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Let me introduce myself. My name is Mark Sisson. I’m 63 years young. I live and work in Malibu, California. In a past life I was a professional marathoner and triathlete. Now my life goal is to help 100 million people get healthy. I started this blog in 2006 to empower people to take full responsibility for their own health and enjoyment of life by investigating, discussing, and critically rethinking everything we’ve assumed to be true about health and wellness...

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March 07, 2012

Can We Feed the World on the Primal Blueprint Diet? – Part 2

By Mark Sisson
119 Comments

Last week, I opened the discussion of whether or not the whole world could go Primal. As you may recall, I noted that given the realities of our infrastructure, our policies, and the entrenched interests who wield considerable amounts of power and influence, practically speaking such a dramatic shift simply isn’t likely anytime soon. While it may be true that much of the world can’t access or afford grass-fed beef or other examples of privileged dietary staples it shouldn’t keep those that can from enjoying it. In fact, pulling out wallets can go a long way toward changing the state of things as they are now. That was last week, though. Today, I’m going to address some of the logistical concerns many of you raised regarding a transition to a world of Primal eaters. This is a huge topic beyond the scope of any one blog post, and there’s no magic bullet, but I’ll give it an honest go.

What follows are a few commonly cited logistical concerns folks express regarding feeding a world of Primal Blueprinters, slightly embellished with selective use of punctuation and followed by my thoughts. It may not happen (probably won’t), but it’s helpful, I think, to entertain the possibility of a global shift. First, the most basic concern of all:

“Primal can’t match the calories people are currently eating!”

First of all, we waste a lot of food, folks. A lot. Globally, a third of edible food (PDF) is never eaten, mostly in industrialized countries. A third! It exists and can be eaten by humans, but it simply isn’t. In America, food waste jumps to 40%, or about 1400 calories per person. And when you look at the household level, at actual families bringing food home, 25% of it is wasted. In these studies, the definition of “food waste” is a food loss caused by retailers or consumers; other “food losses” occur in production, post-harvest, and during processing. The food, then, is there. We’re just squandering it.

Second, do people even need the amount of calories they are currently getting? Take a look at this interactive world map of global daily per capita calorie intake. The United States is, unsurprisingly, at the top of the heap with 3770 calories per person per day (up from 3510 calories in the early 90s). Most other developed nations fall in the 3000+ range, while emerging nations like China (2970 kcal/day, up from 2580 in the 90s) and India (2300 kcal/day, same as the early 90s) get by on far fewer. Calories don’t tell the entire story, of course, but it makes you wonder. Do humans really need 3770 calories every day? Unless they’re on a mass gain protocol of whole milk and squats (to which the vast majority of the 3770 calories-eating population of the country is assuredly not subscribing), I’d argue that they generally don’t.

I certainly don’t.

Although I don’t habitually track my food intake, my carbs, or my calories, I’ve done it for the blog on a number of occasions, and I’ll typically come in right around 2500 calories (or maybe even a bit less). Maybe a bit more on an active day, but it stays pretty consistent as near as I can tell. As my buddy Aaron Blaisdell says, I eat When Hunger Ensues Naturally, and since going Primal, my hunger tends to ensue calmly, naturally, and justifiably. Because I’m eating Primal foods, I get hungry when my body honestly needs the calories and nutrients. No tricks, no unnatural spikes in hunger brought on by industrial foods designed to induce ravenous, unnatural eating even though you’re already overweight and replete with energy.

So, yeah, maybe a Primal food system couldn’t match the hypercaloric intake of a sick, overweight population eating foods that dysregulate appetite (both by express design and by evolutionary mismatch) – but the point is it wouldn’t have to match it. I posit that caloric intake and “needs” would spontaneously drop, as they have for the many thousands of people who have already gone Primal. How far might they drop? A study (PDF) from 2000 examined, in addition to other stuff, the average daily caloric intake of extant hunter-gatherer populations. The authors found that average daily caloric intakes generally stayed between 1200 calories and 2700 calories, with one outlier dipping lower and one (the Hadza people of Tanzania) obtaining 4030 calories per day.

(Somehow, I doubt the Hadza were very fat.)

Next up are the myriad concerns folks have with the viability of grass-fed, pastured beef (and other animals):

“There’s not enough pasture for everyone to eat steaks!”

Perhaps so, but:

Grass-feeding cattle can be done far more efficiently. Take the famous (but not famous enough, it seems) Joel Salatin of Polyface Farms, whose rotational grazing method gets him 400 “cow days” per acre; a cow day is the amount of grass a cow will eat in a day. Farms in his area average 80 cow days per acre. If everyone converted to his methods, or at least incorporated some of them, we could provide a lot more grass-fed steaks per acre than we currently provide.

