This is something I've been thinking about alot lately. It hasn't made me question how I'm eating, or how I'm voting with my dollar, as I still believe that this is the right way to eat, and most everyone would benefit from it. I want to scream at SAD people and save them!
But then I thought to myself, "What if I COULD save them? Then what?" Can we really eat Paleo without a larger population of SAD eaters? What would it do to this country? What would it do to the world?
Now, I don't think this is a sustainability question. I'm not sure WHAT kind of question this really is exactly... But for the sake of my argument I'l use some examples.
Say for instance that we were able to cripple the corn industry. What value does corn really have if we finally made this country realize that we should not be eating it? That our animals should not be eating it? What happens to all those corn farmers? Now, I'm from Indiana...and the saying goes, "There's more than corn in Indiana..." But honestly? Corn, and to a lesser extent soy, employs the majority of the state! What happens when we all decide not to eat it or feed it to our animals?
If you follow this logic to it's conclusion, we're talking about brewers, bakers, farmers, large food manufacturers...whole segments of society that must find a new way to feed themselves and their families. Whole sectors of industry and culture that must be redesigned and redefined.
Now, I'm all for major change. But this is on a massive scale! I'm not only talking about corn here, that was just an example. Think about all the things we eschew as adherents of the Paleo diet. Grains, sugar, etc... This is a complete restructuring or annihilation of entire segments of culture and industry! My question is, hypothetically (I know you doubting Thomases are going to say "Ohhh...That'll never happen!" But if we say we stand behind this, do we really? All the way?):
(I'm all for cleaning up farming, destroying the parasitic relationship that Big Chem and Big Ag cultivate [ha, get it?], cleaning up American health, etc...sweeping change. But it's a doozy to wrap your brain around. Are we really advocating this?)
EDIT: As requested, the "distilled question."
Supply and demand, bro. Change is gradual and change in demand reduces supply over time. So if in 10 years time there is less bread demand less people will be hired into bakeries and will go somewhere else, perhaps whatever replaces bread, perhaps something else. The idea that we have to think about global consequences of everything we do right here and now doesn't get us anywhere fast because oftentimes things change and adapt slowly, and oftentimes what we do has little impact on what others do and it could never be otherwise.
Furthermore even if every corn farmer would go out of business tomorrow I wouldn't eat corn and anyone who says I should is being greedy, it is never a bad thing to take care of the vitality of one's person, it is always a bad thing to suggest others harm themselves.
Interesting thoughts to ponder regarding the SAD diet and how to "save" others from the SAD diet.
How many times have I wanted to run up to an obese person and on bended knee beg them not to kill themselves with their diet! How many times have I watched children eating school lunch and wondered why we are dumbing down our children not only with diet but needless medication?
The world in which we live is complex and interdependent. We as individuals must be the change we wish in the world. We are only responsible for our behavior and choices.
I have read Atlas Shrugged three times in 10 years. The first reading upset my very core. The second reading I found my self desensitized enough to comprehend at a deeper level. With the third reading I was shocked, and continue to be, with the similarities between the book and our current society. I highly recommend reading the book, or for that matter anything that challenges your beliefs.
My father was a dairy farmer. My grandfather was a farmer. I worked on a cattle ranch in Texas. I started a thriving farmers market in Virgina. What I can tell you about agriculture is it is not the romantic endeavor most believe. It is hard, back breaking work, dependent on nature to either bless or devastate. The hand that government plays in agriculture is enormous. The regulations are restrictive and confining but as Joel Salatin has proven can be positively challenged.
I have seen farmers sell their dairy cattle and stop farming because of government buy out programs. Farmers are told what percentage of their crops to grow if they want subsidies which many of them rely on. State and federal government, as well as big agriculture (Monsanto) play a significant role in not only our diet but our nutrition.
