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!

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372 thoughts on “Can We Feed the World on the Primal Blueprint Diet? – Part 1”

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

    Interesting article, I look forward to part II.

    1. Oh good, it’s not just me that feels this way! I kind of enjoy I am a bit better and smarter than the rest of the people I see at the store.

      1. I think you might have said the loud part quiet and the quiet part loud on that one.

      2. I disagree I hope more people eat healthier and primal. When people are in good shape it motivates me to do even better and strive for a higher level of excellence.


      3. Don’t forget the people at the office. Including the ones who are celiac disease and eat everything gluten free. Why not exclude wheat altogether folks?

    2. But, if the world goes Primal then don’t you agree that living this way would become easier? One would not have to worry about how the cow they are about to eat was grown.

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

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

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

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

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

      1. How is it hard to live Primal? I don’t know about you but I find it easier to sit and eat an entire head of lettuce and a half a pound of meat. It saves a ton of time too.

        1. Same here! I only have a meal once a day. Around one hour cooking and eating total! Easy peasy!

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

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

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

      3. And we wouldn’t have to pay healthcare for all those sick people…that money could be put to better use.

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

        2. Very excellent point. A large reason why our economy is a joke is because of health care.

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

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

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

        3. Yeah, and Americans are so concerned about the cost of health care. Especially universal health care. Going Primal would take care of so much of the escalating costs we are projecting! Can you imagine???

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

        1. Completely agree! Ishmael is an amazing book and it changed my whole outlook on the way our society sees its “truths” and the voice of Mother Culture 🙂 If you get a chance, pick it up!

        2. +1 to Ishmael! I read it recently….I think it goes hand in hand with the Primal Blueprint as the two most important books I’ve ever read!

      5. Toad, I 100% Agree!

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

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

        I would definitely rather live in Primaland than SAD country.

    3. That’s too funny. I try not to feel that way. It’s actually kind of sad when I see folks so miserably out of shape and knowing how they could turn their life around.

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

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

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

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

        2. Congrats!! It’s a huge success to get another person on the primal bandwagon!!

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

    4. Exactly my Option, The First thing that came to my mind!

      May they Contiinue to eat cake!

    5. I posted this on the last page, but reposting here. Sincerely apologize, but I believe this is important!

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

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

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

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

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

      Read more:

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

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

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

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

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

      1. Hey Mr. Big Words. Don’t knock it ’till you try it 🙂

        1. Um…I’ve been paleo for 2 years. I am just frustrated that the movement has been hijacked by dogmatic people.

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

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

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

        1. Alyssa,

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

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

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

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

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

      4. Thanks for your words, Jimmy:

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

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

      5. Jimmy,

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

        Mr. Peripatetic

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

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

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

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

      It’s called population lag effect:

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

      2. That only makes sense if you aren’t counting existing children as people.

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

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

        1. Grain production –> Increased population –> Decreased nutrition –> Increased infertility –> Decreased population

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

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

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

        Nature is pretty smart.

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

    1. The Vegetarian Myth was life altering for me. I recommend it to everyone.

      1. Me too, I credit my son, inspiring member of the next generation….

        1. Me too. I wanted to buy it for all my veggie friends, but don’t have the money right now.

    2. The other thing people fail to consider are the root causes of those big famines: central planning.

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

    3. Exactly, “The Vegetarian Myth” states that primal is the only sustainable food. If you can’t pick it or kill it where you live, don’t eat it.

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

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

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

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

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

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

    1. I feel lucky. I get a dozen, large pastured eggs with the most beautiful dark golden yolks you can imagine for $1.70!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

        1. Paying $4.50 a dozen for my pastured eggs….but when I have to buy the omega 3 ones at the store my husband can tell the difference immediately.

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

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

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

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

        5. Pastured eggs in my area are $8.00/doz. so I don’t get them very often.

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

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

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

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

      3. Jealous! I have to travel a ways (100 miles) to get them from family or hope my dad’s coworker has extra (those are still $3.50/dozen)

  5. The world can easily be fed on a primal diet. If everyone farmed like Joel Salatin we would have a abundance of nutrient dence real food.

    Joel Salatin – Polyface farm

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

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

    Peace 🙂

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

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

    Nutrition: The Dirt Facts – Part 1

    1. Also check for “Fresh” video showcasing Joel Salatin and others which is free for viewing until March 3, 2012.

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

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

    2. Joel Salatin addresses the very question Mark asks above. I think Salatin’s viewpoint is also worth having — not as gospel, obviously, but as a perspective:


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

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

      The entire text at The Politics of Food —

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    I look forward to the rest of this series!

    1. For the world to shift to any more primitive diet, it’s going to have to go slowly.

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

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

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

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

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

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

    1. This is so true. If no one bought Cheerios anymore then they simply would not exist.

      We are always improving.

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

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

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

      1. Unless you are allergic to eggs probably due to all the vaccines you were pumped with as a child…

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

      2. Free market economics would take care of that decrease practically overnight. Where there is demand, the market will provide.

        1. Thats not true as long as the government has an agenda on pushing their SAD. There are too many pockets being padded for the government to let Big Grain go under.

    2. +1 also! Our local grocery store, called Wegmans, is one of, if not the biggest in upstate NY. One of the things that I think has made the chain so successful is that they focus on what the consumers want. They have a constantly expanding organic/natural section of the store that includes food, spices, diapers, soap, vitamins, frozen goods, even toilet paper. If you can’t make it to the farmer’s market, you’ve still got some good options there. Additionally, during the spring through the fall, they use local farmers for much of their produce. There’s a board in front of the produce section that tells us what veggies and fruit came in from which farm and when, as well as a calendar of what to expect in the coming week! As far as a chain grocery store goes, it is a great place to shop. Prices are good too. My kids and I love the farmers market better than anything, but mid-week, when I suddenly find myself out of the kids favorites, Wegmans is the next best thing, in my opinion. They’ve made the Top100 Best Places to work list a few times, so they’re pretty good to their employees I guess. Anyway, any business is going to follow the dollar, and the organic, grass-fed movement has definitely affected what is available at my grocery store.

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

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

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

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

  12. This is pretty much my reaction as well.

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

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

    1. Even if everyone ate primal, all diets would still be diverse. Not everyone thrives on the same macronutrient ratios as well as micronutrient ratios.

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

      I would love a world without any grains whatsoever.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    1. As an organic farmer, I couldn’t agree more! Go to the Cornucopia Institute’s website to see what Monsanto has gotten pushed through the courts!

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

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

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

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

      1. Absolutely! In fact, we are looking forward to see how we start as compared to how we end up in 10 years.

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

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

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

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

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

    2. Good for you! I used to homestead when I was younger and had considered taking it up again when I retired. Eventually, I felt too tired to consider working that hard.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  26. There’s no way we have enough farmland to feed the world on this diet. Just can’t happen until population falls significantly.

