Saturday, August 7, 2010


The Politics Of Food

When did food become so political? I've been thinking about this for a long time now. It used to be that food played a part in nourishment, energy and basic human function. Now it is a divisive line in our society.

It seems the further our obesity epidemic becomes a national concern, the more polarizing food becomes. When did it stop being JUST food? When did it become a way to define who we are? Another label to separate ourselves from others? Another label, another judgement, and more discrimination?

Was it centuries ago when food was a status symbol of the "have's vs have-nots", and European Opulence and wealth was defined by elaborate, excessive dinner parties, only bestowing the finest of foods?

Was it when our basic needs for survival and welfare were threatened? Was it with The Great Depression, or Industrial Revolution that followed- the processed and convenient food era? Was it through the fear of losing the BASICS, that we began to take comfort in anesthetizing and numbing ourselves with that which we craved and feared losing? Was it for fear of losing ourselves?

Facts are, through out history we have always sought ways to differentiate ourselves from others.

This has truly made me reflect and ponder the 'ethics' of food and eating (dinner parties)- given our predicament of rampant obesity, diets, anxiety/stress levels etc.

Is it the hosts responsibility to enquire about certain dietary needs? It seems EVERYONE is trying something these days. From Michael Pollan and the "REAL"' food movement, to Raw Foodism, Veganism, Low Carb, Gluten Free etc.  It has become a way to label ourselves- like a status symbol; more than a personal choice that remains for sincere reasons. With our current focus of sustainable resources- in order to sustain OUR future and our planet- less meat, more plants etc, to diabetes being on the rise, one shouldn't be surprised that most of us have some sort of 'dietary' preference/restriction or dogma/ideology.

Is it the guests responsibility to let the host know? How exclusionary have our lifestyles become? I can imagine a conversation going something like "We'd love to have you over for dinner" and the response being "I'd love to, but I am a high raw vegan". I have NOTHING against raw Vegans- this is purely for the sake of example. It is sad that most likely the above mentioned party will not be getting together for dinners after this. Why is it that we find we have nothing in common if our eating/food ideologies differ from ours? I cannot image my European parent's ever asking about about sugar/ or the temperature to which food can be heated! Not because they are inconsiderate- it just wouldn't occur to them.
But is that an excuse? My sister is deathly allergic to certain foods- but they have never made a point to tell people because they don't want to be an inconvenience to them!
So who should ask/tell?

One thing that highly irritates me is when one group of people become self-righteous about their eating habits because they've had an epiphany or experience, and now feel superior and condescending towards anyone they deem different from their NEW selves. Or those people who find certain foods/behaviours reminiscent of their past/old ways, and feel the need to view others who enjoy those foods etc through the filter that they too are disordered?

Case in point, while at the grocery store today, I over heard 2 females talking about another female who was doing her shopping. Her cart was filled with sugar free jello, Crystal Light, Splenda, Diet Pop, Diet Yogurt, Celery, cucumbers and some other veggies.

One of the girls said to the other something alluding to the fact that the girl was CLEARLY disordered, because she wasn't getting any REAL foods- all diet foods, and that she found it triggering and disgusting. She continued to say that she used to drink gallons of diet pop and eat celery, and therefore this girl must need help too.

For those of you reading this- Eating Disorders are a MENTAL DISORDER. NEVER claim to know what's in someones mind/head/mindset. I am not saying that I'm not sympathetic to the girl making the comments- as she has clearly suffered and is scarred and still not confident enough within her own skin to not feel the need to reassure herself by putting others down. That's not to say that certain smells, behaviours, foods, sounds don't remind me of my past. But I refuse to view someone through that filter and stigmatize/label them. 

The thing is, does eating low calorie food make you disordered? NO. They have no idea what was in her head. She could've been the healthiest person for all I know. I wasn't aware that liking or not liking certain foods deemed you disordered (if they are for legitimate reasons).

For example, I don't like to 'drink' my calories. I like to get my nourishment from filling, nutritious, whole foods. What I choose to go along with it, on it as a condiment, or as a snack is my business.

I'm a girl who likes to eat, and feel satiated. I also happen to like munching on raw veggies and choose not to consume added sugar. I'd rather use sugar free syrups/jams than spike my insulin and waste a couple hundred or more calories because I used sugar filled condiments with no nutrient value (I like my condiments!). You don't have to agree. That's okay.

I truly believe that if a person is doing their best to live a healthy lifestyle, making informed and educated decisions, and contributing by being GOOD, DECENT people with compassion and integrity, then why would I care if they are eating meat or not? I will stick to doing what I think is right for me, and I will also respect your choices.

As health becomes a more political and controversial issue, I wonder where the next 10 yrs will lead us and what our future holds in terms of relations. Obesity taxes are already being debated (I'm not saying I'm against them) with both sides causing friction- both equally convinced that their perspectives are right. Where is this all taking us- this obsession with health?
  This truly is an example of the Law Of Attraction; in affect and effect. The more we think about, the more we bring about. Maybe if we turned our attention INWARD, instead of on food- then we'd have less of a health crisis. If we took the time to feed our spirits and minds, we would not feel the need to look to food as a source of comfort. If we took our energy and focus away from food/diet/weight, we would perhaps see the Epidemic turn around as it wouldn't be on our minds 24/7. Wewould feel the need to define ourselves by our weight/food etc.

 I guess what I'm getting at is that instead of pointing the finger, we need to take personal responsibility. Responsibility for our choices, our actions, our behaviours- and realize that drawing on differences as a way to understand who we are NEVER had any results.

Perhaps our dietary choices wouldn't cause so much tension, and dinner parties would solely be about the company- not the foods we eat. We let food dictate so much about us! It defines our mental state, our well being, our friends and lifestyle choices.
Yes, you may be a steak/potatoes person, or maybe a Raw Vegan- and I may like my Sugar Free Syrups, my calorie free drinks or my protein creations. I also have a lot in common with most every person around me. Yes, LIFESTYLE choices dictate how we live our lives, who we are and what we believe in. But ultimately, this shouldn't be to the exclusion or judgement of someone that may be different from us.

I can say with honesty that I judge. When I see people literally stuffing their faces with fattening processed foods, fries, burgers, chips, greasy pizzas etc- when they are truly over 300lbs- I judge. Actually I feel sorry for them. They must be hurting so badly in order to give up on themselves. How lonely must they feel? However, my judgement stops there. As long as someone is making an effort, then I respect them and chose to see through to their other qualities and similarities that we may share.

What do you think?
Hosts or Guests responsibility?
Do you ever judge people based on food choices/diet?
Where do you see our state of health in the future?
How do you see this affecting our relationships?


  1. Totally agree with you on the sf stuff. I'd rather have the fake stuff than send my insulin in an uproar! LOL

  2. Yep, our minds were in the same place on this one.

    I think it's the guest responsibilty. If i'm hosting a party i'm going to have meat and bake with real sugar ;) Of course I have IBS so I can't use real anything anymore but i'll make what I can eat :)

    I'll be honest. I do judge. When I walk into McDs to get an unsweet iced tea the people in there are just sad....sorry. I feel bad for them. In the same respect they probably feel bad for me.

  3. I do agree that food is so political these days...and it does bother me when people want to "let us all know" about their latest food epiphanies (exclusions and holier than thou principles).

    I am not a purist, but I dislike all the stuff I see/hear. It really (really) makes me not want to think about food (i eat A LOT of it)...but it makes me wanna find other focuses in life (laughter, love, words and peace).

    Hope you are doing well!