Today on the Enterprise Fitness Podcast, we present to you The Vegetarian Myth, with guest Lierre Keith.
This is NOT just about vegetarianism, but the whole farming and agricultural system.
Lierre spent a whopping 20 years as a vegetarian; her experience is why many consider her to be the world’s leading authority on vegetarianism (20 years is enough time to know if something works!)
Lierre has spent much time studying the broader picture of the world’s food supply. A very important topic for anyone who eats!
As you’re about to find out, there is a lot more to this issue — it is a riddle in a web of myths!
If you enjoyed this episode you’ll definitely enjoy some other podcasts that we have:
- Enterprise Fitness Podcast: The Gluten Show
- The Mindset, Training and Nutrition of Former Navy SEAL, Jeff Serven – Enterprise Fitness Podcast
- Why Most Physios Don’t Get Results! – Enterprise Fitness Podcast
The following is a transcription taken from an interview with Lierre Keith, author of The Vegetarian Myth and Maximus Mark Ottobre on veganism, vegetarianism, industrial agriculture and its problems.
Due to the nature of transcriptions we cannot guarantee accuracy, spelling or grammar. We think we’re doing pretty well to bring you both audio interviews and transcriptions with world leading authority on health and fitness free of charge. If you’re able to edit transcriptions free of charge, we would love to hear from you.
Mark: This podcast is proudly brought to you by www.maximusmark.com and www.enterprisefitness.com.au
Hey folks! It’s Maximus Mark. Today, I have the pleasure of interviewing Lierre Keith. Lierre is the author of “The Vegetarian Myth” which is not just about vegetarianism but the whole farming and agricultural system. It’s an unbelievable book.
Lierre has broken up the book into three main parts – moral, political and nutritional vegetarianism. It is an amazing read and I highly recommend it. Thus the reason I’ve been pumped all week for this show. Lierre has spent a whopping 20 years as a vegan; her actual experience with vegetarianism/veganism is why many consider her to be the leading authority on vegetarianism and its problems. Twenty years is enough time to know if something works.
Lierre has always stood for justice and compassion, and after writing the “The Vegetarian Myth”, Lierre has been able to study the broad of the world’s food supply. She offers insight and wisdom. I believe she has definitely some of the answers in regards to what should be done with the world’s food supply, a very important topic for anyone who eats.
So with that said, let’s welcome today’s guest, Lierre Keith. Welcome to the show.
Lierre: Well, thanks for having me on.
Mark: First question, probably most obvious, can you please share with our listeners your background, your story, why you’ were a vegetarian, and after twenty years you found it unsustainable?
Lierre: First of all, I was a vegan, I was never a vegetarian, all or nothing for me.
I became a vegan when I was 16 and I think like a lot of people who decide to try that out the reason is because I met some other vegans and they have some very compelling arguments about why veganism was a good thing to do.
It seemed from this package that I was presented that if I simply remove animal products from my diet, I could do all these great stuffs. I could improve my health. I could save the planet. I could stop animals from being hurt. I could provide food for hungry people. So it seems like a really simple thing to do to solve all of those problems.
So I took it up, with a fervor of a teenager and I did it for twenty years, and the reason I stopped this is because my health failed catastrophically, there are way too many deficiencies, and there are way too many problems with this diet for it to be sustainable in the long term and I found that out to my great detriment.
That was one of the reasons why I wrote the book. I really don’t want others people to suffer the way that I did, it’s really not for any good reason at all. You’re not doing anything good that this diet claims that it does and you will in the end damage your body.
Mark: Before we get to the ‘meat and veg’ of this interview, I just want to get some background on few topics. One of the topics, not a lot of people obviously think about this, but let’s start with the soil. A lot of people don’t realize that soil is very, very alive or at least should be alive. What does soil eat?
Lierre: Soil, we think of it as this insensitive dirt and it’s not. I mean one tablespoon of soil can contain over a million different living creatures. A handful of soil can contain over a billion living creatures. A meter of topsoil can contain over a thousand different species of animals, so, yes, it’s hungry.
So depending on which little critter you want to look at they eat all kinds of different things, but all of these together, make healthy soil. So you need plants and at this point, you need animals, and you need both of those to make healthy soil, and its bacteria that breaks it all down.
There is a great quote by James Nardi, (soil scientist) he basically said that it’s the bacteria in the soil that is constantly renewing our earth and without them there would not be life.
And yes, they need to be fed, so, they’re eating all the other biological matter that falls upon them and a lot of that is cellulose of plants and also animals. We all play a role in that cycle, keeping that soil fed. The thing is we owe we owe our entire existence to six inches of topsoil and to the fact that it rains, so when you take away that soil, it means that land life is essential over and there’s nothing for us.
All those biological processes will go to a halt and there will be nothing left. So no animals, no plants, no bacteria. Life in the ocean might continue, but certainly land life, that would not be possible without soil.
This is why I think a lot of indigenous people have these concepts of the soil and plants as our parents, grandparents and our beloved kin; because plants and soil together created the topsoil and they also created that oxygen-rich environment that were really cradle for animals like humans. It’s true, they’ve worked on it for millions of years and finally the planet could support animals.
Our lives are very precarious, we are dependent on these millions of other creatures that we can’t even see and by doing agriculture we’ve been destroying all of that and that’s one of the big problems right now.
Mark: Just so we can give definitions for our listeners who might not be familiar, the difference between normal soil and the topsoil, can you differentiate the difference between the two?
Lierre: Topsoil is like the top inches, like 6 to 8 inches of soil, that’s almost all the biological activity happens. Topsoil can be a lot deeper, like in the prairie situation, in grasslands, they have incredible plants, they do an amazing job in building topsoil. So that topsoil can be 8 feet deep, 10 feet deep, 12 feet deep, in forests it’s a lot thinner and in other kinds of polycultures that would be even thinner because there’s not a lot of biological activity going on.
But underneath that is just a subsoil, kind of minerals and clay and rocks, stuffs like that, not a lot of biological activity. But it is on that top chunk, that’s where everything’s going on, and that of course is part of the problem because when we do agriculture we’re destroying that which means we’re destroying all the biological activity, destroying all those creatures and we’re making the planet much less fertile every single day by doing this process called agriculture.
Mark: Yes, absolutely. I put some quotes from your book, I wanted to share;
“Manure is not a biological waste but a gift”,
and the other one that really stood out to me was “what do plants eat, that just don’t happen and eventually the question has to be answered, fossil fuel or the manure one.”
In comparison, the soil is virtually eating as you said, dead animal matter to regenerate and get all the good stuff. But today, you make reference to literally eating oil and gas. Can you explain to the listeners exactly how we’re actually eating oil and gas?
Lierre: Well, one of the main nutrients that plants need in order to grow, animals so they could grow, is nitrogen.
You probably heard the concept of amino acids as the building blocks of protein, right? Well, the building blocks of amino acids are nitrogen, so every living creature needs a lot of nitrogen in order to literally just put itself together.
