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Food Choice Sometimes Isn't
March 6, 2010 4:32 AM   Subscribe

Before You Criticize the Food Choices of Others… think about how people with disabilities face limitations on how vegan/organic/fair-trade/free-range/local/food-political they can be.
posted by divabat (170 comments total) 23 users marked this as a favorite

 
Alternately, try not criticizing the food choices of anyone regardless of ability, self-righteous douchebags.
posted by signalnine at 4:34 AM on March 6, 2010 [67 favorites]


what a debbie downer!
posted by billybobtoo at 4:42 AM on March 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


Before you criticize the music/film/fashion/literature choices of others...
posted by fixedgear at 4:49 AM on March 6, 2010


Let the food fight commence.
posted by localroger at 4:51 AM on March 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


I've spent my whole life around disability and disability issues and a lot of this rings true to me. It isn't that other people should feel guilty if they can stand long enough to cook a meal or can't handle washing dishes and cooking in the same day. Not at all. But all of the judgment over food choices can wear like a nagging voice inside your head. And you never know why someone eats the way they do (or doesn't eat the way you think they should). Even if you're serious about advocating for vegetarianism or "no high fructose corn syrup" or locally grown foods, whatever it is, doesn't do much good to nag and criticize individuals, and may actually do harm. Never focus on individuals if the problem is systemic.

A similarly pointed and true article: If only poor people understood nutrition
posted by Danila at 5:01 AM on March 6, 2010 [22 favorites]


can't handle washing dishes = can
posted by Danila at 5:02 AM on March 6, 2010


Since the links don't mention people being required to eat meat due to their disability, why did you bring veganism into your post? Maybe you're criticizing the food choices of others?
posted by cmonkey at 5:09 AM on March 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


Since the links don't mention people being required to eat meat due to their disability, why did you bring veganism into your post? Maybe you're criticizing the food choices of others?

The first link mentions that many people with disabilities have to shop at corner stores for groceries - last I checked they were hardly good for produce, canned veggies, or the "specialty foods" (like premade vegan soups) many vegans use to supplement their diets.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 5:29 AM on March 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


Since the links don't mention people being required to eat meat due to their disability, why did you bring veganism into your post? Maybe you're criticizing the food choices of others?

Because being vegan can take time effort and money that disabled people may not have? I don't think she was trying to criticize anybody's choice in being vegan, but rather highlight that all dietary choices able-bodied people take for granted aren't necessarily open to less able people. Hence the "food choice sometimes isn't" title.

(Also, veganism is more than just not eating meat.)
posted by Sova at 5:29 AM on March 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


First of all, what signalnine said. Who criticizes the food choices of others? Especially people with physical or mental disabilities? I have a friend who is vegan and he has never once, in all my time around him, ever judged someone else's eating choices (I eat lots of meat). He just chooses to be vegan. But I can't tell you how many people get immediately defensive when they learn he is vegan. They almost invariably will say something like "oh I bet you think I'm a real asshole for eating meat." And he's always like, "Sigh. No. I don't." Occasionally people will ask him why he's a vegan and he'll tell you - moral reasons, it makes him feel healthy, good for the environment, whatever. Then maybe he'll ask if you've ever been interested in vegetarianism/veganism. If you say yes, then you're going to get the pitch. If you say no, then that's that and the conversation moves forward. But there's no criticism - there's just encouragement.

Second of all, considering the fact that the only author she mentions, Michael Pollan, actually does talk about the difficulty of finding the time, money, and energy to prepare quality meals, and sympathizing with those who can't readily or easily find the food necessary or the time required to prepare organic food, I'm finding it really hard to imagine who exactly is the target of this article. This seems more of a list of reasons why it stinks to be disabled instead of reasons why people shouldn't encourage others to eat healthier. I mean, one of their bullet points is: "Start cooking something. Get distracted and leave the kitchen with water boiling/pan on high. Come back half an hour later. Now what?" doesn't have anything to do with veganism, fair-trade food, organics, or, well, much of anything other than: wow, living like that must be very frustrating. Another of their points: "Prepare a meal which doesn’t include: Corn, wheat, eggs, nuts, bell peppers, fish of any kind, cheese, soy, milk, or peanuts. If these ingredients slip in, say hello to your friend anaphylaxis." Ha! That's like me! I have most of those allergies! They too will give me anaphylaxis! And I love organic food! WTF!
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 5:29 AM on March 6, 2010 [32 favorites]


Before you editorialize in your FPP... think about how the posting guidelines place limitations on how editorializing it can be.
posted by Pope Guilty at 5:30 AM on March 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


I don't think it's editorializing. She's basically quoting the website, and the page is anything but demagogic.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 5:32 AM on March 6, 2010 [3 favorites]


Who criticizes the food choices of others?

Indeed, vegetarians and meat eaters have a long history of harmonious accord.
posted by DU at 5:35 AM on March 6, 2010 [11 favorites]


It isn't that other people should feel guilty if they can stand long enough to cook a meal or can't handle washing dishes and cooking in the same day. Not at all.

I hope this isn't a totally unrelated comment, but I swear to heaven, the older I get the more I think that most people in this world actually don't want to make anyone feel guilty*. Guilt isn't particularly constructive. Compassion and understanding is.

*Heh. I await being gently patted on the head and told to enjoy the pleasant bubble I live in.
posted by kalimac at 5:40 AM on March 6, 2010 [3 favorites]


kalimac, I'd love to join you in that bubble.
posted by Pope Guilty at 5:43 AM on March 6, 2010


think about how people with disabilities face limitations on how vegan/organic/fair-trade/free-range/local... they can be

There are numerous of ways to stick to food-political terms without even having to cook your own meals, which seems to be 90% of the message in the first FPP link. That leaves the only obstacle presented in the way of being political as: cost. As far as I'm concerned disability isn't a valid excuse, but affordability is, and even then I'm skeptical. People often don't realize just how much money they waste on unnecessary crap all the time, which is often the real problem.
posted by tybeet at 5:44 AM on March 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


I only eat the most dangerous game -- nuclear-powered fugu.
posted by dirigibleman at 5:46 AM on March 6, 2010 [10 favorites]


I've hAd two vegetarian roommates. One was respectful and neither of us ever bothered to criticize each others diets. The next one would bitch at me for keeping meat in the fridge and bitch at me for mentioning restaurants that served meat (this is in IOWA, keep in mind). The last straw was when the roommate told me I should feed my cat a vegetarian diet. Sorry, I don't want a blind and eventually dead cat.

Nobody should act like that.
posted by TrialByMedia at 5:46 AM on March 6, 2010 [4 favorites]


I don't think she was trying to criticize anybody's choice in being vegan, but rather highlight that all dietary choices able-bodied people take for granted aren't necessarily open to less able people.

Bingo. I tend to mill around the hippie/whole-earth/activist/Green Left crowd (as well as a regular zine reader, which tends to attract a DIY activist punk crowd) and there are a number of people who are absolute evangelists about things like what you eat and where you get it from. I've encountered a lot of moralising about how eating vegan/organic/ETC is absolutely NECESSARY, how meat-eaters (etc) are ruining the planet, how to really be ethical you must give up everything that wasn't a homegrown pesticide-free plant.

They're the ones with the booths & papers at any rally (even if they're not strictly aligned to a political party), they're the ones with petitions in universities, they're the ones passing out pamphlets on the streets with baby chickies on the cover calling you to "Be Vegan!". And, not surprisingly, about 99% of these people tend to be from middle-class, urban, whitebred, able-bodied backgrounds.

I haven't seen a strong political movement much like the Green Left-type people around meat-eaters (though there is definitely a commercial push here for beef and lamb). So I mention vegan up there not as a reflection of vegans as a class, but as something food-related that tends to be very heavily politicised - often to the detriment of people like meloukhia who can't keep up with it all and have to make some compromises. And sure, there are non-political vegans out there, but that doesn't mean that super-political vegans don't exist. Hello, PETA!
posted by divabat at 5:47 AM on March 6, 2010 [3 favorites]


What do you care what other people eat?
posted by madcaptenor at 5:50 AM on March 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


Fair enough. But if the target of the author's ire is PETA and angry vegans, why does he/she call out Michael Pollan?
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 5:50 AM on March 6, 2010


What's with all the defensiveness? No one's food choices are being attacked. The articles in the FPP suggest not attacking other people's food choices given that you don't really know why they make the ones they do. If you're not attacking people's food choices, great! But that doesn't mean that others aren't, even if you've never encountered those others personally.

And yes, it's true that there are workarounds and alternatives to many of the problems in the first post, but they take resources of energy, time, and money. Not everyone has these resources to spare at all, or to spare for a problem that might be several rungs down on their list of priorities. If, say, you have problems just getting out of bed in the morning because you're always tired and in pain, or you're out of work and on unemployment benefits, then perhaps changing your food habits from ones that work for you even if they aren't the Western upper-middle-class ideal is not your highest priority. Now, some people would choose to make it their priority anyway for any number of reasons, but that doesn't make the people who don't bad, dumb, or lazy.
posted by bettafish at 5:59 AM on March 6, 2010


I mention vegan up there not as a reflection of vegans as a class, but as something food-related that tends to be very heavily politicised - often to the detriment of people like meloukhia who can't keep up with it all and have to make some compromises.

There's a misconception that politicised eating is black or white: that it must be all one way or all another way. If you have the interest in being food-political but, for whatever reason, you have problems committing to that choice 100% of the time there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.

I subscribe to the dollar voting system, and so I don't chastise myself for poor choices every once in a while given less than ideal circumstances. So long as I am making a conscious effort to direct my resources in a way that supports positive corporate citizens and not the alternative, then that is so much for the better. I have political beliefs and I intend to act on them, but I am only human in the end.
posted by tybeet at 6:04 AM on March 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


So I mention vegan up there not as a reflection of vegans as a class, but as something food-related that tends to be very heavily politicised - often to the detriment of people like meloukhia who can't keep up with it all and have to make some compromises.

So you did drag veganism into your post because you feel threatened and/or annoyed by a very small subset of vegans who are idiots, and who would be idiots even if they ate whatever you eat, and even though most vegans understand that other people might not be able to be a vegan due to economic or health circumstances which may or may not be caused by a disability. I'm not surprised, but you probably should have made that a little more clear in your editorial.
posted by cmonkey at 6:12 AM on March 6, 2010


Also, let's not criticize the criticizers. I don't mean that as criticism. It's just a suggestion.
posted by Obscure Reference at 6:18 AM on March 6, 2010


I think Michael Pollan would be the first to agree that many of these things pose obstacles to a good diet. He's among the people leading the public to examine the structural and cultural and economic reasons why many of these issues, especially lack of access to better food, are so.

The points are certainly fine, but I feel a bit of a straw man, too. I'm a huge proponent of overhauling the food system and local activisim on food issues, but I don't think I've ever criticized what's on somebody else's plate. You just don't have enough information. Criticize the food industry? Marketing and advertising? Media coverage and inaccurate perceptions about the food system? Absolutely, I'll criticize all day. But I'm wondering if anyone's actually told this writer "You don't eat well, enough - you should eat this, this, and this," or if she wants to, but finds the structural obstacles too great. If it's that - shouldn't the railing and ranting be against the obstacles, not against people who are actively trying to change the system for the better, to benefit everyone?
posted by Miko at 6:35 AM on March 6, 2010 [7 favorites]


Well, I think it's shocking that some selfish people use the flimsy excuse of a disability or life-threatening condition to shirk their moral responsibility to eat more soya. We need to re-introduce the pillory and pelt these malfactors with allotment-grown produce until they surrender to my organic ratatouille.
All right, no I don't think that, but if we don't start staking out some contrarian positions it's all a bit of a storm in a caffeine-free teacup.
posted by Abiezer at 6:42 AM on March 6, 2010


Sometimes I help my friend T do his grocery shopping. He's legally blind and suffers from pretty severe ataxia due to some kind of still mysterious neurological shitstorm that hit him in his mid-30s. It was revelatory to watch him make decisions about food. Can't use a kitchen knife. Lacks the fine motor control to safely brew a pot of coffee (he quit making coffee after he dropped the carafe and it shattered while he was barefoot in the kitchen: imagine that. You're unsteady on your feet and surrounded by broken glass THAT YOU CAN'T SEE. Nightmare.) He won't boil water; he's terrified of scalding himself. So he basically lives off of microwave burritos, apples, and sandwiches which he can painstakingly assemble if all the ingredients are pre-cut. Oh, and Mountain Dew and Winston Lights, because he is, you know, an old punk rock guy. Just about the only time he gets a fresh hot meal is when friends take him out to eat.

Last year he completed three disabled triathlons. This year his goal is five.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 6:42 AM on March 6, 2010 [30 favorites]


But if the target of the author's ire is PETA and angry vegans, why does he/she call out Michael Pollan?

He's a hero of the Slow Food/locavore movement and advocates cooking stuff yourself instead of buying stuff pre-cooked from the store. He's called out specifically in the article, and he's the target of every point that mentions food preparation, pretty much.
posted by mkb at 6:44 AM on March 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


I have never understood the ethical argument against eating meat. We have incisors for a reason, it is natural to eat other animals. Humans not eating meat is not natural. (Pls don't distract about factory-farming, hormone injection, how many much more inefficient it is to get calories from animals rather than plants, etc etc etc) If the ethical argument centers around that then fine, but the mere fact of eating meat is demonstrabkly natural for humans. If a lion is immoral for eating meat then we probably do not have a solid foundation for a discussion as frames of reference are just too different. If an 'expert' in the field biology or nutrition (which I am not) wants to disabuse me of this opinion, I'd love to hear it.
posted by sfts2 at 6:48 AM on March 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


I think everyone should try as hard as they can to eat as well and as environmentally conscious as they can. I don't, however, particularly care what they eat. I care when it harms others, but again, I don't run around pointing my finger in the faces of people while they're sitting down to their steak.

It's my experience that when I mention being vegan or vegetarian, even when asked, that people get immediately aggressive as a result of feeling uncomfortable about my food choices. Then, they eventually lead into "WHY ARE YOU TRYING TO FORCE YOUR BELIEFS ON ME!" etc., etc. It's tiring to the point where I rarely even mention it anymore.

My mother is on disability and wheelchair bound. She gets x amount of food stamps per month. She can't eat vegan, because eating vegan is expensive. I'm sorry, it's EXPENSIVE. There are times when we've had to sacrifice other things just to eat, and then there have been times when we can only eat vegetarian (we, being my husband and I) because we can't afford it.