    1. @Jason

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

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

    2. Considering that the great plains of North America once supported a population of 60 million buffalo, I’d say it’s not that far of a stretch…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  31. Just an added note………it takes a moment or two to load at Dr. Mercolas site…it is busy cause the screening is free for a few days so please be patient…… is worth it…


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

      1. There’s an old saying about a prophet having no honor in his own nation. Strangers are sometimes more likely to respect what we have to say than our friends and family.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      1. This. It angers me when people regurgitate the tired rhetoric of the environmental impact of raising meat.

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

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

        Same model, some variation, for lambs and porkers.

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

        1. Bingo! The environmental impact of beef is related to the feed lot, grain finishing process – not pastured, grass fed beef. Raising the grain/feed and those methane concentrating factory feed lots are what damage the environment.

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

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

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

    Remember: Stress = Change.

  36. The nay-sayers and their Malthusian argument have been around since primal man. ALL RESOURCES ARE SCARCE! Unshackle REAL capitalism, i.e. have competition in money and let real prices and competition work.

    1. Yes. A world with more economic freedom will be a world with more individuals having the opportunity to go Primal; and if more choose to do so, the supply will rise to meet the demand.

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

    This would be the biggest deterrent…

  38. Let us not forget all the money that won’t be pumped into health care and the big pharmacy as a result of us all being healthier.

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

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

    1. My local extension is teaching Victory Garden classes here in Idaho. I think there is a growing demand.

    2. I am SO glad to see someone mention WWII Victory Gardens! You are totally right about the precedent.

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

  40. Hi there
    I read so much about environmental degradation and climate change and what our children are going to face in 20 years time…. surely a more protein/meat based diet is NOT good for our planet???? We all know that methane and carbon are killing us?
    Is vegetarianism the way to go or NOT?
    Diets are SO confusing at the mo as everyone is publishing their own book BUT what about the ENVIRONMENT???

    1. We are not a herbivore. An omnivore that seems to require at least some animal food sources to stay fit and healthy. This decision was made long ago, same as the choices other animals took to become what they are. We stepped off Natures path and have massively grown our population on fossil energy. We may not have a plan to back down off that limb we’ve gone out on. You can choose to eat in a way that does not match your body, but understand what the odds are that you, by chance, have some good adaptations towards our species becoming a herbivore.

    2. Surely you are being hysterical without empircal data??? Please see my post above??? It deals with farm models that are not environmentally destructive??? And please, by all means, BREATHE???

    3. Good to see that you are interested enough to read about primal living. Keep on reading about the way we should live as we developed from our cave roots and you will see how practical and healthy it is. Yes, we have a long way to go in educating others, but that is our quest.

  41. Here’s the problem.

    I go to the Farmer’s Market, have for years. They even have a little store where you can buy pastured meat, eggs, and milk etc in the winter. So I go once a week for my stuff.

    I get excited. I tell some friends. They go, they tell some friends. And so forth.

    Next time I go to the Farmer’s Market or store, guess what? They are OUT of grass fed beef, OUT of free range eggs, OUT of organic kale. I can’t get anything for myself. All the people who I ‘spread the word’ to have gone and bought up the limited supply of food.

    Until more people get into this kind of farming and production, there just isn’t enough to go around. So I stopped telling people. Selfish, maybe, but my family has got to come first.

    1. I can recommend my friends to dozens of farms in the area that I have personally visited and bought from. I have NEVER experienced shortages from these farms based on excess consumer demand; the only times of shortage are due to the seasonal nature of animal husbandry, e.g., lambs are harvested primarily in spring, turkeys in fall, etc. People who are informed about this will stock up seasonally.

      Perhaps the solution would be to shop beyond just one single farmer’s market, and to build connections to several farmers.

      1. Yes, that’s good advice and the route that I am taking as well. You have to often buy a beef in advance, for example, but then you are assured of meat for the freezer at some point. Once you are into that cycle you just stay with it.

  42. I think it is possible for the entire world to go primal. But also agree it would take a massive change in how we grow and harvest food. Take a simple example. If the buffalo were still roaming the plains at their original numbers, and we harvested 10% of them per year for food (a sustainable number), we would have enough meat for almost everyone in the United States. This totally ignores all other meat sources. Mountain goats thrive on territory that cannot be farmed and is difficult to urbanize. If we work with the natural environment, I think we can easily feed the world on a primal diet.

    1. I agree completely with the “how” that you outlined. I disagree with your assessment that 7 billion can do this. The land area of the globe, divided by 7 billion is roughly 6 acres per person. Remove tundra, desert, boreal forest, etc and you get about 2 acres per person. (BTW that leaves nothing for other species). How can an average of 2 acres arable land possibly support a 150 lb predator? It can barely do that for a herbivore. The only way we do it now is fossil fuel.

  43. How many ribs must a man BBQ before you can call him a man ?

    the answer my friend is blowing in the wind , the answer is blowing in the wind.

    Isn’t a pre agriculture diet by definition sustainable.

    But the question is flawed , people don’t make omelettes for the world or bbq steaks for the world , they feed themselves and their families , when their friends come over they feed them too.

    Can individuals make better choices for themselves and the planet? I think so.

  44. I think evolution will solve this. Those who continue to eat the SAD and global equivalents will eventually die out from disease, and those that are left will be those who eat healthfully.

    1. I wonder if that is evolution or government hidden agenda? They don’t want to pay out too many old-age pensions after all…. or perhaps I am just too cynical in my old age?

    2. Actually, eventually some may successfully adapt to grains, but I think this would be a much slower process than our rate of consuming finite resources.

  45. Hey there Mark,

    Just got your book Primal Blueprint and been reading it for a couple days. Even though I started cutting grains from my diet the moment I heard about you via Tom Woods on the Peter Schiff Show. Like you, I don’t find the question to be a significant one. Because at the moment we are in the Green Revolution and we are essentially eating fossil fuels (since nitrogen fetilizers are used on big agra farms). The question should be whether or not the current population of the world is sustainable. In which case, it has nothing to do with being Primal. If anything, being Primal is the proactive way to live.

  46. The one thing I never understood is why everyone is so focused on cattle. What about all the other food walking, slithering, & flying around us. You know, the deer, squirrels, rabbit, reptiles, insects, birds etc, etc. I see a LOT of that “food” being untouched everyday. 🙂

    1. The most frequently eaten red meat worldwide is goat (not cow). The most frequently consumed milk is goat.

  47. The best thing we can do for the world is to stop promulgating dangerously false nutritional information. The rest of the world can take care of itself.

  48. I am a 42 year old diabetic who now better understands my disease and is finally getting it under control through diet rather than the slow steady progression of more drugs and finally insulin injections. I have to say I am glad I have the income and the knowledge to change my diet and change my life. When I tell people about primal living often their response is, “ I’m willing to give up a few years if that means I don’t have to give up bread. I LOVE BREAD” They are making a choice and are so brainwashed by the current system that expecting them to suddenly change is not likely, even when given the facts. Sugar and grains are addictive and addicts rarely change their behavior until they hit rock bottom. Our medical system props them up by giving them false information and treating the symptoms with higher doses of more expensive drugs. The question of whether or not the population can be sustained at present levels with a primal diet is likely NO. As Mark has pointed out, the real question that should be asked is whether it will ever demand to be.

