More About Food

2 Sep

Ever eat something just so you can STOP thinking about eating it?

This happens any time I buy two of any food item with the intention of eating one later.  You would think that having the one item would satisfy your craving for that particular taste for the moment, but for me, that second one starts to taunt me.

“I guess you don’t have what it takes to take me down, too.”

Wait, huh?

“You heard me. Come on, let’s tangle.”

I thought I bought you because I enjoy eating you.

“Oh no, this is a challenge now. Enjoying it is no longer relevant.”

I’m now engaged in a blood feud with a donut.

Earlier this week I watched an episode of “Man vs. Food Nation,” and, reflecting on that, as well as my visit to the Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating contest in July, makes me wonder if this feeling has become a societal thing, and might be a psychological necessity bred from affluence.

Humans evolved as hunter-gatherers. We had to conquer nature in order to survive, and that often meant stalking, chasing, and killing animals that were often stronger and faster than us, relying on our cunning and evolved use of tools. Being able to eat was in and of itself a reward for proving one’s worth in evolution’s arena. If you ate, it meant you were a bad ass.

But, as our technological prowess grew, we subdued nature further so that we could now raise flora and fauna in pens and make breed animals dumb enough to willingly walk into the slaughter house. We even got to the point where we could synthesize and process raw matter to the point where we barely need nature for food anyway. So, for any American with money, you can get a plate of food with as much effort as it takes to hand over a piece of paper or plastic.

There’s where we find the problem. We still have the hunter-gatherer instinct in our genes, but now we grow up without the opponent we expect and crave, just a pile of food rendered inanimate long before it even gets to us.

So the solution to the problem? We find ways to use the inanimate food to test our limits in another way, to turn the food into our silent, taunting, delicious enemy. That’s where the appeal of something like “Man vs. Food” or competitive eating contests come from: we have lost our ability to actually kill our food, so we decide to just change the dynamic and see if we can keep the food from killing us. Our victory is the ability to survive an onslaught of chewing and swallowing without vomiting or submitting to one’s own feelings of fullness, which is, of course, a feeling of WEAKNESS. Defeat means being so full it’s just as painful as starvation.

That, to me, is an amazing example of human ingenuity: our ability to take anything we enjoy and find a way to turn it into pain. No matter how good we are at creating, we our AWESOME at destroying.

If there’s another thing we love as Americans, it’s taking things to both extremes, so maybe we could make the whole concept more entertaining if we tried to put both extremes together, i.e. competitive fasting followed by competitive eating.

“Tonight on Man vs. Food vs. Man, we’ve got 10 men who haven’t eaten in 10 days, and now they have 10 minutes to eat 100 corn dogs. Let’s see who wins, who dies from shock to their system, and who passes out from weakness before they even get to the table! Then, after they’re done, we have 10 more men come in who have 10 minutes to eat the corpses!”

That’s called being efficient with resources!


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