47. Fiat food

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In this episode we discuss the link between fiat money and fiat food, based on the latest chapter from The Fiat Standard, available to subscribers on academy.saifedean.com. We discuss: fiat’s encouragement of high time preference thinking causing soil depletion and bad food choices; why fiat governments heavily subsidize fiat foods to make inflation look better; and how a hard monetary standard incentivizes eating real food and regenerating soil.

Visit academy.saifedean.com/meat to find out more about Saifedean’s experience following the carnivore diet.

Podcast Transcript

Coach Kiki: And what I wanted to add too, I think is why people betting so heavy on fiat and are willing to accept government restrictions around their freedom is because we have such a sick population. Now, the governments, in cahoots with the food industry has created such a sick population that most people are worried about losing their healthcare because they need that more than anything.

And so here in the sailing community, in the general sailing community, people all over the world are running back home to Canada to get their healthcare. They’re running back home to the U S to get their healthcare or to UK or whatever. Because they’re now dependent on that free healthcare where, investing or hodling Bitcoin would certainly provide a much rosier future to that government dependence on pills, on, pill pushers. But if people are. Yeah. I feel like I don’t tell anyone about that thing. There’s enough there for people to, they can do the digging that we’ve done and have their own enthusiasm. See the light at the end of the tunnel.

Saifedean Ammous: Yeah. I agree with you entirely.  I think that the point about food is actually a profound one. When you go carnivore you see the impact that it has on you. Honestly, there is a point at which it’s like: if you’re dealing with somebody who’s very drunk, say it’s 3:00 AM and they’re doing cartwheels in the middle of the living room. You see your friend, Jim and they’re doing cartwheels at 3:00 AM.

Now. That’s not really your friend, Jim, and you’re not talking to your friend, Jim, you’re talking to the alcohol. And when you quit the industrial food that is predominant everywhere you start seeing a similar pattern when talking to people like you talk to somebody and you think, yep, that’s sugar.

That personality type is sugar. And I think modern society’s main personality types are sugar, corn, and soy. Basically, these are the three main personality types today. There’s all these complex personality tests that people take. I could replace them, I think with a much easier metric, which is, are you predominantly a sugar person?

I think sugar people are generally a little bit ADHD or high energy, and then they crash and they’re very enthusiastic. And emotional and volatile. Soy is quite different. Soy is people don’t eat meat and eat soy and they’re being quite docile and basically knocked out for the majority of the time.

And then corn is really the food that just gives you these personality type of essentially obesity. I think it’s the real thing that probably the real driver of obesity might be corn products. And I think it’s a very significant impact on what it has on people’s psyches and minds.

And when you think about it, I’m finishing up the chapter on Fiat food right now from the Fiat standard. You’ll be getting it in a few days. Like you add all of the factors that we talk  about easy money and what it does to people. So it raises your time preference. It takes away from you the ability to provide for the future.

And it forces you to start living more of a day-to-day life. You start thinking more and more about the present and less about the future. On the one hand you have that. So that, that is reflected in terms of food choices, but then the flip side.

So your food choices are more likely to be geared toward, eating the candy that makes you feel good today rather than the healthy stuff, that’ll make you healthy in 50 years. And then you combine that with on the other side, on the supply side, you’ve got government having essentially infinite money and being able to intervene in the food markets and government being motivated by the need to make inflation look low and the most important thing that people care about when it comes to inflation.

And the universal good that everybody has to consume is food. And so controlling the price of food or lowering the rise in the price of food is a huge objective of governments. And so that leads to an enormous amount of intervention in food markets. And the intervention goes in the direction of; let’s make more  of the cheaper food that is less likely to suffer from inflation because it can be produced industrially in massive quantities.

And these things,  products are the foundation of the modern Fiat diet. All the highly processed food depend on these things,  essentially the industrial cropping of monocrops and then processing them into highly addictive and highly palatable junk.  That’s basically the economic way to hide the inflation just continues to give people lower quality food.

And yeah, I think you’re absolutely correct. Like the impact of this has been devastating on health, but I think also devastating mentally. It’s quite telling historically wheat has generally been the food of slaves. And if you look at what has happened to humans, when they moved from eating predominantly meat to eating predominantly plants, as we moved to agriculture, humans became weaker, shorter, and arguably a lot of modern diseases came from that.

And I think  even traditional agriculture was much better because to the extent that your tradition in agriculture managed to survive the 19th and 20th century, it only managed to do because it was being able to give people enough nutrients and that generally relied heavily on animal foods everywhere.

