Our Food Is Killing Us

by Micheal Quinn

Erik the Red added his fellow Vikings to the southwestern shore of Greenland within the overdue 900s CE. His positive naming of the island might not have been entirely irrelevant as natural fluctuations in the weather meant that he had stumbled upon Greenland when it turned into especially warm.


The Greenland Vikings held on for some hundred years, but the next time someone from the European continent proactively sought touch with them – in around 1500 CE – they’d absolutely disappeared; their villages, farmhouses, and grand cathedral alike became to crumbling ruins.

The Vikings introduced their European sensibilities to Greenland, inclusive of their food choices. According to Jared Diamond’s excellent e-book, Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed, the Vikings’ food hierarchy positioned red meat on the pinnacle, with sheep and goats similarly down. Fish, it seems from excavation of Greenland Viking middens, had been barely consumed, if at all.

The problem changed into that the weather and ecology of Greenland changed into not suitable to raise cattle. As the Viking populace density grew, the amount of land needed to grow fodder to feed livestock during the lengthy, dark winter months impinged upon the society’s capacity to grow meal grains for itself.

Still, the Vikings persisted. Why?

One of the best ways a Greenland chieftain ought to show his advanced wealth and strength become via the size of his home and the excellent of meat on his desk. Viking chieftains believed it imperative to raise farm animals – even though this preference supposed his fellow settlers were condemned to hunger and death – to maintain his function of relative wealth and status.

It’s tough for us within the cutting-edge day to imagine why the Greenland Vikings couldn’t paintings it out for themselves that their insistence upon elevating livestock in land unwell-desirable to livestock elevating turned into contributing to the crumble in their civilization and their very own pathetic, extended deaths through hunger.

Reading Diamond’s description of a bad Viking circle of relatives starving through a harsh Greenland wintry weather in a domestic swiftly filling with bovine droppings earlier than literally having to hold the ill cattle out to the sparse spring meadows looks as if the situation that might appear in a novel by way of Kafka. The photograph seems too grotesque and surreal to be something but a work of fiction.

Before we, in the modern-day, advanced international, start feeling too smug approximately the alternatives the Greenland Vikings made but, we have to mirror upon the common sense of our very own food device. I agree with a good case to be made that, simply as the Greenland Vikings of a thousand years in the past, our meals are killing us.

Not handiest is our food killing us in a way unimagined using Greenland Vikings – through presenting us with an excess of calories that become killing us with so-known as “way of life illnesses” – it’s also killing us within the same manner because the Vikings’ cows killed them – with the aid of putting an excessive amount of pressure on our surroundings.

A growing international populace, mixed with elements inclusive of changing socio-demographics, will location multiplied pressure on the world’s assets to provide not handiest greater however additionally exclusive forms of food. Increased demand for animal-primarily based protein is anticipated to have a poor environmental effect, producing greenhouse gasoline emissions, requiring greater water and extra land. Addressing this “best storm” will necessitate more sustainable manufacturing of current assets of protein in addition to alternative sources for direct human consumption.

Future Protein Supply and Demand: Strategies and Factors Influencing a Sustainable Equilibrium. Hench, et al. Farming of animal-primarily based proteins contributes to more or less 12% of greenhouse fuel (GHG) emissions and 30% of biodiversity loss. Consumption of animal-based proteins concentrated in evolved international locations.

The authors of the Irish observe that as residents of growing countries become richer, the tendency is for them to start consuming extra animal protein catching up to the intake levels of developed international locations, which have held quite a good deal constant because the 1970s.

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