  49. The question is silly. The root cause of unsustainability is the fact that we have 7 billion people, not that we have an “unsustainable diet”.

    I’m fully in line with Paul Shepard, a primal diet is just the start, to be fully human, we need to be hunters (not luddite hunters, technological hunters, but hunters all the same).

    “White European/Americans cannot become Hopis or Kalahari Bushmen or Magdalenian bison hunters, but elements in those cultures can be recovered or re-created because they fit the heritage and predeliction of the human genome everywhere…”

    From Coming Home To The Pleistocene, Paul Shepard

    1. I am currently shopping for a compound bow to join the shotguns and rifles I already own. Hunting is definitely the next level for me.

      1. Me, too. I’m a 55 yo woman and I intend to hunt deer this fall….. Learning over the summer. And there are a trillion rabbits in my neck of the woods to capture. It’s NOT all about beef.

  50. The unsustainable rise of global population has been enabled by easy energy – first coal, then petro. Farming grains has been around for much longer, and didn’t result in 7 billion of us. But it no doubt propelled us from a marginal niche to significant numbers (like 500 million). Farming on the current vast scale is simply not doable without the almost free energy we have enjoyed for the last three or more generations. It will sort itself out.

  51. I actually had a discussion with an individual who *strongly* suggested that the oceans are too overfished the way it is, so we need to continue eating farm-raised fish. I was able to find some sources citing the antibiotic, pesticide, and poor feed quality leading to poorer nutrient-dense fish, but I was unable to refute any of his EPA sources regarding overfishing. Is this something we should take into consideration?

    1. Its not controversial, its a fact to say that we have depleted the stock of large fish and are working our way through the next ones in line. As a species, we are prepared to eat algae if necessary. In Haiti after the earthquake, people ate mud to keep the stomach from being empty. How’s that for eating low on the food chain.

  52. The first thing this made me think of is the Norway Butter Shortage taht happened around Christmas!

  53. It might be important to also consider that much of Americas farmland is not currently in production and the number of farmers has been greatly reduced in the last 30 years. Even with lower yields it could be possible to feed most people a much improved diet, but it would also require a shift to nutrient dense foods from the high sugar grain based diet that is currently the norm. People simply aren’t willing to make that change as most of the population was raised on this diet and cannot imagine living another way. We should simply be glad that there IS a paleo movement because otherwise in another 20 years we might not have these choices at all. A day may be coming where all non-GMO seeds are more illegal than pot is today and plants and seeds are smuggled and sold in back alleys like narcotics. Oh the irony.

  54. I have been eating this way for years since I read Steffanson’s book Fat of the Land– and recently have moved into a more organic/natural diet. I have to say I eat a lot less (calories) than the average person but Primal eating is so much more nutritious, filling, and healthier that the money saved by not buying junk evens it all out. The world would have to wean itself off so much garbage that it would be impossible for everyone to go primal– but maybe in the next lifetime (eternity in Heaven) we will get back to what God intended for us all along!

  55. Well as long as you don’t mind getting rid of forests, national parks, and any other wild spaces to make room for grasslands to satiate all those grass-fed domesticated animals, everything should be just fine. Who cares about the rest of the species and ecosystems on earth, the most important thing is that I get my hamburger!

    1. I think you are incorrect that natural habitat needs to be destroyed. Bison roamed the plains prior to the settling of the U.S. western states. They were grass feed, and there is more forested land in North America now than there was at that time. I’m not sure why you would immediately make the leap to destroying the rainforest from a question about sustainability.

    2. Wild hogs prefer swamps and forests. We could pasture domestic pigs in similar environments.

      Deer also like wooded areas, and make a mean chili. The populations need management, and sometimes they even need to be culled from parkland. I’m not sure about the viability of properly domesticating them, though.

      And then there is a matter of not needing that much beef. I’m sure the McDonald’s already knows how to make critter-burgers just as addictive as their current menu, they just haven’t put the effort into marketing it.

  56. I think it can be done. It will take a shift and producers will take notice and have to change. I found a CSA in my area and my $400 a month on groceries now goes to them, two of my co-workers followed me on this path, two of each of thier friends. Next year this CSA may need to grow more or add more and new farmers. Over time major groceries will take notice and change to get us back spending money with them.

    I have been eating this way for almost a year. I plan on eating this way for life.

    Support your local farmers!

  57. A great discussion. It’s all about supply and demand, isn’t it? And a little bit of a vicious cycle? People eat subsidized processed foods because they’re cheap, plentiful, and non-perishable. Organic food (in many areas) is expensive. Even as a fairly poor person myself, I still do my absolute best to support responsible food sources, and see it as helping to create a shift in the supply-demand chain. On a drive x-country last year, I was forced to scavenge in the oddest of places, and you know what? The change is happening. Wal-mart carries local organic produce, grass-fed meat, and ground bison (in some parts of the USA). Many of us probably spend our time boycotting Wal-mart (normally, I do) but think about it- being a responsible Wal-mart consumer could drive major change as well as supporting your local farmers. Frequent use of Yelp on my travels landed me some of the best meals I’ve ever eaten- local, fresh, delicious PRIMAL food. So many opportunities to “vote with my dollar.” Thanks, Mark, for this great post!

  58. The world survived long before the farmer started killing us with wheat and the food companies piled on with chemicals and the fast food makers added the last nail in our coffins…. They will just keep killing us as long as we let them. I see a long long long wait until the world goes primal. Like maybe NEVER. Good…more grass fed meat for me!

  59. Well, as always your message is very thoughtful and logical.

    I’m a stubborn older lady that just would not change ( I have all your books, cookbooks, etc.)everything, just a few things here or there that I liked.

    But I reached the point of really wanting to lose weight, get my body back and eat in a way that really said something to me.

    You have been the inspiration all along, but my last Doctor visit I was
    shocked about my HBP. She gave me a book to read and follow, Dr. Gundry’s Diet Evolution. So much of what you say, and the science behind what you say and his book is amazing.

    Well, I am on the right path now.
    Reprogram those genes!

    Much Thanks for all you have done and
    will do!

  60. Hello all,

    I have been switching over to Primal for the past two months. I haven’t been perfect but I have been making steady progress. This has been a huge step for me because I have never really cooked in my life and taking the time has been a whole new but challenging adventure.

    All of this makes sense to me. We truly are what we eat. I find a new awareness setting in. It’s all very cool.

    I am very interested in growing my own veggies but I have no idea where to start. Just like cooking, it can seem a bit overwhelming when you have no experience.

    I was also looking at my backyard thinking that it is a waste of soil just to have grass there but I don’t own the house i live in so I’m not sure where to begin.

    Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

    BTW. I live in New Orleans which should give you and idea of my climate and lifestyle.

