Thursday, September 3, 2015

Would You Eat Here?

Y'all know how much I love tech, right?  But even more than I love tech, I love food.  A recent article by NPR is on an automated "restaurant" - which commenter Lencho stated: "That isn't a restaurant. It's a glorified feeding trough."  Dude, I'm with you!  Others point out this is nothing new, as they had automated food vending/dispensing machines back in the 1940's-50's.  However, the concept is slightly different, that "food" (or what they call food) will be served without any Human interaction (or even Humans visible).

Let's take a look at what food is.  First of all, let me be totally clear - much of what we call "food" and is available in a grocery store, is not food.  And, I need to take yet another step back, and take a look at what is a Human being, because food is what sustains us.

A Human being is not, as we are so wont to think of ourselves, a single organism.  We are, instead, a colony of billions of organisms, hundreds (or thousands?) of species living in a symbiotic relationship.  What!?  What's that?  You didn't know?  It's true.  In our mouth alone is over 100 species of bacteria, whose healthy mix begins the digestion process and keeps our mouths disease free.  Think of this - the single point in our bodies that is designed to constantly accept stuff from the outside world in, so of course, it must have the best immune defense designed into it.  And you thought mouthwash was doing you a favor.  Our digestive tract (or gut) contains many more species of bacteria and viruses, all responsible for the final breakdown of food particles, and the beginning of the distribution of nutrients throughout our bodies.  Our skin, as you may have seen, is host to various little microscopic creepy crawlies that keep things - you guessed it - healthy.  Over millenia, Humans have developed fermented foods and diets to repopulate these germs in our gut - beers, wines, pickles, breads, chocolate, and more.

So, food too is a living thing.  Foods that do not decompose, are not foods.  They are simply organic matter that are not fit for Human consumption (yes, that's right, I do not trust FDA designation "GRAS").  Let's look at it this way - if the normal agents of decomposition (bacteria, oxygen, little critters) won't touch the "food," then it is toxic, and you shouldn't either.

Now that we've gotten that out of the way, what does food do for us?  There, we could spend an entire book!  Food sustains us, it keeps us going.  More than that, the nutrients we get are directly responsible for our development (or lack thereof).  If we don't get the right nutrition as infants, we can get sick and die, or develop into very severely negatively-affected adults.  That we know.  Food is the single biggest impact on health, bigger even than smoking, exercise, or environmental exposure.  But that is not all, oh no, that is not all (to quote the Cat in the Hat).  We have come from a long line of families throughout the ages, who have attached religious significance to certain foods.  Up until modern times, Mankind has placed huge reverence on people with the skills to prepare foods, grow foods, cook foods, and handle foods.  Food has given us a sense of being, belonging, family, tradition, religion, and more - a place in the universe.

Now, if we take out everything about food that makes it food - and leave behind a vending machine that gives you prepackaged food-like substance (it doesn't immediately kill you, but will over years and years), where does that leave us?  (Yes, while there may be a person behind that facade, it is still a vending machine, but with Human parts.  How's that make you feel?)  And if we don't care about where the food comes from, who brought it to us, and what standards they have in growing and handling it - then what DO you care about?  You don't care about yourself, obviously - as like I said, food is the single biggest factor in our health.

So, get your cameras out folks - and if you capture a (unretouched) photo of me sitting in one of these types of establishments, eating - I will personally pay you $1 million.  And know that, in that case, it is because the apocalypse has arrived, and I have found this place to scavenge because it is one of the few remaining places to get something to eat to get me through the current day - so the million dollars I have I found in an abandoned ATM.
Now tell me - does this restaurant remind you of any science fiction movies or stories you may have heard?

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