Plants draw that from the soil there’s a few plants that do help build nitrogen in the soil, that’s sort of an exception. By large; plants get it because either the cellulose of other plants or animals die. Then their bodies decompose by these bacteria, and then the plants take up the nitrogen again and are able to grow.
So that’s where nitrogen generally comes from, and I’ve talked about the nitrogen cycle and that’s just this circle of birth and death and things breaking down and being taken back up by the next living creature.
The problem is that when we do agriculture, we clear the soil, you have to plant the annual crops and it that process the soil is exposed every time you do that you’re destroying some of it.
This is actually a biological emergency at this point, basically there’s no topsoil left. We’ve used it all, we’ve skinned the planet alive. By 1950’s, all major grain growing regions of the world were played out. What happened then was this phenomenon called the “green revolution” and the green revolution figured out a way to make nitrogen in a laboratory, in a factory and then apply it to the ground that have been stripped off its nitrogen by agriculture. So you could apply this other fertilizer and that will provide the nitrogen that plants need.
Sure it does that but it is an incredibly energy extensive and extractive process. So you use gas and oil as the feed, it takes tremendous pressure to do this and a lot of heat, gas or oil to actually produce this so the nitrogen comes out of this. So you apply this huge industrial process, very energy extensive and at the end of the day you get nitrogen fertilizer, and its very powerful stuff.
So they use that everywhere now and those super duper green revolution crops have been bred and now they’ve been genetically engineered, they have very short stem and they produce very little cellulose compared to their wild progenitors and what they produce instead is this great big seed so they were able to quadruple the amount of grain being produced because of the nitrogen fertilizer, it is way more potent than anything that we’ve come out from a barn. So it’s not like the manure, it’s not like anything else.
At this point, somewhere between half and two thirds of the people alive on the planet are only alive because of this process they call the “Haber Bosch” process, those were the two people who invented it. Haber was a German scientist and the other guy Bosch was an engineer and the two of them together figured out how to do this.
The original reason was because Germany needed nitrogen to make bombs, so there’s this huge overlap between war and agriculture, in many, many ways, these are the same process.
They invented this process for war, they went on to use this for agriculture and now this is what is keeping all the grain being produced right. All the grain being produced right now can only be produced because of those nitrogen fertilizers. So, the real problem is that gas and oil do not reproduce, these are non-replicating resources and this is one of the things that this culture doesn’t want to face because it’s scary.
What’s going to happen if that gas and oil run out?
Well, we’re already on the downside of peak oil. Peak oil was probably 3 years ago. We’ll never going to have that much oil again. What are people going to eat when this run out because the soil is done, there’s nothing left for the plants to eat naturally in the soil. The only way you can get it is by applying these horrible fertilizers and this was not a plan for the future. We’ve been on a draw down for 10,000 years by wrecking the soil and as a fallback position figuring out just technologically how to extract nitrogen from the world.
Again, the fuel’s going to run out, we’re putting ourselves in trouble as species. There are some hopeful things; as an entire species we got to have to make some decisions about what we’re going to do next because if we don’t stand now, we’re headed for some pretty ugly scenarios, things that are already unfolding around the world.
When society fails and collapse, it’s really ugly. Agricultural societies always collapse because they’re always destroying the soil. This is a process that’s been set in motion 10,000 years ago, historically, you can look at every single continent, every place that’s agricultural followed that same pattern of collapse. We are not going to be an exception.
We extended this for another 50 years by figuring this out with the nitrogen fertilizer but the same end awaits if we don’t wake up to what we’re doing. Just to put a number on this, the average farm in Iowa right now uses anywhere between 3 and 4 thousand tons of TNT for every acre. That’s a vast amount of fertilizer, that’s how much energy goes into it and the state of Iowa alone uses 4,000 Nagasaki bombs every year in terms of energy, because agriculture is a war and that’s what it takes to fight the planet.
So that’s the nitrogen picture, it can be a little overwhelming but there is hope, but we’ve got to state the problem first.
Mark: You wrote in your book that it takes four calories of energy to produce one calorie of food. Am I getting that correct?
Lierre: Yes, but it could be even worse, sometimes it can be as much as a ten. Then when you add transportation cost, it can be over a hundred.
I live on the west coast of California, you can get organic peas from China. It’s completely insane! What are people doing shipping peas across the Pacific Ocean and they are called organic, which make them crazier, the amount of energy in every one of those peas, they embodied energy. That’s insane! What are people thinking? It doesn’t make any sense at all.
Mark: All for the corporate good. I loved another quote in your book;
“So you’re an environmentalist? Why are you still eating annual monocrops?”
There’s a lot of listeners out there who probably never heard of monocrops or really know much about the whole farming process, can you explain what monocrops and perennial polyculture is?
Lierre: First we have to talk about what agriculture is. It takes piece of land, you clear every living thing off it, down to the very little bacteria, important life producing bacteria, all that gets cleared off the land.
So you have this bare field and then you plant it for human use. Couple of things happen right away, one is you destroy the topsoil when you clear it like that, and the other problem of course is that you push all the plants and animals off it, and they’ve got nowhere to go.
That’s a nice way to say extinction.
We are now leaving 200 species of animals every single day going extinct. This is just horrifying. The planet is just being gutted, being skinned alive, drawn into quartered, I don’t even know what metaphor to use at this point.
The point is that you take this thriving biotic, lush, dense community, all of these different creatures working together – plants, animals, everybody – working together, you clear all off, you destroy it and then you plant it to human use.
So what’s being cleared off is the perennial polyculture. So perennial means “plants that live a long time”, and the polyculture just means, poly is many, so it’s “many plants”, so you got this all different kinds of plants and they’re all working together, and they work together in really amazing ways. They form communities. They communicate, they help each other. They send each other messages, they send each other nutrients, they send each other chemicals when they need them. They protect each other in the community.
The more you know about this, the more in awe you must be. It’s just incredible what’s going on out there. So all of that is happening and one of their main goals of the perennial polyculture is to create more soil. That is what makes land life possible. It’s the work of those plants and they’re really good at producing soil, that’s one of their main jobs and they’re good at it.
That means that they take carbon and they build their bodies out of it and they build their roots, and they build their stems, and they build their leaves and then they die and all of that gets recycled into the soil. So, they’re building soil.
The problem of course is that humans are doing what they call agriculture. So you clear away all those plants, all the deep-rooted plants, that dense communities of creatures and you just plant one thing. That thing is going to be an annual, so, instead of being a long-lived plant, it’s a short-lived plant.
Now, in nature, there are generally two kinds of plants. There are perennials and annuals. Perennials, like I’ve said, their role is to create soil. One of the ways they do that is they have really deep roots. So, a tree has way deeper roots than your head of lettuce or corn and the reason that they have those long roots is because they live a long time and that means they have the time to build roots. If you’re going to live ten years or a hundred years or a thousand years, you have plenty of time to stretch out, stretch down and make this deep root structure.
