Have you noticed?
The way we talk about food has changed.
Everywhere I look in newspapers, blogs, magazines, even cookbooks–food is packaged with buzzwords: “protein,” “low fat,” “heart healthy,” “antioxidants,” etc ad infinitum.
We dissect our food to death, basing its merits or evils on the chemical components that technology and medicine have helped us discover.
We’ve stripped whole foods down to their parts. Where we used to eat a piece of fruit, we now eat antioxidants and enzymes and vitamin C.
I guess talking about food that way makes us sound smarter, like we know our stuff. I’ve watched TV shows and read magazines where the chefs talk about adding “a little lean protein to the skillet,” or finishing off the dish “with a drizzle of heart-healthy olive oil.” It sounds really good, but it’s starting to make me cringe.
Tapping into the trends of foodspeak not only lends authority to our voice, it also helps us sell our wares. Just as in the grocery store we sell food with a rainbow of nostalgic labels, in our language we wrap food with a rainbow of jargon. Either way, we’re distracted by the packaging and we forget the simple pleasures of a fresh-plucked tomato or a homespun meal.
In reality, we don’t need an M.D. or a marketing company to tell us that blueberries are good for us. I don’t care how many antioxidants a half cup portion of blueberries have–if they grew on a bush on my uncle’s farm, and they taste good in Mom’s blueberry pie, that’s good enough for me!
When I sit down at the table, I don’t want to eat fat, protein, calories, and carbs. I want to eat a bowl of chicken noodle soup and hot-from-the-oven scones. I want to dress my salads with olive oil, not omega 3 fatty acids.
And while I want to teach my future children about why their food is healthy for them, I also want them to simply enjoy food with their senses–experiencing how it smells, tastes, feels.
In the meantime, I want this space–this blog–to throwback to an old-fashioned way of eating. I’m not going to break it down for you and tell you why my recipe is good for you, although I hope the recipe’s wholesomeness will be self-evident when you scan the ingredient list.
I’ll just give you delicious food, straight up. Maybe I’ll talk about the memories a dish evokes (like I did here), a good occasion for eating it (as outlined here), or the adventures that went into making it (I did that here). But if you want to know how many calories are in the recipe or how many miligrams of Vitamin C it contains, you’re on your own.
What do you think of the new foodspeak? Are we dissecting our food too much? How does referring to food as “protein” or “fat” change the way we think about it? My thoughts are still gelling on all of this–I’d really love to know what you think!