When I was a kid, I loved to think about how things work. I distinctly recall being at book fairs and being unequivocally drawn to books about systems. In a way, the kinds of things I learn and write about here would probably have made child me very proud. I'd ask for books about how weather works, why volcanoes erupt, what causes earthquakes, and how to measure rainfall and wind speed. I, for whatever reason, really wanted to know how the world functioned, and enjoyed trying to understand some of the most complex topics I could get my hands on.
What's interesting about that mindset for kid me, though, is that I'd often learn what I wanted to learn and get immediately interested in the next question I could think to ask myself. Which, honestly, isn't all that surprising thinking that I wanted to learn all this stuff as a kid. It's like wanting the new shiny toy, but what I wanted was new shiny knowledge. The result is that I built up a lot a shallow knowledge about how things worked, effectively making myself a bit of a walking encyclopedia. It was fun to demonstrate that to people, but I found that I was essentially learning a ton of stuff, but never really applying it to anything.
Little did I know, this was the beginning of a narrative for my life up until now. One that guided how I liked to learn things and shaped my view of the world. I'd say I'm at the end of my story, but I'm certain my thinking will continue to evolve as time goes on. It always does. But I wanted to share this trajectory with you. After all, I have a feeling my thinking is not unique, and you might see yourself at various points of this journey yourself.
So, let's dive in!
Quick disclaimer that this post is more candidly thoughtful than most here. The thoughts within are more inquisitive based on the intersection of the human food system and nature rather than an analytical deep dive. I had been thinking about how "ugly food" services factor into that system and this is an attempt to stitch together a big picture from tangential, interconnected thoughts.
Hope you enjoy it!
Imagine yourself walking through your local grocery store. You're looking for some fruits and vegetables to bring home for a week's worth of meals and you're confronted with a plethora of delightful options. Yet, despite the brilliant display of colors and plenty before you, you're probably still going to pick up and put down at least a few of them before putting anything in your basket. There's this feeling while you're picking your groceries that out of these options, there is some perfect pick for you in the moment.
And, hey, maybe this is true. Maybe you're planning on making a fruit salad in a few days and you don't want the ripest fruit in the batch. It's going to be sitting on your countertop for a few days, and you'd like to account for that. Beyond that bit of planning, though, what is it that's making us be so selective about the food on display. It all looks good enough to prepare meals and cook with. Why are we doing this?
You might be thinking that this is an instinctual human behavior, ensuring we're finding the food that's best for us. This is a correct thought. Humans, as with all animals, do need to go through a certain trial and error when being introduced to an environment. Before we knew which food to display, we needed to know which foods we could actually eat. To some extent, this selection behavior could be a residual habit of our ancestral gathering selves. But, in this environment, it's not about whether the food is edible. Beyond that ripeness point, our selection is one primarily of luxury. We're looking for an "ideal" food. So where does this concept come from?
Let's dive in!
Prismatic Planet wants to get excited for the planet, raise awareness of its inhabitants, and get smarter about Earth.