Bountiful Harvest: Technology, Food Safety, and the Environment

By Thomas R. Degregori | Go to book overview

4
Technophobia, Natural Foods, Organic
Agriculture, Energy, Meat, and
Metamorphosis

Vegetarianism neither is the “original human diet” nor is more natural than any other diet. Not only have humans been meat eaters as long as they have been human, but our closest relatives, the chimpanzees, are also meat eaters.

From about 200,000 years ago onward, the hominid brain has grown larger, requiring increasing amounts of energy to maintain it, but the gut has grown smaller, reducing the ability to extract energy from low-density foods such as the high-fiber vegetable matter eaten as the primary food by other primates like gorillas. “Since the time of Homo erectus and the gradual transition into modern humans some 200,000 years ago, human brain size exploded” (Stanford 1999, 175; see also Milton 1993, 91), leading to the creation of “an apparent anomaly in that we have a species with an unusually large brain, an organ regarded as an energetically expensive one, and yet at the same time this species has a gut that appears small for its body size” (Milton 1988, 301). The overall smallness of the human gut is in terms of the large intestine or hindgut, since the human small intestine is relatively large compared to that of other primates. Milton notes,

Brain tissue is metabolically expensive, requiring large supplies of oxygen and glucose. Furthermore, the brain's demand for these products is constant and unrelenting, regardless of the mental or physical state of the organism (Milton 1988, 299). 1


Hunting and Gathering

The foods of our ancestors and their methods of acquiring them made them what they became. There is a fascinating body of anthropological literature on how the search for gathering and consuming

-77-

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Bountiful Harvest: Technology, Food Safety, and the Environment
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page *
  • Contents v
  • Preface ix
  • 1 - Technology and the Unity of Experience 1
  • Notes *
  • 2 - Technology, Industrialization, and Creativity 31
  • Notes *
  • 3 - Technology, Technophobia, and Human Welfare 61
  • Note *
  • 4 - Technophobia, Natural Foods, Organic Agriculture, Energy, Meat, and Metamorphosis 77
  • Notes *
  • 5 - Genetic Modification and Technophobia 97
  • Notes *
  • 6 - Technophobia, Pollution, Pesticides, and Ddt 127
  • Notes *
  • 7 - Reason, Romance, and Reaction 151
  • Notes *
  • 8 - Technology, Food Production, and Drinking Water 159
  • Notes *
  • 9 - Technology: Control For, or Over, Humans? 179
  • Notes *
  • References 209
  • Index 255
  • About the Author *
  • Cato Institute *
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