Thursday, October 31, 2013

The Blueprint of Our Food Choices for Life

Have you ever wondered what shapes our food preferences? We develop tastes for different cuisines as we travel around the world or emigrate. But quite often, what really satiates most of us is still what we grew up eating? So what is it that makes it so hard to act truly Roman in Rome when it comes to food? Who created this almost indelible blueprint and when?

"Flavors in mother's milk begin to shape a baby's later food preferences." These preferences become imprinted during what is called the "sensitive period" or "critical period" -- a period that lasts for two to three months after an infant is weaned off of mother's milk. What the baby is fed during this sensitive period and what it sees others eating is practically immune to erasure!*

Wow. So scientific research reveals that our food preferences are implanted in us long before we can choose what we put in our mouth. Thinking about it, this is Nature's way of making us extinction-proof. Who, other than one's own mother, knows how to best ensure an infant's survival? After all, what to eat (and how to get it) is the most vital information an offspring inherits from its parent - across all species.

Eureka! Now we understand our downward spiral into a heavily meat, dairy, and processed-food-dependent generation over the last 50 or so years, ever since America was sold to corporations and 'canned' and 'convenience' foods flooded the supermarkets. Our mothers, having eaten these 'foods' all their lives, are progressively passing on these taste preferences to us despite having our best interests in their minds and hearts!

I cannot say about you, but this fact startled me. I wondered if this imprinting was universal in human infants? For me it was. At times I still craved my 'native food' even as I had been raw vegan for a few months before I read this piece. Then a vegetarian coworker casually mentioned her two year old almost spit when she ate an egg (yes, egg is NOT vegetarian). Then more examples emerged, as I looked for them...

So how does this increased understanding help us? For one, it has helped me to be kinder to myself whenever I crave my native food -- now I know my body just wants me to survive =). But more importantly, it has helped me to be compassionate to folks around me who, earlier, had simply appeared to be slaves to their unconscientious, eco-destructive, and detrimental-to-health food choices. Human will power against Nature's hardwiring isn't a fair game.

But this is exactly where wisdom comes in. We cannot use an imprinting passed on to us by Nature as an excuse to produce a sicker and ephemeral progeny. We cannot continue to submit to what is engineered to be delicious and craved for but wrecks 360-degree havoc. We have to step out of this guise to regain what we've lost in the last half century -- our health and environment. Being the highest evolved form of life known so far, this is our time to be socially - and morally - responsible.

*Deeply indebted to Victoria Boutenko for her masterpiece -- "12 Steps to Raw Foods: How to End Your Dependency on Cooked Foods." This book is where I first read about the blueprinting of our food choices.

No comments:

Post a Comment