Healthy grasslands, herds, and nutrition

The foods most destructive of human health have one thing in common. They are mass agricultural crops. Sugar, wheat, and corn top the list. All of them are subsidized by governments. All of them are promoted by official dietary guidelines. All of them are profitable for “food” companies.

And all of them kill and maim. They just do so insidiously in the form of chronic systemic inflammation, excess weight, diabetes, heart disease, cancer, arthritis, and the modern conditions of cognitive degeneration.

All of this is insanely profitable for the pharmaceutical and "healthcare” industries to chronically treat year after year. Anecdotal and formal evidence continues to build for highly beneficial roles of fasting and very low-carb and zerocarb eating in treating, and especially preventing, all such ailments. One challenge, however, is that the interests that can gain from such practices—at the baseline, sellers of meat and water—are dispersed and pale in comparison to the concentrated financial, media, political resources of big food plus big pharma. Billions go to contemporary "food" conglomerates selling cheap carbohydrates mixed with toxic plant-derived oils. Billions more then go to pharmaceutical companies selling all manner of follow-up drugs, which seek to patch and manage the plethora of chronic damages from this alleged food.

Nevertheless, the truth may be, as it often is, entirely outside of this existing system. In all, an unexpected larger picture is emerging, one precisely opposite the popular hypothesis that mass agriculturally based vegetarianism is best for both human health and the environment. This is the counter hypothesis that mass-distributed, holistically managed grazing and carnivory are best for both human health and the environment.

The low-carb/high-fat and paleo-oriented nutritionists on the one hand, and the ecological herders on the other, have independently arrived at different parts of a single systemic puzzle solution. The synthesis of these streams of thought and practice has profound implications for both health and environment. What is best for both human health and the environment is a food system largely based around a modern planned pastoralism enhanced with holistic management practices that sufficiently mimic the co-evolutionary conditions of grasslands and herd animals.

Claims of a paleo-carnivore/holistic management synthesis

  1. Humans tend to live best mainly on a blend of fatty acids and amino acids derived from animal products. Animal products are the best sources of energy, structural materials, and highly bio-available micronutrients for humans. In contrast, eating large amounts of carbohydrates, especially processed ones, and artificial industrial foods such as seed oils, produce gradual metabolic derangement, foremost chronic insulin resistance and its many associated degenerative conditions.

  2. The best single source for such nutrients is large herd animals. Seafood is also a good resource, though generally lower in fat (a con, not a pro). Early homo sapiens and some of their cousins may well have contributed to the extinctions of many of their own preferred larger, higher-fat species long ago, such as paleo elephants and mammoths, but we still have cattle and buffaloes, which work reasonably well. We also now have property rights (to some degree), which defeats tragedy of the commons and overuse issues. Notice the word commons in the phrase "tragedy of the commons." It's there for reason; the tragedy happens when legitimate property rights are too poorly defined and defended.

  3. The best way (maybe only way, according to Savory) to halt and reverse mass desertification of grasslands and alleviate related water crises is to manage large herds in ways that sufficiently mimic natural local movement patterns from their original evolutionary contexts.

  4. Moreover, humane and holistic ranching practices provide ideal living environments for herd and other animals. Compared to their evolutionary contexts, they are protected from violent death from predators and their supplies of food and water are reliable and secured. In contrast, mass grain and other plant agriculture practices (also used to grow the feed for feed-lot meat production methods) lead to long-term environmental destruction and devastation of wildlife habitats (and far less favorable living conditions for animals raised that way).

This has been a tour of a large array of interconnected topics, most of which are controversial taken alone. I have kept references to a minimum for readability, but have collected some of the best resources in one place on the next page. This includes, papers, blogs, articles, and lectures. These are some of the best resources I have found in my learning processes in the areas of nutrition, exercise, and agriculture. These are things I would have loved to know about when I started, which could have saved me years of wading through material and trying out methods that worked less well than what I only discovered later.

The concluding summary is far, far shorter than the journey itself, as it must be. Reminiscent of some of the Primal Blueprint laws, but more specified in some cases, these are the principles I have arrived at and I am by no means alone in this. They are shared by some of the more thorough investigators and uncompromising students of their own health and thriving:

Eat meat, drink water, lift heavy, sleep, play, and sprint once in awhile.

This also has profound dimensions beyond mere physical pragmatism. Many practitioners of such principles have reported profound health and well-being improvements, not only in a range of physical conditions, but also psychiatric issues and emotional difficulties. One practitioner in 2009 described it thus after starting an all-meat diet's impact on emotional state: "The noise has stopped and the music has begun."

Moreover, many practitioners report a profound sense of freedom from former obsessions with food. All of the decision fatigue associated with whether to eat this or that vanishes and former cravings decline and then fade altogether. Hours formerly spent on food can now be spent on engaging productively with the world and pursuing one's missions. As Shawn Baker put it, “If you look at any other animal on the planet, they aren’t looking at a menu and scratching their head.” We all have better things to do than spending inordinate amounts of time managing and balancing a long list of plant addictions. Freedom from them is possible.

Whatever your contributions will be, get to it!