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The Moral Crusade Against Foodies...and against people who have a moral crusade against foodies
February 18, 2011 2:49 PM   Subscribe

BR Myers thinks foodies are obsessed with food at the expense of morals. Rancher and writer thinks it's a shallow and warped attack on people trying to make the food system better..

Food critic Robert Sietsema calls out Myers' own bias. Salon Writer Francis Lam doesn't like foodies, but doesn't think Myers' rant contributes much.. Vegan.com loves the rant., as does vegansaurus.
posted by melissam (85 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite

 
Bourdain thuggish? Gimme a break.
posted by Splunge at 2:55 PM on February 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


If you treat a bunch of loosely connected people as a single entity it is very easy to nail "them" for hypocrisy. Stupidly easy, in fact.
posted by Bookhouse at 2:56 PM on February 18, 2011 [4 favorites]


The BR Myers piece was terrible - pulling out all the stops with bullshit grotesqueries and cutting and pasting quotes that would make a Tea Partier proud. I'd like to point to his veganism and say: A-Ha! - but that's neither here or there. But it doesn't matter what Myers eats - it still crap that coming out.
posted by helmutdog at 2:59 PM on February 18, 2011 [6 favorites]


Myers is excellent at setting up strawmen and then knocking them down.
posted by rtha at 3:03 PM on February 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


The Niman piece, however, is excellent.
posted by bearwife at 3:05 PM on February 18, 2011


I don't want to take sides in The Foodie War, but that Village Voice rebuttal was just terrible. Page 1 is a detailed review of Myers's article. Page 2 is "Yeah, well, if you're so vegan, would you even let bedbugs live? What about honey?" I'm surprised they didn't pull out the final stop and add "If you were on a desert island and the only food was a vegetable sandwich, but a monkey made it, would you rather STARVE?" Then, of course, they close with "He's a vegan, so he must hate eating." If ad hominem PJ O'Rourke cast-offs are the best "defense" they can come up with, then it seems to me Myers wins by default.
posted by No-sword at 3:07 PM on February 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


My Dad's a foodie and no, 'morals' never entered into it. I didn't learn that veal was supposed to be 'bad' until I read this site. OTOH, i wasn't allowed to eat fast food until I moved out of home
As with all things, my philosophy on food is "we're going to die anyway, so eat what you want". I don't spend much money on good food but i do appreciate it when I do have it. Anti-foodie sentiment is just another form of Puritanism
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 3:07 PM on February 18, 2011


Obviously this sanctimonious windbag believes in environmentalism, becuase he's recycling the same article for the SAME MAGAZINE he wrote 4 years ago, about how all these awful foodies are sooooo immoral and pretentious.

Nice gig if you can get it, asshole.
posted by lalochezia at 3:08 PM on February 18, 2011 [7 favorites]


What Bookhouse said is so important. I thought it was a horribly argued piece, which stripped of all its logical fallacies amounted to "People Are Doing Things I Find Morally Objectionable."

Which is a reasonable literary form (the jeremiad) but I don't think dressing a jeremiad up as an actual logical argument is a sound way to proceed.
posted by Sidhedevil at 3:08 PM on February 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


I have a lot of skepticism about the Pollan/Waters movement in that, in its worst forms, it exhibits terrible class blindness and conflates a lot of different and complicated concepts with a morally superior way of eating. However, I found the Myers piece to be full of disjointed arguments and willful distortions.
posted by proj at 3:08 PM on February 18, 2011 [4 favorites]


Obligatory 'my best friend is a vegan' here. She went to my Dad's steakhouse and they made her a delicious dish without meat. Still, I find anyone who attaches morals to food annoying. Don't tell people they are eating too much or the wrong thing. Just because all you can afford is a Big Mac dosen't mean you won't appreciate foi gras
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 3:10 PM on February 18, 2011


Foodies ruined cupcakes. For that alone, they should burn.
posted by Thorzdad at 3:13 PM on February 18, 2011 [4 favorites]


Myers is decrying the use of food as a recreational drug, to a nation of people who medicate their shitty lives with food.

This should turn out well.
posted by Pants McCracky at 3:13 PM on February 18, 2011


I just fucking hate the word foodie.
posted by adamdschneider at 3:14 PM on February 18, 2011 [29 favorites]


I think Myers just needs a cookie. I think he's just having a low blood sugar moment.
posted by crunchland at 3:15 PM on February 18, 2011


"... Steingarten tells of watching four people hold down a struggling, groaning pig for a full 20 minutes as it bled to death for his dinner. He calls the animal “a filthy beast deserving its fate.” "
The "filthy beasts" are writers/foodies like Steingarten. It takes less than minute to kill a pig run to ground by dogs, with a knife. Here's an 8 year old boy sticking his first wild hog. Killing feral hogs with dogs and knives is sound ecology in many states like Florida, produces good meat in quantity, is reasonable sport, and makes jobs for rural people in a tough economy.

If Steingarten stood back for 20 minutes watching a pig bleed to death, he could have stepped forward and stopped it, 19 minutes early, with a single, or even a few, well placed knife thrust(s), like any 8 year old can be taught.
posted by paulsc at 3:18 PM on February 18, 2011 [9 favorites]


God damn it. Don't post this shit at 4:00 on a Friday before a long weekend, I'm going to be way too distracted to read all of these links and get riled up and argue with people.

