Food police: Whither the voice of reason?

Sheryl Kirby, the blogger behind Save Your Fork… There’s Pie and Taste T.O., posted on this great article in the Vancouver Sun on the backlash to the food police, “Consumers Fed Up With Food Politics.” That special place in my heart where my inner Albertan resides, silently seething against well-meaning Ontario and its progressive socially-minded politics, well, let’s just say there was a little rejoicing when I read that (don’t worry, I keep ‘er on a tight leash).

Not surprisingly, people are becoming overwhelmed by the pressure to monitor and question everything we eat. Even the food-obsessed feel the fatigue, so it’s small wonder that someone who just wants to eat and move on would feel that even more.

Being a conscientious eater is a moving target these days—the continual shift from organic to local to local+organic and so on, never mind worrying about the latest health “study,” keeping a budget, and, of course, maintaining your standing as a good, multicultural citizen by also indulging in the cuisines of the world. I mean, how many hole-in-the-wall, immigrant-owned, secret-hotspot-favoured-by-immigrant-community-X restaurants are serving up locally sourced produce?

I really can’t say it better than this, though:

But if I sometimes feel like grabbing the closest pretentious, pious locavore and screaming, “fuck you, I won’t do what you tell me!” and smashing a Twinkie in their face just as a way to assert my independence, then I can’t really blame the average person for being fed up and pissed off at the whole preachy, holier-than-thou lot of us.

Read more at Save Your Fork… There’s Pie.

On a (somewhat) related note is Ezra Klein in The Washington Post. “In defense of (some) processed foods” is more about pointing out the hypocrisies of healthy eating, noting that processed food from Whole Foods is somehow more acceptable than the same from just any old grocery store. To begin with, he says (and as I also talked about last week), tofu is a highly processed food.

I would be remiss if I didn’t point you in the direction of this post from Shut Up, Foodie!, which is where I found the link to Klein’s story. In their usual fashion, they picked up on an oh-so-eloquent comment left on the Washington Post site.

As soon as that first baby popping out comes with an extra 24 hrs in a day, I’ll be happy to spend that extra time raising chickens, harvesting veggies, and going to little markets 2-3 times a week, planning a wholesome, balanced diet around whatever I find that looks to be at its peak of freshness.

Both articles are a reminder of the short-sightedness of so much of our food obsession, at least as it’s played out in the media, which, natch, tends to focus on the food madness of the better off among us, rarely noting the trail of hypocrisy, double-standards and elitism left in its wake.

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5 Comments

  1. Alex Polkovsky on June 18, 2010 at 11:50 am

    Go to this CBC page and listen the ‘Urban Hunger’ series. (Sorry, no obvious link to all four segments.)

    http://www.cbc.ca/edmonton/mediaarchive/listen/edmonton-am/

    Particularly number three about poor neighborhoods which have no grocery store because of ‘scorched earth’ clauses in property sales contracts which prevent a grocery store opening in a former building owned by Safeway or some other big chain.

    The revolution we need isn’t loca-veggie-orga, it’s Every Neighborhood Should Have A Grocery Store.



  2. Kalli on June 18, 2010 at 6:03 pm

    Great post Leah…(this is what my Master’s thesis is about).

    Thanks for linking to Kirby’s post — I like that quote from her as well (minus the reference to “the average person” since I’ve found that even so-called “locavores” are generally pretty “average people” too).

    There’s a really good new book out by U of T professors Josee Johnston and Shyon Baumann called “Foodies” that addresses some of these things in a somewhat more academic but also really readable way. Here’s a Q and Q with Josee and Shyon from the globe: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/food-and-wine/whats-in-a-foodie-a-pinch-of-culinary-democrat-a-sprinkle-of-cultural-snob/article1548896/ [Updated: Link no longer available]



  3. Kalli on June 18, 2010 at 6:04 pm

    ha! by Q and Q I mean Q and A..
    🙂 k.



  4. Lea Zeltserman on June 20, 2010 at 10:22 am

    Hi Alex, so true, and thanks for the link – I will check it out. One of the things I really appreciate about Toronto (at least in the downtown core) is the constant availability of food. Whenever I’m at my parents in Edmonton, it becomes such a chore, even just to pick up a loaf of bread. There are a few organizations here working on the concept of food deserts.

    Hi Kalli, thanks, I’m glad you liked it. Great minds think alike (clearly). I saw the Globe coverage of Josee and Shyon, but haven’t had a chance to pick up their book yet. Have you read Sarah Elton’s Locavore? Very reasoned approach to eating local, overhauling our food system, etc. She doesn’t preach, and she doesn’t rant against shipping food (just how we ship it) and so.



  5. Stephanie Laskoski on June 25, 2010 at 10:13 am

    Oh Lea, I love you. Thanks for post.

    Steph