral values?

        If we want to honor our ancestors, it would be good to remember the precursor of modern man, Cro-Magnon, were regarded as intelligent & tool using. Homo Sapiens means (In Latin) “wise”.

        Modern mankind is descended not from the strongest amongst the Genus Homo – such as the Neanderthal – but the smartest and most technologically inclined. All other species of the Genus Homo are now extinct.

        If Homo Sapiens aren’t careful, we may become extinct as well. Abandoning our intellect and use of technology is not the way to avoid such a fate, IMO. We need to use technology much more wisely, including a return to lower tech methods for sustainable living.

        rarebird wrote on March 1st, 2012
      • Thanks for your words, Jimmy:

        “Such unequivocal positions are best left to religious fundamentalists.”

        I’m glad to see that there are a few people here that are calmly offering differing and well thought out opinions. I agree with much that you say. Many of the comments on this particular post are way too dogmatic, mean spirited and shallow for my taste. Yes, it reminds me exactly of what you wrote: “religious fundamentalism”. Ugh. I think I will avoid telling my fellow humans of my paleo interests. Don’t want to be identified as a member of the diet police.

        DH wrote on March 1st, 2012
      • Jimmy,

        The Paleo argument per Cordain/Wolf/Sisson, etc. is not based on *relative* time. Rather it is based on adaptations over generations (which, again, is not a relative concept). So, it’s not the number of people per se that is important but the number of adaptations. I.e., those 99% you speak of–the billions living post-agricultural revolution–are a large end product from a *relatively* small number who existed over a large number of prior generations. Which is to say, 99+% of adaptions occurred before agriculture. Ergo, you are naturally selected to eat Paleo.

        Mr. Peripatetic

        Peripatetic wrote on March 1st, 2012
        • In other words, we are not the product of those billions Jimmy speaks of, but instead those billions (including us) are the product of those earlier millions who lived prior to agriculture.

          Peripatetic wrote on March 1st, 2012
        • Well done mr peripatetic! Well done

          Tyler wrote on March 22nd, 2012
    • Joel Salatin is the example of what has to happen: local diversified farms which depend upon pasture feeding of the large livestock, and everything else stems from this. Non-farmers would have their own gardens as much as possible, and you’d buy the rest of your food from your local farmers. This is what the US had until the 1930s. Industrial agrigrain has accomplished a hugely detrimental shift in only a relatively few decades. It’s not that outlandish. It will only happen on a large-scale basis,though, if the infrastructure breaks down and industrial agrigrains are no longer accessible. Become Locavores!

      Debbie wrote on March 1st, 2012
    • . . . and who else would actually enjoy documentaries of this sort that show how correctly (according to the cosmos) they have chosen to eat?

      Below a link to the new film “Fresh” only free before March 3rd!

      Sorry not link – just cut and paste

      judy M wrote on March 1st, 2012
  2. Something that many anti-paleo arguments don’t realize is that, although the world population is growing, it is peaking. As people become wealthier, and children become more expensive to raise into productive adults (education), people chose to have fewer children. The fertility rate in Taiwan, Japan, Italy, Spain, and Germany are lower than the replacement rate. Eventually, the world population will decline, and agricultural science and technology (such as drip irigation), will make it more and more feasible to feed the world, better.

    Helen wrote on February 29th, 2012
    • Actually that’s not now population growth works. Even if everyone in the world dropped their fertility rate to 2.1 children per woman (the rate for replacing the population) tomorrow, the population would continue to grow for at least one generation because the children of larger families now would be having 2.1 children. E.g. if in one family a couple in generation 1 has 9 kids, they each have 2 kids, you end up with a three generation population of 29 (2 parents + 9 g1 + 18g2), just within a family.

      It’s called population lag effect:

      Sarah wrote on February 29th, 2012
      • That doesn’t address the issue Helen mentioned which is that population growth is declining in many countries. That is, the fertility rate is less for those countries than the replacement rate… closer to 1 child per family in the countries she sited.

        RBart wrote on March 1st, 2012
      • That only makes sense if you aren’t counting existing children as people.

        rabbit_trail wrote on March 1st, 2012
    • maybe the population of more developed countries is peaking…but is that true for poorer, less developed places? expense of raising children isnt the driving force perhaps, in these places: lack of birht control, religious/societal negativity to bc, or maybe some ignorance? not to sound elitist, but for some people, limiting or not having children isnt an idea that some socities “allow”…

      HopelessDreamer wrote on February 29th, 2012
      • sorry for the typos..

        HopelessDreamer wrote on February 29th, 2012
      • Children are traditionally an asset for farmers and homesteaders. In our Brave New World, they are an expense to the person on the hamster wheel pulling the 50 hours a week so he can buy a crapton of stuff and afford the ever bigger house to store it in. Thus why birth rates have continued to decline in western nations. The U.S. netted a population gain due to immigration only.
        Besides that, the S.A.D has built-in birth control…..fertility assistance biz is a-boomin’.

        Oly wrote on February 29th, 2012
        • That last sentence? Dead on.

          Alison Golden wrote on February 29th, 2012
        • Grain production –> Increased population –> Decreased nutrition –> Increased infertility –> Decreased population

          Infertility is one of nature’s ways of controlling population. A very elegant solution, actually.

          Ashley wrote on February 29th, 2012
      • It is true, in developing countries people have lots of reasons to have several kids. Education helps as it does with new farming methods. My son is doing work right now in Africa teaching permaculture techniques that have been very effective in increasing the food production capability for at risk people. For now them meat is an absolute luxury, but there is some hope, based on the hard work of a lot of good people.

        Taffy wrote on February 29th, 2012
      • Robert Sapolsky’s, “Why Zebra’s Don’t Get Ulcers” has an interesting part about birth control and breastfeeding. Typically a mother in a hunter-gatherer style setting breastfeeds pretty continiously instead of just here and there. I forget all the science behind it, but by doing this it is like a natural birth control until the child moves to food around 4-5 years old.

        Nature is pretty smart.

        Todd wrote on February 29th, 2012
  3. I recommend Lierre Keith’s book, “The Vegetarian Myth” for its description of how the grain/cereal monocultures are destroying our topsoil. Yes, super grains from the Green Revolution stopped horrible famines in their tracks back in the 1960’s, but we can do better for our planet going forward. I look around and see a LOT of waste in grassy lawns… including my own.

