Why we eat what we eat
Most people have either genetic or adapted reactions to certain foods, limiting what they can comfortably eat without side effects like bloating, dizziness, etc. Add the chemical footprint of 200 years of industry and a worldwide background of environmental contamination emerges, drastically limiting what people are willing to eat. At the same time, we are supposed to think that there is not enough farm land for everyone – however, the main issue is discordance between humans and nature, a lack of traditional knowledge, and a low amount of truth in scientific inquiry.
By interacting harmoniously with nature the ways humans relate to it are broadened and amplified. We know from genetic studies that humans are Great Apes, a class of primates that eat primarily fruit and vegetation, but have adaptations for consuming meat, including their teeth and digestive tract. Humans, especially, have characteristics that indicate a high degree of hunting and strategy, such as bipedalism, visual acuity, a large cerebral cortex, cultures, and technological development. Humans first emerged in sub-Saharan Africa at least 200,000 years ago, when the region likely had significantly more biomass than today due to the increased levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and higher groundwater levels. Not only were these tropical forests home to a large fraction of the naturally edible fruits in the world, but home to many other species of animals.
Imagine how it must feel foraging fruits on a sunny day in the tropics – warm, peaceful, and fruitful. But most jungles are dangerous and filled with hungry animals. There are really no ways to live in harmony with ravenous carnivores other than to hunt or die for them. It seems that some animals were able to be domesticated but, aside from dogs and cats, the vast majority of them are pasture animals like cows, sheep, and goats.
Based on the low percentage of meat that constitutes the diet of tropical apes, meat could be their vitamin supplement while caloric intake is primarily vegetal. In many ape hierarchies, only a few males need to be virile, and they mate with all females; therefore, the fact that alpha and beta males are the consumers of organ meats (the richest vitamin sources) supports the above theory.
Since the tropics in which humans originated began losing fertility, and humans began to migrate to less temperate regions, the human diet shifted significantly towards high fat, protein-based diets with plant supplementation; these types of diets are animal-based and rely on mass production of muscle meat, primarily. For most of human history, food security was the main survival pressure, and now since so many people are reliant on industrialized food sources, a significantly greater portion of males are virile. Through pollution, poor agricultural practice, and irresponsible commerce, not necessarily population overload or overcrowding, that diet is starting to fail the environment and those who choose to live off the land.
There is no profit in conventional agriculture. The only way money flows is because government subsidies create false wealth. Crops can be grown from seeds or wild cuttings (many common weeds are actually potent herbs); most modern crops have been significantly diminished from their wild type, made palatable rather than nutritious. Farmers are mainly encouraged to grow the same few crops – which fails social and economic dynamics and the idea of culture. Simple permaculture systems exist that can be applied on each individual’s cropland to give them a pivotal role in the community, increase the health and quality of the environment and resources, and provide economic growth by minimizing waste and turning it into a resource for another system.
No matter what diet anyone follows, supporting fast food and other unhealthy options trades away one’s own empowerment for sense affirmation and convenience. A small collection of tools can be applied to food production to create a large array of preparations. Traditional cooking, fermentation, and curing practices can be used to preserve yields without adding mutagenic antibiotics to our food supply. Low input irrigation systems can be built vertically to provide herbs, spices, and vegetables while operating in a more efficient space than large farms.
Of course, digital, knowledge-based resources, such as the internet, not exist that enable rediscovery of rare sources of vitamins and minerals, and development of new ways to cultivate and process those sources. For instance, blue-green algae (a photosynthetic bacterium) can be grown and taken as a supplement for fatty acids and vitamins, used as fertilizer, or even converted into biofuel. Perhaps one way of mitigating damage from harmful algal blooms will be to set up sustainable harvests of wild algae before overpopulation and the stress of nutrient depletion causes the blooms to become toxic.
Each human has the ability to make sovereign choices that improves their life. In the pursuit of health and happiness, it can be valuable experience to try to develop the skills and tools they need – on their own or as a team – rather than to wait for them to become available through the market. Technology in the market is usually at least ten or twenty years behind the point at which it was needed. Using innately human characteristics like communication and creativity – logos – helps keep bringing novelty to the world, and allows for continued growth as a species.