My mother, on the other hand, can buy a month's worth of food on 80 dollars if she's not eating vegetarian.

Meat is cheap. Until the cost of healthy food comes down, vegetarianism won't be the norm for any disabled and fixed income people.
posted by Malice at 6:49 AM on March 6, 2010 [13 favorites]


Actually, sorry for the tangential derail...no coffee yet and pet peeve a bit.
posted by sfts2 at 6:51 AM on March 6, 2010


So you did drag veganism into your post because you feel threatened and/or annoyed by a very small subset of vegans who are idiots

"Very small subset"? Come on. A few weeks ago the foodies at my school had a "go vegan for a day" campaign. About one third of all the vegans I've met have been evangelistic. It's not the number that conservatives would throw at you, but it's not like veganism is non-political either.
posted by shii at 6:53 AM on March 6, 2010


So we’ve generally agreed this was an ill-articulated front-page post?
posted by joeclark at 6:54 AM on March 6, 2010 [4 favorites]


sfts2, eating meat is not immoral. You can't bring up the morality comment without getting into the factory farming, because THAT is immoral. Also, the meat our digestive system is intended to digest is fish and small game. Not hormone fed bovine.

It just boils down to that fact that there are way too many of us, and we can't survive on hunting anymore. It's just not practical. Factory farming is NOT a solution to our overpopulation. In fact, it's making everything worse.
posted by Malice at 6:56 AM on March 6, 2010 [4 favorites]


It's my experience that when I mention being vegan or vegetarian, even when asked, that people get immediately aggressive as a result of feeling uncomfortable about my food choices. Then, they eventually lead into "WHY ARE YOU TRYING TO FORCE YOUR BELIEFS ON ME!" etc., etc. It's tiring to the point where I rarely even mention it anymore.

When I ask vegans why they don't eat meat, eggs, etc. I get a variety of answers, but - invariably - animal welfare is mentioned. When someone says they don't eat meat because they think it is cruel to animals, it seems reasonable to assume that they consider my eating meat cruel. They will also blather on about it being more healthy:

Meat is cheap. Until the cost of healthy food comes down, vegetarianism won't be the norm for any disabled and fixed income people.

To a carnivore, all of this is an implied, if not explicitly stated, value judgement.

But it's a two way street right? Whenever I enjoy a nice, juicy steak I am simultaneously (and demonstrably) rejecting those closely held values. Which I do with zest and relish.

How's the eggplant? Pass the A-1 would you?
posted by three blind mice at 7:01 AM on March 6, 2010


Malice, so this is similar to being an atheist in Wayne County, Indiana? I don't ever talk about religion.

As to meat: my kids have digestive problems that mean they can't eat complex carbohydrates if they want to keep all their organs intact, and there's good reason to believe they're not alone in the world. While I understand the ecological reasons to feed as many people as possible on plants, there really are some people out there who would die early from it. This is the sort of thing that makes me fear we've overshot our carrying capacity.
posted by Michael Roberts at 7:03 AM on March 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


How's the eggplant? Pass the A-1 would you?

This. My food choices make you feel attacked. And if I think eating meat is disgusting, cruel, etc.? What's it to you? Am I in your face about it? This type of snark is childish and exactly what I'm talking about. Thank you for proving my point.

Michael, what type of digestive problem is that? I'm legitimately curious.

(Also if I don't respond to anyone, I am about to leave and will come back later this evening.)
posted by Malice at 7:10 AM on March 6, 2010 [6 favorites]


Also, Michael, yes. It's like being Atheist in the bible belt. Being an Atheist Vegan is even worse.

I am devil incarnate.
posted by Malice at 7:11 AM on March 6, 2010


Before you criticize the food choices of others, realize that you're just harming your own position by making yourself look like a self-righteous douche. This is why even douchier people can't help but say "MMMM MEAT SO DELICIOUS FEED ME SOME DEAD BABY COW MMM MMM" every time vegetarianism or veganism is mentioned, because they know it'll yank the chains of people like you. Eat food because it's what you want to eat, not because it's a political cause to try to force on all your friends.
posted by DecemberBoy at 7:14 AM on March 6, 2010 [3 favorites]


I have never understood the ethical argument against eating meat. We have incisors for a reason, it is natural to eat other animals. Humans not eating meat is not natural. (Pls don't distract about factory-farming, hormone injection, how many much more inefficient it is to get calories from animals rather than plants, etc etc etc) If the ethical argument centers around that then fine, but the mere fact of eating meat is demonstrabkly natural for humans.

Yeah, but if you're going to look strictly at traits we have evolved for ourselves, you need to look at the whole package of lifestyle that came with it -- pre-civilization. We evolved with the incisors to eat meat, but we also evolved with an appendix to re-stock our guts with good flora after catastrophic gastro-intestinal events flushed the probiotics out; we evolved with a metabolism that was accustomed to having us crave fat and sugars, because we lived a nomadic lifestyle in which any food was hard to come by, and getting that meat was difficult, and the fats and sugars were also few and far between so the little we got was enough to keep us going. In other words, the beings we have evolved to become are not quite suited to the lifestyles we're living now. We ate meat, but we ate it only when we were lucky while hunting, so we probably only ate meat once in a while rather than at every meal like some do now. But this is all just to point out that "we evolved as meat-eaters" isn't an ethical argument, and also doesn't address the realities of the lifestyles we live now.

So going on to ethics -- you ask about the ethical argument against eating meat. That can indeed be highly personal. One of the ones I am down with, though, is more about the ethics behind eating so MUCH meat -- say I eat steak or some kind of beef every night for a month. All told, that would probably mean I've had to have had four cows killed to provide those steaks and beef. Those four cows needed between 16-40 acres of land to graze during their lives. So that's 16-40 acres of land that have been tied up in just feeing the cows that fed me for only a month.

Instead, even if I only halved the amount of beef I'd eaten, that would mean only 8-20 acres of land tied up in cow feed -- and the other 8-20 acres of land could have been given over to vegetables. And you can get a lot of vegetables out of only 8 acres. Even only one acre could feed me enough vegetables for a month -- meaning the other 7 acres could go to vegetables that could feed someone else.

So that particular ethical argument is one I use FOR myself, to cut back on the AMOUNT of meat I eat. I do eat meat, but not a lot; I do a lot of grain and bean-based stews and soups, with meat sometime just as a flavoring; it's also economical, and it stretches leftovers (i.e., sure, I'll buy a pork shoulder and roast it one night, but that one pork shoulder finds its way into a weeks' worth of meals after that -- a few chunks in a homemade ramen the next night, burritos the following night, sandwiches the next night, etc.) I'm also pushing myself to eat anything off an animal, so nothing goes to waste; pork chops, pork shoulder, sausage, bacon, tripe, and I'm even considering pigs' feet. Roast the whole chicken, make pate from the livers, make soup stock from the carcass. Eat the whole fish, make stock from the head and bones. In addition to steak, have some tripe and oxtail. ....In addition to the ethics being sound, it's also what our evolutionary forbears would have done (I doubt there were very many picky cavemen who'd say "ew, I don't eat the ears").
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:16 AM on March 6, 2010 [12 favorites]


I think everyone should try as hard as they can to eat as well and as environmentally conscious as they can.

I agree with this and I think it sounds very sensible. I think Michael Pollan would agree as well. And I definitely agree that you can't criticize others eating habits because it is too personal and people have amazing reasons for doing all the crazy things they do.

But the post irritated me. Why was Michael Pollan called out? The blogger makes it sound as though you should not even advocate for better eating... so if someone has a disability they should not eat healthy? It's interesting that such specific problems have been identified, but then why throw up your hands and say nothing can be done? If you can identify the problem surely you are on your way to finding a solution.
posted by maggiemaggie at 7:19 AM on March 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


Isn't there a conceptual difference between talking about food choices in the abstract and criticizing others specifically?

It seems to me that for every piece of reasonable advice, there's someone to whom that advice doesn't apply, isn't possible, or can be actively harmful. If someone says to the world at large "It's important to get in at least fifteen minutes of cardiovascular exercise a day," are they really being insensitive ogres by not recognizing that certain people aren't able to do so, or is there just an implied "...unless of course for some reason this advice doesn't pertain to you"?

Berating an individual person for not eating the way you want them to, or not getting enough exercise, or just generally not living the way you do, is problematic for any number of reasons. But as far as I've read Pollan isn't a demagogue, stalking people in grocery stores and challenging them to buy the $1.39 local organic oranges instead of the $.49 factory-farmed oranges. If anything, it's the inverse; he says he ends up disappointing people when they see him buying Lucky Charms for his daughter.
posted by lore at 7:20 AM on March 6, 2010 [5 favorites]




shouldn't the railing and ranting be against the obstacles

Absolutely what I was thinking while reading this article, and when I started reading this one as well: http://meloukhia.net/2010/01/buy_local_or_else.html

Sure, there are a lot of factors involved in people's decision-making process, and there is room for a wide diversity of lifestyle choices that are responsible and ethical given people's circumstances, but shouldn't our collective goal be to make those choices actually BE choices?
posted by snottydick at 7:31 AM on March 6, 2010


I don't consider myself disabled, although I think I'd fall under the ADA definition at least part of the time. But food is one of my major challenges, in part because my condition is relapsing and remitting, and eating isn't something I can put off when I'm feeling really lousy.
shouldn't the railing and ranting be against the obstacles, not against people who are actively trying to change the system for the better, to benefit everyone?
I guess I have two things to say about that. The first is that a lot of people do talk about eating habits as if they're matters of individual choice and morality. That idea is really deeply ingrained in many cultures, and it's hard even for people who are politically opposed to it to avoid talking and thinking that way.

And the second is that things that you consider "obstacles" can be lifesavers for people with disabilities or other physical challenges. You may consider it an obstacle to healthy eating that frozen pizzas are so easily accessible while healthier ingredients are hard to get. But there have been days when putting a frozen pizza in the toaster oven was all that I was capable of doing, and there have been nights when I have gone to bed hungry because I didn't have a frozen pizza on hand. It is possible to envision a glorious utopian future when on my bad days it would be just as easy for me to eat good food as to eat crap: there could be communal neighborhood kitchens, I guess. But I suspect we wouldn't go straight to utopia, and in the meantime a lot of people rely on stuff that food political people rail against.

I can't remember who it was, but a disabled blogger made a similar point about the way people on the left fetishize small, local stores. At the moment, big chain stores are much more likely to be accessible to people with physical disabilities than small local stores are. That's partly because it's a hell of a lot easier to sue a single big chain for failing to comply with the ADA than to sue a bunch of small, local stores. Small, local stores often don't have the money to make the changes that they'd need to make to be accessible, which is a point constantly hammered home by opponents of disability accommodation. For years, they've painted disabled people as enemies of small business, and now you expect disabled people to snuggle up with a vision of a society in which small businesses are the only places to shop?
Isn't there a conceptual difference between talking about food choices in the abstract and criticizing others specifically?
Maybe, but the difference is that you take for granted that it's ok to render disabled people totally invisible. They're not part of your audience, and you don't even have to say that they're not part of your audience, because you take their exclusion for granted. You're basically saying "this is advice for normal people, and you're a freak, so obviously we're not going to mention you. Just take for granted that, as usual, you aren't worthy of discussion, so none of what we say to the general, normal populace applies to you."

I think there are ways around this, one of which is for people involved in food politics and people involved in disability rights to work more closely together. But if that's going to happen, the food politics people are going to have to make an effort.
posted by craichead at 7:33 AM on March 6, 2010 [22 favorites]


"he quit making coffee after he dropped the carafe and it shattered while he was barefoot in the kitchen"

We got rid of our glass-carafe coffemaker last year when we saw this.
posted by mr_crash_davis mark II: Jazz Odyssey at 7:38 AM on March 6, 2010


Anyone who doesn't eat organic nutriant-rich gel like me is a Philistine. No exceptions. It's easy to swallow, and it has no taste, so it tastes like whatever you want it to taste like.

Or am I being offensive to people who have to eat through a tube?
posted by mccarty.tim at 7:47 AM on March 6, 2010


18 year vegetarian and occasional vegan here. First, I know a ton of evangelizing asshole vegans who even make my eyes roll back, but I've never met a single one who would criticize anyone who couldn't afford it or otherwise manage the work (and it is work, believe me) that goes into it. And believe it or not, I feel pretty safe in saying that down to a person, we are all aware that it takes money to have food choices.

And honestly, I've met far more evangelizing asshole meat eaters than I have vegans. If I have to hear about one more person's total inability to go without eating meat, or spend one whole dinner defending a choice that I never even brought up and only had to mention bc I was directly asked why I didn't get the chicken or the steak or whatever, someone's getting a fork in their eye. I know most meat eaters can't believe this, but being an asshole about your dietary choices is very much a two way street. Witness every thread that even mentions it here.

And I have to agree with the commenter who mentioned that Michael Pollan is really working hard to make sure that the things he writes about are open to all. It's a central part of his argument that good, fresh, nutritious food is unavailable to a wide swath of people.
posted by nevercalm at 7:48 AM on March 6, 2010 [5 favorites]


Something to keep in mind when you talk about how disabled people should be able to buy stuff that will allow them to eat your morally-approved food: poverty and disability are greatly correlated.
posted by craichead at 7:49 AM on March 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


Or am I being offensive to people who have to eat through a tube?

No, you're just being asinine.
posted by tybeet at 7:51 AM on March 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


Or am I being offensive to people who have to eat through a tube?

No, you're just acting like a noise-making ass.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 7:52 AM on March 6, 2010


Well, heck.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 7:53 AM on March 6, 2010


Something to keep in mind when you talk about how disabled people should be able to buy stuff that will allow them to eat your morally-approved food: poverty and disability are greatly correlated.