    Joy Beer wrote on February 29th, 2012
    • The Vegetarian Myth was life altering for me. I recommend it to everyone.

      joey wrote on February 29th, 2012
      • Me too, I credit my son, inspiring member of the next generation….

        Taffy wrote on February 29th, 2012
    • I can second this recommendation. Excellent book and a must read for everyone really.

      Primal Toad wrote on February 29th, 2012
      • +3 on Keith’s book.

        HopelessDreamer wrote on February 29th, 2012
        • Me too. I wanted to buy it for all my veggie friends, but don’t have the money right now.

          Melissa wrote on February 29th, 2012
        • Lierre Kieth I love. The book I love. Infertiliy is up in industrial countries….wheat is winning.

          andre Chimene wrote on February 29th, 2012
    • The other thing people fail to consider are the root causes of those big famines: central planning.

      Oly wrote on February 29th, 2012
      • Amen, Oly. It DOES appear that more people worldwide are finally waking to the fact that central planning not only doesn’t work, it’s disastrous everywhere it’s tried. I still have hope…and a freezer full o’meat. =o)

        Deannacat wrote on February 29th, 2012
    • Exactly, “The Vegetarian Myth” states that primal is the only sustainable food. If you can’t pick it or kill it where you live, don’t eat it.

      I recommend a search on youtube for “polyface farm” as well. Really interesting about the amounts of free-range animal products they can produce. It feeds more people per acre than corn does, and in full health instead of malnourished.

      Tobe wrote on February 29th, 2012
    • I have read Lierre’s book and found it absolutely fascinating..I think she has a lot of very valid points, apart from some that I find difficult to agree gender ( Male) being attacked as a prime cause of the pickle the world is in. However the pieces of wisdom about eating locally, not driving a car, and not breeding seems like good stuff to be getting on with. Growing your own food, building soil, and letting the suburbs descend back to nature also seem like wise ways to reverse the unsustainability of living beyond the earths resources. I especially like the idea of being a participant not a dominator in terms of our place on the planet. Alas though the current consumer model and vested interest will never let go without being made to either by running resources out or destroying the foundations so that nothing can survive..a little bleak, but the planet has shaken off worse. Lierre’s book is a must read…

      BT wrote on February 29th, 2012
  4. “If enough people put an extra $2 toward pastured eggs instead of the cheaper blander ones, industry will notice. If we throw in the towel because everything isn’t perfect for everyone in the world right away and right now, nothing will ever change.”

    I like that statement. It falls in line with the quote attributed to Ghandi: “Be the change you want to see in the world.”

    I’ve been “quietly” going primal for a few weeks. I’ve been working out according to the Primal Blueprint Fitness ebook going on my third week now. I’ve been doing a PB worthy diet for a bit longer. I’m seeing change (although I have had some weird stalls in my weight in the last 2 weeks). I find myself having a harder and harder time staying quiet when people talk about the diets they’re on…or what they think is healthy to eat, or how they think it’s healthy to exercise. Of course, when I do comment, people generally say that they could never give up grains and processed sugar (it’s REALLY not that hard once you decide to do it!).

    I like this post because it puts the question into perspective…I’m curious if it’s people who have a genuine interest in seeing the change globally who ask the question, or the nay-sayers who think eating like Grok is just too expensive and/or hard to do. Good stuff, Mark! Thanks!

    Dustin wrote on February 29th, 2012
    • I feel lucky. I get a dozen, large pastured eggs with the most beautiful dark golden yolks you can imagine for $1.70!

      db wrote on February 29th, 2012
      • You are lucky! I’ve been buying the high omega-3 eggs at the store for SO much money (I’m in Canada where they’re $4.79 a dozen) because the “pastured,” organic eggs I’ve tried at nearby farms are TERRIBLE – anemic-looking, light-yellow yolks, runny whites, and they tasted just awful. So, I keep paying for the yummy eggs until I find a farm that actually has good eggs……. I’m at a loss right now.

        HD wrote on February 29th, 2012
        • Those do not sound like pastured, organic eggs. Not fresh ones anyway. When I lived on the farm and had chickens, their eggs had hard shells, high bright yellow/orange yolks and high firm whites.

          I find that chickens confined to a penned area have the same poor quality eggs as caged chickens produce. They may be outside, but the only food available to them is what a human provides; no bugs, no wild seed, no fresh raw greens, no sand and gravel, no real exercise.

          Go visit the farm(s) to see if their birds roam over acres, or if they are confined to a small enclosed area with bare soil.

          W.J. Purifoy wrote on February 29th, 2012
        • It all depends on what the chicken is fed and what % of it’s food is free-ranged in a decent outdoor environment. A chicken that mostly eats Amway chicken food and free ranges on a grass lawn for a few minutes a day is not going to produce high-quality eggs. GIGO.

          Debbie wrote on March 1st, 2012
      • I get pastured eggs delivered for about $4 – probably get them cheaper if I went out to the farms, but it’s a convenience when I order other a la carte meat. And frankly, I’m happy to pay even $4 a dozen for that excellent quality! But good for you for getting the great deal.

        People might balk at $4 a dozen eggs, but for $25 a month I’m getting a quality food source that’s a foundation of my diet, so I consider it a cheap investment.

        Finnegans Wake wrote on February 29th, 2012
        • Paying $4.50 a dozen for my pastured eggs….but when I have to buy the omega 3 ones at the store my husband can tell the difference immediately.

          Dragonfly wrote on February 29th, 2012
        • In the San Francisco Bay Area, the going rate seems to be around $8 per dozen for pastured (at shops or farmers markets). There is a CSA that delivers for $6.50, but we haven’t found anything lower. (if anyone can tell me where to get them cheaper, I’d love to hear it).

          John wrote on February 29th, 2012
        • You can get good healthy chicks that mature in a couple months and lay abundant eggs through mail order services quite inexpensively. Even beautiful heirloom stocks are a minimal initial investment. If you check your local ordinances, you might turn up some surprises… in my town, apparently, up to two chickens on a property are permitted (chicks don’t count). A rotating cast of growing chicks and laying hens can turn out a steady supply of hearty eggs and chicken meat/bones for a fraction of what you’d pay for the final product at the store or market. I haven’t talked to my landlord yet, but she’s already on board with the garden, so…

          Erik wrote on February 29th, 2012
        • Re: Bay area…I just moved here and I have found pastured eggs for $4 in many places. Don’t know where you live but at least the Ferry Plaza farmer’s market has ’em. I got 18 eggs for $5!

