This is a dark week in American history, and likely one of the saddest. We watched one of our own young adults enter an elementary school, a place of growth, nurturing, and safety, and lose his mind, his body, and his soul. It’s mind-boggling to think about what would cause a person to become so enraged, desperate, and numb to the consequences of his actions.
Over the past several days and likely for several weeks to come, the mass media, social media, and the United States government, will be spending countless hours and dollars discussing the whys and whats of this tragedy and ultimately how to prevent similar atrocities in the future. My guess is that it’s going to go something like this:
- Ban Guns! – Impossible and impractical. America is never going to touch the Bill of Rights…period.
- Arm guards in schools – If we were to put one officer in each of our approximately 100,000 public schools at a $50,000 yearly salary, it would cost our country $5 billion per year and just give the psychotic shooter a primary target. That doesn’t even count expenses.
- Arm teachers – We could train 3 random faculty members in every school and arm them at all times. I think that teachers have enough stress to deal with and giving them a gun might make them want to use it more than they should.
- Blame the media! – Movies, TV, and video games both desensitize the minds of children and young adults, blur the separation between reality and fantasy, and undermine the consequences of real-world actions. I’m all about free speech, but one can’t deny that overexposure can definitely lead to brainwashing. Furthermore, of the top 10 video games of 2012, five are considered “first-person shooters,” where the player can embody a nearly invulnerable character, locked and loaded with realistic weaponry, and free to interact with humanistic characters with virtually no consequences for going on a murderous rampage.
We’re going to put on our “Mr. Fix-It Hat,” as per usual, and go after the symptoms instead of the problems.
We can blame guns, video games, TV, and movies…broken homes, bad parents, teachers, and bullies. The truth probably lies in a combination of the mass. One major point that I think we are missing, and the reason that this post belongs on a food blog, is that food changes behavior both directly and indirectly. Food could be the primary contributor to violent tendencies.
On November 27, 1978, Dan White walked into City Hall and assassinated San Francisco Mayor George Moscone and supervisor, Harvey Milk. Though these murders were clearly premeditated, White’s tipping point occurred when his nutritional imbalance failed him and he slipped into depression. Due to the malnutrition catalyst, commonly known as the “Twinkie Defense,” White’s murder charges were reduced to manslaughter. Fair or not, food clearly affects how we think, feel, and act. Apparently, THE LAW believes that nutrition is partially to blame.
In 2002, Oxford University conducted a pilot where prison inmates were given either a vitamin supplement or a placebo. The objective was to determine if nutrient ingestion has a significant impact on violent tendencies. Inmates who were supplemented showed about a 34% decrease in violent incidents when compared to the same prison’s control group.
Nutrients, specifically Omega 3s (essential building blocks for brain neurons), have been proven to increase overall health and mental stability. In contrast, Omega 6s, commonly found in refined oils, snacks, and fast foods, have shown to decrease cognitive functions, undermine self-control, shorten attention span, and increase irritability. Apparently, SCIENCE believes that nurition is partially to blame.
Let’s assume you don’t buy into law or science. Let’s assume they are “made up” concepts that are corrupted by money and politics, offering little significance to the everyday. Let’s also assume that the chemical composition of food does not directly affect self-control, mood, and depression. The indirect effects of food still drive human behavior. It’s not just what you eat, it’s how you eat.
Sharing in the procurement and consumption of meals has bound numerous civilizations together since the dawn of time. The paleolithic people scavenged and gathered together. The Native Americans moved and hunted together. The settlers farmed together. Mealtime was the one hour per day when the family was truly together to share in the fruits of their labor. This is when they learned the most from and about each other.
The modern-day diet plan offers little to no time for family or community. Why would a young adult want to have a sit-down meal with the family when there are violent movies and TV shows to watch and a worldwide network of other gamers to kill over and over again? Meals are eaten in cars and bedrooms and out of bags and boxes. Food is not hunted or gathered. Farmers, butchers, bakers, and winemakers are rarely seen and frequently exist only as caricatures on store shelves and fast food boxes. Food used to bring people together to not only eat but to form a sense of community, a gathering of compassion and respect for others. This lack of love and togetherness over time can make one depressed, feel like an outcast, and more likely to act out in extremely violent ways.
Mainstream food is no longer social or communal. It is not crafted or shared. It lacks story, togetherness, love, and memory. It is simply a means of sustenance that will allow us to live another few more hours, growing increasingly empty, tired, depressed, and ultimately irritable, angry, and unpredictable. Whether you eat it or not, bad food is deadly.