1

votes

Is there enough paleo food to go around?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created July 05, 2013 at 5:07 AM

According to Wikipedia, the population during the Paleolithic era was about one person per square mile. We have a lot more people to feed nowadays. I'm trying to figure out the economics and logistics of curing the obesity crisis with paleo. It is my understanding that the reason we rely on grains and corn is because that is necessary in order to provide enough food for everyone to eat.

Even if we limit this question to only industrialized countries, if everyone switched to paleo, would there be enough food for everyone?

374925bd0c30305e4027c25e8815b298

(113)

on July 07, 2013
at 05:55 PM

@AxialGentleman - Define "modern", cause spice trade by ship started when it was possible. By the way, I'm not saying get your "fresh" produce from china, though I question the rationale of buying everything local. Pushing for A decentralized artisan food system is a position one can take principally without jumping through a bunch of logical problems. After all, Italians are good people and no one's going to stop internationally trading, so what's wrong with getting food that ships well from Italy while we're at it?

34b560c8b9ce660d7839fb7e29d7be89

on July 06, 2013
at 09:47 AM

Grains, and thus civilization, allowed specialization of labor allowing the technological advances we all enjoy. Today some people can specialize in producing decent food while we pursue other tasks. I will eat as good as I can but at this moment in time I don't personally think the planet can eat optimally without a significant change in the current infrastructure.

34b560c8b9ce660d7839fb7e29d7be89

on July 06, 2013
at 09:43 AM

True, I like the system that was in place in North America before, about a 1/3 of the population at most and far more bison and salmon. That seems like it would be sustainable indefinitely.

34b560c8b9ce660d7839fb7e29d7be89

on July 06, 2013
at 09:41 AM

Pretty accurate, but there are also too many people. I don't see how from an ecological standpoint we can say that 7 billion people and growing at an exponential rate on the planet is alright without a plan to change the way we obtain food or limit our population.

0111a87f230818455b7ff729656dced5

(5)

on July 06, 2013
at 07:59 AM

@Mike T, thank you. That's very helpful.

72cf727474b8bf815fdc505e58cadfea

on July 06, 2013
at 06:43 AM

@shezmu Yes, but trade between pre-industrialized cultures is itself regional, or involves small quantities of high-value merchandise like spice. It's a far cry from the modern system, where it's normal to eat everyday staples that were shipped a thousand miles.

618fc5298c4a96b817c4918c795a875f

(1217)

on July 06, 2013
at 02:45 AM

*coughspluttergag*

618fc5298c4a96b817c4918c795a875f

(1217)

on July 06, 2013
at 02:44 AM

+1's all the way down the line! Yes to this answer - the more I experiment and learn, the more I see that my cultural roots are reflected in the diet that works best with me - and a latin/caribbean/mediterranean diet is sustainable in Southern California. Funny - I hate the cold. Nothing could get me to move north except global warming. I love fish, pork, rice, vegetables, and spices. Avocados are my lifeblood. Even though I like beef, I don't eat it often - no real "need". Same with lamb. I like the way you think @Matt!

374925bd0c30305e4027c25e8815b298

(113)

on July 06, 2013
at 02:22 AM

Err, I'm pretty sure food trade is traditional to. Hell, warring tribes would friggin ceasefire to trade foods.

Ae8946707ddebf0f0bfbcfc63276d823

(9402)

on July 05, 2013
at 10:11 PM

http://paleohacks.com/questions/169857/is-1-7-acres-of-agricultural-land-enough-to-feed-someone-a-paleo-diet#axzz2YBsUftCv

96440612cf0fcf366bf5ad8f776fca84

(19463)

on July 05, 2013
at 06:44 PM

You'd get far more meat by grazing ruminants on the monocrop fields, and you'd get far more meat by following them up with chickens, etc.

96440612cf0fcf366bf5ad8f776fca84

(19463)

on July 05, 2013
at 06:42 PM

No, that's the other guys, we don't do **Soy**lent Green..

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41747)

on July 05, 2013
at 06:04 PM

Don't fly coconuts/avocados in from halfway around the world. If you live in the far North, eat potatoes and cabbages. If you live in the grasslands, eat beef. If you live in the forest, eat pork. If you live near the sea, eat fish.

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41747)

on July 05, 2013
at 03:18 PM

Traditional is just my code word for ancestral/paleo/primal/traditional. Traditional is by its nature sustainable.

72cf727474b8bf815fdc505e58cadfea

on July 05, 2013
at 03:15 PM

Is there a reason to go with "local traditional" rather than "local sustainable"? Olives and avocados aren't native to Northern California, but you can eat high-quality, locally-grown ones and I don't see any reason they're less healthy than in their lands of origin.

