Food, Food Additive, or Frankenfood
Much of what we eat today is a mix of food, food additive, and frakenfood.
Written on 17 March, 2013 by Michaelsphere.
Riffing on last Sunday's New York Times Magazine article The Extraordinary Science of Addictive Junk Food, a colleague and I started up a group lunch conversation around the question:
What is food?
It made for a fun, engaging, pop-philosophical talk.
I loved it. People were actually thinking about food.
Admit it. You rarely really think about food. You crave it. You hunger for it. You have feelings about it. But do you really think about it?
Where does your food come from? How was it grown or raised? Who grew or raised it? Did they care (in a nurturing sense) about what they were growing or raising?
But I digress. Back to the question of our lunch conversation, "What is food?"
My position, at least for that conversation, was that food should be something that nature provides us. I was drawing on a food labeling suggestion floated by NYT Columnist Mark Bittman and the admonishment by Michael Pollen that real food is not a "novel product of food science."
I also asked if the living thing that food comes from, that original plant or animal that made it, should be able to reproduce in order to be called food. I wasn't necessarily committed to this criteria, but I thought it brought up an interesting question. Should the hybrid and GMO-laced fruits, veggies, and meats count as food if they are not sustainable in a reproductive sense?
Another camp took the position that food simply needs to provide its consumer with energy. I'm going to be generous and assume that by 'energy,' nutrition was the intended word.
Fast forward to a few days later. I was reading from "Frankenfood News" in the magazine "Heirloom Gardener" that the food industry makes a practice of diluting foods. For example, if you test olive oil, you'll sometimes find it's been mixed with much cheaper oils.
And then a thought popped into my mind. What if we classified what we eat as food, food additive, or frankenfood.
Food is what nature provides us for nourishment.
Food additives are added to food for various reasons (e.g. dilution, to make ingredients stick together, to preserve food so it can travel thousands of miles while still looking "fresh," etc.).
Frankenfood is food, but it's a monster version of food. It might harm the other plants or animals it reproduces with, making them sterile, for example.
Truth be told, much of what we eat today is a mix of food, food additive, and frakenfood. Little is actually pure food. Our refrigerators, cupboards, and grocery stores are filled with food diluted by additives and Frankenproducts that have us believing the food is bountiful.
But that bounty comes at a huge expense: our health, our land, and oftentimes the actual future viability of the living things that feed us.
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