Are you reading the comments in this thread? I'm confused at to whom your comment is aimed.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 7:54 AM on March 6, 2010


Look it's just a fact of life, some FPPs are just tasty and when they wander into the blue like it or not they will be shot to pieces, and carved up. A MeTa will be made and the feast begins, the circle of life is completed.
posted by nola at 8:05 AM on March 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


This would have made more sense to me as an FPP if there was a link to someone who had been criticizing the disabled for not eating sufficiently local/vegan/whatever... sitting alone, it kind of comes across as railing against a problem which may nor may not exist. (the problem being the alleged criticism of the disabled's food choices, not the difficulties disabled people may face in preparing food at home, which is obviously a problem).
posted by modernnomad at 8:06 AM on March 6, 2010 [4 favorites]


Are you reading the comments in this thread? I'm confused at to whom your comment is aimed.
The guy who mentioned replacing his glass-carafe coffee maker with a $78 non-glass one, mostly. I've found that every time you mention a disability-related food problem, people bring up some expensive thing you could buy that would solve it. And that's great if you don't take into account that disabled people are more likely than any other group in American society to be poor.
posted by craichead at 8:07 AM on March 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


This. My food choices make you feel attacked. And if I think eating meat is disgusting, cruel, etc.? What's it to you? Am I in your face about it? This type of snark is childish and exactly what I'm talking about.

Well the key word in my post, malice, is "cruel" - that you don't care for the taste of meat is your own business. I don't like beetroot and I get along just fine with eaters of beetroot. That you think eating meat is "cruel" is a value judgement on people who eat meat. I don't label your dietary choices as "cruel" - bland and flavorless - but not "cruel." That's the difference.

Drop the "cruel" from your argument for not eating meat and I think we would have no disagreement other than flavor and texture.
posted by three blind mice at 8:08 AM on March 6, 2010


Instead, think about how damn lucky you are you live in a place where you actually get to be picky about where your food comes from.
posted by toekneebullard at 8:11 AM on March 6, 2010 [3 favorites]


Ahh there's the rub, three blind mice. Many people do consider eating meat to be cruel. More specifically, the processes involved in getting the meat to your table are often thought of, with some justification, as involving cruelty.
posted by Mister_A at 8:11 AM on March 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


The blog post is unnecessarily fighty. It's not a newsflash that people with disabilities have a harder time eating well -- disabilities make it harder. To do stuff. All stuff. So does poverty.

What bothers me is when people are discouraged from trying to better the way they eat. It has been shown in study after study that eating whole grains, large amounts of leafy greens, and no to little meat can improve the quality of life for almost everyone. So not only can people feel healthier and live longer, they can reduce the burden on our healthcare system and make it more possible for more people in the world to have higher standards of living by reducing the percentage of the planet first-world people require use of in order to eat their industrialized diets.

So let's stop judging people for making good choices that not everyone has the privilege of making, and start putting that effort into finding ways to make those good choices more universally available.

Or just say fuck it and eat a box of cookies.
posted by kitarra at 8:16 AM on March 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


three blind mice:

So it's okay to berate and mock vegetarians for believing that eating meat is cruel, even when they don't bring it up or confront you about it? That's...ridiculously dickish. Even though I eat meat and love meat, I do realize that some people disagree with me. That's fine. In fact, I encourage it - I enjoy having to think about and justify my behaviors because it allows for a little self-criticism. I'd like to be able to have a reason for why I eat meat beyond "my grandpappy did it and so did his grandpappy!" Plus, as Mister_A notes, animals are raised in different environments, and because I'm aware that they are sentient beings I'd prefer that the animals I eat be raised well before being slaughtered. I understand that because of that I may have to pay a higher premium for that meat. I also understand that not everyone has that luxury.

Anyway, ranting on the interwebs is all in good fun, but in real life, nobody really likes "Super Sensitive and Caustically Defensive Meat-Eater Guy", so maybe dial that back a bit at the next dinner party you attend.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 8:20 AM on March 6, 2010 [5 favorites]


This is good advice, before you go out and try to prove yourself most redeemable and more guilt-laden than average, make sure the person you target is physically able to walk away. Other people might notice and not give you full credit for the missionary effort.
posted by Brian B. at 8:22 AM on March 6, 2010


Many people do consider eating meat to be cruel. More specifically, the processes involved in getting the meat to your table are often thought of, with some justification, as involving cruelty.

There are a few comments here along the lines of, "I never judge or proselytize to omnivores, yet they always act like I'm judging them and get defensive."

I think that's missing a key facet of that interaction: most non-vegetarians know (or think) that vegetarians consider their choices cruel or immoral. How could they not feel judged, even if no one is actively saying anything? There's still that element between them and I think that's where a lot of resentment comes from.

To make a comparison, it's like if you go to dinner with a new acquaintance and order the cheese pizza, mentioning that you're vegetarian. Then your dinner partner says, "Oh, okay. I'll get the salad. I can't have the cheese pizza, I'm vegan." Even though they're not saying anything, you still probably know that many vegans consider eating animal products to be just as immoral as eating animals. So someone might understandably feel a little awkward and judged.

Not that I think vegetarians are wrong in their beliefs, but I do think it's missing the bigger picture to argue "I never say anything to omnivores about what they eat! Who knows why they get their hackles up?"
posted by Solon and Thanks at 8:26 AM on March 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


I don't quite see where the author of the article in the first link is coming from; I would interpret it so that she has encountered people who criticize the food choice of others and now rebukes those people by trying to get them to put themselves in the shoes of those they criticized.
While I think that this is a valid point I disagree with most of the items on this list:
  • If someone is allergic to a certain substance they won't have this ingredient in their pantry. Challenging someone to prepare a meal and then springing a ha-ha-shouldn't-have-used-that on them is really cheap.
  • If a person is blind or deaf then they will have found a way to alert their other senses when a time interval is up or a kitchen fire has broken out. It is just stupid to assume a deaf person would not have a flashing strobe instead of a loud beeper.
  • "You’re hungry. Wait five hours. You’re still hungry. You’re really hungry! Wait two more hours. You’re still hungry, but you still can’t make yourself eat (or you can’t prepare food, or you can’t go out for food, or you can’t afford to order in food)." What is this even supposed to mean? That we shouldn't make fun of people with eating disorders? That we shouldn't mock starving people? Who does that???
  • "You have exactly half an hour to prepare dinner, with no help. GO! Bonus: Dinner for four." This is where the list really breaks down for me. This has nothing to do with any disorder or disability I am familiar with, this is just about bad planning. If I know that two weeks from now I will have only half an hour to prepare a meal for four, I will plan accordingly and just do most of it in advance. Even in the very worst case, given no advance warning, it would probably possible to whip up something filling and tasty with the stuff I have in my pantry on short notice, even if it's not going to be haute cuisine.
I mean, I can get the gist of most of these points, but it seems ridiculous to me that there is supposedly a need for such a list in the first place. Who mocks a person with muscular dystrophy for not standing in the kitchen all day preparing a five-course meal? Is there really anyone making fun of blind people for not being able to read the small print on food packages? I am glad I have no food allergies I know of, but I'm never going to parade in front of allergy victims stuffing myself with peanuts or tossing milk products at lactose intolerant people.
posted by PontifexPrimus at 8:27 AM on March 6, 2010


There are many reasons people decide not to eat meat; the cruelty of the factory farms, feedlots and slaughterhouses are valid reasons.

One reason people get defensive and berate non-meat eaters is that they are in denial about their part in contributing to the misery. They know the system is wrong and cruel, but it's such a part of their lives that they cannot imagine things differently.

To say that cruelty isn't a major part of the issue is just wrong. (Not to mention the filth, blech).
posted by samsaunt at 8:30 AM on March 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


I was sort of an obnoxious vegetarian for about three months when I stopped eating meat at age 16. My indiscretion has been paid back multiple times by meat-eaters who have reacted to my vegetarianism with scorn and outright mockery.

Music and food seem to be the two things people think they know a lot about, and think their opinions are valid enough to justify mocking those that disagree. It's why I am glad I never became a food or music critic -- it's like sticking your hand in a hornet's nest.

I do, however, write about alcohol, and if you drink vodka martinis, be prepared to be draped in my contempt. I don't care how poor you are. That shit is for the birds.
posted by Astro Zombie at 8:33 AM on March 6, 2010


I think that's missing a key facet of that interaction: most non-vegetarians know (or think) that vegetarians consider their choices cruel or immoral. How could they not feel judged, even if no one is actively saying anything? There's still that element between them and I think that's where a lot of resentment comes from.

Many non-USAians judge USAians very harshly for a wide variety of things we do every day.

Many christians judge non-christians very harshly for a wide variety of things they do every day.

This could go on all day. The bigger picture is that anywhere there are two classes of people with two divergent opinions about the same thing, one group is judging the other. Why you would care is beyond me. I couldn't care less what christians, meat eaters, muslims or anyone else thinks unless they're trying to kill me for how I'm living (and some christians and muslims are working on it....vegetarian/vegans? nope). You feel guilty cuz they think you're wrong? That's on you.
posted by nevercalm at 8:36 AM on March 6, 2010 [3 favorites]


How could they not feel judged, even if no one is actively saying anything?

So, should I argue and act defensive with all Christians I meet (especially the non-proselytizing types) because surely they are silently judging me for not sharing their beliefs?
posted by belvidere at 8:37 AM on March 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


What kitarra said.

She can't eat vegan, because eating vegan is expensive. I'm sorry, it's EXPENSIVE.

I'm sorry to hear about your mother and the struggle that eating entails. But I'm really, truly puzzled by this piece of the discussion. Even without making it about veganism. Meat is one of the most expensive whole foods, ounce for ounce. I am a meat eater but I eat it in pretty small amounts, maybe 8-10 oz. a week. That's for a lot of reasons, but one is because I'd like my food dollar to go farther. Fresh produce, dried beans, pastas, and grains are very cheap in comparison with meat, and they are bulky and pack lots of fiber, making them good at being filling and fighting hunger. Sure, if by 'vegan' you mean eating things like processed sun-dried tomato ravioli with soy cheese, pine nuts and imported Italian extra-virgin olive oil, that's going to be expensive. But if you are eating a pretty simple diet based on whole ingredients, it's very cheap. I can't imagine how you would eat for a month on $80 and include a lot of meat. I would be interested to see a breakdown. From my store, some basic industrially produced meat prices: Italian sausage, $2.99 pound. Hot dogs, $2.99-3.99/package, depending on quality. Bacon, about the same. Chicken breast, if you can catch it on sale, $1.29/lb; if not, $1.99. Whole chickens, never less than $3.50 for a small one. Here's a USDA meat price spread - basic cuts averaging between $2-$5 a pound. You can get a lot of pasta or produce for $5. Sweet potatoes, butternut squash, potatoes, spinach, kale. Beans.
posted by Miko at 8:38 AM on March 6, 2010 [3 favorites]


Oops, sorry, here's the meat prices linkfrom the USDA.
posted by Miko at 8:39 AM on March 6, 2010


Oh, good, now we have the tone argument in play. Is it really that hard to take a few minutes to consider someone else's point of view and the life experiences which may have formed that point of view without trying to invalidate it? Without saying that this person's opinion doesn't count or isn't important because:
- you don't like the way they said it?
- they used one example you disagree with?
- they didn't carefully cite a specific instance of blatant wrongdoing when talking about a pervasive and often quite subtle attitude?
- their experience of food politics is contrary to yours?

There are ways to respectfully disagree with someone. Most of them boil down to treating the other person's experiences as legitimate and not assuming that your experiences automatically trump theirs. (Or, as kuujjuarapik's link would put it, don't ablesplain.)
posted by bettafish at 8:39 AM on March 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


I do, however, write about alcohol, and if you drink vodka martinis, be prepared to be draped in my contempt. I don't care how poor you are. That shit is for the birds.

There is no such thing as a vodka martini. A martini is made with gin. Anything else is a vodka concoction.

I should have also mentioned above that if you live in the first world and drive, eat, use pretty much anything and/or wear clothing, chances are that you're spraying cruelty in wide swaths on far-flung people and animals you will never meet. If you do not walk around constantly feeling guilt, then how some people choose to eat should not even cross your mind, especially if they don't bring it up.
posted by nevercalm at 8:42 AM on March 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


So, should I argue and act defensive with all Christians I meet (especially the non-proselytizing types) because surely they are silently judging me for not sharing their beliefs?

I think you'll find I didn't say that. If this thread were about religion I might have said to Christians, "Look, I understand why you feel the way you do towards people perceived as sinners. Consider that the sinners might feel judged and get defensive, knowing that, even if you don't say anything."

Simply an attempt to show why people react the way they do, and why someone might get defensive. Not whether or not they should.

You feel guilty cuz they think you're wrong? That's on you.

Awesome. Well, we've established that there's no point in trying to communicate honestly and put ourselves in another's shoes. Let's just all continue to throw shit at each other in another "you suck no you suck thread."
posted by Solon and Thanks at 8:43 AM on March 6, 2010


I do, however, write about alcohol, and if you drink vodka martinis, be prepared to be draped in my contempt. I don't care how poor you are. That shit is for the birds.

There is no such thing as a vodka martini. A martini is made with gin. Anything else is a vodka concoction.


I saw a book the other day called '150 Martinis' or some such nonsense. NO. There is only ONE martini, made of gin and vermouth. The rest is stuff poured into a martini glass. There's a fucking difference. Maybe if I poured Schlitz in one, you'd have a Milwaukee Martini, maybe if I peed in one you'd have a masochist martini. Or maybe you fucking brats should learn to drink like adults not fucking sorority sisters.
posted by jonmc at 8:47 AM on March 6, 2010 [9 favorites]


This would have made more sense to me as an FPP if there was a link to someone who had been criticizing the disabled for not eating sufficiently local/vegan/whatever.
The problem is that disabled people are part of the general population. When you say "people should be doing this...," you are also talking about disabled people. If you're not, then you're implying that people with disabilities do not fall into the category "people," which is unacceptable. So although few food politicos actually say "disabled people who eat bad food are evil," they are still insulting some disabled people when they say "people shouldn't eat bad food." They're either not taking into account the realities of disabled people's lives or they're excluding people with disabilities from the category "people."
The blog post is unnecessarily fighty. It's not a newsflash that people with disabilities have a harder time eating well -- disabilities make it harder. To do stuff. All stuff. So does poverty.
In some instances, society makes it hard for people with disabilities to do stuff. Can we at least acknowledge the social model of disability? Thanks!

I think part of the problem here is this. People who are interested in food politics think that they will make good food more available, and that will make it more accessible to everyone. Obviously, disabled people will be among the everyone who will benefit from this, so merely by making good food more accessible, they're attending to the needs of disabled people. But it's not clear to me that disabled people will automatically benefit. I think that if you don't specifically address accessibility for disabled people, you can throw up barriers when you want to increase access. And I've seen that happen in specific instances, as with the "buy local" movement that doesn't acknowledge issues with small businesses often not being accessible. "Buy local" types don't have any animus towards people with disabilities, and I'm sure they think that disabled people will benefit from vibrant local economies the same as everyone else. They just have the luxury of not noticing that Starbucks is more likely to be wheelchair accessible than your local coffeehouse is.