This is in the work of Weston Price, but as you move toward industrial food, you get a, just a much bigger level of dysfunction.  It’s debilitating almost our mentally and psychologically, it can be debilitating. And it does when you’re lowering people’s time, when you’re raising people’s time preference, making them more concerned about the present , and then they’re eating junk that is knocking them out half the day and leaving them with all kinds of health problems.

It’s a very different life than if they had hard money and savings and weren’t propagandized and manipulated and influenced financially into eating industrial junk and were eating more of the regular food. There’s definitely something to that. I really think the whole Bitcoin carnivore thing is more than just a meme.

People have always sought the hardest thing to produce as money and people have always sought the biggest animal around to eat. And this is the universal human condition at all times and place. And I think it’s it’s the Fiat century in the fiat propaganda and the Fiat food policy and Fiat farm policy that has a normalized to people the idea that you can spend your day essentially eating industrial products, eating things that come in plastic wrappers from factories, and that’s okay. And that’s completely unrelated to all the dozens of strange medical conditions that keep popping up, which, don’t worry about trying to prevent these, just figuring out  how to take more drugs for them.

Yeah, I think there’s definitely something there.

Nathan Reed: I might draw those attention folks, attention to a podcast that John Vallis did earlier this week on basically regenerative cattle crops. Co-ops sorry. And foundations of Bitcoin citadels. As you say Saif, it’s almost this work in progress of these local sentinels forming. And in this case around the formation of co-ops where the consumer and the producer become a partnership at the local level and Bitcoin is central to the concept.

So it’s actually extremely optimistic. 

Saifedean Ammous: Yeah. I think regenerative farming is going to quite literally save the world. The production of this industrial food the Fiat food of the 20th century is not just devastating for humans. It’s also devastating for earth. Like it’s astonishing for me, how the stupid propaganda in the mainstream media has convinced people that, cows are bad for the environment and shifting to industrial cattle feed is somehow better, because that industrial cattle feed pumps from pristine gardens where we’d all be living in this garden of Eden all over the world.

If we’d all just eat beans, soy, and wheat all day. But in reality, just Google wheat farm and look at what it looks like. It’s giant fields of just dead land. It’s all dead. The soil is raped essentially by growing all these giant mono crops, you kill all the biodiversity, kill all the birds, all the rodents, all the, a lot of the insects.

And you kill small animals like rabbits and deer. All that stuff is constantly being killed. Like these farms are giant, massive killing fields. And in fact , you could run the numbers on just how many animals are killed and it’s probably more animals are killed in the production of the Fiat food then in the production of meat.

So one cow  is roughly enough to feed the one person for an entire year. You could live a whole year off of one cow, more or less. So one person needs. One cow. So that’s one life and it spends an entire life grazing. Taken care of and protected from the evils of predators.

And then in less than a second gets killed and it doesn’t feel anything. And then it’s turned into one humans food for a year. On the other hand, if you needed to grow food for that person from monocrops, you need large areas of land and you need to clear those from all of these other animals, deers and mice and rabbits, and all of that has to go.

All of that has to be killed. The big giant combine harvesters are constantly churning out dead animals and the pesticides and all kinds of things are constantly there. So you’re killing probably more animals, and you’re coming up with food that’s destructive to the human body and also destructive to the soil.

 It takes away the nutrients from the soil and in order to make it grow the next year, they need to add a lot of artificial fertilizer and they need to keep tilling the soil and adding artificial fertilizer, which is insane because, cows just do that for free it’s cow farms get their soil depleted.

And the way that they fix that is that they release cows to graze on it. And then when cows graze, they eat whatever little grass this is left there and then their feet till the land, and then their feces fertilizes the land. And so the lab gets richer and as a result as it gets richer, it starts having higher productivity.

So usually the sustainable model of agriculture is that you rotate between crops and and the grazing animals every few years, the cropping depletes the soil and then you stop  growing crops on that land. And you bring in animals to graze and you grow another piece of land. So you do this crop rotation.

This is traditionally what a lot of cultures had done in order to sustain their land. But now nobody does that. A few people do that at the regenerative farmers. I haven’t listened to that interview with John Vallis, but I was planning on it. These regenerative farmers are doing this more and more.

And I think the connection here with Bitcoin is also very important because think about it in terms of a landowner. If you’re a landowner  and you have a low inflation or a hard money to put your wealth in it, then you are able to think of the future. And so you’re able to utilize your land in a way that maintains the land for the long run, because you don’t discount the future very highly.

And so you’re okay with grazing cattle and only producing a small amount of capital on the land, which keeps the land healthy, because that’s going to mean you can maintain the land healthy for 50 years with grazing cattle. But If you don’t discount the future heavily, if you have a low time preference, then you  care about the state of your soil and you care about the state of your land.

