The site uses cookies that you may not want. Continued use means acceptance. For more information see our privacy policy.

The Food and Beverage Network Issues

Arguing that the dietary epidemic hinges on the lack of role models for good diets and lifestyles.

There’s a lot of talk about food lately. The Corporation of Coca-Cola has admitted to supporting science that dictates we should all exercise a lot more.

Is it too much food? Not enough exercise? What’s a human to do?!

The sad thing is, it’s not really either one, really. It is, indirectly. Too much food and the wrong foods certainly deserve the lion’s share of blame. People should be more active, too. Exercise at any weight is important, and I’m among those who doesn’t get enough exercise.

But the real problem isn’t too much food, bad food, too little exercise. The real problem is the lack of acculturation to a healthy lifestyle. People take behavioral cues from those around them and from the media they see. In the case of media, watching a food eating contest doesn’t mean you’ll try to swallow a Buick’s worth of food. But it does mean that continuously seeing commercials for foods cue a mental response that makes you say, “Yes, that grease sandwich does look devourable, even though I ate recently.”

Moreover, nobody knows what a healthy lifestyle and diet look like anymore. Is it eating the culinary equivalent of pocket lint? I’m pretty suspicious that it just might.

Our primary cues for what to eat and how much of it to eat are from those around us. If you were raised by wolves (not saying you were, mind you, though you do have big eyes and big teeth, etc.) you would have learned a wolf diet. But if you went and lived with wolves for a few months (assuming they didn’t eat you), you would also likely adopt at least some of their dietary habits (quit gnawing that bone!).

Point is, if you go live with vegan granolites, you’ll tend to eat like them. If you join up with the Barbecuists, you’ll eat like them. But if you want to eat healthfully, whom do you join up with?

Think beer. If you know people who mostly drink Budweiser, you’re more likely to, too. If your friends and coworkers like more expensive beers, you probably do, too.

Scanning sites like Instagram and Pinterest for pictures of food won’t do much good. Even visiting a site like probably won’t help. Sites like that, meaning well and based on science, still fail to distill their wisdom into actionable behavioral changes.

Take their PDF, PDF: “Sample 2-Week Menus”, which gives recipes and nutritional information, and it is based off of recipes developed for low-income individuals. Given the know-how and the desire to make home-cooked food, resources like that and many others are useful. But it seems likely that if home cooking were particularly common, we wouldn’t have the food-related issues in the first place. If it is, then it’s a matter of mostly replacing bad recipes with good ones.

But it seems more likely that the dietary habits shy away from home-cooking in favor of processed foods and heat-and-serve options. That’s when people eat at home, versus fast food or composing meals of snack food and junk food entirely.

In any case, it seems reasonable to assume that the key feature of better diets is more exposure to better diets around you.

Eating the Future

Overview of some of the places the future of food may be heading.

It used to be that in the future we would all eat seaweed. So I hear, anyway, that was the grand prediction from popular science and the like in, say, the 1970s. I’ve still not eaten any seaweed.

These days we are seeing some new shifts in potential future foods. It’s important to note first that:

  1. Some other people do actually eat seaweed today
  2. Our diets have shifted even if not as radically as some past predictions suggested they would

Regarding [2], as an economy grows the people eat more animal flesh, for example. There’s also soda and other luxuries of the sort. But our diets have also changed without us changing them directly. Farming methods, crop selections, shipping methods, subsidies, regulations, and other factors have put different foods in our mouths without any change on our end.

One alternative to seaweed may be vat-grown animal flesh. Fake in the sense that it won’t be obtained through slaughter, it will be composed out of real animal cells, grown in vats in very different farms resembling labs more than anything to do with Old MacDonald

…And on that farm’s sanitized stainless steel work counter he had a centrifuge, with a whirrrrrrr here and a whirrrrrrr there, here a…

There was recently a non-event where some beta-quality lab burgers were served up. Of course, it will take time for acceptance of this food, and equally long to bring production quantity and quality forth.

Insects also have the buzz lately as a potential food source for our future. They’ve been eaten as long as humans have been around (both intentionally and unintentionally, of course).

The only real reason you aren’t eating bugs this very moment is that some people think they are gross. Go figure, when these same people may enjoy any number of foods you and I find downright horrid. Still, lots of people have stories about the time they tried chocolate covered ants or some such.

It seems likely that tiny creatures may crawl into our mouths in the future.

And Soylent, named after the film, Soylent Green. Actual Soylent is a so-called food substitute. Of course, it’s food, which does make a fine substitute for itself.

It’s a powder of various nutrients and so forth, meant to constitute a meal. It is mixed with water to produce a drinkable meal.

The basic idea comes from our pets which subsist on small pellets of homogeneous food without complaint for their whole lives. If they can do it, who could possibly think that human biology is so special to preclude an equivalent?

If made to cost very little, and be palatable, and safe to rely on, Soylent or something like it could do major damage to hunger, while improving efficiency.

It could theoretically help diminish obesity, food waste issues, and even ease losses from damaged crops (if they still contain respectable levels of extractable nutrients, but merely fall short on saleability) too.

Who knows where this product will end up, or others like it. As a side dish? As an ingredient in other preparations? The future of eating has many options.

The fast food connoisseur of the future’s order: “I’ll have a vat burger, medium french fried grasshoppers, and a Bloomberg* of Soyda**.”

* Bloomberg means the largest beverage size available.
** Soyda is a Soylent-based soda substitute.

Food Regimens

A lot of people just don’t know what constitutes a healthy, simple, low-cost meal. So they resort to the convenient and available options, like the beeramid.

The Food Wheels

The FDA has unveiled a radical, new representation of what you should eat and drink.  They come in the form of two circles, meant to represent a plate of food and a glass of drink.  The website is USDA’s

Worth noting that this comes years after the United Kingdom’s National Health Service added its own “Eatwell plate” (NHS.UK: Eatwell plate).  Their plate is a little different, being that they eat different things.  They include their drinks on the plate, for example.

So the problem with the plate.  Biggest one is that judging how much of each category should be eaten isn’t easy.  At a glance it looks like you should eat equal portions of vegetables and grains, and equal portions of fruits and protein, with the fruit and protein categories being smaller than the vegetables and grain categories.

And you should drink some dairy, in an amount that looks to be smaller than the fruit/protein portions.

Thing is, the design is nice enough.  But you should eat several plates a day, and you should drink water too.  And a little alcohol is probably good for you, but not too much.

When you actually start to delve into diet, you start getting confused.

Take beans and peas.  According to the website (USDA’s Dry Beans and Peas in the Food Guide), they are unique foods that you can count as vegetables or protein, depending on how much vegetables or protein you eat.  If you eat a lot of one, they’re the other.

It’s some kind of Heisenbean Uncertainty Principle, though, because you could have beans with breakfast as a protein, but by lunch time they could have magically become vegetables.

While the nutritional information is useful, I can’t help but think that they should have spent the money on smartmobile apps whereby you take a picture of the thing you’re considering ingesting and upload it.  The app would then tell you if you should or shouldn’t ingest that.

For example, that old children’s song, Found a Peanut (Wikipedia: Found a Peanut) could have been avoided, not with the MyPlate or Eatwell Plate or Food Pyramid, but with  It could also prevent cannibalism.

Okay, so maybe that idea’s a dud.  But I think a better one would be to actually publish some examples of people with healthy diets.  The diets, not the people.  Because a lot of people just don’t know what constitutes a healthy, simple, low-cost meal.  So they resort to the convenient and available options, like the beeramid.