Everyone eats food. They should learn to enjoy it, cook well, and make eating pleasurable, it's in their own interest.

It sucks that there's cruelty and unfairness in the world. I would like to fix those. But But turning eating into a utilitarian, miserable thing won't help anyone. I will continue to love everything about food, as long as I can get away with it, and I suggest others do as well.


Myers is decrying the use of food as a recreational drug, to a nation of people who medicate their shitty lives with food.

By that definition, I also enjoy scotch as a recreational drug. And exercise. And sex. And literature. And good coffee. Keep it coming.
posted by Stagger Lee at 3:19 PM on February 18, 2011 [7 favorites]


Myers is decrying the use of food as a recreational drug

EVERYTHING YOU ENJOY IS A DRUG

going to get high on a Cara Cara orange right now, y'all.
posted by Sidhedevil at 3:20 PM on February 18, 2011 [2 favorites]



PS I am reading this wank-fest while eating a freshly toasted baguette, a nice bohemian blue from wisconsin from and a stinky swiss Scharfe Max, served with a little pear butter and truffle honey on the side, with a nice Tempranillo and I am enjoying my temporary gluttony, celebrating how good it is to be alive and embodied and not tortured or starving or poor.

So, as I'm enjoying this so much with my "little soul", I say FUCK YOU. Go back to writing about how we should read literarure the way you want us to, you prescriptivist fucknozzle.

Really: being told off by a FUCKING professor of international relations, who has "10 rules for writers"??
posted by lalochezia at 3:21 PM on February 18, 2011 [7 favorites]


Everybody needs a hug taco.
posted by nola at 3:22 PM on February 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Is this the appropriate place to say that I really, really hate the term "foodie"?

I guess it's just part of the dumbing down of everyday language and the de-intellectualizing of society in general, but using a term like this just makes us, in my opinion, sound like five-year-olds who want to wrap their bunnies up in blankies.

What's wrong with words like epicurean or gastronome or gourmet?* Yes, I know "gourmet" as been over-used as an adjective and has been misapplied to every type of food out there, but that's a separate cause for ranting.

(*I know that the political answer is "words like that belong to the liberal elite, and the liberal elite is the epitome of everything that is wrong in the world," but at some point the pendulum is going to have to swing back, isn't it?)
posted by sardonyx at 3:23 PM on February 18, 2011 [3 favorites]


By that definition, I also enjoy scotch as a recreational drug. And exercise. And sex. And literature. And good coffee. Keep it coming.

My point exactly. People tend not to respond well, or very rationally, when anyone criticizes their chosen pleasure.
posted by Pants McCracky at 3:24 PM on February 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


I just fucking hate the word foodie.
posted by adamdschneider at 3:14 PM on February 18 [3 favorites +] [!]


I should have hit refresh (or show new comments) before I hit post. At least I'm not alone in my hatred. Good.
posted by sardonyx at 3:26 PM on February 18, 2011


Is this the appropriate place to say that I really, really hate the term "foodie"?

I prefer "food nerd".
posted by zamboni at 3:27 PM on February 18, 2011


Grub geek?
posted by Pants McCracky at 3:28 PM on February 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


I live in the Bay Area, and goddamnit I don't need a paragraph about where the tomatoes came from. Really, I don't.
posted by Afroblanco at 3:29 PM on February 18, 2011


We have all dined with him in restaurants: the host who insists on calling his special friend out of the kitchen for some awkward small talk.

No we all fucking haven't, even those of us who take food seriously. Who's the fucking elitist, Myers?
posted by dersins at 3:30 PM on February 18, 2011 [10 favorites]


Foodies ruined cupcakes. For that alone, they should burn.

If foodie means a person who appreciates interesting food, well made with quality ingredients, they have nothing to do with those fucking cupcakes.
posted by Huck500 at 3:31 PM on February 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Still, I find anyone who attaches morals to food annoying.

Let them eat cake!
posted by ennui.bz at 3:31 PM on February 18, 2011


I'll join the club and say I dislike the word foodie. I generally have a problem with new, trendy words for something that already exists. See also: fop metrosexual.
posted by brundlefly at 3:33 PM on February 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


I have a moral crusade against people who have moral crusades.
posted by crunchland at 3:38 PM on February 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


If foodie means a person who appreciates interesting food, well made with quality ingredients, they have nothing to do with those fucking cupcakes.

I think this is one of the problems with Myers' argument -- it's muddled. Is he against the unseemly enjoyment of food? Probably not -- I don't think he'd have any issue with vegans who wax ecstatic over heirloom tomatoes.

There's a valid point to be made about our willful moral blindness when it comes to our food choices, but I think it could have been made without antagonizing practically everyone who likes to eat.
posted by Pants McCracky at 3:38 PM on February 18, 2011 [3 favorites]


Gastronaut.
posted by Ad hominem at 4:01 PM on February 18, 2011 [10 favorites]


I AM NOT A FOODIE

I AM A GOURMET
posted by Sidhedevil at 4:28 PM on February 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


It’s quite something to go bare-handed up an animal’s ass

Quoted for truth.