    Thank you so much Mark for helping me to change my life for the better. I’m only at the beginning of the road but so far it is very exciting to think that just because I’m 43 my strength and top health aren’t behind me.


    1. Shana; I highly recommend you find a local permaculture course and take it. It will provide you with a big picture around growing things, which you will find very valuable to place new information you learn. It is also very oriented towards growing food for yourself in the most sustainable way known at this time. Many people involved will likely be kinda vegan/veg rather than primal, but that’s OK, main thing is you will hook into the right scale thinking.

      1. Check out the New Orleans Food & Farm Network. They teach people how to do backyard farming.

    2. 1.check with your extension agent for recommended varieties for your area.
      2. you have a nice, long growing season.
      3. whether you own your apartment or house, you can grow your own. google container gardening and look. a good source again is your extension agent (not all endorse organic stuff, but it is research based) try square foot gardening.grow a tomato plant in a 5gal bucket (drainage holes made) few bean seeds planted in another pot with support for the vines, lettuce, radishes, carrots, etc.
      Rock on! (or should that be ‘Grok on!’?

  61. One more thing to add….
    Just read the death by massive heart attack of The Monkees Davey Jones!

    If that doesn’t shock you all to get in
    shape, well….

    Daydream Believer……Rest in Peace.

    1. He was 66 years old and I’m 67 – boy was that a shocker or what! And he always looked skinny – even more of a shocker—-

  62. I was asked a similar question when I was vegan years ago. “What would happen if everyone went vegan?? The earth couldn’t support that!” It was just as silly a question, because neither future will ever come to pass.

    Policy makers refuse to discuss the core issue at the heart of any number of things, which is simply overpopulation. Agriculture got us into this mess, and anyone with a brain can see that ever-more frightening agricultural practices (GMOs, monoculture, chemicals, etc) won’t get us out of it.

    And yes, at the end of the day I make the choices that are best for my family. I don’t give up healthcare because others don’t have access to it. I don’t drink filthy water because that’s all some people in the world have access to. I make sustainable, environmentally-minded choices that I am lucky enough to be able to make, and hopefully if enough people do so we can somehow divert disaster.

    I would much rather we reach a point where we have to learn how to feed the world sustainably, than the question we’re asking now, which is essentially “how can we produce the greatest amount of cheap calories by any means necessary”.

  63. With obesity,diabetes, heart disease, autoimmune disorders,and a plethora of other health issues on the rise excess population may not be the issue.

    It is worrisome to see China buying up land in South America because of the increase in meat consumption by not only the Chinese, but the US (don’t forget that much of that grocery store meat is processed, if not raised, in China). Supporting small local farmers is essential to sustainability and health.

  64. Well, I believe I’m 1%, but I doubt that the other 99% will Occupy the farm!

  65. I appreciate your logical perspective and common sense thinking in this article as well as the rest of the website. You cut right through all the blah-blah-blah right to the “meat” of the matter! More, please!!

  66. I concur! Choose for yourself to eat, to live and be in the world in this way and in turn be a leader, a model, and inspiration for others to do so. People fear change but what if the primal blueprint changed the world and the lives of people in wonderful ways no one thought possible?

  67. My boyfriend and I have actually thought about this question…he gets all in depth on it and I wave it off like “whatever” b/c, you are right – it just simply isn’t going to happen. I hate pondering the impossible. And I rarely try to push my Primal ideals on people – why bother? Aren’t they smart enough to figure it out for themselves;”How’s that woprkin’ for ya?”? No? Oh well…

  68. Mark great article. Since I’m now follow the Paleo lifestyle I have been doing the shoping. Our family shoping cart looks much different then before, and all the food items you mention are in my cart.My $$ is being spent much diff. on health food items, not on all the crap in the stores. I shop around the outside of the store. Personally I don’t really want everyone to go Paleo, gives us that extra edge to look and feel great, but I have been promoting Paleo and now have my co-worker on it. She saw the drastic change in my face and body and asked me to forward her your Primal Blue Print. I was asked last night at the groc. store how I have lost 27lbs since Jan 10th, I told them to look in my shopping cart and stop eating bread sugar and bad carbs. I educated a few over wt.shoppers last night! Paleo for life for me and my family! I’m not out to change the world, but nice helping those who are willing to listen. Keep up the great work Mark!!

  69. It’s so funny, I was having a very similar discussion this morning – the power of the purse can make a difference!

  70. In light of a definite economic collapse, running out of oil, all combined with the destruction of our environment, we can’t all go primal fast enough I’m afraid.

    Who ever mentioned our world population has peeked – you are insane LOL. just look at a population graph – we are exponentially doubling over time. We are like a foreign diesease/plaque that keeps on multiplying robbing our earth(host) of all life and in turn wiping ourselves out, and we think we’re special….

    That was fun.

    As soon as the world all grows local sustainable food supplies and kills our current money system that is based on interest, we may have a chance. But I think a big natural correction is in order for human population to survive as we are 5 billion over any decent sustainable level (pre-1920)

    1. A financial collapse would in no way inspire a more “primal” based diet. It would inspire an extreme use of grains — as it has for millenniums. Meat would again become a rare delicacy.

      At no point in history — apart from modern times (primarily due to large feed lots) — has meat been so easily, and readily available to all sections of society. In the absence of our current system — these institutions would not get better. Sure, the cows might be eating grass…but that would be because the humans are now eating the corn, or all sorts of cereal grains.

      Almost all wildlife within the US would be wiped out due to over hunting. Meat, in all forms, would be rare. Sure, you could raise your own, but it would again be a rare treat unless you have a massive herd of a couple hundred sheep/goats/cattle/etc. But, if you had that — you wouldn’t be eating them, rather you would be selling them for massive profits because those that could afford them would be the new “rich.”

      For all the ills that cereal grains may cause — they keep humans alive when necessary. This “primal” diet is only allowed due to our financial success, and factors such as feed lot farming (and, it does play a role in pricing grass-fed beef).

      “Primal” in the new world would be majority vegetables, and grains. Fruits would again become rare treats, as would most animals. Also, assuming that power was disrupted — many parts of the US/world would lack adequate refrigeration. So — most meats would spoil rather quickly.

  71. I don’t think the Primal way of eating would scale up very well without the addition of dairy. I’m talking healthy dairy (raw and cultured). We would also need to look at eating the complete animal including all organs and blood.

  72. If you check Google trends for “primal diet” and “paleo diet” you can see that interest is exploding. There was a step change at the beginning of 2012, so it looks to be snowballing.

  73. While I have no doubt feeding the world can be done, I’ll work on my little corner.

    I’m blessed to be a country girl. I have hens laying eggs, and adding compost material from pen when I have to keep them in (free range when I’m home, penned when I’m working all day because of dumped dogs) I grow veggies, and love doing it.

    For anyone who wants to grow their own veggies, it does not take acres. Just a little room. check with your local Extension Agent or Master Gardener program for recommended varieties for your area, and don’t be afraid to try others. 🙂

  74. Thanks, I think your articles are changing my life,for the better.anyway I’ve gone primal,its only been a week and already I feel better for it and happier.thankyou for enlightening me.

