Monday, June 29, 2009

Fear Factor

There is an intense pleasure that comes with eating your favorite foods or even a comfort-factor that accompanies the smell/flavor sensations that enrapture one's body when they are able to munch their favorite consumables. In a sense, there is something stemming even back to this idea of the mother's breast and a feeling of intense surrender when you have something delicious to eat.

I think this is precisely a big factor as to why knowledge about food is feared, in a way. What if someone told you that the milk you suckled from your mother's bosom had been tainted with all sorts of harmful chemicals? What if your favorite cereal, it turns out, is made from wheat that is laced with pesticides and the strawberries you've consumed for years were carcinogenic (strawberries you associate with brilliantly bright wonderful summery days in fields near where you grew up)? Would you want to know this information or would it be 'too scary' and would you be inclined to shy away/deny it?

Often, I think, in regards to food, the old cliche holds true: ignorance is bliss. It is a mechanism for defending one's own comfort and safety. If you don't know, honestly, that the Doritos are made with 17 different chemicals that cause neurological damage (this is a fabrication, by the way) or if you choose to deny yourself that knowledge, then you can continue to consume them and continue to feel the same comfort from them that you always have. It's battered wife syndrome, in a sense--how could something that gave you so much joy and positive feeling be so bad for you? Pretend it's not true. Pretend it didn't happen. Pretend you never learned that it was bad.

People make the choice to stifle their epistemological gainings, most especially when it comes to the realm of food. More importantly, nutritional knowledge has turned itself (through the intricate and deliberate workings of a strange FDA/USDA labeling system and marketing ploys of corporations, lobbyists) into a knowledge game that seems accessible only to those that devote an incredible amount of time and study to it. Nutritional Knowledge has, these days, become elusive in the minds of many and it is therefore too 'overwhelming' or daunting to even consider trying to understand, according to the average American. Much like, oh, Philosophy. Neuroscience. Islam. But the sad fact about this idea of the complexity of knowledge is that it is a sham and something created, not the truth, about food. Eating well and feeding your body nutritional things is a very basic science that anyone can (and, let's be honest, probably does) understand--it's our denial of this and the complications of a food system gone completely awry that push it to a place of inaccessibility.

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