And you’re more likely to have something like grazing cattle on your land. Now, when we move to an inflationary form of money and you don’t have an easy way of saving for the future and the future is more uncertain, you start discounting the future more. And because you’re discounting the future more, now grazing cattle and maintaining the soil for 50 years becomes less and less attractive. And what becomes more attractive is raping and pillaging the soil for five, six, seven years and making a lot of money. So think about it. It depends on how much you discount the future. If you have a high discount rate on the future, then the quality of your soil in 10 years, doesn’t really matter to you much.

If you have a low discount rate on the future, then the quality of your soil in 10 years does matter to you a lot. And you’re more likely to do the thing that takes care of the soil. And so  if you fly all over the Midwest in the U S that the entire area is just basically used for monocropping and it’s essentially dead soil.

So you add the fertilizer and you add the crops, you put the seeds in the fertilizer and then the crops come out and then they’re harvested. And it’s devastating to see just all of this land looking so dead and uniform, and to think about just how much richer it would be if you had cattle grazing everywhere.

And if the people who had this land had a lower time preference, so we’re able to value keeping the land productive into the long run, more and more. Then I think, you’d see the land look much better because, today is the long run that people were sacrificing in the 1970s when industrial monocropping and agriculture was being promoted by Nixon and Earl Butz, his secretary of agriculture. 

They were promoting this heavy industrialization of agriculture in the 1970s in order to reduce food prices. And it came at the expense of the soil. So we are paying the cost for it right now. In order for people to have eaten cheap industrial sludge in the 1970s, we now have very depleted, shitty soil, and that requires heavy fertilizer use.

And that requires all of this industrial production and all of this genetic modification of crops, that’s leading to all these Frankenstein foods that are giving people all these kinds of sicknesses. High time preference. I, once you see it, you can’t unsee it. And so that’s going to be the topic in Fiat food chapter, which  you’re going to see in a couple of days.

Nathan:  Saifedean, have you ever caught a YouTube by great Judy he’s a regenerative farmer in central Missouri?

I think it’s called green acre farms. He does a YouTube just about every day. He runs about 400 head at cattle. I probably watch way too many hours of his shows, but for 20 years he’s been perfecting rotational grazing, but not from a global warming protect the environment perspective, but purely from a selfish financial perspective.

In other words, his inputs were so costly. He just couldn’t keep doing business. He was about to go broke. He had to cut inputs. So he had to figure out a way to do that. So it’s all financially driven in his conversations are financially driven. It’s absolutely fascinating. He’s a Joe salad then is a good guy.

I like watching his stuff, but he’s a little more promotional. Whereas Greg Judy is he has interns on his land. And those interns are now doing YouTube and  it is really good. I like I said, there’s a, there’s thousands hours out there, but some of his discussions about all of the intricacies he’s had to learn over the last 20 years to perfect this  rotational grazing is really interesting, especially since he doesn’t have a political environmental perspective.

It’s financial. It’s really good. 

Saifedean Ammous: Yeah it’s a field that is highly interesting to me. And I really think  it’s no coincidence that a lot of Bitcoiners are interested in this, and it’s no coincidence that a lot of Fiat finance is heavily involved in the production of these shitty Fiat foods.

High time preference is: you work, you prioritize the president and so it makes sense to eat junk and to trash your soil. But then if you think of it in the longterm, and if you have a lower time preference, which I think is what Bitcoin does to you, then clearly you’re going to start to have different ideas about land and you’re going to want to maintain the land into the long run.

And I think it’s quite amazing how many Bitcoiners are into this kind of stuff. How many Bitcoiners want to buy ranches? And let the cows loose. 

Carrie: It also seems to fit with  liberal people, kindhearted say one thing and act as if they feel one thing, but everything that they say is actually the opposite.

Like for instance, what you’re saying about the fields, really being killing fields. And all the people who want to spare animals are because they want to spare cattle or whatever. So they think that agriculture is a good idea. There’s this flip in the thinking, including the fact that the soil gets depleted and it just fits with the whole paradigm.

It seems to me the liberal paradigm that it seems like whatever they say, it’s always the opposite, whatever they say, you can be sure that the opposite is what is really actually true. I know it applies here as well. It seems to me. 

Saifedean Ammous: Yeah.  I think the underlying mechanism, the more that I think about it is that Fiat world prioritizes high time preference, short term thinking.

 And there’s always this trade off in life between the short-term and long-term, you enjoy yourself now, you pay the cost later or you work hard now and you benefit later that’s that trade-off always exists. And so if you think in terms of the longterm, you’re going to see that Fiat always has the wrong answer because Fiat is prioritizing the short-term.