The solution: Be the movement. Be the change. Buy less grow more. Educate yourself. Share with others your happiness and health. As you age redefine wellness (I am in my mid 50's). Think. Question. Don't fear change. Question your doctor, learn about your body. Seek conversations with people with different opinions to learn where they are coming from.
Have you ever read Atlas Shrugged? I kind of hated the book, and Ayn Rand scares me. But...a similar story applies here. If you make society more efficient health-wise by taking out the burden of massive unhealthy industries, there will be short term suffering. That's why safety nets are a probably a good idea. Well, one of many reasons that safety nets can be a good idea.
My old business school prof was wise about such matters. He was obviously very capitalist, and I was very socialist. But this thing he said made sense to me: "Pick up the economy, shake it up, see what falls out". When consumers don't face deliberate misinformation, prices reflect the value of goods. Consumers vote with their dollars, and should have access to healthy eating options. That of course doesn't happen in the US. But not for the obvious reasons.
For example, the cost of HFCS is only 1.7% of the cost of coke. So corn subsidies isn't really what makes cola cheap. And vegetable growers actually lobbied against vegetable subsidies, because they didn't want price decreases cutting into their profits. Lots of stuff going on, but if there's one thing that's for certain, it's that agribusiness and the USDA does not have the health of the common person as their utmost concern.
Fertile land is fertile land. We still want kale and collards and spinach and garlic and potatoes and beets and and and... Yes, not every crop can grow everywhere, and there would be some shuffling of infrastructure, but a farm is potentially the most adaptable business in the world.
Besides, this sort of change will be slow. Very slow. I wouldn't worry about massive economic upheaval over this.
i don't think you have to worry that it will happen overnight, and a lot of professions can adapt. it's not like corn is the only thing that can come out of the ground. so say the government needs to subsidize these changes, fine, well they wouldn't be subsidizing corn so there's that money for the pot, plus health care costs could drop significantly, so in the long term there s that money.
and just to throw it out there, cause I've been thinking about it, I think a lot of space saving could happen by growing pasture vertically as well as on the ground. I haven't worked it out yet, but you get my drift no? and its really a simple concept. Add some green walls with a small footprint. Like giant Chia Pets.
Is this not almost exactly what I asked earlier today?
"If eating Paleo captured a significant percentage of people all over the world in the next few years and we began to see things change, would it be a good thing?"
I did not elaborate in the question as I could have. I wanted to see what people thought about the global impact.
FutureBoy... your question above would have been a really fantastic answer.
Think about it this way: it could actually SAVE the country and I am talking about economically. Not even thinking about the health benefits here. Let's face it: the move from an Industrial to a Post-Industrial society has not been pretty for most Americans. You've got a small percentage of the population making HUGE amounts of money and then you've got many Americans who used to have relatively good paying jobs who are now working in the "service industry". We've shifted manufacturing jobs to China, a country who has made its mark on the world by EXPLOITING the hell out of its working class and selling us back cheap plastic crap because a lot of us can't afford anything of better quality.
Now I guess it doesn't necessarily follow that the change you outline would change the above scenario, however, I would hope-and maybe all it is is hope-that a radical departure as the one you outline might shake us up enough to retool and reshape our own own economy, possibly along the lines of more decentralized "Buy Locally" lines. Just a speculation and, like I said, a hope.
Imagine going grain free largely due to needing/wanting to avoid soy, only to remember that two short generations ago your family farmed corn, wheat, soybeans and milo. That was the rotation in the fields that went with a vegetable garden, melon and pumpkin vines and the horseradish. The fruit orchards and strawberry patch were owned by a relative who lived across the road. And actually, green beans are back-breaking work, if memory serves.
Truth be told, I have a lot of fond memories of walking through stalks of corn and smelling the soybeans and horseradish in August (ahh, summer), but, sad to say, my heritage has gone out the window. The farm was only about 20 acres, but that land is now used as pasture for horses. Why can't it be pasture for cows, pigs, sheep, chickens, etc.?
That's my thoughts on it.