Is It Human Food? Let’s observe nature for a moment. Every single animal on the planet seem to do perfectly fine when it comes to determining what food is best for them. They know nothing about carbohydrates, protein or fat. They have no idea what their blood type is. They have never counted a calorie in their life. Yet – they all seem to be doing fine, eating their natural diet and keeping their ideal weight, effortlessly, as long as there is enough of their preferred food available to them. How come we humans have such a hard time deciding what foods we should eat for optimal health, when to eat it and ultimately how much of it?
Keeping it simple First of all, let’s take a big step back. Let’s forget about everything we (think) we know about nutrition. As we’ve already established, all animals on the planet are able to determine what to eat without having laboratories and science books to help them, so we shouldn’t have to rely on that.
Secondly, let’s recognize that just because humans did something in the past, doesn’t mean that it’s ideal. There have been times, especially over the last few hundred thousand years of human evolution, that we have had to modify and adapt our environment with tools in order to survive when the conditions around us were no longer conducive to us as a species. Due to our intelligence, we found ways to do that. That’s well and good, but I’m not looking to determine human food culture, but rather the diet to which our bodies are biologically adapted to eating. In other words, what foods are natural for the body as it is today, because surely, our body couldn’t possibly have evolved to need something without having a corresponding desire or instinct to seek it out in the environment, could it? I don’t see how that would make sense. Our natural, biologically appropriate diet must correspond with our natural instincts, inclinations and abilities – before tools and processing come into play. Otherwise, what would you have done before you invented the tool?
Let’s keep it simple then. How do I know if it’s human food or not?
Let’s find some food The first thing to consider is how well we are able to source and ultimately ingest a given food by looking at our natural abilities.
What kind of body do we have? Anatomically speaking, what kind of food are we best adapted to acquiring and consuming? Can we catch an animal with our bare hands and rip their flesh apart with our teeth? Can we dig up roots and eat away at them? Can we gather enough seeds and grains to sustain ourselves without modern agriculture? How about the fruit hanging off the tree?
I think it’s safe to say that anatomically speaking, we are in the biological category of “frugivorous primate”, and we certainly have no specifications for meat eating whatsoever. Our eyes easily spot colors like yellow, red, orange etc. amongst the green foliage. The fruit “hides” from us by staying green until it’s ripe and ready. Our nose is definitely not a carnivores nose able to smell prey from far away. We enjoy fruity smells. This is evident by looking at the perfume industry, there’s no smell called “dead carcass”. Our teeth cannot bite through leather (skin) can they? They are grinding teeth for plant foods that require chewing, like fruits and tender vegetables. We are great climbers, with large Latissimus Dorsi muscles to pull ourselves up on branches. We have opposing thumbs that are great at grabbing and peeling fruit. Imagine a lion peeling a fruit.
There are endless more examples – let’s face it, if you were hungry and had to get your food yourself, without using tools and with the least amount of energy spent, catching an animal, digging up roots or collecting seeds isn’t going to work very well. Picking delicious fruits off a tree though… which brings me to my next point, which is…
Does it appeal to your senses? Animals have evolved to be naturally attracted to the food they eat. Why do you feel attracted to your own species but not others? It’s a natural instinct. Your biological need to reproduce corresponds perfectly to your desire to do so. It’s the same with food. Our nutritional needs corresponds with our natural desire to eat certain foods, and those nutritional needs were there before we started cooking and processing otherwise inedible foods in order to make them edible, tasty and nutritious. Therefore the first real step in determining whether something is human food or not is to find out if it appeals to your senses – in its raw, natural state.
Does it look attractive to you? When you look at a cow in the pasture, do you instinctively feel like running up to it and taking a bite into its side? Of course not! How about raw grass? Not very appetizing. What about a mango though? Yellow. Fresh. Contrasting the green leaves around it, screaming “Here I am, eat me!” from a hundred meters away! Carnivores don’t see color very well, but they sure smell and hear better than we do. We’re frugivores, we need to spot colors like yellow easily, which is why police and construction workers wear yellow pullovers when they want to be easily spotted in the road. It’s not a coincidence. Fruit trees rely on a symbiotic relationship with those that eat the fruit and spread it’s seeds. It’s part of their reproductive strategy. The very fact that we find fruit good looking shows us that we are that symbiotic partner. We evolved together with fruit. Fruit looks attractive to the eye.
How does it smell? Every child loves the smell of the fish market or the butchers shop right? Nope. They don’t. They hate it! Dead animals smell bad to our nose. Because we’re not carnivores. We prefer fresh and fruity smells. How about a potato? Most vegetables have no smell to us and they don’t appeal to our nose. Fruit has a wide array of wonderful aromas that we enjoy as humans. We also enjoy the smell of flowers, which is essentially the precursor to a fruit. Think pineapple, mango, jackfruit, peaches and strawberries – fruit is attractive to our sense of smell.
Ultimately, how does it taste? Raw meat is not a common food for humans – at least not by itself, without any condiments or side dishes to mask the taste. Can you imagine eating raw meat with blood, bones, fur, feces, brains, eyes, intestines and all? What about starchy vegetables? Roots, grains and other starchy foods are not only hard for us to actually chew, eat and ultimately digest, but they are more or less tasteless to us. Starch has no taste. We have sugar sensors on our tongue that enjoy eating sweet things. What’s sweet in nature? Fruit! If it’s bitter it usually means it’s toxic, while sour means unripe! We are sweet seekers by nature, and fruit fits the bill. Out of all the various foods out there – fruit is the only food that 100% appeals to our sense of taste in its raw, natural state.
Can you eat it by itself? Animals don’t make sandwiches or salads. They eat their food as it is, by itself without mixing it with anything else. They find the natural taste of the food appealing.
