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

earthEvery 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. A small note to the people who seem to derive a feeling of superiority from looking down at others who make poor health choices…

    Speaking as someone who used to be one of those “folks so miserably out of shape and knowing how they could turn their life around” I am pretty appalled at how judgmental this community can be at times. I spent the majority of my life fat, overweight, and miserable — following crash diets, CW, and oh, that little thing called SAD? Not to mention killing myself at the gym… only to continue watching my health spiral out of control. I can’t even impress upon people how desperate of a situation that can become. I stumbled on primal by accident… BY ACCIDENT… had I not, I’d be half way to the grave by now at the age of 25.

    Going primal changed my life — but thinking others should just “wake up and get a clue” is such counter and negative thinking it actually disgusts me to read it here.

    Mark is right — lead by example, lead with your dollar — but don’t condemn others with your negative, petty, and shallow judgments. You have no idea what’s going on in his/her life. It’s so easy being on the outside looking in… have some compassion, empathy, and respect for your fellow man/woman/pronoun.

    I hate to be overly negative myself — I just had to respond to what I found very harmful to the very idea and spirit of “community.” We’re all in this together — one way or another.

    Lindsay Grok wrote on February 29th, 2012
    • +1 :-)

      rarebird wrote on February 29th, 2012
    • I agree with you 100%.

      Dave wrote on February 29th, 2012
    • I agree. More harm than good comes from a superior, judgemental attitude. People’s minds will not be changed by coming in contact with those that want to preach to them with a smug attitude.

      DH wrote on February 29th, 2012
    • “Mark is right — lead by example, lead with your dollar — but don’t condemn others with your negative, petty, and shallow judgments. You have no idea what’s going on in his/her life. It’s so easy being on the outside looking in… have some compassion, empathy, and respect for your fellow man/woman/pronoun.”
      If I had a vote for the quote of the week would choose this.

      John wrote on March 3rd, 2012
  2. right on!

    PaleoDentist wrote on February 29th, 2012
  3. Wow. My rant is longer than I planned, here’s the cliff-notes if you don’t want to read it.
    1) I agree, if you are pursuing your personal health, it really is a poor question to ask if it’s ethical because not everyone can follow suit.
    2) However, I have to disagreed the belief that personal consumer decisions are in anyway adequate for systemic change is a myth perpetuated by marketing. It may create a new more ethical niche market, but more direct action is needed to remove the older less sustainable/ethical product from the market (public boycotts, legislation etc.)

    I am a “closet-paleo” nutrition major, and I plan to work in food security with an emphasis on sustainablity.
    Food security is not hiring guards to protect your carrots, it means whether or not people have access to food today, tomorrow and six months from now.
    Eating Primal isn’t easily reconciled with food security, especially since I expand my personal definition of food secure as having access to sustainable food-because you’re are not actually food secure if the way your food is grown degrades the soil, pollutes the air and water, or collapses the fish stock. If people buy feedlot meat, the two hemisphere box of strawberries (in January) and the 3000 miles salad we are in trouble. Local, seasonal and sustainable practices are the only way primal can continue to work.
    I can’t over-emphasize the importance of evaluating our foodshed and making steps to change them. This is a shared responsibility, you actions aren’t going to be the pivotal ones that save the world from gloom and doom and bring us into utopia; rather, like most things in life, your actions will push things along a spectrum.
    We will continue to degrade rain forests, rivers, prairies and wetlands. We will continue to lose biodiversity (do you know we are in the middle of one of the greatest mass extinctions in our planet’s history?). Natural, mature environments are synonymous with biodiversity, because they have developed a complex ecology of countless organisms of all kinds that we couldn’t begin to emulate or replace. And people are going to continue to be undernourished, overnourished and starve. Your actions won’t stop it, rather reduce it; stop trying to save the world but mitigate suffering and preserve some of nature’s beauty.
    Before wrapping this rant up, I just want to say that personal, consumer decisions aren’t enough. For example, you learn our tuna stocks are being overfished and are likely to collapse. So what…you stop buying tuna and pat yourself on the back? Look in people’s grocery baskets, pantries, lunch boxes and on restaurant menus: tuna is still going to be consumed.