There’s more pasture available than most people think. Consider that all cows, even grain-finished cows, generally begin on pasture. You know all those cows you see nibbling on lush grass besides highways? The vast majority of them will end up on a feedlot somewhere. If we keep them on grass, convert the cropland currently being used to grow animal feed grains to pastureland, and make sure to use efficient rotational grazing, yields would increase further.

We’re not just eating cows here. Other animals exist, like sheep, or the goat. We may not see many goats in the United States or Europe, but Africa has 511 million of the things domesticated, and Asia has almost 300 million. Goats produce milk, meat, and can thrive on forage that other animals wouldn’t know what to do with. In fact, incorporating other livestock, like sheep or goats, into your cattle grazing actually increases the overall output of all three. Since sheep, goats, and cattle prefer different types of forage, they work very well together.

Who said anything about eating nothing but steak, anyway? People would obviously have to utilize the entire animal from nose (or beak) to tail. Offal of all kinds would have to be eaten, including various glands, sacs, linings, cartilaginous tissues, skin, fat, blood, and bones that normally get processed into animal feed, discarded, or repurposed for other culinary and non-culinary products. A cow that weighs 1150 pounds live will produce a dressed carcass weighing just 715 pounds. From that 715 pounds, 146 will be discarded as “fat, bone, and loss.”

And now, the environmental impact of all those farting, chewing cattle:

“But grass-fed cattle produce more greenhouse gases!”

Ah, yes, that one. While a couple studies have found that grass-eating cows produce more methane than grain-eating cows (which shouldn’t really surprise you; just imagine the incredible farts you could produce by running pounds and pounds of fibrous grass through multiple stomach chambers), I’m not sure we’re getting the whole story. Feedlot-fed cattle may not fart as much, but they also don’t enrich the soil, generate new grass growth, or create viable sinks for carbon dioxide (PDF). Furthermore, grain-fed cattle consume grains that require the burning of fossil fuels for production and transport – they get “takeout” almost exclusively – whereas grass-fed cattle eat nourishing food at home that requires little to no external input. Overall, the “environmental footprint” of grass-fed cattle is lower.

Or:

“Yeah, but everyone knows grazing causes desertification!”

Not when you employ holistic grazing methods, like Allan Savory’s. Savory (who greatly influenced Salatin) has been reversing desertification in African lands by reintroducing cattle and grazing them in a very specific way. Instead of letting them go where they please across the land, he allows them to intensively graze on one section at a time. The cows are densely packed together and allowed to intensively graze. Their hooves break up the hard, barren ground, allowing water to enter and plant roots to gain purchase. Their manure acts as fertilizer, spurring vegetal growth, enriching the soil, and creating a sink for both water and carbon. As a result, once desertified lands are now lush pastures teeming with life and open water.

Hmm, maybe there’s more room for livestock than we think, eh?

Well, that’s it for today. It’s just the tip of the iceberg, of course. I had hoped to get to some of the (many) other logistical issues, but cattle and calories – two incredibly important topics – took up more room than I expected. Before you go, remember that these aren’t meant to be definitive answers. I’m not saying Primal eating will, or even can, sweep the world. I’m simply trying to explore these problems from a different angle than absolute defeatism since a better world is something worth being optimistic about, and because they appear to be of particular concern to many of you reading.

Next time, I’ll discuss and try to counter some of the other logistical concerns. Until then, thanks for reading! Be sure to leave a comment, and see you next time.

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111 Comments on "Can We Feed the World on the Primal Blueprint Diet? – Part 2"

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liberty1776
liberty1776
4 years 9 months ago
As long as markets are allowed to work and there is a profit incentive entrepreneurs will produce. The real problem is there is a “war” on non-big agriculture farming, which is the antithesis of a free market. Todayregulations are written by funded, big agriculture lobbyists, then implemented via bought off politicians, and finally enforced with tax payer money. What I just described is today’s status quo and it has name: Fascism. Fascism is not free markets yet pundits erroneously call it “capitalism”. Crony capitalism, yes. But not real, free market capitalism. I highly suggest anyone interested in agriculture and health… Read more »
liberty1776
liberty1776
4 years 9 months ago

I am self imposed grammer fiend. Unfortunately I am working with an antiquated work browser that keeps jumping the page around, making it difficult to coherently type.

Jeff
Jeff
4 years 9 months ago

I usually type my comments in Word first (where I can spell and grammar check). Then I copy and paste them into the comment field in the browser. I seem to catch more errors that way.

greg
greg
4 years 9 months ago

I’m with you on that.

greg
greg
4 years 9 months ago

With you on the Capitalism/Facism bit rather than being a grammar fiend.

Matthew Caton
4 years 9 months ago

I think oligarchy is a better suited term than fascism.

