July 9, 2009

Food is the New Morality

I was BOWLED OVER by Kira's comment on the Crisco post. Here's an excerpt:
I think a majority of the reaction to it is because food is the new morality. Trans fats aren't just sort of unhealthy, they are BAD and WRONG. Sugar isn't just simple carbs, it's OMG SUGAR DO YOU KNOW WHAT YOU'RE EATING THINK OF TEH CHILDREN. Whatever. I'm a rebel. I think food is food and morals are something different altogether.

Me: *stunned by revelation* As soon as I read this, I could FEEL my brain recalibrating. Files were getting moved around, and some unfiled paperwork was finally getting into the right folders.

FOOD IS THE NEW MORALITY. YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS. I think she should write a book. I would buy ten copies.

My mom and I were talking about it yesterday, and she mentioned denominations: Church of Atkins, Reformed Church of Atkins, Church of Raw Food, Our Holy Mother Jenny Craig, etc.

Because of the spiritual importance of food, people feel a DRIVE to save others via evangelism and condemnation. IT IS FOR THEIR OWN GOOD, is the feeling. SOULS MUST BE SAVED.

There are traveling preachers who come to us with messages of what foods are Good and what foods are Bad, recording their wisdom in books and expensive food systems. Salvation can be yours. Give all you have: your money, your time.

Thinness is the new righteousness. Exercise is the new church attendance. Recent converts test the love and patience of all around them.

Obesity is the new depravity. People must be saved from themselves. They wear their sins like a cloak, and their sins bring them terrible consequences: all bad things are linked to excessive/wrong foods.

REPENT! REPENT AND BE SAVED!

72 comments:

Anonymous said...

Brilliant! Preach it, Sister!

d e v a n said...

I've never thought of it that way, but it does make sense in some ways...

Laura said...

This...is...awesome. I love it - SO SO TRUE. And nothing sucks like being evangelized.

Nowheymama said...

Kira and Swistle are the new Kate Harding!

Bitts said...

WHAT a metaphor! So true and so many levels! This is why I love you, Swistle, you hit me with cutiepie fox sweaters one day and a paradigm-shaking perspective on something as huge and important as FOOD then next day! Love it!

Minze said...

So funny, and so true!

Rah said...

Still giggling. This puts it in perspective.

Another: Our Lady of the Low Carb

Beth said...

yes, the extremism in our society never fails to amaze me. in every nook of life, people approach things from either the far left or the far right, with very little meeting in the middle (politically and otherwise). i pride myself on my moderation-- in all things, hopefully. yes, there are some things, some foods even, that ARE, indeed, "bad" or "wrong" in the way that they are consumed in our culture. we all know someone who drinks soda to excess or has four strips of bacon every morning. i know someone who eats a cheesburger everyday for lunch and a steak every night for dinner. and, of course, we are all aware of the abuse of eating too little, the lack of joy and heath that comes from extreme restriction. i know it is a tired cliche, BUT if we could only enjoy delicious REAL food and natural, enjoyable exercise the way the do in Europe....

TheresaG said...

Ha! What a great post! It's so true. Thanks for the laugh first thing in the am! I have to think of a dozen people to send this to!

Kristi said...

What a fresh perspective! And I agree - it has become that. How interesting!

CAQuincy said...

OMG! That is SO TRUE!

Sign me up for the Universal Food Agnostics. I refuse to ingest the ultra-fundamentalism being shoved down my throat by all the other beliefs.

Joanne said...

Totally brilliant.

Jen said...

Good post! I love when I'm able to have a huge shift in thinking, like in this example. I'm always "why didn't I think of that?"!

Erica said...

With my gastric bypass, I'm like some kind of Food Nun, huh?

I love this!

Mom et al said...

This reminds me of a wellness contest we had a work. Mind you, it was completely voluntary, but it challenged all those who signed up (cash prizes reeled a lot of people in) to eat a certain number of fruits and vegetables each day and awarded additional points for exercise and smoking cessation. The idea behind this was not only to help people get in shape and avoid obesity. The driving motivational factor was blatant. The healthier their employees, the less the company has to dish out on health insurance in the long run. Suggestion (sometimes a better word is dictation) of how to live is everywhere.

