Eco-collapse? Maybe not. Maybe worse…

It’s like the story people used to tell about Tang, a sad, flat synthetic orange juice that NASA invented for astronauts in space. If you know what real orange juice tastes like, Tang is no achievement. But if you are on a 50-year voyage, if you lose the memory of real orange juice, then gradually, you begin to think Tang is delicious.

via What Happened On Easter Island — A New (Even Scarier) Scenario : Krulwich Wonders… : NPR.

The above quote from today’s NPR story about Easter Islanders resonated with me. I have conversations all the time with people who want to argue with me about industrial food vs. what I call actual food. The discussion almost always devolves into the person I’m talking to defending their preference for chemically processed, artificial, pseudo-food with, “But it’s delicious.”

Is it? I used to eat Snickers bars a lot. Like, at least one a day, sometimes two. I loved them. I thought they were the most amazing confection anyone had ever created. Salty, sweet, crunchy, chocolately, gooey… perfect. When I started to realize that the reason I was fat and unwell was almost entirely because of what I was eating one of the first things I did was ban Snickers from my life. I also realized though that a life deprived of treats was probably not going to work for long. So, I sought out better treats. Instead of mass-produced chocolate-like candy bars I started treating myself with small batch dark chocolates. I also rediscovered my childhood love of apples and raisins.

And I can see the people reading this shaking their heads (because this is the conversation I have over and over again with friends, family and co-workers), and saying, “You’re justifying your choices retroactively and fooling yourself into thinking raisins are as yummy as a candy bar.” But the thing is, I’m not. Once I stopped eating pseudo-food I found I couldn’t eat it. The last few times I’ve grabbed a Snickers and taken a bite it tasted like plastic to me. I’ve had the same experience with fast food hamburgers, sodas and all sorts of things I used to eat that people around me consume all the time.

If you don’t eat real food you aren’t accustomed to the taste or the texture. You’re used to plastic food. But if you leave the plastic food behind long enough and reacquaint yourself with real food your tastebuds readjust. Subtle flavors and natural textures become preferable.

Try this out – next time you find yourself reaching for some synthetic fake food, imagine you’re an Easter Islander reaching for a nice piece of rat. They ended up not having a choice. You do.

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