Monday, June 03, 2013

A pregnancy that men should also avoid. Yes, men, too!

Way back, when young, once when I was experimenting in the kitchen, I wondered what could happen if I added a couple of drops of vanilla essence to the coffee that was being "filtered" in the traditional south Indian approach.

Both my mother and grandmother had the same reaction: "why does this coffee taste like Bournvita? Did you add that to the coffee?"  Good thing I didn't get smacked for messing with the holy coffee that was a religious experience every single time it was consumed!  One aunt of mine was very particular about her 3:00 pm coffee service.  

I was, thus, not really surprised to learn later on that there were food technologists.  A classmate's brother was a scientist whose job was the create via chemicals the natural flavors.  It didn't seem crazy then, but as an adult, the thought ingesting chemicals has always worried me. Worries me a lot.  My roommate in graduate school, Avu, would mix himself a glass of Nesquik chocolate milk and refer to that sarcastically as his "chemical breakfast."

It is bizarre that scientists and technologists work hard to bring us stuff that doesn't seem to be all that constructive.  They build weapons that can kill. Cigarettes and alcohol.  And food. The breakdown the process in which our bodies "think" of food and then successfully manipulate our biochemistry.    
[If] you end up with a food baby, a distended stomach caused by excessive overeating, you’ve made a fast-food executive somewhere very happy.
If your grandmothers were like mine, they would have advised you to eat slowly.  Not too sloooooowly like how a cousin of mine at, but slowly.  That is exactly what the food industries technologists do not want us to do:
The holy grail of junk-food science is vanishing caloric density, where the food melts in your mouth so quickly that the brain is fooled into thinking it’s hardly consuming any calories at all, so it just keeps snacking.
If they could convince us to intake calories before the brain has processed that information, then we end up with a food baby.  

My strategy has been a simple one: I avoid a whole lot of aisles in the market.  I bypass them.  I spend a great deal of time where the fruits and vegetables are.  I didn't know I was contributing to the cookie aisle problem:
consumers shun a particular aisle in the store, such as the one containing the cookies, because there is too great a risk they would buy-and-binge
I told a friend the other day that she should make sure to go to the grocery store only after meals, and not when hungry.  "Why?" she asked.  Because when hungry, our brain picks up all the wrong signals.  Now, I can add this: we then end up with a food baby.  

If only the food science people can put their energy and expertise into teaching our brains good things, right? Science, unfortunately, has always been a double-edged sword!

Make yourself a lentil salad. No chemicals that will fool your brain. You will eat slowly giving the brain the time to measure the calories coming in.  

You will then not carry a food baby. 

You can make the food company executives unhappy.

And, yes, you can experiment away in the kitchen!


Ramesh said...

Hey - what have you got against the food industry ????? Everything we eat is chemicals - why is "naturally occurring" chemical any better than artificially introduced chemical.

There are umpteen instances of so called natural food not being good for you either. Frozen peas are actually demonstrably better for you than fresh peas. Iodized salt is better than natural salt in many countries. Mangoes are much better when plucked and ripened in hay rather than being allowed to ripen on the tree and fall to the ground. Many scientifically produced rice strains have better calorific value than "natural rice". Pasteurized milk is better than drinking from the cow's teats. Shall I go on ......... :)

Sure , avoid the cookie and chips aisles, but without the food industry, man would be starving. That's not an exaggeration. But for the efforts of the great Normal Borlaug, India would have been a starving nation for a lot longer.

You put vanilla drops into filter coffee ?????? Next time I see you, I'll cuff you on the head for that :)

Sriram Khé said...

Looks like it was a coffee-deprived Ramesh who wrote this rant, er, comment ;)

What you write about is exactly what I meant as science and technology being a double-edged sword. Borlaug's Green Revolution that you write about is an example of the awesome things that we can do with science. I have nothing against it, and have always been highly, highly appreciative of that.

Unfortunately, there are other food technologists who systematically work to come up with the next best way to slip food into us so fast that before our brains understand it, kaboom, we have added pounds of lard and the "food baby" is born. It is this breed of food scientists and technologists who use that other edge of that double-edged sword!

Get yourself some coffee, dude ;)

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