Marie Green said...

Our Holy Mother Jenny Craig- oh, ho, ho,ho,wheeeeezeeee, heeeheeeheeh.

Good stuff. Also, so true.

Off to recalibrate my brain now, thanks!

Tess said...

So, so true, and this is one of the things behind The Policy.

Commenting on food, and eating, and bodies, even if it's about "healthy" vs "not-healthy" attaches a MORAL VALUE to those choices. I was "good" or I was "bad". No. NO NO NO.

Jess said...

This is so right. Obesity HAS to be the new sin, because if it isn't your fault that you're fat, how can it be so virtuous to be thin?

mjb said...

Just tell the critics that you're a member of the church of old-fashioned- sometimes when I'm getting too carried away with the natural/organic I remember that if my Grandma cooked a certain way and fed her whole family on a budget that it can't be terrible, and that we're still doing better than eating out for every meal so I'm not going to worry about a little Crisco.

Angie said...

I love this post. I totally agree, and I don't think it is just an overweight issue. I'm not overweight, but still felt I was some kind of "bad person" for not worrying too much about unprocessed foods and organics, etc. And, good grief, how could I ever give my babies food from a jar! (By the way, your post on baby food convinced me to make my own. It just pissed me off when I was told there was something wrong with the stuff in a jar.)

I think there seems to be a morality to how you give birth, too. It is "right" to have babies naturally. How dare you have an epidural and drug your baby! Or, god forbid, have a c-section! Your mothering will be judged on how the baby came out of your body, not what happens for the next 18 years!

Ok, this is long enough, it should have been my own blog post.

Alias Mother said...

That comment got me, too. So true. So, so true.

And look at how well it's working out for us!

Shelly said...

I saw that comment and thought, "Oh right on!" Glad you expanded on it. I totally agree - food is the new morality. If you aren't thin, you're shunned.

Elizabeth said...

I have been working on getting over this for a long. You're "bad" if you eat cookies, and "good" if you eat kale. Boo to that.

I also think there's a fascinating socio economic factor at play here. Some people can't afford to eat organic, locally grown, trans fat and high fructose corn syrup free food. A gallon of organic milk is $6 dollars, versus $3 for the non organic. I feel like a horrible person every time I reach for the cheaper milk - this is for my babeeeee, after all, but I just can't afford $6 milk.

sitting on the mood swing at the playground said...

Bless me for I ate a Reese's cup while reading this.

Now I'll pray to Our Lady of Perpetual Cellulite Sorrows.

Alice said...

HA! this is hilarious! ...mostly because it's TRUE. alas, i'm going to both religious hell AND food hell.

Anonymous said...

Regarding morality, since food doesn't just appear in the grocery store, but usually travels a distance to get there (often from other countries, some developing, with a myriad of inconsistent environmental, labour, health practices) I would say that putting $$$ into purchasing food is in fact a moral decision IF we are informed about where and how our food arrives at our tables.

Erin said...

Amen.

I see this go the other way, too. Especially at my workplace, which tends toward Very Old School. People take PRIDE in thwarting modern knowledge about health... "My granddaddy ate fried hamburger & chewed tobacco until he tell off the tractor and died at 92! HELL if I'm gonna do any different." THAT sort of preaching, all because they see you're eating an APPLE.

Barb @ getupandplay said...

"Our Lady of Perpetual Cellulite Sorrows"... awesome.

jonniker said...

Anonymous, you're on a WHOLE DIFFERENT LEVEL of morality. I get that.

What Swistle said, however, is more personal and ... oh yes. OH YES. Am so SICK OF IT.

"Recent converts test the love and patience of those around them."

HA HA HA. YES.

Natalie said...

I put butter in my cookies, does that mean I'm a food evangelist?

I think the pendulum swings both ways. I'm seeing those that are against this "food morality" just as sure of their beliefs (and wanting to convince others) as those who spout off about how important health is.

