There are three main topics that I will discuss as we proceed throughout this blog. The first topic is sensory perception, which answers our questions of what we can perceive about foods, along with how we perceive these properties of foods, as well as what are the reasons why we choose certain foods over others. Therefore, one’s sensory perception of foods determines whether one likes the food product or not, hence affecting one’s food choices dramatically. These varying sensory perceptions give reason as to why people prefer to eat certain foods instead of others. The second topic is food values, which tell us about the food product’s safety, configuration, stability, accessibility, sustainability, and enjoyment. Humans are evolutionarily programmed to like foods that have these properties. The third topic is nutritional properties, these properties are affected by processing, considering processing lowers the nutritional value of a food product. Nutritional properties are overall affected by the many molecules interacting in the food, as well as the preparation method for that food product. Overall, these nutritional properties influence one’s health. This influence on health can be negative or positive it just depends on what type of food one is consuming. These nutritional properties of food products are very important to our society due to them having a great impact on the quality of our lives along with the longevity of our lives.
Considering the world’s population has grown to be over 7 billion people, it is a great challenge to the global agricultural enterprise to feed that many people nutritionally superior and safe food (“Population Clock”). The agriculture business is very efficient in that they are able to feed the world’s population, as well as attempting to keep the environment up to par by conserving energy and water in the production of food products.
Chemistry was the one most important tool of the 20th century, because it assisted in the industrialization of the agricultural businesses. The scientific principle of being able to separate the components of a food product and identify those components was what allowed the food business to become industrialized. Being able to separate one part of a food product from another allowed for foods to be more pure, and more uniform. By taking apart the components of a food product, one is able to study the components as separate elements; therefore one can be able to predict what will happen when we put the components all back together. The advancement of chemistry in the agricultural business allowed scientists to be able to separate the components of raw materials to determine what exactly the food consisted of. There were three main methods for separating food products: through phase changes (solid to liquid to gas), through their different boiling points, as well as through the density of the food components, taking into account a centrifuge can spin a food product until the different components are separated due to different densities of the components. In centrifugation the denser the food component is the lower in the test tube that component will appear, and the less dense the food component is the higher in the test tube that component will appear. An example of where this separation of food components allowed for new food products to be developed is when the separation of cream led to the formation of butter. The food business was not the only business that was industrialized during this century; many other businesses were industrialized as well.
The industrialization of mathematics allowed for huge databases to be developed that allowed for GPS to be invented, along with other great technologies that are very prevalent in the population now. Even the field of engineering was industrialized, taking into account the invention of the smart phone and other devices, along with the invention of more complex projects like the NASA space shuttle.
The 20th century is when the topic of nutrition really gained the public’s attention. Nutritionists took a molecular approach to looking at foods by utilizing the fault model. The fault model was where one has a complicated system and one takes one element out of the system, and if that one element was required in the system, the system would fail, likewise if that one element were required in the system they would put it back. Therefore, this is how they got rid of diseases due to nutrient deficiencies in the population. For instance, goiter was found out to be a simple iodine deficiency, hence different food products like salt had iodine added to it so the population would no longer suffer from such a disease. The nutrition scientists fortified foods that people eat on a daily basis to give them the nutrients necessary to prevent them from developing nutrient deficient diseases. For example, milk is fortified with Vitamin D, cereals are fortified with B vitamins, bread is fortified with folate, and soymilk is fortified with calcium (Rail). The nutrition scientist’s solution to how many nutrients they should be adding to the food products was solved with the fact that everyone will excrete their excess nutrients, allowing for them to simply overdose the population with nutrients. Although they could only do this for water-soluble nutrients, because these nutrients are not stored in the body and will leave the body with the water that leaves the body. They could not overdose the population with fat-soluble nutrients because fat-soluble nutrients are stored in the adipose/fat tissue, and can be stored in the body for up to 6 months. If the scientists were to overdose the population with these fat-soluble nutrients, this could cause deaths in the population due to an actual overdose. Due to the nutrition scientists being able to control the population’s consumption of many of the nutrients allowed for the longevity of the human lifespan to be increased three fold. Despite this opportunity to enjoy the best health in history and taking part in some of the longest lifetimes in history, most people are not taking advantage of this opportunity and are choosing the inferior lifestyle that will not allow one to enjoy these benefits. The reason why people are not living healthy lives for three times as long as they should be is because of the population’s poor diet that is leading to a rising obesity epidemic. This rising obesity epidemic is causing many diseases to become more prevalent throughout the population, such as diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, etc. In February of this year, it was calculated that 25.8 million children and adults have diabetes in the Unites States due to a poor diet (“Statistics About Diabetes”).