          Also…I wasn’t aware of anyone discussing the fact that if the world hadn’t gone off Primal in the first place, the population couldn’t have gotten so big. It’s a grain heavy diet that has allowed population to explode, so of course a Primal diet couldn’t sustain the current population. How to get back to that…I don’t know.

          Kyle wrote on February 29th, 2012
        • Pastured eggs in my area are $8.00/doz. so I don’t get them very often.

          As far as feeling smug or trying to convert others to the primal way of eating, I’m happy to just let people find their own way. I’ve never known anybody who appreciates a smug know-it-all.

          DH wrote on February 29th, 2012
        • I’ve been paying $4 per dozen for pastured eggs delivered to me, but just today, the farmer jacked up the price to $5 due to rising costs. Honestly, I can never go back to grocery store eggs, even if they are a lot cheaper. So I’m sticking with my farm fresh eggs. At Whole Foods, comparable eggs are $6 a dozen.

          Sabrina wrote on February 29th, 2012
        • Our city just turned down a petition to allow chickens to be raised within city limits. Apparently, this comes up every few years and our city council consistently turns it down. Imagine how awesome it would be to have 1 or 2 chickens to provide eggs in your backyard in the city. Of course, they would have to be well protected from the cats, coyotes and raccoons we have roaming at night.

          Happycyclegirl wrote on March 1st, 2012
        • Kyle- I’ve seen multiple blogs and articles say that pastured eggs from the Ferry Building farmers market are in the $7-8 per dozen range, and Marin Sun’s price is $7.98 for pre-order to pick up at the farmers market. Are you sure what you got is pastured? Starting 2/1/12, only pastured eggs can be sold at that farmers market, so there shouldn’t be any confusion going forward.

          John wrote on March 1st, 2012
      • Jealous! I have to travel a ways (100 miles) to get them from family or hope my dad’s coworker has extra (those are still $3.50/dozen)

        Jen wrote on March 7th, 2012
  5. The world can easily be fed on a primal diet. If everyone farmed like Joel Salatin we would have a abundance of nutrient dence real food.

    Joel Salatin – Polyface farm

    Here in Norway the milk and meat gets
    lower pay when it has a high fat content. Wich is a horrendeus practice. It shows how low the modern dietary paradigm has gotten us.

    Check out this amazing vid. Livestock farming is the solution to many of our problems. Dont get any misinformed and dogmatic vegan, green-activist fool you to think othervise. They dont know how nature and farming really works. I was born and raised on a farm that still has sheep :) I hope to take over one day, that is truly my dream, but not with the current situation. I know people will expand ther conciousness about life, so they make better choices. Thats what beeing on this planet is all about.

    Peace :)

    *The world is leaning to more organic and natural food production/diet. One of the last paradigm shifts will be on how we view our food production. Right now the world is ill informed in this area because of people who doesent understand nature and how farming works. We all know cows shouldent be eating grains 😉

    Most of you probably know Paul Chek. He is the one person we all should listen to. The man is a legend. This lecture of his is amazing, and will teach you a lot about farming, the soil and nutrition. Dont be scared of the metaphysics and spirituality, its natural to be skeptical to everything new. Look past it if you dont like it, and take the rest he has to offer. And he is really entertaining guy :)

    Nutrition: The Dirt Facts – Part 1

    Torgeir wrote on February 29th, 2012
    • Also check for “Fresh” video showcasing Joel Salatin and others which is free for viewing until March 3, 2012.

      Maureen wrote on February 29th, 2012
      • @ Maureen. I just tried to watch Fresh (before seeing this link) but I could only get a couple minutes into it b/c the farm hands were unloading the baby chicks from their travel cratesby tossing them to the ground :( The act just seemed vary callous and dismissive of the chicks value as living beings. Does the documentary get better or does it focus more on ill-treated farm animals?

        RobyRey wrote on February 29th, 2012
        • @RobyRey It does get better. I too cringed at that point in the film thinking “oh no, not another disturbing animal abuse doco” (coming from an ex-vegan/now still very compassionate primal)..But it is more about sustainable food sources not the animals in particular. Definitely worth watching :)

          Dylan wrote on February 29th, 2012
    • Joel Salatin addresses the very question Mark asks above. I think Salatin’s viewpoint is also worth having — not as gospel, obviously, but as a perspective:


      This is the number one assumption from the greater culture out there: your system can’t feed the world. If our system can’t feed the world, then we’re all just living in a pipe dream. How can we take a moral road advocating a system that can’t feed the world? People tell me that because I advocate a non-toxic agricultural system, I must want people to starve.

      One day I sat down at a banquet in Washington state, and the guy next to me sits down and just looks at me and says: “Why do you want half a million Orientals to be blind?” Turns out he was a great advocate of genetically engineered “golden rice” to provide vitamin A to Asians, because otherwise they would go blind. Of course the reason lots of Asians are short of vitamin A is because they are using chemicals from the West that have nuked all the bokchoy and arugula and Chinese cabbage that were native around the rice paddies, along with the tilapia that ate the snails and along with the ducks that laid eggs and made meat and ate the algae. Truth be told, you have to eat ten pounds of golden rice in order to get the same amount of carotenes that you would get out of one serving of a vibrant green bokchoy or arugula….”

      The entire text at The Politics of Food —

      Janus wrote on February 29th, 2012
      • Kinda sorta my thought too–if we’re thinking global here, let’s take into account that an American version of Primal/Paleo isn’t going to work in places where they don’t eat beef, or pork, and may not have access to coconuts, avocados, brussels sprouts, yams, etc.

        It CAN be carried out with modifications, since most of the rest of the world raises its livestock (whatever that may be) on pastureland without the use of medicated feeds, or drugs of any kind.

        You just have to go country by country, find out what’s available, what native foods offer the most nutritious bang for the buck, what exercise forms are natural to them (and how they can be replicated using native materials), and make sure they have an income sufficient to support it all.