Like I said, this could be solved if locavores and food politics people created better alliances with disabled people.
"You have exactly half an hour to prepare dinner, with no help. GO! Bonus: Dinner for four." This is where the list really breaks down for me. This has nothing to do with any disorder or disability I am familiar with, this is just about bad planning.
I think maybe she's talking about people who have limited energy due to conditions that cause fatigue. If you've got a good half hour before you crash, then you have a half hour to make dinner. And "plan ahead" isn't a terribly useful thing to tell people in that situation, because there are only 24 hours in a day, and they're also budgeting time for all the other things they need to accomplish in their waking hours.
Fresh produce, dried beans, pastas, and grains are very cheap in comparison with meat, and they are bulky and pack lots of fiber, making them good at being filling and fighting hunger. Sure, if by 'vegan' you mean eating things like processed sun-dried tomato ravioli with soy cheese, pine nuts and imported Italian extra-virgin olive oil, that's going to be expensive. But if you are eating a pretty simple diet based on whole ingredients, it's very cheap.
Next time you prepare that stuff, think a little bit about the steps that are required to cook it all. Are you bending down or reaching up to get a pot out of a cabinet? Is the pot heavy? Does your preparation method require standing at a counter or stove? How many pots are there for you to wash? Demanding that disabled people cook with "whole ingredients" seems potentially problematic to me.
posted by craichead at 8:49 AM on March 6, 2010 [7 favorites]


Also, it would be lovely if we could talk about disability and food politics instead of reiterating reasons for vegetarianism/veganism and how vegans have to deal with meat-eaters being rude to them and vice versa. I very much sympathize with anyone who's had to deal with people randomly judging them for what they eat or getting defensive and hostile without provocation. But the result of talking about this right here and right now is that a discussion about problems faced by people with disabilities has been refocused into a discussion about problems faced by everyone, i.e. mostly able-bodied people. And that's not cool.
posted by bettafish at 8:52 AM on March 6, 2010 [8 favorites]


Just eat your damn food. And keep your nose away from my plate.
posted by c13 at 8:58 AM on March 6, 2010


One reason people get defensive and berate non-meat eaters is that they are in denial about their part in contributing to the misery.

A fundamentalist might say we are in denial about not joining their one true cult, if they feel free to detach the objective truth from it. The facts are that NOT eating meat is viewed as a hardship to anyone who does the heavy lifting in society. There are few alternatives they either know about or can afford to supply the long-term stamina they feel they require. In my experience vegans could care less, as a form of faux elitism.
posted by Brian B. at 8:58 AM on March 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


Awesome. Well, we've established that there's no point in trying to communicate honestly and put ourselves in another's shoes. Let's just all continue to throw shit at each other in another "you suck no you suck thread."

Defensive much, in your quote there calling out people for being defensive? I don't think the word "you suck" was contained anywhere in the comment of mine that you quoted. In fact, I think I spoke to your point, which was: Not that I think vegetarians are wrong in their beliefs, but I do think it's missing the bigger picture to argue "I never say anything to omnivores about what they eat! Who knows why they get their hackles up?"

I'm saying that it's missing the even bigger picture to say that, bc people judge each other constantly. We're very well aware of why people get their hackles up, bc every single vegetarian has heard about the one asshole everyone's met who was a dick about not eating meat. Every. Single. One. But to then put it back on vegetarians bc we have opinions about things, well, that's not right.

Or I can just tell you that you suck, bc yr getting fighty. GRAR
posted by nevercalm at 9:01 AM on March 6, 2010


So although few food politicos actually say "disabled people who eat bad food are evil," they are still insulting some disabled people when they say "people shouldn't eat bad food."

Few or none? Because still haven't seen ANYONE criticize the disabled for the food preparation choices they make.

As for the second part of your sentence, are we now saying that people can never make general propositions without including a laundry list of people it might not apply to? Can we not say "it's important to exercise" without including a disclaimer that obviously we don't mean to exclude those who are unable to exercise due to some medical condition? I mean, a general proposition that healthy eating is a good thing is undeniably true, and until I see an example of somebody specifically criticizing a disabled individual for making less healthy but easier food prep choices, this whole framing device seems ridiculous.
posted by modernnomad at 9:02 AM on March 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


The problem is that disabled people are part of the general population. When you say "people should be doing this...," you are also talking about disabled people. If you're not, then you're implying that people with disabilities do not fall into the category "people," which is unacceptable.

That's a strawman argument if I've ever heard one. Here's a counter-strawman argument:

If I were to say "people should eat more dairy because dairy has calcium which can prevent bone loss, and vitamin D which can benefit mood" I am certainly not lumping in severely lactose-intolerant persons in with "people". If I were to say "people should eat more peanuts" I'm not including people with peanut allergies. I'm also not offensively excluding them, because the meaning of people can (with a charitable reading) implicitly exclude these populations based on obvious obstacles presented them.

The point that disabled persons are excluded from being food-political has frankly not been justified except with this correlation between disability and poverty. Need I say the obvious here? The real problem here is cost, and income, not disability so don't unnecessarily conflate the two in order to take offense at something that obviously is not meant to offend.
posted by tybeet at 9:04 AM on March 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


The problem is that disabled people are part of the general population. When you say "people should be doing this...," you are also talking about disabled people.

This seems unnecessarily focussed. Would you think this much about an article that said "people should be walking more"? Bc when a dr says this, it's about exercise, and a necessarily broad generalization to make a point. Appending caveats like "unless you can't walk because you have no legs. Or you're paralyzed. Or you're agoraphobic. Or you already walk a lot. Or you exercise in other ways. Or..." would really gum up the language works. As I said above, anyone who would cap on someone for not being sufficiently political about food choices bc they're disabled is not worth anyone's time.
posted by nevercalm at 9:07 AM on March 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


modernnomad said:
Few or none? Because still haven't seen ANYONE criticize the disabled for the food preparation choices they make.

As for the second part of your sentence, are we now saying that people can never make general propositions without including a laundry list of people it might not apply to? Can we not say "it's important to exercise" without including a disclaimer that obviously we don't mean to exclude those who are unable to exercise due to some medical condition? I mean, a general proposition that healthy eating is a good thing is undeniably true, and until I see an example of somebody specifically criticizing a disabled individual for making less healthy but easier food prep choices, this whole framing device seems ridiculous.
Interesting. It appears in the wild we've encountered a cross-breed of Prove It and Not The Same.
posted by ShawnStruck at 9:07 AM on March 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


I think my preview's broken, bc I just made an identical point that was made multiple minutes ago.
posted by nevercalm at 9:09 AM on March 6, 2010


Just eat your damn food. And keep your nose away from my plate.

Just drive your damn car, and keep your nose away from my fleet of hummers.
Just vote for your own damn politician, and keep your nose out of my support of republicans.
Just keep on consuming......

LETS ALL PRETEND THERE ISNT A HUGE ONGOING ENVIRONMENTAL CATASTROPHE, AND NO-ONE CAN CRITICIZE THE CHOICES OF ANYONE.

WE HAVE INFINTE RESOURCES AND WILL TO ACCOMPLISH ALL THE URGENT TASKS OUR SOCIETY AND PLANET NEEDS, AND EVERYONE IS A SPECIAL SNOWFLAKE WHO SHOULDN'T HAVE TO EXAMINE, MUCH LESS JUSTIFY, ANY OF THEIR BELIEFS OR PRACTICES.

HAMVEGGIEBURGER


I say this as a meat eater: my actions are definitely more harmful to this world than a veggie choice. But this should be acknowledged, and if costs were generally internalized, the I should pay more for meat, with some of those resources going to clean up the mess that the meat generates
posted by lalochezia at 9:10 AM on March 6, 2010 [6 favorites]


As for the second part of your sentence, are we now saying that people can never make general propositions without including a laundry list of people it might not apply to?
Yes. You shouldn't say "people" when you really mean "men." You shouldn't say "people" when you really mean "white people." You shouldn't say "people" when you really mean "people who make more than $75,000 a year." You should only say "people" when you mean all people, not the people who you consider the default. And you know, people with disabilities are a significant portion of the population. We're not talking about some tiny, tiny minority here.
If I were to say "people should eat more dairy because dairy has calcium which can prevent bone loss, and vitamin D which can benefit mood" I am certainly not lumping in severely lactose-intolerant persons in with "people".
That's an excellent example. Thanks for it! Most adults whose ancestors came from Northern Europe can tolerate lactose. Most adults whose ancestors came from other places can't. So if you say "people should eat more dairy..." you are assuming that white people are the default and that everyone else is abnormal. You are using "people" to mean "white people." And yeah, I think that's a bad thing to do.
posted by craichead at 9:15 AM on March 6, 2010 [8 favorites]


Properly, a so-called vodka martini is actually called a kangaroo. And it's still a miserable drink -- tastes of diluted vermouth.
posted by Astro Zombie at 9:15 AM on March 6, 2010


Brian B. It's not expensive to cook your own nutritious food, but it takes time, which is a luxury to many of us. I can see how you think it's elitist to eat beans, grains and vegetables, because it takes time to plan, prep and cook.

However, that does not change the fact that the practices in the factory farms, feedlots and slaughterhouses are the stuff of nightmares.
posted by samsaunt at 9:19 AM on March 6, 2010


Interesting. It appears in the wild we've encountered a cross-breed of Prove It and Not The Same.


Well ShawnStruck, as useful as that was to the discussion, my point was if you're going to write a blog accusing someone of doing something, it stands to reason that you ought to show that person doing something. No-one's asking them to prove some bizarre hypothetical scenario. I simply have a hard time imagining anyone attacking the disabled for not eating sufficiently locally, and so I'd like to see the douchebag that is attacking them in that way. Attacking someone for making a broad proposition that it is important to eat locally/healthy and failing to make an explicit disclaimer that they are not including the disabled in their general proposition seems as ludicrous as attacking them for failing to explicitly exclude sailors on a submarine from that same list.
posted by modernnomad at 9:20 AM on March 6, 2010


We had Critical Mass, now food (veggie, meat, lol-locavore, dairy), all we need is a good atheism FPP for the trifecta.
posted by fixedgear at 9:23 AM on March 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


Attacking someone for making a broad proposition that it is important to eat locally/healthy and failing to make an explicit disclaimer that they are not including the disabled in their general proposition seems as ludicrous as attacking them for failing to explicitly exclude sailors on a submarine from that same list.
According to the census bureau, about a fifth of all Americans have some sort of disability. Comparing disabled people to sailors on submarines seems a little problematic to me.
posted by craichead at 9:29 AM on March 6, 2010


'Not that I think vegetarians are wrong in their beliefs, but I do think it's missing the bigger picture to argue "I never say anything to omnivores about what they eat! Who knows why they get their hackles up?" '

I'm saying that it's missing the even bigger picture to say that, bc people judge each other constantly. We're very well aware of why people get their hackles up [...]


I was addressing people who seemingly don't understand why people are upset (thus "who knows why they get their hackles up?") If someone is already 'very aware' of why, then my comment wasn't addressed at them.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 9:29 AM on March 6, 2010


We had Critical Mass, now food (veggie, meat, lol-locavore, dairy), all we need is a good atheism FPP for the trifecta.

Did you intend to lump religion with cars and meat?
posted by Brian B. at 9:33 AM on March 6, 2010


I saw a book the other day called '150 Martinis' or some such nonsense. NO. There is only ONE martini, made of gin and vermouth.

Technically, that book could be a 150 different proportions of gin and vermouth. Maybe a few varieties of olives, too. Of course, the Sidecar is a better drink anyway, long eclipsed by what is essentially a second (and excessively ritualized) olive marinade.

And poker? That's a kid's game. Adults play bridge.
posted by GenjiandProust at 9:46 AM on March 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


I felt it was a good blog post. Sure, some of it was fluffy, but it did emphasize one point that hasn't been mentioned here: reliance on public transportation. I'm disabled, and I don't drive because of it. However, due to the flukiness of the bus system in Seattle, I can get almost door to door service if I shop at Whole Foods. So that is the store I end up shopping at. Luckily, I also have a job where I can *afford* Whole Foods, but when I shop there, I'm primarily buying staples - not the truffles or gourmet cheeses.

However, I have also been critized for shopping at Whole Foods, especially by fellow 'lefties' and 'allies' due to their elitism, stances on healthcare, etc. Which, awesome. You going to boycott WF? Good. Bully for you. However, then don't lecture me on my choice to shop there. Because when I have to lug all your groceries in a backpack, then on the bus, when I have trouble walking, I'm going to go to the store I can get to the easiest. I don't care what the hell the CEO of the company does - I'm still going to shop there. Until the bus routes change, of course.
posted by spinifex23 at 10:02 AM on March 6, 2010 [4 favorites]


I was going to explain why absolute phrasing like "people should" implicitly excludes anyone who doesn't belong to the category defined by "people" while denying that they exist, but craichead did that better, I think. It doesn't "gum um the language works" to be clearer about your terms and more considerate of folks outside the category you're defining.

"Walking is great exercise for those who can do it."
"Lactose-tolerant people should eat more dairy because it has calcium which can prevent bone loss, and vitamin D which can benefit mood."

modernnomad: I simply have a hard time imagining anyone attacking the disabled for not eating sufficiently locally, and so I'd like to see the douchebag that is attacking them in that way.

The problem is not that one or several able-bodied people are explicitly telling disabled people who don't eat locally that they are bad people for not doing so. The problem is that MANY able-bodied people act as though the physical accessibility (see below) of local food that is their privilege is equally available to the entire population.

And just because you (general you) have never encountered this or haven't found it relevant to your life doesn't make it unthinkable, for that matter, uncommon.

The point that disabled persons are excluded from being food-political has frankly not been justified except with this correlation between disability and poverty.

First of all, you're conflating the argument, "There are challenges faced in being food-political and disabled that able people don't have to worry about," with "Disabled people can't be food-political." Second, people have been explaining - in the FPP itself, and in comments - how disabled people face particular challenges in eating local food. It's your right not to accept/agree with those explanations, but that's your decision, not anything the people explaining aren't doing.

