Is Living Primal Good for the Environment?

Thanks for the great topic suggestion, Son of Grok. It is interesting that as we rid our body of waste, we seem to do the same for the planet. Funny how that works out. The reduction of artificial wastes and packaging materials is probably the most tangible benefit to the environment, but following the Primal Blueprint to a tee can be incredibly green-conscious in many other ways.

Buying Organic

Most Neo-Primals already buy organic whenever possible. We mostly do this to emulate the type of food Grok (your father) would have eaten: wild, raw, and packed full of nutrients. Like the produce from 10,000 years ago, certified organic food today is free of pesticides and hormones. Plus, it just tastes really, really good (if you let her, nature has a pretty impressive green thumb).

But these days, environmental consciousness is paramount. No longer the bastion of the “wacky leftists,” green living has become a universal issue. Nearly everyone agrees that we humans have been doing quite a number on the planet and that it needs to stop. So you have people bringing their own bags to the grocery store, taking the recycling out, shopping for hybrid cars, and paying lip service to alternative energy in stump speeches (how’d that get in there?). These are all good, relatively simple ways the average person can reduce his or her carbon footprint. As Primal Blueprinters, however, I think we can take it a few steps further.

Commercial Farming Kills

Mass commercial farming destroys environments. Pesticides run off into rivers, excess farming and tilling damages the soil for future generations and erodes the land. Organic farmers rotate crops, preserve biodiversity, and use natural manure and fertilizer that enrich the soil. When we buy organic, we’re supporting these environmental efforts (and getting healthier, tastier food). And, as more people opt for the organic (maybe even Primal) lifestyle, we hope organic produce becomes the norm, rather than the outlier.

Large-scale commercial meat farming hits the land pretty hard, too. You’ve got waste management issues (waste runoff, the awful smell) as well as methane emissions. Yes, loyal readers: animal farts release an incredible amount of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. As you all know, of course, eating the wrong foods (too much dairy, for example) can cause our finely-tuned Primal insides to emit terrible odors; the same is true for cows. Organic grass-fed cows emit 40% less greenhouse gases and use 85% less energy than do cows on commercial, concentrated feed made from soy and corn.

Buy Local

Even better – buy locally when you can. Meat or produce shipped from overseas (besides being of potentially questionable quality) is, well, shipped from overseas. Trans-continental transportation uses massive amounts of oil, and we’re running out of it. That traditional, corn/soy/etc-fed steak you’re about to bite into? Besides being a bastardization of the type of bovine meat Grok would have eaten, that steak probably traveled thousands of miles to reach your plate, leaving a carbon footprint the size of Bigfoot’s in its wake. And if the steak is grass-fed and organic, the planet is still better served if you find a closer source. Unless you’re getting your steaks delivered via pigeon or glider, try to look for organic, local sources.

Shop local. Go to your co-op or farmers’ market and find out where the food originates. Talk to the farmers. Ask about their farming practices. Chances are, they’ll be happy to oblige (you’ll find that most organic farmers are pretty passionate about their craft). Heck, go straight to the source and make a trip to the local farm! Buying directly from the farmer doesn’t just get you the freshest meat and produce possible; you could also get reduced, wholesale prices by pooling your money with a few like-minded friends. Buy a few pounds of berries, a quarter grass-fed cow, six dozen pasture-raised eggs, and divvy it up. You’ll be getting Whole Foods quality at a fraction of the cost. I suppose you could always go it alone, but you better have a big enough freezer.

A really cool resource is Fallen Fruit. Started in LA, Fallen Fruit is a collection of maps indexing the public fruit trees all over the United States. The fruit here is completely public, mostly organic, and the maps are – for the time being – focused on LA. Oh, and the most important part: this fruit is completely free.

Grow it Alone

Of course, the absolutely optimal way to live both Primal and green is to produce your own food. Whether that means living on a sustainable organic farm, building a chicken coop in your backyard, or even just growing herbs on the windowsill of your studio apartment, any step you take will reduce your negative impact on the world. We all have different incomes and living arrangements; we can’t all live completely off the fat of the land. But planting a couple tomato plants in your yard is an easy option that will give you delicious, organic food whose only carbon footprint was the gas you expelled when bending over to pick it.

No room to grow? Investigate the local community garden scene. High schools often rent out small plots of land for the public to use for gardening. For a usually nominal fee, you’ll have access to unlimited water, maybe 10 square feet (or more!) of good soil, and the timeless wisdom of the lifetime gardeners who share the plot (and who are – like those meatheads at the gym – very liberal with their advice). Even if you have to drive a few miles to get to the garden, growing your own fruits and vegetables is decidedly Primal and green.


What if the entire world were to eat Primally? I mean, wasn’t agriculture a response to rapidly dwindling food supplies for a growing population, making the mass production of energy-dense grains and starches a necessity? At our current population levels, there isn’t enough organic produce and pasture-raised livestock to go around for absolutely everyone, but that doesn’t mean we should forgo our health and simply continue the downward spiral. It means we should support our local farms so they can flourish. Buy organic. Abstain from buying apples from Chile or having wild Alaskan salmon delivered overnight to your door, and you can rest assured that you’re going about things the right way – Primal and green.

There are many facets and nuances to this issue. We’d love to hear your take, so hit us up with a comment in the comment boards.

halcyonsting, cafemama, Peti Deuxmont, ianturton, catchesthelight Flickr Photos (CC)

Further Reading:

10 Ways to “Eat Green”

Community Supported Agriculture

Dear Mark: Best Fruit Choices

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