7dab2d8c97e44d8d0c298e5c9d5d75bc

(641)

on July 05, 2013
at 02:26 PM

Nice answer! I'm here in Saint Kitts, and I've been eating a lot of fish and coconut. It's very cool!

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9 Answers

3
32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41747)

on July 05, 2013
at 02:17 PM

Meat-centric paleo is very unsustainable.

We need to model our diets off of traditional diets, these are ultimately going to be the most sustainable. And not just any traditional diets, but traditional local diets. You shouldn't be eating a tropical diet in Northern latitudes. You shouldn't be eating an Okinawan diet outside Okinawa.

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41747)

on July 05, 2013
at 03:18 PM

Traditional is just my code word for ancestral/paleo/primal/traditional. Traditional is by its nature sustainable.

34b560c8b9ce660d7839fb7e29d7be89

on July 06, 2013
at 09:41 AM

Pretty accurate, but there are also too many people. I don't see how from an ecological standpoint we can say that 7 billion people and growing at an exponential rate on the planet is alright without a plan to change the way we obtain food or limit our population.

374925bd0c30305e4027c25e8815b298

(113)

on July 06, 2013
at 02:22 AM

Err, I'm pretty sure food trade is traditional to. Hell, warring tribes would friggin ceasefire to trade foods.

72cf727474b8bf815fdc505e58cadfea

on July 05, 2013
at 03:15 PM

Is there a reason to go with "local traditional" rather than "local sustainable"? Olives and avocados aren't native to Northern California, but you can eat high-quality, locally-grown ones and I don't see any reason they're less healthy than in their lands of origin.

618fc5298c4a96b817c4918c795a875f

(1217)

on July 06, 2013
at 02:44 AM

+1's all the way down the line! Yes to this answer - the more I experiment and learn, the more I see that my cultural roots are reflected in the diet that works best with me - and a latin/caribbean/mediterranean diet is sustainable in Southern California. Funny - I hate the cold. Nothing could get me to move north except global warming. I love fish, pork, rice, vegetables, and spices. Avocados are my lifeblood. Even though I like beef, I don't eat it often - no real "need". Same with lamb. I like the way you think @Matt!

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41747)

on July 05, 2013
at 06:04 PM

Don't fly coconuts/avocados in from halfway around the world. If you live in the far North, eat potatoes and cabbages. If you live in the grasslands, eat beef. If you live in the forest, eat pork. If you live near the sea, eat fish.

7dab2d8c97e44d8d0c298e5c9d5d75bc

(641)

on July 05, 2013
at 02:26 PM

Nice answer! I'm here in Saint Kitts, and I've been eating a lot of fish and coconut. It's very cool!

72cf727474b8bf815fdc505e58cadfea

on July 06, 2013
at 06:43 AM

@shezmu Yes, but trade between pre-industrialized cultures is itself regional, or involves small quantities of high-value merchandise like spice. It's a far cry from the modern system, where it's normal to eat everyday staples that were shipped a thousand miles.

374925bd0c30305e4027c25e8815b298

(113)

on July 07, 2013
at 05:55 PM

@AxialGentleman - Define "modern", cause spice trade by ship started when it was possible. By the way, I'm not saying get your "fresh" produce from china, though I question the rationale of buying everything local. Pushing for A decentralized artisan food system is a position one can take principally without jumping through a bunch of logical problems. After all, Italians are good people and no one's going to stop internationally trading, so what's wrong with getting food that ships well from Italy while we're at it?

2
75b459fda812de87a722a38b778e1135

on July 05, 2013
at 04:28 PM

If you get your food from Big Agri, then no. But that isn't because Paleo is unsustainable that is because Big Agri is unsustainable. Whether you eat Paleo or not Big Agri will continue to destroy the soil, pollute the waterways, inject our livestock with chemicals and poison our food. The best, most sustainable way to live is through Paleo, fed by a good permaculture design.

34b560c8b9ce660d7839fb7e29d7be89

on July 06, 2013
at 09:43 AM

True, I like the system that was in place in North America before, about a 1/3 of the population at most and far more bison and salmon. That seems like it would be sustainable indefinitely.

1
7dab2d8c97e44d8d0c298e5c9d5d75bc

(641)

on July 05, 2013
at 01:02 PM

Honestly, I'm going to eat whatever way is most healthy for me- the other people aren't changing anytime soon.

1
Bfddc0ab925c8ea0e0c2e87198514907

on July 05, 2013
at 06:43 AM

They ate humans in the Paleolithic

96440612cf0fcf366bf5ad8f776fca84

(19463)

on July 05, 2013
at 06:42 PM

No, that's the other guys, we don't do **Soy**lent Green..

