Reading the NPR article mentioned in this thread really got me thinking. The attitude of the author and many of the commentators suggested that somehow it is my personal responsibility to eat a diet that would be sustainable for the 7 billion people on the planet, even to the detriment of my own health. I find this attitude, ironically, to be deeply anti-human, as it denies the basic drive for humans to better themselves, and in a most fundamental area.
I've always considered myself fairly liberal, albeit with a pretty wide libertarian streak, but that article made me appreciate Ayn Rand in a way I never have before. Once diet becomes a form of altruism we're entering a very unhealthy place (in more ways than one) with the guarantee of unintended consequences.
Has living paleo led anyone else to change worldview a little?
asked bytrjones (5145)
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on January 02, 2015
at 03:42 PM
I was into Ayn Rand before I went Paleo, so no. :) i was actually led into Paleo via Objectivism as many Objectivists are Paleo as well (not all, but many).
But I have encountered that same argument many times, and hate it for the precise same reason. It is unfortunately not seldom made by Objectivists themselves, by those who are more inclined to defend the green revolution without any qualifications whatsoever attached to their blanket endorsement of it. I don´t think they are aware of the fact that they are making an altruist argument, although I think they do not intend it as such, but rather try to point to the contradiction in the environmentalist movements line of argument.
However, it has been countered many times now that certified organic production methods would be able to feed a growing global population more or less as well as conventional would:
"Organic farming is much more productive than previously thought, according to a new analysis of agricultural studies that challenges the conventional “biased” view that pesticide-free agriculture cannot feed the world. The study says that organic yields were only 19.2 per cent lower, on average, than those from conventional crops and that this gap could be reduced to just eight per cent if the pesticide-free crops were rotated more frequently. Furthermore, in some crops - especially leguminous plants such as beans, peas and lentils - there were no significant differences in yields, the researchers from the University of California, Berkeley found. “In terms of comparing productivity among the two techniques, this paper sets the record straight on the comparison between organic and conventional agriculture,” said Claire Kremen, professor of environmental science, policy and management at Berkeley."
You can also count on organic methods to develop further in yield maximization if they are implemented to a higher degree than they are today (this is already happening now).
See also this regarding whether there is any difference from eating certified organic produce or not (of course there is, but many try to claim there isnt any difference!):
"New study finds significant differences between organic and non-organic food In the largest study of its kind, an international team of experts led by Newcastle University, UK, has proved that organic crops and crop-based foods are up to 60% higher in a number of key antioxidants than conventionally-grown crops. Analysing 343 studies into the compositional differences between organic and conventional crops, the team found that a switch to eating organic fruit, vegetable and cereals – and food made from them – would provide additional antioxidants equivalent to eating between 1-2 extra portions of fruit and vegetables a day. The study, published today in the prestigious British Journal of Nutrition, also shows significantly lower levels of toxic heavy metals in organic crops. Cadmium, which is one of only three metal contaminants along with lead and mercury for which the European Commission has set maximum permitted contamination levels in food, was found to be almost 50% lower in organic crops than conventionally-grown ones. Newcastle University’s Professor Carlo Leifert, who led the study, says: “This study demonstrates that choosing food produced according to organic standards can lead to increased intake of nutritionally desirable antioxidants and reduced exposure to toxic heavy metals”."
on January 03, 2015
at 02:38 AM
After much research, I'm about to start the Paleo diet(for my health). I tried going vegetarian, and wound up eating more bread and pasta than anything else. I tried killing sugar out of my diet(switched to sucralose and such), and ironically still became pre-diabetic at 105 lbs! I was told I was eating too many carbs, because they didn't know how else to explain it. Then I developed horrible stomach problems, and for a while, the only thing I ate was stir fry. Low and behold.... I felt better than I had in a long time. Mainly meat, veggies, and a bit of rice. When my digestive doc foisted me off with an IBS diagnosis, I realized I had to do something, and so began researching diets. This one seems the most common sense.
I should add btw, that I consider myself very progressive(with a social libertarian streak).I would love to eat sustainable, and there are ways to eat paleo and eat sustainable! buying local meat and produce, for instance, instead of factory farming. On a budget, no one is really going to get much in the way of choice there, but if one has the money, then it's always a good idea.
on January 03, 2015
at 02:22 AM
Ignore it. It's propaganda and group-think. Telling people what they should eat because Monsatan and the other big agra are sucking up to the vegans and lying to the planet about how to feed 7,9,or even 10 billion people is Lysenkoism. That is incorrectly applying political-think to nature. It doesn't work and causes famines and health care crises.
