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An Introduction to the Philosophy of Food

Food Experts

Americans highly esteem the role of food experts while the French and Italians do not. It's possibly because of different ways to regard the evaluation of a food.

Is there a truth when it comes to judgments about food? On the one hand, my tasting experience is different from yours and completely subjective. On the other, an expert can challenge a reviewer's opinions about a wine or a restaurant.

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An Introduction to the Philosophy of Food

An Introduction to the Philosophy of Food

https://www.thoughtco.com/philosophy-of-food-2670489

thoughtco.com

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Key Ideas

Philosophy of food

Philosophy of food is found on the idea that food is a mirror.

Eating reflects the making of a self - the many decisions and circumstances that lead us to eat the way we do. Philosophy of food mirrors on the ethical, political, social, artistic, identity-defining aspects of food. It makes us think and reflect on our diets and eating habits.

Food as a Relation

Food is a relation to organism and circumstance.

  • Food is bound to vary from moment to moment. Coffee and pasty are a fine breakfast or afternoon snack. Yet, most of us won't enjoy it for dinner.
  • Circumstances are bound to involve contradictory principles. You may buy only organic food, but on vacation, you crave burgers and fries.

Therefore, any given food relation is the mirror of an eater, and it represents the eater's needs, habits, convictions, deliberations, and compromises.

Food Ethics

Ethical convictions can shape our diets.* Would you eat a cat or a horse? Why or why not?* Your reasons are likely rooted in ethical principles, such as feeling outraged that someone can do such a thing.

Vegetarians conform to a particular diet to prevent unjustified violence being done to animals.

Food as Art

Food as art has spurred heated debates. Some argue that food is a minor art at best for three reasons:

  • Foods are short-lived in comparison to, for instance, long-lasting art carved out of marble.
  • Food is intrinsically linked to a practical purpose - nourishment.
  • Food depends on its material constitution that is different from music, painting, or sculpture.

At best, cooks can be very good artisans and can be paired with fancy hairdressers or skilled gardeners.

Food Experts

Americans highly esteem the role of food experts while the French and Italians do not. It's possibly because of different ways to regard the evaluation of a food.

Is there a truth when it comes to judgments about food? On the one hand, my tasting experience is different from yours and completely subjective. On the other, an expert can challenge a reviewer's opinions about a wine or a restaurant.

Food Science

Most foods at the supermarket carry on their labels "nutritional facts." We use it to guide how we eat.

But what do those numbers have to do with what we put in our stomachs? We don't really know the rules regarding metabolism or understand the implications of the funding of studies on nutritional facts.

Food Politics

Some concerns for political philosophy include:

  • The challenges that food consumption poses to the environment. For example, factory farming produces more pollution than airfare travel.
  • Food trades, such as coffee, tea, and chocolate, raise issues of fairness and equity in the global market.
  • Food production, distribution, and retail is an opportunity to talk about the condition of workers across the globe.

Food and Self-Understanding

A refusal to consider eating habits in a meaningful manner is similar to a lack of self-understanding or authenticity.

Since self-understanding and authenticity are some of the chief aims of philosophical inquiry, food is a key to philosophical insight. The philosophy of food is then the pursuit of an authentic diet.

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Understanding how long food lasts
Understanding how long food lasts

Should humanity face a nuclear apocalypse of worldwide war, we need to understand which foods might be safe for survivors to eat, and how long the foods will last.

To understand this, we ne...

Why foods go bad

Most foods spoil because of the growth of microbes. Preserving food is an attempt to limit microbial growth. Food can be preserved by drying, salting, chilling, or storing in air-tight containers.

  • Drying is the most effective because microbial growth is inhibited.
  • Salting is effective because it removes moisture, creating an environment where microbes cannot survive.
  • Sugar coating can prevent bacterial cells from functioning correctly.
  • Storing in air-tight containers is less effective because there are probably a lot of microbes on the food before you put it in the container. Some microbes are anaerobic, meaning they don't need oxygen.
Food preservatives

Preservatives are used in foods to extend their shelf lives. One of McDonald's Big Mac in Iceland is an example of a long-lasting processed food. It has been on display since 2009, in a glass box. Preservatives that has been discontinued by McDonald's are:

  • calcium propionate that prevents mold growth on bread.
  • sorbic acid that also inhibits mold from cheese
  • sodium benzoate, which inhibits the growth of bacteria in the Big Mac special sauce.

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One of the reasons why Stoicism is enjoying a revival today is that it gives concrete answers to moral questions.
Aristotle gave us an alternative conception of happiness

It cannot be acquired by pleasurable experiences but only by identifying and realizing our own potential, moral and creative, in our specific environments, with our particular family, friends and colleagues, and helping others to do so. 

Nihilism

Nihilism is a thought process that argues that all aspects of life lack a specific meaningful essence.

Apart from life, Nihilism rejects meaning in beliefs, value structures, state power, or...

The Origins of Nihilism
  • Nihilism originated during 300 B.C.E. where certain discussions by the Buddha related to our actions having no meaning or consequences in this world.
  • The Greek statesman Demosthenes also contributed to its origins.
  • The modern understanding of nihilism is associated with Friedrich Nietzsche, who said all aspects of life are subjective, not objective, also adding that this belief will lead to the destruction of all value structures.
Types of Nihilism

  1. Moral Nihilism says true morality does not exist, and that good or bad actions are not different by the law of nature, but only by our understanding.
  2. Existential Nihilism says all goals, aspirations, influences and actions ultimately become meaningless.
  3. Metaphysical Nihilism tells us that the physical world is an illusion, and our senses just manipulated sensations and signals going into our brain.
  4. Political Nihilism goes against all kinds of political establishments and government laws.

