Tag Archives: sustainability

Is Paleo Sustainable for 7 Billion People? | The Paleo Diet

Can our planet support 7 billion people following the Paleo Diet? We cannot dispute that there are negative environmental factors, such as excessive water and fossil energy use and large emissions of greenhouse gases, resulting from the standard process of agriculture and livestock farming. These methodologies make it seem unrealistic that even our current food production system can sustain our planet, let alone support the Paleo diet alone.

Obviously, no one wants to contribute to an ecological collapse. If 7 billion people adopted a diet higher in animal meat under the existing methods of production, it would continue to tax our planet. However, the rising numbers of diet related illnesses1 indicate that something has to change when it comes to how we produce food and how we choose to eat. Let’s take a closer look at how we can all participate in following a sustainable, environmentally friendly approach to the Paleo diet.

PURCHASE ORGANIC, PASTURED MEATS

We are truly what we eat. Although pastured meats cost more, this money is an investment in both the environment and your future physical wellbeing. If we suppose there is a greater demand for sustainable animal protein, then agricultural boards and organizations can provide more research and education to ranchers to reduce their use of water, pesticides, and feed grain. In turn, this may bring the price per pound down as it becomes more desired on grocery shelves.

Commercial livestock production stresses the land. However, with proper methodologies, ruminants can actually be benefactors to preserve ecosystems, produce food from inedible sources, restore soil fertility, and recycle plant nutrients. 2EAT THE WHOLE ANIMAL

Boneless, skinless chicken and tenderloins of beef taste good, but there is more to the animal than muscle to embrace on a regular basis. As previously covered in Offal, Not So Awful: Organ Meats and the Paleo Diet, our hunter-gatherers ancestors consumed the entire animal from nose-to-tail and recognized the wealth of nutrients obtained from the brains, liver, kidney, heart, blood, lungs, and all other visceral organs.4 The carcasses and bones can also be used to make rich, nourishing bone broths, and the fat can be used to make high-quality cooking oil.5 The whole animal offers minerals, nutrients, and calories to properly fuel our bodies, while also respects the food source where it came from.

EAT BUGS

Ingesting insects, or entomophagy, is probably completely off your radar and most likely more repulsive than eating organs. However, insects form part of the traditional diets of at least 2 billion people in the world, including individuals in Mali who hunt and eat grasshoppers. There also existed a long history of insect eating 25-50% of North American tribes.6

Significant environmental benefits exist to support cultivating insects for food. They are highly efficient to produce. For example, crickets require only 2 kg of feed for every 1 kg of bodyweight gain, compared to the 8 kg a cow needs.7 Insects produce very little greenhouse gas, and can be cultivated on using very little water or land, such as an organic side-stream, which reduces environmental contamination.8 Insects are also a great source of fat, protein, vitamin, and minerals.9 Ease into the idea of eating insects by using cricket flour or cacao covered ants, which can be incorporated into your Paleo cooking.

If we evaluate the current food production system and dietary norms based on the rising levels of lifestyle related illnesses, the obesity epidemic, and the negative environmental impacts of farming, we can conclude that the entire system needs to change. The Paleo diet has been shown to reduce inflammation,10 improve waistlines, and regulate blood sugar and insulin response.11 We cannot afford to not choose the foods that best serve our bodies genetically, while also protect our planet.

 

REFERENCES

[1] WHO, Joint, and FAO Expert Consultation. Diet, nutrition and the prevention of chronic diseases. Geneva: World Health Organization, 1990.

[2] Janzen, H. H. “What place for livestock on a re-greening earth?.” Animal Feed Science and Technology 166 (2011): 783-796.

[3] Cingolani, Ana M., et al. “Can livestock grazing maintain landscape diversity and stability in an ecosystem that evolved with wild herbivores?.” Perspectives in Plant Ecology, Evolution and Systematics 16.4 (2014): 143-153.

[4]  Cordain L, Eaton SB, Brand Miller J, Mann N, Hill K. The paradoxical nature of hunter-gatherer diets: Meat based, yet non-atherogenic. Eur J Clin Nutr 2002;56 (suppl 1):S42-S52.

[5] Webb, E. C., and H. A. O’neill. “The animal fat paradox and meat quality.” Meat Science 80.1 (2008): 28-36.

[6] Available at: . Accessed on February 4, 2015.

[7] ATES, S., et al. “Performance of indigenous and exotic× indigenous sheep breeds fed different diets in spring and the efficiency of feeding system in crop–livestock farming.” The Journal of Agricultural Science: 1-16.

[8] Paoletti, Maurizio G. Ecological implications of minilivestock: potential of insects, rodents, frogs and snails. Science Publishers, Inc., 2005.

[9] Available at: . Accessed on February 4, 2015.

[10] O’Keefe, James H., Cordain, L. “Cardiovascular disease resulting from a diet and lifestyle at odds with our Paleolithic genome: how to become a 21st-century hunter-gatherer.” Mayo Clinic Proceedings. Vol. 79. No. 1. Elsevier, 2004.

[11] Ballard, K et al.Dietary carbohydrate restriction improves insulin sensitiv­ity, blood pressure, microvascular function, and cellular adhesion markers in individuals taking statins.Nutr Res.2013 Nov;33(11):905-12.

