What would happen to the economy if Whole30(ish) eating became the norm?


GlennR

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Anyone who has tried Whole30 quickly realizes that most grocery store aisles quickly become redundant, at least for the duration of the Whole30, when you tend to frequent the meat and veggie sections almost exclusively. Now, imagine if the processed food sections actually disappeared ... because most everyone is eating Whole30ish -- i.e., real food, minimal processing, certain food groups (dairy, legumes) taking up dramatically dramatically less space in peoples' diets.

 

What happens? The world economy crashes? The ecosystem overloads since people will be eating more meat that currently? Or we adjust and become a bucolic utopia? What do you think?

 

One thing I feel confident will happen: the restaurant industry will quickly adjust. There is nothing inherently difficult about switching to Whole30 principles in preparing food in eateries. In fact, I'm just waiting for Whole30ish restaurants to start sprouting once Whole30 starts to really penetrate the general population (as it seems to be doing). That will offer a welcome break to my constant cooking.

 

(Sorry for putting it in this forum. Closest one that seemed to fit. There isn't any "Whole30 Philosophical Musings" forum, unfortunately. ^_^)

 

 

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There's nothing new under the sun.  The much ballyhooed fast food joints are already losing bucks.  They've started bright, new rebranding campaign ads but the dog's breakfast is still there at the drive-thru. They're not slipping into obscurity without a fight. The modern diet is so soft that we barely have to chew.  Beverages and melt in your mouth foods contribute very little to satiety. Until people lose their taste for these soft, calorically dense foods...deliberately engineered foods, they'll still be there.

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This is a really interesting question... I'm not sure what would happen grocery store-wise.  Conspiracy theories abound about the food industry - but it's the restaurants that really interest me.  You're right - there isn't really anything that difficult about switching to Whole30 principles in the food prep.  I'm not sure it's really that much more expensive when you factor in bulk - but I don't really know anything about that.  

 

Another random thought on this same train, I was watching "The Kitchen" on Food network this morning and they did a whole segment on how trendy bone broth was... trendy!  Would you look at that?   :)

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The economy would change if everyone ate more meat and veggies. We would need more farmers and fewer doctors, nurses, hospitals, and insurance paper pushers. Consumers would make more direct connections with local farmers and we could devote fewer resources to transporting, manufacturing , and selling food products. Less money would be spent on advertising and brand management and more money would be spent on improving soil quality and animal husbandry. I think more people would become happier as they re-establish connections to the earth...

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The economy would change if everyone ate more meat and veggies. We would need more farmers and fewer doctors, nurses, hospitals, and insurance paper pushers. Consumers would make more direct connections with local farmers and we could devote fewer resources to transporting, manufacturing , and selling food products. Less money would be spent on advertising and brand management and more money would be spent on improving soil quality and animal husbandry. I think more people would become happier as they re-establish connections to the earth...

I'm all for this version of utopia!

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Less corn & soybean subsidies, less money needed for health care and convalescence, more innovation in quality animal husbandry, improved elementary education due to better child health, increased technological innovation across the board due to better energy and less lethargy in the workforce, more impressive sports due to a greater percentage of people being athletic, new breakthroughs enabling processed/convenience food to retain more nutrition, more compound interest and stock market growth due to increased longevity, greater drive to explore and expand all areas of human potential

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Wow, a lot of utopian visions here. Me, I would be concerned about the carrying capacity of the planet for a high protein lifestyle like Whole30. Even though it is a very healthy lifestyle for me personally, I am painfully aware that I eat high on the hog, as they say -- or to put another way, high on the food chain. The one saving grace about a grain-centric diet is that it's cheap and plentiful. You can feed an awful lot of people per acre of land with grains compared to livestock or even veggies. The only way we're currently able to feed the billions of hungry mouths across the world is that most people eat rice, barley, wheat as the bulk of their diets. Convert everyone to higher protein diets and we may not have enough land, energy, or atmosphere to feed everyone.

 

So as I've said in another forum, I'm kind of hoping for the replicator technology from Star Trek. Or, more within reach, something like 3d printed beef. Or, you know, farming on the moon. (Not that I would personally prefer these science-fictionish technological solutions, but I can't see how we do it otherwise.)