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The Mediterranean Diet

The diet is abundant in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes and olive oil. 

It features fish and poultry—lean sources of protein—over red meat. 

Red win...

Research suggests these benefits:
  • Improved weight loss
  • Better control of blood glucose (sugar) levels
  • Reduced risk of depression
  • Associated with reduced levels of inflammation, a risk factor for heart attack, stroke and Alzheimer’s disease
How to change over to a Mediterranean Diet

Start small. Follow the strategies below, and make it a habit.

  1. Switch up your oil to extra-virgin olive oil, which is rich in monounsaturated fatty acids. Drizzle it on finished dishes like fish or chicken to boost flavor.
  2. Eat More fatty fish like salmon, sardines, and mackerel. 
  3. Eat veggies all day long.
  4. Phase in "real" whole grains that are still in their “whole” form and haven’t been refined.
  5. Snack on nuts, like almonds, cashews, or pistachios. 
  6. Enjoy Fruit for dessert. Also keep fresh fruit visible at home to snack on.
  7. Sip (a little) wine.
  8. Instead of gobbling your meal in front of the TV, slow down and sit down at the table with your family and friends to savor what you’re eating.
Back to The Simple Life
Back to The Simple Life

Due to an increasingly complicated and hyper-connected world, a lot of people are revisiting and paying attention to the concept of a simple life.

From Buddha to Socrates and contemporaries l...

Simple Was Boring

In many prosperous, capitalist societies where consumerism, big pharma and supermarket culture is rampant, leading a quiet, simple life is considered boring.

Big Brands continue to persuade everyone to aspire for more and most people fall for that. 

Benefits of Simple Living
  • Millennials are showing interest in simple living, in pre-consumerist and pre-industrial ways.
  • It seems like a moral way to live and it makes you into a better person.
  • The struggle of living simple and frugal builds up new skill-sets, a certain independence and better health of the mind and body, by being close to nature.

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Best foods don’t have labels
Best foods don’t have labels

Because they are just one ingredient: avocado, lentils, blueberries, broccoli, almonds, etc.

There is no "best diet"

The “best” diet is a theme: an emphasis on vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans, lentils, nuts, seeds, and plain water for thirst. 

That can be with or without seafood; with or without dairy; with or without eggs; with or without some meat; high or low in total fat.

The "Age" of vegetables
The best vegetables are likely to be fresh and locally sourced, but flash frozen is nearly as good (as freezing delays aging). Those “fresh” vegetables that spend a long time in storage or transit are probably the least nutritious.

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Ultra-Processed Foods

Ultra-processed foods like white bread, cereal, chips, and wafers are remarkably common, convenient, affordable, extremely profitable for the makers, come in strong flavors and are aggressively ma...

Our Everyday Foods

We consume ultra-processed foods every day without even realizing it.

  • The morning cereal and flavored yogurt.
  • The savory snacks and sweet baked goods.
  • The vegan hotdog and the chicken nuggets available on the street.
  • The doughnut or the premium protein bar we buy as a snack.
  • The carton-packed almond milk put in our coffee or the diet coke we have.
Apart from obesity, ultra-processed foods are responsible for depression, asthma, heart disease, gastrointestinal disorders, and even cancer.
More Light On Ultra-Processed Foods

Most cooked foods can be termed as 'processed foods', but ultra-processed foods are in a different domain, with few people having the clarity to differentiate.

A cooked carrot is processed food, but a bag of industrially-produced, carrot-flavored veggie puffs are ultra-processed and are still aimed at toddlers as a portion of natural food. Other examples include frozen peas or pasteurized milk.

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Pros of the Mediterranean Diet
Pros of the Mediterranean Diet
  • General Nutrition. It encourages a variety of nutrient-dense foods.
  • Heart Health. It is associated with reduced risk of coronary heart disease, heart attack and...
Cons of the Mediterranean Diet
  • Cost. Some consumers do worry about the cost of including fish regularly.
  • Additional Guidance May Be Necessary for Diabetes. Because there is an emphasis on grains, fruits, and vegetables (including starchy vegetables), meals may be high in carbohydrates.
  • Restrictions May Feel Challenging. This diet recommends reducing red meat and added sugar consumption.
  • Concerns About Alcohol Intake. Some experts raise concerns about regular alcohol intake (particularly wine).
How we perceive philosophy
How we perceive philosophy

When most people think of philosophy, they believe philosophers simply argue about arguing. Philosophy is viewed as impractical and irrelevant to current issues.

In...

Bertrand Russell
Bertrand Russell

"Science is what you know. Philosophy is what you don’t know."

Defining philosophy

Philosophy is examining our understanding of reality and knowledge. Philosophy consists of three major branches:

  1. Metaphysics - What is true about existence.
  2. Epistemology - How we can know that it is true. Epistemology has given us science, logic/reason, economics, psychology, and other theories of knowledge.
  3. Ethics - What actions we should take as a result of this knowledge. Ethics contains concepts such as democracy, human rights, the treatment of animals, and the environment.

When you order your thoughts into a coherent belief system, you are engaging in philosophy. To criticize philosophy, you must rely on philosophy.

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