I must agree with Mr/Ms Myers, but I have an admittedly irrational dislike of "foodies." The word itself gives me the howling.
posted by mrgrimm at 4:30 PM on February 18, 2011


If you'd like to read arguments similar to Myers' made in a more thoughtful and coherent manner, I might recommend "Eating Animals" by Jonathan Safran Foer.
posted by kyrademon at 4:45 PM on February 18, 2011


Food-what-I-like-the-taste-of-and/or-the-craftsmanship-involved appreciator?
posted by pyrex at 4:48 PM on February 18, 2011


Sweet, let's all rail against the term "foodie." When someone tells me they're a foodie, I guess it means they have a more than casual relationship with food but it doesn't do jack to illustrate what they care about. Experimentation? Emphasis on local ingredients or legendary quality? In any other industry we can usually spot the pure consumers and separate them from hobbyists. The person who takes care to properly maintain their vehicle in their own garage is very unlike the person who needs to own the newest and/or fastest luxury car available; the person who derives great personal satisfaction getting Linux to run with a bare minimum of memory, vs. the person who owns an iPad and already has a pre-order for the 2nd generation. They may share the same general appreciation of the end result but their ultimate objective and motives for pursuing them are almost ridiculously at odds.

Anyway, since we're talking moral crusades I really just came here to quote the spawn of Lrrr, Ruler of Omicron Persei 8, who once said (or rather, will say): "There are many good reasons to eat. Hunger, boredom, wanting to be the world’s fattest man. But not revenge."
posted by krippledkonscious at 4:51 PM on February 18, 2011 [3 favorites]


I might recommend "Eating Animals" by Jonathan Safran Foer.

I like Jonathan Safran Foer and I am a vegetarian, but I didn't really like that book. I gave it to my brother and he did. ymmv.

My favorite animal-rights book is The Lives of Animals by J.M. Coetzee. Really just an amazing book in many ways, regardless of the subject matter.

Is any other subculture reported on so exclusively by its own members? Or with a frequency and an extensiveness that bear so little relation to its size?

Got a point there.

in the involuted world of gourmet morals, constancy is rudeness. One must never spoil a dinner party for mere religious or ethical reasons

Another good point.

there appears to be no greater point of pride in this set than to eat with the indiscriminate omnivorousness of a rat in a zoo dumpster

Yep.
posted by mrgrimm at 5:03 PM on February 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


I like food. I like feeding other people. To me, given how I was raised, there are very few other ways I can express my love for my friends and family than to cook for them, than to fill their stomachs. If that is how I feel, why shouldn't I be willing to spend my time (which, by the way, is my time, and I can spend it how I choose) preparing the food for my yearly birthday barbecue party? I could buy frozen patties from costco, I could just through a couple ballpark hotdogs on the grill. I choose not to. I choose to make something that my friends will enjoy, and I will feel proud of.

no one shows much interest in literature or the arts—the real arts

Seriously? Myers gets to decide what is art, and what isn't? Cooking doesn't make the cut in his world? That's a pretty damn sad world that, lacking any appreciation of good food, must see a gourmet meal prepared with love and attention no better than a drive through burger with cold, greasy fries.
posted by Ghidorah at 5:03 PM on February 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


The biggest problem I have with foodies is the strong tendency toward snobbery. Many foodies seem to be heading in that particularly direction previously reserved for audiophiles and wine-tasters - blowing excessive amounts of money on their pursuit, expressing contempt for anyone who doesn't take things as seriously as they do, imagining that rare and expensive things are better when they can't tell the difference in blind tests, etc. That being said, it certainly isn't all of them or even most of them, and I'm glad the rest are around to advance the field of food quality.
posted by Mitrovarr at 5:13 PM on February 18, 2011 [6 favorites]


*ponders*

They may be right, you know.
posted by polyglot at 5:15 PM on February 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Sorry, the more I read, the more ridiculous it gets. When does he publish his article railing against musicians who spend more than the absolute minimum to buy insrtruments? Surely that guitar at Wal-mart should be sufficient. What hobbies are acceptable? Is computer gaming allowable? Should gamers be making due with Windows 95, or is that too much money to spend on a hobby?

People who enjoy going to fine dining restaurants, who like to eat good food are the bad guys? Myers disapproves of how they choose to spend their money? Is opera acceptable? Theater? I mean, those are 'real arts', right?

It's nice to know that somewhere out there, some asshole thinks a moral crusade needs to be waged against me because I preferred to figure out how to feed myself and my family decent, nutritious food, rather than picking up whatever box of Kraft prepared meal is on sale.
posted by Ghidorah at 5:16 PM on February 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


blowing excessive amounts of money on their pursuit, expressing contempt for anyone who doesn't take things as seriously as they do, imagining that rare and expensive things are better when they can't tell the difference in blind tests, etc.

For me, you've described the ultimate American stance on just about every hobby or leisure activity.
posted by borges at 5:17 PM on February 18, 2011 [3 favorites]


Sidhedevil: "I AM NOT A FOODIE
I AM A GOURMET
"

You may be a gourmet, but I am a gourmand.
Gourmets are critics. Gourmands are hedonists.
posted by danny the boy at 5:24 PM on February 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


I am vegan and I like to eat and cook. I absolutely don't feel limited when it comes to cooking being a vegan -- in fact, it's more fun in a lot of ways than when I was just vegetarian. It's more of a challenge, but it's a good challenge. (I haven't eaten meat in nearly 20 years, but so much vegetarian cooking is just like "throw some cheese on it!" and that gets lazy.) I get overly excited by flavors and textures. I like playing around with recipes (it's pretty rare when I follow a recipe to the letter) and making up my own. I also love watching cooking shows -- even ones that make dishes with meat because there are plenty of things I can learn and use and adapt for myself.

