From a public health perspective, what good is a diet that cannot scale? Some say Paleo isn't sustainable globally or even in less-developed nations. Is that true? At the risk of sounding glib, isn't part of the Paleo lifestyle to use our brains to solve out current problems? Shouldn't we use our brains to better the world? Surely, vegans and agribusiness aren't the only ones who can have a political presence.
Reducing DOC cost might free up money for our government to spend on more humanitarian measures. But, that seems to me to require an overly charitable idea of how the government reallocates surplus funds.
Interested to hear your thoughts, Mike
People are looking for flat simple global solutions, which is probably a relic of our evolution since we evolved in small tribes that could have such solutions. I particularly see this in vegans, who often present numbers for efficiency as if we need to calculate diets based on the whole world. But the world isn't flat and the solutions to global problems will be localized. If it were flat we could just tell the Peace Corps to teach everyone to grow millet gruel. But the reality is that development projects need to adapt to the local environment. In Upland Nepal, improvements of livestock matter. In South Africa, improvement of yam varieties and family planning matters. In most of Europe and the 1st world, we have a whole different variety of problems.
I certainly don't advocate paleo for the world. It is a specific diet for individual problems. In terms of global health, I would like to see more funding for a variety of agricultural projects. The sad thing is politcovegans like Myers would not support such projects. I've seen Heifer International criticized by vegans for giving poor Africans livestock! Let them eat gruel...
I recommend reading: http://agro.biodiver.se/ an excellent blog on local development projects and other local ag stuff
http://www.landinstitute.org/ = Wes Jackson's Perennial grain project
I'll add more later :)
But you know what's arrogant/narcissistic? The idea held by a small group of wealthy most-ly white liberals that by eating beans they are saving the world. Sorry, economics doesn't work that way.
One non-nutritional argument against the Paleo diet is that it isn't sustainable for the entire world or even on smaller scales in less-developed nations.<<
That's because we're about 5B over the carrying capacity of the planet for humans to eat this way and growing. I satisfied the balance by not having kids.
I was interested in what people thought about the implications of improving the lives of those in the developed countries vs. allocating those resources to help the less-developed ones.
It depends on what you mean by "help". If by "help" you mean "give them more food", then I don't think that's a good solution. I'll let Daniel Quinn say it:
For ten thousand years we've been increasing food production to feed an increasing population—and for ten thousand years our population has grown. Every single "win" in food production has been answered by a "win" in population growth. Every single one. But, according to our cultural mythology, this doesn't have to happen—and one of these years, magically, it will not happen. The magic will presumably be that all nations will achieve improved social and economic conditions and adopt effective, voluntary family planning, just like the Union of Concerned Scientists recommends. This magic didn't happen last year or the year before that or the year before that or the year before that or the year before that—but one of these years, by God, every guy on earth will put on a condom and super-glue it in place and it WILL work. One way or another, there will come a year when we increase food production—and miraculously there won't be an answering increase in population to consume it.
Our cultural mythology explains why it was vitally important for us to increase food production last year. We HAD to, in order to feed the starving millions. Everyone knows that. But, oddly enough, we increased food production to feed the starving millions, and guess what? The starving millions went on starving. The population went up—but the starving millions didn't get fed. And of course we know why it's vitally important to increase food production THIS year. We've got to do that in order to feed the starving millions. We WILL increase food production this year—there's no doubt of that—but is there anyone in this room who believes that the starving millions will be fed, this year, for the first time in living memory? I guarantee you, my friends, that by year's end this year, the starving millions will still be starving—and I guarantee that our population will have grown by two percent.[...]
Let me explain why those starving millions are not getting fed. Every year here on this parking lot we call earth, the human population grows by about two percent—all segments of it grow by two percent. This means that there are more blue-eyed people here this year than last year—and more brown-eyed people. It means there are more red-haired people here this year than last year—and more brown-haired people. It means there are more people here growing up well fed—and more people here growing up hungry. The starving population goes up just like all other populations, and producing more food can do NOTHING BUT produce more starving millions. We're not making hunger go away by increasing food production, we're just creating more and more people to go hungry. Increasing food production actually INCREASES the number of hungry people, the same way it increases the number of rich people, poor people, tall people, short people, smart people, and dumb people.