And therefore compromising and sacrificing the long-term  on everything. This is why basically this, I think might be the underlying mechanism for why. Once you start putting on the Bitcoin tinted glasses, the world just stops making sense, or the world starts making sense. And the lies of the old world start making sense.

Yeah. In the chat Boris is asking how many square meters are required by a cow. You’re saying China does not have 1 billion acres of land Browning Singh, it’s about an acre per cow. China does not have a billion acres of land. The world has, I think 37 billion acres of land.

So we’re good. We’ve got room for another 37. We’ve got room for another 30 billion people, if that’s the metric. But of course I think people underestimate just how much of the world’s land is useful for cultivating animals. Because when these estimates are made, they’ll look at agricultural land.

And that’s true. Agricultural land is limited in terms of the places where you can have these hot combine harvesters run and rape the soil. You need flat surfaces. And so  you can only have industrial agriculture predominantly in flat surfaces and so mountains and rocky surfaces are not considered agricultural land because they can’t produce crops, but they can feed cows and particularly goats and lambs and goats in particular are just complete bad asses..

They don’t care. They will climb any rock mountain in search for tiny little shrubs. So there’s an enormous amount of land all over the world where cows can roam. We don’t have a shortage of land for cows and, people would quit eating the junk,   using enormous amounts of land for the production of essentially poisonous junk.

 If that lands gets repurposed  into producing actual food: red meat and ruminant animals, it would also make so much more.  We don’t have a carrying capacity problem in the production of meat. We have a misallocation of resources problem wherein we are wasting so much of our land.

And destroying the land in order to produce garbage, basically that is killing us and poisoning us.

Anybody have any further thoughts on this?

Carrington MacDuffie: Just that an attitude of moral and spiritual superiority seems to go along with those who think this is a bad idea. So that’s suspect, right? 

Saifedean Ammous: Yeah.

So there’s about five, 4.9 hectars of land used for agriculture.  How many hectars in an acre?

Nathan Reed: About 2.4. Okay. 

Saifedean Ammous: One acre is 0.4 hectre. So yeah. Yeah, 2.4.

So about five hectars is about  2 billion acres.   2 billion acres is just the agricultural land. So there’s a lot more land that can be used for grazing all kinds of other animals.

Coach Kiki: For example in the Amazon, they talked about, the forest being cut down for cattle, but actually the forest is cut down for soy production. After the slaves harvested, the cattle can walk through the leftover plant materials that remain in the field. That happens throughout the United States, too, where they can eat what’s ever left on the, in the fields from the corn, from the soil.

So cows have an ability to transform foods that humans actually cannot eat. That’s ruminants can do that. 

Saifedean Ammous:  Yeah, and this is an amazing aspect of the stupid propaganda against meat. That when they’re calculating the supposedly carbon footprint of meat, they calculate an enormous amount of the carbon footprint  of the cattle feed that goes into the cattle.

But of course the majority of cattle feed is not eaten by cattle. It’s eaten by humans. The majority, what cows eat is the leftovers. That stuff is heavily subsidized by governments all over the world. And the subsidies are what drive its production and drive it’s inclusion in the diet of people all over the world.

And the leftovers are fed to cows, but then all these anti meat activists  will then attribute enormous chunks of the land and the cost and the environmental damage. It’s amazing to see that, when they talk about the the destruction of cattle habitat they just assume that the soy that is really destroying the Amazon and destroying the Midwest and destroying all over the world and all the forests are being destroyed  by these horrible crops, they just assume that it is all for the cattle and therefore it’s all the fault of meat.

But in fact, the only reason it’s produced is  because of the subsidies and the reason that it has given to the cattle is because it is so dirt cheap. If you didn’t have so much subsidies, it would be far cheaper to just let  the cattle go and graze in a grassland.

Carrington MacDuffie: The whole thing needs advocates along the lines of Alex Epstein. The work that he does, it, it needs that kind of spearheading this information. 

Saifedean Ammous: Yeah, there’s quite a whole bunch of people who do this.  One guy is Alan Savory and he runs The Savory Institute and they do regenerative agriculture  all over the world, basically.

They teach local farmers all over the world. In many cases it’s not even teaching them. It’s reminding them of what their grandparents used to do and figuring out how to adapt to the local environment best in the local crops. But yeah, a lot of the regeneration and the reforestation that’s happening with being driven by cattle grazing and production of meat.

This has got an enormous potential in the future. 

Nathan Reed: Savory’s story of how he participated in slaughtering all those elephants trying to stop desertification is pretty powerful. When you listen to him personally tell that story if that doesn’t get your attention,than nothing else will. 