        THAT’S THE BIG PART–the income. Our failing? We have plenty of income comparatively, but we take in more calories than we expend.

        Our over-technologized, push-button American and European world offers every convenience known to man, and boy do we make use of it!

        To my knowledge, Asians don’t have an obesity epidemic, so leave them alone. Just make the PLAN available to whoever feels they have need of it, and you’re going to have to do it with native availabilities in mind.

        Wenchypoo wrote on March 1st, 2012
        • You are presuming that every economy is cash-based, which is incorrect. Yes, diets and movement will be different in different regions; welcome to ancestral health. Please refer to Weston Price for further details.

          Lauren wrote on March 4th, 2012
  6. Thanks, Mark, for addressing a very important topic. Some people on primal/paleo/etc. seem to feel that since they have found out how to survive, “bring back survival of the fittest!” Honestly, I see no way that the world can sustain 7 billion, or even 1 billion, people. But we shouldn’t stop trying to find solutions.

    IMHO, it isn’t important for the whole world to go primal, even if that was possible. The important thing is to live as ancestrally as possible. Primal is wonderful for many people. Personally, I do something closer to Archevore, which is more doable for people who are not recovering from serious health problems or wanting to reach elite condition.

    +1 to Joy Beer re The Vegetarian Myth. Everyone should read it, even if they already know they don’t want to go vegetarian.

    I look forward to the rest of this series!

    Harry Mossman wrote on February 29th, 2012
    • For the world to shift to any more primitive diet, it’s going to have to go slowly.

      We could convert grain-land to other crops. Bringing any cleared forest back to deer habitat might help as well.

      But how much of the population could be sustained without grain even if other sources were bolstered? Or even if an organic localvore model was used? Would we have to adopt a model where each child has more than its parents committed to its rearing?

      There might even have to be simple density shifts… People migrating back out of the cities to the farm. Is that even possible with suburbia swallowing up the fertile land?

      Kelekona wrote on March 2nd, 2012
      • These things are related: loss of community for food production = loss of community for child-rearing. Separation of food from life (how did THAT happen!?) = outsourcing food production = separation of rural and urban and intensification of both. This is where primal gets radical, in my opinion.

        Lauren wrote on March 4th, 2012
  7. We can do anything we set or minds and emotions to. Right now we chase the economy and other gibberish. Our well being is second. It will be first and then the perception and dogmas that surround us will fade. We will eat, drink, do what is beneficial, not artificial.

    Paul Alexander wrote on February 29th, 2012
  8. Mark, you are right on the “money”! If we vote with our money, then the foods we prefer will become more available and cost less. Just look at organics – 20 years ago you didn’t see organic produce in main stream markets and stores. Today, even Winn Dixie in the southeast US carries organic products.

    Guy wrote on February 29th, 2012
    • +1

      rarebird wrote on February 29th, 2012
    • This is so true. If no one bought Cheerios anymore then they simply would not exist.

      We are always improving.

      Think about car phones… may folks now have them but do they exist anymore? Not that I know of because of cell phones.

      Many think Cheerios are a health food (I once did) but if everyone knew that eggs are healthier then no one would buy Cheerios and everyone would buy eggs.

      The supply of eggs would certainly decrease and Cheerios would become non existent.

      Primal Toad wrote on February 29th, 2012
      • Unless you are allergic to eggs probably due to all the vaccines you were pumped with as a child…

        Linda wrote on February 29th, 2012
        • Or flu shots, or the antibiotics and animal enhancers given to animals, or chemical spray or genetically engineered produce, or artificially/chemically altered procedures for processing foods. Peoples’ demand for everything perfect and convenient is the driving force and some of the many reasons for society’s unhealthy state.

          Pip wrote on March 2nd, 2012
      • Free market economics would take care of that decrease practically overnight. Where there is demand, the market will provide.

        Deannacat wrote on February 29th, 2012
        • Thats not true as long as the government has an agenda on pushing their SAD. There are too many pockets being padded for the government to let Big Grain go under.

          shane wrote on May 9th, 2012
    • +1 also! Our local grocery store, called Wegmans, is one of, if not the biggest in upstate NY. One of the things that I think has made the chain so successful is that they focus on what the consumers want. They have a constantly expanding organic/natural section of the store that includes food, spices, diapers, soap, vitamins, frozen goods, even toilet paper. If you can’t make it to the farmer’s market, you’ve still got some good options there. Additionally, during the spring through the fall, they use local farmers for much of their produce. There’s a board in front of the produce section that tells us what veggies and fruit came in from which farm and when, as well as a calendar of what to expect in the coming week! As far as a chain grocery store goes, it is a great place to shop. Prices are good too. My kids and I love the farmers market better than anything, but mid-week, when I suddenly find myself out of the kids favorites, Wegmans is the next best thing, in my opinion. They’ve made the Top100 Best Places to work list a few times, so they’re pretty good to their employees I guess. Anyway, any business is going to follow the dollar, and the organic, grass-fed movement has definitely affected what is available at my grocery store.

      LizS wrote on February 29th, 2012
      • Wegmans isn’t a local grocery store but a supermarket chain, now expanding over the East Coast, USA. That said, I agree with you that for organic foods, locally sourced produce and meats, and more, Wegmans does an exceptionally good job. They likewise sell tons of the usual SAD cr*p as that’s also what many of their customers want. Still, Wegmans goes a long way to enabling a Paleo or low-carb/no-carb lifestyle. On the one hand, I’d like to see more supermarket chains truly on board; on the other hand, what I’ve seen so far from others suggest they’re not that interested in getting it right.

        Janus wrote on February 29th, 2012
  9. I’ve been fully Primal for about 2 months now and seen brilliant changes in myself and my family. I think the awakening and mentality that comes with learning enough to make these changes will change the world one person (or family) at a time. It goes beyond just eating healthy. Mark, you are championing something incredible. I’m the type of person who, once convinced (logically and scientifically), will be a champion for the cause as well. In just a few months I have seen it change many lives for the better- and not just in small amounts! I can’t not share!

    Kristyan wrote on February 29th, 2012
  10. Mark, i like very much how you expressed this; you’re a voice of calm reason in a blogosphere that can become pretty frenzied at times! thanks!

    tess wrote on February 29th, 2012
  11. Well, since over population of the most crowded countries has only been possible because of grains, it is unlikely that this is possible. Historically, don’t you think tribe/group population size was regulated by food availability? And weren’t they eating purely paleodiets? Yes.

