In a recent review of the commercial food industry, Michael Moss provides an enlightening history of the degree to which prevalent dietary tastes have been and continue to be manipulated. The argument is a circular one. Science is used to promote a very narrow view of our culinary options, based as it is on increasing the volume consumed of salt, sugar, and fat. Impressive techniques make use of biochemical knowledge and marketing analysis to elicit cravings for certain foods and to eat more of them. The problem is, they chose poor items for such a plan from a health standpoint. Large quantities of salt, sugar, and fat bring severe consequences. A large laundry list of chronic diseases thus vex modern society: diabetes, overweight, heart disease, ischemia and other vascular problems. Metabolic conditions that can promote tumor growth and other dangerous conditions are also affected.
The problem is two-fold. First, maximization of some kinds of food items could be a good thing if the result was a good diet, but that is not what we have. A cursory review of the kinds of foods that are increasingly mentioned in scientific literature as promoting good health, many people have never heard of. In all the wars that have been fought over food, all of the marketing efforts and promotional plans, there simply has been a poor record of success in searching out what is both pleasing and nutritious. The point isn't what people can't have if they are to improve their health and have better lifestyles. Rather, people need to know what they have been missing.
For example, we hear a lot about taste, but many of us do not know about "upregulation". What is that? It is the positive effect of food on our various systems, waking them up and making them function better. This includes genetic and cellular upregulation, which are exciting prospects. Some of this you can actually feel.
Second, each of us do not necessarily need the same kinds of food. each of us has a very different digestive system, what scientists refer to as our "microbiota". Complexity abounds in this process. The fact is, without comprehensive available information backing our decisions, each of us is guessing about what we eat and what our loved ones and associates should and should not consume. We know little about food possibilities and even less about our digestive profiles. We need deep knowledge of these things so that we can make intelligent choices. We need many of the answers given to us once we have provided our general preferences.
Thus, grocery shopping should be more targeted. With ongoing monitoring and interpreting of health conditions coupled with available options, we could be much better off. By combining rich knowledge of food prospects and availability, using the trees and the deep context they allow for, we could match these with the complex digestive and taste requirements of each of us. Such a program would bring substantially improved health results and allow for economies of scale in support of little known agricultural and food products as they thus enter the mainstream.
This opens the door to exciting possibilities for joint venture between 2020 Vision organizations and food marketers. By making use of fluidity, universal design, and "Internet of things" technologies, the selection, purchase, and preparation of food could be integrated in highly effective, functional ways. Deep context could thus penetrate into all aspects of household food consumption, making it easier and more interesting for people to change their lifestyles and enjoy improved health.
Indeed, we are all missing out on the "good stuff" and what it could do for us.