Sunday, May 4, 2008

What if everyone went low-carb and cooked from scratch?

Here's something I posted on Low Carb Friends today. Someone wrote, a bit tongue in cheek, that if everyone quit buying processed, industrialized food -- junk, that is -- the result would be the "[c]omplete collapse of the nation's economy and the end of the world as we know it."

I don't find that idea terribly farfetched, and I wrote this about it:

Economy is based on commerce, which is the exchange of goods, which is only possible when there is a storeable surplus, which is made possible by agriculture, which always begins with the cultivation of storable starch crops and quickly leads to hoarding and the development of hierarchy -- including wealth and poverty, bosses and underlings.

This is why Jared Diamond, author of Guns, Germs and Steel has said that the development of agriculture might be the worst mistake in human history. A tremendous book for looking at starch foods through the lens of history, by the way.

The end of starch- and sugar-based living would indeed be the end of today's economy as we know it. It would be a transformation -- possibly a collapse, if it weren't properly managed -- more profound than I think most people realized.

If that were coupled with most people eating mostly whole foods (that is, cooking everything from scratch ingredients), growing a good portion of their own vegetables and raising their own chickens for meat and eggs -- entirely possible (theoretically) for nearly everyone -- the impact would be devastating for a huge portion of modern industry.

I just read an article (in the NY Times, I think) that said England exports 15,000 pounds of waffles annually, and also imports 15,000 pounds of waffles annually. The writer was making the point that a lot of food importing and exporting amounts to a waste of fuel and other transport costs. I noticed a larger point: nobody needs to buy a waffle. I don't mean no one needs to eat the starch; I mean waffles are easy and cheap to make from scratch.

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