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Foodie Reality Check

You know, I love food as much as the next guy. I'm a vegetarian, I shop at the farmer's market and I understand the damage monoculture farming does to the environment. (I live in Iowa and I see it all the time.) I've read Diet For a Small Planet. I know burgers are bad.

But this spiritual foodie thing has gone too far. If you can listen to this pretentious chef oozing on public radio about how the quest for delicious flavor is going to solve all of society's problems by reconnecting everyone to the earth without gagging, well, let me sell you a vegan haggis.

Give me a fucking break, dude. Maniacs are blowing themselves up with homemade explosives and hacking each other to death with machetes in the jungle. Corrupt policemen torture peasants in filthy jails. Fighter jets are dropping bombs from the sky. The oceans are dying and Americans demanding organic carrots is not going to fix it. Whole Foods is not going to stop poachers from hunting down the last few rhinos to make penis-growth powder for insecure Chinese men. If preoccupation with delicious, healthy food really is "the most exciting social movement in America today," then we are in big trouble, because that is not an adequate response to the challenges of the 21st century.

Sure. it's a good thing that people think about where their food comes from, but I can guarantee you it will not mushroom into an all-encompassing explosion of ecological awareness that will reshape our relation to the natural world and each other. We are preoccupied with the pleasures of food mostly because our material needs are sufficiently well-met that we can afford to be. Most people, when their basic needs are met, will happily engross themselves in family, their immediate social circle, their hobbies, sports, TV, in keeping up the house and yard. This exciting revolution in food consciousness is not going to change that. You know what really gets the American voter out to the polls? The price of gas.

So go ahead, grow you organic parsnips and sell them locally. I'm totally down with it. But don't tell me I'm saving the world by buying them, okay? I don't know about you, but I don't need that sort of grandiose self-talk to bolster my choices.

(This rant has been brought to you by my averse reaction to the NPR radio show Krista Tippet: On Being: Driven By Flavor - Dan Barber.)
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