In 1972, anthropologist Colin Turnbull wrote an interesting book about an African tribe called the Ik.

Originally nomadic hunters, the Ik were forcibly evacuated from their native hunting grounds in Uganda and driven en masse to barren, mountainous areas.

In The Mountain People, Turnbull gives a harrowing account of how the starving Ik abandoned any sense of social or moral behaviour in their daily struggle for survival.

The Ik were described as solitary and ill-humoured.

They had little concept of childcare and took great pleasure in each other's misfortunes.

Members of the tribe competed against each other in an environment without moral codes, in which only the fittest survived.

Food was the overwhelming priority and became synonymous with the word "good". Ultimately, the word fell into disuse.

Those who had food were thought of as "good".

How odd then, that in industrialised Western society, we should have food in such abundance and contain similar elements of self-obsessed behaviour.

Searching frantically for fame and fortune while bunjee jumping from Mount Everest leaves us little time to empathise with our fellow man.

To us, "rich" and "powerful" are associated with the word "good".

Our desires to become famous and wealthy are redefined as needs and their fulfilment thoughtlessly accepted as "a good thing".

Hunting the best deal for ourselves takes time, so fastfood outlets and supermarkets have taken on the responsibility for supplying our food.

This is not necessarily to our advantage, because this way, economic factors override the basic human requirement for fresh, wholesome, unprocessed food.

But the body can only run efficiently on food that contains a full set of nutrients, is unrefined and without toxic chemicals.

Convenience food provides us with little in the way of minerals and fibre but plenty of preservatives, sugar and salt.

Our dependence on coffee, tea, cigarettes, alcohol and drugs merely highlights how disassociated we have become from what we really need for growth and repair.

How is this sustained assault on our immune system affecting mental health?

But not all is doom and gloom.

Consumers are a powerful driving force and suppliers will change according to popular opinion. Sainsbury's, for example, has turned itself into a giant health food store practically overnight.

Schools are implementing healthy eating programmes, as teachers and without sufficientparents question the wisdom of throwing junk at young children.

And, finally, medical thought is beginning to realise it is in the best interests of the NHS prevent disease, not just treat it.

The general shift towards a cleaner, leaner way of life may also bring about a change in semantics and social values.

Perhaps, in the future, the word "good" will come to mean "healthy body", mind and spirit", based on the principles of optimum nutrition rather than merely on gratification.

You never know, antisocial behaviour and the "what's-in-it-for-me" culture might become relics of the past.