  75. When I think of “global primal” I think of it in terms of whether even the poorest countries could eat this way … whether instead of grain and rice aid we could give them aid in the form of primal food, whether tremendously populated places like India could sustain it, etc.

    I think we’d all, rich and poor alike, have to eat many more small animals and get away from the conventional farmed meat animals that we currently have in steady supply. In the past, we would have eaten rabbits, snakes, etc. Every community in the world would have to have to have the infrastructure of a steady supply of meat, and considering that the biggest animals, like cows, require more resources, we’d have to build most of the infrastructures around medium- to small-sized animals.

    1. I remember reading about a program where villages were given some donated ducks. The ducks ate grubs that were raised in the duck manure and the children ate the duck eggs (with some reserved to hatch ducklings). The health of the children improved and they were able to care for the ducks themselves. Extra ducks were offered to other villages to start their own programs. It was a small project that ended up offering huge benefits to the participants.

  76. I’m really glad you took the time to write about this. Although I argue about how sustainable a natural food way is people just can’t seem to grasp it.

  77. I think a big first step would be elimination grain subsidies. Better yet eliminate all agriculture and healthcare subsidies. What’s the saying “you can pay your farmer today or your doctor tomorrow”? Well if someone else is paying your doctor where is the incentive to pay your farmer?

  78. This isn’t a privilege thing.

    The answer to the third world’s problems is education and liberty, not browbeating ourselves for not falling into the same pit they are in.

    People are not born stupid. Offer them education, and they will climb themselves out of the subsistence agriculture/poverty trap.

    Browbeating yourself for improving your own life will not help these folks in the slightest.

    1. All the food aid does is tide the starving over till they feed themselves and multiply till the next famine.They are not living in a sustainable ecosystem.We add to the problem with food aid.
      Most of the billions of population is in the 3rd world that we aid but all we are doing is adding to the long term suffering.
      Should we be cruel to be kind(a brit saying)or kind to be cruel.

      1. Most of the suffering people in the third world are suffering because of their own governments. Any attempt to put food or capital away for a rainy day is thwarted by kleptocrats who rob them blind.

        Crowded countries with honest governments, like Singapore, have no problem importing food … honest government means they can afford imports.

        Third world starvation is a political problem, and not a Malthusian one.

  79. I would love this but there is little way to convince people rooted in refined culture (such as that of south and east asia) to budge. Just another thing to think about

  80. Great article!

    This may not apply to most of us city – dwellers:

    “Growing your own vegetables. Raising some chickens or perhaps even a goat,”

    But this part is nice:

    “or giving your money to people who do.”

    I think it is doable to primal feed the world, especially with the current state of technology.

    1. You can do almost all of that in the city – and if your city is not big on chickens – talk to the neighbours, maybe they don’t care…. or sometimes better to beg forgiveness….

      1. If I initially do not scare them with my mace and ax … I am all for begging for forgiveness 🙁

  81. Have to agree – the question of whether a primal diet is sustainable is the wrong question. The real question is whether 7 billion is sustainable? If you argue we are supporting 7 billion now – I would argue that what we are doing now to sustain the North American SAD diet, food production, etc is not sustainable – we’re killing the planet.

    A small group of thoughtful people could change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has – Margaret Mead

    Grok On

  82. This is a one hour movie concerning our food supply, its quality and
    likelihood of sustainability. It is somewhat disturbing, but that
    is the current reality. There are solutions, and these are
    advocated. If you are concerned about the food you buy and eat,
    this documentary will be enlightening. It is currently available at
    this link:
    It will not be available after March 3rd, however.

    The real question is are we sustainable not going primal?

  83. If the thought is to truly bring world sustainability — almost the most assured way would be to invest in hydroponic/aquaponics agriculture.

    As for meat…no, not possible.

    1. where do all your chemicals come from for hydroponics,where do all the foods come from for aquaponics?all extra costs and vital resources.

      1. Oh, I thought we were talking about feeding the world.

        Let’s see — if food is the goal, I’d take a 10 acre multistory Hydropnic (or even aquaponic) farm over an 10 acre organic farm. Also, while there may be chemicals involved — it can come extremely close to “organic” minus the soil.

        Aquaponic farms have among the greatest ability for innovation as much of it can be self-contained/sustained (ie. food sources for the fish).

        Meat is never a viable option for the world. It never has been. It is something that may be good for us, but is not something that has ever been truly viable on a mass scale apart from the advent of massive feed lots/coops.

        1. Whoever said that it is our birthright to exist on a mass scale. If we had 7 billion wolves instead of humans, we know Nature can’t cough up the necessary deer and rabbits. So those poor wolves should just turn to chewing algae? Sorry, I don’t know what the solution is to climb down from here – but trying to eat what our body wasn’t made for is not going to do it. Meat was the viable option some primate ancestor chose long ago, you must live with(and could love)that decision.

    2. Sorry, not on board with that – Maintaining these highly modified environments rely on technology that seems to be horribly energy intensive (where we live), not robust and its disease prone. We must re-join with nature – somehow.

  84. Don’t forget the humble rabbit in all this.All those inedible(to us)veg peelings and outer leaves will provide very healthy meat,plus fertiliser and,if your really fanatical,furs too.
    Very little outlay and very small space needed,the ideal backyard animal.

    1. Though, definitely make sure you eat something else other than rabbit…or face “rabbit starvation.”

      1. that’s a very pathetic and somewhat hysterical reply,even from you.

  85. THE POINT IS: That the amount of meat and fish necessary to put 7+ billion people on a primal diet that doesn’t soon start to resemble an almost rawfood diet is just NOT availiable.

    When talking organic & grass-fed this is even more the case.

    Not even because there’s not enough space. Think putting the entire population of China on a primal diet with plenty of grassfed beef, etc.

    Not even because the oceans are overfished.

    But mostly because of the insane amount of methane & other greenhouse gasses that will be excreted on such a massive global scale, that INDEED:

    The primal diet can never fuel the world…not without most/if not all of the human population dying because of it that is..

    So much for increasing the worlds fitness & vitality.

    1. Just tell me how many millions of buffalo grazed on the plains before they were almost wiped out.?antelope,deer,grouse.They all produced methane too,that INDEED.
      More veggie false propaganda

      1. So, modern polluting society + the required billions of animals for consumption across the world.

    2. Actually, methane generation by grass fed animals is a fraction of that by grain-fed. The rumen is operating correctly on grass and results in little methane, whereas CAFO is where these things are usually measured, wrongly implicating all grass fed herbivores.

  86. About HALF the food now produced is wasted. If we converted from an industrialized system of sending vegetables 1500 miles from farm to plate, of not mixing beef from Mexico and Kansas and Canada into a single burger patty, of not shipping boxed and canned foods thousands of miles, to a system of local farms and distribution networks, all fresh, CAFO-free, organic, pastured and grass-fed… how much less waste would we see?