Selecting Seafood for Health and Sustainability | The Paleo Diet

There’s no question that seafood is a great source of protein and omega-3 fatty acids, and that it should form an integral part of the Paleo Diet. But seafood doesn’t thrive in polluted waters, overfished waters, or in habitats damaged by fishing gear. So to get the good without the bad—and to ensure we have it for years to come—we need to know which species have the holy trinity of seafood: sustainable, safe, and nutritious.

Sustainable

Sustainably caught fish may seem like a nice-to-have, but it should really be on par with nutrition for importance when selecting seafood. Not only do we want our food to be harvested or caught in its highest nutritive state, we want that to continue indefinitely. , but more and more fisheries are making sustainability a reality by considering the health of ecosystems and fish populations as well as their profits. ® makes science-based recommendationsfor sustainable seafood.1,2,3 Here’s their current list of best choices, good alternatives, and choices to avoid.

Selecting Seafood for Health and Sustainability

The seafood recommendations in this guide are credited to the Monterey Bay Aquarium Foundation ©2014. All rights reserved.

Safe

In the seafood world, mercury, dioxins, and PCBs are the usual suspects when it comes to contamination. They’re not normally features of a “healthy and abundant stock” which is a fundamental criterion for sustainability1—so if you’re choosing sustainable, you’re likely choosing safe too. In addition, SeafoodWatch® posts health alerts if there are specific concerns for human health from a fishery.

Mercury, however, is a changing story. Mercury accumulates in fat tissues of large, long-lived predatory fish or shellfish, ultimately ending up on our dinner plates. We’ve been cautioned to limit these species in our diets, but surprisingly, that’s not the whole story. Mercury readily and irreversibly binds to selenium,4 which means that as long as the fish you’re eating has more selenium than mercury, your body won’t actually be retaining the mercury you ingest. And since the oceans are full of selenium, most ocean fish are perfectly safe to eat.5,6 Simply avoid shark and limit swordfish, tilefish, and king mackerel or use this to moderate your consumption . Also keep in mind that in freshwater, mercury and selenium levels vary greatly with the composition of the surrounding soil. Check with your local authorities for health alerts.

Nutritious

Fish are great sources of vitamins and minerals as well as protein, but the biggest benefit from eating fish is the omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA.7 Anyone who’s had king salmon and a haddock fillet can tell you, however, that all fish are not created equal when it comes to fat—and they’re not all created equal when it comes to omega-3 to omega-6 ratios either—and that matters! Here’s some nutritional data from the USDA for some popular fish and shellfish.6

Sustainable Choices in SeafoodSustainable Choices in Seafood

Highlighted numbers in the first four columns are amounts greater than 1 g/100 g; highlighted numbers in the last column are the fish with ratios greater than 5. A few things jump out.

  • Total fat isn’t everything: the number of fish hitting 1 g/100 g decreases as we move from total fat to polyunsaturated fat to omega-3s.
  • Atlantic mackerel, chinook salmon, herring, swordfish, and Bluefin tuna have high total fat and great omega-3/omega-6 ratios.
  • Only farmed Atlantic salmon has more than 1 g/100 g of omega-6s.
  • All but tilapia have an omega-3/omega-6 ratio greater than 1.
  • There doesn’t seem to be a relationship between total fat and the omega-3/omega-6 ratio. There are high fat options with low ratios (Atlantic salmon) and high ratio options with lower fat (squid).

Sustainable + Safe + Nutritious

So can we have our fish and eat it too? Yes! There is an impressively wide array of sustainable options to choose from, and we can assume that they’re safe choices, not only because they’re sustainable, but because they’re high in selenium. Many of those sustainable options are also fatty fish with great omega-3/omega-6 ratios (anything above 1 is great). SeafoodWatch® compiled their “” based on these criteria, but let’s look at the poor performers to compare.

  • Atlantic salmon: not sustainably caught, high omega-6s, ratio close to 1
  • Bluefin tuna: great fat profile, great ratio, but not sustainable
  • Tilapia: sustainably farmed, but lower in fat, ratio less than 1
  • Sharks: more mercury than selenium, not sustainably caught

The bottom line: while some seafood looks good in the nutritional breakdown, from a sustainability standpoint, some species may be better than others. So, eat your recommended portion of omega-3s, but choose options that tick all the boxes for your health as well as the ocean’s.

Andrea MooreAndrea Moore has dipped her toes in a lot of ponds, lakes, and oceans over the years. She has adventured around the world doing odd jobs and studying biology, languages, and sailing.

Now surprisingly settled in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Andrea’s still up to a bit of everything as a marine biologist, a writer, and an editor, living the Paleo lifestyle.

Fix.com is a lifestyle blog devoted to bringing you expert content to make your life easier. From products, to food, to fishing, to projects, we’ll be providing you with a daily fix of content from our experienced and knowledgeable team of writers.

 

REFERENCES

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4. Ralston NVC, Ralston CR, Blackwell 3rd JL, Raymond LJ. Dietary and tissue selenium in relation to methylmercury toxicity. NeuroToxicology 2008;29(5):802-11.

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7. Kidd PM. Omega-3 DHA and EPA for cognition, behavior, and mood: clinical findings and structural-functional synergies with cell membrane phospholipids. Altern Med Rev 2007;12(3):207-27.

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