Why Food is Actually INFORMATION
By Sayer Ji
Founder, GreenMedInfo LLC
This article is copyrighted by GreenMedInfo LLC, 2017
Food, while being the condition for the possibility of all life itself, is rarely appreciated for its true power. Far beyond its conventionally defined role as a source of energy and building blocks for the body-machine, new discoveries on the frontiers of science reveal that food is also a powerful source of information.
We are all hardwired to be deeply concerned with food when hungry, an interest which rapidly extinguishes the moment we are satiated. But as an object of everyday interest and scientific inquiry, food often makes for a bland topic. This is all the more apparent when juxtaposed against its traditional status in ancient cultures as sacred; or in contemporary religious traditions like Catholicism where a cracker still represents the body of Christ (Eucharist). But as my previous investigations into the dark side of wheat have revealed, food is one of the most fascinating and existentially important topics there is. And in many ways, until we understand the true nature of food, and how it is still the largely invisible ground for our very consciousness, we will not be able to understand our own nature and destiny.
How We Got Here
In the latter regard, its value is quantified through the presence and molecular weight of macro- and micronutrients or its “fat-inducing” calories. Modern Western concepts of food are a byproduct of a centuries old process of intense secularization. Food is now largely conceived in terms of its economic value as a commodity and its nutritional value as a source of physical sustenance.
In the process of reducing food’s value to these strictly quantitative dimensions, it has lost its soul. Food is no longer believed to possess a vital life force, much less a sacred one. But the etymology of sacred, namely, to make holy, and the etymology of holy, which connects to heal, whole, health, implies correctly that food has the ability to “make us whole.”
Food As Nourishment On All Levels
If talk of food as "sacred" and "whole-making" sounds pseudo-scientific, consider how Nature designed our very first experience of nourishment (if we were fortunate enough to not have been given a bottle full of formula): breastmilk taken from the mother’s breast was simultaneously a nutritional, physical, thermic, emotional, genetic, and spiritual form of nourishment. Food, therefore, can and should never truly be reduced to an object of biochemistry.
And so, as we dig deeper, we discover that the topic of food is a highly cerebral one. And this begins with any simple act of eating, albeit in a slightly different way. It's called the cephalic phase of nutrition, “in your head,” which reflects how you are actually experiencing the food: is it delicious? Are you feeling pleasure? These “subjective” aspects profoundly affect the physiology of digestion and assimilation. My colleague Marc David has dedicated many years to waking people up to this amazing process. Food, therefore, begins in a context that transcends merely physiochemical conditions and concerns. The nocebo and placebo effects, which are powerful forces in the setting of clinical medicine, also apply to the field and experience of nutrition. And therefore, it is hard to ignore how this important layer of nutrition: the first-hand experience, and even our intention and level of gratitude, has been lost in the fixation on the chemistry and reductionism of food science.But the inquiring mind wants more specific scientific answers to the question: how does food makes us whole? How does its arrangement of atoms possess such extraordinary power to sustain our species? Why can't we answer the most rudimentary questions that go back to ancient times, such as the still timeless mystery and miracle of how the bread is transmuted into blood and flesh?
Perhaps, it is the information (and intelligence) within food that will help explain some of this mystery. After all, information literally means “to put form into.” This understanding will add much needed depth and nuance to conventional nutritional concepts where food is still conceived as a bunch of essentially dead and uninteresting atoms and molecules.
The Old Story of Food as a Thing