Right now, around the world, there are people who cannot afford access to basic nutrition. This is not simply something that happens in Africa. This weekend I spent teaching a seminar at the local food bank on how to eat healthy when living on food stamps ($70 a month or less per person), but I had to admit to them that there doesn't seem to be a way to eat a diet with 100% of all the required nutrients and none of the neolithic agents of disease on a budget like that.
When I turn to the internet for answers on healthy eating normally what I find is people who make upwards $50,000-200,000 a year talking about how how to optimize nutrition by discussing shopping at whole foods, or showing off their salad making in their kitchen that costs more than many people I know will make in a few decades. While the aspirations of these people are commendable, their short-sightedness is causing them to ignore or often exacerbate the suffering of many millions.
Have we simply decided to ignore the reality that a great many people in the world are sick and dying because they can't afford to eat like many do in Paleo? Is there anyone doing research on how to acquire optimal health on a budget akin to the most impoverished in our world without having to devote most of their day to agriculture? I would really like to see if anyone has discovered a type of minimalist diet that provides all that we need without having to resort to luxury foods and supplements.
How can make the type of diet that will allow us to lead vibrant lives into our 90s or beyond available to everyone?
asked byDualhammers (384)
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on May 12, 2013
at 11:16 PM
With respect to poverty inside the US, for starters we could stop subsidizing corn and wheat and start subsidizing fruits and vegetables (if we had to subsidize anything at all). Right now, bad food is ARTIFICIALLY cheap and good food is ARTIFICIALLY expensive in comparison; at least we could even out the differences that we're creating.
With less corn/wheat being grown, we'd have space for more fruits/vegetables or grazing land for animals. This would bring down the cost of these other foods. This is easier on the land and the environment, so it might plausibly result in less soil depletion and more nutrient-dense food (namely less food needed per person, so the same amount of land could feed more people).
Concerning the rest of the world, I think that's a question that goes WAY beyond just food politics and into the systems of class and inequality that separate the global south from the global north. I don't think it's possible to somehow "stretch" the budget of a sweatshop laborer in India to make Paleo happen. Looking at it from an individual standpoint is ultimately unproductive, because food inequality isn't an individual problem. There would have to be a systemic change to bring good food within everyone's reach by changing big-picture patterns of poverty and inequality.
Obviously this is incredibly complicated and difficult - in my own life, I try to act in ways that are compatible with this goal, but one individual's efforts don't mean much in the grand scheme of things. There would have to be massive systemic change and I don't flatter myself that I'm intelligent or talented enough to even know where to begin with it.
Ultimately, I think that if we were willing to eat more weird stuff (organs, bones, home-grown produce, etc.) and more carbs (potatoes, sweet potatoes, yams, etc.) there would theoretically be a way to make an awesome diet available to everyone. Whether this would actually be practicable to put in place with the current geopolitical system is another question entirely.
...sorry for the rant. Can you tell I'm an angry, angry ethical carnivore? Great question though!
on May 13, 2013
at 02:08 AM
Regarding American diet, one thing that has fascinated me (being from the South, and being descended from 2 different impoverished Native American tribes) is "soul food." Up until very recently, this was the diet eaten by many African Americans (and Native Americans) in the South. Now there are certainly some less healthy aspects (from a paleo perspective) such as reliance on cornbread, but I would wager that the populations that consisted on this diet were significantly healthier than their modern day descendants. I can't tell you how many times I have run into clear-eyed, spry and healthy, elderly black gentlemen at the farmer's market buying gigantic bags of greens and pig's feet. I wonder if these cooking traditions are being passed on?
Below are some snippets from the Wiki article on soul food.
"European enslavers fed their captive workers as cheaply as possible, often with leftover/waste foods from the plantation, forcing slaves to make do with the ingredients at hand. In slave households, 'vegetables' consisted of the tops of turnips, beets, and dandelions. Soon, African-American slaves were cooking with new types of "greens": collards, kale, cress, mustard, and pokeweed. They also developed recipes which used lard, cornmeal, and offal; discarded cuts of meat such as pigs' feet, oxtail, ham hocks, pig ears, hog jowls, tripe, and skin. Cooks added onions, garlic, thyme, and bay leaf as flavor enhancers. Slave owners provided their slaves with the poor parts of the pig such as the small intestines: chitterlings were a dish of poor people in medieval England and the name was adopted by the African-Americans through their European slave owners to "chitlins". Some African-American slaves supplemented their meager diets by gardening small plots given to them for growing their own vegetables; many engaged in subsistence fishing and hunting, which yielded wild game for the table. Foods such as raccoon, squirrel, opossum, turtle, and rabbit were, until the 1950s, very common fare among the then still predominantly rural and Southern African-American population."
And later.. "Native Americans of the U.S. south also supplemented their diets with meats derived from the hunting of native game. Venison was an important meat staple due to the abundance of white-tailed deer in the area. They also hunted rabbits, squirrels and opossums. Livestock, adopted from Europeans, in the form of hogs and cattle, were kept. When game or livestock was killed, the entire animal was used. Aside from the meat, it was not uncommon for them to eat organ meats such as liver, brains and intestines. This tradition remains today in hallmark dishes like chitterlings (commonly called chit'lins) which are fried small intestines of hogs, livermush (a common dish in the Carolinas made from hog liver), and pork brains and eggs. The fat of the animals, particularly hogs, was rendered and used for cooking and frying. Many of the early European settlers in the South learned Native American cooking methods, and so cultural diffusion was set in motion for the Southern dish.
Impoverished whites and blacks in the South prepared many of the same dishes stemming from the soul tradition, but styles of preparation sometimes varied. Certain techniques popular in soul and southern cuisines (e.g., frying meat, using all parts of the animal for consumption), are shared with ancient cultures all over the world, including Rome, Egypt, and China."
on May 13, 2013
at 12:38 AM
I really like the idea of personal hydroponic/aquaponic vegetable gardens. While the initial costs is a few thousand dollars, you make it back once you have bomb organic hydroponic produce (with ZERO pesticides) to sell on a rotating 4-5 week basis. (Especially if some of that produce is weed, haha)
Check out the volksgarden in the optimal LED spectrum. (I love that thing.)
You can do fish in an aquarium, use that for your fertilizer when you're not eating them.. get some Spirulina growing. Etc.
Edit: Just saw this guy. Coooool.
on May 13, 2013
at 02:03 PM
I agree that Paleo is a wealthy guy's solution to... just about everything. And if not wealthy... privileged i.e., educated, white, etc. But there are some steps that can be taken. I agree with RK above and commented on her insights. One solution is to buy the parts of animals that no one wants and learn ways to beat them into edible submission. For example, cooking a pigs foot in greens, long and slow. Collards are dirt cheap as are pigs feet. Chicken feet are also cheap and can be used alone, without bones, to make a collage rich stock.
When I was poor (which was for a very long time, making less than 10k per year) I ate a lot of beans, bought dry and soaked then cooked with veg scraps. I also bought huge bags of rice at Asian markets. For $25 you get about 30 pounds of rice. I bought the cheap veg, 5 lb bags of carrots, yams, cabbage, greens (not kale, too trendy). At the time I was vegan so I didn't have to buy animal parts, but these days I buy a lot of chicken feet and beef tendon and it is very affordable. One could add cans of smoked oysters that you can find for about $1 and are a great source of Zinc and Copper, a few cans of Sardines, which are a great source of calcium and omega-3 and can be purchased at Asian/ethnic markets for as little as 69 cents/ can. There are solutions, but unfortunately it takes time and the means to get from store to store which is a whole 'nother problem.