You are right though. Sadly…

Jeffrey of Troy
4 years 9 months ago
The phrase “free market Capitalism” is insane gibberish. Capitalism and the free market are inherently in conflict. The Capitalists erect barriers to entry to destroy the competition, because they don’t want people who see a better way coming in from out of nowhere and disrupting the massive profits of the established players. (This erection of barriers does not require government intervention.) The situation we have today, which you named Fascism (and I don’t disagree), IS Capitalism. The claim “No, it’s crony Capitalism, not the good kind!” is BS. Therefore, keeping the free market free requires constant gov intervention, to prevent… Read more »
Trav
Trav
4 years 8 months ago

The “Capitalists” you speak of, Jeffrey, use that very same gov intervention to force small upstarts out of their respective fields through regulations(usually conceived and written by lobbyists for said industry), licensing, taxation and subsidies. That is not free market capitalism.

NWPrimate
NWPrimate
4 years 9 months ago

I like the way that Joel Salatin explains keeping the cattle packed together and constantly moving by stating that he is emulating the predators which in a natural environment, keep the herd tight together and constantly on the move.

Henrik
4 years 9 months ago
I’m really happy to see both Joel Salatin and Allan Savory’s names on MDA! A few weeks ago, after watching a mind-opening lecture by Allan Savory, I made a post in the ideas section of the TED.com forums, suggesting that Allan Savory be invited to do a TED talk. The original post has expired now, but excited by Mark’s mentioning him in this post, I’ve created a new one here: http://www.ted.com/conversations/9849/to_invite_allan_savory_to_do_a.html If at least some of the people frequenting MDA would register on TED (which is worthwhile in any case) and give a thumbs up or a positive reply to… Read more »
Hannah
Hannah
4 years 9 months ago

Done!

Jane
Jane
4 years 9 months ago

I have done this too.. he sounds like he’s a man worth hearing.

fuzzy
fuzzy
4 years 9 months ago

Joel Salatin is a snake oil salesman who makes many claims for his products which are not true, including the implication that many of his products do not require grain consumption.

HillsideGina
4 years 9 months ago

What are you talking about?

pb
pb
4 years 8 months ago

He might be referring to the chickens, but Mr. Salatin has said that they are not sustainable, i.e. are fed with grains obtained from elsewhere.

fuzzy
fuzzy
4 years 8 months ago
Salatin’s pastured pigs eat mostly corn: they live on grass but are fed corn from a large feeder which is put on the field. When they finish the corn, they are moved to another field and given more corn. All of his chickens and such are fed mainly corn and kept in quite confined conditions: 100 chicks in a 10×12 pen is not much room. He raises standard cornish cross chicks which butcher out at 8 weeks and are too stupid to forage, yet charges $5 a pound for this. Ditto turkeys. I’ve been to his farm days and seminars.… Read more »
EthanSnyder
EthanSnyder
4 years 9 months ago

The logistics of this are interesting, because grass farming (or pasturing animals) is the only sustainable way to farm. Every time you till the land for crops you lose part of the soil and nutrients, and if you go no-till the soil gets more and more compacted and overrun by weeds.

Having a rotational method focused primarily on pasture and some grains is the ideal solution to the farming problem, and it just so happens that this also coincides with primal eating!

What a coincidence!

Trav
Trav
4 years 8 months ago
Also, monoculture crops are shallow-rooting and fail to aerate the soil properly allowing deep absorption of water and nutrients. Grass, on the other hand is deep-rooting, aerates the soil and promotes water absorption and retention. Here in Iowa there are people using pasture grass areas near their crops to absorb heavy rainfall and field runoff to prevent crop loss due to flooding. It’s pretty effective since pasture land can absorb 5-7 times the amount of rainfall than shallow aerated crop land in the same amount of time. Imagine how much flooding could be mitigated or flat out prevented if more… Read more »
Lyra
Lyra
4 years 9 months ago

I really appreciate the mention of goats, as they are incredibly thrifty and versatile animals. I suspect that the average suburban back yard could support a small herd of dwarf goats (and a small flock of chickens, too) if only the local laws or covenants would allow it. And think of all of the highly chemical-infused shared turfgrass areas that we refer to as “green space” — and all of the animals we could be grazing there!

Finnegans Wake
Finnegans Wake
4 years 9 months ago

Goat meat is the most popular meat worldwide. Ain’t bad, either.

Aaron Blaisdell
4 years 9 months ago

Yes. Goat is grand. I shed a tear when my pastured goat herder closed up shop at the Culver City farmers market a month ago because he was moving back to Libya.

