Why do we eat what we eat?

There is no doubt that in the whole process of things food is a big player in the green or not green world. It isn’t easy to work out precisely what is greener than what, so I think we all need to make up our own minds about what we eat in the best way we can. For example, people say meat is not very green, but if pigs and chickens are eating the food that would otherwise be wasted in the food production, supply and use business, then they are surely quite green?

For me cows are not so green, but goats are, so I drink goat’s milk and have goat’s butter and now I prefer them, goat and sheep cheese too. Are sheep OK? Well, you can’t  grow a lot on the South Downs but grass (which is why there are not many trees) so cutting the grass with sheep teeth seems more green than tractor mowers!

A lot of people turn their noses up on goat products, the smell they say, which now I drink goat’s milk all the time is not obvious to me, though when it goes off it gets a bit whiffy. But I was reading this science book about human senses and it struck me they had an explanation for things about our eating ‘preferences’ that we should think about more carefully.

It’s been known for a long time that after we are born we have to learn how to see things. That means, the ‘camera’ is not fully set to take pictures, it has to learn from what it is picking up. The same with sounds, which is why we learn the sounds of our own language and why we don’t find it easy to learn other languages which have very different sounds, we don’t even ‘hear’ what people are saying. (This is a good reason to play speech and singing of other languages to babies, at least up to 9 months, they will learn languages more easily later in life).

But the scientists also think we learn smells, and this got me thinking about preferences and how we are getting too many people overweight.

Most older people grew up with the smells of cooking in the kitchen, real cooking, raw meat smells, raw veg smells, frying, baking and so on. Now, if babies live in a world of only ready meals, they won’t get those smells so later in life they won’t like them maybe? This seems to be very worrying. A real vicious circle, where each generation loses people with interest and liking of real food.

I think it also explains why we like what we cook, for those of us who still cook. It brings back the smell memories of childhood. But of course if we don’t have those smell memories then we won’t like what we cook.

This suggests we really need to get parent’s with new born babies to be cooking at home, making their own soups, making their own bread. If we believe in reskilling, then we have to be reskilling for the sake of the true learning of what is good in food, and that means getting to the next generation from month 1!

What do you think?

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