Agriculture Reference
In-Depth Information
by cooking and reducing the number of raw foods. Raw food always takes more time
to digest and to get feelings of satiety and the necessary nutrients; cooking requires less
time for chewing and digesting food. The second phase in human evolution was the slow
development of collecting and cooking more and more sophisticated types of grasses,
leaves, herbs and other plants. This gradual transformation of humans' diet started
approximately 50,000 years BC, by pastoralists, who also succeeded in living together
with animals, later domesticated animals, moving from one fertile area to another. Great
transformations happened in the Neolithic era with the transformation of pastoral into
agricultural life, the third phase. These transformations implied that still more time
could be spent on other activities than searching for and digesting food. Wrangham
writes: “thanks to cooking, we save ourselves around four hours of chewing time per
day” (2009, 142). The last transformation coincided with the rise of the industrialization
of agriculture and the huge reduction of the number of peasants, which started in indus-
trializing England in the eighteenth century. This reduction meant that the majority of
the working population could do work other than farming—indeed was forced to do so.
This evolution reveals one of the main ethical paradoxes of food:  Humans have
become humans due to the continuing reduction of food processing time (time-saving
cooking mechanisms), and this enables them to be severed from food (production), to
forget about food (production) and to degrade food (production). The evolutionary
advantages to reduction of food collecting, producing, and digesting time, produce also
the risk that people became alienated from food and become subordinated to corpo-
rate production of food. In the end, people no longer know what to buy and what they
eat—but of course they must eat. Alienation is the core word here; it derives from the
gap between food production and food consumption; this gap is the starting point of
most ethical approaches. This gap is illustrated by the predominance and diffusion of
the “fast-food” system, in which profits are high and costs increasingly focus on pro-
duction efficiency—here not meaning sustainability, but profitability—along with food
advertisements and marketing strategies. Fast-food chains require continual expansion
of production, which in turn means that consumers have to eat for companies to make
a profit—at least, that is their idea. Higher yields, more intensive use of nature and more
consumption is the logic of the system.
There is a second level to this paradox: due to the easy digestibility of cooked food,
we think that we can eat without limit. Humans are constantly cheated by both their
bodies (senses) and the sciences. Senses do not signal the number of calories that are
digested—for example, they suggest that in drinking we do not digest many calo-
ries—and the food sciences are, until recently, misleading in measuring uniform units
of calories, independent of what form the food is eaten (digested). The consequences
are overweight and obesity, which imply higher risks of diseases and a shorter lifespan
(Patel 2008) [On nutrition generally, see Sahn, this volume; Gaiha et al, this volume;
Kotwal and Ramaswami, this volume].
This evolution from nomads to pastoralists to peasants to farmers to
consumers-citizens severed from the land—in the wealthy parts of the globe—results
not from a natural law (McHughen, this volume). Rather, the path can be changed or
Search WWH ::

Custom Search