Grokitmus Primal
4 years 9 months ago

Moving forward seems to bring unexpected regressions. Perhaps it’s due to being motivated by the wrong reasons. $$$

Kevin
4 years 9 months ago
I couldn’t agree more with the view that if you rotate in more types of livestock you can get even better utilization of the same grazing area. Reminds me of the part of the documentary ingredients where the goat farmer (in Washington State I believe) was rotating goats, cattle, and ducks through the same pastured area. Allowing for better usage of the land and the ability to grow not just one but effectively three types of naturally fed organic livestock. The food market is radically distorted at this point given that these more efficient methods of using the land which… Read more »
David
David
4 years 9 months ago

I’m a big guy (not as big as I was a year ago), I’m 6’4 and 250 lbs, I have a bit more percentage points to drop for fat content, but unless I get into the mixed nuts I rarely go above 2500 calories in a day and I cook for a living. (talk about temptations)

More pasture land could be created as well is homes are built in places that animals couldn’t graze. Take back the housing tracks and give them to the animals.

Andrew
4 years 9 months ago

I’m bringing down the US average with you!

Pre-primal is was pulling in close to 3500 calories a day (not good on a 5’7″ frame). When I take the time to add it up now, I rarely go above 2000.

Deannacat
Deannacat
4 years 9 months ago

One thing people don’t seem to understand is that once a housing tract is built, it will never be able to be used for any kind of farming again. Too many pollutants and no way to extract them efficiently or effectively. You wouldn’t want to eat a cow that had been grazed on that land. Better to just preserve what we have and encourage the rotational grazing methods described above. Oh, and vote with our wallets, of course.

Chris Pine
4 years 9 months ago

You didn’t address the clothing issue. With so many people losing weight and getting fit, they will all have to buy new clothes.

Are there enough 30-inch jeans to go around for everybody?

Finnegans Wake
Finnegans Wake
4 years 9 months ago

We’ll need a new boom industry when ConAgra and Monsanto and Cargill go belly-up… LOL!

Mary in FL
4 years 8 months ago

I’ve got it covered both ways. I have enough fabric to “insulate my house when the big one hits” (sewing joke), and I know how to use it. Alas, I have no denim.

gilliebean
4 years 9 months ago

I love this! People get so caught up in mantras that they forget to think through the implications of their assumptions!

gilliebean
4 years 9 months ago

P.S. I get about 1300 – 1800 cal per day.

Michelle Thompson
Michelle Thompson
4 years 9 months ago

A well thought out and informative article, I love your way of thinking Mark, it just makes sense.

Trav
Trav
4 years 8 months ago

+1

Jana
Jana
4 years 9 months ago
I love this. I really wish I had this information when I was going through college and was getting tired of hearing the same non-sense over and over again from vegans and nutritionists and vegetarians and health food nuts. If you read the Vegetarian Myth you’ll find it’s much more damaging to the environment to eat mono-crop plants like soy than a nice piece of grass fed beef. Sadly, we are very inefficient with our farming practices because it can be costly to implement and does not produce as much profit. The big food corporations are not going to go… Read more »
Ivan Olynyk
Ivan Olynyk
4 years 9 months ago
Mark. I have been a primal diet man for almost a year. Long story short i have lost 50 lbs and at almost 60 years old have never felt better in my life. But that is not what i want to talk about today. Thank goodness some city folk are finally getting exposure to intensive Rotational grazing and Holistic management as in the ranching community it is far from mainstream and never will be if the urban community doesnt strongly push for these methods. There are ranchers out there who believe and follow methods of livestock production that believe it… Read more »
Lyra
Lyra
4 years 9 months ago

Ivan, you are correct in your nomenclature for bovines, but I’m afraid that some modern dictionaries are now allowing “cow” as a generic non-gender-specific term for any bovine. I still use the correct terminology myself, however — even if my audience has no idea what a “steer” is.

Monica Hughes
Monica Hughes
4 years 9 months ago

Some good thoughts here. Of course, there’s a huge variation in the amount of calories people get on so-called “primal” or “paleo” diets from plant matter. Even in the case that the earth’s ecosystems are incapabable of providing a 16 oz steak for everyone, every day, there’s an enormous amount of land currently in north and south temperate latitudes that could yet be devoted to plant and animal production. Take a look in your own yard or all those strips of landscaping and grass on your drive to work.

Nion
4 years 9 months ago

My grandfather did rotational grazing with his sheep back in the 50/60s, in New Zealand! I thought that was the norm, he wasn’t the only farmer around that did it either. He’d allow the sheep to graze for a couple days, move them off to another paddock. By the time he moved them full circle the grass was up again. Rinse and repeat!

Denise
Denise
4 years 9 months ago

In my area, the city is using goats to eradicate invasive plant species. So raising goats isn’t necessarily restricted to a rural setting.

