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Marvin Harris QUOTES / QUOTATIONS
All human beings at one stage of their lives have to be able to digest the lactose in their mothers' milk. But for almost all mammals, as you get older the ability to synthesize the lactose enzyme diminishes until you get to a point where you simply can't digest milk.
Quotation of Marvin Harris
Another benefit that comes from this prohibition on the slaughter of cattle is that it puts a barrier between the farmer and his cattle when there are droughts or other agricultural crises. It is essential that farmers hold on to their plough animals and not give them up for slaughter.
Quotation of Marvin Harris
Briefly, the argument is that it is inadequate to say that the reason why Hindus don't consume beef is that their religion prohibits it.
Quotation of Marvin Harris
But with the Industrial Revolution and introduction of various industrial techniques for purifying sugar, we have a situation in which what we are consuming is not good nutritionally or ecologically.
Quotation of Marvin Harris
But with the passage of time, my position has become generally accepted, in India at least, as being the best way to understand the prohibition on the slaughter of cattle and consumption of beef in India.
Quotation of Marvin Harris
Cattle occupied an essential position in Indian agriculture as power animals, and a choice had to be made between raising cattle for plowing purposes and raising them for meat production; the Indian ecosystem and production system couldn't support both functions.
Quotation of Marvin Harris
Every theory presented as a scientific concept is just that; it's a theory that tries to explain more about the world than previous theories have done. It is open to being challenged and to being proven incorrect.
Quotation of Marvin Harris
Food, like sex, is one of the principal kinds of human activity that engage people when they wonder about how to account for different kinds of human behaviour.
Quotation of Marvin Harris
For example, in southern India, there are more cows than there are male cattle, whereas in northern India there are more male cattle than there are cows. This is related to the different demands made by the regimen of planting wheat in the North versus the regimen of planting rice in the South.
Quotation of Marvin Harris
Good to Eat is another extension of a perspective on how to account for cultural differences and similarities on a global basis, an application of certain general principles for understanding human social life to a particular set of what appear to be unanswerable questions about food preferences.
Quotation of Marvin Harris
Here you do have forests, where pigs could be raised by letting them root about in the forests for a good part of the year. Therefore, you have a different attitude toward them compared with what continues to exist in the Middle East.
Quotation of Marvin Harris
However, further research has shown that it is the normal condition for humans and for most other mammals. It seems pretty clear why this is the case for most mammals and for most human beings.
Quotation of Marvin Harris
However, this indicates that Indians have abundant sunlight and lots of Vitamin C, and are not as stressed for calcium as Northern Europeans are.
Quotation of Marvin Harris
I don't know of any cases where as a result of religious precepts a population have found themselves enjoying less food than they would have if they didn't follow this particular religion.
Quotation of Marvin Harris
I think that by following the route that I have tried to outline, one gets into a much more interesting and productive series of questions than those that result from saying simply that Chinese don't like milk because they don't like milk.
Quotation of Marvin Harris
I use the strength of people's reactions as a gauge of whether or not I am doing the kinds of things I think should be done.
Quotation of Marvin Harris
If I can bring some light to bear on problems like that, I feel that people will be enlightened not only on the question but also on a way of approaching such questions.
Quotation of Marvin Harris
If we look once again to the material conditions of production in specific habitats, the first thing that emerges with respect to the pig in the Middle East is that it is the last kind of domesticated animal that you would want to rear in that habitat.
Quotation of Marvin Harris
If you turn to China, you have a situation in which a choice was made early between dairy as a source of animal protein and calcium, and pig raising plus vegetable planting as a source of animal flesh and calcium.
Quotation of Marvin Harris
If you turn to Europe, to the areas that were the heartland of Christianity at the turn of the Christian era, you are confronted with a totally different ecological situation.
Quotation of Marvin Harris
In addition, the pig has another manifest disadvantage: unlike sheep, goats, and cattle, it is not a ruminant. That is, the pig has a digestive system that does not permit it to consume and gain weight on grass.
Quotation of Marvin Harris
In India, milk has long been a traditional food, but in fermented form, in the form of yogurt, which is a national dish.
Quotation of Marvin Harris
In order for adults to digest milk, they must have an enzyme called 'lactase' present in their intestines, and they must be able to synthesize that enzyme in order to digest the complex sugar that exists in milk, a sugar called 'lactose'.
Quotation of Marvin Harris
In order to control their body temperature they have to have external sources of moisture. That's why they wallow in mud.
Quotation of Marvin Harris
In the case of the milk problem, it is clear that there are immense issues concerning how Third World people are fed. No longer are we shipping powdered milk all over the world and expecting children and juveniles to prosper on 'gifts'.
Quotation of Marvin Harris
Like most North Americans, I'd been raised on the notion that milk is the first food, and everybody must like it because it's so good and so important for growing up and for being healthy.
Quotation of Marvin Harris
Lots of food now is good to eat because it's good to sell. The 'good to sell' feature is overriding what had previously been 'good to eat' because it was nutritionally superior or ecologically most advantageous.
Quotation of Marvin Harris
Meats are another example. The kinds of meat that we are consuming now are different from the kinds of meat that our ancestors consumed. It is now increasingly the case that too much is being consumed, which poses certain health threats that are widely discussed.
Quotation of Marvin Harris
Milk and dairy products happen to be the best sources of calcium. There are vegetable sources which people who live in other environments have access to, but not in Northern Europe, where vegetables were scarce and there was a concentration on the consumption of grain and animal flesh.
