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Sarah Palin recently brought sugar cookies to an elementary school in deliberate defiance of its "no sweets" policy. Glenn Beck criticized the First Lady's efforts to address childhood obesity as nanny state-ism. Now comes the unfailingly cynical and caustic B.R. Myers in the current Atlantic. But Myers's 4,000-word rant mostly establishes only that from his outpost in South Korea, he is more than a little out of touch with what's happening with food in the cities, suburbs, and rural communities of the United States.
What motivates "foodies," he argues, is their hellbent quest for carnal pleasure, and to excess--in short, gluttony. Lumping nearly everyone who cares about farming, food, or the food system into one giant despicable heap, Myers piles on quotes and anecdotes showing chefs, food writers, and others engaging in decadent and even, in some cases, disgusting behavior--extreme overeating, consumption of endangered species, eating of live animals, and the like. This, he suggests, is what foodies do and what the food movement is really all about.
Yes, the behaviors he cites range from silly to disturbing. And any tolerance or encouragement of cruelty to animals raised for food deserves harsh scorn. But Myers utterly fails to establish any connection between the statements and behaviors he cites and the broad food movement sweeping this country. In fact, there isn't one. None of us who care about food system reform and healthful, ethical eating would defend such excesses, and we certainly are not inspired by them. Fundamental to today's American food movement is holistic thinking and respect--knowing where your food comes from, understanding its history before reaching your plate, and savoring it with family and friends.