Lion of the Blogosphere

How is food different today?

JayMan writes:

I’m not arguing with that point. The problem is that we don’t know what about the environment is different today than from America in the 1920s to make a different.

A theory that I got from a commenter while back is that food tastes a lot better today. In the 1920s, besides being more expensive, food just didn’t taste that good, so people weren’t tempted to overeat.

Our bodies just aren’t adapted to plentiful (more than you can possibly eat) food that tastes way better than the food our caveman ancestors used to eat. On the other hand, people are living longer than they ever did in the past, so despite people worrying about diabetes and other ill effects of being fatter than in the past, there’s no hard evidence that we are worse off because of it.

And perhaps abundant food is behind rising IQs. More nourishment makes the brain grow better.

Written by Lion of the Blogosphere

May 3, 2016 at 3:28 pm

66 Responses

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  1. Interesting article on “White Food” here by Steve Sailer.

    White foods being favored as a way of detecting bad stuff in it.

    Food used to be very dangerous. Now the danger is too much of it.

    As an interesting Slate article by David Merritt Johns called “Why Do Jews Hate Mayonnaise?” recounts, the late Milton Berle used to joke, “Anytime somebody orders a corned beef sandwich on white bread with mayonnaise, somewhere in the world, a Jew dies.”

    You wouldn’t guess from Berle’s joke that he himself took his corned beef with mayo on white, a preference he attributed to a nomadic showbiz youth fueled by pit stops at railroad lunch counters in the 1920s.


    May 3, 2016 at 3:44 pm

  2. We know that food is a lot cheaper today. During the Dustbowl in the 30s, it was common for poor kids to go to bed without dinner and hungry frequently. Today food is very affordable for even the poor in the US.


    May 3, 2016 at 3:47 pm

    • Good tasting non-fast food is unaffordable for NAMs, and good tasting healthy food is generally cost prohibitive for proles.


      May 3, 2016 at 5:03 pm

      • I disagree. Good tasting healthy food is affordable even for the poor today, especially relative to the past.


        May 3, 2016 at 5:50 pm

      • Bogus. Even people with money to burn like myself generally think healthy food isn’t as tasty. You have to learn to care less about yum-yum-yum in favor of being fit and healthy. But most people still care a lot. I know I do. I have plenty of disposable income and still prefer greasy fast food. The only time I class it up is if I’m on a date and trying to get laid. Or trying to impress someone from out of town.

        Really, celery and peanut butter is outside the budget of a poor American?


        May 3, 2016 at 5:58 pm

      • The same food tastes differently to different people. Blacks for example are less sensitive to sweet and more sensitive to bitter than are Whites. So a Black person must eat more sugar to get the same level of sweetness that a White person does.


        May 3, 2016 at 10:27 pm

      • Healthy food as in real food.

        Whoever said baked chicken wasn’t healthy?

        The NAM underclass in NYC dines regularly on deep fried junk from fast food joints that are cheaper than McDonalds.

        Nobody is talking about eating celery and peanut butter except you.


        May 3, 2016 at 11:26 pm

      • Bullshit. Fast food is definitely more expensive than home cooking. And no, healthy eating doesn’t require overprices status-signalling ‘organic’ foods.

        Panther of the Blogocube

        May 3, 2016 at 6:22 pm

      • Proles eat good food. Also, proles’ food often isn’t too sanitary, which is good for proles because it builds their immune system. Proles get real hungry, because they work and when they eat they enjoy their food. Often they get so hungry that they can eat a cow. Proles are the best. Russian proles would share their last shirt – this is a very nice trait they have. Now, I’m not saying that proles are rocket scientists, but they have their place under the sun. And proles don’t regularly bitch about non-proles and dis them. JS, paying attention there?


        May 3, 2016 at 10:55 pm

    • There was a documentary about “hunger in america” called “a place at the table.” All the featured “hungry” people were fat, some morbidly obese and losing feet from type 2 diabetes.

      I think it’s time to use the term Orwellian.


      May 3, 2016 at 7:33 pm

  3. Not buying it. Plenty of foods haven’t changed in their simple ingredients (with near identical chemical composition) and recipes in centuries, are bound to taste the same as they once did, and are just as delicious. Think of all those great cheeses, breads, and pastas.