(P.S. I wouldn't turn yours cookies away. No sirree.)

(P.S.S. I exercise. But I also had a rum and coke last night for dessert. I think I can firmly place myself in the "hypocrite" category, don't you?)

Rhiannon said...

I prefer to be a complete hypocrite and eat whatever I want and THEN go ask for forgiveness in the Jillian Michaels confessional.

Misty said...

I....guess?

But.

Morality is really totally subjective. There is no basis in, well, fact. I think mostly because it would be nary impossible to fully research quantitatively.

Food nutrition is, however, science. It is a provable, peer-reviewed, solid scientific FACT that an apple will nourish your body more effectively than a twinkie.

ktjrdn said...

I have a friend that recently lost a lot of weight (good for her) and everytime she has a cookie, she tells me "I was bad this morning". uh, no. That's called hungry. Maybe she should have eaten something else, but why the personal judgemnet?

MzEll said...

Genuis! You and Kira both. I was preached to within an inch of my sanity by an old high school friend on Facebook about why we should all be Vegan. Holy Cow (joke intended)!

This is all so very true. I was in the grocery store with the boys yesterday and we were talking about things they had never tasted as we walked past the Kool-aid. Some lady said, "And they don't ever need to either!". Thanks, kind lady...

You are fabulous!

Saly said...

**slow clap as everyone joins in and applauds**

SO TRUE!!

The Gori Wife said...

Ugh! Why am I ALWAYS the unpopular religion!?!

Brooke said...

What a brilliant thought! It's so true! We have a group of people in my office who walk at lunch, and I call them the peer pressure group, because they are always ganging up on those of us who don't care to spend lunchtime doing something other than relaxing. My boss walks with these people, and is riding in a 100 mile bike ride this weekend, and just this morning said, "You should come do yoga with us at lunch. You don't even sweat that much." I'm like, can I just eat my lunch? Kthx.

The Lowe said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
desperate housewife said...

This is hi-larious. Our whole dang culture is just so judgey. Don't recycle? Don't use organic cloth? Don't cloth diaper? Drive an SUV? EAT CRISCO?
To hell in a handbasket with you.

Rachael Cahours Acklin said...

All I can think is: HOLY COW!

Also, I love you so much, you rock, I never comment, I only stalk you a little. And I love all the Target crap you buy. :)

Julie said...

That is just... awesome. I can't say anything else. Right on!

Kim said...

This was so friggin' RIGHT ON; I'm going to have to link to it from my fitness blog.
Food is one of my favorite things ever, but it has turned into another social experiment. Like someone else mentioned, I look at many of the "organic" things out there as just the latest fad, like skinny jeans and iPods.

brightfeather said...

I will buy organic... if it's marked down for quick sale and cheaper than the other stuff. I belong to the ranks of the perpetually broke, but even if I didn't, I doubt I'd jump on the organic bandwagon. It tastes the same, doesn't it? And at double the price...

That said, we don't eat much in the way of junk or processed foods. I like fresh when possible, and fresh frozen is good, too. I suppose out biggest sin is eating things like Uncle Ben's and Betty Crocker's au gratin potatoes. TV dinners are a rarity, eating out doesn't happen. Exercise, well... I'm disabled, so you can imagine how little that happens. My greatest excercise is chasing the baby...

The Lowe said...

(Previous comment deleted for not being written in real English)

But I am still guilty of both sinning and being righteous about my (and other people's) eating.

Expat From Hell said...

So, somewhere between "spirituality" and "depravity" is, maybe, backsliding? Woohoo! I loved this post. Thanks to Jeninacide for getting me over here. I will be back again!

ExpatFromHell

Brenna said...

I've always found former overweight people to be just as annoying and righteous as former smokers, so I totally understand where you're going with this.

Interesting concept.

clueless but hopeful mama said...

I've been thinking about this SO MUCH since first reading your post.

I have a High Priestess of Raw Food friend and an Our Lady of Low Carb friend and their preaching often makes me want to stuff them full of cinnamon rolls and shove them out the door.