Saifedean Ammous: Yeah.

It’s a very fascinating story. And there’s a Ted talk by him on this. And I think his Ted talk was canceled. Or there was like a warning by the Ted people  that this talk will give you bad feelings and bad thoughts and you shouldn’t listen to it. So definitely check it out.

I think Yeah. And so apparently,  their idea was that all these big animals are going to eat the soil and destroy the soil and ruin it. And the way we fix it is by killing all these animals. So they slaughtered all these animals and then they were surprised to find out that, oh we didn’t make things better.

Whoops.  He learned his lesson and spent his life trying to fix that. It’s  pretty inspiring,   because you think basically he says deserts are manmade. Deserts have been manmade through many centuries and millennia of agriculture.

We’re constantly depleting the soil. And then the depletion of the soil leads to wow. When the soil is depleted and it doesn’t have nutrients, it’s not a moist, it won’t absorb water. So when the rainfall comes, the rainfall collects on top of the soil. Little of it is absorbed and then it starts evaporating.

So when that happens, the soil can’t hold a lot of water  and the sky won’t get a lot of evaporation  from the soil. And so then basically that leads to the reduction in rain. And so what Savory argues, which can drives the fiaters insane is that when you start grazing cattle on the land the land becomes richer and then the land camp can absorb more water.

And then when it can absorb more water, the water cycle around the region begins to change. So more water is embodied in the land and in the crops and in the grass and in the trees in there. And then more water is evaporated when it gets hot and then more rain happens. And then  shift the geography of the place desert deserts, being deserts as apparently not destiny.

It’s a hugely exciting and amazing way to think of the world. And it’s in, in the chapter and all of the Fiat standard on Fiat food, there’s a contrast between this kind of vision of the future versus what the us department of agriculture was doing in the 1970s,  there’s  a great film about it’s called King corn.

And it’s about this man called Earl Butz, who was the department of secretary of agriculture in the Nixon administration. And Nixon told him basically, we need to make sure that food prices don’t go up and his motto was go big or go home. The idea was through financing they were going to consolidate farmers into big farms, so that there’d be massive economies of scale.

So that you could use the most modern equipment and you can invest in it. And it was the industrialization of food production and the impact has been the destruction of the soil and the destruction of the health of people. It’s been 50 years of this shit right now, and you have to be completely insane to argue that it’s unrelated to the destruction of the soil and the destruction of health.

Like obviously a lot of people will because a lot of people are essentially more interested in just posturing and maintaining their beliefs rather than actually figuring out what’s actually going on. But it’s undeniable, you look at trends in obesity  and in diabetes and in heart disease and in all kinds of illnesses and it all takes off after the 1970s, not a coincidence.

Also of course the diet guidelines of course helped played a big role in that

Nathan Reed: And ethanol. 

Saifedean Ammous: Oh yeah. And then the ethanol, that’s good. That’s going to be the topic of the chapter on Fiat fuels, which is coming in the next few weeks. 

That’s a great use of farm land. Yeah, insane, it’s absolutely insane. It’s amazing to think that how wasteful it is to grow crops, to then turn it into ethanol, to then put it into a car and burn it.

It’s amazing the amount of land that is being wasted for this. And then people, imagine people worrying about we don’t have enough land for cows, but we have enough to grow corn and burn it in cars. And now apparently they’re trying to make jet fuel from biofuels, which is just absolutely insane.

And of course, one other side effect of the ethanol is that it wears down cars. In fact some car enthusiasts will tell you that the reason that cars are becoming so short-lived is because the ethanol mandates, it means that you have to include ethanol in your fuel. And that’s why it’s a Fiat fuel.

It’s not something that people would include in the market. You put it in your fuel and then it wears down your car on top of the fact that  it’s a massively expensive.  It ends up ruining your car. So it’s contributing to the whole high time preference of high consumption culture, because,  we’re having to put this highly useless fuel, which is enormously expensive and enormously agriculturally destructive into the cars because, It’s good for the environment.

And so destroying cars and slowly leading to people going through their cars much quicker and it’s making car makers, design cars for a shorter period. Because there’s little point in building a car that lasts long. If the engine is going to be worn down by all the ethanol.

Kiki is saying she’s watching Daniel Juergen’s commanding Heights. Now she finished watching Juergen’s commanding Heights and now she’s watching oil series of the prize. It’s so interesting. I’m not seeing that I’ve seen commanding Heights, but I’ve not seen the prize. I should check it out again. 

All right. Thank you very much guys, for joining and I will see you in our next seminar next week. Take care. Thanks.