Economic accessibility is a related, even overlapping, but nevertheless separate issue. Poor able-bodied people may still have access to resources that financially secure disabled people don't -- and vice versa. Physical and economic access should not be treated as the same.
posted by bettafish at 10:04 AM on March 6, 2010 [3 favorites]


Sorry, second quote was from tybeet.
posted by bettafish at 10:04 AM on March 6, 2010


Poor able-bodied people may still have access to resources that financially secure disabled people don't...

Yes. Like a car.
posted by spinifex23 at 10:15 AM on March 6, 2010


bettafish:The problem is not that one or several able-bodied people are explicitly telling disabled people who don't eat locally that they are bad people for not doing so.

The problem is that the article implies that the "authorities" like Pollan are in fact doing this, which is does not seem like a fair attack.
posted by mrgoldenbrown at 10:26 AM on March 6, 2010


First of all, you're conflating the argument, "There are challenges faced in being food-political and disabled that able people don't have to worry about," with "Disabled people can't be food-political." Second, people have been explaining - in the FPP itself, and in comments - how disabled people face particular challenges in eating local food. It's your right not to accept/agree with those explanations, but that's your decision, not anything the people explaining aren't doing.

No, the problem I have is that the only two obstacles people have brought up preventing disabled persons from making "moral/political/local" food choices are 1) cost - which we both agree is beside the point, and 2) physical inability. If you can point out a third argument then I'm all ears but I've yet to see it any any of the comments as you suggest.

With respect to 2), people have continued to bring up examples such as "I was physically unable to cook for myself", "all I could bring myself to do was heat up X in the microwave", "my friend was blind and unable to even pick up a knife so bought pre-made sandwiches" etc. The problem with this is that, believe it or not, moral/political/local food is, like amoral/apolitical food, available in the convenient pre-arranged/instant meal variety as well. I've seen countless organic, vegan, fair-trade burritos/ chicken nuggets/ sandwiches/ soups/ etc - and they're even accessible beyond just niche grocery stores. The major chain supermarket in my city carries a wide range of these types of foods.

I'm not saying the choices are as diverse or plentiful, but clearly if cost is not an issue, then there's no reason that at least some of the time, these same disabled people unable to cook for themselves cannot still make the moral/political choice.
posted by tybeet at 10:28 AM on March 6, 2010


Because when I have to lug all MY groceries in a backpack, then on the bus. Dang grammar!
posted by spinifex23 at 10:54 AM on March 6, 2010


Danila, that was a great comment, and the link to fat nutritionist was interesting too. I did like the comment from the link with the quote from "The Road to Wigan Pier", by Geroge Orwell, which I'll c/p here:

“Would it not be better if they [the poor] spent more money on wholesome things like oranges and wholemeal bread or if they even, like the write of the letter to the New Statesman, saved on fuel and ate their carrots raw? Yes, it would, but the point is that no ordinary human being is ever going to do such a thing. The ordinary human being would sooner starve than live on brown bread and raw carrots. And the peculiar evil is this, that the less money you have, the less inclined you feel to spend it on wholesome food. A millionare may enjoy breakfasting off orange juice and Ryvita biscuits; an unemployed man doesn’t. [. . .] When you are unemployed, which is to say when you are underfed, harassed, bored, and miserable, you don’t *want* to eat dull wholesome food. You want something a little bit ‘tasty’.

tybeet:I'm not saying the choices are as diverse or plentiful, but clearly if cost is not an issue...

Dude, I think that's a really big handwave, especially in regards to the disabled, but barring that, and barring the general availability of such items, it's still a bigger handwave then is supportable.
posted by Snyder at 11:00 AM on March 6, 2010


Meat is one of the most expensive whole foods, ounce for ounce.

But ounce for ounce, vegetables and meat are not equivalent nutritionally.

Limiting my meat intake, and the types of processed foods I buy, has definitely made my grocery bills go up. This is a sore point for me, because I'm reliant on my parents to help me with my bills while I'm in school, and I'm constantly weighing my options when I'm at the store: Do I buy the ingredients to make a vegetarian pasta dish, or do I go for the microwavable burrito that will fill me up for half as much money?

The real problem here is cost, and income, not disability

It's both.

I've gone through periods in my life when I simply did not have the time or energy to cook often, due to illness, and it drastically reduced the number of choices I had. I had to rely on much more processed food. I couldn't sustain myself on raw fruits and vegetables affordably (or without going crazy).

The options for "healthy" processed foods were quite limited, and what there was could be prohibitively expensive, so I ended up eating a lot of crap.
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 11:19 AM on March 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


Where I live it is treated like a mark of maturity and adulthood to own your own home. If one rents and is happy to do so you are seen as not wanting to be a part of the group like everyone else - even subconsciously. Even if someone knows that mowing a lawn or fixing your roof when it leaks or doing basic plumbing is both physically impossible and too expensive to pay someone else to do for you whenever you need to, still at home level you are an oursider because you don't live like the core of the people in your area.

Similarly if you are younger and in an industry where you find a lot of younger, liberal and environmentally conscious folks, you will hear a very constant conversational buzz about how awful the big box grocery stores are - those ones that are on the bus route, open more than just once a week, and aren't filled to the brim with harried crowds when they are open, are. So you mark yourself as being outside of the dominant group by eating prepared foods and not apologizing for it (yes people at the lunch table look very sheepish opening up their Lean Cuisine next to the guy who's wife sent him to work with homemade lentil soup).

So while the Stuff White People Like crowd thinks farmers markets are the key to saving the food industry, those of us who's nightmare shopping scenario is exactly such a market would just ask you to consider that not everyone will ever be able to make preparing and eating food into a hobby like you have.
posted by Space Coyote at 11:42 AM on March 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


Kutsuwamushi: I understand the struggle with time and energy. Many times it's just easier to eat the quick choice. For me the solution is sometimes beans on toast. It's cheap and delicious. You can store the bread (whole grain) in the freezer, and make a pot of beans with veggies and freeze them in small containers (or you could use canned vegetarian chili, like Trader Joe's). The nutrition in beans is more like meat, rather that vegetables. In addition, you could put together a fresh burrito at home quickly if you have the beans already prepared.
posted by samsaunt at 11:51 AM on March 6, 2010


tybeet, you may be astonished to learn that not everyone lives in a similar environment to yours, and thus that options you take for granted may not be available to them. And people who live in your locale with different resources and access needs to yours may not agree with you on what's readily available. It's great that your chain grocery story has organic food, but that doesn't mean that Disabled Person X has easy access to the nearest branch; they may only be able to get regularly to the neighborhood convenience store.

Also, what I said was that physical and economic accessibility are not the same thing and should not be treated as such; saying that does not mean that I agree with you that economics are irrelevant, especially when, as multiple commenters have pointed out, many disabled people are also poor.
posted by bettafish at 12:04 PM on March 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


Title: "Before You Criticize the Food Choices of Others…"

Pullout quote is provocative motivation for reading the article. Pullout quote fails if it isn't adequately explained to the readers. Saying something a second time doesn't make it more convincing. Readers want to see context, assumptions, premises.

Food policing is an area in which all sorts of assumptions are made about class and ability status...
Assumptions which, it seems, were pulled out of thin air. I say this because I disagree with the assumptions in that paragraph. Would the author cross-link... SOMETHING!

virtue in eating “right”
Overly moralistic; and whose "right" is being quoted here, and I can think of a few food-thinkers who eschew this terminolgoy and instead talk about eating "well", which introduces somewhat different dimensions into the discourse.

dictated by current authorities

Hyperbole, or author is imagining the dictatorship.

who is editorialized fawningly in numerous publications all over the planet

There are plenty of countercritiques of Pollan's writing. So this characterization is false by omission.

Before you criticize the food choices of others…

"the X of others" is too idiomatic for me to make any heads and tails out of this sentence. Tell me, who are these purported others? Does the author disclose their containment in this set?

This is just a small taste of what it can be like to eat while disabled.

This is a statement about methodology; concluding paragraph offers no interpretation or insight or argument based on the results of said methodology. All in all, interesting thought experiment but the analysis part is missing.

I don’t know where all of the Michael Pollan apologists came from

Hyperbole.

I’m not going to be letting your comments through, and they miss the larger point of this post

No mindshare, nothing learned.

the larger point of this post, which is not to attack Michael Pollan, but to discuss trends in the foodie movement.

Discussion? Where is this taking place, I would like to join it. Better yet, rather than fluffily "discuss", why not use the post to take a stance, make a concrete argument.



WTB critical thinking. PLEASE. One only has so much time to read half-baked writing. It's not just a problem with casual posts from blogs. I almost made an FPP of the train-wreck article: Soul Music from Journal of AEI. Try to digest that one, if you dare.

/endofrant
posted by polymodus at 1:00 PM on March 6, 2010


Similarly if you are younger and in an industry where you find a lot of younger, liberal and environmentally conscious folks, you will hear a very constant conversational buzz about how awful the big box grocery stores are - those ones that are on the bus route, open more than just once a week, and aren't filled to the brim with harried crowds when they are open, are. So you mark yourself as being outside of the dominant group by eating prepared foods and not apologizing for it (yes people at the lunch table look very sheepish opening up their Lean Cuisine next to the guy who's wife sent him to work with homemade lentil soup).

Every big-box grocery store has the stuff you need to make homemade lentil soup (oil, onions, carrots, celery, bouillon, and lentils). These are staples, not luxury items. Even Super Wal-Mart has this stuff, and none of it is expensive -- certainly not more so than bringing Lean Cuisine for lunch. You could make pounds of lentil soup for less than what you'd pay for a work-week's worth of Lean Cuisines... and I assure you that the "younger, liberal and environmentally conscious folks" will not be able to tell that you bought your lentils and veggies at Kroger or Food Lion instead of the farmer's market.

I agree with some who've argued that there are people who have little or no access to fresh food... but those are not the same people who have access to big-box grocery stores. Shopping in the produce section of the same store rather than straight down the frozen aisle is not a matter of access, or even of cost (at least, not when the comparison is Lean Cuisine). It's a matter of choice.

(and yes, there are people who can't stand long enough to cook, don't have the motor control to cook, etc, but Space Coyote wasn't addressing them).
posted by vorfeed at 1:03 PM on March 6, 2010 [3 favorites]


Wow does this subject bring out the asshole in everyone, including the writer of the blog in the OP.

So hey, guess I'll join in too:

I usually put people who complain about vegetarians being "obnoxious" in the same category as people who complain that gay people are "shoving their sexuality down our throats".

Because it turns out that "shoving their sexuality down our throats" usually winds up meaning "holding hands in public", and "being obnoxious about their food choices" usually winds up meaning "politely asking the waiter if the mushroom soup has a vegetable-broth base or a chicken-broth base".
posted by the bricabrac man at 1:15 PM on March 6, 2010 [11 favorites]


I kind of love how someone can post something saying, "It's not good to criticize someone for something when you haven't walked in their shoes" and the INSTANTANEOUS response from Mefites is: WHO ARE YOU CALLING A CRITICIZER? I DIDN'T CRITICIZE NO ONE, NO HOW AND YOU CAN'T TELL ME WHAT TO DO.

Good job guys. You make me proud.
posted by Ouisch at 1:36 PM on March 6, 2010 [3 favorites]


I thought the blog post was interesting, but most of the comments here are baffling. I can't see what could possibly be objectionable about "hey, have a think about how food preparation is really difficult for people with various disabilities".... I read people furiously arguing with the post, but I don't understand what they're arguing against. The blogger isn't attacking Michael Pollan himself, and she certainly isn't attacking you no matter what you make for dinner.
posted by moxiedoll at 1:44 PM on March 6, 2010 [4 favorites]


Because it turns out that "shoving their sexuality down our throats" usually winds up meaning "holding hands in public", and "being obnoxious about their food choices" usually winds up meaning "politely asking the waiter if the mushroom soup has a vegetable-broth base or a chicken-broth base".

In the interest of fairness, though, it should be observed that there are indeed some vegetarians who do indeed sometimes get a bit militant. Not all, by any stretch of the imagination, but some.

Just like there are some feminists who get strident in their views, and some atheists who do, and some Yankee fans who do, and some fans of a particular music group who do, and....

....So at the end of the day, it isn't the group you are advocating for which makes you boorish -- it is the means and manner of your advocating. And, by that extension, if the person who is shoving views in your face is bothering you, it isn't the views THEMSELVES that makes them boorish - it is their RUDENESS that's bugging you.

So that's why I categorize all of humanity into one of two groups -- jerks or non-jerks. Because the guy crabbing about how he can't understand how I could possibly not make my own bread isn't bugging me because he's a home-baking nut -- he is bugging me because he's a jerk.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:49 PM on March 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


And -- I think we can all agree that jerks are....jerks.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:49 PM on March 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


I usually put people who complain about vegetarians being "obnoxious" in the same category as people who complain that gay people are "shoving their sexuality down our throats".

I think that's a great parallel, and it's also similar to people who want to know why all gay people have to talk with a lisp. Some gay people talk with a lisp; some don't. Some straight people talk with a lisp; some don't.

So why do so many people equate gays with lisps? Confirmation bias. The gay person who doesn't act like their preconception of how a gay person acts is not going to be noticed as a gay person.

The mild-mannered vegetarian who just happens to enjoy eating good meatless food and doesn't go out of their way to mention their diet won't often be noticed as a vegetarian.

In addition to confirmation bias, there's availability bias. Even if people know that, say, Cary Grant (supposedly) was gay, if you ask them to think of a "gay man" they won't think of the classically debonair Cary Grant; they'll think of Richard Simmons or Boy George. (And I know that Simmons isn't openly gay, but that just shows how disconnected from reality this kind of thing can be.)

Even if people know that their normal friend is a vegetarian, that's not the person who's most easily accessible to the mind. Think of "vegetarians" or "vegans," and who do you think of? Fairly average people who happen to be quietly boycotting the meat industry's cruel practices based on sincere ethical reasoning? No, it's all these raving PETA activists getting in my face while I'm just peacefully going about my business trying to eat a steak ...

It's also interesting to see some of the grotesque stereotypes of vegetarians that get thrown around so freely -- not just in this thread -- on a strongly left-leaning website that would never tolerate environmentalists being non-jokingly depicted as wacko tree-huggers, feminists nonjokingly being depicted as man-hating bra-burners, or liberals being non-jokingly depicted as lazy hippies.
posted by Jaltcoh at 2:24 PM on March 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


Hmm.