Susannah
Susannah
4 years 9 months ago

We could eat other animals too, such as deer and geese. Perhaps pigeons too. Pigeons are something you can raise in an urban setting and lots of people already do on the rooftops of apartments (if you don’t want to catch the ones walking everywhere in the city). I think it’s very do-able. We just don’t think of many of the animals that live near us as potential food. Squirrels? Sure. Why not.

Dave, RN
Dave, RN
4 years 9 months ago

“Yeah, but everyone knows grazing causes desertification”

I’d say the midwest is more of a desert now than it was when countless millions of buffalo roamed there. Just think how much meat could be produced if we grew that in the plains instead of wheat.

Elizabeth
Elizabeth
4 years 8 months ago

I recommend the book “The Worst Hard Time,” which is about the Dust Bowl years. It’s difficult reading due to the intense human suffering involved, but well worth it to understand the worst-case scenarios that occur when humans use land without understanding its limitations. Basically, using the prairie for farming rather than grazing bison or cattle destroyed its viability, and to this day large swaths of it still remain desertified.

BillP
BillP
4 years 5 months ago

Thus, the Buffalo Commons concept.

Elizabeth R
Elizabeth R
4 years 9 months ago

It’s sad how many lots are for sale in my area. I bet there used to be a lot more farmers in this area by the look of the lands for sale…

Chaike
Chaike
4 years 9 months ago

Lots of very good points. Occasionally environmentally unsound ideas are thrown around in the primal crowd. (Such as getting coconuts and cocoa sent all over the globe) But this article provides a strong argument that, at the very least, primal eating is not inherently environmentally unfriendly.
Respect.

Fair Flavors
4 years 9 months ago

Very good article!

If people tell me that a primal diet is bad for the environment, I usually reply: “Like we’re doing so great right now.” If a primal diet can’t feed us all, no diet probably can.

Doug
Doug
4 years 9 months ago

Nice article, Mark.

Margaretrc
Margaretrc
4 years 9 months ago

Excellent! Sane, logical dismantling of reflexive regurgitated objections. Bookmarking for future reference. Love your reference to Allan Savory’s project reversing desertification in Africa. Awesome. I didn’t realize it predated/influenced Joel Salatin, another hero of mine. Very cool.

Russell (Primal U)
4 years 9 months ago

This is a bookmark-worthy article.

Primalrob
Primalrob
4 years 9 months ago

I’m pretty sure I could beat a grass-fed cow in a farting contest.

Justin
Justin
4 years 9 months ago

THAT one will make the “Post of the Week” list!!

Harry Mossman
4 years 9 months ago

Great documentation. I love the interactive map. I remain skeptical that the world can sustain anywhere near 7 billion people, but this gives me somewhat more hope. Long term, an ancestrally oriented diet is the only possible way for us to survive.

Sieuwke
Sieuwke
4 years 9 months ago

Great article! Makes me want to start a farm 😀

Karen (aka zot)
Karen (aka zot)
4 years 9 months ago

Mark, has anyoone told you recently what an excellent writer you are? I read and write for a living and you really are good.

Jessica
4 years 9 months ago

Before reading this today I was searching online for grass-fed farms across the country, just those that sell online, and I was encouraged by how many I found. I know there are even more small farms that only sell locally. It gives me hope that the trend toward grass-fed, pastured farming is growing and will continue to grow and hopefully fundamentally change the industrialized feedlot system someday.

Laura
4 years 9 months ago

We could also utilize pigs better. I don’t remember where I read it but there was an article that pointed out that basically pigs turn garbage into meat. What’s more green than that?

Robin
Robin
4 years 9 months ago

What about fish? They don’t take up pastureland.
Regardless of the feasibility I don’t have a choice
my immune and digestion system led me to this diet not a book and if I don’t follow it I would croak I am sure of it. Are frogs Paleo?

Kevin Chung Lin
Kevin Chung Lin
4 years 9 months ago

well put there, Mark

Bob Baxter
Bob Baxter
4 years 9 months ago

If you want to see some of the best pasture land in the country check out the Flint Hills section of south east Kansas. Several years ago a rancher being interviewed stated “I’m not in the cattle business, I’m in the grass business. If we don’t keep our grass healthy we are out of business.”

John
John
4 years 9 months ago
I liked the posts because they form an excellent synthesis and summary on the subject for use as a reference, in the event of useful debate, but the question itself isn’t legitimate. I didn’t personally procreate seven billion people into existence, and I most certainly didn’t procreate irresponsibly under conditions of extreme poverty and starvation. I don’t own that problem and it’s not my burden to bear. I have a responsibility to tend to myself, my family and especially my offspring to create the best conditions of survival and the chance to thrive, for them and them only. The culture… Read more »
Cstars
Cstars
4 years 9 months ago

You don’t live on an island. You can ignore the world around you, but it won’t ignore you. Helping to make the world a better place for everyone helps to make the world a better place for you and your offspring.

