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A History of Flavor

Hi there!  I hope you’re having a great weekend so far!
I recently started reading the book The Food Babe Way by Vani Hari.  I think there are some mixed opinions about her, basically because she isn’t licensed or certified in anything in the health/nutrition/science field (nor is she claiming to be), but I personally like her.  I find her to be a great resource for learning more about the different additives and preservatives in our food supply.  All those ingredients on the label that no one can pronounce?  Well if you’re like me, you’ve wondered time and time again “What IS that? And what does it do?”  She gives a lot of those answers.  I also appreciate her activism in putting the pressure on restaurants and Big Food companies to use better and safer ingredients.  So scientist or not, she’s making a difference.  While her book is geared toward making changes for weight loss, which is not why I purchased it, but that info I look to her for regarding ingredients, there’s quite a bit in there.  So it hasn’t disappointed yet.  You can get a lot more of that information from her website.
Anyway, while I was reading, it made me think how sad it is what the last few hundred years have done to the food supply.  There’s a quote that says “If your great great grandmother wouldn’t recognize it as food, don’t eat it.”  It’s pretty valid if you ask me.  I mean, take a look at our grocery shelves.  This didn’t exist back then.  Have you ever wondered when our food actually changed?  What prompted it?  What did people used to eat?  Why was there less chronic illness long ago?
This was one of the first lessons I learned at NTA, and I found it really interesting.
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  • 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.
Things stayed that way for a really long time.
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  • 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.

So think about it.  We, the human species, have been around for thousands of years, eating food from nature MOST of that time.  Then over the last century or so, where food processing has become basically the new norm, disease rates and obesity have skyrocketed.  Might it be because in the grand scheme of time, we have not evolved to be able to handle the highly processed foods and toxins of our modern diet?
We could then go back to our discussion on Pottenger’s cats and wonder…if this damage that’s being done to all of us from these processed foods is being passed on and worsened with each generation…is this the beginning of what evolving to this stuff looks like?
Food for thought I suppose.
Truthfully, in my opinion, I think people are slowly starting to get it. They are starting to wonder “why am I still having to take this medicine? Why can’t I prevent my symptoms from happening in the first place?” With all this nutrition information coming to light, like “oh hey, fats aren’t so scary!”, and people/activists like The Food Babe pushing for making changes in a healthful way, it will spread the message that we need to care about what is being put in our food and what’s being done to it.  Sticking to real food is, of course, always your best bet.
In good health,
Michelle

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