(I also live in the DC area which is absolutely amazing and accommodating when it comes to being vegetarian/vegan when eating out.)

I'm not crazy about Myers' piece. It took me a while to get through it, actually. I kind of get his point -- that there is a willful disconnect in regards to what people are actually eating that's pretty self-centered that pretty much boils down to an attitude of "but it tastes good! so who cares what it is or where it came from? I deserve it!" And I do kind of see that as something to discuss. But I don't think Myers went about it in a good way.

I actually don't really care that much if people eat meat. I just want them to be aware of where it came from and what they're doing. And I don't want them particularly caring about what I eat (or don't eat).

I think everyone on both sides needs to let go of the whole "My food choices are better than your food choices" thing and just eat what they like to eat (and maybe what's good for them -- I hope the two overlap). Food shouldn't be a threatening thing. It's awesome and fun and enjoyable and should be treated as such.
posted by darksong at 5:27 PM on February 18, 2011 [3 favorites]



What's wrong with words like epicurean or gastronome or gourmet?*



Epicurean is lovely. Gourmet is acceptable, I guess.


Gastronome, however, sounds like an angry little man who lives in your intestines.
posted by louche mustachio at 5:35 PM on February 18, 2011 [5 favorites]


Sidhedevil, I still remember the sign in my parents' kitchen: "A gourmet is a glutton with brains."

(Oddly, they were both indifferent cooks, and we shall not speak of the Turkish Bean Salad incident or of the many other internationally-flavored failures. Some nights, brains might have seemed the better option.)
posted by MonkeyToes at 5:44 PM on February 18, 2011


What the heck does this argument have to do with mushrooms?!?!?

Oh ... morAls. Sorry.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 5:50 PM on February 18, 2011


I may regret posting this, but what the heck.

Myers’ arguments may be a bit muddled, but Myers is hardly the first vegetarian to think there is something a little bit ... odd in the way some people defend their choice to eat meat. Sometimes it is merely that the argument seems a bit off; Foer, who I mentioned in my previous post in this thread, points out that it is very strange for Pollan, who argues against eating food that is nonlocal, unfresh, chemically treated, factory farmed, or too processed, to then go on to argue against vegetarianism essentially on the grounds that being picky is rude.

However, that is a relatively mild oddity when compared to say, Bourdain, who frankly seems angry about it. Angry that anyone would make such a choice. Angry that anyone would, by their actions, imply that such a choice is the right one.

Of course, this is hardly confined to ... let’s call them gourmets, since I hate the word “foodie”, too. Some of them have written books in which they make these defenses of meat eating or disdain vegetarianism, sure, but this is hardly something that’s restricted to just them.

I’m going to go out on a limb here and theorize that almost every vegetarian reading this who doesn’t live in a country where the practice is common has met a few of what I might call Angry Meat Eaters. Probably more than a few – I’m putting the theory forward because I’ve met dozens over the years, if not more.

To be fair, I’ve run into some of the stereotypical shrill and angry vegetarians, too. But honestly, I’ve run into a lot fewer of them than the Angry Meat Eaters. Like, a lot lot fewer. Fingers of one hand on one side, lost count on the other.

So, what do I mean by Angry Meat Eater? They’re the people who, when they find out you are vegetarian, feel compelled to make certain comments. Couched as jokes, sometimes, but not always. It doesn’t matter how they find out. You brought a veggie burger to a barbecue. You ordered the dish marked vegetarian at the restaurant, and they ask. Or it just comes up in conversation, somehow.

Then the comments come. Maybe it’s how they’re going to eat more animals because of the ones you’re not eating. Maybe they just constantly talk about the delicious, delicious animals they’re going to eat. Maybe just how sad and deprived a person you must be. And they go on and on and ON.

And there’s something ... weird about it. I called them Angry Meat Eaters, and often they do seem really angry for some reason. Occasionally they seem really nervous. Or even they’re just laughing too long and too loud. It doesn’t seem like they’re trolls, hoping to get a reaction – not in actual conversation, not the way someone posting to the internet sometimes clearly is – they really seem, I don’t know, invested. There's a strong emotional NEED to do this.

And I have no idea what’s up with that.

Carol Adams, in her book “Life Among the Meat Eaters”, talks about it, too. I read the book a while ago, but if I recall correctly, she postulated that these people were basically scared that if they ever really thought about this issue, they might come to a decision they didn’t want to come to. So they throw up defenses. Anger, disdain, nervous laughter.

Now, maybe Adams and Myers and I are crazy, and we’re the only people who think this is going on. But I’m betting that most vegetarians recognize what I’m talking about. And that if you read the works of Bourdain et al, you see it lurking there. Sometimes not lurking so much as seething.