Mr. WanKenobi and I have eaten only humanely raised meat at home for the past year or so. We're split on the ethics of just eating animals--he feels more strongly that killing animals for food is unethical than I do. To me, it's just dead stuff. But he has celiacs and a ton of food allergies (let's see: eggs, soy, nuts, some fish, corn, a bunch of others I'm forgetting). In the past, it's been a struggle for him to keep a healthy at all, something that would be pretty impossible if we cut meat out of his food choices.

And the mister showed up last night at a party with some pork and lentils and rice from a local Cuban place, and a vegetarian acquaintance started rolling his eyes and going on about how disgusting it was and I wanted to just smack him. No, it's not everyone who's like this. Yes, as EmpressCallipygos says, the dude was just a jerk and that's all it boiled down to. But I sure would like to hear people chill out about this kind of thing sometimes, so I appreciate the tenor of the original article.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 2:42 PM on March 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


Mr. WanKenobi and I have eaten only humanely raised meat at home for the past year or so. We're split on the ethics of just eating animals--he feels more strongly that killing animals for food is unethical than I do. To me, it's just dead stuff.

I realize this might be getting pretty far afield from the FPP link, but I want to respond to this.

It's an overly simplistic dichotomy that either you're (1) gravely concerned about the killing of animals simply because (in addition to cruelty/environmental/whatever concerns) it is killing and killing is just flat-out, categorically wrong ... or you're (2) perfectly content to eat animals who are killed in the right way.

For one thing, I often hear meat-eaters bring up the idea that, well, meat that's raised humanely is fine. It's another thing to fully put this into practice, and I don't know that I've met any meat-eater who does. (I take it from your hedged statement that you don't.) And I'm concerned that, like eating at a fast-food restaurant with a single genuinely healthy option that irrationally encourages people to eat more of all the unhealthy food (which has been empirically tested -- I can look for a link to the study if you want), the availability of even the most perfectly humane meat might just make people feel better about the idea of eating meat in general. So, yeah, they'll have that long, thoughtful, nuanced discussion on the ethics of meat, but then they'll go back to not eating meat and not checking on where it comes from, but they'll feel better about it. To the extent that that's what happens, I don't consider it progress.

Another point is one that Mark Bittman has put better than I can, in this fantastic TED talk about America's stormy relationship with food (my transcription):
"I'm not a vegetarian. Now, don't get me wrong -- I like animals. And I don't think it's just fine to industrialize their production and to churn them out like they were wrenches. But there's no way to treat animals well when you're killing 10 billion of them a year. Kindness might just be a bit of a red herring. Let's get the numbers of animals we're killing for eating down, and then we'll worry about being nice to the ones that are left."
This is why, even though I'm very interested in talking about vegetarianism, I've mostly just lost interest in the debate over whether it's the moment of the killing that's wrong or the whole horrendous life right up to death that's wrong. That's a fine debate to have in principle, but in practice I feel it's most often a red herring, a distraction. People can argue forever over the moral significance of killing itself, but not many people will argue that factory doesn't constitute cruelty to animals. Since the latter point is so much less controversial, it's probably the better impetus to action. And if that's the focus, then I'd agree with you that humane meat is better than inhumane (i.e. most) meat, but I do think vegetarianism is generally more ethical than either of them.
posted by Jaltcoh at 3:07 PM on March 6, 2010


My point was that what you choose to eat and how much time and effort you devote to acquiring and preparing food is becoming an in-group / out-group marker in many social contexts, and it's leaving certain people who are not able to participate in this new cultural obsession in the out-group.
posted by Space Coyote at 3:08 PM on March 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


...they'll go back to not eating meat and not checking...

Of course, I should have deleted that first "not."

posted by Jaltcoh at 3:09 PM on March 6, 2010


I realize this might be getting pretty far afield from the FPP link, but I want to respond to this.
On the contrary, it's a perfect example of what the FPP link is talking about and a crystal-clear refutation of all the people on this thread who have claimed that nobody criticizes the food choices of disabled people.

(I don't know if PhoBWanKenobi's husband identifies as disabled, but I don't think it entirely matters for the purposes of this discussion. His health condition limits his food choices.)

So can we now stop pretending that this doesn't happen?
posted by craichead at 3:17 PM on March 6, 2010 [5 favorites]


For one thing, I often hear meat-eaters bring up the idea that, well, meat that's raised humanely is fine. It's another thing to fully put this into practice, and I don't know that I've met any meat-eater who does. (I take it from your hedged statement that you don't.)

I don't see what was hedged about my statement. We only buy and eat humanely raised meat at home. Eating meat raised . . . however (and I acknowledge that I don't, and can't, know how it's raised outside; not doing so would severely limit our eating-out choices, and Mr. WanKenobi, who both feels more strongly about the ethics of eating meat and can't not eat meat, is the bigger fan of eating out. Seriously, talk to him about eating at home more, or not eating meat when we go out) hasn't impacted the way we eat at home at all.

We're lucky that we live in an area that it's possible to do this to the extent that we do--a place with local farmer's markets and humanely raised chicken and steak and coldcuts at several different supermarkets/grocery stores. Not everyone has those options available to them, and I realize how the cost/inconvenience for some people in some areas makes eating ethically raised meat untenable in the long term for many people.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 3:31 PM on March 6, 2010


How appropriate, I'm cooking dinner for some new friends and agonizing over the odds that they may or may not be vegan. Hooray for reading about food politics!

Hopefully also hooray for dinner... we'll see how that one goes...
posted by grapefruitmoon at 3:53 PM on March 6, 2010


samsaunt:

I'm a good cook. I know how to prepare dozens of quick and easy meals, including burritos. But the fact is that even quick and easy meals, when homemade, are more expensive and time-consuming than many cheap processed foods.

To make a homemade burrito, I have to buy all of the ingredients, some of which I probably will not use up before they go bad. Unless I want whole raw ingredients in the burrito, I also have to chop and cook them. (I could buy some of these already prepared, but it limits their usefulness for other dishes and also increases their cost.) I have to assemble the burrito. Then I have to clean the knife, the cutting board, and the pan I cooked them in.

That may only take half an hour all together, but it's not nearly the same as throwing a frozen burrito into the microwave for two minutes. When someone is tired or in pain, that can be a big big difference.
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 4:08 PM on March 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


The nice people at PETA points out that Pop Tarts, Red Bull and Doritos Spicy Sweet Chili Flavored Tortilla Chips are vegan products. Also vegan, but not mentioned by PETA: Absolut vodka and hand-rolled cigarettes.
posted by iviken at 4:18 PM on March 6, 2010


Kutsuwamushi: "That may only take half an hour all together, but it's not nearly the same as throwing a frozen burrito into the microwave for two minutes. When someone is tired or in pain, that can be a big big difference."

Right. Saying, "It only takes a few minutes to cook X!" assumes that someone can actually make it to that point in the day where they need to cook X with enough energy/lack of pain to do so.

Of course, one option is to start cooking X when you still have energy/lack of pain so X is ready or almost ready at the time you plan to eat it, but it's not that simple. Because if you have that little energy/pain free time to start with, then everything you do prevents you from doing something else. If you cook X then you won't be able to do household chore Y. So then maybe you put household chore Y off until tomorrow, but then you can't do Z that day, etc etc.

Basically:
a) there are solutions to the problems outlined in the blog post, but that doesn't mean people shouldn't be aware that the problems exist in the first place;
b) these solutions frequently involve trade-offs in their own right (like solving the problem of not having the energy to cook by putting off another necessary chore, and having to do this all the time), so it's not helpful to act as though the fact that a solution exists magically erases the problem.
posted by bettafish at 4:29 PM on March 6, 2010 [4 favorites]


I don't care if I had no legs or arms, having learned to cook, I could never eat another frozen burrito.
posted by nevercalm at 6:15 PM on March 6, 2010


Pollan advocates for mixed farming - arable crops in rotation with livestock grazing, aka up-and-down husbandry. This is a very productive and sustainable farming for temperate regions. The livestock manure the soil and the rotation frustrates weeds - thus making the farming less dependent on chemical fertilizer and herbicides.
posted by jb at 7:11 PM on March 6, 2010


Bettafish: All our diets are tradeoffs. Some of us have time and inclination but not much money. Some have money and inclination but not much ability. Some have money, inclination, and ability but no time. Add in another tradeoff - increased difficulty - and I still don't think we're anywhere new. Anyone who wants to eat in a way that isn't readily supported by our current machine has to make tradeoffs, some of them real sacrifices. And it's not possible for everyone to easily make those choices yet. If someone who is disabled would like to eat better, but can't, that's definitely a problem for that person, and it would be great if we could start working on some solutions, as some people are doing with poverty, geography, time crunches, lack of knowledge, lack of support, lack of resources. If someone really doesn't buy into this philosophy food, then they haven't got a problem, disabled or not.

This blog entry just wasn't focused on identifying problems and finding solutions. It was focused on attacking some outward Other Character who is, presumably, haranguing disabled people for not eating better. I haven't ever met or seen such a person in action, and it sounds like a lot of people haven't. I'd still certainly be supportive the idea of people in the disabled community, and people who care about the disabled community and better food for everyone coming together to continue working toward food solutions - in fact, whether I realized it before tonight or not, I already am doing some of that work. But this post really isn't what that looks like, and so it's divisive and offputting instead of productive. Instead of taking shots at an imagined and projected stance of what the writer assumes would be the attitude within the food movement, it would be great if the discussion on food and disability aligned itself with that movement, which is seeking to improve conditions for all people across the board, and focused on generating solutions.

But ounce for ounce, vegetables and meat are not equivalent nutritionally

Have a look at grams of protein per ounce of various meats, beans, nuts, and seeds. In many ways, you can do a lot better nutriontally by eating high-protein plant foods in conjunction with other vegetables than with the equivalent calorie amount of meat.

Also, meats offer a certain nutritional package by presenting high protein and iron and some B vitamins within one food, but they also bring with them real nutritional costs - saturated fats and, in the case of industrially raised meats, hormones and antibiotics and potentially foodborne pathogens.

It's one thing if people prefer to eat meat or habitually choose it - that's what happens a lot. But there's not a clear nutritional argument for it. It's a denser calorie food, but it's costly, so with the same set of dollars you can buy more food bulk by buying non-meat items.
posted by Miko at 9:26 PM on March 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


Metafilter: overthinking a plate of beans wheelchair accessible bacon.
posted by unSane at 9:50 PM on March 6, 2010


Michael Pollan wrote a book called "Food Rules: An Eater's Manual" so I certainly think he belongs on the list of people who criticize the food choices of others. I mean, he made rules and everything.

From an article entitled "Rules Worth Following, for Everyone's Sake" (are disabled people included as part of "everyone"?):

The new book provides the practical steps, starting with advice to avoid “processed concoctions,” no matter what the label may claim (“no trans fats,” “low cholesterol,” “less sugar,” “reduced sodium,” “high in antioxidants” and so forth).

As Mr. Pollan puts it, “If it came from a plant, eat it; if it was made in a plant, don’t.”


Also, on cooking:

...you will have to follow another of Mr. Pollan’s rules: “Cook.”

“Cooking for yourself,” he writes, “is the only sure way to take back control of your diet from the food scientists and food processors.”


All the FPP link is trying to do is raise awareness. I would love it if there were more ideas about how to eat better (for yourself and for the environment) that took disability, poverty, ethnicity, etc. into account. It's not going to happen if people deny the issues completely. If you are taking it upon yourself to advocate for public policy changes, then I think you have a responsibility to pay attention to these issues. It is not sufficient to handwave away entire segments of the population. Not only is it insensitive and discriminatory, but it's also going to make whatever policy you want ineffective.
posted by Danila at 10:26 PM on March 6, 2010 [4 favorites]


My point was that what you choose to eat and how much time and effort you devote to acquiring and preparing food is becoming an in-group / out-group marker in many social contexts, and it's leaving certain people who are not able to participate in this new cultural obsession in the out-group.

What you choose to eat and how much time and effort you devote to acquiring and preparing food has always been an in-group/out-group marker, here and everywhere else. This is not a "new cultural obsession" so much as it is a reaction to a previous one: when processed foods hit the American mainstream in the 50s and 60s, they had a similar cachet as the new, popular, and affluent option. Cooking meals from scratch at home became a signifier of poverty.

As far as I'm concerned, the bottom line is this: if we're going to attach value judgments to food -- and we are, because we're human -- then the question becomes "which values on which foods?" I'm not a big fan of Food Puritanism, myself, but the fact is that we already have a value system attached to food, one which prizes convenience, corporate profits, and portion size over all other variables. Given that as a starting point, I'm not convinced that an increased emphasis on home-cooked food made with whole ingredients is bad simply because not everyone can do it. Not everyone can eat processed food (especially people with food allergies or digestive disorders), but I don't see the same rhetoric aimed at Pillsbury, Pepsi, or General Mills that I'm seeing toward, say, Michael Pollan... even though those companies have much more to do with the food limitations disenfranchised people face than the Food Politics movement ever will.

I don't think "leaving certain people who are not able to participate in this new cultural obsession in the out-group" outweighs the consequences of leaving our relationship with food as it is. It's one thing to remind people that some individuals cannot live according to the new ideal; it's quite another to use this to imply that we shouldn't have a new ideal in the first place.
posted by vorfeed at 10:44 PM on March 6, 2010 [3 favorites]


I haven't seen this specifically stated in the thread, but I may have missed it. If so, please forgive the repeat. Part of the problem is that when you give a grown ass adult--someone who is struggling to maintain their independence as much as possible--advice about food, you're basically telling them they can't take care of themselves. Your intentions are completely irrelevant. Forget economics, forget health, forget chronic disease management, you're telling them "sit down and let me teach you, you helpless gimp."

Food is a basic need. We constantly hear how we're supposed to deal with it. You're just one more person telling them, and they're not going to hear it as "I'm concerned for you" or "I want you to take care of yourself." They'll hear it as "you're helpless."
posted by crataegus at 2:51 AM on March 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


cmonkey: "Since the links don't mention people being required to eat meat due to their disability, why did you bring veganism into your post? Maybe you're criticizing the food choices of others?"

It's hard to explain sometimes that I have to eat meat because I have epilepsy, much as my politics would like me to go veggie. Oh well. Cheeseburgers are delicious!

(It's not quite the ketogenic diet, but the same basic principle that animal fats pad neurons. And yes, some epileptics are vegetarian, and yes, I've gone over this with my neurologist.)

