Friday, February 25, 2011

locavores beware

Perhaps you consider yourself a foodie, devoted to the locavore movement or the latest exquisite, undiscovered restaurant. Or maybe you cringe at the mere mention of the word, avoiding your gastronomically obsessed friends who fixate over quinoa varietals and tri-weekly trips to the organic market. Wherever you fall in this culinary battle, The Moral Crusade Against Foodies in the March issue of The Atlantic is a provocative rant (in the guise of a book review). Author B.R. Myers targets the likes of Michael Pollan, Anthony Bourdain and Gabrielle Hamilton for their tendency to sensationalize the culinary arts by referring to food consumption as a religious experience. For Myers, foodies are making food unapproachable:

The moral logic in Pollan’s hugely successful book now informs all food writing: the refined palate rejects the taste of factory-farmed meat, of the corn-syrupy junk food that sickens the poor, of frozen fruits and vegetables transported wastefully across oceans—from which it follows that to serve one’s palate is to do right by small farmers, factory-abused cows, Earth itself. This affectation of piety does not keep foodies from vaunting their penchant for obscenely priced meals, for gorging themselves, even for dining on endangered animals—but only rarely is public attention drawn to the contradiction.

Myers’s point is that the media’s coverage of food remains an insiders’ game. From his perspective, eating isn’t worth the overblown attention it receives in some circles. What he doesn’t spend much space on, however, is why then the foodie audience has grown. Where do you land, readers?