Foodies: Gluttony by another name?

Some foodies go too far, turning eating into a fetish, but most simply care about what they eat and how it was produced.

The time has come for “a moral crusade against foodies,” said B.R. Myers in The Atlantic. I’ve just plowed through a stack of books and articles by the elitist chefs, gluttons, and epicureans who now dominate international food culture, and I was left with a faint feeling of nausea. You know the type: Pompous morons who call the chef out of the kitchen for some awkward, congratulatory chitchat; who speak without shame of “flying to Paris to buy cheese” or “to Vietnam to sample pho”; who delight in eating raw seal, cognac-scented songbirds, and “locally grown” beetroots, boasting later that they shed tears of joy or even glowed with post-orgasmic pleasure. Awash in sanctimonious self-congratulation, the modern foodie turns eating into a fetish, and disdains those who—ugh!—dine on factory-farmed cows and veggies wastefully flown in from South America. Meanwhile, they tout “$100 lunches as great deals for the money.” Enough! “Gluttony dressed up as foodie-ism is still gluttony.”

“Look, I hate ‘foodies’ as much as the next guy,” said Francis Lam in There is something truly sad about people who whip out their cameras in restaurants to photograph a tiny, well-arranged appetizer, and then text it to their friends. But these people represent a small, obsessive fringe. Is it really “borderline evil” to find joy in the basic human act of preparing food and eating it? Foodies may sometimes “get carried away,” said Ron Mikulak in the Louisville, especially in their euphoric tributes to perfect meals. But isn’t that equally true of sports fans describing great plays, car enthusiasts describing great cars, or anyone, in short, describing anything they have a passion for?

Besides, there is more than one type of “foodie,” said Robert Sietsema in In his rant, Myers indicts all of modern food culture by citing the elitists who spend 36 hours cooking for a single dinner party. But that’s simplistic. Most “foodism” is simply about caring about what you eat and how it was produced; for every Anthony Bourdain, extolling the virtues of poached bat and roasted guinea pig, there are dozens of people “who hike an extra block or two to buy a favorite jar of peanut butter,” or who choose to feed their kids meat and veggies produced on small, responsible farms so they aren’t laced with hormones and pesticides. Like it or not, the foodie revolution “is an unstoppable cultural phenomenon.”

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