The annuals only live a brief 2 or 3 seasons and then they die. There’s a time limit, the timer is on, from the moment that seed sprouts, they got just a really brief amount of time to reproduce.
The whole point is to make that seed, that’s their only reproductive strategy. So they don’t live a long time, they have short roots. They don’t grow very tall either, they can’t, they don’t have the time to do that. All their focus is getting that seed out because all their biological resource has gone to the seed, it means the seed is bigger. An annual seed is bigger than perennial seeds.
The disaster here is that humans found some of them enjoyable to eat and so in the service of what we get from eating grains, we essentially killed the planet. Agriculture has blundered every continent except Antarctica and taken what it can take, which is all of the topsoil, all the plants, all the animals have been removed and it’s just now miles and miles and miles of wheat or corn or soy.
So that’s an annual, it doesn’t live very long, and the monocrop part is, these are monocultures. If you’ve ever driven through any of the grain growing regions of the world, I’ve driven across the United States 2 or 3 times now and it’s all you see. It’s either wheat, or corn or soy depending on what state you’re in.
It’s horrifying because it’s a clear cut of the grass forest. I mean that should be a prairie, there should be 25 plants per square meter and there aren’t. There’s one crop for miles and miles. All of that life has been eradicated and this was not a plan with a future; there is no way for those plants to rejuvenate the soil, all they do is take.
Some people said that we’re mining the soil and one of the things that we’re mining is minerals. It’s that only deep-rooted plants that can get minerals out of the deep substrata of the planet.
Our planet is a rock and there’s soil on top of that but to get down to where minerals are, to get down into that rock, it takes really deep roots so it’s only plants like trees or perennial grasses that have roots that are that deep.
Corn, wheat, soy or lettuce; none of those can do it. All they do is take minerals out of the soil so this is why they said mining the soil, literally taking the minerals out, they can’t be reproduced. Nobody else can get them but those deep-rooted plants.
So that’s the role of perennials, they hold the soil in place, literally. They draw more minerals every time by holding that soil, they are a great big sponge for water, every time it rains they can absorb the water, then they hold it for the whole community so there’s water there, that means there’s life, biological activity can happen, the bacteria have their water, if its too dry the bacteria die, so the soil just turns to dust.
Now the annuals do have a role in nature, it’s not that annuals’ bad. But they’re the first responders; so the image I like to use is if you cut your skin, you had an accident in the kitchen with something like a knife, you would stitch your skin together, stitch the wound and then put a Band Aid on and eventually your skin will knit back together.
That’s what annuals do, when there’s a disaster in nature, like a flood, or a volcano or a fire, the soil is bared. Well that’s an emergency for the planet, and the annuals are the first responders, they spring to life, their seeds maybe waiting for a hundred years for their moment. They cannot compete against the roots of the perennials; but the moment the perennials are gone because of one of these natural disasters, that’s when the annuals spring to life and their job is to simply cover that soil until the perennials can knit back together just like your skin does.
So annuals have a place, but it’s not a big place there aren’t a lot of annuals in nature mostly because the planet has to be covered for the soil to be protected, for the topsoil to build and it got to be covered all the time with those life-giving plants.
The annual monocrops of course are a system that nature doesn’t recognize as a natural system and there’s no way to sustain it. The only way to sustain it is by doing the things that humans are doing now, applying fossil fuels, using, tractors, fences and ultimately great deal of energy because that is the only way to fight that constant pedal against the perennials that would like to take the planet back and create more life. That’s their job, that’s what they’re here for and every time you do agriculture you’re fighting a battle against those perennial polycultures. One of the reasons we take up so much energy.
Mark: So essentially, monocrops aren’t supposedly grown naturally and humans have to fight an uphill battle with all this energy, TNT, all you’ve said before, to grow those monocrops, yeah?
Lierre: Yup. That’s exactly the problem.
Before we had fossil fuel, before humans had figured out how to use fossil fuel and build those machines, before the industrial revolution, what humans use instead are other humans.
This is why agricultural societies always end up slave societies because anywhere from 80-90% of the population has to be enslaved to provide labor and also draft animals come in handy. That’s the way it was done before, what it needs.
Everybody mentions Athens as the great birthplace of democracy, 90% of the population in Athens were enslaved. And you can talk about the year 1800, that’s the year the fossil fuel age really began but in the year 1800, three quarters of the human beings alive on the planet, solely three quarters live in some form of slavery.
For anybody to have leisure time, it meant that a whole bunch of other people have to be enslaved and that has been the pattern for 10,000 years; these highly stratified, hierarchical, militarist civilizations.
That’s what it requires for anybody to have time to do the arts and sciences what we think of when we say civilization, it means a whole bunch of other people had to be immiseration and kept in these horrible conditions in a back-breaking labor from dawn to dusk.
I don’t see this as a good positive notion in human history and Jarrod Diamond says that agriculture was the biggest mistake that the human race has ever made. In part because it’s unsustainable and in part because it destroys human society. It made us hierarchical, militarist and violent and all that great stuff that we’re fighting, it goes back to this living pattern that’s based on draw down of natural resources and the inheritance of unsustainability and violence that’s required to do that.
Mark: Just a theoretical question on that one, if there was no agriculture today, none of it ever happened, would you think we would have advanced with modern luxuries that we have today (like cars and television, etc)… Do you think that would still happen or advanced the way we have. What’s your opinion on that?
Lierre: I don’t think so. I think that indigenous people who are living in harmonic balance with their natural environment, the living community around them, they have different technology. They don’t need to make those kinds of technologies.
They have technologies that are spiritual technologies, they have technologies that are about getting what they need to survive without hurting the land around them. That’s a very different kind of technology than the technology of the agriculture which is technology’s domination.
So, I think that they’re very different, they’re going to touch very different paths in terms of what you need and how you think you’re going to get it. I mean, like a lot of people say, “Beavers make dams, so what’s wrong with dams?” My response to this is, well, when beavers make dams, what they create are wetlands. (And) wetlands are the most species rich habitat on the planet. So they’re making way more life when they build a dam, I mean, an extraordinary thing happens when beavers build wetlands, in contrast to the dams that humans make.
We create deserts behind our dams, we kill the forests when we make dams, completely different. So, I would say that, yes, there are ways to use technology and humans always make technology, we are tool building animals; but what kind of technology?
Is it technology that’s inherently democratic, that anybody can learn to make, anybody can learn to use or is it technology that requires hierarchy, that’s going to require the destruction of your environment which means if it’s going to be a violent process it’s going to require a military because people don’t willingly give up there’s tree and there’s soil and there’s water and there’s fish, and everything that’s destroyed by industrial processes like mining.
