Note: I use strong language in this post. It is a rant.
I have established, again and again, that when you read my blog, you follow my rules.
Most of my readers are great. You read well, you make good comments, you follow the rules, and I like you. Still, I’m having some issues and I want to send out a general notice.
I try to give people wide latitude on my site, but I feel like some people are taking that as an opportunity to write condescending comments. After all, they are not truly insulting anyone, are they? Well, guess what. Enough is enough and anyone who writes such comments will be subject to the feel of my bloody, bloody (verbal) saw. Or just get deleted.
I mostly have this problem when I write posts about healthism. I often have this problem with liberals: not all, but some liberals assume that if you don’t agree with them about something, that you are just too stupid or brainwashed to understand it.
Get this. I don’t agree with organic activists who attack food processing or conventional farming methods. I DO have knowledge of biology and chemistry. I have knowledge of medicine. Probably more than many of my commenters. Of course, if I didn’t, that would not necessarily make me wrong. All the same, I bring it up to prove that I’m not as dumb as some want to believe.
I am well aware of what food used to be like before regulations existed-anyone remember Sinclair’s Jungle?
I HAVE heard all of the talking points of organic activists. I used to believe them myself. I don’t anymore. Your not-so-earth-shattering revelations aren’t news to me, okay?
For that matter, I have never claimed that all foods are equally healthy, and in my post about attachment therapy, I explicitly claimed otherwise. I HAVE claimed that just because food is processed, or has a long, scary chemical name, does not necessarily make it bad. After all, when you cook in your home kitchen, THAT’S food processing. I could write out all the ingredients in their scientific names, and they would look horrifying. If you are going to claim that any processing out of a home kitchen is bad for you, or that any chemical additives at all should not be in food, the burden of proof is on you to prove it. It’s not on me to prove that processed food ISN’T bad for you.
Yes, I know that processed foods are “associated” with health problems. Thank you, Captain Obvious. Correlation does not equal causation. The population that consumes processed foods differ in class, values, ethnic background, might already have health problems, etc. Again, I never said that all foods contain all the same nutrients in all the same amounts. I said that there might be other factors to concern ourselves with that are more important than the purity of the food consumed. Focusing on the wrong problem isn’t just misguided; it can actively hurt people while the real problems go unrecognized. I have said more than once that, yes, let’s make WIC coupons redeemable at farmers’ markets. Yes, let all grocery stores have fresh produce. Great! Is that the most serious problem facing poor people today? Should we really devote billions of dollars and government resolutions to solve it? Those are my questions.
I have said that many beliefs about food are potentially healthist and classist. For the millionth time, this is not a statement endorsing the equality of all foods. This is pointing out that perceptions and research are often informed, unconsciously, by biases and that these biases spill over into beliefs about health, food, and the people that consume it. Does this mean all such statements are wrong? No, but the prevalence of these biases and the current panic over health and food should give us pause. That’s it.
I have said that many food interventions are classist and healthist. And they are. Saying that some foods have more or less of this or that is not prejudiced in itself. However, the prevalent assumption among posh foodies that all poor people are falling over themselves to be saved from their food and their lifestyles is. I know, I know. You just want to give them the “option.’ Maybe they want to give themselves the option? Maybe they want another option entirely? Maybe they want you to butt out and let them solve their own problems?
What do you consider an option, anyway? Most people espouse some sort of government solution or an increased dependence on welfare. Yeah, that’s not an “option,” that’s government coercion. We will just have to agree to disagree on that one.
Granted, I have said that some processed foods are healthier than some non-processed foods, at least for some people. That’s true. Fortified bread is one example. Another example is food high in sodium for those with certain medical conditions or deficiencies. Once more, not a blanket statement about processed vs. non-processed foods. Just pointing out that fact that people differ in their needs and generalized advice, especially those with the force of law, can hurt people. Not controversial, really.
What about the cultural issue? Some cultures indulge in unhealthy habits such as the use of MSG and the excessive use of fats. At what point do we give up cultural cuisine, or living in general, to panic about food? Should government be giving us those directions and using tax and zoning policies to nanny us?
The gist of what I have been saying all along is that good intentions have negative consequences that are not immediately visible and that what seems correct to us can be dead wrong and prejudiced to boot. Not controversial.
Oh, and by the way, I don’t talk about global warming, environmentalism, or animal rights on my blog. They matter, and I’m glad people out there are writing about them. I’m not one of them. So for those of you who criticize my ignorance of those ethical issues surrounding food, you need to read my blog posts in context. When I talk about their no being moral issues around food, I am talking specifically about healthism and classism.
I have had people accuse me of being brainwashed by Big Food. As though everyone who has anything tangenitally in common with someone is somehow connected to them. It’s like how anyone who supports contraception is brainwashed by Planned Parenthood and is a shill for them. I don’t accuse my opponents of being brainwashed by Greenpeace or by the liberal New World Order. I assume my readers are intelligent enough to form their own opinions, even if they’re wrong. I would like the same courtesy.
And what makes you think the government, famous foodies, organic food producers, and their partners can’t, or don’t, have special interests? That Big Food is the only party that could have special interests? Profit is a powerful motivator, but so are reputations, careers, grants, ego, and good intentions. There are lots of motivators besides profit that could appy to organic advocates, and some of them could be motivated by profit as well. So sorry, you’re going to need to do a better job than that when arguing with me.
Having special interests should cause you to take certain claims with a grain of salt. At the same time, having special interests does not automatically make you wrong, either. You need to focus on the argument and not get into pissing matches about who is involved in what conspiracy. It’s old and intellectually lazy.
If you want to have a discussion about certain chemicals, certain practices, certain processed foods, go ahead. I’m sure not everything the food industry does is healthy or efficient. What I’m seeing, though, is not so much arguments about specific issues but a generalized techno/chemophobia around the subject. It has a long, scary, scientific name, so it must be bad. I have never heard of this company, so it must be bad. We didn’t do this back in the day, so it must be bad. I want to challenge this thinking, not because I like to start shit, but because I really think it can harm people.
And no, my criticizing political foodie-ism isn’t silencing you. I am not asking anyone to stop being a foodie and I never have asked that. You have every right to promote political foodie-sim, and I have every right to criticize it.
Some of my readers are going to have to get used to the fact that not everyone agrees with you, and it’s not always because they are stupid, brainwashed, or part of some insidious conspiracy. It’s called growing up. So argue with me or not, but make it worth my time.
But the next time a political foodie comes sniveling on my blog about how I’m a shill for Big Food, shitting out talking points I have heard a thousand times, not reading my posts accurately and making accusations, I won’t be so nice about it. I’m tired of being nice about it. Now your comment can feel my bloody, bloody saw.