[extropy-chat] evolution of food

Bryan Moss bryan.moss at dsl.pipex.com
Wed Aug 18 10:47:18 UTC 2004

Spike wrote:

>Extrapolate this trend into the future.  Is there any
>reason to believe that food is as good as it will ever
>get?  Why?  If it continues to get ever more irresistible
>as time goes on, what scenarios can we imagine?  Will flab
>continue to overtake an ever larger percentage of people?
>Or will we eventually reverse course and demand less tasty
>foods?  Will better nutrition education help?  Will more
>and more people perish of diabetes and weight related
>heart disease, or will it soon level off?
Food is hard.  Creating food is still an unsolved problem; we're still 
learning.  As with most things, our initial reaction to the problem of 
the inadequacy of (processed/fast) food has been nostalgia: we want 
people to go back to the old way of doing things.  I think, however, 
that fast food is a  genuinely positive development.  Food preparation 
is difficult, arduous, and requires a great deal of knowledge.  Fast 
food is no less great a development than, say, the introduction of the 
washing machine; it just has some wrinkles that need to be ironed out.  
I think, for the most part, as we solve the problems the solutions will 
be taken up by industry: if it was healthy to eat McDonalds every day, 
they'd have more customers than they do now.  It's a straightforward 

I think also that it's primarily the fact that McDonalds et al can't 
reach the larger, more health-conscious, middle-class demographic now 
that causes them to take the strategy of foisting large portions of food 
on the unfortunate demographic they can reach (i.e., the poor and people 
in a hurry).  As fast food is able to serve more of the population 
(i.e., relatively wealthy return customers), the incentives to tailor 
food toward addiction and inadequancy of fulfilment drop off.


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