Also, it's painful for me to admit it, but my condition drastically affects my eating choices as in: it's the end of the day. I've worked for ten hours. I'm way too tired to cook dinner. And I don't mean it in a "I'd rather not" kind of way, I mean it in a - as craichead was saying - if I don't have something on hand that I can just put into the oven or on the stove, I'm going to eat PB&J or go hungry because I simply do. not. have the energy. I wish I could commit to cooking my own food every night, but I just can't. I have, on average, three hours between when I get home and when I need to be in bed so that I can get enough sleep that I don't have seizures. I can't spend one of those hours cooking, it's just not possible. I had never explicitly linked the two before - what I need to do for seizure prevention and my inability to find time to really cook on weeknights - but they really are two sides of the same coin.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 6:14 AM on March 7, 2010 [3 favorites]


I went ahead and emailed Pollan. Who knows if he will respond or join here, but I do think that altho he would never, ever criticize disabled people for not following his food "rules" (which are not really rules, of course, but rather just "hey, if you want to eat more right than you probably are right now, do these things and you'll be eating better," not YOU WILL EAT LIKE THIS GRAR), I do think that it would be valuable for him to address it, if he hasn't already, especially bc he was the "public opinion favorite" for Obama's Secretary of Agriculture and he's a man who is very, very dedicated to this, very good at making his point, and perhaps the smartest man going on these issues.

Further, I pointed out to him that the top google hit for "michael pollan disabled people" is now this thread, which at times eviscerates for him for not getting into something he might not have had the time to address at this granular detail. And feel free to knock me for calling disabled people eating correctly "granular" but as far as I'm concerned, you need to address everyone's problems before you can get to groups of peoples problems.
posted by nevercalm at 7:58 AM on March 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


I also found it funny that the linked post now says that the writer will not be approving comments about Michael Pollan, and wonder how that will color the conversation here.
posted by nevercalm at 8:02 AM on March 7, 2010


Part of the problem is that when you give a grown ass adult--someone who is struggling to maintain their independence as much as possible--advice about food, you're basically telling them they can't take care of themselves. Your intentions are completely irrelevant. Forget economics, forget health, forget chronic disease management, you're telling them "sit down and let me teach you, you helpless gimp."

That's something that's good to keep in mind. But honestly, if you're feeding your kids gallons of soda every week and nothing but processed food, you don't know how to take care of yourself or your progeny. The thing Pollan tries to address is that there are many reasons why that might happen. It's convenient and easy and cheap to feed your kids and yourself shit food, whether you work too much or have no ability to do anything different. He wants to make it easier, more convenient and cheap to feed your kids and yourself good, healthy, whole foods. It's really that easy.

What blows my mind is that you can kill yourself with what you eat, literally. But in the name of making a living, many people will go ahead and do that, because it happens over the course of years. Hell, I do it myself. And thinking about it like this makes me work to not do it anymore. That's never a bad thing.
posted by nevercalm at 8:10 AM on March 7, 2010


I have, on average, three hours between when I get home and when I need to be in bed so that I can get enough sleep that I don't have seizures.

I don't have seizures, but I do have debilitating migraines that have the same trigger: lack of regular sleep. And by debilitating, I mean that they wrecked my life--from junior high until about five years ago, I was unable to live a normal life. I was bedridden several days a week.

When the choice was to spend a half an hour cooking a meal, when accidentally moving my head an inch in the wrong direction would make me want to pass out or vomit, or microwaving something, it wasn't really a choice. As for prepared "healthy" foods, it's hard to come by unless you're willing and able to pay twice as much.

Right now, I'm in a different situation. I have the time to cook for myself most days, because I'm no longer working while in school (thanks, economy). Almost everything that I eat is made from scratch--and I spend about an hour a day on food. I like doing it, but it's obvious to me how much more my current habits cost in both time and (my parents') money.

Sometimes I think that people who think cooking is easy really have no idea of the privilege that makes it easy for them: the privilege of time, the privilege of money, the privilege of health. I also question how much they actually cook. Maybe they have a partner to split the duties with, or eat out often.

I would like everyone to have access to good, nutritional food that has minimal impact on the environment, and that's not going to happen if we pretend that everyone already does.

It's one thing if people prefer to eat meat or habitually choose it - that's what happens a lot. But there's not a clear nutritional argument for it.

I eat far less meat than the average American, so I'm not going to say that you have to eat meat to be healthy; I don't believe that you do. I cook a lot of foods that are vegetarian or only have a small amount of meat.

However, our society makes it harder to avoid meat when time and money is tight. It's hard to find cheap, vegetarian foods that are as filling as cheap, non-vegetarian foods. If you're able to do your own cooking you have far more choice, and can pick vegetables that contain the fats and proteins that you need, but that's just not available to everybody.
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 8:39 AM on March 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


Cooking for yourself doesn't always have to mean spending an hour every night preparing a fresh meal. Personally, if I am able to do so, I like to spend a good amount of time on a Sunday making a huge casserole, or lasagna, or quinoa-and-bean salad or something. Then I have a delicious meal on Sunday night and have healthy, cheap, delicious leftovers for most of the week. All told, it's about eight different kinds of win.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 8:54 AM on March 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


He wants to make it easier, more convenient and cheap to feed your kids and yourself good, healthy, whole foods. It's really that easy.
Ok, I'd like to push this a little further. What, exactly, do you think Michael Pollan proposes that will make it easier for me to eat good, healthy, whole foods?

I have chronic relapsing and remitting vertigo. A lot of the time I'm fine. Sometimes, for reasons I can't always put my finger on, the world starts spinning violently, or else I feel like I'm tipping backwards, being pushed violently into the floor, or bouncing up and down. This can last for a few minutes, a few hours, or a few days. But several times it has lasted for longer than that. My longest period of having vertigo was almost six months. Imagine yourself stuck on a roller coaster for six months. Now imagine that the roller coaster has a kitchen, and you're expected to cook three meals a day. That's my life, at least some of the time. It's really hard to cook sometimes, and sometimes I just can't do it.

So tell me: how are Michael Pollan's proposals going to help me eat better when I can't cook because I'm spinning violently? I'm really curious.
posted by craichead at 8:56 AM on March 7, 2010


Now imagine that the roller coaster has a kitchen, and you're expected to cook three meals a day.

Man, if I ever meet this mystery person who is expecting you to cook three meals a day, I'm going to really give them the what-for.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 9:01 AM on March 7, 2010


Man, if I ever meet this mystery person who is expecting you to cook three meals a day, I'm going to really give them the what-for.
Please re-read Nevercalm's comment, in which he responded to a quote about how disabled or chronically ill people might take food advice by saying "if you're feeding your kids gallons of soda every week and nothing but processed food, you don't know how to take care of yourself or your progeny." He is pretty explicitly saying that disabled people who eat processed food "don't know how to take care of [themselves.]"

And then stop pretending that people never do something that several people on this thread have actually done.
posted by craichead at 9:07 AM on March 7, 2010


Okay. Then will you stop pretending that people expect you to cook three meals a day?
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 9:15 AM on March 7, 2010


Okay. Then will you stop pretending that people expect you to cook three meals a day?
Will you address the question of how disabled people are supposed to follow Pollan's food dictates? Will you acknowledge that Pollan's "rules" (his word, not mine) rather explicitly include an imperative that people cook for themselves?
posted by craichead at 9:18 AM on March 7, 2010


and I spend about an hour a day on food.

Do you really think this is an unreasonable amount of time? To do something that is perhaps the greatest single factor in maintaining healthy body functions, not to mention something that humans are hardwired to focus intensely on? And which, prior to this century, would have been a serious time bargain, since we are able to draw on electricity, canned and dried foods that we didn't have to put by ourselves, and running water inside the house?

Having good food on only an hour a day is a triumph of civilization. There's something weird about us seeing that as a huge investment. Sure, you could eat all convenience foods, but that just represents a separate tradeoff. Again, I think there's a degree to which people need to take responsibility for their choices. It's okay to make whatever choices work for your life, but what I hear so often is "I can't, it's not possible," when in fact it is possible and you can - it just isn't what you want to do with your time right now.

If we are going to get off the industrial food teat, what that is going to entail is committing a bit more time and energy to food. We arrived at the present-day food system by prizing price and convenience over quality, nutrition, and taste. That's the only way it works. If we want to bring back the quality, nutrition, and taste, we will have to reduce our emphasis on convenience and price.

And one side note: over the past few years, there have been times when I was totally strapped for time and ended up doing a lot of grabbing of convenience/processed food on harried weeknights. And I noticed something: Even when preparing convenience food, it took near the same amount of time - preparing a box of mac and cheese still took 20 minutes (find pot, fill pot, boil water, cook pasta, drain pasta, find milk, find butter, mix sauce, find plates, throw some salad and dressing on plates, add pasta, serve). I can actually mix up homemade mac and cheese in exactly the same amount of time. Exactly. The difference is that I'm doing more separate actions during that time - I need to also grate cheese, season the milk, maybe saute some garlic. I happen to find these actions pleasurable. BUt even if I didn't, I can't say that I "saved" any time by making box mac'n'cheese. I didn't have to be as busy during that 20 minutes, but it's not like I could accomplish anything else serious in that time. You have to stay in the kitchen because you've got something on the stove, and it has to be checked and managed a few times during the process. Nothing is gained. Similarly with frozen pizza - easy to pop in the oven, but still has to be checked, takes 20 minutes. A tortilla-based pizza, or one made from a hunk of dough I made in the breadmachine a few weeks ago and put in the freezer, takes the same amount of time to produce.

When you get into a food routine, it can be challenging to start, but you find efficiencies. You develop a go-to menu of easy-to-throw-together things that you can make from your pantry and that aren't hard to find. You do some bulk prep and cooking when you have time (or feel good, or have help in the house) and then you draw on that when you have less time and are alone or feeling bad. I don't mean to be glib, I just want to note that everyone who wants to go from convenience food to home-cooked food has to deal with these challenges and find solutions. They exist.

For those that want to retain convenience, I'm sure there will always be an option for those with money. For those that want to retain lower price, unfortunately, it's not likely to be possible - food prices are necessarily going to rise even if we do nothing as the oil and water markets become more competitive. The artifically depressed prices food goes for now are going to be a historical anomaly.

our society makes it harder to avoid meat when time and money is tight. It's hard to find cheap, vegetarian foods that are as filling as cheap, non-vegetarian foods. If you're able to do your own cooking you have far more choice, and can pick vegetables that contain the fats and proteins that you need, but that's just not available to everybody.

I agree that it's noteasily available to everybody. But it is available to a lot more people than those who do it

There's a trope that happens in these conversations where people call the ideals of the food movement into question because it's not attainable immediately to everybody. Well, that's true - and yet, it doesn't hold up as an excuse for people who do have the capacity to contribute to change not to make those changes. In other words, it makes no sense to say "people with disabilities have a harder time making food, therefore Michael Pollan and the food movement's ideas are useless and offensive." The relationship between the premises isn't there. What we're more aiming for is arriving at a statement like "people with disabilities have a harder time making food, and so do a lot of people who are poor, on a limited income, stressed for time, or in food deserts - therefore we will have to continue to work toward food solutions that bring an improved food system for everyone - and these are the specific obstacles we need to address."
posted by Miko at 9:22 AM on March 7, 2010 [2 favorites]


Will you address the question of how disabled people are supposed to follow Pollan's food dictates?

As much as they are able. As I posted above - if you have a window of time to make some food, then make a bunch of it and eat the rest as leftovers. And also, Pollan talks extensively about the barriers various people have to accessing quality food and the time to prepare it.

Will you acknowledge that Pollan's "rules" (his word, not mine) rather explicitly include an imperative that people cook for themselves?

I feel like you're not that familiar with Pollan. His rules aren't, you know, commandments. He readily admits to breaking them all the time. Maybe he's trying to make himself feel guilty?

Also, cooking for yourself does not equate to "cook three meals a day." You're trading in hyperbole and it's muddying the conversation. Anyway, as I said before, I like to spend Sundays making lotsa food, and today's a Sunday, and whereas I could easily spend all today here trading rhetorical questions with you, I'd rather make me some tasted mole sauce.

Definitely check out some of Pollan's books, though. I think you'd maybe be surprised by what's being advocated and how.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 9:24 AM on March 7, 2010


Pollan's "rules" (his word, not mine) rather explicitly include an imperative that people cook for themselves?

Please note these "rules" were originally developed as an offering for people who want advice on changing their diets, at the request of doctors who asked Pollan to boil his writings down into a simple set of recommendations they could give patients in need. Patients also qualify as people who want advice. Just as with the rules for darts tournament league play or the rules for 43-Man Squamish, theyare rules for people seeking to engage on a specific enterprise, not rules directed at the world as a universal demand, and they don't equire any change at all in my behavior unless I want to be part of that enterprise.
posted by Miko at 9:29 AM on March 7, 2010


I avoid the use of all processed food except canned veggies and dried beans, grains, and pasta, and I don't cook three meals a day. I make dinner pretty much every day except for a couple times a week when we eat something out. I eat dinner leftovers for lunch, and for breakfast I eat toast, from a loaf of bread I generally make every Sunday, or muesli made from oats and seeds and dried fruit, mixed up in a big batch that lasts at least a month.Dinner might take me 45 minutes to make, and I might do some advance prep for an hour or two on Sunday. It's not a big deal. Would it be harder if i had to contend with a chronic challenge? Absolutely. BUt would I be trying to whip up farm breakfasts, soups and sandwiches, and roasts and desserts every day like some kind of Aunt Bea? Hell no - I don't now.
posted by Miko at 9:32 AM on March 7, 2010


if you have a window of time to make some food, then make a bunch of it and eat the rest as leftovers.
Gosh, what an awesome idea! You must think I'm a complete idiot if you think that's never occurred to me.

So here's the thing. My windows of time don't announce themselves in advance. I don't know how long they're going to last, and they don't always happen when I'm available to cook. I'm wholly dependent on public transit or friends with cars when I'm having an extended vertigo episode, so it takes a long time to get to the grocery store. It's not feasible to have ingredients on hand in anticipation of a window of time, because many of the kind of ingredients that Pollan wants us to use spoil. By the time I've gone shopping and come back, my window of time may be over, and then I've got a bunch of ingredients that are probably going to rot in my fridge before I get an opportunity to use them. Or my window of time can end while I'm shopping, which is a total nightmare if my plan was to take the bus back.
And also, Pollan talks extensively about the barriers various people have to accessing quality food and the time to prepare it.
Really? I'd love to see someplace where he addresses disability or chronic illness. Can you point me in the right direction?
Also, cooking for yourself does not equate to "cook three meals a day." You're trading in hyperbole and it's muddying the conversation.
And you're harping on semantics to avoid confronting hard questions.
posted by craichead at 9:34 AM on March 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


if you have a window of time to make some food, then make a bunch of it and eat the rest as leftovers.

