Once upon a time in a galaxy far, far away lived a people who were rather like us. Their food was like ours, except that it contained a part called Spirit. The people were a primitive society so no one knew much about Spirit. They enjoyed their food. Spirit was spread throughout the food supply with varying amounts in different foods. It varied even more with different seasons and in different provinces. Some foods had none at all. Mostly foods high in spirit were in short supply. In some villages they were only used on special occasions or in their natural medicines.
In other villages the local food was high in Spirit. The effect of Spirit was not noticeable even there, as the people had adapted well, or were tolerant of the excitable or active behaviour it caused. In all the provinces of the planet, the people developed practices that included using minimal high Spirit food in babies and in those who were frail. A small number of people decided they would not eat high Spirit food as it kept them awake, or they got sick in some way. Most other people who never had these things happen told them they were just fussy. As the planet people travelled they bought foods from other provinces home to their villages. Their communities tried out the new foods and often just added those, like spicy Spirit foods, in very small amounts, and a tradition of careful use of foods that happened to be high in Spirit resulted.
As the planet developed, the planet people became good at investigating their world and their food. They learned that their food contained many parts that were good for life extending.
The planet people modernised in many ways. They had access to many high Spirit foods and enjoyed them. Very few had problems, and these happened only in certain families anyway, mostly the families who were seen as fussy about food. Big food suppliers learned how to make high Spirit parts, so they added them to foods. The planet people liked them as the new foods looked and tasted good and the food suppliers made more and more.
One year a charismatic healer expert in rashes, noticed that when he stopped sick people eating high-Spirit-food, not only did the rashes go away but their brains worked much better. This was seen as a miracle by some people, especially the families who were seen as fussy about food. They started societies promoting low Spirit food. The charismatic healer really disturbed the big villages with his idea that high Spirit foods may be poisonous for all children. He focussed on the increased intake of added Spirit as the poison.
Healers who were good at investigating problems put children on low Spirit foods and hid one of the added Spirit parts to see what would happen. Not much did, so all the other healers and the rulers said added Spirit was of no concern. Other healers who were also good at investigating things saw that high Spirit foods could have different effect on a small number of people. Some of this small number became excitable, some wakeful, some “touchy”, some acted immature, and some wanted to fight everyone. Some got headaches, sometimes very bad ones, and some became sick. These investigators gradually understood more. They saw that an added Spirit part that was not investigated was used in much greater amounts than the one used in the first investigations. They also noticed that hiding added Spirit in favourite children food was a problem as the favourite brown food was high in a natural Spirit. They noticed that some children had problems with some foods which were not high in Spirit at all. These were foods that often caused rashes.
Some people who were good at investigating things found that many natural high Spirit food contained parts that prevented many of the illnesses that made many planet people die early. It was interesting that those illnesses did not occur much in the families who were seen as fussy about food.
The issue about Spirit turned out to be quite complicated. Some healers said it was so complicated it could not be a problem really, especially as it seemed to be affecting only a small number. Other healers continued to work with the families using low Spirit diets and saw that they were useful.
There arose in the planet people a big muddle whereby people knew that Spirit parts affected how contented people some people felt, how clearly they thought and whether they had some distressing symptoms. Most of the people were busy with other important happenings. Some even forgot that this knowledge was available. They forgot that if a small number are not thinking clearly, act before thinking, or are not content, it can affect others. The healers who were seeing these things reminded all the others who were good at finding things out to consider this knowledge in all their new learnings.
What a lovely story (and food for thought!) .. explaining the complexities of what we consume.. One wonders if there is more to other ‘stories’ eg why is the Apple the culprit in Snow White and Adam and Eve.. Why was garlic used to ward off witches etc?
Interesting too when you explore with some folk how certain drugs work/don’t work with them eg thinking of experiences with some pain killers.
Dear Ann, I presented this story at a conference in 1999, and I am amazed to realize that little has changed in thinking since then! I like your idea of wondering if some of the ideas about food may be connected to reactions. Over time you could collect them and maybe present them somewhere. Of course they would be welcome on this site too! Warm regards Joan