    Dave wrote on February 29th, 2012
  4. Imagine if everyone really looked after their health.
    The massive resources that go into the “Health Industry” (Should be called the “Sickness Industry”) could be redirected into something useful.
    Here in Australia, we all contribute, in one way or another, to a very inefficient Public Medical and Hospital System.
    Those of us who rarely use the System, pay through the nose for those who don’t look after themselves.
    O.K, accidents and other stuff happens ( we should do all that we can to help) but most illnesses of our times are not accidents.
    We keep prolonging the lives of many who continue to abuse their bodies and their gift of life.
    If only at young age we all realised we are gifted with an amazing vehicle to travel this planet in, we wouldn’t treat it like a motor vehicle with spare parts that we trade in every few years.

    Another Paul wrote on February 29th, 2012
  5. As an environmental science/management student such global changes (cultural, social and economic) are unobtainable on this scale. Food is something that is ingrained in different cultures (less so that of westernized countries) and therefore it would be near impossible for such a drastic change in food and cultural ideology. Honestly, for poorer countries the paleo lifestyle isn’t an option at all, they live off the land, growing their grains and hoping they will yield enough to feed their families and buy seeds for next years harvest, they do what they can to survive. Much like the poor in our own developed countries, fast food may be the only option for those living in the streets or on minimal incomes.
    Overall, we have a long way to come, population pressures and economic inequalities make this an unsustainable way of global living, with that being said I applaude and support anyone who tries to make a difference! If you have the luxury of a few extra dollars to buy the eggs then good for you! Every little bit makes a difference.
    But primal eating is not something that is going to solve the sustainability crisis at hand.

    Maddy wrote on February 29th, 2012
  6. I am impressed that you are not avoiding this whole thing.

    Julie wrote on February 29th, 2012
  7. If people voted with their dollar, then you’d have less demand for grain, chips ahoy cookies, or whatever twinkies or mars candy bars you can think of.

    The amount of land it takes to produce the ingredients for that stuff, and the warehouses and factories that take up land to produce and manufacture that stuff, wouldn’t exist if everyone adopted a paleo diet.

    If you think about the sheer volume of junk food that exists, that line grocery aisles, convenience stores, fast food restaurants, and more, and you then got rid of it all because everyone magically went paleo (which I don’t believe will ever happen), you would have a lot more land and resources to work with.

    Not everyone would necessarily need to eat exactly the same or follow a perfect low carb paleo diet. Some could have more sweet potatoes, yams and other types of potatoes, and even just opt for white rice as opposed to the damaging wheat grains for breads, pastas, and cereals. Empty calories yes, but is filling for those that can’t get enough meat. Avoid omega 6 laden vegetable oils, and excessive intake of sugar, and high fructose corn syrup.

    The avoidance of food that is utter sh*t for you, is most of the battle. The rest is looking for nutrient density, and tweaking your macronutrients towards losing excess body fat.

    The whole idea that population is growing substantially is something that could be easily stopped in North America. Canada’s population is in a negative. Meaning more people are dying then being born. It is only the fact that more immigrants are let into the country that it’s population increases. It’s the same way for America.

    Just pointing that out because many people think the world has a population crisis, but in reality, only some countries have a population crisis,and the solution is the development of technology. I won’t get into that because I’ve been writing long enough.

    MC wrote on February 29th, 2012
  8. I am vegetarian so I am not 100% paleo. However, I try to eat mainly whole foods and incorporate as much of the paleo lifestyle into my lifestyle as I can.

    I used to eat a lot of junk food and will use a 500 calorie, sugar and fat laden muffin as an example. How much energy and resources goes into producing “food” like that. If you diverted the same energy and resources into producing real food, how much food could you produce?

    Can the whole word go paleo? Of course!

    Greg wrote on March 1st, 2012
  9. Dear Mark,

    I think the world is going through a spiritual awakening and with it will come change in more ways than we can imagine here and now in 2012.
    Sooner or later the penny will drop.
    mankind has to reach the precipice before any change can begin
    On the question of global primal change.
    This can’t happen until mankind has found some inner peace and stop the circle of repetition
    Your primal blue print, is just part of a greater lifestyle change that we all need to make to truly appreciate who and what we are
    The natural ( universal) nature of human beings is a wonderous thing to behold. It is such a shame that we are on the downward slippery road of conditioning from the moment we are born
    Lucky are those who recognise this and make a change
    I admire your work
    would like to see a spiritual addition to your life style teaching with yoga or meditation, even visualisation!
    What are your thoughts?