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There's some mixed arguments as to how sustainable this type of eating is for the entire planet. There's a lot of talk about the land area required to raise livestock, however, most of this talk seems to focus on CAFO-type operations and doesn't seem to take into account the potential for intensive grazing practices to reduce the acreage needed. Reducing the demand/need for soy and grain crops would also create more area that could be converted to pasture. I'm not sure that anyone has bothered to crunch the numbers to see who much land it takes to create enough meat to feed the world IF that meat is raised via good (read: intensive grazing) feeding practices. There are also folks who have taken cattle into near-desert areas and have been able to re-establish grasslands (intensive grazing is a truly amazing process) so that's another variable to ponder. I think we have a lot of options to "work smarter" on this issue without having to expand to the moon.

 

 

GlennR, you'd probably be interested in reading about some of the farming practices described in Ominvore's Dilemma. Biodynamic farms do SO much more than other commercial ventures. You can raise multiple animals on the same parcel of land such as chickens and cows. Rotating the cows through a pasture can be leveraged to encourage more abundant grass and plant growth which helps to enrich the soil. (Plants try to maintain a balance between what's above the soil and what's below. When grass is grazed upon, it will shed part of its root system to maintain that balance and the shed roots begin to decompose and fertilize the soil.) After the cows graze, the chickens can forage that same area and remove parasites from the manure. This feeds the chickens AND reduces the need for antibiotics and de-worming agents for the cows. Different ruminant species can also share space because they eat different sorts of plants. For example, sheep and goats eat woodier plants that a cow would leave behind. There's just TONS of potential here.

 

Can you tell this is a topic I get excited about?

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Yes, it is a VERY complex question you have posed.

 

Don't forget, one reason grain is "cheap and plentiful" is due to subsidies and poor land use practices (ie if you clear too much land for crops, without animals to help rejuvenate it by walking, eating, defacating, etc on it you get nutrient poor soil, erosion ... )

 

Corn is so cheap and plentiful that they had to invent HFCS as a way to use the stuff up, according to Michael Pollan.

 

I heartily second Munkers' recommendation of Omnivore's Dilemma.

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Wow, a lot of utopian visions here. Me, I would be concerned about the carrying capacity of the planet for a high protein lifestyle like Whole30. Even though it is a very healthy lifestyle for me personally, I am painfully aware that I eat high on the hog, as they say -- or to put another way, high on the food chain. The one saving grace about a grain-centric diet is that it's cheap and plentiful. You can feed an awful lot of people per acre of land with grains compared to livestock or even veggies. The only way we're currently able to feed the billions of hungry mouths across the world is that most people eat rice, barley, wheat as the bulk of their diets. Convert everyone to higher protein diets and we may not have enough land, energy, or atmosphere to feed everyone.

 

So as I've said in another forum, I'm kind of hoping for the replicator technology from Star Trek. Or, more within reach, something like 3d printed beef. Or, you know, farming on the moon. (Not that I would personally prefer these science-fictionish technological solutions, but I can't see how we do it otherwise.)

As the farming community ages, those within it and the land they own come under intense pressure.

“Aging farmers and ranchers, whose average age has risen from 52 to 57 during the last 20 years, are often retiring without a younger family member willing to take over, thus too often removing multi-generation ranches and farms from production” (ibid.).

Statistics show that less than a third of farms have a designated successor in the family. Many young couples are unwilling to invest $500,000 in a business that requires them to work 12-16 hours per day throughout most of the year and then get a return that amounts to the equivalent of what a farmers’ wages would have been 30 years ago.

Bright city lights are another distraction. Today, farming is looked down upon while city-based, high-paying white-collar jobs are glamorized. Also, some farmers do not want their children to have to “work as hard as I do,” and advise them to pursue a different profession.

Economic Imbalances

Another reason for the disappearing family farm is the ever-increasing disparity between dwindling income and soaring expenses. Net farm income in 2000 dropped to $39.7 billion—the lowest since 1995. On the other hand, production expenses rose to $197.5 billion or 88 percent of gross cash income—the highest since 1980-1984.

While food prices have gone up substantially in supermarkets, the wages farmers are paid have been left out of the equation. Although private manufacturers can include all their costs plus a fair profit, government boards often set prices for what farmers receive for their products. Because of this, the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics projected that farmers will have the largest job loss of any other occupation.

http://geogdata.csun.edu/~aether/pdf/volume_11/rees.pdf

 

Ranches are being replaced with recreation.