    There is no lack of historical examples of rich individual getting fat or indulging to excess. Gluttony is a cardinal sin. It’s all a matter of affluence.


    May 3, 2016 at 4:13 pm

    • Yes, an illustration of this theory is one Thomas Gibbons (1757-1826), wealthy early American lawyer, businessman, and steamship magnate of Gibbons v. Ogden fame. He was tremendously fat. His health was horrendous and he suffered from diabetes and limited mobility brought about by his great obesity all back in those days when such a condition was extremely rare because (presumably) food was in much more limited supply.

      Sagi Is My Guru

      May 3, 2016 at 6:04 pm

    • Here is his picture, for whatever it’s worth. Even in spite of the fact that the portrait artist was likely being generous, it is clear that Gibbons was a fat man.

      Sagi Is My Guru

      May 3, 2016 at 6:14 pm

    • The soil is exhausted in most places. The dirt is a dead sponge they dump ammonia fertilizers on to grow modern variants that get big fast without carrying much nutrition. There’s been some work comparing preserved samples showing fruits and vegetables have just a fraction of the mineral content they did 80 years ago. Veggies are also relatively loaded with nitrates compared to the past.

      It’d be difficult to be a healthy vegetarian now, but it wouldn’t have been very hard 80 yeas ago. The only way you’re getting adequate vitamins and minerals now is via seafood, organ meat, and dairy. The plants are all basically sugar and nitrogen; only good for calories.

      I think the obesity epidemic took off right when real wages peaked and started declining for most people. I think it’s about stress and the related endocrinology and psychologically driven eating, not really the food.


      May 3, 2016 at 8:51 pm

      • Don’t believe it. I’ve heard this assertion before, but they never explain how people today liver longer than they did when the soil was richer.

        Half Canadian

        May 4, 2016 at 2:13 pm

  4. Another difference is that it’s cheaper, and workers are richer. It would be a lot more difficult for the average low IQ, low impulse control person to afford enough food to become obese 100 years ago. So even if they lacked the self control to control their appetites, they still wouldn’t become obese.


    May 3, 2016 at 4:16 pm

  5. During renesiance the rich were called ‘populo grosso’, so they were fat because they could afford to indulge.

    What makes food taste better today? The fruit that they sell is terrible. Fruit from a tree in Russia, Caucasus or Israel is much better. Same goes for vegetables. Lion, where did you get this idea? I think it’s baloney.


    May 3, 2016 at 4:41 pm

  6. jayman’s comments suggest rising iqs for black americans and attributes it to McDonald’s and other fast food fare, consumed predominantly by this demographic. Just pure nonsense!

    If food is generally better tasting than let’s say 20 years ago, then why is it hard to find good pizza (that were made by guido pizzerias in their heyday in NYC)?

    With the exception of Whole Foods, commercialized and prepacked food (a general staple of many non-Italian proles) is generally not good. It wasn’t good back then, and it isn’t good today!


    May 3, 2016 at 5:01 pm

    • “then why is it hard to find good pizza”

      What, there isn’t a Pizza Hut where you live? I know that this will be hard for people to accept, but fast food is, objectively, the best food. Follow my reasoning

      1) Digestive systems can extract more calories from processed (cooked, mashed, etc…) food.

      2) Animals have evolved to prefer easy sources of calories. The mechanism that drives behavior is taste. For example sharks will often bite people only to let them go because humans don’t have that high-calorie taste that blubbery animals have.

      3) Thus humans have evolved to prefer the taste of processed foods, such as preferring white flour over whole wheat flour.

      How strong is this preference? Well white flour used to be a luxury item, whereas regular people lived on whole wheat flour. However our economy is focused around producing what people want and so economies of scale have driven the price of white flour below the price of whole wheat. This could not have happened if not for the huge demand. So we get to our next statement:

      5) Whatever people most want becomes the cheapest. Whichever kind of pizza the majority wants is the cheapest kind of pizza. Consider “good pizza (that were made by guido pizzerias in their heyday in NYC)”. If it is truly superior to Pizza Hut pizza, why isn’t it cheaper and more commonly available than Pizza Hut pizza? If people wanted it then mass production would have spread it far and wide.