    And another important consideration, given the monthly outbreaks of E. Coli and salmonella poisoning: how much SAFER would de-centralizing our food be? Right now we focus on the infectious diseases spread by industrial processes — the price we pay for cheap food! — and ignore the rather more insidious possibility of intentional introduction of infectious agents to our food supply. If you’re a terrorist who wants to poison as many Americans as possible, which food system would facilitate such a plan? Scary to think about, especially since hygience oversight at Big Ag plants seems to be nil.

  87. Great post! I love how you took an overwhelming world-wide question/problem and broke it down to our individual choices. I am often overwhelmed in my search for the most nutrient-dense foods for my family and with some patience and persistence, the choices usually become available. Looking forward to Part 2. Thank you!

  88. If the world went primival most would starve- we do not have the land to grow animals for 7 billion people. Rice and wheat is why we have all these people, the population would decline to maybe 2 billion if that. Look at north Africa and see what the world would look like in a few years. I spent years in Asia and central America and its rare to see fat people unless they are wealthy. America is one of the few places where the poor can be fat-its called food stamps and welfare! Most places in the 3rd world you work dawn to dark trying to grow food. Two or three acres of grains will feed a family of 4. It would take a 100 acres to live like Grok and the Groketts did.

    1. why?show me your figures.The 3rd world is overpopulated,north Africa is kept going by food aid as it cannot sustain the population which we help to feed and increase.
      Of course you can feed a family of 4 on 2 or 3 acres living primal.
      You really have a chip on your shoulder about America.Get over it.America is very wasteful in land use but that will change when economics make it worthwhile.

      1. would a world with “only” 2 billion people be too few friends on facebook? seriously, 2 billion people is still ALOT of humans!

  89. Great article! Thanks.

    In general I find that people (at least in US) don’t really pay the “true cost” of things. Oil/corn/wheat subsidies make it possible to grow lots of corn without rotating crops (just feed petroleum-based fertilizer to the soil) and they also make it cheaper to raise beef on corn instead of grass. So, in the US we eat way more meat than other cultures–it’s become a staple rather than a luxury item.

    Getting rid of subsidies is an important step toward paying the true cost of things. People need to scale back their corn usage for much the same reasons they need to scale back fossil fuel usage… but since they are not paying the true cost of their consumption, their decisions are disconnected from reality.

    We should vote with our dollars to support organic veggies and grass-fed meat, but we should also phone our Congress and say whether we approve of our tax dollars being used to make someone else’s corn and oil cheaper. 🙂

    1. So…meat skyrocketing to $15 for a cheap cut, and $50 for a Ribeye is worth it?

      Grass fed beef is a niche market. It is also tamed by the massive feed lots. It MUST be comparable in price. As only the rich would pay $15 for a grass fed cheap cut when the standard rate is $4.

      Remove those feed lots, and now prices skyrocket. Sure, we’ll have grass fed beef, but with their “true cost.” Keeping in mind that historically meat was usually a luxury item.

      1. RIDICULOUS argument. Who pays $15 for a “cheap cut” of grass-fed beef or $50 for a ribeye? In fact, if you buy grass-fed in bulk it’s competitive with grain-fed, and even if buying a la carte it’s nowhere NEAR what you’re making it to be.

        Come back to reality. Please.

  90. I have a small Aquaphonics system set up in my kids class room (yes we home school). 55gal tank filled with tilapia, feeding three grow beds, cost less then a $100 US, to put together. It’s supplies 100 fish a year and all the veggies for the whole family of 4, and is a complete eco system (no Waste).
    This spring we are building a small green house 8×12 and this should give us almost 500 fish a year, and extra veggies for canning and sale.
    Add a couple of chickens and a good worm compost, and someone mentioned Rabbits. You do not need acres of land, just a small yard (even a window) will work, and most homes could produce 80% of their own Primal food. We are doing it so…….

    1. There you go! I have never had a period in my entire life without at the very least a small kitchen garden, even it it meant a few containers some times. That’s how my parents raised us and I have just continued on and raised my kids the same way and now they are gardening with their kids.

      I love the idea of raising fish at home in a clean, controlled environment. We always enjoyed our aquariums. Never thought about doing it on the scale that you are and for a food source – something else on my list of things to explore!

      1. For those unfamiliar with aquaponics;
        Plants (duckweed) grows on top of the water, fish eat the duckweed, poop, aleage in the water coverts the ammonia in the poop into nitrates, which the plants eat up for fertilizer, water goes back into the tank as clean water. No chemicals, no waste, just food. Runs on a small water pump, and basic chemistry and physics.

      1. That’s a good idea. How could that be done? Maybe a guest article?

  91. I like to think our organically raised cattle are carbon neutral, carbon in, carbon out, the inputs of diesel and the occasional mineral fertilisation notwithstanding. We manage eight beasts raised to slaughter on as many hectares per year and sustainably grow a lot of edible vegetables as well.

    I think that biological and sustainable farm practices in developing countries are the only hope fo feeding the 7 billion.

    Worse greenhouse (NO2) gasses are produced with nitrogenous fertilisers used in conventional agriculture.

  92. Thinking beyond “Going Primal” amongst those that have means to make that choice… I was listening to Dr. Peter Green’s podcast on Celiac: A Hidden Epidemic, and was deeply saddened by the study of societies that had been provided Aid during famine, by the US and others… mostly in the form of wheat, that was not a part of that region’s normal diet, and now those populations are seeing celiac explode amongst their children. Good intentions gone bad. They sent wheat because it’s cheap and easy to transport, relatively easy to keep fresh, and distribute (rice would have been a better choice, surely, but the US is not rife with rice paddies)… So in this case study … instead of immediate starvation, what was provided was a slower death of malnutrition, malabsorption, vitamin deficiency, intestinal cancers, etc. Going Primal in Humanitarian efforts would certainly be a challenge given the expense and perishability.

  93. What interests me is the way we frame this question. We ask “is it possible to sustain the world’s population now and in the foreseeable future if we all ate a primal diet?” Do we ask “is it possible to sustain the world’s population on a SAD?” I would argue that most people believe the answer to the second question is yes. And almost everyone who asks the first question asks it as an argument against Primal eating with the implicit assumption that we can sustain the world on an SAD or a vegetarian diet.

    I’m writing my dissertation on sustainable farm and food systems and I can assure you that we will not be able to sustain production of an SAD for 10 billion people. Or a vegetarian diet based on grains that are grown using conventional agriculture for 10 billion people. Our current farming and food systems are destroying our natural resources, along with the health our productive workers. We will not be able to sustain a population of 10 billion people using conventional farming practices no matter what they eat! The Primal diet encourages more sustainable agricultural practices like grass-fed live-stock and pastured eggs (preferably pastured in an organic vegetable patch!) In this way, I believe Primal eating is part of the answer to our environmental crisis, not part of the problem. And yes, it is possible to feed the world a healthy, whole foods diet that focuses on grass-fed meat, veggies and fruit, and minimizes grains, legumes and sugar.

