Let’s Stop Picking Apart Our Food

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We need to change the way we talk about food!

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.

Blueberries

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!

Comments

  1. says

    “Add a little lean protein to the skillet”?! Wow; that is REALLY bad. There is a healthy balance (no pun intended), I think, when it comes to eating foods, of recognizing what components there are and why we need them in balance, and just enjoying the food (and trusting that God’s inherent creation and our own intuition balance them to a huge degree, anyway). But we oughtn’t ever be cooking “nutrients” in place of “food.” There’s just no point!
    Rachel R. recently posted…How to Make “Real” Food Convenient by Choosing “Good Enough”My Profile

    • says

      Yes! And this may be a bad analogy, but it just popped into my head: when painting, you wouldn’t want to only focus on the best types of brushes to use or the best brand of paint–you’d also want to cultivate a pure enjoyment of the creative act of painting itself, and revel in the results of a finished piece.

    • says

      True–Omega 3 is very good for you! The chemistry IS very important, but now that I’ve researched a lot of it, I want to step back and recapture my enjoyment for the flavour profiles of nutritious foods.

  2. says

    I completely agree! I think it makes the whole process of eating just seem to complicated and discouraging (i.e. if I don’t know all those big words, I can’t feed my family a good diet). We are all about going back to basics. I think if more people focused on eating REAL FOOD instead of processed, chemical-laden stuff, we’d be better off, regardless of all those smarter sounding terms :)
    Crystal @ Serving Joyfully recently posted…Thriving Thursday 6/12My Profile

    • Alissa says

      I think this is really refreshing, as well! I will argue though that what I thought were REAL foods before are not always so. For example, I didn’t realize that wheat today is completely different than what it was hundreds of years ago. I personally am very affected by the high glycemic index in today’s wheat, and had I not done the research to figure that out, I would be eating a “nutritious, well-balanced,” wheat-filled dinner. And then wonder why I was so tired and lazy to play with my kids…
      It’s a balance–we are so blessed and cursed to have a wealth of knowledge at our finger tips regarding what we eat! And yet with all this new knowledge, our health seems to be getting worse and worse…

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