In a recent post that touches on food and religious evangelism and the folly of demanding adherence to the one true way, John Michael Greer writes:
“At the root of these and a great many more dysfunctional attitudes is the notion that the mind is superior to the body and ought to tell the body what to do, on the basis of some abstract and arbitrary set of rules, and that the body will be fine if it just shuts up and does as it’s told. That’s where you get the pervasive notion that perfect health and happiness can be yours if only you follow some rigidly defined set of rules, which are always supposed to apply to all human beings everywhere…
…and which ultimately never work as advertised.”
It’s possible that people look to food rules in an effort to exercise some bit of control over lives increasingly given over to the demands of others and the cultural imperative to act and be and express oneself in whatever is currently fashionable. We might not do the work we want to do, or have the depth of experience or the intimacy we crave, but we can surely decide what we will and will not eat.
Too, there is something quasi-religious about food rules, in that they provide adherents with an ethical framework, perhaps even a sense of superiority over those who have not seen the light.
But as Greer points out, the body will out, which is why we have sex scandals and vegans sneaking out for late-night cheeseburgers.
One can’t reason the body into conformity with the intellect. But one can always feel superior to the food rules of yesteryear. I am old enough to recall a time when coconut oil was not considered a healthy food to consume. When I mentioned this recently to a customer at the cafe, he (literally) rolled his eyes at the preciousness of earlier generations.
And yet, there is an entire branch of the dietary evangelical tree that is home to all kinds of twittering about eating like our paleolithic ancestors. So apparently not all previous generations are to be pitied for their ignorance (and otherwise ignored.) Only, apparently, the more recent ones.