I’ve been reading a lot about the science behind food, desire, pleasure, and gratification lately.
I think it’s a really interesting concept–getting behind what really drives us as people. I kind of got into it a couple years ago when I read The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan (if you have never read it, please do. And I highly recommend looking at his blog and columns on The New York Times website as well. It has such a special take on food. Here’s one of my favorites.)
Anyways, the interest started up again when I saw a preview for a PBS documentary on Pollan’s recent book, “The Botany Of Desire.” I have yet to see the documentary (I missed the premiere and I’m anxiously waiting for a rerun), but I’ve been making up for it by reading about it online. The concept is absolutely fascinating.
I think that most people (especially Americans) don’t put a lot of thought into why they want what they want. We live in a world of immediate gratification. If you see something, and you want it, you take it. No questions asked. I think it’s important that people start questioning this mentality. Why do we want this? Do we really need it?
I think that the core of this issue was accurately addressed in an interview by The Wall Street Journal with Dr. David Kessler, former FDA Commissioner and author of “The End Of Overating” (another book I really need to read):
“Here’s the fundamental point: We are wired to focus on the most salient stimuli in our environment. If your kid is sick today, that’s what you think about. For some people it’s sex, gambling, alcohol. For many of us it’s food. And within that category, different types of food are salient. You have to condition yourself to take the power out of the stimulus.”
I think this is so true. No one thinks of food as an addiction, especially if you’re not overweight. But I know that I speak for many people when I say I spend a good portion of my day thinking about what and when I’ll be eating next.
Kind of off topic for my blog…but I thought it was definitely interesting enough to share.