Alright readers, I have a lot to do today, but I feel compelled, nay, obligated to blog about something buzzing around the interwebz lately. Remarkably, no- this isn’t about plants or algae or any other autotroph. Confused since this is an all-autotroph blog? After reading a news article that Ukrainian model Valeria Lukyanova believes she can subsist on only air and sunlight, I have to set the record straight. Let me say this slowly so there is no confusion and please feel free to share this with your friends.
You. Are. Not. Photosynthetic.* Humans are heterotrophs. Full Stop.
It’s really important to me that you know this.
I hope that some of the links on my Basics page will explain why this ‘Breatharian’ lifestyle is crazy. Yes, sunlight is the main source of energy feeding into the Earth’s biosphere. This makes the sun both physically important to our survival and an intimate part of our human culture. The sun is critically important to the way we live because our lives depend on photosynthetic organisms. This is because truly photosynthetic organisms have biochemical machinery that can capture and convert the sun’s energy into useful energy storage molecules (ATP, NADPH, glucose). Even photosynthetic organisms require water for this process. Why do you think people get so up in arms about droughts?
Let’s consider the implications of a Breatharian reality. If Breatharianism were possible, then why are there more than 800 million food-insecure people around the globe? Surely, they have access to sunlight. Should we just tell them to quit complaining and enjoy their sun? If this were the case, then agriculture is the biggest con of all time. So, let’s just not do it anymore. The food service industry is just profiteering off of the heterotrophic hoax as well. This conspiracy was all masterminded by some elite group of gardeners**, hunters and herders that swindled early humans into buying otherwise worthless crops, meat and dairy. Once the human population was hooked on the delicious calories, those robber barons have been laughing all the way to the bank. I’m quite sure that must’ve been how it all went down.
A brief on-line search reveals that Valeria is not the only adherent to this practice. Sigh. Sure, the human body is amazing and can endure periods of time without food and water, but our bodies cannot survive indefinitely without them. Check out the video below for a breakdown of what happens on a Breatharian lifestyle (aka dehydration and starvation).
I know I’ve mentioned KungFu Panda before, but this scene is worth mentioning today:
Tigress: It is said that the Dragon Warrior can survive for months on nothing but the dew of a single ginkgo leaf and the energy of the universe.
Po: I guess my body doesn’t know it’s the Dragon Warrior yet. I’m gonna need a lot more than dew and universe juice.
Yeah, Po. Me too.
Fasting is a common religious practice, but believing that one could solely subsist on sunlight and air as a lifestyle choice is just downright heterotroph denial. This post topic gets a special new category for blog posts here (head-desk). Respect what real photosynthetic organisms are doing for you today… and eat one of them. Then wash it down with the aqueous solution of your choice. I really hope we don’t have to cover this again.
* Not even those sea slugs turned out to be photosynthetic. They looked like leaves crawling around the ocean floor. Srsly? What makes you think you will fare any better. Heterotroph = you have to eat something else.
** Yes, I seem to remember something about this in the Master Gardner handbook. Oops, I guess I let the cat out of the bag. Guess I won’t be getting my new card this year.
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