- Starting at the beginning of time, thousands of years ago, there were hunter-gatherers. They ate whatever was found in nature. Sometimes that meant not eating meat for days or weeks at a time if nothing was found, so they lived off of whatever plants were available.
- Then came the Agricultural Revolution. This was the beginning of gardening and harvesting. People figured out that it was easier to grow their own food than constantly go searching for it, allowing them to have a more constant supply of food. It was also very beneficial for communities who wanted to grow because it could feed and nourish more people.
- Then around the year 1600, so only roughly 400 years ago, refined sugar was introduced. Now this sugar was not thrown into everything like it is today. It was treasured. Only the very wealthy could afford it. Back then, the ones who could afford it only consumed maybe 8 teaspoons of the stuff per YEAR. Unfortunately dental care was lacking at that time too so the teeth of the consumers would eventually rot. However, interestingly enough, the less wealthy folk (who didn’t have any sugar and had beautiful teeth) saw this as something to envy. They would put dark clay over their teeth to resemble the rotting teeth of the wealthy…similar to how today, we might try to copy something of a celebrity. Crazy!
- Next came the Industrial Revolution in the 1800s. This was a huge advancement in food processing because this was the beginning of advanced mechanization. This changed our food. We went from being people who hunted and gathered and then cultivated, but still the food was always natural and properly prepared. Now during this time, we became people who can mechanize that process. This really changed the general diet because while, yes, it allowed more people to be fed, the food was being completely adulterated.
- Shortly after the Industrial Revolution, in the 1900s, the Food Giants came about. Companies like Nestle, Kellogg’s, and Kraft were born. They figured out that they can mass produce and package foods for purchase. So foods like cereals, packaged bread, and processed juices were being sold everywhere. This began to change the flavor of the modern diet.
- Finally, World War II came. This was another biggie in the changes of food. During and after WWII, it became necessary for us to help our allies overseas whose agricultural land was damaged in the war. However, since the food traveled by boat, much of it was spoiled by the time it got there. So a solution had to be developed to keep the food from spoiling. Enter: hydrogenated oils and high fructose corn syrup. Things like this gave us the ability to store vegetable oils to replace butter that couldn’t be refrigerated.
While all of this came about from good intentions, it ended up doing more harm than good over time in terms of health as a society…probably because these methods and new foods weren’t tested. Their effects would be unknown.