Factory Farming and the Paleo Diet

So paleo diet is all the rage and we want to eat like our ancestors, but what’s unfortunate is that this is physically impossible. We can’t eat like our ancestors because they meat we have available to us is raised completely differently. First of all, I appreciate that people have doubts about our current “conventional” food system. I am the first to be frustrated with it. To a certain extent, going back in time and looking at historical food processing techniques is helpful. We could all probably benefit from some sourdough bread techniques, fermented food, more organic fruits and vegetables and well raised meat.

Basically, the meat that people ate in hunter gatherer times was hunted. Meaning it ran around all day and it had a very different muscular structure. This is different than picking up ground beef from the supermarket and cooking it for two reasons: first, that meat has most likely been crammed into a stall eating grain and corn for most of its life and secondly, you did not have to chase it, hunt it, butcher it etc. When you understand the processes that hunter gatherers went through to eat meat, it becomes more clear that it was not a constant food source but instead one that was special and there would be ceremonies around. Anyway, eating feed lot cattle and calling it paleo is unfortunately misinformed.  (Read more: Paleofantasy – evolutionary biologist Marlene Zuk breaks down Paleo myths)

Well, then what’s so bad about feed lot cattle?

Well, for the purposes of this blog I’ll highlight two issues.

  1. Firstly, environmentally, factory farmed meat is a HUGE problem. There first is the corn that the beed is raise on which is GMO, treated with pesticides, trucked to the feed lots, and fattens up cattle and chicken in a way that they are not adapted to. In the process there is so much damage to the environment, there is high water usage, there is the fuel, the pesticides, the unnecessary antibiotics, and the methane emitted by the animals. The figure for cattle’s contribution to greenhouse gas emissions is somewhere between 14-22% (read more: Scientific American – http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/the-greenhouse-hamburger/)
  2. We are not created to eat this kind of meat: it leads to heart disease because of the high amount of saturated fat. But there are other human health impacts. Antibiotic use can lead to antibiotic resistance in humans. There is also the issue of growth hormones, and ecoli.

One important thing you can do next time you go to the supermarket is check out what types of meat you’re buying. I know that it’s more expensive. Unfortunately, the system is built to subsidize these factory farms instead of the little guys doing it right. In order to take a stand we need to stand by the little guys and pay the extra price. One day you’ll be glad you did!


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