I’m not sure, but I think I may be. Food elitist, food snob, or the less offensive foodie and super foodie, all mean pretty much the same thing. The thing is, I’m not sure what that is. What I do know is that labels get in the way of learning about someone. And, they make people get defensive. I’ve had to defend my food choices for a while. Being a vegetarian seemed somehow threatening to many omnivores out there who always seemed to feel the need to tell me how much meat they ate or that they didn’t eat red meat or worse who tried to find a flaw in my way of thinking…and therefore eating. For the vegans I’d met, I wasn’t hard-core enough. I still ate animal products (dairy and eggs) so what was the point of being vegetarian? It was utterly exhausting.
Labels get formed when things are misunderstood. It’s easier because it prevents us from learning why people make the choices they do. Now “those people” can just be lumped into one category and we need not investigate any further. We just know we’re not “like that”. It is baffling why anyone would choose to pay $6 for organic strawberries when the larger, redder, shinier conventional strawberries are half that. Or why anyone would get his or her meat from a farm when the supermarket is so much easier. I’ve even heard that it’s un-American to not eat McDonald’s. And, my favorite is that eating organic is just a trend that will fade when everyone realizes there’s no difference between organic and conventional food besides the price.
To all of you arugula eating elitists, I hear you. To all of you unbelievers, I understand you.
We were never taught anything about food in school. In fact, school is often the place we got the worst meal of the day. The wisdom of generations past has been obliterated by the convenience of packaged and microwaved food. Tradition lost to modernity and the food industry, the medical industry, and the government made us all believe that we needed them to eat. That’s almost the worst part of this story.
We’ve lost our connection to where our food comes from. Forget for a minute that organic foods really are more nutritious and far better for us physiologically and energetically, and far better for our planet, and think about that sense of connection. Because we do everything so fast we’ve stopped thinking about what we’re doing. In our culture we eat to live. I’ve been to many places where they live to eat and I can tell you that they are much happier than we are.
They’re much happier because when you stop to think about what it is that’s happening when we eat, how we eat becomes as important as what we eat. The Earth bears our food. It grows in the soil or grazes on its grasses or comes from our rivers and oceans. It all gets nourished by the sun and watered by the rain. When we take the time to source our food from places as close to where our food came from, instead of a factory or a laboratory, taking the time to cook it is a natural and logical next step. From that time invested in preparing the food you carefully chose comes the desire, the actual need to share it. Now eating that beautiful meal has become an act of community. We talk, we eat, we share and our time is spent together. This should happen everyday, not just on special occasions. This would restore our lost connection to the Earth and to each other. We need to do this. You know you feel it, too.
The food choices I make are in part due to reclaiming this connection. I buy organic food and whenever possible, I try to buy locally and seasonally, too. I get my meat from a farm. I shop at farmer’s markets. I pay more for many foods because I think it’s worth it; supporting organic farms and farmers, supporting sustainable agriculture, eating food full of vitality, integrity and flavor, maintaining my and my family’s health. I believe food should be celebrated. And, I believe that we should be grateful for where our food comes from, for the people who work the land and who guard it. Our food should be appreciated for what it’s doing for us, satisfying a physical need, but also a spiritual one. Eating is about taking care of oneself (enjoyment is part of that), taking care of each other and taking care of where we all live. Our children need us to restore this for them.
If all this makes me a food elitist (if I had to choose, I’d really rather go with super-foodie), then fine, that’s what I am.
But honestly, don’t you want to be a food elitist, too?
For more on food elitism, from a farmer’s point of view, Joel Salatin of Polyface Farms wrote this article a while back.
Also, for info on all things organic, your first stop should be Rodale!