How much would Je­sus eat?

Modern Healthcare - - Outliers -

Nu­tri­tion­ists and pub­lic health ex­perts have long ar­gued against heap­ing plate­fuls of food and snacks pack­aged in larger and larger sizes. Swayed by such abun­dance, we con­sume more calo­ries than needed, help­ing to un­der­mine the na­tion’s bat­tle against obe­sity. It turns out this ex­cess ap­pears not only in our meals and gro­cery store aisles, but in art as well.

Two Cor­nell Uni­ver­sity re­searchers took a closer look at plate size and the amount of food served at one of the most widely de­picted meals in art: the Last Sup­per.

The re­searchers con­sid­ered 52 paint­ings done over the last 1,000 years. “The prior mil­len­nium (1000-2000 AD/CE) wit­nessed dra­matic in­crease in the pro­duc­tion, avail­abil­ity, safety, abun­dance and af­ford­abil­ity of food,” they wrote in the In­ter­na­tional Jour­nal of Obe­sity. “Per­haps th­ese changes would be re­flected in how food has been de­picted in this com- monly un­der­stood, but uniquely in­ter­preted, meal.”

In nearly half the paint­ings, no main course was served. Among the rest, the apos­tles sat down to eel, lamb or pork. To put the serv­ing size in per­spec­tive—paint­ings were of var­i­ous sizes—re­searchers cal­cu­lated a ra­tio of bread, meals and plates to apos­tles’ heads. They found artists in the last 400 years set a more gen­er­ous ta­ble than those who painted be­tween 1,000 and 1,300 A.D.

We won­der what the Cor­nell re­searchers would de­duce from a close study of pop cul­ture riffs on da Vinci’s “Last Sup­per,” which in­clude cigarettes (“The So­pra­nos”), pizza (“South Park”) and soda (“Lost”).

“South Park” serves pizza, while da Vinci has a sparser ta­ble.

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