    Dustin wrote on February 29th, 2012
  12. This is pretty much my reaction as well.

    Not everyone will go primal overnight, and as they do, supply will increase to meet demand.

    And probably there will NEVER be a time when everyone eats a particular way. That would be boring anyway. Diversity is one of the things that makes humans exciting.

    Chris Pine wrote on February 29th, 2012
    • Even if everyone ate primal, all diets would still be diverse. Not everyone thrives on the same macronutrient ratios as well as micronutrient ratios.

      We are all still different. Some eat more fruit then others. Some avoid fruit. We all prefer different meats. Different spice rubs. Different herbs. Etc, etc.

      I would love a world without any grains whatsoever.

      Primal Toad wrote on February 29th, 2012
  13. It would be amazing to see the world go Primal! It really is amazing how much the grain farmers deplete the soils of nutrients because they don’t rotate the crops. Not to mention all the herb and pesticides they spray.

    My husband and I have been primal since the end of September, we couldn’t be happier, and are looking forward to planting our own garden this summer!

    We went home this weekend for a visit with family, and it’s really amazing how stuck everyone is on the CW crap. My sister had some nerve telling me that “she’s kept 40lbs off for over 8 years” (which she hasn’t) and that she “doesn’t need anyone telling her what to do”! Virtually everyone had put on some amount of weight too, while were the only ones to have lost any. During brunch, I had to stop looking at everyone’s plates, as I was completely disgusted by what the thought was “healthy”.

    I really do appreciate Mark for writing on his blog everyday and for all of the information in his book! I feel absolutely AMAZING, I know it isn’t possible to feel this way eating by the CW recommendations and I’ve seen what the CW has done to those I love. Thank you!

    Steffy wrote on February 29th, 2012
  14. Primal diets or not, there are a lot of uncertainties about the sustainability of of our current agricultural systems. Local community and backyard gardens might be the best, most sustainable approaches to agriculture regardless.

    Matt Z wrote on February 29th, 2012
  15. Looking forward to Part 2. I talk often about the need to eschew convenience for health. It’s not convenient to acquire raw milk in NYC. It’s not cheap to get grass-fed beef or compassionate raised pork. But it’s worth it to my body and it’s worth it to the future of the system. Put the effort in!

    gilliebean wrote on February 29th, 2012
  16. The question is whether it can be done while maintaining high standards of quality. In the past 10 years the market for organic foods has grown exponentially thanks to consumer demand. Now, more of our organics are provided by Big Food, which has cut corners and successfully lobbied for loopholes in the standards to stay competitive. You have to be careful what you wish for, because you can end up with Horizon milk.

    onewomanband wrote on February 29th, 2012
    • As an organic farmer, I couldn’t agree more! Go to the Cornucopia Institute’s website to see what Monsanto has gotten pushed through the courts!

      Donna wrote on February 29th, 2012
  17. Keeping farming sustainable by using permaculture techniques that feed the soil, which in turn feeds the animals and the people I think is the key. It is standing back and looking at the whole picture. I think some of the less traditional sources of meat would be helpful in keeping balance. Things like geese(which eat greens and insects) and goat which eat brush and prefer not to eat grass(it perpetuates disease in goats).

    Ingvildr wrote on February 29th, 2012
  18. I think the world can sustain it. I have been studying rotational intensive grazing a LOT lately and if everyone with a parcel of land practiced it, so much food (including meats) can be grown. We are looking at purchasing about 5 acres outside Albuquerque here in the next couple weeks and by my estimates, can raise up to 12 different species of animals including cows, sheep, goats, pigs, fowl, and poultry. At the same time, we can support all those animals and their offspring as well as a 1-acre veggie/fruit garden. There’s not much we would have to buy. In fact, in less than a year we should have enough production that exceeds our needs, allowing us to sell the rest of what we produce. Think of how much a larger parcel of land could provide to so many families.

    I recommend reading ‘The Backyard Homestead: Produce all the food you need on just a quarter acre.’ by Carleen Madigan. It covers growing/raising everything from herbs and plants to animals and honey. I refer to it all the time as we figure out how we want to use our land once we buy it.

    Chris wrote on February 29th, 2012
    • Hey mate, great to see your interest int growing an grazing, just to sound a note of reality, It will take you 3-5 years to get into a good flow with that kind of project. We’ve done the same and it’s a huge amount of work, satisfying, but loads of work! GOod luck with it.

      DYlan wrote on February 29th, 2012
      • Absolutely! In fact, we are looking forward to see how we start as compared to how we end up in 10 years.

        We are having a staggered approach though. Starting out with the smallest animals (mostly goats and chickens; we already have chickens where we live now) and adding in animals as the land allows.

        Our aim is to provide ourselves primal ingredients (or most of them) and follow the “slow money” way of farming and grazing.

        Chris wrote on February 29th, 2012
        • Hi your vision sounds great. It is a lot of work but satisfying to produce your own food. As you expand, research each animals needs well, as they maybe all ruminants (except the pigs and poultry of course), but they are all different and have different needs and cycles. In my experience, the more “classes” of animals on one place the more difficult it is to be across each class of health needs. Also fencing for say steers or a house cow is more expensive than for sheep: and you won’t make many friends if your goats keep escaping! Maybe as you grow and learn, you could collaborate with neighbors for example, eggs for milk from their cow, or a sheep for half a side of beef. Good luck, as a boutique sheep breeder for 20 years, I am biased and think they are the easiest to manage, whichever way you go, have fun,

          Heather wrote on February 29th, 2012
        • We are starting into our third year of raising most of our own food, and I too would caution against over doing the number of animal classes at the start – though it sounds like you plan to go slow. A very good goal for the first year would be to plan, plant, and build out a bomber garden. Gardening When It Counts by Steve Solomon is our bible of the garden (though he has now changed a few things about his fertilizer recommendations since printing and is currently writing a new book).

