Backlash!

Michelle Obama; Mark Bittmann, Alice Waters & Michael Polan; Forks Over Knives; The China Study; Skinny Bitch; Kris Carr (Crazy Sexy Diet etc.); The Engine 2 Diet; Ellen Degeneres; Alicia Silverstone; Kathy Freston’s Veganist; Eating Animals; Veganomicon & co.; Thrive; The Green Smoothie Revolution; oldies-but-goodies like Moosewood, Deborah Madison and Diet for a Small Planet…

… and last but NOT LEAST (!), the hundreds (thousands?) of us veg(-an)(-etarian) bloggers flinging our daily dose of healthy recipes and wellness tips into the blogosphere for our mothers to read.

Even if you’re not a vegan or a vegetarian or even remotely interested in foodie-ness in its many incarnations, you’ve heard of at least one of these (Michelle O.) and maybe quite a lot more than one. A surprising number have made to to the NY Times best-seller list and even to place No. 1 on said definitive list; several are selling very well here in Germany (in translation) (Eating Animals, Michael Pollan and Skinny Bitch). And naturally almost all of them are sitting on my bookshelf, which gets heavier and fuller by the day, because this is a strange hobby of mine.

           

I can’t help but marvel (despite ingrained cynicism) about what’s going on here. True, the authors above aren’t all singing the exact same tune. Some are animal-lovers, some politicians, novelists, celebrities; some foodies, vegetarians, vegans, raw foodists, whatever. Yet they’re all in the same disharmonious choir, to complete a bad analogy. There are a growing number of voices clamoring (loudly) for a change in how we feed and care for ourselves and our planet. And not just a little bit of change. From McDonald’s to kale smoothies – I call that a drastic change. There are some really thought-provoking, radical ideas about food being put forth in the US right now. Whether you agree with all or none of the above positions, you’ve surely at least noticed that people are growing increasingly passionate, pissed off, and active. Ironic, huh? From the country that brought you fast food and industrialized animal farming: veganism and the farm-to-table movement!

Perhaps I am being way too optimistic. Perhaps the only people buying these books are the same ones who already eat sprouts and make kale chips in their dehydrators. Yes, I am guilty as charged. And we can’t forget that there are deep-rooted social, political and economic realities underlying obesity and poor health & nutrition in the US and elsewhere, complexities that call for true structural change and that can’t be addressed here in my little rant.  But as one health book creeps up the bestseller lists… then another… it’s hard not to feel at least a tiny twinge of excitement.

I don’t know why I care so much about this issue – but then, who can explain why we’re passionate about the things we are?

Okay, rant over. I am going to resume my Saturday now.

If you were curious: this post was powered by a pot of Sencha green tea and homemade whole-wheat bread with jam. Well, doesn’t that make me feel like a snob?

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4 thoughts on “Backlash!

  1. hmm… interesting notion where one could be tempted to muse about the widening gap btw. the outspoken “luxury” foodies wanting to caress each vegetable and the silent fast food munching masses…
    Closer to home, the backlash hasn’t really made it into the Haidhausen art scene, where i stumbled across these two interesting “pieces” propagating the different philosophies:

    Non-Veg:

    vs.
    Vegans:

    I’d say “meaties” definitely win this round on artistic value (hope the links work) 🙂

    • Damn, veggie people, we need to improve our graffiti skills. We’re not doing much for our cause on that front. Looks like tomorrow I will be picking up orange & green spray paints to plaster the town with my favorite root vegetable.

      But, yes, valid point. Obviously the last thing a single mother on food stamps working a minimum wage job needs to hear is “you should be making $8 organic kale smoothies in a $600 Vitamix blender.”

      One could more cynically interpret the “health food movement” as nothing more than a psychological reaction to watching the people around us get fat and sick, in which case it’s really just a knee-jerk, reactionary expression of the ur-alt human sentiments “I don’t want to die” bzw. “I don’t want to suffer”. Good luck with that, no matter how many liters of kale and wheatgrass juice you guzzle every day….

      A good article about this issue: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/25/opinion/sunday/is-junk-food-really-cheaper.html?_r=1
      My favorite quote: “The alternative to soda is water, and the alternative to junk food is not grass-fed beef and greens from a trendy farmers’ market, but anything other than junk food: rice, grains, pasta, beans, fresh vegetables, canned vegetables, frozen vegetables, meat, fish, poultry, dairy products, bread, peanut butter, a thousand other things cooked at home — in almost every case a far superior alternative.”

      And another thought-provoking rant: http://www.amateurgourmet.com/2011/10/lets-not-be-paternalistic-about-food.html

      Food for thought.

      Bad pun.

  2. Count me excited for the movement. I think many of us grew up in the McBLT hayday and we’ve discovered there is more out there than fast food staples. I just started blogging about our vegetarian-omnivore household’s adventures in home cooking, gardening, farmer’s markets and the like. I think there are a lot of people like me who are just trying to muddle through and find the diet that’s right. There is that wide gap though between foodies and fastfoodies that is interesting too. I know we’re gobbling up Michael Pollan and Forks Over Knives, but someone must be going to KFC, because they have started making a Cheesy Bacon Bowl with chicken, corn, mashed potatoes and gravy, cheese and bacon. I could barely believe it, but you can’t make this stuff up. Glad I found your blog.

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