Thursday, August 17, 2006

Do we know what to eat?

The topic might look like an attempt by me, to try to cash into the multi billion-dollar diet and healthcare industry. Now when my thoughts wander, they wander real far... Now that when I come to think, I mean it in a real basic sense, not about how many calories, what calorific value each component which in essence means, Carbohydrates, fats, amino acids and stuff present to you! Its even not about whether your food has enough fibers (as good as eating a carpet?) or whether your coffee is decaffeinated (now that brings me to the question, if all the caffeine is already removed, then why the hell you call it coffee?)

My thought, which I am right now pondering on, is, where did human beings know what to eat and what not to eat?

Its so easy today, you go into a hotel, you order for a chicken sandwich, or a Big Mac.... You know what all goes into it... Or you walk into your nearest Chinese restaurant, order some snakes (Sorry wrong example), chicken sandwich... In essence who decided that only Chinese will eat snakes, no one else will even try em?

If you actually think of it the prawns that we eat as a delicacy comes from the same phylum (that is a differentiation used in taxonomy) as spiders!, they all are arthropoda or rather phylum arthropoda, which in essence means they all have common characteristics.

Phylum Arthropoda consists of animals with exoskeleton (hardened exterior) that have segmented bodies and jointed appendages. The segments are fused to form body parts. The first part is the head, followed by thorax and the hind part is abdomen. There are appendages on these segments, which are specialized to perform specific functions such as walking, jumping, eating and lots of other activities. They have in them something else called classes..., which are even greater subdivision, wherein the class we eat are called the crustaceans (now the big question... did we classify only those guys who we eat as crustaceans?) why not the arachnids? They are the spideys of the world... So did we classify them so as we don't eat em? Or else visibly all are having same external identical classification.

Now I have gone too much into science and my old plus two biology lessons!

The question still remains... who decided what we do eat and what we don't? We could have learned a lot from observation, as in seeing what the animals eat and what they don't... but then the bigger confusing question, how did animals get to know that some fruits are poisonous? Even though they are nice in smell and taste? Many argue that the same is because they see other animals die after eating that particular fruit that they stop it... but as far as the diet and social organization of any animal goes, it is very difficult to say that it wouldn't have had at least 20 varieties of fruits before it has returned back to its resting place... But there is also a valid reason here, as it is seen they are keen observers... If you actually put em in a new habitat, I am sure the deaths in the initial few generations will be high due to new fruits and vegetables which they have never seen!

As to us human beings, now we don't even know where all the knowledge of what all we can eat has come from, as it is passed on from generation to generation, when a kid eats his first meal from his mother he knows what is good for him, or what he can eat! That is also the reason, what we eat is so culture specific... Chinese and snakes, Indian no cows, and Americans... Well that is something to debate... I don't think they have anything that they don't eat! (More so... as they are a mixed culture, and do not have a rich heritage of cuisine)

Some of the Indian dishes and Chinese dishes are at least 5000 years old... so it is not very easy to know who found it out first!

So... Still the wandering thought remains... why don't I eat flavored paper? It is easy to chew... has lot of fibers and cellulose (now that is one thing only monkeys can digest, we have long given up on cellulose... our appendix is vestigial organ rather in common English "useless Organ"). So why not? Might be that is why it became vestigial or is it because It is vestigial organ that I don't eat paper? Cows regularly are seen to do so... don't know whether they like the taste or not!
So I wander along.... just one thought to share with all you guys, next time when you have some tasty item of food in your hand, and you are just going to gulp it down... just think for a second... who would have first decided that it was something good to eat... or who would have collectively and after long trials declared that it was good?


AK said...

Food for thought eh? :)

nitin aggarwal said...

After a long time,I come back to your blog and read it.while i was reading it,I felt that I am reading some biological article.I congratulate you for including those facts about the creatures.
But your blog left some questions unanswered which are raised by you only.
You were talking about animals who died of eating poisonous fruits and then their younger generation come to know that those fruits are not fit for eating.
What is your comment on the question that how monkey come to know that he has to be vegetarian and flash is not fit for him?How dog knows that he can eat both plants and flash.Why a cow will get ready to die but not eat flash?She can also get adapted to eat flash in adverse conditions.
I am accepting answers from you in your next blog.
"Do we know what to eat?Part-2"
I hope you will publish this for me.


John Bhai said...

When I start eating two things only usually come to my mind.

1. How to sustain the supply of food for living in Future....!

2. How to enjoy eating the food

Rest others are meaningless to me......

neways good job...

John Bhai said...

Good Job. Since am a big failure in Biology, I could not understand the scince of your post.

If am taking food, two things will come to my mind.

1. How to sustain eating food for living in Future !
2. How to enjoy eating the food infront of me.

Rest others are meaningless to me.

Anonymous said...

Hey buddy stopped blogng, I thnk u shud continue it, it was gud reading, am not an ardent reader of blogs, sme of ur thoughts are really gud

Keep bloggng....


Anonymous said...

i think it is genitical (evolution blah..blah)

some Ruskie ( i cant remember the name) did some experiment where he gave a dog a chunk of meat with a bell ringing. then the dog started salivating just when the bell rings even with out meat.

eventhough the above mentioned example maynot look very much related to the topic you were discussing, all i meant to say was that every thing related to eating habits are genitical.

chineese are eating snake, we are not, despite genitically same is coz may be we are both are in different directions as far evolution is considered.