Lysenkoism was an attempt to apply Communist/Marxist "ideals" to living organisms. It predictably failed. A good intro: http://www.forbes.com/sites/peterferrara/2013/04/28/the-disgraceful-episode-of-lysenkoism-brings-us-global-warming-theory/ You can ignore the 2nd half of that article which is global-warming denialism at it's worst.I view veganism/vegetarianism in the same light. History sure does rhyme...
on January 03, 2015
at 05:20 PM
Regarding the not unusual "if everyone ate meat the planet would crash" argument:
"People who advocate eating less beef often argue that producing it hurts the environment. Cattle, we are told, have an outsize ecological footprint: They guzzle water, trample plants and soils, and consume precious grains that should be nourishing hungry humans. Lately, critics have blamed bovine burps, flatulence and even breath for climate change. As a longtime vegetarian and environmental lawyer, I once bought into these claims. But now, after more than a decade of living and working in the business—my husband, Bill, founded Niman Ranch but left the company in 2007, and we now have a grass-fed beef company—I’ve come to the opposite view. It isn’t just that the alarm over the environmental effects of beef are overstated. It’s that raising beef cattle, especially on grass, is an environmental gain for the planet. Let’s start with climate change. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, all of U.S. agriculture accounts for just 8% of our greenhouse emissions, with by far the largest share owing to soil management—that is, crop farming. A Union of Concerned Scientists report concluded that about 2% of U.S. greenhouse gases can be linked to cattle and that good management would diminish it further. The primary concern is methane, a potent greenhouse gas. But methane from cattle, now under vigorous study by agricultural colleges around the world, can be mitigated in several ways. Australian research shows that certain nutritional supplements can cut methane from cattle by half. Things as intuitive as good pasture management and as obscure as robust dung beetle populations have all been shown to reduce methane. Advertisement At the same time, cattle are key to the world’s most promising strategy to counter global warming: restoring carbon to the soil. One-tenth of all human-caused carbon emissions since 1850 have come from soil, according to ecologist Richard Houghton of the Woods Hole Research Center. This is due to tillage, which releases carbon and strips the earth of protective vegetation, and to farming practices that fail to return nutrients and organic matter to the earth. Plant-covered land that is never plowed is ideal for recapturing carbon through photosynthesis and for holding it in stable forms. Most of the world’s beef cattle are raised on grass. Their pruning mouths stimulate vegetative growth as their trampling hoofs and digestive tracts foster seed germination and nutrient recycling. These beneficial disturbances, like those once caused by wild grazing herds, prevent the encroachment of woody shrubs and are necessary for the functioning of grassland ecosystems. Research by the Soil Association in the U.K. shows that if cattle are raised primarily on grass and if good farming practices are followed, enough carbon could be sequestered to offset the methane emissions of all U.K. beef cattle and half its dairy herd. Similarly, in the U.S., the Union of Concerned Scientists estimates that as much as 2% of all greenhouse gases (slightly less than what’s attributed to cattle) could be eliminated by sequestering carbon in the soils of grazing operations. Grass is also one of the best ways to generate and safeguard soil and to protect water. Grass blades shield soil from erosive wind and water, while its roots form a mat that holds soil and water in place. Soil experts have found that erosion rates from conventionally tilled agricultural fields average one to two orders of magnitude greater than erosion under native vegetation, such as what’s typically found on well-managed grazing lands. Nor are cattle voracious consumers of water. Some environmental critics of cattle assert that 2,500 gallons of water are required for every pound of beef. But this figure (or the even higher ones often cited by advocates of veganism) are based on the most water-intensive situations. Research at the University of California, Davis, shows that producing a typical pound of U.S. beef takes about 441 gallons of water per pound—only slightly more water than for a pound of rice—and beef is far more nutritious. Eating beef also stands accused of aggravating world hunger. This is ironic since a billion of the world’s poorest people depend on livestock. Most of the world’s cattle live on land that cannot be used for crop cultivation, and in the U.S., 85% of the land grazed by cattle cannot be farmed, according to the U.S. Beef Board. The bovine’s most striking attribute is that it can live on a simple diet of grass, which it forages for itself. And for protecting land, water, soil and climate, there is nothing better than dense grass. As we consider the long-term prospects for feeding the human race, cattle will rightly remain an essential element. —Ms. Hahn Niman is the author of “Defending Beef: The Case for Sustainable Meat Production” (Chelsea Green), from which this is adapted."
See also Allan Savory´s Ted Talk:
""Desertification is a fancy word for land that is turning to desert," begins Allan Savory in this quietly powerful talk. And terrifyingly, it's happening to about two-thirds of the world's grasslands, accelerating climate change and causing traditional grazing societies to descend into social chaos. Savory has devoted his life to stopping it. He now believes -- and his work so far shows -- that a surprising factor can protect grasslands and even reclaim degraded land that was once desert."