The only way that I think we’re able to have this industrialized world is that we live behind a military barricade so we outsource the violence to other places, poor places and we pretend that it’s not happening, but it is happening. (And) right now, people in China are dying to get the rare earth metals that create the magnets for windmills. (And) they say, “Oh we’re going green, we’re going to build windmills,” just amazingly destructive process just to get those rare earth metals, create toxic floods all over land, so people in China literally dying so that we can pretend we are going green by making windmills.
It’s not moral, and it’s not just, and it’s definitely not sustainable. I think we’re going to have to look past that military and really acknowledge the cost of this way of life.
There’s a basic value problem here, does the world exist for us to use or are we simply one more participant which is we need to take our place again as life-affirming participants in those biotic communities.
Otherwise, we’re all dead. It’s kind of a grim choice at this point, you know… We’re out of time.
Mark: Yes, for sure. Let’s just switch gears for a second, let’s talk a bit more about grains.
After reading your book, grains not only seem like a bad health choice but obviously one of the most destructive crops to the planet. Let’s set up this question with a couple of quotes that I pulled from your book.
“The Surfeit of US grain and starvation in poor countries are not inverse but proportional.
Why should people in Cambodia be dependent on the US for basic sustenance?
It costs a farmer $3 to grow a bushel but only fetches $2. The difference is paid by the federal government.
So we now we know that corn is cheaper to buy than it is to sell and obviously the difference is made up by the US government.” Can you please explain why the US government subsidizes corn and how does it effect on the rest of the world?
Lierre: Yes, this is a real problem. There’s essentially 6 corporations that control the world food supply. That should scare people. Six corporations control the world food supply.
Companies like Continental, Cargill and Montsanto. Continental and Cargill for instance, they each account for 25% of the grain, so 2 corporations control half of the grain around the entire planet. That should be terrifying.
Cargill is the third largest privately held corporation on the planet.
There are 5 companies that control 75% of corn and there’s 4 that control the soybeans.
So it’s a monopoly, because they have the monopoly, this is what they’re able to do, they can drive the price of those grains below the cost of production, which is to say that no matter how hard the farmers try they cannot keep their head above water, there’s no way.
So what will happen is they are always having to produce more, just try to make ends meet. So, every year there’s more surplus and every year they get less money for it. So of course the next year they have to do the same thing.
(And) hand in hand with this of course, there’s more fertilizer, there’s more industrial processes, this endless battle to try to make the four-seed plants to produce even bigger seeds and shorter stems and now with genetic engineering; which is kind of its own nightmare, that’s what’s going on.
Economically, these poor farmers there’s no way for them to do this, they will be out of business immediately. (And) that monopoly power means that those corporations can make the price that low. So, what happens is the US government steps in and gives subsidies to the farmers and that is a direct contribution right into the profit margins of those corporations. It didn’t use to be that way in the United States. We used to have a completely different kind of farm policy because they recognize that those surpluses are always going to work against farmers.
So, that all changed and now it’s just all about corporate profits. I think part of the reason is way more people used to farm, I mean half used to live in farms that long ago, now farming is a statistically insignificant occupation in the United States ‘cause it’s left 3% of the population.
So people don’t have a clue on what’s happening on farm country, but what’s going on is actually suicide. Suicide is the number one cause of death of farmers right now in United States and in other countries that’s true as well. But that’s how grave the situation is, no matter how hard they work, they can never make back their production cost let alone left money to live on. So then the government kicks in of this money because of the farm policies put forward by these corporations.
You’ve got to understand through the guiding hand by the government, you know, it’s a giant corporation. (And) then, there’s these huge surpluses and then you get two things out of that, one is you get factory farming because the grain is so cheap you can feed corn to and you can torture them, and create this hell for animals, but you will get cheap meat in the end.
And the other thing they do with the corn; it’s called agricultural dumping. They go to poor countries and they flood the market and destroy the peasant farmers off their land, out of business and into urban squalor. (And) this is what really had created these gigantic slums around cities in the third world.
It’s all about the profit of these corporations and their goal is to drive those farmers out of business and they’ve been very successful.
The moment that NAFTA was passed, within two years, I think there were 2 million farmers in Mexico went out of business and what that meant was now they have nowhere to go and they’re starving.
And if people in United States want to understand why there’s a problem at the border between the US and Mexico… That’s why. Where else are they going to go?
They’ve been driven off their land, they’ve got no way to support themselves, they’re starving! What options do they have?
This is true all over the world, in Philippines, in India, these horrible corporations are destroying everything as fast as they can by having these cheap, very, very cheap food stuffs, and it destroys the local food supply economy, and that’s exactly what it’s intended to do, and it’s very successful.
Indian farmers, they drink poison to die, they take the toxic chemicals that are supposed to put on the land. They have had mass suicides. They all do it at once to try and get someone to pay attention.
If you talk to top food and democracy activists around the world, that’s the number one problem, this cheap agricultural dumping.
The odd part that in the United States, all these progressive environmentally minded people think that this is the way we’re supposed to be doing that somehow that cheap grain to put starving people.. They got it exactly backwards, all the major hunger organizations, all the democracy movements, say exactly the opposite.
Get your stupid corporations out of our country. You’re killing us all, you’re destroying our life ways, destroying our traditional cultures, and you’re just creating these millions of people in misery now all for their profit.
On every level again… it’s just, it’s unjust, it’s miserable, and it’s just destructive. This part we really have to get right. This we’ve got wrong for 30 years now, we’ve got it simply backwards, and so again the agricultural dumping… it’s a human right violation so we just got to make this stop.
But it means we have to face the power of these six corporations and name the man behind the curtain,
The amount of power they have… Why do they have this power? Why have been they able to destroy everything? Why everybody so passive about this process, cause the same thing happens here in the United States. People were pushed off their lands and they have to go to urban environment and that’s the reason why, so they were able to drive that price so low.
Mark: Just to put a summary to what you said;
The last place on earth where you want cheap US grain to go is somewhere like Cambodia or third world country cause the fact that when they do get that grain, the farmers can’t compete with the price of the US grain and people start to buy US grain they eventually go out of business, they can’t support their family and that’s obviously an industry for the country that’s going to produce revenue for the farmer and the community. (And) because US and people keep sending cheap grain; its basically destroying the whole economy of that country. Is that correct?
Lierre: That’s absolutely right. That’s what’s happening around the world.
Mark: This question might be a little redundant but lets get a summary of it;
One of the vegetarian myths is that agricultural foods are foods of peace and justice. With that said, can you explain the grain cartel which you pretty much you already have, Who they are and what role do they play in the world’s food supply to put a summary on that question?
Lierre: Yeah, well, they just got this vast profits, they don’t get mentioned very much but they’re pretty much in control of everything.
I mean they’re all owned by the same people, whether they’re McDonald’s, whether it’s your Vegan Morning Star hamburger or fake burger, whether it’s your ‘Slik Soy Milk’, whether it’s the almonds that you got, it’s all owned by the same people.
This is why it doesn’t really matter what you buy.
