The age-old pursuit of perfect health…
Is health really necessary? Of all the peculiarities inherent in the individual one of the oddest has to be the quest by the physically fit for physical fitness. It is easy enough to understand why a fourteenth-century Frenchman with no idea of the number of calories, glucides and fiber in a loaf of bread and no idea what gave them head colds might turn to mandrake root as a solution to their problems; but why, in the twenty-first century, do middle-class Westerners frequent health food stores or health food departments in supermarkets while paying close scrutiny to the labeling of nutritional qualities and gobbling up blue-green algae pills and the like? The theory of whether civilization is actually dangerous to our health is more plausible than it may appear. After all, anxiety about health is an inevitable component of civilized life.
At times, the pursuit of health is not as single minded in motive as might be assumed. Currently, the quest for pure foods, non-industrial foods, and healthful diets has taken on the characteristic of both political cause and near-religious crusade. To insist that one’s vegetables and milk, meat and fruit be produced organically, without recourse to chemicals, is one way of rejecting the economic order, agri-business at the multinational level, of which Monsanto is the poster child; is a way of rejecting the economic order that produces those chemicals and the complex role that government plays in subsidizing and abetting the system.
Many a youthful idealist who may be bent on reforming “the system” if not outright kicking its foundations out as part of a political base of belief, is often food rebel sublimating the political radicalism onto the offering on the dinner plate, an off-shoot of some variant of utopianism and a search for control through the regulation of well-being by attacking the normative. ( to be continued)
“He used for exercise to walk to the alehouse, but he was carried back again.” Samuel Johnson