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Food Is Not…Just Food

March 9, 2011

Today I read this interesting food article in the i. I’ve had to type it out as it’s impossible to find on their website. And whilst we are on the subject of their website, I’m shocked! This has to be one of the most innovative and refreshing papers coming into an overcrowded and dying market, and yet their website must be one of the worst – if not the worst.  Here’s the article:

Sometimes food is just…food

‘Foodie elitism undermines the ethics of sustainable eating. For most of us food is just food. Just food. It’s not religion or politics or environmentalism or fashion or travel or art or sex or anything particularly substantial beyond itself. Most omnivores don’t have a dilemma. Most eaters just want a decent lunch. In failing to appreciate this broader context of indifference , ‘foodies’ come off as a rarified club out of touch with the true world of food while working under the impression that they’re revolutionising it for us from within.

James McWilliams, The Atlantic

Photo Credit: palindrome6996 on Flickr

Having spent some time looking at this statement that made it into The Opinion Matrix, I’ve come to the conclusion that I almost entirely disagree. I get that ‘sometimes food is just… food’ and sometimes you just need something to keep you going until the next meal, or in some parts of the world there is a fundamental need to simply get enough food to sustain your bodies nutritional needs to survive. But that’s political isn’t it?

In terms of the other content, I think James is wrong. And here is why:

1) Food is not religion for most people, but some foods do have deep religious values entrenched within them. I would also argue the traits of Vegans or even Vegetarians show some signs of religious behaviour.

2) Food is political. Very political. To take just one example, the way in which food is distributed around the world is extremely unfair – there is a surplus amongst the rich whilst millions of the world poorest are dying of starvation. What about Fair Trade food – is that not political?

3) Food is environmental. The way in which food is shipped or flown around the world damages the environment. The cash crops that are grown in the poorest countries can transform a whole environment. People who are concerned about supporting local farmers and buying locally produced food surely have environmental agenda’s?

4) Food is fashion, food is fashionable, food is class, food is culture. You can tell a lot about someone by looking at their diet. I’m sure you could decipher (in most cases) someone’s class, wealth, age, values, nationality, etc. just by looking at the food on their plate. As an example I would be surprised to see Gok Wan coming out of Iceland.

5) Food is travel. I’m quite bewildered that he actually wrote this. When we think of travel, one of the first things we talk about (after the weather), is the food. Food is pivotal to the complete traveller experience and I would put food in the top three reasons to travel.

6) Food is art. Food is one of the few things that everyone has been creative with at some point in their life. Whether it is simply playing with our food or how we dish up a meal; blogging about everything you eat for a year or creating masterpieces with food, it is most certainly art.

7) Food isn’t sex, I agree. Food and sex are quite different, unless we are talking about the way plants fertilise and thus grow into food. Actually, that makes food the product of sex doesn’t it? Even so, if food is not sex, it can be an aphrodisiac and therefore lead to sexual desires…

To conclude, I almost entirely disagree with you James. Your whole article is completely one dimensional, written I assume when you were very hungry. Here is my response to your post:

Food is never just… Food

For most people, food is not just food. It is the one thing that unites every living species in the world. It is completely entrenched into our political, religious, environmental, economical and social beliefs and values. Food can symbolise an entire culture – it is art, fashion and sex in one dish. It can bring people together and manipulates our every sense – we can taste, feel, smell, hear and see food. But food also represents a tragic story of greed, starvation, malnutrition, exploitation, and conflict in a world that has major lessons to learn if we are to sustain an ever growing population.

Lee, @OneChicknNugget blogger, Plymouth.

Photo Credit: mckaysavage on Flickr

Not just…food:

06.50 Special K
09.10 Left over Pizza x1 and a Twix
13.15 Chicken Baguette and shortbread
20.50 Pasta in tomato sauce with garlic, broccoli and carrots.

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. March 10, 2011 8:41 am

    Furthermore, on “Food is Travel”- a memorable quote, “I really want to go back to Greece, I had a really nice salad there”

    …and on “Food is Environmental”- food is also grown in unsustainable ways, although, at a guess, I would say the problems you mentioned would be more globally unsustainable.

  2. March 10, 2011 12:01 pm

    I really like this article lee. Food is definitely travel for me. When I go on holiday, I visit food places, markets, restaurants, etc and when I have the time (break from eating) I might go and visit the cultural sites. And my kinds of souvernirs are food things like oils and spices.
    Nice one Lee.

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