If you think you’re buying that vegan soy thing as some kind of response to end world hunger or corporate world domination, you’ve given money to the people who created problems.
So, it doesn’t really matter whether you eat McDonald’s or you eat the vegan soy burger, it’s all the same people.
It’s all one industry; they’re completely hand and glove with each other, and they control everything. They control all the food around the planet. This is going to be a huge battle, we’re going to have to face the facts here. It’s way bigger than just, well I eat this food and not that food.
They have an amount of power that in his wildest dreams; Julius Caesar could not have dreamt of. It’s really scary and anybody who has that kind of power has the money and they own the government essentially. So we’re going to have to face this and we’re going to have to fight it because they’ve done the same thing everywhere. They’ve done it in rural communities here in the United States and they’ve done the same thing around the world.
Mark: One thing that people don’t realize is whether they do buy McDonald’s or whether they do buy that veggie burger, they are still actually supporting the same people and that was something that I wasn’t actually aware of until I’ve read your book.
It’s absolutely true that the money is all funneled to the same spot. You try to fight the battle, try to do the right thing, but then you realize it’s a whole other issue that no one was actually even looking at and for me, that’s one of the biggest take homes that I got from your book.
One of the other quotes that I would like to share is;
“Just as war need soldiers, the civilized needs slaves.”
I know you spoke before about ancient Athens and how the grains need slaves. That pretty much is still happening today except that we use machines with farming, is that right?
Lierre: Yes, in industrialized countries, we’ve been using machines now for about hundred/hundred fifty years to do that work. So, that’s why only 3% or less than 3% of the population is needed now to grow food, it’s because we’re using fossil fuels.
(And) this is also another problem for people in poor countries because they cannot afford that equipment, they cannot afford the gasoline to keep them running and so they get these horrible bank loans;
The IMF had a huge program, so it was their goal to get everybody hooked on farming machines so they can give people bank loans to buy them and then they have to pay them back.
You know this happens when they can’t actually sell their grain in the market because the prices have been driven so low. This is another way that farmers all around the world have been led down the rosy path of destruction is because the bank loans and the IMF, trying to get them into high tech farming.
That animal will heal itself and it will reproduce itself, in contrast to tractor and once the tractor stops working, you’re done. These are traditional ways that people used to do things which has been another disaster for indigenous and traditional societies around the world. So, where am I going with this? Did I answer your question?
Mark: It was about the slaves, they have…
Lierre: Oh, the slaves. Yes, yes. Right now, there are certainly agricultural slaves. These are they that are catch crop so a lot of labor is involved. In chocolate, for an instance. (And) it’s really hard to know whether chocolate you’re eating has slave labor on it or not but any of these catch crops that come especially from tropical countries, you kind of have the slavery involved in it. Even here in the United States, what happens to the migrant labors is just really horrendous, it has been for a hundred of years.
Mark: Would things like the Goji berry be slave labor?
Lierre: I’m sorry, what did you say?
Mark: The Goji berry or what they call the…
Lierre: Oh yes. I don’t know about that one in particular. That would be worth looking up. I don’t know where it grows but if it’s always some kind of catch cropping, you sort of assume that there’s either slave labor or something close to it. The people, they were driven until they drop, and some of the child laborers as well. That’s where it’s all coming from and that’s been true… ever since, it’s been true. So again, there’s that 10,000-year time frame but that’s what it does to human societies as well as the planet. It’s really a destructive process.
Mark: Grains, they’re not only bad, obviously we’ve spoken about how bad they are for environment and everyone. What’s your opinion on grains? We have the USDA food pyramid and things like that where they promote eating grains. It is completely ridiculous. What’s your opinion on grains as a human product for digestion, for our diets?
Lierre: Some people call the food pyramid the food tomb because its choked so many people at this point. They’re doing this massive experiment in this country where they decided for some pretty stupid reasons that we should eat this high carb, low fat diet. It’s been an absolute disaster for public health. Diabetes now is so widespread, they can’t call it adult onset anymore, because children are getting it. You have a 10-year old with adult onset diabetes.
Why? We used to eat eggs and bacon for breakfast and now what does everybody eat? It’s cereal and skim milk. It’s nothing but sugar. The human template was never meant to handle that amount of sugar. So you got a whole bunch of problems which has cascaded into these chronic and degenerative diseases like heart disease and cancer and autoimmune diseases, and all of these are essentially caused in the end by this agricultural diet.
One way that we know that for sure is to look into archeological record. You got all the hunters and gatherers and they’re tall and they’re long, and they’re strong and their bones were beautiful and they were disease free, they got all their teeth. Agriculture began, bam! The next set of skeletons that you dig up were six inch shorter, their teeth are falling out of their head and their bones are brittle with diseases and inflammation.
So the moment people pushed the agriculture, their society just collapses. The question is why do people do this? It’s back breaking labor for really bad nutrition, why would anybody do this?hat’s an interesting question if you want to talk about that. But back to the grains, no, I don’t think it’s edible. I don’t think people should be eating this product, number one, it’s way too much sugar.
So you got this huge influence surge and now you’re on this instant roller coaster ride because you got too high or too low blood sugar. Your brain can only function within a very, very small range of glucose, the moment you overload your system, it’s an emergency.
So, all these chemicals come into play. Insulin has to grab it out of the bloodstream as fast as possible and shove it into the fat cell storage and then everything get inflamed. Another problem with insulin is it actually triggers the growth of cancer. Two things we know about cancer, insulin triggers it and what cancer eats is sugar. So the moment that you’re eating one of these high carbohydrates and of course, you’re going to get cancer across the population. That’s what triggers it and that’s what it feeds on.
Mark: One of the worst things I’ve seen in western medicine is they hook people up to glucose and insulin, for the people who have cancer, which is completely ridiculous.
Lierre: Right. We have this concept “diseases of civilization”. There are no corresponding diseases in hunters and gatherers, okay? So, it’s diabetes, it’s heart disease, cancer and then all those autoimmune diseases, they do not exist in the hunter and gatherer population, they only come into play when we started doing agriculture.
What we’re doing is we’re hurting the human genome, we’re hurting the human template by eating foods we were never intended to eat, so there’s way too high sugar and they are also high in a bunch of substances that will trigger various disease processes. So plant leptines for instance may be the cause of a lot of autoimmune diseases. They are substances that look very much like different tissues in the human body.
For instances, protein in wheat. That looks like cartilages in joints and this one of the reasons why people get rheumatoid arthritis, it’s from things like wheat and that’s why you if have an autoimmune disease you should never eat gluten again as long as you live. It’s definitely a factor. I say that to someone who has an autoimmune disease, I had to learn about this ‘cause my life depended on it, so, yes, you got to go gluten-free.
But the high sugar creates all the inflammation in blood vessels, and this is ultimately what creates heart disease and atherosclerosis and stroke. All of that is really created by the high insulin diet. (And) it’s also responsible for a lot of the other kinds of problems we’re seeing in the United States, when they talk about this “obesity epidemic”.
