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. 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
  2. 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
  3. 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
  4. 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

Leave a Reply

If you'd like to add an avatar to all of your comments click here!

© 2016 Mark's Daily Apple

Subscribe to the Newsletter and Get a Free Copy
of Mark Sisson's Fitness eBook and more!