Food Now vs. Then

In the last 100 years the healthfulness of our diet/ lifestyle has changed more than in the previous 10,000! This link is a scholarly article about global dietary changes.


Health. According to research in the 1930’s of indigenous populations who still ate their historical “primitive” diets, those groups were healthy, fertile and had great teeth that did not need fillings or braces.

Health” Care Crisis. The US spends more than any country on medical care, but is shamefully low in most measures of health. Chronic disease is rampant. Obesity and diabetes are epidemic.

  • Real food

  • Some “foods” made entirely from chemicals. (e.g. lemon-free lemonade?)

  • Variety (e.g. whatever was available)-Nuts, seeds, vegetables, greens, roots, berries, eggs, fish & wild game. Variety means a broader range of nutrients and less exposure to the downside of a particular food.

  • The main “vegetables” are potatoes and catsup. The most popular foods are flour, sugar, vegetable oil, processed cheese, chicken and beef simply put together in different configurations.

  • Foods eaten only in season (unless dried)

  • Year round availability of everything

  • From local area where the food and the person were adapted

  • Foods from anywhere in the world

  • Soil naturally nutrient rich
  • Crop rotation is no longer practiced and chemicals kill the microorganisms which otherwise support nutrient value
  • Picked when ripe (when nutrients fully developed)

  • Picked for green (before complete) for storing and transporting

  • Organic

  • Contaminated with pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, waxes & irradiated. Antibiotics even sprayed on vegetables. Roundup sprayed on crops at harvest.

  • Naturally-occurring species

  • Genetically modified to contain genetics and chemicals with unknown effects

  • Animals ate their natural diet. E.g. meat, eggs & dSairy green fed

  • Most farm animals and even farmed fish are fed corn and the lectins stay in the food. Grain-based meat, eggs & butter are deficient in crucial nutrients and fat soluble vitamins like K2

  • Fish were grown in the wild ocean
  • Farm raised salmon may be the most toxic food in the world. Read more.
  • Animals not medicated

  • Hormones & millions of pounds of antibiotics / year in food supply

  • Free of chemical preservatives, colors, dough conditioners, etc.

  • Several pounds of food chemicals per person per year

  • Food evolved and matured naturally becoming more nutritious and flavorful
  • Foods bred to grow fast and cheap
  • Natural flavors-not enhanced to create addiction

  • Artificially flavored and chemically enhanced (e.g. MSG)

  • Fresh (so full nutrient value maintained)

  • Shipped often long distances and stored repeatedly

  • Not manipulated

  • Homogenized, pasteurized, otherwise tortured

  • Much of it raw (food enzymes and nutrients still intact)

  • Cooked & reheated (nutrients lost & use of the body’s enzymes required)

  • Whole (e.g. vegetables or seeds)

  • Refined (parts removed), processed (e.g. white flour)

  • Nutrient-dense (e.g. a yam)

  • Nutrient-poor (e.g. Pringles which is mostly starch)

  • Calorie-poor (an apple was small apple, eaten whole)

  • Calorie-dense (e.g. bred to be sweet and juice concentrates sugar from many apples)

  • Nearly equal balance of Pro-inflammation Omega 6 (vegetable oil) with anti-inflammation omega 3 fatty acids (e.g. flax and fish oil)

  • Now consume at least 20 times as much Omega 6 as Omega 3 (processed foods as well as grain-fed animals and farmed fish are higher in Omega 6)

  • Natural fats (undamaged). Lower saturated-animals were lean

  • Trans fats, and rancid over-cooked fats. Animals pen-fattened

  • Fat prized for its energy and to help with protein utilization

  • Fat is feared (a fad based more on $$ and politics than science)

  • Infant food was breast milk

  • Formula often used (low in DHA and probiotics)

  • Baby foods were varied foods and some were bitter

  • Only a few bland foods so baby doesn’t develop a taste for variety

  • Babies not given grains

  • Grains introduced too early

  • Grains (if any) eaten by adults were fermented to be more digestible

  • Grains are a huge part of the diet & gluten content has increased

  • Foods were stored by way of drying or fermentation that increased good gut bacteria

  • Lack of fermented foods and added preservatives that may kill gut bacteria

  • Sugar virtually unavailable except seasonally in scarce fruits

  • Average consumption is 160+ pounds per person per year

  • Fructose (which increases hunger) was also rare

  • High fructose corn syrup in the majority of processed foods and sodas/

  • Foods had low glycemic effect (did not spike blood sugar)

  • High glycemic effect (refined starch raises blood sugar fast)

  • Any sweet food (like root vegetable) provided nourishment

  • Artificial sweeteners upset our metabolism and seem to alter gut bacteria

  • Seasoning was with herbs that provided important health benefits
  • Flavor comes mainly from salt and chemicals
  • Naturally-occurring vitamins, absorbable minerals

  • Even “Enriched” can mean a few synthetic vitamins and cheap minerals added back

  • The only milk was mother’s milk and that was just for babies.

  • Dairy is “required” by the government guidelines for adults. Contains hormones, antibiotics and is allergenic.

  • Beverages were water and herb tea

  • Besides milk: coffee, sweetened coffee drinks, sodas, sweet juices, alcohol and energy drinks

  • Water was free of man-made chemicals

  • Water supplies now carry chlorine, pesticides, industrial chemicals and even medications

  • Because food was often scared but time was plentiful, portions were small and leisurely meals aided digestion
  • Grocery stores runneth over and restaurants compete to offer the biggest servings. Meals are often rushed and even eaten in cars.
  • A great deal of exposure to sunshine
  • Live in houses, drive in cars, work in offices, wear sunscreen if outside
  • Active lifestyles required to get food
  • Often sedentary
  • Went to sleep when it was dark
  • Electricity and television changed that

Copyright 2002-2017 by Martie Whittekin, CCN

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