[ExI] Don't be a locavore fundamentalist
asa at nada.kth.se
Sun Sep 27 12:43:19 UTC 2009
Food is the new religion: besides having presumed effects on you (that
are expounded by an expert priesthood), it is an effective way of
signalling social status, culture and values to oneself and others. And
since many of the facts are relatively hard to check, there is little
pesky falsification of beliefs. A locavore (or Atkins dieter or organic
fan) is very unlikely to hold their views because they are the most
rational views given known evidence, but will easily get reinforcement
in the form of placebo, selective news and various social feedback
The reason we have these food fashions and food religions is of course
that food is cheap, plentiful and has a high diversity. And that is
fundamentally a free market effect.
It is so plentiful that you cannot show status by eating lot of food, or
even eating expensive food - you need to show off by eating the "right"
food, as defined by a complex discourse that takes some effort to follow
and puts you in the same group as other high status people. That the
facts the group claims as reasons may be completely unfounded is
irrelevant. There is a free market of ideas and group membership too,
and correctness is unfortunately just one price factor.
My suggestion is that we form our own high-status food-cult, "rational
eaters". We want food that actually *is* good for us, the environment
and the rest of mankind. Of course, researching it and getting it is
going to be a major undertaking - which is good, since that demonstrates
committment and makes the group more impressive. Sometimes you can have
your cake and eat it too.
Future of Humanity Institute
Philosophy Faculty of Oxford University
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