Well, if you’re eating these high carb diets, the insulin is the fat storage hormone, that’s what it’s called, one of it’s jobs is to pull sugar out of the bloodstream to keep that glucose level where your brain won’t collapse and then shove sugar into the fat cells and you can’t get it out. As long as you have high insulin levels, you can’t access the energy that you have stored.
This is why you can look like you have a lot of energy stored in your body, but you can’t access it, you’re exhausted all the time and you don’t know why, and people call you lazy and they call you these horrible names and it’s not your fault, you did what the government said and that’s the result. You’re exhausted and you’re sick. It’s ideological, people have to face what’s happened.
Mark: I tell all my clients, they’re not going to burn fat as long as they have high insulin.
Lierre: I know and there’s no way to access that energy. I feel really bad for the children ‘cause I know that they are having to face all kinds of horrible things in school like teasing and the kids feel terrible, they’re exhausted all the time.
Nobody’s telling their parents the truth about this. Nobody’s actually offering these kids what they need. That’s one problem with the grain based diet is that you’ve got way too insulin and the sugar.
The other problem is that it’s displacing other foods that we should be eating instead. You can only eat so much food in a day, so if you’re eating all this kind of high sugar essentially empty calories it means that you’re not eating what humans need. (And) one real fact about humans is we really have big brains and we have very small digestive tracts and that happened to evolve the human genome.
We look back in history, there’s this moment where our predecessors; all of a sudden their brains get really big and the digestive tract shrinks. What happens in that moment is that proto-humans learned to eat nutrient dense foods and that is animals.
People say, “Oh gorillas are mostly vegetarians,” blah, blah, blah. Yes, they got way smaller brains that they got gigantic bellies because of this huge digestive tract. We don’t have that, so, we’ve got to eat nutrient dense foods and that’s animals.
The foods that hunter-gatherers societies treasured the most, the sacred foods around the world are the organ meats. So if you compare muscle meat to plants, there’s at least 10 times more nutrients in the muscle meat. But if you compare muscle to organ meats, again, there’s at least10 times more nutrients.
So, those were really the foods that gave them this great big brain, things like liver, heart, stuff that we don’t really eat in the United States anymore but it’s a crying shame, ‘cause it’s the foods we really need.
So there’s all these things we’re not getting, so we’re not getting the Vitamin A and D, we’re not getting the high minerals that we need, we might not getting enough protein.
(But) when you eat a diet that includes all these nutrient dense foods, that’s what leads to perfect health generation after generation, having those nutrient dense foods. We’re going to have put this back on our diet if we’re going to end this public health crisis going on right now.
Mark: For sure. I’m going to ask you this question, you are obviously… you’re a vegan for 20 years, and when I hear people say, it’s bad to eat meat or you shouldn’t eat meat because it’s bad for you. How would you answer that statement?
Lierre: Well, it really depends how it’s said…
If it’s really hostile then there really is no point to discuss it.
But if they really want to understand this then I would talk about the things that humans have to eat or we die. (And) those things include proteins, they are amino acids that are essential, we can’t produce them, we can only eat them, there are essential fats, essential fatty acids, we have to eat them we cannot produce them.
(And) then you got all these fat soluble vitamins, Vitamin A and Vitamin D, and K2. Again, you can produce some Vitamin D if you’re in a very bright, sunny climate with overhead sunshine but it’s not really going to happen for most of us so you really do have to eat it, and it’s the same with Vitamin A. You can eat phyto-vitamin A such as carotene and vegetables but they have to be converted into real Vitamin A, and humans are not good at that. In fact, a whole bunch of us can’t do it at all.
Those people are called obligate carnivores. If you are from a coastal people or an island-dwelling people and it may be you. Your ancestors may have stopped making the enzymes because they have so much in your food, they don’t need to do it anymore.
Well, now you’re not living on that nice island anymore, and you think you’re going to get it from a carrot, you can’t. Vitamin A and Vitamin D and all the minerals that are in bones and bone marrow, every traditional people had to eat bone, they made broth, or they figure out how to eat the bones themselves.
It was for the minerals, we need all those minerals for our brain to function, for our eyes to function, for our reproductive systems to function, we’ve got to have high mineral diet.
You’ll not get any of that from grains, you only going to get it from meat. So if you look at it just biologically, leave the ideologically side out for a second, look at it biologically, what do we need? Our needs are not met by grains. They are only met by nutrient dense animal foods.
The other problem is that if you’re eating all that grains it’s going to displace all the really good food and there’s actually no thing as essential carbohydrate. So we need fat, we need protein but every last molecule of sugar that your body needs it can actually produce.
You don’t need to eat any of that. You don’t even need to eat fruit. Glucose that your brain needs your body can make out of fat and protein, so there’s really no reason to eat those foods at all. It literally shows we didn’t actually eat them until very recently.
Archeological evidences are also quite clear, they have fossilized human waste that they found in archeological sites. So, what were humans eating? What’s in those fossilized waste? There are things like bones, and feathers and obviously meat. What’s not in there was grains and in some of them; there’s not even single molecule of plants. So they didn’t eat any plants.
The final evidence is look at the cave paintings.
It’s all animals or people hunting animals. There is no cave painting of an apple tree. There’s no cave painting of a head of lettuce. It’s all animals and hunting animals. It’s quite clear what people were doing. Plus with all these weapons lying around and you got the carcasses and bones that have the cut marks from the weapons, it’s an overwhelming amount of evidence.
It’s an orgy of evidence.
(And) when you’re a vegan or a vegetarian, you have your own creation in that world. When I was a vegan we had our own reality that people where vegetarians.
Its completely different from the facts, if you think people where vegetarians there’s no evidence for this at all, we wouldn’t have survived, we would not have these big brains and we would not survive if we had not been eating those nutrient dense foods.
Mark: I’ve been taught once before that vegetarian in one of the native Indian tribes actually means ‘poor hunter’ when they translate.
A lot of vegetarians, they would go to things like protein powders and thinking that they’re making up their protein requirement with either a soy based protein (and of course everybody knows the problem with soy) or whey-based protein.
We know that soy is bad news, but do you see any problems with the whey protein powders to supplement with that?
Lierre: It depends, because I know there are some whey-based protein powders that are heated at a very low temperature and that’s what you want to aim for if you’re going to use that products for any reason.
If it’s done in a high temperature, you’re destroying your proteins. You’re destroying the chemical structure of those proteins and you turn them into really toxic substances by using high heat, high pressure. So you don’t want to get whatever is the cheapest.
If for some reason you feel like you need to eat whey proteins like a protein supplement get the low temperature ones and just be very strict about that because you don’t want to be eating really carcinogenic toxic substances come out of heating whey at temperatures that would never have existed in nature.