Perhaps some might argue that these people have met a lot of those shrill, angry vegetarians I mentioned earlier, and are now in a permanent state of thumbing their nose at them in revenge. Heck, in the case of a celebrity chef, maybe that’s even true, although I have my doubts that it’s true of random-guy-at-every-barbecue. But even if that is true, it still seems so petty. Like a pro-choice advocate going up to a right-to-lifer and saying, “That’s right, I kill babies! I kill them and then stomp on their corpses and it feels good. The little bastards deserve it anyway, and if we weren’t supposed to kill them then they wouldn’t be so vulnerable and needy.” I mean, I can get the anger that could lead to that, but is that really how you want to make your case? Like, in a book and everything?

And, as I mentioned before, I doubt random-guy-at-barbecue has actually been driven to that level of anger by the vegetarian he knew in college who yelled at him that one time, or the actions of PETA. It just seems so out of proportion.

So, however poor Myers’ arguments are, this is something other people have noticed and wondered about. At least, I have. This is something that’s there in those books, and something you run into in life quite a bit, too, if you’re vegetarian.

And it’s pretty bizarre, really.
posted by kyrademon at 6:01 PM on February 18, 2011 [15 favorites]


I read Myers's piece the other night and walked away thinking of it as tendentious grar with a weird populist streak. Just look at these phonies that drop so much money on food and then have the nerve to write about it! How dare they!

What bothered me most, though, was his construction of food-ism as "an affectation of piety" with a "moral logic" of its own that is divorced from concerns about politics, economics, class, and the environment. Many, many people who are conversant in food matters are passionate about them precisely because they *do* worry about what happens in factory farms, the health effects of HFCS, the environmental impact of food transport, and the well-being and sustainability of the American farm. It's as though Myers believes that food-ism is a sort of fanatical, absolutist religion that certain people adopt because it justifies their baser instincts, which doesn't leave much room for the folks who have changed the way they consume and consider food as a result of thinking about the issues that surround it. Now *that's* a littleness of soul.
posted by MonkeyToes at 6:10 PM on February 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


Also, "milk-toast priest"? Shouldn't that be "milquetoast"?
posted by MonkeyToes at 6:10 PM on February 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


kyrademon, I respect vegetarians, and their decision to not eat meat. If my vegetarian friends come over for dinner, I make sure that whatever I make will be acceptable to them.

But, maybe, just maybe, you might look at what you wrote, though it was well written, and not fighty in the least. You paraphrased Adams as saying:

she postulated that these people were basically scared that if they ever really thought about this issue, they might come to a decision they didn’t want to come to

For me, that's one of the reasons you're running into angry meat eaters. While I have been yelled at by angry vegans about my food choices, much, much more often I hear the snide assumption that I only eat meat because I haven't thought about it. That, in essence, I am a meat eater largely because I am ignorant, or lack insight.

How would you feel if people, not just one or two, but a good number of them (But I’m betting that most vegetarians recognize what I’m talking about., you said) looked at choices you made in your life and assumed you'd made them because you just weren't enlightened enough?

I know your intent wasn't to imply that, that you were careful to state your position, and I have no interest in starting any kind of vegetarian/meat-eater strife, but yeah, when I see opinions like that, it does kind of get my hackles up.

On the other hand, you're more than welcome to stop by any time for a portobello(?) shepherds pie. It's one of the vegetarian things I do pretty well.
posted by Ghidorah at 6:12 PM on February 18, 2011 [3 favorites]


How would you feel if people, not just one or two, but a good number of them (But I’m betting that most vegetarians recognize what I’m talking about., you said) looked at choices you made in your life and assumed you'd made them because you just weren't enlightened enough?

As GZA almost said on Liquid Swords, life of a vegetarian! People are constantly assuming that you're just too ignorant to see that meat eating is both ethically and biologically the correct choice. Not to mention the ridiculous trolley-problem interrogations designed to force the admission that yes, if it would save ten orphan's lives, you would eat a hamburger, which then bizarrely becomes evidence of moral depravity to be crowed over. That said, I'm pretty sure you and kd are both NOT jerks about each other's lifestyles, so I don't mean this as an accusation. But, as meateaters have snide, superior vegetarians, so too have vegetarians snide, superior meateaters. (And for everyone else, there's BR Myers.)

(As an ex-vegan I have experienced both sides of this issue.)
posted by No-sword at 6:47 PM on February 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


Bourdain thuggish?

I don't know about thuggish, but definitely devoid of charisma.
posted by rain at 7:00 PM on February 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


So, what do I mean by Angry Meat Eater?

Using standard MeFi logic, they're almost certainly closet vegetarians.
posted by straight at 7:06 PM on February 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


See, here's why I eat meat--

My ancestors spent millennia fighting their way to the top of the food chain, and I just want to honor their sacrifice. IT'S MY FOLKWAY OK

Also, having grown up in a farming community, I know that pigs would eat your ass if they could. It's just self-preservation, is all.
posted by Sidhedevil at 7:16 PM on February 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


To be fair, I’ve run into some of the stereotypical shrill and angry vegetarians, too. But honestly, I’ve run into a lot fewer of them than the Angry Meat Eaters. Like, a lot lot fewer.

Perhaps you don't notice because you're not eating meat, and thus vegetarians and vegans aren't lecturing you about it? As someone who loves to eat meat, I find I run into a lot more Self-Righteous Vegetarians and Vegans than I do Angry Meat Eaters. Everyone knows best where their own shoes pinch them, as de Rochefoucauld says.
posted by Sidhedevil at 7:18 PM on February 18, 2011 [9 favorites]


I'm a sometime angry meat eater. I guess I don't do much that's considered dangerous or cool, so it's nice to have my diet count
And yeah, the way I eat probably is unethical and unhealthy
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 7:35 PM on February 18, 2011


I prefer "foodist."
posted by Jode at 7:37 PM on February 18, 2011


rain: "Bourdain thuggish?