          Re: rotational grazing – it is a powerful management tool with profound effects on soil ecology and the plant species it encourages. Five acres is a small lot though, and the cost of fencing/food returned on small acerages is poor. From a purely pocketbook perspective you might get a poor return on your dollar, but if your goals are wider than simply “healthy meat”, things like the satisfaction of raising it yourself, indoctrinating your kids with a sense of self-reliance, easy access to manure for your garden then it could be money well spent. It helps to get clear about what you want though (def read Allen Savory’s Holistic Management).
          It might be more worth your time and energy to grow something other than meat – nuts, polewood, wine grapes, etc, and barter for it with a local rancher. Just a thought.

          Edmund wrote on February 29th, 2012
    • Nice, we need more people like you:)

      Torgeir wrote on February 29th, 2012
    • Good for you! I used to homestead when I was younger and had considered taking it up again when I retired. Eventually, I felt too tired to consider working that hard.

      NOW I am feeling up for it again. When my husband retires we may go in together with my primal buddy and set up a small multi family homestead. Since we are not youngsters, I’d like to see if we could also find a local young family to join us – who would like to eventually take the entire homestead over. I’m not counting on any of our kids being willing to relocate etc.

      rarebird wrote on February 29th, 2012
  19. I found this post one of the most entertaining in a while. I used to think that it was impossible for the entire human population to eat primal, but when reading this post I second guessed myself. Maybe we can, maybe we can’t, but I will tell you one thing. In our life time we will probably never find out.

    Mike wrote on February 29th, 2012
  20. I think it will become necessary one day for everyone to attempt to go primal. It has been interesting to observe over the years how infertility and hormonal issues have become so commonplace. When most of the population finds it nearly impossible to conceive, people will have to change or else die out. It’ll work out either way because it’ll be too late to change for some.

    Diane wrote on February 29th, 2012
  21. This reminds me of something I’ve thought/heard about as a new stay-at-home mom. If you don’t take care of you, you sure as hell can’t take care of anybody else. Doing the right things for your body/family give you the strength and wellness to help someone else. Poisoning yourself isn’t going to help anybody else not starve, but maybe if you don’t have to spend so much money on doctor visits and prescription meds you can afford to help your local food pantry.

    rabbit_trail wrote on February 29th, 2012
  22. I’m really glad to see you exploring this topic, as almost no other Paleo author or blogger seems to have discussed this in any detail, and it’s something we can’t just ignore. We get to eat this way, as comparatively well-off Westerners, because we have the privilege of choosing a healthier diet. Many people do not, but while we can’t foster a worldwide, overnight food revolution, as you’ve pointed out, those small things every one of us can do — such as buying local, organic, and free-range — add up to a large difference.

    Elizabeth wrote on February 29th, 2012
  23. I think Mark’s asking the wrong question. As someone noted above, there will never be dietary homogeneity, so perhaps the better question would be whether we can feed the world if we transition away from CAFOs and the industrial farming system back to managed intensive grazing, traditional farms, local distribution networks, CSAs, etc. That might mean that some folks grow wheat or corn or soy, but we’d be talking about non-GMO crops grown for human consumption, not for animal feed or HFCS, etc. Totally agree with the abolition of Fed subsidies, BTW, for cheap junk food.

    I would be ecstatic if we could see 50% of the US production returned to the smaller, organic/pastured/grass-fed, sustainable farm systems in the next 20 years. There’s certainly a “grass-roots” movement afoot of not only primal and paleo folks, but locavores in general. Farmers like Joel Salatin (profiled in Omnivore’s Dilemma) aren’t isolated kooks, but more and more a nascent portion of the farming community. I’ve met or read about (within a 50 mile radius) of a couple of ex-engineers who (independent of each other) retired and took up sustainable farming. Lots of former white collar workers are trading it all in for the dream of a farm and a return to old ways. We have plenty of space, too: just reclaim all that farmland that was taken over for now-vacant strip malls, warehouses, shiny office centers, and self-storage centers that were built on the assumption of an ever-expanding real estate economy.

    Finnegans Wake wrote on February 29th, 2012
    • And Joel Salatin’s book ‘Folks, This Ain’t Normal: A Farmer’s Advice for Happier Hens, Healthier People, and a Better World.’ goes into detailed explanation as to why grazing livestock is actually beneficial to our soil/environment. I haven’t found a better source to counter the meat-eating-isn’t-sustainable stance.

      bluewaters wrote on February 29th, 2012
      • Joel Salatin is my hero. I am homesteading on 1.5 small city plot.
        Cows, even micromini breeds, are out. I have chickens, will have bees, could have rabbits, have nuts, grapes, strawberries, blueberries, and every kind of heirloom vegie. I winter store some, can lots, freeze some. I have less access to varied outside areas now than I did at my old house, so am concerned about what my chickens are getting to eat. Lawns are just not good for chickens. I buy raw milk, and pastured pork and chicken. I’m not a big beef eater. I think whole grains in modest amts are not harmful. Organic, heirloom grains, that is.

        Debbie wrote on March 1st, 2012
    • This is a great question and I’m so glad you put it out there. I hope you will mention the billions of wild animals, birds and fish that have died from loss of habitat when forests and wetland have been converted to monoculture of soy, wheat and corn. Lierre Keith, the animal rights activist, has an excellent expose called “the Vegetarian Myth” that shows that Paleo is much less destructive to the environment and to us.

      Laura Wittke wrote on February 29th, 2012
      • Yeah, I’m not advocating monoculture by any stretch, but if some people wanted to raise grains for a different dietary lifestyle, I’d be OK with that. Just prefer it not to be used as livestock feed or cheap filler in foods as a commodity, rather than a direct whole food.

        There was an interesting piece in the NY Times about how Tibetans, though vegetarian, will eat yak dumplings on special occasions. Apparently, they’re so good that even Buddhists will overcome their aversion to meat. And as one person put it, it’s better to take the life of one yak than the hundreds of lives of smaller creatures. Sort of comes back to the whole argument of grazing animals versus monoculture destruction (or bananas in the Amazon).

        Finnegans Wake wrote on February 29th, 2012
    • clap…clap…clap…Hooray! Thumbs up from me!!

      Wenchypoo wrote on March 1st, 2012
  24. Good article, however as long as poeple are too lazy to cook and they want instant gratification by opening a box and eating … in spite of the health benefits with primal .. well I believe that primal living would not likely become a worldwide phenomenon.