However.

There is a whole food-eating-weight "morality" that kinda drives me bonkers but I do have to kinda agree with ... I think it was Anonymous (?) above. IMO there is a deep morality around how food is grown, processed and shipped in this country and for those of us who have the time, energy and money (I am not officially considered rich but I put myself in this category) to care about it, it's pretty upsetting. Our environment, our dwindling natural resources, and animal welfare are all a consideration when looking at the food on the shelf. Those of us who can afford to take the long view to look past just the price and short term convenience (once you've planted a small garden, there's not much more convenient than trimming food from it to make for dinner), might want to see if what we're eating is in line with what we believe in.

I don't actually know the whole equation when looking at the butter v. Crisco debate. Which is actually better for the environment? Which is a better use of resources? Which is healthier for my physical body? I think these are separate questions but each worth asking.

As long as you don't get preachy about it.

Eleanor Q. said...

I also feel like the morality of buying better food "for your kids" is one more way that parents are trying to out best eachother. You buy organic/I buy direct from the farmer. You buy nabisco/I stay up all night and bake cookies. You feed your kid HFCS/I bought an island in the dominican to grow my own cane.

It also seems like something of a control issue- that people are afraid of their kids doing poorly (in some area of life) so they say to themselves that if they provide the best activities, the best schools, the right kids to hang around with and the healthiest food possible, then they've controlled all factors that they can so their kid will succeed.

Kathy said...

True, so true! (And a bit frightening, to be honest.)

Snarky Lady said...

You've just turned food into a true four letter word. Damn.

They will now have to add a category for Facebook so people can know your Religion, Political Belief, and your Food Affiliation.

*sigh*

I think I'll stick with eating whatever the heck I want. We're all going to die anyway.

Katie said...

OMG. TOTALLY. Totally. I am of the School of I Should Know Better Than to Eat This Shit.

I do. I know better. And then I eat it anyway and feel guilty. I need absolution....

Whimsy said...

I've been thinking about that comment since I first read it too. And I've just read all your comments here - and I can see so many of the points being made.

It is important to make the best decisions we can - given our resources ($), given our time, and given the facts that we have at hand. Which is why it can be challenging - the facts change every day. Chocolate is good for you, chocolate is bad for you. Carbs are bad for you, carbs are good for you.

Every day it seems there is something new to be aware of, some new study, some new trend, some new bit of information that I've got to read up on and assimilate as fast as I can before I am STONED at the grocery store for buying the wrong kind of ice cream (or whatever).

I am trying to do what I can, with what I have, and the rest --- not gonna worry about it.

BTW - I totally use Crisco in my cookies and I don't know if I'll ever change because it makes them SO GOOD.

Kira said...

*preen*
Swistle wants to buy my book! Now I only wish I'd WRITTEN a book.
OH! I know the book I want to write. It's called "Kids Are Weird." And the first chapter is "No, Seriously, They're Really Weird." And it'll just be filled with examples. Like this: one of my sons has a security object, right? That's not unusual. He started carrying it around with him about a month before the baby was born, and ever since then he has it in his pocket at all times, he sleeps with it, and he freaks out if he loses it. All normal and understandable, especially with a new baby in the house, right?
Except the security object in question is a MASSIVE WAD OF STICKY TACK. You know, like the stuff you stick posters to the wall with? And it's the size of a baseball and sort of gray and hairy and GROSS.
*boggle*
You'd read a whole book like that, right?
Whaddya mean, "off topic?"

antikva said...

Swistle said...

Kira- Sign me up for 10 copies of that one, too.

ColorCodedC said...

This post cracked me up because it's SO TRUE. I mean, what the h? Our mothers used Crisco in everything and they were fine (and we were, too, after eating everything they made). Our grandmothers used LARD in everything, and they were stick thin! It's not the food, people!

Anonymous said...

I know most of the commenters so far are jazzed by Swistle's unholy wisdom here....
However, I also have a feeling that I'm not the only one who will no longer be reading the swistle sermons.

