There’s no question that foodies are in vogue. Farmers markets, food trucks, cupcakeries – all crawl with the gastronomic elite, paying a premium to stay on the front line of food fad. That these people are thrilled by the experience of eating is great. The problem is their foodilosophy is as much driven by their need for social acceptance.
The world of the foodie is basically a tree-house club. To get the rope-ladder tossed down, you’ve gotta know the whereabouts, the secret language, and (of course) be able to pay the dues. Would you, say, drop five-fifty for a dairy-free, egg-free, soy-free, agave-sweetened vegan spelt-cinnamon bun? You would if you wanted in. Lucky for members, the uncultured masses would rather stay at ground level.
For anyone that knows me, my bash of the Foodie Club is pretty hypocritical. Simply put, I’ve got my own blog and I had that aforementioned cinnamon bun last week. Still, there’s an opportunity to rise above, and I think it needs to be taken.
This rant comes in the wake of a couple of books I’ve been reading. The first is Slow Food Nation, basically the manifesto of the Slow Food Movement, written and led by gastronome (read: foodie extraordinaire), Carlo Petrini. More on this one later. The second is a less serious read – David Kamp’s The Food Snob’s Dictionary. It was this book that really highlighted my love, hate, and shame for all things foodie.
Here’s an excerpt:
Farmstead. Lyrical adjective used to describe foodstuffs, usually cheeses, made onsite at the very farm where the dairy animals are kept and milked (or, in the case of farmstead baked goods and preserves, where the pertinent crops are grown). The ARTISANAL nature of farmstead cheeses, along with their elimination of a link in the farm-to-table chain of production, has made them a cause célèbré in SLOW FOOD circles.
Ex: Alice welcomed us with a simple snack of farmstead cheddar, apple slices, and walnut-raisin bread. Perfect!
Reading this entry makes my blood boil as much as it makes my mouth water. Would I love some farmouse cheddar right now? Yes. Would it be great to see Kraft Singles replaced across the board by artisanal cheeses? Clearly. Do snooty buzzwords like farmouse and artisinal alienate the bulk of the country, further fueling the processed food industry they aim to debunk? Yeah, I bet they do.
Of course, the real villain of the American eating landscape is this industry (and all of its many faces). What effect foodies have on alienating the lower classes is a drop in the bucket compared to the colossal (and lethal) cultural shifts already in place. Still, it’s important for those looking to make a change to see Club Foodie for what it really is, a tree-house. It may be fine for a handful of people, but by its construction, not all that many can fit. Similarly, the hope that the American populace will all one day get their groceries from farmers markets and boutique shops is truly a dream. Luckily, food doesn’t have to be elitist to be enjoyed.
Going back to before – it’s true that the modern diet is loaded with weird, fake cheese products. But while the foodie would counter this with artisinal cheddar, I think America needs something much simpler: regular old cheese. No frills, not even organic. Just cheese. Let’s get the taste for the real thing back first, and then we’ll worry about what kind of grass the cow ate.