      May 3, 2016 at 6:14 pm

    • When did I say anything about rising IQs?


      May 3, 2016 at 10:28 pm

  7. The non caloric nutritional content of mass farmed plant life is significantly lower than the alternative. (And may be related to the overeating too)

    In the past,the various fruits and grains may have indeed been tastier than they are today.


    May 3, 2016 at 5:07 pm

    • They weren’t tastier. They were more fibrous, plantier i.e. tasted more like vegetation, etc. They were harder to digest. They might have had more nutrient content per weight, but they were harder to eat and digest and had more anti-nutrients and toxins than the more benign domesticated plants and grains today.


      May 3, 2016 at 5:55 pm

    • A lot of fruits and vegetables have been selected for hardiness and apperance, not taste. For instance the genes that control photosynthesis in tomatoes have been switched off making many common varieties tomatoes contain a lot less sugars. This is to provide a uniform red colour which makes it easy for ripeness to be determined so it is easier for farmers to grow.Oranges are treated with ethylene in order to make them more orange in colour, this works by simulating ripening/decay and for oranges this improves colour but decreases shelf life. Put simply consumers and producers are selecting varieties that are picked for size, shape, colour, durability and not necessarily flavour.

      With the thoughts you'd be thinkin

      May 3, 2016 at 9:57 pm

      • someone read the national geographic article (or Either way, it’s an incomplete story.

        Half Canadian

        May 4, 2016 at 2:16 pm

  8. This theory is absolutely right. The science of taste has progressed many fold in the past century I would guess due to an abundance of supply, leads to a competition of quality over quantity.

    Salt is freely available and we are programmed to love the taste of salt. Most things that taste good have a (un)healthy dose of sodium.

    Sugar is very prevalent but, like salt, was once a highly prized item. The sweetness of sugar created such cravings that we had to create sweet tasting, no-calorie alternatives.

    Glycerine is used in cookies and nutrition bars to maintain a moist, soft texture, to give one the impression they are fresh from the oven.

    That’s just basic stuff. A multi-billion dollar food conglomerate has teams of scientists devoted to addicting your taste buds to something.

    I personally cannot get enough jalapeno kettle potato chips. The heat is just perfect, not too much, not too little. The saltiness is balanced perfectly and that crunch is the same each time. The shame I feel when I empty another bag…I know the whole thing was created by guys in lab coats, sampling formulas, tweaking until they make the perfect jalapeno potato chip.


    May 3, 2016 at 5:39 pm

    • I know the whole thing was created by guys in lab coats

      Pringles are even more synthetic. And prole.

      E. Rekshun

      May 3, 2016 at 5:49 pm

      • By definition, Pringles aren’t potato chips.


        May 4, 2016 at 12:44 am

    • In the very early days after refined sugar had reached Europe (basically the 1500s), it was extremely rare and only available to the very most wealthy and elite. To have teeth that had become blackened and rotten with cavities from excessive sugar consumption (because of course dental hygiene was non-existent then as well) was considered high-status and even sexy.

      Sagi Is My Guru

      May 3, 2016 at 6:11 pm

    • The guy who invented Doritos should have a monument built to him.

      In our times, the most creative chefs work their magic wearing lab coats, not aprons.


      May 7, 2016 at 8:59 am

      • I don’t like Doritos because they leave you with bad breath, and they lack any subtlety in flavor. It’s prole food.

  9. In the 1920s, besides being more expensive, food just didn’t taste that good, so people weren’t tempted to overeat.

    Carbs are the reason obesity skyrocketed. Cut carbs, increase fat intake, and the obesity crisis is solved. Anyone who wants proof only has to binge on chicken wings for a week while cutting out bread, starch, and sugar for a week.

    The Undiscovered Jew

    May 3, 2016 at 6:03 pm

    • It’s watching TV for hours that’s responsible for obesity. Carbs don’t matter too much if you live a healthy lifestyle. Think – if instead of watching the zombie-box for 6 hours and munching on all sorts of junk a fatso would engage in physical activity for 6 hours, would he still be a fatso? I don’t think so.


