bp's science: thinking about food (v.1)

"Assume you are alone on a desert island for one year and you can have water and one other food. Pick the food that you think would be best for your health."
alfalfa sprouts
hot dogs
milk chocolate

This question was used to gather information in a study completed by professor Paul Rozin and his colleagues on food and psychology.  He wanted to know what Americans thought about food.

Now what do you think?


Most people chose bananas (42%), then it was spinach (27%), next corn (12%), alfalfa sprouts (7%), peaches (5%), hot dogs (4%), and milk chocolate (3%).

I choose milk chocolate.  And for full disclosure, I was reading fast and interpreted it as chocolate milk.

What's the right answer?  What food would best support survival?

That answer is hot dogs, then milk chocolate.  These two options offer up protein and fat, which would allow for a better amino acid balance and overall better health if living on nothing else on a desert island.

It appears that, due to the way we perceive food, we think that all fats are bad (or that all salty things are bad, etc.).  We think this because we know that a lot of fat is bad then we turn that into meaning that all things with fat are bad.  Anything in high doses is bad, wouldn't you say?  Classical music, even though it is good, in huge doses it can get old.  Good smelling lotion, while quite enjoyable, overdoing it can really be too much.  Sunshine turns into sunburn.  Rain into floods.  A gallon of milk in one sitting, no sir.  The point is, you need all of the nutrients to eat healthily, including carbohydrates, salt, and fat.  The key is balance.  And according to Rozin's research, we don't think about our food like that.

This post comes from my reading of Michael Pollan's In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto.  The book takes a look at what our food culture is today, how it changes constantly, and how it has changed so drastically from what we knew pre-1950s.  Pollan argues that what people have eaten in the past was formed around what their parents ate.  Now, however, we get most of our information about food from nutritionism (the science behind what we eat), and it can be confusing.  My personal favorite example: Don't eat eggs because of the cholesterol!  And then a few years later, Eat eggs because they are full of protein and antioxidants!  Yes, that is confusing.  So much so that we end up eating the cereal that's been enriched with vitamins and minerals and thinking that's it's just as good for us (because it says so right on the box) than a bowl of oatmeal topped with blue berries.  The book is interesting, enlightening, and it has some great ideas about how to eat better; some of which are very easy (eat more plants) while others more difficult (eat only meat that you know where it came from).  This book made me think.  This book made me want to eat better.  This book made me want a garden (that and the fact that it's spring).


Chap said...

I love that you chose chocolate. I chose bananas but without fat you never feel sated.

Logan said...

You should tell Ben about this. Maybe Holley would let him buy more hot dogs as food storage!

jo said...

I love this idea. Too bad bread wouldn't let me last long.