Expat From Hell said...

Having been plagued with "Anonymous" commentary on my own blog, I want to support - resoundingly - Swistle's post, Swistle's opinion, and the delightful proposition that we will no longer have to share these brilliant postings with idiots who don't have the cojones to use their names. Keep up the good work, Swistle! We are IN!

ExpatFromHell

JEN said...

I totally agreed with Swistle and Eleanor Q. It is a way for certain people to act somehow better than others. You don't eat organic? Oh my gosh - that's terrible, etc. I have a neighbor that is like that with vitamins and she is soooooooooo annoying.

the new girl said...

I agree and feel like there are so many things that can/do take on a Moral Tone, where they ought NOT.

My sister and I have this conversation all the time about 'Things She Thinks She Should Be Doing Instead of _____.' Folding and putting all the laundry away or having your floor free from cat-fur-tumbleweeds 24/7 is NOT a moral issue. Right? RIGHT?

PS. Amen to Anon-Be-Gone! And, uh, don't let the stained glass door hit your ass on the way out.

Mindy Richmond said...

I still remember the time I was chatting with an acquaintance and when she found out that I drink water from the FAUCET her jaw just about hit the floor. And then when she found that I *gasp!* give tap water to my CHILD to drink! The look of horror on her face is still burned on my brain... I chuckle every time I think of it.

Bring A. Torch said...

I think fat people (myself included) are going to become the new smokers. I know when I was a kid, the messages from my parents, school, and various PSAs that "Smoking is BAD!" somehow got convoluted into "Smokers are BAD!" Eventually people are going to have to go outside to eat sweets at work. Maybe I'll finally obtain that edgy, rebel persona I've always wanted!

Jess said...

George Will wrote a column about this back in February. He totally agrees with you. Interesting read.

http://www.jewishworldreview.com/cols/will022609.php3

Snarky Lady said...

I like how people are actually offended by this. Offended by food? Offended by talk of food in relation to religion? Are we all the serious now? Really? I'm moving to the moon.

No Biggie said...

So thought provoking! Food is such a high-stress topic these days. I think it's all about eating healthy, having fun and feeling good - whatever that means to you.

Swistle said...

Oh, Anonymous. We will pray for your immortal BMI and hope that one day you will return to the flock.

hatrabbit said...

This is a great post. There's a new movie just out called food.inc which really explores the whole food as morality thing. I'd love to see you write a review of it on your blog. Thanks for the great read.

Dave

Sam said...

I have to agree, a thousand times over, with Kira's observation. I don't doubt that it's truly important, and that we can all make *better* decisions. It's a privilege to eat well, and I will stand by that opinion...for a long time. I wish it was easier, but it's just not.

Still, I feel oh so virtuous when I buy my kid the organic cereal bars. I like to think it makes up for the fact that he watches TV (gasp)!

Cagey said...

My kids drink Kansas swamp water from the tap. And I am proud of it. We also drink from public fountains. *gasp*

I do try to avoid HFCS and trans-fats, but eh. You can only do so much. What I do hate with a vengeance is the artificial food coloring. My kid becomes a hyper freak when he has it. However, my stance towards Red #40 is not like that of someone trying to exorcise a demon. We just try to avoid it whenever possible. Everything in moderation.

Cagey said...

Also, meant to mention the obvious (?) socio-economic factor behind some of this division. Some folks are defensive against the organic/healthy crazy because they simply canNOT afford it. Others are preachy about it because they CAN afford it and it appears to garner them some sort of bragging rights.

For example, once I served some organic tortilla chips (Garden of Good Eatin') and received a very snooty comment about it. And the comment specifically was about "oh, we can't afford this fancy smancy organic stuff." The comment made ME feel bad because I was just serving the chips because I LIKED them. I suspect Mama Lupe's chips would not have garnered the same reaction. Bah.

AlpHa Buttonpusher said...

Would I LOVE YOU be too much? lol

Frondly said...

"We will pray for your immortal BMI!!!" I CANNOT STOP LAUGHING!