Foodies Under Attack!
With the preening of celebrity chefs mixing with sermons around
recreating the world’s food supply system, foodies are getting some flack lately.
Beyond being ridiculed like yuppies for extravagant behavior, the concern is
that any backlash may hinder sustainability, organic and other food movements.
3,741-word screed in the March issue of The Atlantic entitled The
Moral Crusade Against Foodies took aim at the smugness of foodie culture. The author
B.R. Myers’ targets include globe-trotting gourmets, sanctimonious food
writers, gonzo adventure eaters and elitist sustainable-farming advocates.
Wrote Mr. Myers in part, "The Roman historian Livy famously regarded the
glorification of chefs as the sign of a culture in decline."
in the Los Angeles Times, It’s
Time to End the Food Fantasy, likewise decried
the worshiping of chefs and food shows, as well as the sharing the "perfect
photo" of meals on Facebook, Twittering food truck sightings,
and creating opulent kitchens where little cooking gets done. The author Alexandra
Le Tellier concluded that given rising food costs and the obesity epidemic, "we
need to redevelop a realistic relationship with food."
Some foodies are
also reacting to a wave of politicians and agriculture-industry representatives
calling the sustainable-food movement "elitist." Those
charges seem to have cropped up again after John Parker, writing
in the March issue of The Economist, said modern farming techniques will be required to
feed the projected nine billion worldwide population by 2050. Wrote Mr. Parker, "Traditional
and organic farming could feed Europeans and Americans well. It cannot feed
editorial in The Washington Post in early May, Eric Schlosser,
author of Fast Food Nation, said calling the sustainable-food movement "elitist" is "an
attempt to evade a serious debate about U.S. agricultural policies." He
highlighted efforts by Walmart, Whole Foods, Kellogg and others in support
of causes ranging from organic, sustainable production; fair labor practices;
humane treatment of animals; and healthier food in schools.
"Calling these efforts elitist renders the word meaningless," said
Mr. Schlosser. "The wealthy will always eat well. It is the poor and working
people who need a new, sustainable food system more than anyone else."
to explain the War on the Food Movement by The Globe and Mail, Michael Pollan,
author of The Omnivore’s Dilemma, said part of the problem
is conflicting aims inside the food movement. For instance, some want to "replace
Big Ag with Small Ag" while others want to reform "Big Ag." Complexities
also come from people "mixing up aesthetics and ethics in a very new way" in
the current food movement. But he sees no problem with the elite charge, noting
that abolition, women’s suffrage and the eco-movement were all started
"If the food movement is still dominated by the elite in 20 years,
I think that will be damning," said Mr. Pollan. "It would need to be
more democratized. The reason that good food is more expensive than cheap food
is part of the issue we’re trying to confront. And has to do with subsidies,
and the way we organize our society and our economy. Those are big systemic problems."
- The Moral Crusade Against Foodies – The Atlantic
- Dinner is the theater as food paparazzi converge – The Los Angeles
- The 9 billion-people question – The Economist
- The Joy of Not Cooking – The Atlantic
- Why being a foodie isn’t ‘elitist’ – The Washington
- Author Michael Pollan explains the war on food movement – The Globe and Mail
Discussion Questions: Is there a brewing backlash against foodies? Could charges of elitism hamper growth of the sustainable food movement?