A Viking Legacy and Australian Cuisine

A perspective piece I wrote for the Solutions Journal has now been published.

In his book Collapse, Jared Diamond provides us a chilling historical anecdote of the Greenland Vikings: faced with an increasingly harsh climate in the early fifteenth century, a large swath of the population died out from starvation. Greenland Inuit, however, continued to live during this period. Unlike the Vikings, they harbored no cultural taboo restricting them from eating fish, which remained abundant as the climate became too cold for the grazing herds maintained by Vikings.

In very much the same way, cultural preferences in Australia, concurrent with changes in climate, may limit local capacity to maximize long-term prosperity. So-called heritage preferences livestock—that is, cattle and sheep—are resource-intensive species. With increasing anthropogenic climate change, the cost of this investment may prove too much to sustain Australian populations, just as natural changes in climate proved too much for Greenland Vikings.

Read more here.


4 thoughts on “A Viking Legacy and Australian Cuisine

  1. Great article. I have read Jared Diamond’s book and I thought it was very good. It does seem crazy that people would starve to death rather than change their eating preferences. What were they [Vikings] thinking?

    I think insects will play an increasing role in the human diet as well but this will probably be an even bigger cultural hurdle to overcome.


    1. Thanks Rachel. I agree, at least in the sense of it. I was in central China in April and saw a number of fried insects for sale… I thought about it, especially after all I tried while there. But still it was too much.

      That said, I think if I was hungry enough… for now, however, hopefully we can build some market for camel and goat at least 😉


  2. That’s interesting. I remember seeing back in the 90’s that someone was making patties out of worms. Having to get over a phobia of mushrooms (family history, plus learning about the biology of fungi prior to eating them), even hidden, it was an act of will to get used to it.

    But, not impossible.


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