    Ravi wrote on March 1st, 2012
    • If we are going into “The End of the World as we Know It” scenario, it’s still going to take some time. People are going to be raiding grocery stores for the last of the rancid waffles before they turn to rats and pigeons.

      Assume that non-heirloom crops become extinct fairly quickly; as in by the second year the descendents of most crops would be sickly from lack of care, eaten, or be non-existent because of sterile hybrids.

      Many of the people who are stocking their fallout shelters are doing it with beans, pasta, rice, oatmeal, sproutable wheat, dehydrated cheese, powdered milk, foods specifically marketed to them, and spam. Some of them can go 3-5 years, especially if they’re already open to the idea of shooting critters to supplement their diets. At least the best of them also store heirloom seeds.

      Kelekona wrote on March 3rd, 2012
  10. Mark,
    As usual, you are the voice of reason. I can’t get people in my own household to eat in a more nutritious way, let alone the whole world at once. This is something I definitely have pondered and at times felt somewhat guilty about. I do have access to an abundance of food choices (good and bad)when there are people who would gladly survive on what I would pass over.This was an interesting post, and most of the comments are also well written. Thanks again!

    Michele W wrote on March 1st, 2012
  11. I was one (of many?) who posed the query that is the subject of Mark’s blog. Looks as tho’ I didn’t get the emphasis right. It’s not about whether the world can produce enough organically produced stuff to let EVERYONE eat primally if they wish to. Rather, it’s the age-old debate about whether meat-eating per se can be sustained if the whole world turns to it. Without going into details, I do think it is generally accepted that raising meat, whether cattle or otherwise, requires more from the land than growing veggies etc., and perhaps there just isn’t enough land world-wide to produce enough meat for all. If this is accepted, it raises a whole host of ethical Qs, especially for countries like the US where space is not (yet?) a constraint. I am a meat-eating Indian myself, yet the issue is a troubling one and it behoves all of us to give it more thought.

    Gopal Rao wrote on March 1st, 2012
  12. Hey this is perfectly doable: do you know how many succulent worms,big and juicy cocrouches are out there (in spite of pesticides etc)

    WildGrok wrote on March 1st, 2012
  13. Our current food production system is a representation of the values of our society. The data shows overwhelmingly alternative methods of food production are more nutrient dense and efficient, ( medium scale organic food production is one of them) although it does take getting away from the mainstream media to hear this info. Once we stop externalizing the costs of food production and start giving the appropriate value to the food and the ecosystems that support that food we will slowly mutually create a better model. It takes education and a lot more examples similar to permaculture. This will all happen organically from within communities, not a centralized distribution method.

    Justin wrote on March 1st, 2012
  14. Perfection! Totally agree, vote with your dollar, thanks for the reminder. Doing it yourself and influencing others is the key to change. Small steps over time really can change the world!

    Katie wrote on March 1st, 2012
  15. It is possible, we need a economy based on resources, not money, then the produces will acquire their real value.

    Oscar wrote on March 1st, 2012
  16. regarding farmed fish: their food is grain based, so is the fish rich in omega 6 and deficient in omega 3?? if so, why haven’t the foodies jumped on this?
    vernon

    vernon lemez wrote on March 1st, 2012
  17. Not sure if something to a similar effect has been posted because you get A LOT of comments, but primal eating would be SO much better for the environment. Growing corn/soy/wheat/grains destroys the land, not to mention the fertilizers they use. Pasture-raising animals BUILDS topsoil. Yet another reason being primal is more environmentall friendly than being veg*n.

    dani wrote on March 1st, 2012
  18. at the risk of sounding pessimistic among so many
    seemingly “yes, we can do it!” responses, i have too say that as lerrie keith expounds in her book, it appears that the world is currently in a societal and environmental collapse. we are on drawdown instead of takeover mode. there is not enough arable land left on earth and what little remains won’t be able sustain our massive numbers into the future. the development of agriculture got us here and totalitarian agriculture is keeping us here. cites are not sustainable at their core. either we take the hit now and survive as a species or wait till later and reduce that probability. the ugly news is that we are in for mass starvation in the not so distant future. however, we are a very evolved and perhaps the most resilient species on earth so starting over and living primal in small non specialized communities we might be able to thrive again.

    the take away? easy one. the current global industrialized system must be completely dismantled not just fixed. civilization must end for us to survive.

