June 15, 2012 by Alex Hoekstra
After an evening to gather my thought at 30,000 feet in the air, I’m in California, seeing the world, taking advantage of mankind’s most astounding and magnificent achievements – airports and x-rays, flight, fuel, iPhones and hot tea – marveling at what we’re capable of, of how far we’ve come in such a remarkably short time. Ruthless curiosity has driven us to leave the caves in and construct space stations. An insatiable instinct to explore and expand has compelled us to learn as we go – take risks, make mistakes, and try again.
It’s easy, sometimes, to look with at human history with melancholy – to see our mistakes lurking within and between our triumphs, but our tireless pursuit of improvement is something truly unique and admirable, and when coupled with honest assessment (self-assessment), our fickleness in prioritizing serves to rescue and resolve what mistakes we’ve invented.
I’m guilty of occasional negativity in my view of human activity. Looking around, it’s easy to see some of our greatest mistakes. We’ve grown far and fast, boldly and without caution, and for the billions of us across every square mile of Earth, our development has been double-edged. We’ve overcome so many of nature’s obstacles, but built so many others along the way. One of my personal favorites (an ironic use of the term, to be sure), is what we’ve done to food.
Food is where it started, this civilization of ours. Securing food meant the ability to settle down and think, talk, write, draw, build, trade, and teach. Food was the facilitator of cultural evolution, and our food evolved as we grew. In fact, we evolved it. We played in the dirt, tinkered and toyed with plants and animals, and felt proud to have so thoroughly outsmarted nature. We learned to game the system, and reaped the profits of higher crop yields and fatter cows, but it seems as though perhaps we didn’t know the game as well as we thought, and that nature’s intricate puzzle might have some rules we overlooked in our haste (and gluttony). We’re now forced to reexamine what we were feeling so clever about for all these millennia – to reassess what millions of years of evolution had intended for us, and how far off course we’ve led ourselves over these most recent few. Today’s project is just what Dr. Grok ordered – a retrospective view of the cracks in our cleverness, and perhaps a way to fill them in without tearing them all down.
In Defense of Fat is a documentary meant to examine what we think we know about food today. It’s a film that’s almost qualifies as a narrative about how food and the concept of food has grown up (or at least changed, if not matured or gotten all-around better) under our guidance. It asks questions and demands answers, and will have you looking in new ways about what’s on your plate.
“In Defense of Fat” clarifies the complex relationship between human evolutionary history and the science – and politics – of nutrition and health. The film is firmly rooted in current scientific research on Ancestral Health, a theory which proposes that the human body is not adapted to an agricultural diet, and especially not to the many processed foods in our daily lives. As a result, ‘healthy’ low fat diets and “essential” carbohydrates may actually increase rates of diabetes and obesity, and dietary fat may not be to blame for our expanding waistlines.
Food is still at the heart (stomach) of civilization. Without it – without a lot of it – we stand no chance of moving forward. It’s time, though, to reassess and reprioritize our food and food systems., and with all the curiosity and inspiration and capacity to innovate, turn our attention to righting the man-made flaws we’ve been chowing down on for so long. Join this film and the hungry people behind it in their mission to course-correct our cooking by backing In Defense of Fat before August 3.