0
374925bd0c30305e4027c25e8815b298

(113)

on July 06, 2013
at 03:03 AM

What version of paleo are we talking about? grain-fed beef only with no dairy? Yeah, I don't see that working out for the world. But add dairy and pasture-farm, and add you have a consistent stream of nutrient dense food coming from a operation that improves the environment. Add tubers and you have a energy and nutrient dense set of foods that have a better calorie to achier ratio then grains without the antinutrients and with less harm to the environment. Also, I think aquaponics is going to seriously change the rules of the game, giving year round access to any veg, fruit, poultry or fish you can physically fit in your operation anywhere in the world, especially if we can also get solar or some other cheap and renewable energy source going.

In short, I think it's definitely doable with the options technology allows for everyone to eat high quality paleo if people will accept a somewhat varied diet. Heck, it would be cheaper than the system we have now due to less environmental damage to deal with, less fossil fuel usage, greater competition from greater decentralization and more.

0
5661757f5a7ad1d09c44d7b3ce9b533f

on July 06, 2013
at 01:10 AM

This is basically the same question and argument - quality vs quantity - that drove our ancestors into agriculture in the first place. In that case, quantity won.

US figures indicate that approx 5% of gasoline use would be sufficient calories to sustain its population ... if people could eat gas, that is. Not sure about the rest of the world, but with the shale oil bonanza now underway, the point is that there is LOADS of potential energy all around us, not just hydrocarbons, either, but also renewables. We might eat too much for our waistlines, but it's still not really much at all in the grand scheme of the things.

What remains as a challenge is to convert more of that energy to nutritious food in a process more energy-efficient than growing/raising it as we currently do. A one-order of magnitude improvement would do. Isaac Asimov speculated that we'd all end up supplementing our diets by eating from vats of specially grown yeast as we increased our efficiency by moving down the food chain; he may have been ahead of his time. Earthworm souffle, anyone?

In the future, we have the knowledge to avoid the quality/quantity tradeoff, but it will require a more solution-oriented and less politicized approach than we currently have: e.g. returning the govts of the world to more of an advisory role rather than an enforcement one (as much as possible) so that individuals and groups can experiment, voluntarily, with new approaches to production, and for that matter - to use raw milk aficionados as but one example - consumption. Centralized decision making enforces the status quo; that's gotta change first before anything else can.

0
96440612cf0fcf366bf5ad8f776fca84

(19463)

on July 05, 2013
at 08:08 PM

You'll need to look into Joel Salatin and Polyface Farms.

Yes, you'll find there's plenty of land available to feed everyone, and then some.

Getting rid of the huge monocrop fields and getting some proper grass land grown on them would be a good start. Lawns, golf courses and the like are also good places.

Start with this one: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jBZgANtcXm8

We should subsidize grassfed ruminants and pastured chickens/pigs instead of corn, soy and wheat.

0
576dc803ed0dfa3616509e20f515d070

on July 05, 2013
at 05:08 PM

I believe the answer, my friend, is blowin' in the wind

[Insects].

618fc5298c4a96b817c4918c795a875f

(1217)

on July 06, 2013
at 02:45 AM

*coughspluttergag*

0
3d58b5fb4f9780e2f47d4dcc53338a5a

(2771)

on July 05, 2013
at 01:16 PM

Grains did help humans get to where we are today, good or bad, since it could feed a lot of people and was a great source of calories in a small area.

The concerns that there might not be enough food to go around is valid IF nothing else changes or we live like we did in hunter gatherer times. We've gone from having to forage for our food and/or share with our tribemates to having local co-ops. I can now buy food from across my state that paleo, and the more people that do this, the more economical it will be for other to provide good food. A local farmer hundreds of miles away can now compete with big agricultural companies for my business without having to force their way into a supermarket.

I've heard people around here use the term "Paleo 2.0" indicating that we're finding new ways to do the old ways, if that makes any sense.

34b560c8b9ce660d7839fb7e29d7be89

on July 06, 2013
at 09:47 AM

Grains, and thus civilization, allowed specialization of labor allowing the technological advances we all enjoy. Today some people can specialize in producing decent food while we pursue other tasks. I will eat as good as I can but at this moment in time I don't personally think the planet can eat optimally without a significant change in the current infrastructure.

96440612cf0fcf366bf5ad8f776fca84

(19463)

on July 05, 2013
at 06:44 PM

You'd get far more meat by grazing ruminants on the monocrop fields, and you'd get far more meat by following them up with chickens, etc.

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