Niagara Gazette

July 24, 2013

BRADBERRY: We are what we consume, right?

By Bill Bradberry
Niagara Gazette

Niagara Gazette — You’ve heard it said; “Garbage in, garbage out” (GIGO), a common reference to bad, or nonsensical information input into a computer will invariably produce nonsensical output.

Well, it’s logical to conclude that the human brain, the most advanced computer ever created, behaves the same way, as does our body; that is, if we feed our brains incomplete, imprecise, or incorrect information our decision-making processes and the conclusions we draw which govern the decisions we make, will inevitably be faulty, right?

Applied to what we eat, the term, “You are what you eat” makes perfect sense; at least it seems to me, probably because my Mom and most of the health information I have relied upon most of my life strongly suggest that I cannot survive on candy alone; I need pie too ...

A quick Internet search traces the origin of the term “You are what you eat” to the simple notion that to be fit and healthy you need to eat good food. In fact, one site “the phrase finder” reports that Anthelme Brillat-Savarin wrote, in Physiologie du Gout, ou Meditations de Gastronomie Transcendante in, 1826, “Dis-moi ce que tu manges, je te dirai ce que tu es.” (Tell me what you eat and I will tell you what you are.)

The article points to an essay titled Concerning Spiritualism and Materialism, 1863/4, wherein Ludwig Andreas Feuerbach wrote: “Der Mensch ist, was er ißt.” Which translates into English as ‘man is what he eats’.

Clearly, they both were claiming that the food one eats has a bearing on one’s state of mind and health.

Over time, the claim gained credence, and by 1923 in an advertisement for beef in an edition of the Bridgeport Telegraph, for ‘United Meet [sic] Markets’ stated, “Ninety per cent of the diseases known to man are caused by cheap foodstuffs. You are what you eat.”

By the 1960s, along with the so-called “Hippie Movement” came a resurgence of the theory in the form of macrobiotics creating the birth of the new Health Food craze, some of which, in one form or another is still around today.

By 1967, Jefferson Airplane’s Grace Slick and their now classic album, Surrealistic Pillow’s hit single “White Rabbit” took the notion to a whole new level with a reinterpretation of Lewis Carroll’s 1865 “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” and the 1871 sequel, “Through the Looking Glass” adding an hallucinogenic meaning to the story’s admonition to remember what the dormouse said, “Feed your head, feed your head, feed your head ...”

Fortunately, over time, the song’s meaning has expanded in most quarters to reference the need to feed one’s brain with accurate, reliable, unbiased truth, which nowadays may be difficult to discern, particularly for those disinclined to seek it as is easily evidenced by the recent behavior of certain decision-makers ranging from the Supreme Court to the Congress, local tribunals such as juries and even City Councils to name a few.

No one is completely immune from the constant barrage of temptation; someone, something is always there, trying to lure us, trying to feed us bad food, bad information, which, if it is not countered with healthy nutrition and unbridled honesty, will surely cause us to arrive at unhealthy, dishonest conclusions.

It really is a challenge to sort through all of the flashy advertising claims, the so-called scientific “proof”, paid “testimonials” and frightening disclaimers making it difficult to tell anymore; what’s safe to consume, what’s true; how do we know the garbage from the good stuff when they’re both wrapped in realistic looking packaging?

Which “news” channels, reporters, and talking-heads can we trust to be telling the truth?

The recent rash of unfortunate extreme vitriol both on the national as well as the local levels can only be the result of bad information, most of it fueled by fear, mistrust and, in some cases, over active imaginations fed by economic stress, isolation and the poverty of spirit.

Too many people are accepting nonsense as truth, forming rock solid opinions based upon the bad information and biased opinions they’re processing, and thereupon, making regrettable decisions with catastrophic results.

Whether it is the adoption of an all-candy diet, or a “Stand your ground ... shoot first, blame later” principle, some common sense must prevail over our decision-making, or half of us will wind up as obese, pistol packing idiots, succumbing to diabetes and heart disease and the other half will end up shot dead.

Might I suggest a drastic change in diet, both in what we eat, and in what we feed our brains will lead us all to better outcomes than the catastrophic results we are certainly headed for if we don’t slow our roll and modify our consumption.

As they say, “Garbage in, garbage out,” right?


Contact Bill Bradberry at

Contact Bill at