I don't know about thuggish, but definitely devoid of charisma
"


I will agree to disagree here. I like Anthony Bourdain. I don't necessarily appreciate the way he has recently become some kind of food commando. But the man truly enjoys his food. And I think that he does have a kind of foodie charisma. Why dump on him when you could just as well dump on Bittman and go for low hanging fruit like Adam Richman and the rest of the food as theater types?

Bourdain was a fine chef. At least he deserves the title of chef, having actually been one.
posted by Splunge at 7:56 PM on February 18, 2011


I eat meat because it's a concentrated form of protien, which also happens to taste delicious.

Also, though modern meat production is very wasteful in it's consumption of fuel and grain, meat production isn't always more environmentally consumptive and/less efficient than arable production. Where local environmental conditions are not appropriate for arable crops, on poor soils, in wetlands, etc -- it may be that livestock is the only way to produce food with this land (I study such a region). Nor must meat production compete with humans for grain -- until recently, most families in rural Lincolnshire had a pig, and it ate table scraps, which was a great way to turn waste into food.
posted by jb at 8:00 PM on February 18, 2011


I like Anthony Bourdain --- He just needs to find a different word than "unctuous," even though the definition sort of fits him to a tee.
posted by crunchland at 8:12 PM on February 18, 2011


As an omnivore who lives with a vegetarian (okay, pescetarian), who hangs out and has meals with vegans and all other kinds of food-eating folk, I feel fortunate indeed that I have never personally encountered you-suck-if-you-eat-this people. I don't doubt the experiences of those who have, but I have to say: Hang out with better people. We wrangled 15 or 20 folks for Thanksgiving, of all food-eating stripes, and no one went home hungry, and no one had only the salad to eat. And yes, we had turkey and gravy and stuffing and mashed potatoes and cranberry sauce. And pie. Of course there was pie.
posted by rtha at 8:56 PM on February 18, 2011


This little Portlandia sketch might be apropos :)
posted by Poet_Lariat at 9:16 PM on February 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


What i find interesting is that from non-veggie types i know, i get the most vitriolic and long winded rants when they hear someone is vegan or vegetarian, and then they go on about those types being "smug" and "wrong". Never, not once have i had a veggie rant at me like that when i get meat around them. They only ever pointed out they don't eat meat when i am making something. The complainers against the veggies are also the ones who are the most picky eaters i've ever met, don't eat dairy (not from digestive issues), garlic, or spicy food (both again no real digestive issue, they just say they "can't", but i've seen them do it), and will actually pick vegetables out of things. When they make food, it's the most bland and uninteresting food i've ever eaten, and they are proud of it. Blows my mind really.

I also haven't heard one good reason why we can't treat animals we use as food in a decent way, it always is "it tastes good", or "money".

To those who say we are at the top of the food chain, we're not really, that's microbes. They eat everyone in the end.
posted by usagizero at 9:49 PM on February 18, 2011


Even if the organic movement isn't fighting for sustainability they are fighting for improvement. Regardless of your feeling on organic/sustainable food, you would be ignorant not to admit that there is not critical problems with our food system.

There are dead zones because of fertilizer run off, incredible amounts of energy is invested to create that same fertilizer using the haber-Bausch process. It is not a system that can support more and more people.

We should think of ways we can become more sustainable but also not criticize ourselves if we don't live up to perfect exceptions we have for people who want to change the food system. Any improvement is better than just ignoring it.
posted by upisdown at 10:25 PM on February 18, 2011


Never, not once have i had a veggie rant at me

Well, usagizero, I'm glad you've never had that happen to you. However, just because it's never happened to you doesn't mean it's never happened. I had my food choices sneered at repeatedly by the same friends-of-friends for years in college. It was incredibly unpleasant, and pretty much an asshole thing to do.
posted by Ghidorah at 11:09 PM on February 18, 2011


I have, in my long life, been a vegan. Actually I was a macrobiotic vegan for a time. Yep, that's right, purist type vegan, No processed foodstuffs at all. It was cool for a while. All whole grains and organic vegetables. And then I changed my mind. Which I am allowed to do.

My eating habits change. But I certainly do not mind what others eat or do not eat.

As well I can remember going to an ex-girlfriend's parent's home without explaining my dietary choices beforehand. I was in the annoying situation of having a classic Jewish mother going crazy to make me a dish at the last minute that would fit my "dietary needs."

Sometimes it would be better to just shut up, I thought. Because otherwise it was like a rabbi dropped by.

How can we help you rebbe? Would you like to sit here, rebbe?

NO NO NO. I'm a human! I fucked up! I'm sorry! Just make what you make! Eat what you eat! Don't worry about me. It's my mistake. The vegetables are fine!

Stop HELPING ME!

My girlfriend at the time thought it was hilarious. Me, not so much. And speaking of much... much wine was consumed.
posted by Splunge at 12:41 AM on February 19, 2011


By that definition, I also enjoy scotch as a recreational drug. And exercise. And sex. And literature. And good coffee. Keep it coming.

