Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Food as Fetish

At what point did food cease to be nourishment or pleasure and turn into a fetish?  Food is expected to solve every health woe these days.  Besides nourishing you it is supposed to be magical.  Unfortunately, the categories of which foods are “good” or “bad” for you change radically- take coconut oil.  Once it was considered the worse possible oil, now it’s perfect.  And rather than just eating it you can down teaspoonfuls to stay healthy. All this categorization of food takes us further away from reality. The reality was eating meals and enjoying them. 

When was the last time you had a meal in which no one talked about weight or fat or guilt?  “I shouldn’t eat this.  Oh, I feel so fat.” When was the last time you were at a dinner when everyone could eat whatever was served?  I can barely remember.  There always is a vegan or a paleo or a raw foods consumer complicating life for the host.  I wonder how someone with a restricted diet can travel anywhere.  And how so much energy devoted to analyzing or obsessing about food works out.  Do you actually feel healthier?  Is it worth it?

When did the idea that food can harm you occur?  I’m not talking about fast food or junk food which obviously can but grains and dairy.  And I’m not talking about celiac or people with food allergies but the general population which takes on these trends and drops them just as quickly as a new theory comes into fashion. 

I almost have to go back to Europe to have an idea what normal portions look like and enjoy a three course meal complete with wine and dessert.  And I weighed less there than here with all the fads and attempts as losing weight.  I can go to Europe where food is a celebration on special occasions and the refrigerator isn’t crammed full but is designed to buy the freshest products and cook them immediately.  There I won’t find eating to be a 24 hour possibility.  My taste buds won’t be battered by too much sugar and salt and fat. 

I’m guilty of the food fetish myself.  Mornings I often prepare a smoothie which bears almost no resemblance to food as we know it.  I throw protein powder and frozen fruit into a blender.  Why?  It’s easy and filling.  Probably the same reasons people have for consuming fast food. 

Even for the wealthy food resembles itself less and less.  There are foams and liquid nitrogen to make it more spectacular in the style of Ferran Adria.  There are endless elaborations to bring out the flavor of food which is simply not of the quality it once was.  GMO’s, farmed fish,and agribusiness have all changed food for the worse,  I have to admit I’d be happy to try Michel Bras’s famous vegetable and herb concoction that is as beautiful an array of color and form that I’ve ever seen.  I’m not sure it would taste as good as the vegetables on the farm I grew up on or the seasonal produce at the corner store in Barcelona. 

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