Evolution can teach us a lot about how foods developed, such as plants. Plants developed different poisons and repellants to deter any consumer of that plant. Plants evolved these effective strategies so they could live and not be eaten by others. There is always selective pressure from evolution on every population throughout history, which allowed for the specific evolution of those populations. The real world is a war; everything is just avoiding being eaten. Plants have even evolved to recruit humans into distributing their seeds, considering some fruits have seeds that pass through one’s body very quickly and are not digested; therefore this is a great advantage for the plant to allow the seeds to be distributed around the world allowing for proliferation of that plant species. Over time evolution has worked in our favor by getting rid of the unfavorable traits and preserving the favorable traits in a population, which is due to selective pressures in the environment. These selective pressures select for only the optimal characteristics of a population to be preserved, considering the organisms in the population with unfavorable characteristics will die out over time due to the lack of reproduction. Our senses, such as hearing smell and taste, tell us whether we like the environment and/or food product. Some mammals do not have to rely on their senses for consumption of food; they are simply instinctive eaters. Instinctive eaters just eat one food product, which supplies them with all of the nutrients they need to survive and be healthy. Some examples of instinctive eaters would include koalas who only eat eucalyptus, and panda bears who only eat bamboo.
Since humans are not instinctive eaters, we have to rely on our senses and knowledge of a food’s safety, nutritional value, along with many more properties to determine if that food is a good product to consume. Therefore, the responsibility of being able to determine what to eat is not innate but learned and measured in the human population. People want to minimize the chemical and microbial safety hazards in the food supply, as well as increase the convenience and affordability of the food products in the food supply. People also want to be able to ensure that the food they are consuming is stable and has good structure, since these aspects affect food quality, sensation, and safety. One of the main aspects of food that people need to more carefully analyze is the nutritional content. One should analyze the nutritional content of food products to ensure that they are consuming the essential nutrients that people cannot live without for a certain period of time. For example, if people do not consume the correct balance of nutritionally essential amino acids, they will immediately begin to break down their own body proteins. Breaking down one’s own body proteins is a catabolic cycle that cannot last for long before the organism dies. To accurately analyze the nutritional content of a food product, one must account for nutritional losses that occur in the food preparation/processing step, account for the nutrition label on that back of food products, as well as account for the nutritional guidelines for what the population should be consuming. The driving force for what food products we buy to consume should be based on the nutritional content of the foods, although in real life the driving force is almost purely based on how delicious a food is. It is based on how delicious the food is because no one in the population has to worry about nutrient deficiencies because that has been taken care of by the field of nutrition experts. Therefore, the food sellers compete with each other on the basis of how much their food product is enjoyed by the consumers. This caused there to be an outrageous amount of different brands and types of foods that are all very similar if not identical to one another to be in competition with one another to win over the vote of the consumers. Due to the population only caring about the deliciousness of the foods they consume, obesity has spread throughout the United States rapidly over the last 20 years like a disease. Obesity is more prevalent now than ever before, considering as the generations go by the children are following what their parents are eating and the crisis becomes more and more intense. Most people do not realize that even eating 100-200 calories excess daily can lead to obesity over the years. The percent of adults that are 20 years of age and over who are obese is 35.9% (“Obesity and Overweight”). Obesity at its core is a failure of prioritizing energy distribution among all of our tissues. Hence, our population needs to find a way to convince children to eat less and eat more healthy foods, so this energy distribution among their tissues will be at an optimum level. Also diets need to be personalized, considering everyone is different and everyone would like to use their bodies for different purposes, as well as everyone responds differently to nutrients. One would have to analyze one’s genome, which is influenced not only by one’s genotype and phenotype but also the environment. By sequencing and analyzing one’s genome, one could personalize a diet to their specific needs. Therefore, since one could be able to tell for example if one is a fast metabolizer then drinking 2-3 cups of coffee a day could lower their risk of developing cardiovascular disease, or if they are a slow metabolizer drinking more coffee could increase their risk of developing cardiovascular disease. Thus, by analyzing one’s genome one could figure out how their bodies work and respond to nutrients, therefore being able to personalize a diet specifically for that person. This would be optimum to do to decrease the prevalence of obesity in this country. Although, this is not yet practical due to the large cost of having your genome sequenced. Perhaps over time this process will become more efficient, allowing the costs to be decreased, and allowing the average public to utilize this process to become more healthy, and live longer lives.
“Obesity and Overweight.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 21 Nov. 2013. Web. 15 Mar. 2014.
“Population Clock.” Population Clock. US Department of Commerce, n.d. Web. 09 Mar. 2014.
Rail, Kevin. “List of Fortified Foods.” LIVESTRONG.COM. LIVESTRONG.COM, 13 Jan. 2014. Web. 09 Mar. 2014.
“Statistics About Diabetes: American Diabetes Association.” American Diabetes Association. American Diabetes Association, 12 Feb. 2014. Web. 15 Mar. 2014.