    1. I have heard that people have co-opted/manage (mis-manage?) approx 40% of the world biomass. I wish I thought that leaves enough room for the other species, but I don’t think it does. I don’t believe the world biome can support 7 billion x 150 lb. primate. That’s one per 6 acres of entire landmass (incl desert, etc). Eat well, be well.

  94. Interesting topic. Sadly I don’t think global adoption of a primal lifestyle will ever happen – there are too many economic, political, educational and cultural impacts on what we eat and how we live our lives. But wouldn’t it be great if we could stop just one disease that’s predominantly lifestyle and diet related – diabetes. It’s projected that by 2020, 52% of adults will have diabetes or prediabetes in the USA, at a cost of $500 billion (up from $194 billion in 2010). Damn, that’s a lot of omega-rich eggs and pasture-fed beef.

    I sometimes feel like I’m part of a ‘conspiracy theory’ – I’m privy to a big secret that will keep me healthy and in optimal shape for life – and noone else ‘gets’ it! Even though it’s no secret! Yet every day I see commercials for breakfast cereals, for example – a big bowl of grain, doused in sugar, then drenched in milk. But it’s ‘healthy – with the goodness of whole wheat’! Argh! And we send the nation’s kids off to school on this ‘wholesome’ breakfast. *shaking head* There are a lot of cultural beliefs that get in the way – sadly most American families’ understanding of a balanced meal is alternating between Taco Bell, KFC and McDonalds. Plant a garden? Raise chickens? Plan and *gasp* COOK a nutritious meal? I’m way too busy….. Apparently health isn’t a priority.

    I guess if we’re lucky, on our 100th birthday some reporter will interview us and ask us what our secret is. And maybe I’ll respond “What secret?”

    1. Nice comment – maybe SAD is just Nature’s way of making our species so dysfunctional that it won’t take much to correct our numbers. We know neolithic agents of disease are not just associated with weight and fitness, but also immune function and correct brain function (schizo/autistic/Alzh axis). How’s your survivability if you have no energy, can’t move well and can’t think straight?

  95. Contrary to anti-primal popular belief, my husband and I have noticed a drastic reduction in our overall grocery bill. Sure, we spend more than we used to on fresh produce and when available, grain-fed local meats, but there is so much we no longer purchase, such as soda, candy, cereal, flour, bread, breadcrumbs, crackers, pop tarts, pastry, and a long list of other boxed, bagged & canned stuff pretending to be food.

    And I don’t know about others, but all it took was eating real food for a short time – a few weeks – before I realized that fast food isn’t really food at all, and it doesn’t really taste all that good compared to real food.

    And finally, I’m living proof that one person can make a difference. Two others have gone primal after witnessing my 50+ lb loss while enjoying generous primal meals. 😉

  96. Great article. Looking forward to part II. I appreciate the “individual” aspect you gave. Sometimes I feel part a**hole/mama bear, maybe a little smug and superior, “My offspring with take over your offspring, oh wheat-eaters.” On the flip-side, consumer power is powerful,the more that people put their money towards Primal endeavors, the easier it becomes for us all.
    Then there is the whole issue of trying to get people you love to make the changes, get a bunch of lip service, only to run into them buying the Costco sized box of snack crackers. Damnmit!
    Doing your best,as often as you can, as an individual is the best message. So thanks! I still like being an a**hole sometimes though…

    1. We needn’t feel too smug – the last 10,000 years is the story of agricultural people assimilating and annihilating the pastoral and HG populations. It ain’t over yet. Wade Davis estimates that of the 6,000 remaining tribal languages, another half could be gone in 20 years (at the current rate).

  97. Thanks for addressing this Mark, I have often thought the same thing and wondered what would happen. Keep up the fight!

  98. Brilliant question. My take is that in a primal era we would have been less fussy about the protein. We would have eaten grubs, insects all sorts of animals and the potential source would have been far wider ranging. I actually ate worms in Thailand last month as I was determined to address this exact issue but they were fried in weeks old oil which somewhat ruined the experience. They had hgrasshoppers worms and all sorts. If they had been delicately sauteed in coconut oil I would have been made up. I am partial to game here (but have to date avoided road kill) and it is becoming more and more mainstream with supermarkets stocking venison, wood pidgeon, rabbit (which used to be the main option before chicken became popular). In other words it will be all change and we would hopefully get our woods and wild pastures back and lose the endless momotony of the rapeseed fields.

  99. I’m been primal/paleo for about 8 weeks now. Friends said I didn’t need to lose any weight but I wasn’t trying to. I probably need to try to eat more and more regularly. I’m 62 and weigh about 3 lbs more than when I was 18, down about 12 lbs.
    I think we all forget that humans started out eating primally. When we killed off 70 million bison from North America we destroyed a viable, sustainable meat source. The biggest drawback to feeding much of the population primally is commercial farming (read money) and that’s not trying to demonize people or companies that grow crops for profit. That too was an evolutionary process. We can take it back with our spending patterns.

  100. QUESTION: Even if tomorrow all scientists and doctors agreed that paleo was a “cure all,” how many people would adopt it?

    ANSWER: About the same number of people who quit smoking when the scientists and doctors all agreed on tobacco starting in the 1960s.

  101. So a speaker came to the first public meeting of the local Transition Town group and explained he is growing 3 crops per year per square foot in his gardens. And went on to explain that prior to WWI the city of Paris France was producing 7 crops per sq.ft. I just found this article to share that can explain how using hoop gardens and green houses for us in the north.
    Good luck to you and happy eating….

  102. I’m trying to write a paper on this very subject. It’s almost impossible to do when I am only allowed to use ‘scientific peer-reviewed papers and reports’ as evidence and reference material to back up my arguements. So frustrating!

  103. i hate grassfed meat it stinky. more like wild sea animals. a lot animal who are killed are stinky. and disgusting only some are realy consumable for me.

  104. Taking on anything from a position of fear is bound to have a poorer outcome than looking for solutions and being proactive. This is why I love you Mark. You are promoting a positive future, a little at a time. Using our buying power and being shining examples to our coworkers, neighbors, friends and families is the way to empower a shift and turn a few heads at the same time. I never realized how much people check out each others’ lunch at work!

  105. Because of the PB, I’ve gained a lot of perspective on how I can change things little by little in my own life. I can’t get the majority of my family to eat primal, but my three coworkers do. I now have 4 chickens, a 20’x50′ garden, and we buy local beef and pork. I’ve read up on Permaculture (Sepp Holzer), Joel Salatin, and learned a ton about how wrong the business of food is in this country. I’m now looking at buying 7 acres with my best friend to do some more chickens, more veggies, a pick-your-own blackberry and blueberry endeavor, and basically piddle around, get a lot of exercise, and leave my cell phone and Macbook behind while I’m doing it. I have a long, long way to go in terms of improvement physically and mentally and aligning myself more with the tenants and thought processes of the PB. But I’ve built a hell of a foundation of knowledge and changed my mindset drastically since the day a few years ago when I wondered “who is this supplements guy on the end of my workout videos? he seems interesting”. The neighbors buy our eggs, my wife cans up a storm, and my kid can tell the difference between homemade chicken nuggets and the ones at a fast food joint. None of it is perfect, but it’s little victories every day peppered by little setbacks every week that are less and less frequent. Somebody once said (the author eludes me) that “there are no global problems, only local problems”, and I think that’s what Mark is getting at, and where I think we, as a community, can start to make little, tangible differences that people can actually see and perhaps, start to value.

