Earlier this month, an online lecture series - Marc David's Eating Psychology - presented an interview with alternative health author, Sayer Ji. Ji commented on the ancient, connected history of plants and humans and the corresponding impact on human evolution. Ji regards the essential interaction between humans and food as a physical history that runs back thousands of years; in addition, he feels that this interaction is so fundamentally tied to the essence of human (and plant and animal) life that it contains a spiritual or metaphysical dimension, which is reflected in our minds and cultures.
Ji claims that the turn of Millennium marks a growing awareness of this latter dimension; there is an
amazing Millennial transformation of consciousness which is the discovery that the human genome doesn't even have enough protein coding genes to describe the 100,000 or so genes in the human body. There ... [are only] about 22- [to] 23,000. And so that means we can't even look to the gene even to explain the existence of the human body per se.
There are factors beyond the control of the gene, related to diet primarily, and environmental factors and our psychology which feed ... into our physiology that is primordial. And so nutrigenomics is another way of looking at how nutrients affect genes and their expression. And the informational part of food is coming to the fore.
A quick example: last year [in 2012], in the journal Cell Research, Chinese researchers discovered that ... [when you eat rice] little non-coding microRNAs ... go into our blood plasma and serum and they start silencing different genes. And so that discovery helps to unlock this picture which is how ... the body co-evolves with certain foods for millions of years and then, actually, they become dependent on each other. ...
So I think we're going to see this insertion of the metaphor of the soul back into food. ... [Food] contains packets of information that regulate the expression of our DNA and ... unless we respect that form of the food - organically grown, or through permaculture - then we're not going to be healthy.
Ji's angle comes from his original background in philosophy. But his attitude also reflects a Millennial theme commonly observed on this blog, namely, a popular return to spiritualism, superstition and even religiosity through scientific ideas and pseudo-scientific language. Commentators are inferring non-scientific assumptions from research in the scientific and technological spheres. In addition, there is a battle between proponents of the so-called 'rational' and 'irrational' over who may appropriate and dominate technical language and the results of scientific studies. The use and abuse of scientific concepts to legitimize non-scientific ideas are particularly evident around areas of research that are newsworthy and ground-breaking (such as quantum physics and genetics).
Another speaker at David's lecture series, Joel M. Evans MD, argues for something called 'spiritual nutrition.' An OB/GYN who began his career with a conventional medical outlook that frowns on untested New Age health hypotheses, Evans eventually expanded his interests in his clinical practice. Taking a similar stance to Ji, Evans claims that: "What we eat affects the non-physical part of ourselves ... the soul, the spirit, whatever you want to call it."
See all my posts on the Philosophy of Time.