I don't know what kind of scotch you're drinking, but if it does all those things put me down for a case or twelve.
posted by stet at 1:35 AM on February 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Ghidorah --

Been thinking about your post, and I think there is certainly some truth to it. It sounds like you yourself have encountered that attitude enough to be soundly pissed off about it if you wanted to be, and I appreciate that you're a big enough person not to be. (And your portobelle shepherd's pie sounds awesome.)

But having thought about this in relation to the reactions I have seen, I still suspect it's only part of the story. In some cases, they may very well be reactions to having encountered a holier-than-thou attitude among vegetarians -- but in others, I really wonder if it's more a matter of perceiving that attitude whether it's there or not. I could, of course, be wrong, but for some people, I think the mere presence of vegetarianism, its existence, is taken as an *implicit* attack on their morals and lifestyle, whatever the attitude of the vegetarian in question, or any they have ever met.

Of course, my reasons for thinking this may sometimes be the case are entirely anecdotal; it's mostly because I've seen these reactions only occasionally during an actual conversation about vegetarianism and meat eating, and far more often when I'm really just trying to munch on my veggie burger in peace.

Splunge --

Oh lord yes I have painful recognition of that situation. Save me from the people who somehow plunge past polite host straight into "I will make you feel comfortable here even if I have to commit suicide right here right now and bleed all over you to do it! Are you comfortable yet?! Are you?! How about now?! And now?!!!"
posted by kyrademon at 3:14 AM on February 19, 2011


...they have nothing to do with those fucking cupcakes.
They were driving force behind taking a simple delight and turning it into an overhyped, overpriced, and overwrought fetish item.
posted by Thorzdad at 4:43 AM on February 19, 2011


I have to echo Kyrademon's point about the implicit/explicit challenge of vegetarianism. Again, I know this is anecdote (tho' I have been a grown-up, dining out meat eater as well as a vegetarian), but I have never, personally, started an argument with someone because they ordered a dish with meat in it in my presence. I've also never seen an argument start because a vegan or vegetarian challenged someone for ordering meat.

On the other hand, I run out of fingers and toes trying to count the number of times the mere fact of ordering a veggie dish or just saying "I'm a vegetarian" has lead to a meat-eater turning on the defensive and immediately asking me to justify my choice, or retreating into the immaturity of the "But meat is yummy!" taunt.

I mean, sure, if you actually ask my opinion about diet or food, or ask why I'm a vegetarian, I probably will be judgemental about your lifestyle choices when I reply. But I don't volunteer that judgement merely because you're having a burger. Angry Meat Eaters, (who statistically speaking probably have to outnumber Angry Vegans) do not seem to see a difference between stating an opinion and ordering a dish, and appear to think that the mere act of being a vegetarian makes you a walking provocation.

I have to say though, that they're less annoying than vegetarians who make me look bad with their silly strawmen arguments (just to actually relate this to the post). And I'd like to think I can be an epicurian AND a vegetarian without those concepts clashing in any way. Omnivorosity is not a necessary part of the definition.
posted by AFII at 6:09 AM on February 19, 2011 [4 favorites]


Mitrovarr has it: the snobbery and competitiveness is the problem. They don't just like food, they like *liking* food. They enjoy having knowledge that other people don't and look down on anyone who doesn't care about their hobby.

It isn't looking down on people who enjoy food. It is looking down on people who think that makes them better hosts or people.

It is just like the beginning musician who buys a $2000 Martin to learn on. Or the 60 over par golfer who buys gold plated titanium golf clubs. Or the "driving enthusiast" who buys a $60,000 driving machine and only sits in traffic. Who are all telling the other people with $100 guitars, $25 pawn show clubs, and used Datsons that they suck because they didn't buy the right thing.

These are the people who can't enjoy a nice steak unless it has something unique and noteworthy on top of it. Or who are unsatisfied with a meal unless it has a story.

There are "Cannon" reruns on TV recently. One of the running jokes is that he likes food, and will suggest a recipe at the drop of a hat. One episode fades out with him giving a barbecue sauce recipe "first, you get three gallons of tomato sauce, a gallon of vinegar, 10 pounds of garlic..." That is someone who likes food.

If he had instead said "first, you get a north aftrican shaman to rid your kitchen of bad spirits. Then you buy a new, stainless steel thermos bottle. Drive to Saskatchewan, and go off the road 250 feet after the second maple tree and make camp. After camping for a week, an old farmer will notice you and invite you to his farm. After a 30 mile hike, you will be at his farm. There, after eating a meal with his family, you will be offered thirty heads of garlic. Don't try to pay him for it, or he will shoot you. Thank him for his effort, put the heads in the Thermos. Once you get home..." That is a foodie.
posted by gjc at 6:12 AM on February 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


Even if the organic movement isn't fighting for sustainability they are fighting for improvement. Regardless of your feeling on organic/sustainable food, you would be ignorant not to admit that there is not critical problems with our food system.

I'm all for that: solving a problem and potentially getting better results for it. It is when it turns religious that makes people crazy.

One problem that isn't addressed is that for all its problems, industrial farming has revolutionized the world. Food is no longer necessarily 1/3 of ones budget. You can eat a wholesome, if not bland and boing, diet for a few dollars a day. There has got to be some respect for how these farming methods have reduced hunger over the last 100 years. The solution must account for that.

