We all believe we know the answer to this simple question and think it’s funny to even ask it. As with most things in life, it has become clear to me that human beings have been having a hard time answering this simple question for well over 2 generations already.
Why is it so important?
We all know food is fun, food is party and food is part of every celebration these days and every social event but we also used to remember that food is what feeds our body with energy; and the right energy makes us strong as the wrong energy makes us weak. We also heard, throughout generations of scholars, that the right food can help us get healthier, protect us against sickness and bacteria, whereas the wrong food can make us sick and hurt our immune system. I happen to think it is closely tied up to this energy thing I mentioned but that is only my logic.
When we were just another animal wandering this big earth, we did what every animal did when it needed to decide if something is edible – we probed it, we smelled it, we examined it closely and used our logic and our instincts to determine if it should be consumed. If you look even at domestic animals these days, they still do all that to determine what to eat.
With time, humans have learned to set aside their animal instincts and they uprooted themselves from nature as they stopped deciding for themselves what to eat. They entrusted much of their primitive decision-making process to experts in various fields which were anointed by them to make these decisions for them. For the last 50 years or more, we waited for governments, doctors, dietitians and industrial food makers to decide for us what to eat. Is it possible we made a mistake?
It’s easier this way
Our world has changed a lot in the last 50 years. The world of humans moves about 50 times faster than it did a 100 years ago. The world has become materialistic and people are supposed to make complex decisions with everything just flying around in all directions. You cannot expect a mother raising three children having to have finished 10 hours of work in a successful software company to come home and start making a homemade dinner for her three children. It is much more logical and easy for her to call the nearest pizzeria and order a delicious pizza which will be at her doorstep in 10 minutes and her kids will have a feast eating. So, what’s wrong with that?
The food industrial revolution
What we can identify as the food industrial revolution started more than 50 years ago. Our fear of starvation and the need for a more convenient way of life, made this industry grow to amazing proportions in less than 50 years. What we failed to notice is that in less than 50 years of food industrialization, more than 4000 chemicals were slowly added to our food with no real testing or supervision and no long-term trials were ever conducted to determine how these 4000 chemicals are even affecting our bodies for the long run. Moreover, chemicals were also introduced to develop better crops which now feed us and the animals we eat.
More than two decades and many more sick people later, evidence is being presented that our amazing industrial food is making us sick and even killing us. It is no surprise that the industrial food suppliers are fighting this evidence, no matter how significant it is, investing billions of dollars they now can easily spare, to make us think there is nothing wrong with their products.
Prof. Barbara Corkey (@bcorkey)
What can you do?
Now we can get back to the simplest question we started with, what is food? Well, given the evidence that is already there, I would say that real food has no list of ingredients to consider. There is no list of ingredients on a tomato or on lettuce or on a piece of steak. It is the simplest way to start minding what I eat but not a complete solution because, as I mentioned earlier, synthetic food now grows in our gardens and we have no way today to identify it, no country laws that help us and ask people to label it.
For now, start with the basics. Use this simple rule when you eat, food has no list of ingredients on it, that’s all.
Science today can say exactly what happens when we eat this “food which is not food”, the produced food. The damage is being done to our cells. I did not get into the science on this post and tried to keep it simple. The internet is there, open to all and you can read more about it by searching on Google. I am also hoping that with time, countries will start labeling synthetic foods and additives like sugar in fruits and other “organic foods”. But for now, make your energy cleaner for a healthier and longer life.