22 March 2008

Are Foodies Fascists?

What Is a Foodie?
You know them, those people who fuss over every little aspect of their food consumption. No. I'm not talking about those on a diet. I'm talking about foodies. What is a foodie? Wikipedia defines foodie as...
...an informal term for a particular class of aficionado of food and drink...[particularly, they] are amateurs who simply love food for consumption, study, preparation, and news.
The Wikipedia entry doesn't fully delve into the extremes and the current trends of "foodism." It's much more elitist and bullying than merely loving food. I'll get into that soon, but first, the positive roles that foodies play.

The Upshot of Foodies
On the surface, foodies genuinely strive to be the change they see in the world. They generally choose to eat only foods that are grown according to environmentally responsible practices. Such practices include:
  • Certified Organic
  • Low food miles/ locally grown
  • Fair Trade
All of these are truly admirable reasons to choose the foods they eat. The current agricultural and food production models are starting to see the light and adapting these practices. Higher consumer demand is the surest way to cause companies to rethink their approach. For this, foodies are commendable types.

The Downshot of Foodies
Despite their admirable choices, however, foodies are not so admirable in the way they voice their choices. Rather, it's despicable at the fascist way they promote their lifestyle. If you know a hardcore foodie, you know what I'm talking about. They consistently throw out the words "organic," "local," and "fair trade" the same way a fashionista throws out words like "Prada" and "Armani." And just like those who throw out high-cost designer names, foodies announce their eating choices with the same class-superiority as the ultra-rich who can afford to pay fifteen grand on a pair of pants. The only thing is, most of these foodies can't really afford to eat the way they do, or if they can, it's just one more example of how the rich like to flex their buying power and attempt to make those with weak wallets feel inferior.

The Tyranny of Foodies
Why am I in such a tizzy about foodies? I read a recent article in The Week that truly pissed me off. "Breaking Free of the Tyranny of Foodies" details how British cookbook author, Delia Smith, has been berated en masse by foodies the world around for her TV show, How to Cheat at Cooking. Her show is aimed at working mothers who want to cook filling and tasty meals in a hurry. Specifically, she defended poultry factories as necessary for providing an affordable source of protein to impoverished families.

Now, I'm not defending the practice of factory-style farms. I find them deplorable, but she does make a good point. As a father of two sons with large appetites, I find it hard not to accept her logic. After all, I could spend $5 on a couple pounds of factory chicken and fill their bellies, or I could opt to stretch a quarter pound of all-natural, free-range, grain-fed, certified organic chicken and listen to them cry over an empty stomach.

Maybe if I were wealthy, I'd take a different tack on this issue. I live in an extremely wealthy town. Despite the high-level of self-professed liberalism, most people have no sympathy for poor families. The common response to familial financial woes is always the same: "If you couldn't afford to have kids, you shouldn't have had them."

Original Foodies and Babies
These well-to-do/career-oriented foodies pushed child-bearing off until they had achieved their wealth, often holding off until their forties. Have these overly health-conscious couples neglected to read the statistics that it's not wise to have children after age 40, and that 35 is pushing it?

I wish I could easily find the stats, but this came down from the National Health Institute. For each year, the likelihood of carrying a child to full term decreases, complications with birth occur and an alarmingly high percentage of those children being born display a whole array of physical and mental health problems - most predominately being learning disorders and schizophrenia.

Did I just get off track here? No, not at all.

Look at the ages of most foodies; look at their lifestyles. These are the same people who were amateur gourmets who latched on to the idea of being a foodie. While they were eating only the best food and focusing on their health, they were looking down their noses at all the plebes who were nothing but a bunch of twenty-something out-of-control breeders. The plebes were seen as thoughtless, stuffing themselves and their children full of garbage because they can't afford to eat "real" food.

In the meantime, they selfishly put off childbearing until they enter their sunset years, when their bodies are least able to provide the oh-so necessary nutrients to their fetuses. I have not known one single woman who waited until age 40 or older to have a child that didn't experience a whole slough of complications throughout their pregnancies and beyond.

Young Foodies and Children
Conversely, more and more young people are turning into foodies, too. And, why shouldn't they? After all, it makes them more socially and environmentally responsible, right? I've seen these parents feeding their kids the same foodie diet as themselves, which usually means much smaller servings. They equate their children's slim figures as healthy figures, but if they're always hungry, the parents are actually starving their kids. Sure, feed kids healthy, but feed them lots. Then get them out to play. That's what kids need, lots of healthy food and exercise.

Foodie Superiority: Fact- or Fad-Based
It's the superiority of foodies that is the most alarming, though. In fact, a large portion of foodies cross the line into pure fascism. Anyone who doesn't adhere to their belief system is berated and belittled into believing that they are either idiots or monsters. The fact of "foodism," though, is that it's nothing but a fad-driven lifestyle.

Started as early as 1984 with The Official Foodie Handbook by Paul Levy, Ann Barr and Mat Sloan, foodies were just amateur gourmets. It was all about the taste and preparation of the food. Over time, though, the practice extended into knowing everything about the food you were about to eat. Foodies are actually being criticized these days for caring less about the taste of the food than its history.

Foodies Are Often Wrong
Health did make it's way in there, and it's no surprise that foodies were at the frontline when "all-natural" and "soy" made its way into the forefront as the leading ways to eat healthy. Then it was discovered that "all-natural" was typically deceptive and not true, so they put more emphasis on "organic."

Let's not forget about the soy craze of the early-mid 1990s. Soy was all the rage, and foodies were on the frontlines again. Then it was released that not only were a lot of people allergic to soy, but that soy farmers were not rotating their crops and depleting the soils of their land to meet demand. (Did you know that soy taxes soil unlike most all other crops?)

Foodies Are Self-Proclaimed Snobs
Let's not forget the hoity-toity qualities of foodies. They used to favor brands from around the world. Whether eating organic grapes from Chile or bottled water from the mountains of France, it seemed as though "foreign" was synonymous with"high quality."

Recently, my son had a cheese party and one of his guests had their parents bring some "French cheese," specifically referring to an imported cheese from France. This family is very uppity this way, heavily influenced by brands. After much to do, everyone liked the 4 ounces of soft cheese that cost them $20, but they preferred the other selections more. The cheese itself didn't impress me, as it had the same consistency and taste as Velveeta. The type of cheese in question was Port Salut.

Foodies Are Brand-Slaves
When it comes down to it, foodies are really just brand-slaves. They are exactly the same as the sheep who think that anything that comes from McDonald's, Nike, or Starbucks is the best - solely because it has that brand name. Speaking of Starbucks: Does anyone else find it ironic that the same foodies who have been denouncing the coffee giants are the same ones who helped them reach their status?

Foodies CAN Change the World
I don't think foodies are evil, just tyrannical, and not all of them are so bad. If more people cared as deeply about where their food comes from, maybe we could finally switch food production models to more healthy paradigms.

My problem with foodies is that most of them push their agenda on a platform of "I'm superior and there's something wrong with you for not being just like me." That never worked with ultra conservatives or fudamentalists; why should it work for foodies?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Great!!!!! no other words - J