Monday, February 28, 2022

Don't Trust Yourself, Food Edition

Perhaps the most fundamental take-away from Robert Wright's books - The Moral Animal and Why Buddhism Is True - is that we are not meant to see the world as it really is. We are only meant to see the world in ways that allowed our eons-long, unbroken string of ancestors get their genes into the next generation.

But not only does our evolutionary programming divert us from how the world really is, it actively harms us in our current environment. 

An obvious and oft-made example is calories. For unimaginable billions of years, our ancestors - going back to single-celled organisms - operated under conditions of caloric deprivation. The ones who propagated their genes to the next generation were those that outcompeted their brethren for limited food.

Of course, that is not the case now. We now live with unimaginable caloric surplus (even those of us who limit ourselves to non-animal foods). 

But the situation is far worse than "more food." Decades of food scientists have developed products that trigger drug-like highs and cravings. Cookies, donuts, tater tots, sugary drinks, cheesy pizza, greasy burgers - these are all products that take our evolutionary programming and turn our reactions to 11

We are, of course, rationalizing rather than rational animals. We interpret a desire for these foods as justified hunger, we underestimate how much we're actually consuming, and we focus on the short-term pleasure rather than the long-term implications. 

But the situation is, sadly, even worse than that! More tomorrow.

You would think I would put in a picture of food, wouldn't you?

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