 

http://www.forbes.com/2002/04/19/0419home.html

 

Wyoming's ranch and farm lands are disappearing at an alarming rate. Farmers and ranchers have withstood development pressure, drought and mining threats and yet they have managed to preserve these important pieces of Wyoming's rural heritage....guest and dude operations have taken their place.  Tourism is the cash cow.

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I agree with Munkers, There is a lot happening and it is a growing movement. Joel Salatin and many others are proving it is possible to raise sustainable meat, It is a bit higher right now, but as more people get on board, I believe the price will come down. Here is a link to a video by Geoff Lawton about cell grazing. http://www.geofflawton.com/fe/63637-cell-grazing You may have to log in, but it is worth it. There are quite a few videos showing what is happening with good stewardship of the earth. One amazing video of Geoff Lawton's is greening the desert. I took his online PDC back in 2013, best decision I have made, right up there with doing whole30. Permaculture design is the work of using all the different tools of sustainability/biodiversity etc and turning around the damage man has been doing to the earth, working with nature to grow better more nutritious food. People in the big cities and even in Detroit are using permaculture principles to grow real food locally. Another good one is Sep Holzer, what he has done in Austria is amazing. It is exciting to see more and more people thinking outside the box. Wish I had learned about all this years ago!

 

I learned something quite by accident writing this post, how to do links with words showing instead of the the link name... You can teach an old dog a new trick, even by accident!

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One thing I feel sure of is that the alcohol and spirits aisles will remain even when most processed foods disappear. Libations are simply too ingrained in our species' psychology and culture. Whole30 eating will have to accommodate continued alcohol use.

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There's nothing new under the sun.  The much ballyhooed fast food joints are already losing bucks.  They've started bright, new rebranding campaign ads but the dog's breakfast is still there at the drive-thru. They're not slipping into obscurity without a fight. The modern diet is so soft that we barely have to chew.  Beverages and melt in your mouth foods contribute very little to satiety. Until people lose their taste for these soft, calorically dense foods...deliberately engineered foods, they'll still be there.

But......they get it! Carl's Junior is coming out with a grass-fed burger because there's a demand for it. Chipotle serves meat from sustainable farmers. You're right - they're not going down without a fight, but they also get that people are starting to turn to healthier options. Granted, these are not Whole30 options (and dining out on Whole30 is still a challenge) but it indicates a shift in the minds of the "average" consumer.

 

I read an article not long ago (and I can't find the link now, unfortunately) that companies like Kraft and Con Agra were reporting their profits dipping, causing a change in upper management and looking not only at their products but the needs of the consumer. We still have a loooooong way to go, but the fact that Kraft fired their CEO and is looking at changes tells me that we're doing something right.

 

Keep voting with your dollars, people!

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But......they get it! Carl's Junior is coming out with a grass-fed burger because there's a demand for it. Chipotle serves meat from sustainable farmers. You're right - they're not going down without a fight, but they also get that people are starting to turn to healthier options. Granted, these are not Whole30 options (and dining out on Whole30 is still a challenge) but it indicates a shift in the minds of the "average" consumer.

 

I read an article not long ago (and I can't find the link now, unfortunately) that companies like Kraft and Con Agra were reporting their profits dipping, causing a change in upper management and looking not only at their products but the needs of the consumer. We still have a loooooong way to go, but the fact that Kraft fired their CEO and is looking at changes tells me that we're doing something right.

 

Keep voting with your dollars, people!

decker bear....that's right.   Let's not squander our dollars or knowledge, we can't let it slip away.  Pushing back against highly-engineered-to-be-craved-fast-foods is nothin' but good for us and the kids.

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decker bear....that's right.   Let's not squander our dollars or knowledge, we can't let it slip away.  Pushing back against highly-engineered-to-be-craved-fast-foods is nothin' but good for us and the kids.

I could talk about this for hours... I loved loved loved Food, Inc. because it made so many valid points (and one I disagreed with). One: Stoneyfield Guy, if we only buy the most perfect food from the most perfect sources less than 100 miles of our home, we're never going to get there. Two: chicken farmer guy, Can you really feed the planet this way? To me, that's a spacious argument. Three: soybean farmer at the end, "People have got to start demanding good, wholesome food of us, and we'll deliver, I promise you. We're very ingenious people, we will deliver."

 

That last one is, I think, the most important. If we're satisfied with overly processed, engineered food, that's what we'll get. If we DEMAND good, wholesome food, that's what we'll get. I know I am 100% preaching to the choir here, but we can't give up!

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