Wednesday, November 05, 2014

Absurdist Foodies

Putting a finger on what exactly is so obnoxiously smug and ridiculous about "food snobs," from John Lanchester's "Shut Up and Eat" article in the 11/3/14 "New Yorker":

Most of the energy that we put into our thinking about food, I realized, isn't about food; it's about anxiety. Food makes us anxious. The infinite range of choices and possible self-expressions means that there are so many ways to go wrong... You can make yourself look absurd. People feel judged by their food ...choices, and they are right to feel that, because they are...

...Food is now politics and ethics as much as it is sustenance...

If shopping and cooking really are the most consequential, most political acts in my life, perhaps what that means is that our sense of the political has shrunk too far -- shrunk so much that it fits into our recycled-hemp shopping bags. If these tiny acts of consumer choice are the most meaningful actions in our lives, perhaps we aren't thinking and acting on a sufficiently big scale. Imagine that you die and go to Heaven and stand in front of a jury made up of Thomas Jefferson, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Martin Luther King, Jr. Your task would be to compose yourself, look them in the eye, and say, "I was all about fresh, local, and seasonal."


I personally have no "anxiety" about the food I eat. I revere my Dairy Queen Country Baskets and I think Whataburger has the best fast-food burger. I'll miss the burgers and white gravy-and-fries from local favorite Players once it closes. I eat at each of these places maybe 3 or 4 times a year. My usual diet, during the work week, is salads and soups from my work's on-site cafĂ©.

What I absolutely can't stand is those vegans or those into the latest fad diet (paleo, gluten-free, anyone?) who then present themselves as somehow "politically and ethically superior" to the rest of us "plebes" who eat normally on a daily basis. (By "normally," I mean a common-sense balance that keeps us within our weight range... sans any fad diet.) My overweight brother, for instance, has been trying trendy diets for years now and likes to tout what trendy restaurant he's been to lately and mock my simpler eating habits. He remains fat. I, on the other hand, remain Not Fat via eating mainly salads (because I like salads), little meat (fatty meat makes me gag, but I do like lean chicken, lean brisket, lean hamburgers, and the pepperoni on pizza), the occasional delicious fast-food splurge, plus walking over 2 miles a day. I don't THINK about what I eat, particularly, I just eat what my body feels like eating. I have little anxiety about it. My body knows, once I've scarfed down a Whataburger-and-fries, that it's grateful but that it doesn't need the same gloop again any time soon. And, conversely, my body feels good when I've eaten a salad.

It's between me and my body. There's no fetishism about it. The "foodies" are all fetishists. Attaching "politics" and "ethics" and "anxiety" to eating is not only absurd but also mentally sick.

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