We habitually value costs and benefits more highly in the near term than in the future
Every once in a while, I like to read books about health, food, and the environment, mainly to remind myself that there are plenty of problems out there and plenty of things we do wrong, but also to make myself extra mindful of the food I eat and the unhealthy habits I still nourish. When Jill recommended this book early this year, I wanted to read it for pretty much those same reasons, plus the fact that Jill loved it a lot.
The Story of the Human Body wasn't entirely what I expected it to be, but that's not to say I didn't enjoy it. I guess I was expecting more a contemporary history of how we harm our bodies currently and how we pay for that. But I liked Lieberman's approach much much better - he pretty much took the entire history of the human body, from before our true ancestors' arrival on Earth, to the present. And while he was at it, he gave a good understanding of how we went from hunting cavemen eating what's available in the ground to the more laid-back people of the present who eat food from a can.
He also explores a great deal about evolution. One interesting analysis he mentioned is how our ancestors chewed on mostly hard food but how we now have our foods softened so much that our teeth don't get much exercise. That is part of the reason why we increasingly need braces to help align our teeth better. This book is littered with tons of such interesting tidbits that often fascinated me, but occasionally also left me feeling disappointed about our rapid advancement and industrialization. Make no mistake - I am in no way saying that I will give up today's technologies so that we can have a healthier environment. Remember how smoking was considered okay to do? And now we have in-your-face ads (rightfully so) to help stop it from being a fad. When it first entered the market, who knew that smoking could be a bad thing (something that we just seem to know now). That's the danger - we seem to know what's bad only after it has become bad for us.
I loved this book for its many interesting facts. Lieberman doesn't try to convert you one way or the other. He portrays the picture as it is and explains what can help revert it (eating real food), but admits that it is not something that is going to be easy to do. It doesn't help that some very powerful corporations control a huge chunk of the food industry and no matter how much you look for good food, it is still hard to come by because of how much this industry has been tainted. I will admit that for a good while after listening to this book, I have been feeling very lost in the kitchen when I try to decide what to cook. There is only so much of the same foods you can eat, but while we indulge once in a while, the husband and I have been mostly trying to cook healthy at home.
I will echo what Jill said - "I recommend buying this for people you love, and insisting they read it." There are some valuable lessons in here and I think it is crucial for people to know more about their bodies, how they were meant to evolve, and how their lifestyles evolved instead. It may not make you say no to the next donut you see (though I have now been able to more easily walk away from such foods than I have been before). Rather than just get an oft-stated premise that certain lifestyles are bad for you, this book goes one step ahead - it gives you the history of the human body and lets you figure the lessons out yourself.
I borrowed this audiobook from the good old library.