Integration - Psychological factors

On another page, I have written about a 'collective amnesia' concerning our food production systems - people do not know that the food they eat is mostly industrial products, and they may not even WANT to know this, so I think it is fair to call this a collective amnesia. It could also be described as a delusion, but whichever word is used, this seems to be a society-wide psychological syndrome, a deliberate blindness.

I also want to mention some other psychological perspectives that I have 'discovered' involving food:-

  • many children's books have talking animals in a traditional farmyard - I jokingly call this the "Farmyard of Eden". This is one of the first things that many children learn about, and from their first toys, they also get an idea of 'cuddly' friendly animals, who love us. This myth seems to have replaced the "Garden of Eden" myth and the collection of religious ideas which dominated for centuries. It also seems to have taken exactly the same role as the religious myths, and nowadays the "Farmyard of Eden" myth is a direct replacement of the previous religious myths.
  • many people have a 'Sacrament of Meat' - in conversations, people say they couldn't live without it, they have to have it every day. This is very widespread. One gets an impression that people feel their world would collapse without eating meat, and perhaps that the more meat they eat, the more 'real' they feel. It seems to be a very strong desire, even a compulsion, and there may be religious elements - for some, it is literally a sacrament (of blood?).
  • people nowadays hate (fear ?) to see soil on their food, otherwise supermarkets would not be so careful to ensure the purity and cleanness of the food on the shelves. Much food is sterilised and irradiated to kill all infections.
  • many people use food in irrational ways - for comfort, in anorexia/bulimia conditions, to display wealth. There is also widespread obesity.

These are some exploratory thoughts, but the sum total of these observations gives an unusual and worrying psychological picture of our society, to which I cannot do justice here. I have read some of Michel Foucault's major works in a search for more understanding of this, and there could be an investigation of food similar to his investigations of sexuality, but this is beyond the scope of my project at the moment.

The factors that I have mentioned above seem to be operating at another level, at a mythic, or sub-discursive level, but they still deeply affect the contents of our shopping baskets. In the same way that there is little discourse about the industrialisation of food production, there are seldom discourses about 'farmyard myths', sacramental food, and sterility of food. The discourses about eating disorders usually focus on psychological and medical factors.

Note. I am not claiming links between these issues, except that they all involve food !

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