Starving people do desperate things in order to survive. Things that will have an impact on you. You can build a fortress to keep them out, but that’s a lousy way to live when better options are available.

John
John
4 years 9 months ago
That’s so broadly conceived as to be useless for anything but grand emoting. If I took the premise seriously that I’m personally morally responsible for the poor decision making going on in the world, I would live a life of endlessly decreasing quality. When the world reaches 10 billion, I would have to hold my diet to a standard that’s appropriate for feeding 10 billion. And when it reaches 20 billion I’ll presumably be eating some kind of amino acid and vitamin/mineral glop that barely preserves minimal vital functions in order eat “morally”. Any question that begs me to justify… Read more »
Cstars
Cstars
4 years 8 months ago
Who said anything about you being morally responsible or having to change your diet? Talk about grand emoting. You said you only care about yourself and your immediate family and the rest of the world be damned. Guess what? The world doesn’t work that way. You will be impacted by the rest of the world and the competition for resources whether you want to be or not. The increasing competition for oil is already causing energy prices to rise which in turn is causing food prices to rise. So, your choice. Find out if there are any ways you can… Read more »
John
John
4 years 8 months ago

I successfully raise food on my own property without the vast need for petroleum derivatives to keep it going. I’m not into the culture that believes in purchasing health and wellness. I don’t believe in voting with my dollars, I vote with my sweat. Are the huns going to row across the Pacific to get my food, or is America going explode in population over the coming decades? What scenario specifically could drive the price of food, even to the point of tripling, in such a way that the average American consumerbot can’t eat?

jake3_14
jake3_14
4 years 8 months ago
*So … you were never a child? From birth, you were hunting and gathering your own food? You never had a mother to “hand” you milk? You’re completely self-educated? At age 4, you sought out your own knowledge, and paid teachers out of your own pocket? I don’t think you did. I’d have seen something about it on the news. I think your parents poured untold resources into your hungry mouth. I think you had a roof over your head that was paid for by other people, I think you went to schools that were built and staffed and paid… Read more »
Chris Burns
Chris Burns
4 years 8 months ago
I think you may have missed the point. I don’t think that Mark is saying we are each responsible for the current situation the World is in. I think that he’s saying that in spite of the population boom and re-purposing of land, can we ALL still eat healthily, or have we gone too far. I believe that you’re already doing exactly what he suggested, living your life the best way that you can, it doesn’t matter about everyone else. The hope is that your friends/family/co-workers/neighbours will be inspired by the way you live and choose to follow your example…… Read more »
Joanna
4 years 9 months ago

After reading what you had to say I’m feeling more positive than ever about the future of Primal eating. Yes, it just might be possible to feed the world.

And the world might just be almost ready. The latest thing in my community amongst the 20 year olds isn’t vegetarianism any more – it’s Paleo. And they love it. And it’s spreading. How great is that!

Robert
4 years 9 months ago

hope I didn’t miss this in the comments, but the US subsidizes farmers, which in fact actually subsidizes big corporations like Cargil, and ADM. If we would subsidize farmers of sustainable vegetable farming and cattle grazing, we could end the monopoly that these companies that control 80%+ of the cattle in America, and use all of that land dedicated to growing feed corn for Grazing. at the same time we will employ more Americans. I recommend watching the documentaries, fresh, and food inc.

Jen
Jen
4 years 9 months ago

Agreed, Robert!

giles troulan
giles troulan
4 years 9 months ago

I have a farm in the north of Thailand and I bought 3 cows for my father-in-law who is totally cow obsessed- he actually drives off on his motorbike everyday to hunt for the best grass (it is now the dry season) which he then cuts and delivers back to the cows on his trailer.

I think he sees them as part of the family, to me they are tomorrows BBQ.

Robert Brain
Robert Brain
4 years 9 months ago

A recent book by the British writer and farmer Simon Fairlie lays out the best case yet for sustainable meat eating in a book entitled Meat: A Benign Extravagance. Fairlie, who lives on a vegetarian commune, became more and more puzzled by the paradoxes of arguments that meat consumption necessarily increases global warming. His arguments have led Britain’s most famous environmentalist, George Monbiot, to renounce veganism. Here’s Monbiot’s Guardian article on the subject:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2010/sep/06/meat-production-veganism-deforestation

dave
dave
4 years 8 months ago

Sorry but Moonbat(Monbiot) is a fraud,how can you say he is Britains most famous envirnmentalist???Where did you get that idea?He want’s to cover the UK in wind turbines.

