Humans are Dead-Eats
The most surprising idea I've run across this year was a concept that seems to be boringly familiar to botanists, but far from conventional wisdom.
Fruits are alive and intelligent.
An apple or tomato doesn't die at the moment when it falls from the 'active' part of the plant. It has to do an important job. It must protect seeds and attract the right carrier for those seeds. Toward those goals, the fruit monitors its environment (light, heat, chemical signals) and adapts to those signals.
Seeds, whether contained in fruit or dispensed separately, are also alive and intelligent. If they get the chance they will become full-grown plants. A seed constantly monitors its environment, waiting for the right moment to germinate.
These concepts break down the conventional division between alive and dead.
Our rules of dietary morality are based on a simple dividing line. Large visible animals, moved by an intelligence that we recognize, count as alive and require special attention. Religions make kosher/halal rules or absolute prohibitions against eating large visible animals.
Wise walnuts and astute apples ruin this nice neat distinction.
Applying this broader standard, the live/dead distinction moves to a new place. Raw plants are alive when eaten. Raw animals are generally dead when we eat them, but not always. Japs seem to enjoy eating things that wiggle as they go down. Even if the sushi isn't looking you in the eye and waving at you, it still contains lots of bacteria and other microbes. Teeming with life.
Only cooked food
, whether plant or animal, is totally dead. Fruit-life halted, seed-potential halted, microbes dead.
And that's the newly formed distinction. Intentionally using fire to cook our food is the only truly unique human activity. Tools are not unique, language is not unique. Only fire.
In other words, we are the only species that eats dead food
= = = = =
For those of us who aren't inside one of the older religious traditions, should this new understanding lead to guilt? Should we stop eating entirely? No. The Grand Blueprint gives some answers. We are part of the blueprint of life and we have our own purposes. Purely for my own purposes, not intending to make rules for others, I observe that plants want to be eaten
and animals don't want to be eaten. Fruits and flowers are designed
to be picked up and consumed, or picked up and carried away. That's why they're colorful and tasty.
Labels: Grand Blueprint, Smarty-plants