Our Food Has Changed
Our food has become hollowed out. Millions of years of evolutionary pressures have cultivated very particular tastes we have for what we put in our mouth, and for a long time (from about 200,000 B.C. until the 1950’s) this was all fine and well since these preferences corresponded to nutritional qualities that were advantagous to us.
However, the problem since then is that we solved our problem. Calories have stopped being a scarce resource and the nature of our nutritional problem has shifted from one of scarcity to one of abundance. The industrial process has solved one of our longest standing dilemmas (getting enough food to survive) but has left a very peculiar one in its place……how to handle yourself in an age of too much when every neuron in your brain is subconsciously working on the assumption that you won’t have enough.
Social Habits and Taste
The problem extends beyond our neurobiology. Our social habits have wrapped around our age-old food dilemma, and most social norms are still embedded on the assumption that calories and good taste are scarce resources that need to be celebrated. They’re not.
From chauvinistic postering among men about the size of steak they eat, to conscientious mothers insisting their kids eat everything that’s on their plate, almost all of our social attitudes contribute to the overwhelming tide of “too much.” These attitudes are great when there’s not very much food. But food is everywhere, and our rules of thumb are lagging behind that reality, to dangerous results.
Because the typical characteristics we yearn for in food no longer represent the nutritional characteristics we need to keep ourselves nourished. The food we eat today excels at displaying a particular texture, mouth-feel, and taste that we’ve been trained to crave, but the challenge of delivering those characteristics to as many people as possible has caused the unseen effects of food to do a complete 180. The underlying nutrients that provided the observable effects we love have been replaced with hollow filler that serves a purpose opposite of what we need food to do for us. It’s imaginary food. On the surface it has every characteristic we instinctively want, but on the inside it’s completely lacking the substance needed to perform the functions real food does for our bodies.
The connection between taste and well being has been completely severed.