If you can’t stand the taste of something on its own, don’t you think that’s a pretty clear sign that it’s not human food? If something tastes bad or bland and boring to an animal, there’s no way they would eat it. All animals are motivated by mainly three things – seeking of pleasure, avoidance of pain and conservation of energy. Food is sought out purely based on pleasure. Pleasure is nature’s way of saying “this activity is worth doing”. The only reason we eat bland and boring foods now and then is because we think we should because of some theoretical nutritional idea. Most of the time though, we cover up the taste of the food we eat by mixing it with other foods and/or covering up the taste with condiments, sauces, spices and dressings.
There’s no need to cover up a ripe mango though, that stuff is delicious by itself! Fruit is appealing to us as it is, without any preparation done to it. Sure, kitchen arts can be fun and they are a part of our cultural heritage so cutting, blending and mixing foods together can still be OK, like a fruit salad for example – but the point is can you eat it by itself and enjoy it fully? If the answer is “no” because it’s simply too boring or too disgusting, it’s not proper food for us. If it’s “hell yes that stuff is SO good” then chances are – it’s human food!
Can you eat a full meal of it? Some animals graze while others eat large meals. I believe that if I was hungry, looking for food, and I came upon a fruiting tree I would eat until satiety. I would certainly not eat only a little bit and then continue my quest for food, that would waste both energy and go against my natural urge to seek pleasure until that point where food no longer seems interesting – also known as satiety, satisfaction or fullness.
If you can only enjoy a little bit of a certain food, because it quickly becomes too intense or too difficult to eat, chances are it’s not human food. Some people say things like “I could eat grass” or “I could see myself eating a raw potato” or even “I love me some raw meat”. If you think about it though, cows don’t eat only a little bit of grass and lions don’t nibble on raw meat – they eat a LOT of it. I don’t think any human would enjoy a full meal of grass, raw potatoes OR raw meat, and not only that but let’s say you managed to get through it anyway – I’ve got three questions for you: 1. Did you enjoy that immensely? Because surely, if it’s our natural food we would absolutely relish it. 2. Would you do it again in a few hours, and then again tomorrow? And last but not least – 3. Are you satiated? Is it digesting fine? Are you filled with satisfaction?
Surely, our natural food must be delicious enough to eat a full meal of it, by itself and feel great all the way from ingestion to digestion. A meal of mangoes is something anyone can imagine I think. There’s absolutely no reason to be repulsed by the idea of eating a meal of bananas. A full meal of fruit is something anyone could do, and enjoy it too!
Would you feed it to a child? Last but not least – would you feed it to a child? Surely, apart from mothers milk, all young animals eat the same as their parents. They obviously eat less food total, but the quality and type of food is more or less the same.
We can all learn to “like” something by repeated exposure. No one likes smoking the first time, or the second or third – but at a certain point people start actually enjoying it. The brain has made a positive connection to the process. It’s the same with food. Some people claim to love eating the weirdest things. Foods that may or may not pass the first three tests for you (is it appealing in its raw natural state? Can you eat it and enjoy it by itself? Can you eat a full meal of it?), but would you feed it to a child though? A child is pretty much the same as an adult in terms of digestive system, physiology, anatomy – except for the fact that it’s developing and is therefore way more sensitive. Sensitivity is good though. Just like a non-smoker is sensitive to that first draw, sensitivity is truly a show of health.
So would you feed wine to a baby? What about bitter herbs? Tobacco? Coffee? Strong peppers? Garlic? Maybe some deep fried chicken? Of course – many people today actually do feed their babies almost anything under the sun, a great tragedy indeed, but that’s the sad truth. The problem is of course that they also feed themselves the same substances and that’s a tragedy almost as great actually.
Without dwelling on the negative note, just remember next time you wonder whether or not something is truly human food, ask yourself if you would feed it to a baby, and if the answer is something like “of course I can’t give raw onion to a baby” then ask yourself why exactly then is it OK to feed it to yourself?
Fruits are excellent for babies – and grownups alike! It’s easy to digest. It’s non irritating. It’s sweet (remember human breast milk is very sweet). Bananas are generally touted as one of the absolute best things to feed a baby during the weaning period! And it just so happens that bananas are great for us adults as well! Human food is good for all ages!
Perfection So there you have it, the ultimate test to figure out what to eat. It’s actually very simple. Human food is that which is appealing to our sight, touch, smell and taste – in its natural, unprocessed, raw state. Human food is the food we can easily enjoy eating a full meal of, by itself, without covering up the taste whatsoever by mixing or dressing it in any way. Human food is nontoxic and can be eaten by everybody.
Fruit fits this description so perfectly that it’s almost too obvious. It’s often a case of “can’t see the forest for the trees” when people try to “figure out” human nutrition. Scientific, as well as cultural biases, make it difficult for most people to find this truth, and that’s understandable. We’ve strayed far from our natural diet through our evolutionary history while trying to survive in less than ideal climates and environments. Today though, fruit is more or less available year round to all people around the globe, and we may for the first time in a while, start moving towards a return to our biologically appropriate diet predominated by sweet, tropical fruits. Practically speaking I have found no strong contraindications to the inclusion of some raw, tender green leafy vegetables, nuts and seeds – and to a lesser degree conservatively cooked roots and tubers. Still, there’s absolutely no doubt as to what the ideal is. The only food to truly fulfill man’s nutritional needs to perfection, pass all the criteria as to what constitutes “human food” and satisfy our desire for good eating, better than any other “food item” – FRUIT comes out as the clear winner!
The information in this article reflects the views and opinions of the author and is intended for educational and informational purposes only. This is not medical advice. We are not responsible for any action you may take based on the information given in this article. For medical advice please see your medical professional.