Why do I call my blog ‘Nutriphilosophy’? Excellent question. Complex answer. Of course, most folks would think that I’m just trying to be clever. Well, maybe just a tad! But the real reason is a lot more complicated than that. My first ideas for a name were cute little phrases such as ‘Food for Thought’ and ‘Chew on This’, but in this overcrowded blogosphere of the Interwebs it’s real hard to come up with anything clever that someone hasn’t already grabbed up. It was extremely frustrating to punch stuff into Google and watch it get regurgitated over and over again. I finally took a deep breath and asked myself “What is your blog really about?”. Is it about daily lectures on the science of nutrition? No. That would be pretentious. Is it about dispensing sage advice on what people should be putting into their bodies? No. That would be arrogant. Is it about humbly throwing some ideas out there to give people something to ponder, a starting point for personal enquiry? Yes! Absolutely. Then it occurred to me that this type of enquiry falls under the general academic purview of philosophy, hence ‘nutrition philosophy’. I therefore squished the two words together and came up with ‘Nutriphilosophy’, then was relieved to discover that there was only one domain out there in the Interwebs that had already staked a tenuous claim upon my cute little made-up word and it was a small now-defunct business in Rio De Janeiro that had not seen any activity online since 2007, so I was pretty sure that I wasn’t about to get an irate message from a bored Brazilian lawyer anytime soon!
Now back to the point I’ve been trying to make. At first glance, nutrition and philosophy present as seemingly disparate disciplines, but they aren’t really as incompatible as one might think. Nutrition science is forever growing and evolving, and even merging with other disciplines these days, e.g. genetics, epidemiology, anthropology, etc. Thus, nutrition science should be viewed as a transdisciplinary approach to investigating the cultural and etiological implications of what we choose to eat and why. Also, I have learned as the years go by that long-held beliefs and dogma continue to be reworked, debunked and discredited, e.g. eggs are good for us, then they’re bad for us, now they’re good for us again (as long as they’re “cage free”), and on and on. When I took my first deep dive into the world of nutrition a little over 10 years ago, I thought I knew a lot. I thought I had all the answers! Today, a Bachelors and Masters degree later, I now know how little I know and how little we all know about nutrition-related matters that we thought we knew a lot about. A recurring theme in my academic studies is that I was astonished by how often I would read words such as “It is not known at this time…” or “Further investigation is needed…” in my expensive impressive-looking textbooks. And I also noticed that my professors with doctorates were actually more humble than many of my classmates, simply because they had spent enough time in academia to have been imbued with the humility and understanding that comes from grasping that what we know for certain is a quantity much smaller than what we don’t know.
What all this amounts to essentially is that any proclamations or fad diets that grow from the fertile soil of nutrition science should be viewed with both an open mind and some healthy skepticism (pun intended), with the realization that anything we say today could be discredited tomorrow or, at the very least, updated and more clearly defined. In the light of this argument, it is not a great leap of logic to state unequivocally that any observations which I or any of my peers unleash upon the Interwebs is little more than an educated philosophy of nutrition, an informed point-of-view at best, one that is forever morphing into newer iterations. Plato begat Socrates, Socrates begat Aristotle.
Having said all this, I realize that the reader might cynically think to themselves that if this is true and we don’t know jack, then that’s a great excuse to start eating at Jack in the Box, right? Wrong! Just because there’s still a lot for us to learn, that’s no excuse for trashing our bodies by consuming foods that we know for sure will kill us, slowly and ubiquitously. So we make best decisions based on best information and humbly acknowledge that a slight course correction may be required at some point in the future. Knowledge is forever evolving, but facts are still facts. This is the beating heart of science. This is my heart!