...Not the kind of wheel you fall asleep at...

What If

A few weeks back, a friend of mine gave me a bag of spare cat food. It was a fairly junky brand, with ground corn being the first ingredient and several different types of "meal" and generic, unspecified "meat" ingredients also appearing close to the top of the ingredient list (all of which cat owners are told to steer clear from when buying cat food). I say this not to rip on her cat food choices but because MY CATS GO ABSOLUTELY NUTS FOR IT. I normally get them a healthy organic cat food, free of corn, meal, and unspecified "meat" ingredients, with bits of dried fruit & vegetables, and they're ok with it. But if I mix the two together in their bowls, they will literally pick the unhealthy, crappy food out and eat only that. And they eat it VORACIOUSLY. They will actually scavenge each others' food bowls just to get the unhealthy, crappy food out of them.

Which got me thinking with a bit of horror last night, if human beings aren't the only ones who'll opt for unhealthy, fastfood-quality food (which I'd always assumed was the case), what implications does this have?? Granted, both brands of food my cats choose between are processed, unnatural foods. But if the natural inclination is to eat that which tastes better, even if it's crappy and artificial and unhealthy, EVEN WITH NON-HUMAN ANIMALS, what does this say?

Is it possible that the "survival of the fittest" evolutionary tendency/programming many of us invest our beliefs in may actually be getting usurped by a self-destructive evolutionary programming? Could animal species (humans included) actually be evolutionarily programmed to reach a point in our timelines in which we begin to eradicate the existence of ourselves from the planet so that SOME other evolutionary heavyweight can step up? Are all these things that we're fighting so hard against--the health and environmental destructiveness of our food choices--actually PART OF the natural and intended course of evolution??

What if Werner Herzog's statement in Encounters at the End of the World that "human life is part of an endless chain of catastrophes" is dead on?

I don't know if I believe this of course, but good god: what if it's true?



Anonymous bo said...

Randal does the same thing. He always wants the fancy stuff, but whenever I've put out a bowl of janky cat food, he noms it 'til it's gone. Switters is non-discriminating, so I can't say about him.

Yet, neither the 'good' nor the 'bad' food seem to affect either cat adversely. If Randal's in a puking stage, he pukes regardless of the quality of food. So maybe this isn't a survival-of-the-fittest thing. Maybe they eat it because they'll survive regardless.

Or maybe they know they're domesticated and probably wouldn't make it in the real world so, what the hell, may as well eat whatever.

10:34 AM

Anonymous dorklepork said...

I hear what you're saying. It's hard to consider all the questions you raise in the context of a diet of processed food, though, since the tendencies and attractions are all based (unchangeably so) on naturally-occurring (non-processed) foods.

We're attracted to sweet things because -- evolutionarily -- "sweet" means energy and ripeness and such. Salt means necessary minerals and lack of (most) bacteria. Yummy, savory things smell and taste good to us ONLY because they smelled and tasted good to our ancestors that fared better than their brothers and sisters that nommed on rank, foul-smelling stuff that killed them. So on and so forth. I'm oversimplifying, of course, but that's the gist.

I'd probably counter that the question of fitness here might have to be tracked all the way back to the (human) intelligence that is evaluating ingredients and creating the processed foods. And not only the intelligence to make food that smells/tastes right, but the (counter-intuitive, really) intelligence to realize that base instincts such as taste and smell are no longer reliable indicators of good/safe/healthy food in our modern environment. "Fit" sometimes means one characteristic trumping another -- in this case, judgment based on intelligence > judgment based on tastiness.

The sad part is that, without the same type of discernment, our pets don't have a fighting chance unless we usurp their tastebuds with our know-better and put their best chance for survival in their bowls for them.

2:10 PM


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