    ouch, still trying to get my hands around this subject as it’s kinda heavy.

    mojo wrote on March 1st, 2012
  19. Um, guys…remember the ecology section in biology class? Might be a good time to refer to it now. The energy transfer through each stage of the food chain is about 10%. Thus, a meat-based diet inevitably requires ~10x more resources than a plant-based diet. Whether that’s 6x more or 45x more, who knows, but it’s on the scale of 10, and that’s quite a lot.
    This doesn’t mean that the primal diet is inherently unsustainable; it’s obviously sustained us for a while. But with the advent of agriculture and medicine, our world population has become too high for all us to eat the way we did when our population was modest and steady.

    Reiko wrote on March 1st, 2012
    • “The energy transfer through each stage of the food chain is about 10%. Thus, a meat-based diet inevitably requires ~10x more resources than a plant-based diet.”

      So let me get this straight.

      A farmer who uses tractors and threshers to till and harvest wheat and soy and corn will be 10x more efficient than the farmer who allows cattle to graze grass on rotational paddocks, and whose only need is a pickup to ride out to move the cows around?

      A farmer who uses chemical fertilizers and herbicides and pesticides, all of which deplete the soil and run off into waterways, is preferable to the same grass farmer who raises cows (and, say, sheep and pigs) without any such chemical inputs?

      A farmer who rips up the soil of the earth annually and releases acres and acres of CO2 is somehow better than the farmer whose untilled grass acreage is a carbon-lock?

      Please provide evidence for the 10x “energy transfer” you claim when cows, chickens, pigs, and lamb are raised on pasture, rather than on grain? Because frankly, I’m not buying it.

      Finnegans Wake wrote on March 1st, 2012
      • It’s an ecological concept called the Ten Percent Law (Lindemann, 1942)

        Reiko wrote on March 1st, 2012
        • If it’s dealing with intact ecosystems, that’s one thing, but agriculture is another thing.

          You have to rip open the ground and use fertlizer to plant a seed there. Essentially destroying the previous ecosystem. Or you can leave the ground alone and just have a cow or chicken eat the grass/insects already there.

          The cow and chicken would naturally become part of the ecosystem, while growing plants requires you destroy the ecosystem, and keep pests out.

          “The energy transfer through each stage of the food chain is about 10%.”

          If you’re talking no human intervention in terms of destroying the previous ecosystem to plant food, then that might apply.

          MC wrote on March 1st, 2012
        • It might be an ecological concept, but the reality as I’ve described it as pertaining to livestock raised on pasture calls to question that concept’s validity or at least universality.

          Finnegans Wake wrote on March 2nd, 2012
        • I don’t think the existence of pastures jeopardizes the validity of the ten percent law. And claiming that agriculture isn’t a type of ecosystem is going the wrong direction. Farms are nothing more than artificial ecosystems, forever constrained by the laws of nature. It explains why we requires 17 lbs of grains to produce 1 lb of feedlot beef.

          However, I would agree that the law doesn’t always have practical economic implications. Even if it takes, say, 20 lbs of grass to produce 1 lb of beef, the fact that we cannot eat grass ourselves means that we MUST pass it on through herbivores (ie cows, goats) for it to have any value to us humans.

          But we can still use this law to determine how much land we’d need to raise animals, since we know how much solar energy we get in a day per square foot and how efficient photosynthesis is at converting that energy.

          I did the math and found that we’d need about 150 million acres to feed the world enough meat. If this is true, this would be wonderful, considering that the US alone has like 450 million acres of grassland. I just need to check these numbers with my local farmer to realistically determine how much land he has per animal.

          Reiko wrote on March 2nd, 2012
  20. You can’t feed the world anymore. Just too many people and growing every day. I expect a worldwide depopulating event soon.

    Walking Tall wrote on March 1st, 2012
  21. I honestly feel that this is somewhat of a useless question because the answer is a resounding “no”. The earth cannot transition back to a primal lifestyle because it would lead to a famine unknown in human history.

    Agricultural, technology and mass production have directly lead to cheap food stuffs, so cheap that it has dramatically boosted the population of the planet, particularly in third world nations. Without cheap grain products, most of those people would probably starve to death.

    The primal lifestyle should be seen as a personal choice to pursue better health, world wide sustainability be damned.

