Food Now -
Is food more
nutritious than a thousand years ago? To answer this
intriguing question, we must first journey back through time
and find out just what, exactly, they ate during this
In 1,000 B.C. the dietary regimen of most civilizations were
quite basic, and devoid of all the excess trimmings which we
associate with later cuisines. The staples of the day were
fresh nuts, fruits, cheeses and meats, as well as breads.
Salts and other seasonings were used sparingly, and mostly
for brining. Sugar, lard and other sparse necessities were
the building blocks and foundation of the average diet at
that time. There was not a wholly intricate integration of
food items in complex dishes established as yet at this
One of the problems
facing food preparers back then was the ability to sustain
the freshness of the foods they required to prepare their
dishes. Brining was used to pickle certain meats and fruits
were dried and preserved with salted cures, but one couldn't
just walk out the door and go to the nearest grocer to
procure items for easy preparation. Therefore, foods had to
be simply kept and prepared.
But in the 1890's, with the advent of modernized refining,
also known as 'stripping' or 'bleaching', of foods in the
American diet, the life expectancy of preserved foods
increased. Unfortunately, so did the risk of heart disease,
with the first recorded 'heart attack' occurring in 1912.
Since then, the rate of heart disease and obesity has
climbed in conjunction with increased consumption of refined
However, cultures who don't draw the majority of their foods
from heavily processed reserves, even with an abundance of
fats and oils in their diets, still maintain lower heart
disease and obesity rates; the French and Italians being
prime examples. Also note that the Japanese, with their
basic and simplistic eating habits, do not incur such rates
either, maintaining perhaps the lowest mortality rates from
cardiovascular diseases than any other country in the world.
And despite the burgeoning increase in American diets
strictly created to oppose the perceived root of obesity,
the amounts of fat in the American diet, America still
remains one of the nations with the largest obesity and
heart disease mortality rates in the world.
Another problem in the preserving and refining of modern
foods is that certain and toxic components begin to build up
and refuse to break down in the body's digestive system.
With very little means of being removed from the body's
internal processes, such elements become rancid and begin
interfering with certain biological mechanics.
Yet, as the modern advent of heavily processed and longer
preserved foods began, the typical life expectancy of the
average American also began to increase, and such life
expectancies are still some of the highest in the world,
despite the severe increase in damaging food products heavy
in saturated fats, trans-fats and carbohydrates.
In effect, seeking the nutritional merits of food today vs.
food back in the day, falls suspect to a multitudinous
number of variables that move beyond the actual basic
nutritional components of the very foods falling under
examination themselves. While today's food manufacturers are
required to implement a certain number of nutritional
additives to make up for the general stripping of such
nutritional material by all the heavy processing involved in
today's food manufacture, a blanket statement determining
today's food to be nutritionally inferior to the food
products of a thousand years ago simply cannot be sustained
with any reasonable amount of veracity.
In conclusion, perhaps the real question isn't whether or
not today's food is more nutritious... perhaps the real
question is whether or not proper education can make up for
any food's inherent lack of nutritional merit. Going back to
the Forbidden Fruit in the Garden of Eden, Mankind's choices
of what and what not to eat may very easily affect the
longevity of his own life.
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