Daniel Wallen
4 years 9 months ago

3,770 calories per day? Damn. I don’t think people realize how many calories they consume with sodas and other processed foods. I am trying to gain muscle mass right now, so I take in around that on workout days. When I tell this to people, they groan in shock, but I imagine they can’t be too far behind based on their food choices. Good read, Mark.

Craig
Craig
4 years 9 months ago
It seems like it should be possible to get a pretty clear answer to this question. There are boatloads of data around about food consumption, food production, and the amount of land required for different kinds of agricultural. There is also a lot of data around regarding the amount of available farm land, how it is currently used, how it could be used, etc. So well-researched and quantified estimates for how many people could be fed with a Paleo diet could be made by those with the right expertise, and access to the data. However, most of those folks seem… Read more »
Danielle
Danielle
4 years 8 months ago
“Right now, Paleo eating is for rich people.” This is true when we think of it in terms of our American experience (i.e. buying salad and grassfed beef at the grocery). But what about the millions of people who ate largely “Paleo” diets only a generation or two ago, because that’s what their families had done for centuries? Many of the world’s poorest, who are now relying upon (cheap, subsidized, largely imported) grains, live in areas where “Paleo” eating was the norm in their parents’ or grandparents’ lifetimes. Most world areas inhabited by humans have climates/land suitable for small-scale farming,… Read more »
Chris Burns
Chris Burns
4 years 8 months ago
The problem isn’t the cost, I’m pretty sure I earn more than Grok did. The problem is that people want everything on a plate (no pun intended, but it made me smile), a large portion of the food price is the wages in the supply chain. Mass hunting probably isn’t a great idea in heavily populated areas (Jumungi?) but we could all do more to grow fruit/veg/herbs at home, even in flats/apartments. We choose to pay a higher price for the convenience of store brought food. That includes farmers markets, although the supply chain is naturally shorter. The “3rd World”… Read more »
dave
dave
4 years 8 months ago

Perhaps through relying on grains these people have outbred their environment?The land can only sustain so many whether grain or paleo based.

I.C.
I.C.
4 years 9 months ago

We should all eat farmed insects. Totally primal food source. Won’t solve world hunger, energy/environmental crises or make everyone magically healthy but it would be a huge step in the right direction. Not joking.

Cue the cries of “Oh, that’s toooo gross, I could neeever eat thaaat!”

What a shame that insectivory will never even come close to being embraced by the mainstream. Hell, it’s still treated like a joke even in the paleo crowd, reserved for ‘reenactors’ and other extremists.

Cam
Cam
4 years 8 months ago

I’m going to have to correct you…
entomophagy WOULD help solve world hunger and environmental degradation. Insects are an excellent source of protein, fat, vitamins and minerals, and have a much higher food conversion efficiency than traditional livestock. “Minilivestock” also require much less space and water.

As for people who refuse to eat them, well, they already do… the USFDA permits 150 or more insect fragments per 100 grams of wheat flour without considering it ‘contaminated’.

I.C.
I.C.
4 years 8 months ago

I guess I wasn’t very clear in my original statement. I do think it would help some of these problems. I just don’t know if it, alone, could completely ‘fix’ them.

I try to practice what I preach, but because of low demand, buying insects in the US is usually less than ideal because A) they can be expensive, B) they’re hard-ish to find, though this usually varies from species to species and C) they’re usually shipped from far away.

I’m trying to gather enough information so I can either start colonies at home, or start harvesting them in the wild.

Chris Burns
Chris Burns
4 years 8 months ago

They also require little to no light to thrive. They love living in small cramped conditions, literally crawling all over each other, so their growing boxes can be stacked floor to ceiling, with no specific lighting, minimal water, and they eat waste scraps.

Never personally eaten them though (knowingly at least), nor have I ever had the opportunity (UK)

Chris Burns
Chris Burns
4 years 8 months ago
One of the major issues here is the Worlds huge population, all those mouths to feed. Even in this hypothetical situation, we should probably focus on the poorest people on the planet. Well, a lot of (3rd world) families are large due to the high mortality rate, so the larger your family, the more chance you have of having surviving offspring, and the more children there are to take care of you when you get ill or are dying. Of course some religions stance on contraception has not helped this situation. This off course leads to less local resources to… Read more »
anand srivastava
anand srivastava
4 years 9 months ago
The really important reason is missing. Non grain foods cannot be transported easily. To feed the people you have to transport food efficiently. Most of the wastage happens in transportation and storage. To really feed the whole world the production will have to get decentralized. People will have to start eating only local food, and not rely on food imported from elsewhere. This would also mean that economies of scale cannot be employed to reduce production costs and labor requirement. This would mean that lots of people will have to get into food production. Yes world will be very different… Read more »
Robert
4 years 9 months ago

what it means to me is that food company execs will have to settle for a 80′ boat instead of 100′. At the same time more jobs will be created putting more money into our economy, and in the long run it will work like what I call trickle up economics. I could care less if the world eats primal, bit I think that sustainable farming can be immediately profitable and can solve a lot of problems.