  106. I agree that it is frustrating seeing all the people close to you who want to be healthier and slimmer, whom you try to preach the low-carb/primal ideas to, that just wont even give it a chance by reading, watching, listening to things you suggest to them.

    Sometimes, it is almost as if they won’t even think about it because they are scared they will actually buy into it, maybe because they have the conventional thinking so imbedded in their minds. I can understand people’s skepticism, but they won’t even listen and look into it themselves with an open mind.

    Nonetheless, I will continue to try to convince people that there is a way to eat and live that truly does give you amazing results, unlike the failed advice from the past 40 years.

    I had wondered if it was possible to have a much larger proportion of the world population eating primally (like a lot of people, I’m sure), but this post helped ease that worry, so thank you Mark! Great Blog.


  107. If the zoning regulations in most suburbs could be changed to at least encourage vegetable gardens and laying hens, it would go a long way toward sustaining many paleo fans. Instead, we have municipalities taking people to court over raising vegetables. How stupid is that?!?

    Also we should be removing a lot of the regulations which crucify small farmers. It is not the government’s business what I eat, and if one person can raise poultry or goats or cattle and butcher them for friends, they should not face fines and jail time. We all know that mass produced meats are FAR from safe!

  108. The original question, “Can we feed the world on a primal diet?” is interesting and occured to me indepedently awhile back. The neolithic diet is what allowed civilization (nota bene: not necessarily the individuals of the civilization, who were now easily replaced) to flower in the first place with a relatively stable, cheap source of food. Wild food is usually much healthier that farmed/husbanded food. Farming depletes the soil, which requires fertilization, and one can not hope to replenish every micro-mineral/nutrient depleted. But wild food is much more expensive. Commercial harvesting of wild food is strickly regulated and, for the most part, limited to specific marine life and seasons. Once you start farming/husbanding the nutritional content starts to suffer. Compare wild salmon to farmed salmon.

  109. Your solution is utopian under the current economic system, based on private ownership and production for profit.
    In order for this to have the possibility to work, the economy needs to be in the democratic hands of the majority in society, the working class. We could then PLAN production accordingly. Without a coherent national and global plan of production, this would not be possible. If the overwhelming majority in society democratically decide we want to eat the food we are supposed to eat, we could make it possible.
    Why is the food we eat poisoned and so bad for us? Because of the profit motive. If production were for the needs of society, we could transform the way we eat.

  110. I couldn’t help but post after reading Mark’s article and then wanting to share with you something else I read today.
    I think after some of you read this article at: http:/ Bill Gates Monsanto eugenics.html

    Your better off Primal, but be on the look-out who in our past/present and future is about to confront us with.

    1. That article sounds like typical Bill Gates, if you have followed the story of MS and Apple. Read Steve Job’s bio for more insight into Bill’s sneaky tactics.

      And, it sounds like Bill comes by it naturally – a chip off the old Gates Sr’s block, evidently.

      Read also the link to Monsanto suicides if you want to see what GMO crops are doing to India’s agriculture. 200,000 farmers in India have committed suicide as a result of Monsanto interference in the last 10 years.

  111. Mark, the best thing about your blog is the scientific research you reference to back up your claims. Unfortunately it is lacking from this entry.

    I accept that the chance of the entire world going primal is next to nil, but we need to acknowledge that being able to source and afford the produce required for a primal diet is only available to the richest people on the planet.

    Everyone growing their own produce would help, but feeding the entire global population of 7 billion people will, unfortunately, require intensive industrial farming of grains. It’s obviously not the healthiest option and contrary to our evolutionary history, but it is better than people starving.

    Those that can afford to eat a primal diet are very, very privileged.

    I’m not the only one of this opinion:

  112. Just watched the ‘Fresh’ documentary on the website.

    It is so well done. Really tied together a lot of loose ends for me and gave me a better understanding of how the Primal movement fits into the bigger picture. It IS possible to change the way we produce our food. It’s a very uplifting invigorating film.

    I totally agree with Mark’s way of looking at the personal experience and benefits of eating Primally and the desire to (someday, maybe) change the world. I also sympathize with previous posters who get frustrated with people who refuse to change, who can’t imagine ever giving up bread, for instance. One guy I chatted with at the supermarket the other day told me he would rather cut off his right arm! I think I’ve managed to come to terms with my personal sense of well being in living Primally and not feel like I have to get everyone else on board. But once you get me started on the topic it’s hard to get me to shut up!

  113. Based on many comments here so far, lots of you are saying you don’t know where to start as far as growing your own veggies, or don’t have room, blah, blah, blah. Well, I say where there’s a will, there’s a way.

    You can grow stuff in hanging baskets, small pots, big pots, elongated planters hanging over the railing, etc. etc. on your apartment sized balcony (and yes, I admit the amount of sunlight is a factor as veggies need sun).

    Grazing cattle, pigs and chickens on your balcony may be a bit more of a challenge—not to mention the trout pond can be difficult as well—–

    But the bottom line is if you really want to try to grow your own stuff it can be done. Sure, it will be limited in quantity and what you can grow seasonally, but every little bit helps and will give you an idea as to what’s involved in farming. The big bonus is that you will be absolutely amazed at how efn GOOD all the stuff tastes!

    Even a simple herb garden will do wonders for your Primal palate. No — you won’t feed the whole world, but you’ll help feed your little world—

  114. 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.

    1. 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.

    2. “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.

  115. 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.

  116. 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.

  117. 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.

  118. 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.

  119. 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!

  120. 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?

    1. 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.

  121. 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!

  122. 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.

  123. Hey this is perfectly doable: do you know how many succulent worms,big and juicy cocrouches are out there (in spite of pesticides etc)

  124. 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.

  125. 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!

  126. It is possible, we need a economy based on resources, not money, then the produces will acquire their real value.

  127. 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?

  128. 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.

  129. 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.

  130. 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.

    1. “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.

      1. It’s an ecological concept called the Ten Percent Law (Lindemann, 1942)

        1. 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.

        2. 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.

        3. 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.

  131. You can’t feed the world anymore. Just too many people and growing every day. I expect a worldwide depopulating event soon.

  132. 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.

  133. 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.

    1. 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?

      1. 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.

  134. 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?

    1. 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.

  135. 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.

  136. 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…

  137. 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.

  138. 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.

  139. 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.

  140. 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.

  141. @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……

  142. 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.

    1. 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.

  143. 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.

  144. 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??

  145. 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)

  146. “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.

  147. 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.

  148. 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.

  149. 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)

  150. 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.