Please don’t call me a “foodie”

For that matter, please don’t call yourself or anyone else you know a foodie.  I am really intrigued with why we think we need to define some subset of people for taking an interest in their food.  It seems to me that simply being interested in food isn’t that interesting and doesn’t necessarily mean that ones interest in food leads to good ends.  “Foodie” not only falls far short of telling me much about a person and their relationship with food, but it also seems to suggest some kind of status that comes with eating out a lot or watching the Food Network.

I mean, we all eat.  All of us.  Every single one of us.  Most of us in western culture struggle in varying degrees with our relationship with food.  Michael Pollan has documented this well in his books In Defense of Food and The Omnivore’s Dilemma.  The fact that we take interest in our relationship with food and perhaps even toward improving it should not make us a clique, it should make us human in the best senses of the word.

The other day I was talking with my mom after a weekend when we had gone to both Pizzeria 712 in Orem and Settebello in SLC for phenomenal pizza.  I was telling her how I had almost involuntarily grunted with disgust when someone at church suggested Papa John’s as an ideal choice for an upcoming activity.  My mom cautioned me about being a food snob and thinking that I am better than others.  My response was that I want everyone to know what good pizza is.  I think that everyone should get to eat good pizza and good food in general.  I don’t look down on people who eat Papa John’s, but I just don’t want them to miss out.

Why should we have a good relationship with food?  Well that’s a broader question than I can adequately address here.  However, I’ll give some superficial bullet points:

  • Our food connects (or can connect) us to the land, to our community, and to the life that we are a part of
  • Food plays an essential role in how we define ourselves culturally–we eat this, not that
  • Food and eating are part of traditions of community.  They define religious rituals, festivals, family gatherings, etc.
  • Knowing how dependent our food is upon the earth, the sun, and those around us provokes an appropriate humility and invites us away from individualism toward community

There is a lot more to say than I’ve said here.  The point is that having a healthy relationship with food is not and shouldn’t be anywhere near as fashionable as the word “foodie” seems to indicate.  I say, let’s eat delicious food that promotes our health and the health of the place we live because we are humans and that is good human living.

I really want to hear your comments