I remember watching an old cartoon, set in a classic futuristic space setting. For food, they ate a single pill, full of everything needed to survive. It is a concept repeated other places as well: test-tube food. Just figure out the basic necessities of life pack it into one package and then have no worries about nutrition.
It is a reality that has fringes in our current standard diet: Ensure, formula, vitamin packed powders, and breakfast cereals packed with extra vitamins. Recently, the real food movement has pushed away from this overly simplistic science, acknowledging that we often can’t replicate the variance that our diets require, variance only found in the natural world. For the most part we still eat a wide variety of foods, and a varied diet is encouraged.
I watched this video, and started to wonder again about that test tube food. Modern mainstream agriculture is striving for that test tube approach. Figure out the right balance of nutrients, add it to crops in chemical fertilizers. Our food is becoming the result of too ridgid science, focusing not on the hundreds of nutrients in the natural world but a handful that are the most prevalent.
What we put into our food production is also what comes out. And if we are striving for test tube agriculture, the food that comes out is test tube food. It might look like a varied diet, but really often is the same test tube grains processed in ways that simply look different. I realized at one point that sometimes the various processed food I was eating was the same exact food, just flavored and colored to appear different.
When I produce my own food, I don’t use chemical fertilizers, or try to figure out exactly what a plant needs. I focus on natural systems, and let them do the too complex work to figure out myself. And I can see the benefit, in the yolks of my free range eggs, the taste of homegrown tomatoes, and feeling more healthy than ever during the height of harvest season. Test tube, over simplified science shouldn’t be the base of our diet, and so it shouldn’t have a place in our agriculture as well.