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GMOs, Porn, and Other Dinner Conversations


Once upon a time, people ate food.  Someone prepared it and people ate it.  That was the extent to which food was contemplated in the national consciousness.  Food wasn’t a topic of conversation; it was breakfast, lunch, or dinner, nothing more.  I know that many of you are too young to remember those days, but it’s really true.  Ask your parents or your grandparents if you don’t believe me.

food glorious foodNowadays, and in the span of the most recent twenty years, food has risen to national prominence where more time is spent talking, reading, and writing about it than actually eating it.   We are no longer consuming food; we’re being consumed by it!  While Facebook may be the most popular Internet site for keeping in touch with friends, and pornography sites may be the most visited (however briefly), food is far and away the most discussed item on the web.  Suddenly, a whole new language has become attached to food, blinking into existence and becoming common knowledge so quickly that Darwinism is fast becoming a laughing matter.  Evolution, my butt; just say superfood six times without faltering, and everyone in the world will simultaneously know exactly what it means!  Why is it that that words like anti-oxidants, free radicals, carotenoids, flavonoids, and resveratrol flow mellifluously from the tongues of the common man when they were once reserved for those scholars who studied nutrition exhaustively? And those aren’t even the tough ones!  Try this actual sentence on for size: Glucosinolates are thioethers.   Please don’t say it six times without faltering, or the conversations tomorrow around the water coolers in tens of millions of offices are going to sound incredibly weird!  Yet, for all that, there’ll be a clear understanding of the indispensible value of glucosinolates and other thioethers in the diet, and new recipes that provide gargantuan amounts of them will emerge with the rapidity of a comet blazing across the sky.   Before too long, anyone will be able to download the latest addition to the series, Thioethers for Dummies, and the obsession continues.

Were it to start and end with new verbiage and magical dissemination, that would be fine.  Unfortunately, it goes well beyond just that.  These days, the subject of food has deteriorated into a frenzy of shouting matches between the diverse factions of nutritionists, health experts, and grass-roots naturalists because the number of diet choices available to people actually outnumber the world’s population, and they’re all clamoring to be heard and followed, as though seeking the title of Undisputed Healthiest Meal Choice and that really gaudy belt that accompanies it.  The endless variations of low fat, low carb, low protein, paleo, MCT only, HCG, organic, wheat-free, radical-free, blood type, DNA type, alkaline/acid balance, low sodium, and countless others are dizzying, filling millions of computer screens with information about how their diet is better than anyone else’s and, with militant tonality, demand compliance to their assertions.  “You will eat it, and you will like it!”

If memory serves, conversation around the dinner table used to be about what a liar President Nixon was, how evil the Establishment was in trying to squelch Daniel Ellsberg’s findings, the Kennedy assassination conspiracy, and how well we were doing in Vietnam against Ho Chi Minh.  Nowadays, assuming the family unit is actually gathered around the dinner table at the same time (and what are the odds?), the conversation is about the latest app, the funniest YouTube video, and food: how bad GMOs are and how lobbyists protect those corporations responsible; the surreptitious insertion of high fructose corn syrup into just about everything; how many obese people personally known were today diagnosed with Type-2 diabetes; the bastardization of wheat.   Or maybe the Nixon, Ellsberg, Vietnam talks are all imagined memories when the real discussion also revolved around food back in the seventies.  I can’t be sure; I’ve eaten so many GMOs that I may be suffering from mild hallucinations brought about by the changes to my blood chemistry.

Yes… once upon a time, people ate food, talked about other things, and lived happily ever after.  These days… not so much.

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