Monday, March 30, 2009

Food, attitudes, and the middle classes

I read an article today that points to some interesting facets of attitudes regarding food held by some who are known as 'middle class'. Here's my response to it.

The article puzzled me a bit at first. I couldn't understand why people were apologising for wanting to eat perfectly good food, or why eating quinoa or homous or buying organic produce could qualify a person as being a snobby middle class foodie.

Reading the comments clarified things, however! I think the point of the article is not what people eat so much as it's the desire to be fashionable and to believe that what you eat makes you better than less discerning plebs. Is that right? Using big words to describe luxury or unusual foods and ways to eat them really did begin to sound like a way to start a class war as I read further down!

I eat quinoa regularly, organic quinoa at that. I make my own homous, grind and bake with biodynamic spelt and wheat, and the list goes on. I spent about 2.5 seconds wondering if this qualifies me for groans and categorizing as was being done in this article, then decided I didn't actually care. *grin* It is interesting to observe other people's reactions to food and lifestyle choices that are different to their own.

I'm certainly not upset and don't feel the need to whinge because this food isn't available everywhere I go; by jiggity, that's why I make it at home! It's amusing to me that eating good healthy food can possibly be a status symbol - guess I just don't travel in the right social circles. *breathes sigh of relief*

Someone recently enlightened me as to the target demographic of the Guardian, the newspaper the original article came from. "The thing that made the blog even more amusing, in my personal opinion, was that it was in the Guardian. This is the title of choice for people who don't care if others call them decaffeinated/organic/veggie-munching/Fairtrade/trendies. In fact, the Guardian's food pages offer some lovely recipes, often with a veggie emphasis and plenty of baking." Thanks to Sharon for allowing me to use her words.

And now to put things into perspective. There's a movie that I saw on These Days In French Life called We Feed The World (it's a long one, but worth watching; see highlights here), that has further changed the way I think about the food I eat. There are so many tragedies behind food production on a human and animal scale, it is staggering. Here's a quote: "Any child today who dies of starvation, is in fact murdered". There is enough food in the world to feed everyone, but for plain old human greed.

This afternoon I'll be buying my first box of locally grown organic produce. I suspect I won't get to much for my money, but the concept behind eating what has been produced from my own area and without chemicals, is very appealing. It's simply not feasible for me to grow enough food at home to feed my family at this point, though I'd love to get to that stage eventually.


Jac's Mum said...

I see what you mean, Ms Darcy; I also gleaned more from the comments than from the article itself.
Some food attitudes are just cultural - couscous is exotic here, not in Africa, and pomodori are pomodori in Italy.
I am most irked by people anywhere, any time, who are ungrateful and unappreciative of the food that is before them. To me, that is an arrogance beyond words, to feel so far removed from the dirt our feet stand in, to think that eating plain food is beneath their sensibilities. Perhaps they need to queue for food that will never be enough to feed their families, to appreciate this point?
Keep reading and writing, I like your space.

Threads of Light said...

It's all about becoming aware, I suppose, learning to feel rather than just to know. Your last point brings to mind a picture book that has been shortlisted for this year's Bookweek, Home and Away by John Marsden. Basically the book very effectively puts the average Australian into the position of being a refugee.