Cam
Cam
4 years 8 months ago

At this point in human history, the transport of grain foods depends entirely on the continued exploitation of non-renewable fossil fuels. When we inevitably run out of this stuff, we will have no choice but to look to totally revamp our food production system, because there won’t be anything to fuel our ships, planes or trucks. Unless by that time we’ve already sucked all the nitrogen out of the atmosphere and replaced it with carbon dioxide, and made the earth’s surface unlivable for anyone who isn’t a prokaryote.

kem
kem
4 years 9 months ago

There is so much land that is excellent for grazing and marginal at best for cropping in the world, we should eat more animals, yum. Easily transportable, New Zealand has been sending frozen meat to Britain since 1880!

And pasture raised sheep/cattle are carbon neutral, it’s the mechanical and chemical inputs that enlarge the carbon footprint. My cattle are probably carbon sinks.

jane
jane
4 years 9 months ago

And the stupid thing is that your NZ lamb is cheaper to buy in the shops in Britain than our own rather good lambs produced in the fields and mountains within 20 miles of here. Whats that all about?? It’s come by boat half way round the world… so I’m afraid I don’t buy it…. can’t you encourage those Kiwis to eat a bit more.
Which begs another question, and its a controversial one.. Should we be moving people to nearer the food supply?

dave
dave
4 years 8 months ago

Plus all NZ lamb is halal killed by having it’s throat slit.I can’t support that way of killing my food.

Stabby
Stabby
4 years 9 months ago

Another point about the methane issue is that there is already innovation under way. Probiotics for sheep have already been developed in New Zealand and they’re using them for their lamb production. The probiotics drastically reduce the amount of methane that enters the atmosphere and improve the health of the livestock. I suspect that within 10 years all of the enviro-savvy ranchers will be using these, making grass-fed meat an extremely low-emission product. Actually even more of a net-reduction than now. http://www.springerlink.com/content/2r70m048m7w2l6t2/

leb
leb
4 years 9 months ago

Short answer yes the only way to feed the would is to focus on quality and appreciation. anything that empowers people to eat better food and rely less on the corporate food industry is going to help feed the world.

Jane
Jane
4 years 9 months ago

Remember the outcry when Jamie Oliver killed the lamb on tv and then prepared it and cooked it. Some of these eat local foods posts reminded me of that. Could I do it? Yes I think so. If I was shown how by my father as a young person. My mother recalls killing chooks in the backyard for dinner and she is 58 (or would be if she was still alive). Skip forward one generation and I’ve never even collected an egg from under a chooks bum.

Oh for all you Americans… a chook is a chicken.

jane
jane
4 years 9 months ago
There is loads of badly utilised land here in Britain, the way the EU fund farming by way of subsidies has scewed the way farmers farm. Here in the North the uplands are totally unsuitable for cereal production anyway.. they are however great for sheep and goats. So why are the fields empty most of the year here? Subsidies to farmers? Remember that not all the world are adults requiring those calories either. Not every one of the 7 Billion of us need 2500 cals a day. The only way things will change is by changing our own buying habits… Read more »
mrl
mrl
4 years 9 months ago

A look at Salatin and his farming practices. The blog is an interesting read on raising animals in general. http://ebeyfarm.blogspot.com/2011/10/joel-salatin-and-his-pigs-pastured.html

gpc
gpc
4 years 9 months ago

May I suggest watching this documentary

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xShCEKL-mQ8&feature=related

it’s in 6 parts so follow all the links.
I found it very interesting and informative with regards to the sustainability of agriculture and gives a lot of answers to question “Can we feed the world on the Primal Blueprint diet?”

Kari
Kari
4 years 9 months ago

Informative article, thank you! Our household has gone almost completely Primal, and we don’t even eat beef. We don’t like it. We eat a lot of venison. Just got a nice big doe last week that a friend had hit with his truck. We got 25 lbs of good meat from it and a hide to make a new drum head out of. We raise rabbits, chickens, and pigs; and a huge garden on 2 1/2 acres…. the old adage Think Globally, Act Locally? To me that should be all about food.

Scott
Scott
4 years 9 months ago

Just imagine if all those fields of corn and wheat in America’s heartland were turned over to kale, or beets, or whatever. Plenty of salad for everyone!

Lyra
Lyra
4 years 9 months ago

No, those fields should be in perennial forage crops or pasture. Kale and beets require too much water, and there aren’t enough laborers to harvest them.

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