    Dan wrote on March 1st, 2012
    • Amen.

      Reiko wrote on March 1st, 2012
  22. Too many people are just spouting unsupported opinions, or using CAFOs as models over grass-fed, traditional livestock. We can only feed the world on cheap grains? Give me 1000 acres of land, and I’ll grow bio-diverse, nutrition-dense vegetables that will feed more than your 1000 acres of wheat. Give me 1000 acres of land, and I’ll raise enough animals on pasture to feed more than what you could feed on 1000 acres of corn.

    People use reductionist thinking (7 billion people translates to so many arable acres per person!), and limit their imagination of what is possible by blindering themselves to best practices in nutrition, agriculture, and technology. I’ve seen the argument both ways, and I’m not convinced it’s NOT possible to feed 7 billion people WELL.

    Finnegans Wake wrote on March 1st, 2012
    • You might be theoretically right, but lets get real. How are you going to implement and pay for these 1000 acre paradises? You might get more physical food out of a 1000 acres, but it wont be cheaper than growing wheat. If it was, people would do it.

      Also, how would they be managed on a global scale? Many 3rd world countries can hardly maintain two story buildings. Are you going to restructure governments to implement these policies?

      Dan wrote on March 1st, 2012
      • The question is not one of costs, but rather of profits. The current ag system as configured is going to ensure that Monsanto and Cargill keep their indentured wheat servants believing they can grow bigger and better crops en route to solvency, when nothing is further from the truth. Meanwhile, economically sustainable CSAs are flourishing.

        So cost inputs are less the issue than profit, or at least sustainability. What is the debt of the average commodity crop farmer vs. the average CSA farmer?

        The global implication is that the American model is wrong. There wasn’t the phenomenon of such widespread starvation until that model was forced upon subsistence farmers in other countries, and proven to be faulty. It’s not for me or any government to force a model on its people, but rather it should be an organic (pun intended) localized system of real foods rather than dependence on imports and exports of commodity crops. What would work better in Haiti, people with small community farms, or people trying to grow acres of oranges, selling the oranges at dirt cheap prices to American companies to mark up to consumers, and then having Haitians import their food at (again) marked up prices? That’s a fail.

        Keep it local, seasonal, and sustainable.

        Finnegans Wake wrote on March 2nd, 2012
  23. Who the **** cares whether third world countries will go paleo or not. If they can’t do it, then that should stop others from going paleo?

    It’s like saying, third world countries can’t create two story buildings, so we can’t implement apartments on a world scale.

    So? That has what to do with the countries that can do it? Do we stop building apartments here in North America because some African countries can’t do it yet?

    MC wrote on March 1st, 2012
    • Not really, because he was claiming he could feed all 7 billion people by overhauling our farming techniques. He might be theoretically right, but at this point in time it isn’t really possible to implement that on a financial basis. There is a reason everyone eats grain. It’s cheap, easy to grow, provides tons of quick energy and is f#@%ing delicious to boot. If you isolate the implementation to only the United States, you will run into all the same problems. I would argue the costs of changing our entire food system would be enormous, much more than it already costs to give health care to our diabetic fatties.

      Grains are literally a doubled edged sword.

      dan wrote on March 2nd, 2012
  24. I don’t care if the world can go primal either, it doesn’t matter. two things in history lead to the overpopulation of the world. domestication of grain, and mining, drilling for fossil fuel. these things suck, but if they didn’t happen, the world population would be about the same as that of New York city, and most of us would not have been born.

    robert wrote on March 2nd, 2012
  25. Eventually there will be 2 sub species of humans on the planet, those that ate non primal, and those that went primal, they might not even be sub species, but visually youll be able to tell which is which, the primals will be leaner, taller, stronger, faster, smarter. While the non primals, will be slower, fatter, rounder, shorter, sicker, weaker. Doubt thisll happen any time soon but within the next few hunderd years probably…

