On food, information and metaphors

I have been wrestling with a gnawing sense of uneasiness, whenever I ponder over "Information is Food" metaphor. Everyday, as I take my routine stroll down the manicured, digital gardens of the web, I often see this metaphor gaining currency among bloggers and writers, spawning book titles such as The Information Diet: A case for conscious consumption, curated knowledge lists such as Brain pickingsBrain food,(which advertises itself as "a free weekly digest of nutritious brain food"), doctors pondering if food is information,and other adventurous  intellectual excursions. 

A major part of my unease arises from my experiments with food over the past few years, weaning from processed, industrialized food sources to healthy,natural alternatives. My biggest beta learning insight in these experiments has been the need to facilitate a real-time, direct conversation between my body and the food I eat, as opposed to relying on any external knowledge source or authority.  It's rather better to consult my body (and not mind) on food and nutrition matters than any nutritionist or dietitian or their books.  To use a familiar metaphor,to fix your car, is it not wiser to rather consult the manufacturer  instead of the local mechanic?

We can understand this insight better through what Michael Pollan calls as American Paradox: The more we worry about nutrition, the less healthy we seem to become. The more America obsesses with nutrition, through corporate sponsored hype cycles of nutritional and dietary fads, the more likely we are( yes, not just America, we are, thanks to globalization) to screw our health. Although he falls prey to the tried and tested American publishing formula by addressing the problem through rules and manifestos, his insight is indeed illuminating.

How does one consult the body on food matters? You experiment with various kinds of foods and see how the body reacts to it. As a wise man writes in Body: The Greatest Gadget
"If the body feels very agile, energetic and nice, that means the body is "happy". If the body feels lethargic and needs to be pumped with caffeine or nicotine to stay awake, the body is not happy"
However, practicing this insight is easier said than done. I find it extremely difficult, given my inherent conditioning, bequeathed from my years of schooling, to rely on experts/gurus for deciding on things which matter to my life and other pernicious habits accumulated from the modern world such as limitless distraction and relentless hunger for every form of stimulus. 

When I look at information through the lens of this insight, I wonder, through such metaphors, if we are perilously close to  inflicting the same damage to our minds which we are doing to our bodies. Although few might disagree, it's depressing to see how the American Paradox would translate for information: The more we worry about what we are doing to our minds, the less healthy it becomes. 

If it is deemed wise to consult our body for the food that we eat, how do we consult our mind for the information we consume, especially when the mind, as we know it, is an incorrigible liar, always dissatisfied with what is and always wants more?

I think the question which we have  been evading is : What does it mean to 'consume' information? If you care to meditate on this word, you would realize that this word presupposes a 'consumer' of information. How can we expect to solve "information overload", (assuming such a problem exists), in our 'consumer' role, if information is the only currency available for hoarding, speculation and commodification in this marketplace of ideas?   

Who is this "consumer of information-infosumer" species? This question is pertinent, especially in our times, where we are building our  micro-identities every moment through each digital footprint and communicating to millions, real-time across dynamic contexts in the social web. 

Every time we consume information, we are involved in a wholly unique, personal, context-making exercise where we impart sense to the information through links with our existing mental models or new mental models. The usefulness of the information is totally dependent on the context making exercise undertaken to process it. While information consumption can be an unconscious habit(and thereby addictive), context-making is a rigorous, conscious activity our minds undertake to process the information. This could probably help us see clearly that any incremental addition in information need not necessarily lead to any additional increase in knowledge.  
Now that we have an inkling of this new species, infosumer, it may be worthwhile to explore the linkages between food and information. Do we consume information like we consume food? A good way to explore this could probably begin right at the question itself.  Do we consume information like we consume food? When did we begin to consume food? To consume is to eat immoderately. It may be a sign of our capitalist cultural climate that we collectively fail to realize what a world of difference it makes in replacing the word "eat" with "consume"- the latter which epitomizes the zeitgeist our times.

I don't intend to dispute the usefulness of "Food is Information" metaphor here. It plays a valuable role in making us understand that information overload doesn't exist. Just as food abundance cannot be blamed for obesity issues, it doesn't make sense to blame information overload for our inability to process information. 

It's only when this metaphor imposes the role of "infosumer" on us, our much acclaimed collective intelligence descends into stupidity, as we relegate our context setting to the algorithms, which dictate what they think we should see. Trapped inside our own filter bubbles, we lose our ability to exercise our precious agency

Back in 2006, when Jaron Lanier, in his widely discussed article on the perils of online collectivism,Digital Maoism, condemned "the anti-contextual brew of the wikipedia",the legion of Wikepedians became furious and retorted to highlight the rich context hidden inside Wikipedia's discussion pages. Today in 2013, when Google's algorithms are busy collecting multitudes of click signals in its sisyphean task of predicting the user's context, if we are serious about getting us out of "group think", it behooves us to reject this metaphor.

What are your thoughts? Do you agree?