If it’s a long slow process, then it’s probably intact. Dairy products, dairy proteins are very beautiful and they’re very fragile. (And) they’re easily damaged by heat, so that’s why it’s really important to get the low heat kind. But really for most of us, we really just eat foods. There’s not really any reason for us to be eating these industrially manufactured products. We should just eat real food.
We should have good food and we should eat that food and we don’t need the other stuff. I understand that sometimes medically necessary, you have a certain kind of lifestyle, but overall we really need to get back to honest food, from real farmers.
Mark: I’ve got a lacto-vegetarian friend and she ask a lot of questions, she eats all organic, local produced, do you see any health risks with the lacto-vegetarian?
Lierre: Yes, you’ll last a lot longer than a vegan will cause at least you’re getting some of the fats and some soluble vitamins but ultimately it’s still almost impossible to eat that diet without overloading your insulin receptors. So, it’s just way too high carbohydrates. It’s impossible to get the proteins that you really need without overloading. You can only eat so much cheese in a day.
Cheese is a lot of fat and not that much protein so unless you’re going to eat 12 eggs a day, but you’re really going to get sick eggs. Eventually, the insulin’s going to kill you, you’ll get hypoglycemic and eventually you’re going to be diabetic and then you’re going to have all the problems that excess insulin causes, the inflammation in your blood vessels and the heart disease and all of that, cancer, all what’s brought on by the high insulin level.
So it’s not an appropriate diet for human beings. I’m sorry ‘cause I know people are very attached and clearly I know how people can be very attached to these kinds of diets. It’s very hard to absorb this information, when you’re that attached to something that seems moral, seems like you’re doing the thing that you’re called to, you want more justice, more compassion in the world.
The values are not the problem and I always try to be clear about this, the values are not the issue, compassion and justice and sustainability, anything that questions human entitlement, only values are going to get us to the world we need. So it’s really not the problem, the problem is just purely information.
Mark: Yes, for sure. Where do you see the world’s food supply going? Do you think it’s going to get worse or there’s something we can do?
Lierre: Here’s were I see hope…
In the United States, if we took all the agricultural lands that’s essentially east of Mississippi River, and we put it back into the kind of grassland that they would vastly prefer to be, the United States would immediately in the first year, will immediately become a net carbon sink. That’s how good plants are at building soil and destroying carbon.
If we did that on only 75% of the world’s trashed out rangeland, that’s a lot of land, that’s 75% around the globe, it would take about 15 years we would sequester all the carbon that has been released since the beginning of the industrial age. This is the only hope that I see for global warming.
We’ve got to let that grass come back. We’ve got to reestablish the prairies that have been wiped out. 99% of the prairies on the planet have been eradicated, 99%, that’s just complete habitat destruction around the globe and it’s all because humans want to do agriculture, that’s what’s growing in there instead.
So, we’ve got to put those prairies back, it’s really the only hope that we have. (And) having done that, grasslands cannot exist without ruminants, both of those ‘people’ play a role in making those communities work, so without the grazing actions of animals, without the manure, and the urine for fertilizer, all of the things that ruminants do, the grasslands will actually turn into desert, so you got to have the ruminants back on there.
(And) of course the role that people play in this is that we eat the ruminants, and the ruminants eat the grass, and then the grass eats the dead animals, and all that goes around in a cycle. (And) that’s the role that humans, and wolves, and bears, apex predators, that’s their role to keep the grazers in check.
We could restore all that and we could have really great nutrition for humans once again. We could be participants in this soil community instead of being parasites, and then the question of those how many people actually support doing this.
The interesting thing is in a lot of places, there wouldn’t be any less food and I say that because there used to be on this continent, North America, there used to be 60 million bison, and the Europeans settlers came, they wiped everything out, they traded in those 60 million bison for 40 million tortured cows, so it’s less food, at the end of the day, and the place has been trashed.
I mean, it doesn’t even make any sense. My little mantra here is that we have to repair, restore, rejoin.
We have to repair those polycultures, restore the animals that need to live there and then rejoin as members of those biotic communities once more.
(And) the other good thing about this is that farmers who switch from annuals to this kind of grass-based farming system, and they do things like grass-fed beef and grass-fed bisons, a lot of them in the very first year can turn a profit.
Now remember that growing corn or soy from Monsanto, you will never turn a profit, you are only there as a surf, paid by the US government, but the moment that you switch within the first year literally, these people can make a profit.
So, we don’t even need the government, the people just start doing this. We need to understand the problem, we need to understand that there’s a solution and then create this consumer network to help those farmers get started, to get them out of that surf-dump and get them back into doing the honorable work that they want to do, working on their land-feeding people. That’s what farmers want to do, that’s why they are called into it.
(And) it could be done, we can repair the planet. So, I do see a lot of hope here but it’s hard because the institutions that control everything on the planet are on the wrong side. We are going to have to fight political battles, it’s way bigger than just what I decide to eat, a fine thing to look into ethical decisions that go into food.
(And) I’m glad the vegetarians had made food a political issue, that part they get right and this is a good thing, people need to be examining this and certainly, we all need to get involved in stopping of factory farming.
Anybody with a conscience should recognize that. But there is hope here in our planet, there’s hope for this project of repair and there will be plenty of foods for humans as well. Yes, that’s what I hope and I think we have to understand that as a political program.
Mark: As a take home step, just buy all your foods from a local farmer?
Lierre: That would be great because those farmers need help, especially if you can pre-pay. That is why a lot of what I buy is in bulk; like half a cow and we’ll pay 6 months ahead.
There are people all over who wanted to switch into this kind of farming or they’re young people who want to get started at it and if they know that there’s a market demand, they can go ahead and do it. So, yes, I’m a big believer in those kinds of local network.
The more we can get the word out, how healthy this food is, how it helps repair the environment, and how it makes justice for farmers and for local rural communities and there’s no reason not to do this, we can do it now.
I’m a big supporter of the Weston Price Foundation, they’ve been fabulous at getting those farm into consumers networks and place. For people that don’t know Weston Price, its www.westonaprice.org, you can look up your region, your country, your area, they’re going to tell you where the good farms are.
There may be some other resources that you know around your area but that’s a really good place to start, and all the Weston A. Price people are very, very happy to help. So, they’re good people to call, email them, they’ll help you.
Mark: For all the Aussies listeners what you can do is go to Google, search for ‘rotary farmers markets’. You’ll find heaps of things, a rotary farmers market in pretty much every area around Australia.
(And) that’s where I met my local farmer and I order half a cow raised exactly the same way you said, and it’s grass-fed, and it’s absolutely fantastic. He packs and cuts it for me and here’s the kicker, it’s actually cheaper.
Its definitely putting a step in your own individual way towards helping the planet, and you’re getting meat that’s grass-fed, awesome meat and you’re supporting your local community and your economy, so it’s a win-win and you’re not giving money to the people who are perpetuating the problem, so it makes sense on every single level to buy from your local farmer.