      May 3, 2016 at 7:06 pm

      • If that were so exercise would lead to weight loss. It doesn’t.


        May 3, 2016 at 10:29 pm

      • Jayman, you need to qualify this, because my life experience says otherwise. When I gain a little weight, I exercise more and the weight goes. How come?


        May 4, 2016 at 7:34 am

      • Check out my Obesity Facts page.


        May 4, 2016 at 11:18 am

    • It’s watching TV for hours that’s responsible for obesity. Carbs don’t matter too much if you live a healthy lifestyle.

      That’s part of the explanation. But as Atkins said low carb work without any exercise.

      The Undiscovered Jew

      May 3, 2016 at 7:47 pm

      • Being sedentary and not engaged in tasks promotes snacking, so to some extent that’s right. I can work a 12 hour day and not be hungry as long as I’m working, but give me 12 hours at home and I’ll be hungry all day.

        Panther of the Blogocube

        May 3, 2016 at 11:56 pm

  10. I’ve come to think that we got very good at separating out the calorie dense part of food and making it cheap.

    Food manufacturers combine these calorie dense ingredients to make things trigger the reward centers of the brain very strongly, because they’re exceedingly calorie dense and your brain is highly tuned to keep you from starving, with very little excess fiber or non-caloric content. A tribe that stumbled on a stash of Chipoltle burritos wouldn’t need to find additional food for a considerable time.

  11. The black bread I used to eat in Russia as a kid is gone. No more. What’s better?

    The blackberry wine that I uses to make in Russia as a kid cannot be compared to Manishewitz or to commercial blackberry wine from Russia or Ukraine. What’s better?

    The cat and dog food maybe better, but for people it’s one long downhill spiral. They feed us a lot garbage. You can get sick from just reading the ingredients.


    May 3, 2016 at 6:19 pm

    • There’s an article on Manishewitz on the cover of the Wall Street Journal today. I had never heard of it but it’s weird that I see you mentioning it the same day.

      Jokah Macpherson

      May 3, 2016 at 6:41 pm

      • I haven’t read WSJ since I’d left Wall Street. Once in a blue moon I buy a bottle of blackberry wine, but that’s the only wine from Manishewitz that I touch. It’s nothing to write home about, but remindes me of the berry wines we used to make in Russia. Loved them, but who has time to make them now? I’d spent a few months on my berry wine first time I’d made it and it was totally amazing! I was about ten then. Used to have a drink every once in a while and treat my freinds. Awesome. Had powerful aroma too.

        So what kind of rap did Manishewitz get in WSJ?


        May 3, 2016 at 11:48 pm

    • Koreans make blackberry wine (bokbunjaju). If there’s an Asian grocery store that sells booze near you then you can almost certainly find some there. Although it’s obviously commercial it might compare favorably to the Russian or Ukrainian stuff.


      May 4, 2016 at 11:04 pm

      • Yeah, tons of Koreans in my mother’s town. They sell Ukrainian blackberry and plum wine. I tried their stuff, but not blackberry wine. I didn’t like it too much, but I’ll check it out. It’s interesting what other people eat and drink. Thanks.


        May 5, 2016 at 7:30 am

  12. Our bodies just aren’t adapted to plentiful (more than you can possibly eat) food that tastes way better than the food our caveman ancestors used to eat.

    I agree that food tastes better today. Food today is much sweeter and has more fats. Those are two things our bodies have evolved to crave.

    However, there are actually two theories of evolution. Darwinian based on natural selection and Lamarckism based on the idea that an organism can pass on characteristics that it has acquired during it’s life time. So, for example, Lamarckism would say that a giraffe’s neck grows longer generation after generation not because of natural selection but because the parents’ stretched their necks to eat leaves from tall trees. Of course, this was discredited long ago and sounds comical today.

    Except Lamarckism is actually true. Studies have shown that children do, in fact, inherit some characteristics their parents acquired over their lives. It’s called “epigenetics”. So it may, in fact, be true that people have been adapting to the abundance of food over the last few generations on an epigentic level. Because obesity happens to be one of the traits that’s is affected in this way. Fat parents flip genetic switches in their own genomes which are then passed on to their children.