    Goran wrote on March 2nd, 2012
  26. So, basically it’s not a valid question, but yes it can feed the world. I would strongly disagree. And so far the only evidence I have seen for going completely primal as opposed to still eating rice or quinoa occasionally or continuing to eat legumes and root vegetables (like potatoes) is to LOSE WEIGHT. Admittedly most of us could use a few less pounds, but I can’t help but notice that this is the major selling point of the diet. I think people would argue that you can have abundant energy and be allergen-free without such extremity. Finally, I agree that people would have to give up their preference for chicken breast and filet mignon and start trying out brain, heart, etc. But how come no one ever points out that chicken and cows, domesticated animals are not paleo?? Nothing we do it paleo. We are a modernized society living in a modernized world. While I liked some of your points: the barber point was strong as well as the steps that would be necessary in order to erase “world hunger” philosophically, the argument doesn’t really stand. Finally, why do paleo people never point out that the “Blue Zones”, where modern-day humans are the healthiest, are not paleo. They even eat “gasp!” wheat. While I think the diet can be the answer for some and has a few added benefits (eating more F and V, for one), I find it’s fairly extreme and it’s extremism is justified by gaining aesthetic benefits. It’s not a philosophical diet, and shouldn’t attempt to be.

    Talia Marcheggiani wrote on March 2nd, 2012
  27. I’ve been thinking about this lately, too. Of course, I don’t wish to come to the conclusion that the primal diet is bad for the planet but it’s an important question. Good points made about the cost of healthcare and about going local for ones food or growing your own.

    Tina wrote on March 2nd, 2012
  28. To be able to go to any grocery store and not have to look at every single label and leave empty handed would be worth anything.

    Dave wrote on March 2nd, 2012
  29. My concern isn’t about production levels in organic agriculture. My concern is about the sustainability of consuming a substantial amount of animal protein. Don’t get me wrong–my family and I eat primal. The issue is that with 7 billion people, even with horrifying CAFO practices, that much animal protein would be extremely difficult to provide for all people. This is essentially the same issue that Francis Moore Lappe discussed in Diet for a Small Planet, and while the diet she advocated may have adverse health consequences, it likely is more sustainable in the sense of “requiring less energy to produce.”

    So, if we believe that all humans should have optimal health within reach, how should we approach this dilemma? I’m not willing to say that I don’t care about the rest of humanity. Frankly, this is fundamentally a population issue. No, I’m not a fan of totalitarian one child policies. I am a fan, though, of the empowerment of women. In developed nations where infant mortality is relatively low (so you don’t have to produce many children to get one that survives), and where women have access to contraception, independent incomes and a full range of opportunities, the birth rate tends to dip into the area of negative population growth. This has happened in Japan and in many of the European nations.

    How to make a primal diet and abundant human health realistically available to all people? It can’t be done for 7 billion people. It could be accomplished via a smaller, more sustainable human population. In short, empower women.

    Ms. Geo wrote on March 2nd, 2012
  30. @Reiko

    “And claiming that agriculture isn’t a type of ecosystem is going the wrong direction. Farms are nothing more than artificial ecosystems, forever constrained by the laws of nature.”

    My point was that you have to destroy the grass to plant food/grains there as well. In that artificial ecosystem, the plants consume as much grass as cows, if not more, because you have to remove all grass to plant the seeds there.

    In that artificial ecosystem, the plants consume as much grass as the herbivore. So the 10% law would need re-working I think.

    You make better use of that grass, by putting a cow or chicken on it, then destroying that grass to grow wheat. Either way, the grass is getting used up.

    I don’t remember much from biology class though……

    MC wrote on March 3rd, 2012
  31. Wow! With so much wonderful discussion, how could one hope to expand?

    My two cents (or two dollar;-)

    Humans have made a conscious (maybe unconscious early on or in developing countries) choice to choose quantity over quality. Until we can change that mentality, we will not change the path. In the meantime, we can all do our part, eat locally and educate where you can.

    shannon wrote on March 3rd, 2012
    • That’s pretty much true. A McD’s burger is prized for how many calories it contains for the price. (What’s the calorie count for a 69cent?)

      Of course, getting full daily calories from one meal is fine if you’re not hungry after your stomach stops chewing on the grease.

      Kelekona wrote on March 3rd, 2012
  32. We cannot feed the world on the Primal Blueprint Diet.

    It’s not due to lack of resources. it is because many people in the world are addicted to grains and very few lack the necessary willpower to give them up.

    And if we take grains away by force, it would be the end of civilization as we know it.