    Shane wrote on February 29th, 2012
  25. Four years ago, we ripped out our lawn because we were tired of being grass farmers. Since then, we have built raised beds for veggies and herbs, planted fruit trees, given the sunny side of the house over to squash plants, planted grapes, and so much more. Our motto is that we only plant things that someone can eat, whether that’s us, bees, butterflies or birds. Our small yard has become its own little ecosystem and you can’t believe how much food you can grow in a just a little space. Plus, the monoculture of grass is a wasteland for animals, birds and insects. Use your space to feed everyone — nature included.

    Carol wrote on February 29th, 2012
    • Good for you! Some communities have ordinances against doing that – isn’t that nuts? My suburban home is on a wedge/pie shaped lot so I don’t mind devoting the tiny front yard for the birds, bees, and butterflies – plus a small amount of grass. We use the grass and leaves for mulch/compost and cut the grass with a reel mower. The kitchen garden is in the large backyard – but fenced off so the dogs have their own space and leave the garden alone.

      rarebird wrote on February 29th, 2012
  26. There’s no way we have enough farmland to feed the world on this diet. Just can’t happen until population falls significantly.

    Jason wrote on February 29th, 2012
    • @Jason

      There is enough farmland if we use it the right way. Look at Joel Salatin and what he is doing with rotation grazing and multi species. He claims that 70% of all corn grown goes to feed cows, the cows should be eating grass, along with chickens, turkeys and egg layers. As an added bonus it is more profitable for the farmers.

      Todd wrote on February 29th, 2012
      • Though I live primarily on food I grow or buy from small local farmers that does not change the fact Jason is correct. There is much info on the web that the Polyface model is subsidized by corn Salatin buys from monoculture farms. When you factor that into his model it is not more efficient. This was a shock to me when I found out. Open your eyes everyone and realize the small local farm model does not feed the world. I don’t know the answer but just try to be the healthiest I can be and not preach anything.

        Michael wrote on February 29th, 2012
    • Considering that the great plains of North America once supported a population of 60 million buffalo, I’d say it’s not that far of a stretch…

      Kate wrote on February 29th, 2012
  27. Even if it’s not for the whole world, it can be for your whole world. Buying (or raising) and eating this way helps those who grow and sell this kind of food; makes you and family healthier. Friends get in on it when they see the results. This kind of growth is natural, really the only way. What’s the alternative? Eating wrong, being less healthy, being more of a burden on the system for it?
    I second the other writer’s endorsement of The Vegetarian Myth. The author is a little loose with language, but the message is clear: Clearing and plowing destroys ecosystems, and millions to billions of unseen animals who, by bad luck of their small size, don’t have vocal advocates. In short, it’s not a way to produce kill-free food.

    Grant wrote on February 29th, 2012
  28. The most important freedom I have is the freedom to choose what I want to do with myself. I choose to be primal. As for the rest of the world…they are on their own.

    MadMav wrote on February 29th, 2012
  29. Voting with your $$ is the only way to get anything done these days… bank of america, and netflix as examples.

    Convincing people to change the way they eat and live is like converting people to another religion. Everyone believes that their way or the main stream is the right way.

    This not just about changing the food people eat, it’s about changing the way they live.

    If people started getting healthier it would effect the whole health industry from supplements to how busy doctors would be.

    If people started walking, riding bikes and getting around differently it would effect everything from traffic flow in a densely populated city to gas prices and the kinds of cars we would buy.

    It’s not just about converting corn fields to pasture land for cattle and other livestock.

    David wrote on February 29th, 2012
  30. Is it possible?

    yes it is…… people need to be educated/….YEAH they do!!

    Watch the Movie “FRESH”……..and we can all do it…..

    Believe me it works…..

    ET wrote on February 29th, 2012
    • I recently took a job with a facility that has a very bad pharmacy benefit. I am now paying twice as much as I used to pay for my meds. And more than twice as much on meds that have no generic equivalent. What an instantaneous motivator. I am a diabetic using only a quarter of the Lantus insulin I took before, and, having increased my fish oil intake to 4 grams high-quality fo per day, am off almost all of my meds. I follow the Zone diet, which is essentially Paleo, with a few exceptions. HUGE difference. Every aspect of my physical health is much improved. I am a nurse, so am not stopping meds willy-nilly.

      Debbie wrote on March 1st, 2012
  31. I’ve gone primal 2 months ago and frankly I don’t care about the others :-) I still can’t believe my luck having stumbled upon Mark’s page and articles. I am 45, lost 11 kgs in those two months and am feeling like I felt when I was perhaps 30 years old. I never thought I ever had a chance to loose weight -gave away all my smaller size jeans too! Dam, they would come handy now. Thanks Mark for all the work and enlightment you and your team are bringing us. Good bless you. You really made a difference, and what more can be achieved than that?

    einstein wrote on February 29th, 2012
  32. Just an added note………it takes a moment or two to load at Dr. Mercolas site…it is busy cause the screening is free for a few days so please be patient…… is worth it…


    ET wrote on February 29th, 2012
    • We have over 500 Paleo/Primal members on our Support group over at My Fitness Pal! And it grows every week. We are doing everything we can to get the word out. And my success in regaining health and hitting a weight I haven’t seen since before puberty has helped convert some folks over there. It makes me feel good when they thank me for my advice (I try not to be pushy). If only my friends and family would listen…

      Heather wrote on February 29th, 2012
      • There’s an old saying about a prophet having no honor in his own nation. Strangers are sometimes more likely to respect what we have to say than our friends and family.

        rarebird wrote on February 29th, 2012
  33. I’m glad to hear the “voting with your dollars” mentality becoming more popular with people…not only with their food choices, but also with other purchases they make in their lives.
    Many people have had to cut back in recent years because of the economy, and understand better that some things really are just excess and often times these excesses actually end up making you broke, depressed, and ultimately feeling powerless.
    If you vote with your dollars for a particular item (at least in a free market), demand goes up for that item, and production will meet the demand because there are always people looking to better their lot and make more money.
    It’s hard for everyday people to feel they have any real power over how the world is…I find peace when I realize the only power you really have comes from the small individual choices you make every day.

    primalpal wrote on February 29th, 2012
  34. There is one contributing factor that I want to see happen so people have to get back to the land. Our dependence on fossil fuels for our food system is very high. When fossil fuel prices increase so will food costs across the board. (We are already seeing this increase)

    We currently use a high amount of fossil fuels to produce even our vegetables, and this transition will be a tough one as many people have no knowledge and access to space to grow their own vegetables. This is part of the reason I have put in a community garden at the complex I manage. It is a useful tool to teach residents methods for growing their own veggies.

