The Problems With Abundance
As some of you know, I recently started a twice-monthly column for The Washington Post's Food section on the politics and policy of food. Today's outing focuses on the problems -- and the current, crude, solutions -- to abundance:
Archaeologists say the modern human originated in East Africa about 200,000 years ago. For the next 199,950 years or so, this intrepid organism spent most of its time trying to avert the devastating consequences of insufficient food and drink. Various strategies were developed and employed. Evolution. Civilization. War. Agriculture. The exchange of round bits of metal and rectangular pieces of paper. Drive-through windows.
Over the past 50 years, however, some privileged humans have been faced with a largely novel problem: the consequences of too much food and drink. For a while, the primary impact seemed to be extra lumps of flesh, which had their downsides so far as mating went but, overall, weren't too bad. But in recent years, the problem has become much worse. In particular, the modern, privileged human has developed such chronic ailments as diabetes and heart disease. Unlike acute starvation, these diseases kill slowly, painfully and, above all, expensively.
The rest of the piece focuses on food taxes and calorie labeling, which seem to be the solutions du jour but are probably still insufficient to the scale of the problem. Give it a read.
July 15, 2009; 11:50 AM ET
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