    May 3, 2016 at 6:36 pm

  13. Is Cruz going to drop out?

    Fuck you TruCons! Go vote for Hillary. Shame on you all for trying to steal the nomination from our Beloved Leader.

    Otis the Sweaty

    May 3, 2016 at 6:49 pm

  14. OT: Exit polls show Cruz is getting trounced in Indiana by 20 pts. Other polls show Trump with a 30 pt lead in Cali and at 56% support nationally. I can hardly wait to see Turd Cruz surrender. I’m going to tape it and play it over and over. Whenever I get sad I’ll watch it to cheer me up. And, of course, I will go on his supporters’ pages to mock and ridicule them.


    May 3, 2016 at 7:01 pm

  15. Trump won, make a post dude.


    May 3, 2016 at 7:03 pm

  16. The food industry has poured billions into the “science” of taste and competition for “stomach share” (yes it’s really called that) is fierce. Without a doubt commercial foods tastes better and are more addictive than they were- to the general population- 100 years ago. Plus, it’s cheap. Alcohol is also much cheaper today than it was say 50 years ago. You can get 3 liters of decent tasting wine for 20 bucks. That is basically sacrilege, and american waistlines are the proof.

    You should watch “Sugar Coated” on netflix.


    May 3, 2016 at 7:11 pm

  17. The main difference is that the mass produced food today is not as fresh, is more processed and has more additives such as sodium and high fructose corn syrup. Unsurprisingly these processed foods also become highly addictive.

    When I married my wife, who is a health nut, she advised me to only buy foods from the “outer ring” of the grocery store, which consists of fresh produce, meats and the chilled items. Everything in the aisles is highly processed. Essentially, as long as you don’t eat anything from a box or a can you will be ok. And it is not that expensive if you do it right and are willing to cook for yourself. You can buy fifty bucks worth of chicken breast, beans, veggies and fruit and eat well for a week.

    Eating like this takes discipline. Proles are not fat because of genetics or not lack of funds. They are fat because they are depressed, lazy and have high time preference.


    May 3, 2016 at 7:26 pm

  18. A lot of foods these days are specifically designed to make you want to eat more and more.

    By the way, judging from the picture of his hand, I would guess that Jayman is pretty seriously obese and cannot control his eating. Why does this matter? It’s common for addicts to engage in self-deception and denial.


    May 3, 2016 at 8:49 pm

    • Jayman is not seriously obese.

      • If I’m wrong, it won’t be the first or last time. Do you happen to know his height and weight?


        May 4, 2016 at 3:19 am

      • The rationalization antics on display do suggest he’s overweight. It’s easy to rationalize a zero-personal-accountability position, harder to actually make the real changes needed to lose weight and keep it off.

        Panther of the Blogocube

        May 4, 2016 at 11:24 am

  19. Compared to early 1900s, the poor have better teeth and care today, along with access to welfare and food stores. Eating is easier, cheaper, and takes less effort.


    May 3, 2016 at 9:59 pm

  20. Pseudoerasmus once posted that the relative affordability of food is correlated with rising obesity rates around the world.

    Unfortunately, that’s yet another correlate.


    May 3, 2016 at 10:25 pm

  21. Food is absolutely, categorically NOT better tasting now than in the past. It is constructed in a lab to satisfy certain cravings of our corrupted palates, but that doesn’t make it better.

    Take beef. The quality of beef in America is horrendous compared to what it was fifty or more years ago. Indeed, the USDA has steadily downgraded it’s grading system, lowering quality standards in 1939, 1941, 1949, 1950, 1956, 1965 and 1973. And the quality of product has decreased correspondingly because a lousier piece of beef could earn a higher grade every time the standards dropped. At this point, only about 2-3 percent of beef in America is accurately labeled Prime, and true Prime meat is extremely hard to get anywhere outside of restaurants and New York City. In fact, fifty years ago a Prime steak — which anybody could buy at that time — was roughly the quality of a Japanese Kobe steak today.

    Take fruit and vegetables. Because of our cry-baby insistence that everything be available all the time, we eat everything out of season, and our fruit and vegetables taste like cardboard boxes. I’m old enough to remember when you got peaches it was like biting into a piece of heaven. Good luck finding a single peach in a supermarket now that tastes like anything other than sawdust. To get an edible peach you have to either go to specialty purveyors and pay a fortune, or get them at farm stands in season (and even those aren’t as good as they used to be because of monocultures designed to be everything useful to the farmer but not good tasting), or grow them yourself from heirloom varieties.