    I can’t wait for the day when it becomes cheaper to just sell the cow than to finish it off with corn. We had buffalo when I was growing up and we had no problem just selling them as is.

    Christopher wrote on February 29th, 2012
  35. Well, the question is whether it would be sustainable if the whole world’s population ate primally (meat and veggies). Considering the huge environmental impact meat production has, regardless if it is organically or “industrially” produced, it is highly unlikely that the global climate would cope with such massive production.

    Mark dodges the actual question IMHO, is it sustainable eating primal? Does our meat+veggie shopping result in higher meat production leading to negative climate effects and/or other negative impact on the globe?

    Thomas wrote on February 29th, 2012
    • There is a lot of misinformation on the green side about the footprint of eating meat. Yes, its big if you feed grain in a CAFO operation, No its not if you graze animals on marginal land that will never grow veggies or field crops. Although I still think that 7 billion is not a sustainable number no matter what.

      Bruce Berry wrote on February 29th, 2012
      • This. It angers me when people regurgitate the tired rhetoric of the environmental impact of raising meat.

        I seriously doubt Thomas has ever stepped foot on a farm, or taken the time to talk to farmers about how they raise their livestock. If I have 100 cows grazing 500 acres of grassland (normally too rocky or hilly to use for other agricultural purposes), and I’m not tilling that grassland but rather moving the cows around via managed intensive grazing from one paddock to another, how is that destructive? The land is used productively, and unlike crop agriculture, where repeating tilling releases carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, continuous grass growth is a carbon-LOCK. Furthermore, since the cattle only eat grasses year-round, there is no dependence on monoculture grains and their destruction to farmland via herbicides, pesticides, and brutal fertilizers.

        And to take the Salatin model as guide, one can further have chickens and/or turkeys follow the cows in rotation to clean the grubs from the manure, meaning you double up on zero-impact livestock. The manure is natural fertilizer, and the only inputs are rain, sun, and occasional re-seeding, plus labor to move the cows.

        Same model, some variation, for lambs and porkers.

        I’ve seen these practices, with some variation, undertaken at dozens and dozens of farms within a 50 mile radius of my house. Of course, I take the time to actually visit the farms, talk to the farmers, learn their methods and concerns, and to buy directly from them.

        Finnegans Wake wrote on February 29th, 2012
        • Amen brother!

          Torgeir wrote on February 29th, 2012
        • Bingo! The environmental impact of beef is related to the feed lot, grain finishing process – not pastured, grass fed beef. Raising the grain/feed and those methane concentrating factory feed lots are what damage the environment.

          Pastured livestock make a LOT of sense. And, as Mark points out, we don’t just consume muscle meats but can make use of the entire animal.

          rarebird wrote on February 29th, 2012
  36. Maybe a better question would be “Should the whole world go primal” even if it were possible to feed the world in a Primal lifestyle. Diversity, free-thinking, trial and error, questioning, religious beliefs, etc. are just a few traits that have lead to better (and, yes, in some cases worse) lives for our earthly population.

    If we were all complacent about being stuck in the same rut – Primal or otherwise – new ideas would not have the stress they need to flourish. It’s was the need for something “better” for ourselves that lead to developing the Paleo/Primal lifestyle in the first place.

    Remember: Stress = Change.

    PrimalGrandma wrote on February 29th, 2012
    • Amen! Sing it sista! LOL

      rarebird wrote on February 29th, 2012
    • Good thinking.

      DH wrote on February 29th, 2012
  37. The nay-sayers and their Malthusian argument have been around since primal man. ALL RESOURCES ARE SCARCE! Unshackle REAL capitalism, i.e. have competition in money and let real prices and competition work.

    liberty1776 wrote on February 29th, 2012
    • Yes. A world with more economic freedom will be a world with more individuals having the opportunity to go Primal; and if more choose to do so, the supply will rise to meet the demand.

      GaryM wrote on February 29th, 2012
  38. “Authorities the world over would need to revise their health recommendations, thus admitting that they were wrong on a whole lot of important stuff.”

    This would be the biggest deterrent…

    CFurg wrote on February 29th, 2012
    • No kidding!

      rarebird wrote on February 29th, 2012
  39. Let us not forget all the money that won’t be pumped into health care and the big pharmacy as a result of us all being healthier.

    Mary Jo wrote on February 29th, 2012
    • +1

      PrimalGrandma wrote on February 29th, 2012
      • Yeah, too bad so sad for big pharma.

        Kat wrote on March 3rd, 2012
    • Yes, we will need to re-employ quite a few marketing execs, packaging, engineers, production workers, truckers, radiologists and helpers – the whole industry, and also other industries. I think the “Empty Shelves Initiative” will be very effective at re-focusing people on the new job opportunities – such as neighbourhood farmer or “security” thug.

      Bruce Berry wrote on February 29th, 2012
  40. I just clipped this from a Wikipedia article on WWII Victory Gardens:
    “The US Department of Agriculture estimates that more than 20 million victory gardens were planted. Fruit and vegetables harvested in these home and community plots was estimated to be 9-10 million tons, an amount equal to all commercial production of fresh vegetables.” We have ample precedent in this country for pulling together under threats to our wartime security (though not recently). I wonder if we have the national will to pull ourselves out of the Big Food-Big Pharmadeath trap that most of our citizens are stuck in.

    Jose M Falconi wrote on February 29th, 2012
    • My local extension is teaching Victory Garden classes here in Idaho. I think there is a growing demand.

      Teresa wrote on February 29th, 2012
      • I would ADORE that! I wonder if there’s anything like that here in the SF Bay!

        Ghost wrote on February 29th, 2012
    • I am SO glad to see someone mention WWII Victory Gardens! You are totally right about the precedent.

      When I visited NZ in the ’70’s, many urban front yards there had kitchen gardens instead of grass. The people there often mentioned American Victory Gardens and wondered why we had stopped growing them. Well, my family never has.

      rarebird wrote on February 29th, 2012

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