In an article for Bitch, chef/writer Soleil Ho wonders “how can we fetishize the act of eating so much while also making food more inaccessible to the people who need it the most?”
I don’t mean to minimize the important question/concern of food accessibility, but this snippet of Ho’s related to the act of eating (or at least shopping for food) struck me:
Though it can be said that the acrid odor of snake oil marketing has always been a hallmark of American laissez faire capitalism, we’ve entered an age where consumer choice and moralizing have combined to turn grocery shopping into an incredibly neurotic experience. If you want to be cosmopolitan, you’ll buy star anise, kimchi, and coconut oil. If you want to prevent cancer, buy collard greens, blueberries, and omega-3 eggs. If you want to eat food free of pesticides and high fructose corn syrup, buy organic meat, flour, and dairy. Compound all of these seemingly innocuous exercises in American Dreaming with diet fads like “clean” eating, Westernized veganism, or the paleo diet, and you’ll get a supermarket full of people staring at labels, searching the copy for proof of ideological and medical purity. I need to buy this if I want to be good, if I really want to take care of myself and my family. As it turns out, this moralistic way of framing choice is extremely profitable for food processors, restaurants, and produce retailers: we’ve been effectively held captive by our own consciences.
As this #Breaking Black post on “food gentrification” suggests, there “are no easy answers, but we have to start asking the questions before food becomes a privilege instead of a necessity.”
And while we’re at it, perhaps we should look more at if/how much this “fetishization” of eating leads to analysis paralysis and “what the hell” decisions around folks’ diets.