It's unintuitive, perhaps, but if your vision of sustainability is that everyone gets fed well then you end up with an unsustainable growth in population. Because you're not just feeding people, you're feeding a culture and a system. And that culture, that system, is what is responsible for the fact that some people are well fed and other struggle to make ends meet. True sustainability must first come from a different culture which has sustainability as one of its inescapable foundations. Hunter-Gatherers who ate the original paleolithic diet had that (not in every case, but for the most part). But even we who eat a modern Paleo diet and support pastured cattle, etc... we don't. Sorry for the length of the quote.
This is a great question, and an issue I struggle with myself. I don't think "narcissistic" is the right word, but selfish? Yeah, maybe. The problem is that in order for Paleo/Primal to be sustainable, we would have to rework - from scratch, pretty much - our entire world economy. Food would have to be local, to eliminate transportation costs and spoilage. Food subsidies and protectionism would have to stop altogether, thus favoring local food. Whole areas of social policy would have to be revamped, regarding how charitable assets are distributed. Food aid would have to stop, probably. In other words... no possible way. So, since I can't change the world, I work on myself. And when I have the money, I support orgs like Weston A. Price in their efforts to educate, and I try to support local farms and local food advocates.
I'm personally not interested in the sort of dietary martyrdom about which you speak.
7 billion humans is far too many and certainly would not have occurred without grain consumption. Does this mean that because of the sins of our fathers we should continue to eat grain and continue to swell the human population to even more ridiculous levels?
Because I refuse to reproduce, I make far less of an impact on resources than someone who is consuming a "sustainable diet" but creating offspring who create offspring and so on.
I don't think Paleo needs to be justified by any means other than personal criteria: health, energy, and so forth. Indeed, I would ask what the motives of the critics are. If Paleo isn't sustainable.... well, what is?
However, there is a strong argument for change within the system, which is very similar to buying new hybrid electric vehicles. It is this: absent some radical change, which would alter the rules of the game in ways that are difficult to foresee (and hence to plan for), people are going to continue to drive and buy cars. By voting with our money for better vehicles, we increase the incentives for the world to flow our way, and in an incremental (even potentially "evolutionary" :) way rather than a boil-the-ocean jump to perfection. (Please don't read too much into this argument: I personally drive an old car and use a bike, and I know perfectly well that a lot of buying is simply social signalling. Nevertheless, I think the above reasoning is sound).
Similarly, by buying what is now fairly expensive and high quality food, we increase the market for exactly that. From the comments on this board, I think most of us would love it if almost-as-good-but-much-cheaper Paleo food became available.
The rotting sores and bloated bellies of the starving masses will never be a mortgage on my life, nor on my choices for myself or the values I produce for myself and others I value. While it's certainly unfortunate that not everyone in the world lives in the lap of luxury or even at a level of basic sustenance, it's simply not my problem.
This is MY life and it simply boils down the that.
A comment I made on my blog yesterday peripherally speaks to the root cause, the chief antagonism in today's politically charged world: collectivism vs. individualism.
I never think globally, so you could argue that everything I do is selfish.
As for food, I try to buy locally (and have plans to grow my own produce) but if local isn't available I don't worry about it.
I never say to myself, "Is it fair for me to eat ribeye tonight when there are families who only get beef once a year, if at all?" I say, "Hooray, ribeye is on sale!" 8)
The Earth was not meant to sustain 7 billion people. Agriculture allowed our species to exceed the Natural balance. We have gone from Survival Of The Fittest to Thriving Of The Sickest. N now Agriculture is the number #1 cause of environmental damage. Even with "green technology", consuming grains, legumes, n dairy is eating ourselves into extinction. As far as narcissistic....who doesn't wanna look good naked?!
I have read a number of economists and agriculturalist who say the real food problem is distribution, not lack of growing space or output. Remember, the ol' US of A PAYS farmers to NOT grow crops or raise cattle (I know the former, but only think the latter).
That aside and getting BOT, I am sure some Paleo types are in for Narcissistic and Self-Indulgent reason. But, that is why they do anything; so Paleo is just another example of their Narcissism and Self-Indulgence.
But, I am also sure that lots, maybe most, Paleo folks are in for their health and wellness and really appreciate how much better they feel on it; and do not do it as an ego thing.