Frequently, as one grows older his/hers ambitions to be healthy are increased, which could be caused by many different factors that vary individually. In my case, I was mostly influenced by the changes I saw in my body once I started to live by myself and was, consequently, given the power to make decisions regarding the food I would have in my plate. After a common phase of “living the moment” and “enjoying life” where I was eating anything I felt like, I started to really think about what I would ingest and fuel my body with. With that, I started to inform myself the more I could and began to apply this knowledge in every decision I made concerning my nutrition; after all, you are what you eat, right? This process lead me to pay attention and question what I would eat and what were my options. Accordingly, I found myself evaluating what I could choose to eat for breakfast, and I encountered a supposedly “healthy” option that stated: “made with real cream.” My first thoughts enveloped questions such as “what does this mean?” and “what is real cream?”, however, I suddenly started to realize that if a company feels the necessity to state that the cream it uses is real, it is because other products include “fake” cream.
This entire attention to ingredients, specially with respect to what is meant by real ingredients opened my eyes to a world of chemicals and toxins that go into edibles. Now a days, the food we buy at supermarkets is filled with GMO’s, conservatives, and food coloring, for example. When ingesting these foods, the human interventions made in it become registered in people’s bodies, affecting their ecological bodies. This body is “characterized by its ‘permeability,’ a constant exchange between inside and outside, by fluxes and flows, and by its close dependence on the surrounding environment” (Alaimo, pg. 90). Therefore, the environment where a vegetable -for example- was farmed, the pesticides and fertilizers utilized to growing it, the handling and relationships when collecting and distributing it, and the pollution from its transportation is all involved in one body. Therefore, if one wants to keep its body “clean” from the dirt in the environment and in human made toxins, then one has to pay really close attention to what he or she is ingesting. On the other hand, it is important to note that even the most dedicated person will never be secure from the outside world, as our bodies are helplessly porous.
The viscous porosity of our bodies allow us to be in continue contact with the nature and culture around us. It transforms a natural occurring flesh of one body into a different material or structure than what normally occurs in nature, and the toxins and chemicals in foods are part of this transformation. This porosity is a vital part of us, allowing us to breathe, for example; however, “it often does not discriminate against that which can kill us.” (Tuana, pg.198)As an example, the viscous porosity often binds itself to strange and toxic bedfellows. Therefore, these chemicals and “fake” ingredients could contaminate us and even bring diseases to our body, which highlights why there were much less contamination many years ago.
In the past, food was more natural and therefore, less mutated; there was no such things as real and fake cream, because there was only cream. People used to eat what they farmed, and consequently, they knew exactly what they were ingesting, what was safe and what wasn’t. In opposition to that, now we eat food that was produced many miles away from us and we can go to supermarkets and buy from an array of options at anytime we want. This may be the reason why we are infected with so many diseases: we are not sure of what is it that we are eating. When looking at a list of ingredients, one could encounter many non-recognizable words, such as Riboflavin, Niacinamide, and Pyrodoxine-Hydrochloride which are evidence of deviation from the organic, unprocessed foods. When absorbing these ingredients, one’s ecological body is infected, yet, the body does not necessarily expose symptoms valuable of diagnosis. This could be because for the modern body, specially in this case, “‘health’ comes to connote primarily the absence of disease; it implies both purity and the ability to fend off harmful organisms and substances.” (Alaimo, pg.90) Moreover, because of this possible lack of harm, “halting or just minimizing the production and dissemination of toxic substances would have staggering economic results for chemical companies”(Alaimo, pg.91)Hence, it is important to note that health involves both individual decisions and public policy, regulations, and enforcement, as well as the environment and its conditions.
Marina Kleinschmidt Leal Santos.
Alaimo, S. Bodily Natures: Science, Environment, and the Material Self [excerpts] (Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 2010).
Tuana, Nancy, “Viscous Porosity: Witnessing Katrina,” in Material Feminisms, ed. Stacy and Susan J. Hekman (Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 2007).