Where were the dietitians and nutritionists when I was a boy? Where was my mother supposed to learn what to feed us? How were we to avoid starvation or obesity or T2 Diabetes? Who was supposed to instruct the food manufacturers how to make and preserve balanced, nutritious industrial-quantity foods?
Dear Lord, how were we to survive and thrive?
But we did thrive. All around the world, for thousands upon thousands of years, we found and ate what we needed for body and brain. For the most part we got it right, or else we would have died out long ago. And guess what; there were no Associations of Dietitians to tell us what to select for dinner!
There was no manufactured food in the village where we lived, in the hills, in Burma, in the 1940s. I doubt there ever had been. Nobody was starving. Nobody was overweight in any noticeable sense. The population was generally healthy, and ate fresh food: meat, fish and fowl, rice and vegetables, milk products and herbs, all grown, gathered, butchered, fermented or ground by themselves.
In later years, when we lived in what was South-West Africa, now Namibia, the people were healthy, sustained by the foods they grew or herded or collected. Manufactured foods were not really part of the scene. By the early 1950s we had moved to the north of old Northern Rhodesia, now Zambia, where again the commonly eaten foods were locally grown, herded, harvested, butchered and collected from the land. Canned foods, from South Africa, USA or UK eventually became widely available, brought in by entrepreneurs and traders, mostly for the occupants of the mining towns. However, fresh local produce dominated most people’s diet.
So now, why do we have Registered Dietitians today? Why are people eating strange things, made by machines belonging to other people, mostly far away from where we live? And why have we spawned vast populations of billions of people, only for world-wide food-related ailments to make us sick? Why has the “well-fed look” become the mark of someone who could die early?
Maybe some of the answers lie in Mankind’s bite from that Biblical apple, that mythical choice “To eat of the fruit of the tree of knowledge”.
We have come down a different mental path compared to other living beings. We have developed a mind that seeks to learn things in a different way, not in the way of other animals who are almost totally programmed and loaded by nature and creation. Therefore we experiment, sometimes with good results, and sometimes with bad outcomes which are not immediately apparent.
Long ago, we learned to bend Nature a little, and began to modify wheat-like plants, to grow and harvest and process them, thereby making a big leap into eating carbohydrates in quantities not found in nature before. Also, we have learned to exploit other people, to the extent of luring someone into eating something so we can make money. We have learned to make food-like substances, and we train certain people to teach other people to eat those substances, all to make money.
So here we are, facing a two-pronged outcome. Firstly, our population has expanded exponentially because of the energy provided by our food inventions, but secondly, the long-term result of eating those foods is to damage to our metabolic system. So now we have a huge population which is steadily succumbing to “modern” diseases and disabilities. And we have Dietitians and Industrial Food and Industrial Pharmaceuticals and Doctors out of their depth. It wasn’t like that when I was a boy. I think we have to unlearn some of the rubbish we have accepted from so-called food experts over the last 40-50 years.