Lierre: It’s a great thing and a lot of them will let you come visit, so, if you have any questions about, are the animals being treated well? This is the question for me always especially coming out of my vegan background but it’s great because you can go visit and you can see how happy are these animals are, and if they don’t look happy then move on, but they do, on the grass they’re eating, there are chickens running around having fun, everybody’s having a good time, so, you can see the way they live and everything looks happy and the soil looks good and the plants are lush, it’s what it should be.
We all think farm, I think we have this ideal image but you can find those farms, they are there. (And) they are doing a good thing, so, it’s worth it. You get to travel a little even if you pay a little more, it’s well worth it.
(And) the benefit you and your family in terms of health, especially if you have children, I don’t see any other options, I mean if you’ve got kids, you’ve got to learn about this and try to do your best with it.
Mark: Another tip that I do as well from the farm, if you actually ask them for organ meats, they’ll pretty much give it to you free.
Lierre: Yes! (‘Cause) nobody wants them.
Mark: I’ve got 2 livers sitting in my fridge, grass-fed livers and they’re probably about 20 kilos each. I got them all for free.
Lierre: Yes, they’re huge.
Mark: So that’s another thing, saving money.
Lierre: Yes, you got to be a little bit more creative. I don’t know how it is where you are but in the United States, most people have forgotten how to eat organ meats, you have to be really like “ethnic” to still be eating organ meats. (And) it’s insane. It’s the most nutrient dense part of the animals. It’s great. I eat liver twice a week so I had to learn how to do it but I did and it’s well worth it. Actually if you have chronic health problems, you can find just incredible amount of healing in those foods.
Mark: You think there’s a cap on how much liver someone can eat per week?
Lierre: I’ve seen on the Weston A. Price website, where people debate how much is good, how much is bad. I’m sure that 2 or 3 times a week it’s fine. I don’t know if you want to eat it everyday, you’re eating a lot of it, but I eat twice a week and that seems to be fine, I don’t want any more than that so I leave it there.
I don’t think we need to get too upset about it. Most people’s Vitamin A and Vitamin D levels are so low right now, it would really be a good thing to increase them, and we haven’t really touched on Weston Price but he’s a dentist who traveled around the world, trying to find out what diets made people healthy over generations.
(And) one of the things he found was that the healthy people, they had Vitamin A and Vitamin D levels in their food that were something like 10 times more than what the average American was eating and this was in the 30’s. So this has dropped dramatically, so you can imagine now it would be like 20 times or something. So, eat liver. Learn to eat liver.
I know it’s not an easy thing if you’ve never done it but you can start with Jewish chopped liver with onions. It’s actually quite nice, very mild, that’s how I started. I worked my way up, I will admit that I do eat it raw right now, I got really hardcore about it, but that’s how I started. It makes a really nice pâté, even kids will eat it. Yes, it’s a good thing to learn, you need to relearn those traditional eating skills.
Mark: You touch on something before; 10,000 years ago on an agriculture farm, why did people do backbreaking labor? What was the motive?
Lierre: There’s this great quote from Colin Tudge at the London school of economics and he said, “The real question is why anybody took it up when it’s so obviously beastly.” Love that quote, obviously beastly. Well, there are different theories that none of them really match the physical evidence.
What I learned in school when I was a child was the world got too crowded, people had to figure out how to make more food per acre. Well, agriculture does that certainly because you are pushing everybody off that land but the archeological evidences doesn’t back up that.
If hunger was the driving force, you would see those half sized/staved skeletons in record before agriculture. People would have shrunk already, and they have disease, and they’re losing their teeth and there will be signs of malnutrition and illness, there aren’t. That doesn’t happen until after agriculture.
That doesn’t really work as an explanation.
The only explanation I’ve ever read that makes sense is the fact that grains contain opioid substances and they are addictive, so people did it because they got addict and that to me is the reason to destroy the planet. I get the driving force behind those kind of addictions. I can’t eat grains because my autoimmune diseases especially gluten grains and I know how addictive that is. Wheat just calls my name and everybody in my family the same way.
You can’t just eat one, you have to eat the entire plate. I can’t eat just a slice of bread, I would eat the whole loaf, once I get started there’s no stopping it. (And) you talk to people, “What do you binge on?” Nobody says hard boiled eggs. Nobody said steak. We know what people binge on, its cookies and cake, it’s the carbohydrate stuff and it’s because there’s a number of chemical reasons for that but one of the main reasons is because of those opioids. So, if you’re eating 2, 3, 5 or 6 times a day, you don’t notice how addictive it is, you just kind of crave it all the time.
That’s the only explanation that makes sense to me because people will do anything for their addictions and I think that’s probably why, my guess is that’s what drove this, ‘cause nothing else makes sense to me. Addiction that was the reason.
Mark: That makes a lot of sense. That’s the first time I heard that but that makes a lot of sense. So, do you have any final thoughts or anything else that you would like to share before we wrap up?
Lierre: Just that it’s not too late for this planet. I mean, we may be losing 200 species a day and it’s too late for them, but resistance is possible. We’ve got a lot that we have to face and that we have to fight and we have to overcome but it’s not too late and I was just speaking in Maryland which is in the eastern seaboard in the United States, and it was this wonderful experience I got to have…
There was a local farmer who has 5,000 acres and he decided that he didn’t want to farm all of it anymore. He’s going to donate a thousand acres of it, he didn’t know what to do with it and so some of the local people who were very radical environmentalists worked with him and they restored the lands to a native prairie and they did very little, all they had to do was stop farming, and the plants came back.
Some of those plants have not been seen in 3 or 4 generations, so the meadow reestablished itself almost instantly. (And) the real miracle is that there were birds that came to live in the meadow. Some of these birds have not been seen for a hundred years in that part of the country. All you have to do is give them food and give them some habitat and they will find it.
(And) I was so moved, and I got to go and see this. I was just so moved to know that life wants to live and if we just help it a little bit, if we stop this destructive process and decide that we are going to make a place for our whole family that we can all live here again, and be part of this. I don’t know what else we can want really, this is the most beautiful planet that I could ever dream of and I think that we just have to fight for what we love.
Mark: That’s a really great message as well. Thank you so much for taking the time out, that’s probably one of my favorite interviews ever done, so, really thank you.
As I said before the call, your book is an absolute contribution to the field of nutrition. I’m sure my listeners will get a lot of great value, your insight and the way you explain the issues, everything is absolutely brilliant.
So, I really want to thank you for doing the research that you’ve done, putting the information out there that you have and from the perspective that you’ve done it because I don’t know if anyone else is doing it quite like you, so, thank you and keep up the good work.
Lierre: Well Mark, thanks for having such great questions and from the bottom of my heart, thanks for having this radio show because somebody has got to get the word out. We’re at the end here and we’re in a crisis and I’m just really glad every time I get to do one of these interviews, thank you.
Mark: Thank you. My pleasure.