    Fortunately, the SWPL types are bringing back heirloom fruits and vegetables and increasingly you can get real produce if you live in the right parts of the country.


    May 3, 2016 at 11:01 pm

    • The paradox is that you are correct and Lion is correct. Unprocessed food – fruits, vegetables and meat – did taste better in the past, for all the reasons you say. But processed food is much tastier than it was in the past. Doritos are much tastier than old fashioned potato chips, burritos are tastier than the fast food of the 1970s, the donuts in a Krispy Kreme or Dunkin Donuts are much better than what you could get in the 1960s, ice cream is better, etc. etc.

      Peter Akuleyev

      May 4, 2016 at 9:17 am

    • I home can peaches, and buy them from farm stands. I’ve gone through more than a few varieties (red haven, lemon elberta, o’henry, red globe, veteran). Like apples, there are different breeds of peaches that have different qualities. Some are just more popular than others.
      Peaches, however, don’t continue to sweeten after they are picked, and most fruit sold in stores are picked before they are fully ripe. To get really good peaches, you need to buy them from the farmers.

      Half Canadian

      May 4, 2016 at 2:29 pm

  22. One last comment on this section – those ranting about the poor quality of food in America is correct. The Anglo Prole Sphere has bad food.

    Montreal has better food than NYC by a mile. It’s the only city in North America that can rival the Big Apple in terms of the number of restaurants and the variety it offers. Much of what Manhattan offers is average at best, and only the best tasting food is afforded to those with deep pockets. So they say, that’s what Capitalistic America is all about. Furthermore, many of our racial minorities do not have anything good to offer, not even food. What a sad state of affairs!


    May 4, 2016 at 10:04 am

  23. Bah. A lot of these comments have no historical context. Americans have traditionally preferred bland, uniform, hygienic food over the tasty stuff that would kill you that they escaped in Europe. The great sauces were there to hide rotting food, remember. Treats came about cautiously. In the day McDonald’s was based on a tea-time hamburger, a delicacy of the past generation for rare occasions and favored by grandmas that went wild as people adopted it as a handy snack. It sure beat the version of a hamburger steak sandwich I was served by a diner in 1959. Or the cold monstrosity on a stale bun I ate in Montreal last week which place also screwed up my cup of black coffee.

    In recent years with standard hygiene, variety, and importation of different cuisines and products, and the ability to have in-season/organic items all year round, American food is now the best and tastiest/varied in the world–or the blandest/saltiest depending on what you’re looking for. In my small city I can get farm-fresh organics, weird stuff imported from Thailand, French cuisine across from McD’s, 14 varieties of tomatoes, 12 types of jam from the UK, fresh fish, and good old blando americano all a few blocks from my home, not to mention stuff from my community garden. Only now, imports have to meet US standards and legal systems. At the same time, food in foreign countries has vastly improved as they adopt US-style democracy and feel the pressure of US tourism and impatience with their arrogant culinary incompetence.

    Yeah, many Americans are letting themselves get fat as they enjoy their prosperity from being winners. They’ll toughen up again as they do every other generation or so and we begin colonizing planets and exporting monster super-tomatoes from the Moon.


    May 4, 2016 at 11:50 am

  24. Central air and heat have to be a bigger cause than some people realize.

    The body used to burn enormous amounts of calories at rest just trying to maintain the right temperature.


    May 4, 2016 at 12:39 pm

    • Mate, this is a brainwave! Never thought about it. But people used to bundle up and huddle and cuddle, so I’m not sure how much was actually spent on maintaining the body temperature.


      May 4, 2016 at 2:51 pm

  25. And perhaps abundant food is behind rising IQs. More nourishment makes the brain grow better.

    Obviously. That is the cause for the “Flynn Effect”.


    May 5, 2016 at 11:48 pm

  26. Pizza is delicious today, much better than in the 1970s in most places in the country.

    Steve Sailer

    May 7, 2016 at 9:44 pm

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