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Thursday, February 21, 2008

Om nom nom

I was walking back to work from Subway the other day -- I'd bought a six-inch toasted Meatball sub with chipotle sauce and a bunch of veggies -- and was too hungry to wait until I got back to my desk. So, what did I do? I unwrapped the darn thing and ate it.

I really enjoy walking and eating. There is something very satisfying, very, I dunno, right about mastication and perambulation. Your legs are going, your jaw is going, you're taking in calories and burning them at the same time. It's just plain good -- that's why some of the most succesful companies in the history of the planet have a business model based on take-out you can eat with your hands.

Of course, there's also the whole thing about food and fresh air that enhances the experience. Everyone knows that eating outside is more enjoyable than eating inside. Why else would patios and picnic be so popular? It ain't 'cause o' the bees and the ants, that's for sure. The food just tastes better.

Really, though, I think there's more to it than the fluff I just tossed out. Bruce Chatwin (one of my favourite authors -- everyone should read his stuff) writes in his book, "The Songlines", about how humans were meant to eat on the move. Long before McDonald's, and long before fish and chips or meat on a stick, people were taking their food to go. Right back to the original nomads, wandering the African grasslands, we can trace the history of eating and walking. Certainly, there is an evolutionary advantage to not hanging around after you find some food: dead animals attract live animals, the kind with sharp, pointy teeth.

The nomadic lifestyle is by definition one of movement. All of our ancestors were nomads, before they settled down in, uh, well they don't call them "settlements" for nothing. Humans are built for walking. More specifically, unlike pretty much every other animal that's ever been, we're built for carrying and manipulating stuff while we walk. It's that whole bipedalism thing -- without it, there would have been no point in growing thumbs in opposition to the rest of our fingers.

So we walk. And we eat -- a significant part of human culture has to do with food. And if we can walk and eat, instead of sticking around for the competition to show up and try to take our food away from us, we're that much better off.

Walking and eating is primal, a survival feature that keeps us healthy and whole. We've developed physically in a way that facilitates just such a behaviour. We've developed culturally to make it easy to get the kind of food we can carry and enjoy. It's part of our evolution, both physical and sociological -- part of our nature.

No wonder it feels so good.



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