1.16.2014

It's delicious because it's good for you.

We've all been tricked! Our biology has been hijacked and it's causing us so many problems. When modern, industrial food processing and preparation came along and everyone started buying TV dinners and everything in a can, our taste buds could no longer be trusted. Before this, when there was only local food access, nobody had to worry about whether or not something tasty was good or bad for you. If you were a hunter/gatherer and you found something oily, sweet, or salty, it was a godsend! Precious dense nutrients!

We evolved to think salt, sugar, and fat taste good because, in nature, those substances are the best sources of energy to fuel our body, and they're hard to come by. (There's an entire book by this title. I haven't read it but the concept sticks with me.)

But now, foods that are salty, sweet, and fatty are addictive and we see them everywhere in our culture--and they make us unhealthy.

I started thinking about this a lot earlier because I heard somebody on the radio say the simple sentence, "Bacon tastes so good, but the fat is so bad for you." Which I know is not necessarily true (note this article, this article. But I wondered how we've gotten to a point in the world where we all think that nothing that tastes really really good can also be good for your body. How have we gotten to this place?

It used to be, tasty foods were healthy


This wasn't always how it was. In the wilderness, things that are poisonous tend to taste really awful. Why? So that we don't eat them! Fruit tastes sweet so that we will eat it, spread the seeds around, and help them pass on their genes. And it has some nutritional value to us, particularly if we're hunting and gathering and need fast energy. Our biology recognizes sweetness as a marker that a food has a lot of valuable energy for us. The same is true with fat, which gives us stable energy. And salt, which contains vital nutrients.

Case in point? Bacon. It's delicious, fatty, and salty. And if you were a hungry early human, you would really need healthy saturated pork fat to thrive! Think about the Eskimo diet of blubber. If we need food, bacon is a great source of healthy fat. (Read this for more).
From my IG: Real bacon from a healthy hog, homemade from our hog share

The trick of tasty food


So, how did we end up getting the situation completely flipped around? It turns out that the industrialization of our food systems has had a bigger consequence than any of us normally imagine. It's not just the pesticides, the preservatives, or the political agendas. It's the fact that we have a system with the fundamental goal not of making the best quality food, but of making the largest amount of the best tasting food possible for the cheapest amount of money. For a large part, food suppliers don't have any incentive to care whether or not their apples are mealy or their tomatoes brown. They have no reason to care about feeding antibiotics, hormones and low quality food to their livestock. As long as the cow gets big, and they can kill it before it's too sick to die on its own, they can cut it up and sell the meat just the same.

The entire structure of our food system, as a planet, since the first chemical pesticide was sprayed on a potato plant has been completely reversed--to the point where everything tasty, instead of being a marker of natural nutrient density, is immediately suspect. We've forgotten that there's a big difference between the wild/cultivated plants and animals that our ancestors used to eat and those exact same species today. And when we combine salt, sugar, and fat in processed foods, they become hyper-palatable and addictive (trust me, I know--I'm halfway through a 21-Day Sugar Detox right now!).

Real food is delicious


Bacon is not the enemy. It's delicious because it's good for you if you're a hungry human in need of fuel. Luckily, the same is true of all real, unprocessed food sources. Real food wins!

1 comment:

  1. I think about this all of the time! Thanks for this post

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