Our culture of consumption

As never before in human history the modern world provides the danger not of deficit but of a toxic surplus, pleasure traps set for the unwary. We sleepwalk unconscious and unprotected through this battle zone of high calorie minefields, designed only to entice us to our doom. Our choice is either to actively become aware of and evade this danger or passively become a victim of it. Modern food is quite amazingly calorie dense, much higher than is usually found in nature and if eating is unrestrained the painfully obese results on health quickly become obvious.

The human organism evolved and is designed for an environment the polar opposite of developed countries today, that of a scarcity of both food for the body and distraction for the mind. The body’s responses to changes in food intake seem designed to frustrate our desires: it preferentially loses muscle mass rather than fat during a calorie deficit and will gain fat rather than muscle during a surplus. We may find this mechanism inconvenient today but during times of real deprivation and hunger it kept our ancestors alive.

[perfectpullquote align=”full” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]We willingly bury our wit and sensibility under a mountain of foodstuffs, extinguishing both cells and psyche, dampening the natural amplitude of life experience with a false and desperate fulfillment.[/perfectpullquote]

When the senses are smothered by overeating every perception has to arise through a layer of lethargy, every feeling is dampened by sensual weight as if one’s vitality were sinking to a mass in the gut. The choice to continue eating beyond the body’s physical requirements is the choice of death over life in a sense psychological and even quite literal. We are compelled daily to bite into food that sooner or later bites us back.

Insight as art and science