    I can see gliadin addicted violent mobs destroying everything in sight to gather, literally, a few crumbs of bread.

    elmo wrote on March 3rd, 2012
    • I meant very few have the necessary willpower to give them up

      elmo wrote on March 3rd, 2012
  33. So – I’m not sure how many of you are aware of alternative methods of fighting cancer, but my hubby was just diagnosed with the big “C” and part of what we want to try before we agree to get him sliced and diced, microwaved, or poisoned with chemicals is what basically amounts to a paleo diet with some juicing and supps thrown in. I’ve been paleo for almost six months now and he’s been eating mostly paleo (when he eats what I make) but has still been doing grains, etc. When you get down to the core, Paleo is in it’s essense is a whole food, no processed crap way of living. How can that be anything but healthy for anyone on the planet??

    Kat wrote on March 3rd, 2012
  34. Hi All,
    Check out penn and teller’s BS program, an episode called eat this!if you and your family have the luxury of turning down food, you should be dancing for joy, for only a small population of the world has that luxury. Am disgusted at how picky people have become (thanks to the info given out by are diet guru’s, most of whom arnt even nutritionists, and most of whom seem to be American…well, what better place can you make lots of $$$ when promoting weight loss products/diets)

    butcher wrote on March 5th, 2012
  35. “I can’t help but think that this concern is somewhat like being worried about what would happen if everyone on earth became hairdressers” – Mark, you never said everybody should become a hairdresser. You DO, however, promote primal eating for pretty much anyone out there. See the difference?
    On the other hand, if you’re trying to argue along the lines of “they won’t do it anyway” – this is a cop-out. It’s like saying “yeah, I drive an SUV, but there’s no way we’ll ever get to the point where everyone does.” EVERYTHING is sustainable as long as a small minority does it.

    That being said, I’m looking forward to reading part 2.

    Till wrote on March 5th, 2012
  36. Markets clear. This is simple fact of economic activity, often disputed by those who deny economics.

    But it’s a law as rigid as any we know. If the human desire to consume grass-fed beef rises, the price will rise. If the price rises, suppliers will rush in to reap those greedy greedy profits. If suppliers rush in, prices will fall again. And on we go.

    In the end, we have more grass-fed beef at lower prices. That’s how markets work. That’s when they’re left to work. This simple analysis can be applied to every aspect of Primal economics, whether it’s the need for land to raise animals or the labor to more efficiently solve logistical problems.

    But as Mark Sisson so perceptively notes, the market is not allowed to work. Because of this we are saddled with century old (and destructive) subsidies, handed out by governments that never understood simple economics in the first place. And they still don’t understand it.

    So as long as we have dimwitted incompetents running the show, there is no need to worry about feeding the world on a Primal Blueprint. The keystone politicos will spend their days till the end of days figuring out how to fix the food problem with more of the same, when the actual fix is to leave the market alone so that consumer preferences can be matched with supply.

    You can’t change the world by yourself. Even a great leader like Mark can’t reach out to more than a fraction of the population. You do the best you can. Besides, it takes a certain amount of sick narcissism to believe you were put here on this earth to save all of us from ourselves. That kind of psychosis only qualifies you to join the incompetents in high government offices. For the rest of us, we can aspire to be as informative as Mark. And that’s a really great thing to aspire to.

    David Burns wrote on March 7th, 2012
  37. Animal shelters are a great refuge for abused animals. But what happens when the people who run the shelters that take in the animals don’t care about them? Sometimes, the abuse they suffer in these shelters is worse than if the animals were just left out on the street.

    Animal videos wrote on May 14th, 2012
  38. This is a very well written, respectful piece. I absolutely agree that it is important to research a food method that works for you and your beliefs. Do your homework. I also agree that the industry will listen to your view based on putting your money where your mouth works. (Look at the boom in organic food availability even though prices for these products are steep compared to other options!!)

    The part you lose me on is the idea that we have the land to raise cattle on grass only, since they are raised on grass before entering a feedlot. While that is true, this is only possible because we move cattle to feedlots around 8 months of age and they become meat around 12 months of age. Without the help of feedlots, the time necessary to raise cows to proper weight would need to be lengthened dramatically. And therefore, there would need to be more cattle on the lands we have at one time, making it a less feasible option.

    Until we decide to feed less people, we will still need non-primal sources of food (meat and otherwise)

    Valerie wrote on August 7th, 2012
  39. Vegans always say meat is expense and wasteful etc./ but, I actually agree. We evolved in small groups, not a world wide population where our diet can feed millions, right.

    Matt wrote on September 28th, 2012

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