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Can the Entire World Eat Paleo/Primal?

By Sean | In Health & Lifestyle, Nutrition | on March 28, 2012


Today’s topic of the sustainability of a Paleo/Primal diet on a global scale is something I’ve pondered for a while now.  Ever since a thought provoking conversation with my friend and former co-worker, I’ve reflected on this complex topic without any clear answers, other than this style of diet seems to promote better health and performance at least on a small scale.  Last week I just happened to be perusing one of my favorite websites Mark’s Daily Apple when I was surprised to see him address this very subject.  Because it’s not an easy, straight forward answer, Mark addresses the issues from different angles in three separate posts.

In his first post, he address the validity of the question itself.  Mark states, “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.”  Personally, I took the approach that Mark mentions and assumed that everyone would go Paleo/Primal all at once, and clearly with the current policies and infrastructure in place now there is simply no was that this is possible.  However, he notes that many unlikely things would have to happen for that scenario to become a reality.  Read more in Mark’s entire Part 1 post here about what things would have to happen to incite a massive Paleo/Primal shift and why those chances are slim, why Mark is optimistic that in an ideal world it is possible for everyone to eat Paleo/Primal, and why “voting with your dollar” is an important way we can shape our future.

In Marks second installment he addresses two very common counter-points typically brought up when discussing the sustainability of a Paleo/Primal diet on a global scale:  calories and cattle.  Many argue that grains are a necessary evil because otherwise how would the 7+ billion humans on earth get enough calories to survive?  Mark first discusses making due with what we currently have by addressing the absurd amount of food that is wasted, especially in industrialized countries.  He then hits on the average amount of calories consumed and how many are really needed, comparing the average daily calorie consumption in the U.S. and Europe to other emerging nations like China and India.  The second common counter to a global Paleo/Primal shift is where will all the meat come from? Read Mark’s second post where he goes on to discuss ways livestock grazing can be done more efficiently and why there’s more pasture available than people may think, why cows aren’t the only animal worthy of eating and the importance of maximizing the useage of the animal (read Marcus’ post “Something Offal” to learn more), and why some of the environment impacts of grass-fed livestock are either misunderstood or can be avoided.

In Mark’s final post, he delves deeper into the changes that would have to be made to see a global shift to a Paleo/Primal diet a reality.  This is where Mark’s gives us ways to help the rubber meet the road.  He offers up inventive ways to use your lawn and rooftop, why making the shift to eating tubers, roots, and fruits is more calorically beneficial than eating grains (backed up by some rudimentary math), and promotes a viable food source that is largely untapped (at least here in the U.S.).

A lot of reading material today, but like me, you can appreciate the thought that Mark and his team put into addressing possibly one of the toughest questions that has plagued Paleo/Primal eaters everywhere, especially when they debate others on the applicability of the diet.  In the end we all have to do our part and be the change we want to see in the world.


WOD 3.28.12.

Back Squat 3×5/Wendler

Every minute on the minute for 20mins:
Perform at least 3 Power Cleans on odd minutes
Perform at least 6 Burpees on even minutes

One Comment to "Can the Entire World Eat Paleo/Primal?"

  • Holley says:

    March 29, 2012 at 9:51 AM -

    I didn’t get a chance to comment yesterday, but this is a great topic! I have a friend that often posts about sustainability and I liked this article in particular: http://www.anh-europe.org/news/organic-farming-blows-conventional-farming-out-of-the-water

    While some of the crops they are studying aren’t paleo, they’ve shown that organic farming out performs industrial farming (with herbicides and GMOs) in all categories, including yield. With more people switching to the paleo/primal lifestyle, looking for “purer” foods, maybe we can feed more people…

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