Funny story. McDonald's has had Chicken McNuggets on sale recently. I love them, and have been eating them with reckless abandon. You only live once, etc. Then, I inexplicably lost 10 pounds and realized that I have been feeling good. I looked at the nutrition- 10 nuggets has 490 calories. The sodium is a little high at 1000mg, but here is the kicker: the fat, protein and carb ratio is almost exactly 1:1:1. They fry it in some kind of "good" oil- high omega 3. Knowing the sale won't last forever, I went to the store to try and find a product that had similar ratios. Could NOT find anything. A couple were close, but were full of soy, not chicken. Or had trans fats. Yes, I could buy a chicken and just eat that. I love chicken. But the problem is in needing something fast and good.
posted by gjc at 6:26 AM on February 19, 2011


One problem that isn't addressed is that for all its problems, industrial farming has revolutionized the world. Food is no longer necessarily 1/3 of ones budget. You can eat a wholesome, if not bland and boing, diet for a few dollars a day. There has got to be some respect for how these farming methods have reduced hunger over the last 100 years. The solution must account for that.

Unfortunately, that's not true in much of the world right now.
High prices are far more burdensome for people in the developing world because they typically spend a much higher percentage of their income on food. Many also buy raw food commodities — grain rather than packaged bread, for example — and it is those commodity prices that have increased most dramatically. Wheat prices have doubled in the past six months alone.
posted by rtha at 8:22 AM on February 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


B.R. Myers is lazy and a bit hacky, a fact which has been observed elsewhere, although I found a little twinge of pleasure in reading his takedown of Franzen, who I think is also pretty lazy and hacky. Next up, the moral case against hipsters who write blogs about hating hipsters.
posted by dixiecupdrinking at 8:57 AM on February 19, 2011


I think Myers' article has merit in that foodies/gourmands often trumpet sustainability and better food, but that "better" then becomes a luxury, which is unsustainable. Lumping gourmands (i.e. those who want the fried, endangered songbird) and foodies (localvores, for lack of a better term) in the same category muddies the waters, but I see a point.

To me, this is best described in the last part of The Omnivore's Dilemma. Pollan, for the entire book, writes about how food needs to be sustainable, accessible, and still able to fit into our lives, and his final act is to cook a meal of foods he grew, found, or hunted himself. I forget the exact details, but I think he forages for mushrooms, eats from his garden, and shoots a boar in preparation for this meal.

However, the meal he cooks (some kind of slow-roasted pork leg with who knows what kind of sauce; I forget) is incredibly complicated, luxurious, and time-consuming, which, to me, seems inaccessible and highly inconvenient. Had he made a simple pork chop with a salad and some kind of sauce he prepared, THEN talked about how it's possible to eat like a gourmand, I think his point would be more well served. Without that simplicity though, yes, there is an air of elitism to the book/movement. Maybe he needs to tailor his argument to those with the means to eat luxuriously, but I think he loses some populist appeal by doing so.

It seems like a lot of this Pollan-esque/foodie writing focuses on how good the food itself is, which shies away from the central tenets of fostering community and being better for ourselves & the environment. Ideally, I think the goodness of the food should be a bonus on top of the bigger-picture arguments.
posted by Turkey Glue at 9:36 AM on February 19, 2011


You may be a gourmet, but I am a gourmand.

Now that I've gotten the most single-comment favorites in my MeFi history for saying I hate the word foodie, may I say that I prefer the term "bon vivant".
posted by adamdschneider at 9:40 AM on February 19, 2011


Meat eaters vastly outnumber vegetarians. There is a higher percentage of angries among vegetarians, but the numbers just aren't enough to add up to any epidemic of angry vegetarians preaching at people.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 1:49 PM on February 19, 2011


Meat eaters vastly outnumber vegetarians. There is a higher percentage of angries among vegetarians, but the numbers just aren't enough to add up to any epidemic of angry vegetarians preaching at people.

That would mean an angry vegetarian is a person who is angry all of the time about a single issue. Meat eating is everywhere. I would venture to say most (not all) people find it too tiring to vocally rail against the world their entire lives.
posted by Defenestrator at 12:00 AM on February 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


To elaborate, I think it's a matter of consequence. A vegetarian has a lot to lose, socially, in attacking a meat eater. What, in comparison, does the meat eater have to lose?
posted by Defenestrator at 12:03 AM on February 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


It seems like a lot of this Pollan-esque/foodie writing focuses on how good the food itself is, which shies away from the central tenets of fostering community and being better for ourselves & the environment.

They're food writers. When I review a gig I don't ask if rock and roll is poisoning kids' minds
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 12:52 AM on February 20, 2011 [3 favorites]


> epicurean or gastronome or gourmet

All of these carry elitist connotations. Part of the foodie movement is a back-to-basics enjoyment of everyday food, not just high cuisine. Hence the need for a new word.

That said, I wish a better term had stuck.
posted by stp123 at 12:53 PM on February 20, 2011


Now that I've gotten the most single-comment favorites in my MeFi history for saying I hate the word foodie, may I say that I prefer the term "bon vivant".

"Bon vivant" or "bon viveur"?
posted by acb at 10:29 AM on February 21, 2011


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