Quotation of Marvin Harris
My interest in this puzzle goes back a long way to about 1964. When I started out, the hypotheses that I offered were considered to be extremely radical.
Quotation of Marvin Harris
Now we are in a situation in which for a significant part of the industrial world too much could become a danger, especially too much of the things which are really not good for us in such large quantities.
Quotation of Marvin Harris
One is concerned with the nutritional package. In general, humans prefer nutritional packages which have more calories, protein, fats, minerals, and other nutrients in denser form over foods that are less nutritious.
Quotation of Marvin Harris
Pigs eat grass if they are very hungry, but they can't use it as a regular source of food.
Quotation of Marvin Harris
Pigs prefer to wallow in clean mud, but if nothing else is available, they will frequently wallow in their own urine, giving rise to the notion that they are dirty animals.
Quotation of Marvin Harris
Recent studies which indicate that in spite of the existence of a prohibition on the slaughter of cattle and the consumption of beef, Indian farmers do manipulate their herds in a way that yields a ratio of male to female cattle which is most functional in a particular zone of production.
Quotation of Marvin Harris
Since it was possible, to a small extent, to raise pigs as a luxury food, it is important to have a taboo or prohibition that says, under no circumstances are you to experiment with this animal, because over the passage of centuries it is the collective wisdom that to do so is to waste resources.
Quotation of Marvin Harris
So there was selection for the ability to digest milk in unfermented form in Northern Europe.
Quotation of Marvin Harris
Such a total taboo is necessary in a situation where the short-term benefits for, let's say, raising pigs, might be quite good, but the long-term benefits would be quite disastrous for the larger community.
Quotation of Marvin Harris
The answer has to be sought in the material conditions of the production and utilization of cattle in India compared with the production and utilization of cattle in other parts of the world.
Quotation of Marvin Harris
The Chinese were never stressed for calcium in the way Northern Europeans were. They had more access to vegetables, an excellent source of calcium.
Quotation of Marvin Harris
The commandment 'Thou shalt not kill' does not say it's O.K. to kill some people and not others.
Quotation of Marvin Harris
The general proposition is that the resources that will be utilized are the ones that contribute most to the overall efficiency of the production system. The third parameter has to do with our commercial world, our search for profits.
Quotation of Marvin Harris
The genetic component is there, but it is embedded in and surrounded by the cultural component. It was the absence of milk consumption in China, Japan, and other Oriental peoples that really got me interested in the whole subject of food preferences.
Quotation of Marvin Harris
The result is that far from being useless, as many people assume, cattle are India's tractors. As a byproduct, the cows also produce milk; but their most important function is to produce the tractor, that is, the male plow animal.
Quotation of Marvin Harris
The sweetness of fruit is a marker of their high nutritional status. Consequently, we are prepared by our biological heritage to seek out sweet foods. However; up until recently, getting sweet things in large quantities was very difficult.
Quotation of Marvin Harris
The temptation will always exist for some people to try, but God says, 'Thou shalt not raise pigs.' This is a sacred rule which fits into a general class of prohibition termed 'total prohibitions'.
Quotation of Marvin Harris
There are very important and practical issues raised by following this alternative route which says, let's look to material conditions, to the systems of production, to the needs that human beings have, and to competing alternative solutions to the satisfaction of those needs.
Quotation of Marvin Harris
These conditions have to do with the problem of calcium metabolism. Northern Europeans were stressed for calcium in a way that was not characteristic of other peoples because they had to be concerned about Vitamin D.
Quotation of Marvin Harris
This discovery was made fairly recently; it was only in the 1950s that it began to dawn on people that milk was not good for everybody. However, the normal situation was originally regarded as the abnormal one.
Quotation of Marvin Harris
This is because throughout most of human history, the only source of milk was mother's milk. Therefore, there was selection against juveniles and adults being able to consume mother's milk, so that the resources of the woman could be directed towards having another child.
Quotation of Marvin Harris
This is no explanation, because you have to ask, as well, why Hinduism has this kind of reverence for cattle but Islam, Judaism, and Christianity do not.
Quotation of Marvin Harris
Unfortunately, the food industry has not yet faced this situation and begun taking measures to avoid exploiting our weakness for not knowing when we have had enough.
Quotation of Marvin Harris
We don't have the shut-off system typical of the rest of the animal world, the clear signals that say, 'Now you have had enough. Stop.' because we come from millions of years of ancestors, whose main problem was scarcity.
Quotation of Marvin Harris
What is good to eat is defined now by its profit-making capacity; food manufacturers are exploiting the human tendency to prefer sweet things.
Quotation of Marvin Harris
When a woman gives birth to a child, the child needs to be able to digest the mother's milk; but when this child is old enough to begin to eat other foods, there is some switching off of this ability to consume milk.
Quotation of Marvin Harris
When you plant rice, you don't need large numbers of plough animals, and when you plant wheat, you do. Indian farmers don't determine the sex ratio of their herds by slaughtering the cattle outright.
Quotation of Marvin Harris
With the passage of time the Brahmans, who were in ancient times the caste responsible for the slaughter of cattle, became the caste responsible for the protection of cattle against slaughter.
Quotation of Marvin Harris
Yes, a general principle that comes out of research behind Good to Eat is that there are no world religions that have acted to decrease the potential for the nutritional well-being of their followers.
Quotation of Marvin Harris