Gosh, what an awesome idea! You must think I'm a complete idiot if you think that's never occurred to me.


To be fair, you did say that people were expecting you to make three meals a day. So I simply tried to point out a scenario in which it would be possible to make one large meal and save the rest for leftovers so that one would not have to cook three meals a day or, indeed, in some cases, would not have to cook for days at a time. I didn't intend to insult you, I was just addressing your earlier point.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 9:42 AM on March 7, 2010


craichead, all the time you've spent on this thread, up to and including pulling one thing I said to change the meaning of everything I've written in this thread, could have been used to be making decent food for yourself. You're being a dick.
posted by nevercalm at 9:45 AM on March 7, 2010 [2 favorites]


To be fair, you did say that people were expecting you to make three meals a day.
And it's awfully convenient for you that I did, because you can harp on it constantly in order to avoid addressing anything else I'm saying.

For me when I'm flaring, there is no material difference between "cooking three meals a day" and "cooking in order to eat three home-cooked meals a day." I've tried to lay out why there's no difference. Neither of them is necessarily feasible. There are times when I just. can't. cook. Every day, once a week, if I changed my work-life balance, whatever: I can't do it. So what then?

At any rate, you haven't addressed my point, which is that I don't see how my needs and specific challenges are going to be addressed by the reforms suggested by Pollan and his ilk. And I do think that some of the reforms they suggest will make my life harder, or at least will make my life harder during the periods when it's already harder than usual.

I would love to be shown differently, but nothing on this thread has given me any faith that I'm wrong. Most of what I've seen here has been classic derailing tactics, rather than any willingness to deal with the substance of the critique.
posted by craichead at 9:59 AM on March 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


The desire for pure, honest food certainly does not seem to be conducive to the use of clear, honest language... "Processed foods", "Food movement", "Disabled people", "Eating local" - what do any of these really mean, except to signify that the (ab)user of these tired terms is in tune with some sort of "discourse"?? I have no idea. It all just seems an echo chamber where a single word goes round and round, gets amplified and distorted, gets picked up by other people who repeat it, and before long the entire room is awash in waves of noise with no significance whatsoever.

Really guys & gals, if you believe food issues are important, speak clearly, avoid the tepid euphemisms, and stop portraying the world as though every other adult has a debilitating food allergy. It will kill your movement.
posted by eeeeeez at 10:29 AM on March 7, 2010


I have never felt like the various political food movements have anything to do with me or my life. Every now and then some organization will come to my neighborhood and encourage us to start a "community garden" or something and that's nice. Now, if someone like Jamie Oliver comes around to tell me I don't know anything about nutrition because I'm poor I might think about walloping him over the head, but other than that, I pretty much ignore them. I've heard of Michael Pollan before, checked out what he was saying, and dismissed his relevance to my life.

Miko, you went from claiming you would never criticize what someone else eats, and claiming it's just not done by food activists such as yourself, to saying:

If we are going to get off the industrial food teat, what that is going to entail is committing a bit more time and energy to food. We arrived at the present-day food system by prizing price and convenience over quality, nutrition, and taste. That's the only way it works. If we want to bring back the quality, nutrition, and taste, we will have to reduce our emphasis on convenience and price.

Who are you referring to when you say "we"? How is this not a criticism of other people's food choices?? What about those who don't have "more time and energy" to devote to cooking, natural (unprocessed foods), etc? Isn't that what this whole conversation is supposedly about? I know you're not intending to do it, but this thing you're doing is exactly what some of us are talking about.

I don't see how "reducing the emphasis on convenience and price" is going to do anything but make my life more difficult. Which is why I usually tune out that sort of speech (or I guess I could get ranty like the blog post). People can't claim they're not "talking about disabled people" when they're talking about eating habits, especially since they are talking about what we eat, where we get our food from, and how we eat.

The reality is that many, many people can only follow one food rule: eat whatever you can stomach, however much of it you can, or die.
posted by Danila at 12:02 PM on March 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


What about those who don't have "more time and energy" to devote to cooking, natural (unprocessed foods), etc? Isn't that what this whole conversation is supposedly about?

I feel like this has been answered already, but cooking with and consuming unprocessed foods is encouraged to the greatest extent possible for you and your individual circumstances. It doesn't have to be all or nothing. And every little bit helps. If you can throw some fresh veggies into your store-bought spaghetti sauce, that's some extra nutrition you wouldn't otherwise be getting. A frozen microwave burrito isn't significantly faster to make than a freshly made microwave burrito. And couscous with some raisins and nuts or a bouillon cube for flavor takes about ten minutes and very little effort.

There are dozens upon dozens of "quick and easy" cookbooks for 30-minutes-or-less recipes, 5-ingredient recipes, and even microwave recipes. There are cooking websites (though not enough really good ones) with tips and recipes for disabled people. Actually, someone should make a comprehensive cookbook or cooking website for the disabled. Clearly, there's a need for it.
posted by zerbinetta at 12:34 PM on March 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


Here's one reason the blog post doesn't talk about solutions -- because to people with disabilities, the solutions and compromises are self-evident. On the other hand, to people without disabilities, the existence of the problems needing solutions are not. It's incredibly insulting to act as though people with disabilities aren't already working through these problems, because, uh, if they didn't they wouldn't be able to eat. The post is not about brainstorming solutions; it's a request that able-bodied people stop assuming that the act of acquiring and preparing food is a level playing field.

The issue is not, as stated in the blog and reiterated multiple times by commenters here, that there are people walking around going, "You! Disabled person! Your disability is not an excuse for the way you eat. You suck!" The issue is that we all encounter people (friends, random strangers, cooking authorities, etc) moralizing at us about our food choices. Usually this is just obnoxious and rude, but for people with disabilities that affect what and how they eat, it boils down to being morally condemned for being disabled. It's an added level of suck upon the suck.

The act is not different; the effect upon the recipient is. Which is why it's either poor reading comprehension or incredibly disingenuous to claim you've never heard of this happening when there are multiple anecdotes of it (and even examples) in this very thread.

It would be wonderful if the mostly able-bodied people in this thread would stop finding excuses not to listen:

"This post is too mean to accomplish its goals, otherwise I'd listen!"
"You, a minority commenter, are being mean to me for devaluing your experiences!"
"I've never heard of this happening, so I'm skeptical that it exists!"
"This analogy makes no sense, so the post is wrong!"
"This isn't an X issue, it happens to everyone, so the post is wrong!"
(bonus variant: "This isn't an X issue, it's a Y issue, so the post is wrong!")
(bonus variant 2: "I'm from minority X and it's not an issue for me, so it shouldn't be an issue to other minority X people, either!")
"Why aren't there any solutions being presented? That's so unhelpful!"

That is me presenting a selective, not exhaustive, list of some of the common derailing/silencing tactics that have shown up in this thread. Seriously, is five minutes of empathy that hard to muster? I'm taking a step back now before I lose all of the respect I have for the MetaFilter community.
posted by bettafish at 1:27 PM on March 7, 2010 [8 favorites]


There are times when I just. can't. cook. Every day, once a week, if I changed my work-life balance, whatever: I can't do it. So what then?

What on earth do you eat now? All prepared food? Lots of fruit? I'm just curious how you manage and what you can find to eat that means you never cook at all. Genuinely curious.

How is this not a criticism of other people's food choices??

It's not a criticism of anyone's food choices. It's a recognition of reality. People who want to see better food for everyone have to reckon with those realities. Again; it's not a judgment of others; it's an assessment. I understand that many perceive that assessment as a personal commentary that applies to them, but that personalization is not happening at the level of my comment.

What about those who don't have "more time and energy" to devote to cooking, natural (unprocessed foods), etc?.

It has to come out of somewhere else. If you want to eat differently, the time and energy comes out of some other activity. I know it sounds harsh, but it's just the reality if you want to eat differently, and if you believe that food prices are going to continue to rise. The part I think it's important to recognize is that this concern is not unique to people with disabilities. "It's not realistic - I don't have time - who has the energy - I'm too busy" are sentiments that a lot of people express when they start encountering the ideas in the popular literature about food today. And some people outright reject any thoughts of change, which again, is within the bounds of individual choice.

On the other hand, the people who accept the underlying premises of the literature - that our industrial food system is making us all, and our communities and the environment, a lot unhealthier - find that they can adapt if they are motivated. And it is not easy for anyone. It is not easy to re-develop your planning, shopping and cooking habits; not easy to change your schedule and eliminate some of your recreational activities from your weekends and evenings, not easy to learn to handle foods and ingredients in a different, less processed way than before. It DOES take a sacrifice. For everybody.

But people who are busy and have no time and energy find ways. Solutions arise, and then they continue to adapt to the needs of the users. This is one of the driving forces behind the rapid rise in the availability of CSAs, a model unheard of 15 years ago - you don't have to go the market and choose stuff, you get a preselected share readied for you and pick it up at a prearranged time, or have it delivered, or carpool with others and take turns picking it up. A consumer-driven solution to an infrastructure problem.

In fact, it strikes me that the CSA model is one that would really be a boon to disabled people - a ready supply of fresh veggies that would eliminate the need to go to the market and walk around the market pushing a cart, etc. It would be awesome to see communities and CSAs working in concert with care providers to put distribution together.

Markets. For a lot of people, getting involved in finding better food does change the way you spend free time, whether you have abundant free time or only an hour on weeknights and four hours on the weekend. I work fulltime. Five years ago I didn't go to community garden meetings or spend time in a garden all week. I didn't go to farmer's markets or long strategy meetings in the evenings or conferences or any such things about food. I did other stuff - watched more TV, went out drinking and dancing and to hear live music more, hung out on the internet more, did house projects and crafts more. I miss doing some of that, and I don't have as much time for that stuff now. The nice thing is, changing the way I spend time has become its own reward. Most of my good friends now are people I met through local food work. The weekend market is a pleasurable chance to see people and deepen my community connections, renew friendships, get to know new people, hatch ideas, laugh and enjoy the sights and aromas. This fights isolation and loneliness, and lifts the spirit. My friends have become a much more diverse group of people - elderly, retired, working, stay-at-home, invalid, young-parent, teen, kid, etc. Volunteering with food-related organizations and going to events has created stronger community bonds, for me and for thousands of people who live in my area - indirectly, cutting down on our community's rates of depression, isolation, and social silo-ing - something that, again, I would expect would yield benefit for people with disabilities, too.

Community gardening was mentioned. The community garden we had for the last three years was a project of Share Our Strength. In addition to plots that anyone can sign up for, a certain number are for the elderly, another is for a youth groups for disadvantaged local kids, and one other for a brain injury foundation. The clients in the foundation are consistent participants in the garden, showing up to the potlucks, tending the garden, and contributing to community workdays. Some of them are people who can't live independently, and some do but are on disability. But they're all actively participating in this movement with the assistance of their care network, and are enjoying both the physical work, which in some cases is a form of occupational therapy, and the social connections they might not otherwise have an opportunity to be making.

I don't see these solutions as neglectful of people with disabilities. I think that most initiatives designed to increase access to healthier food for people with disabilities would be supported and cheered on by people in the food movement. I don't really see too many people taking those initiatives...except for people in the food movement. That's why this anger seems so misplaced.

As easy as it is to fire torpedoes at the food movement for what some see as being dismissive of PWDs, one could as easily build on what I've said here and write a post about how the food movement is providing new opportunities and supports for the social, emotional, and physical health and well-being of people with disabilities, and integrating those people better with communities which they can all too often be isolated from.
posted by Miko at 2:22 PM on March 7, 2010


There are times when I just. can't. cook. Every day, once a week, if I changed my work-life balance, whatever: I can't do it. So what then?

What on earth do you eat now? All prepared food? Lots of fruit? I'm just curious how you manage and what you can find to eat that means you never cook at all. Genuinely curious.


For me, I eat prepared food & sandwiches. It's not the greatest diet and yes, I wish I could eat better, but it's just not possible for me to make the necessary sacrifices to do so. I do my best to eat those "skillet dinners" instead of hot pockets, so at least I eat a few vegetables and feel like I'm actually getting some representation from a food group or two, but it's only on the weekends that I can actually cook something that requires more energy than "Place on stove. Stir." Even making my own pasta takes twice as long as heating something up, and with my current schedule, I honestly don't have time for that on work days.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 2:33 PM on March 7, 2010


I don't like mac and cheese, so I cannot comment, but I've made my own burritos and pizza and soup, and it takes more time and more effort than sticking something premade in the microwave. Premade, it takes 10 seconds to stick it in the microwave, then I can go do something else until it's done. Furthermore, it's less effort to shop for a single item than all the parts I need to make one. I can't see how the "it's just as fast to make it yourself" argument is tenable for a premade frozen meal. Yes, it's just about as fast to make a cake as to put together a cake mix, but it's even faster to buy the cake.

I say this as someone who doesn't have premade stuff 1/10th as often as homemade, because I have the time and energy and inclination, but that's a choice I have the option of making.

A CSA (that delivers to your door) or a community garden (that is fully accessible for people with disabilities) don't change the amount of time it takes to put vegetables together into a meal, or turn fruit into jam before it goes bad, etc.
posted by jeather at 2:51 PM on March 7, 2010


Here's a really fantastic paper that gives a straightforward analysis of obstacles, and I really like the way it developed a hierarchy of factors that contribute to food choice. IT also stops short of finding solutions, but is a great example of how problems can be identified in a helpful way that is the first step toward solving them.

Also from Disability Studies Quarterly, "Food Studies and Disability Studies: Introducing a Happy Marriage." This article basically gets at the problems being explored in this thread: that the talk about disabilities and the talk about food systems have not yet been united in ways that are helpful to the general public, both with and without disabilities.

The Organic Consumers Association lists "disabilities" as one of the Top Ten Barriers to Organic and Local Food Access for Low-Income Individuals.

Resources: Cookbooks and Cooking for People with Disabilities from the Reeve Foundation.

eHow on Adaptive Equipment for Cooking.

Cooking Made Easy for people with developmental disorders.

Cooking with Disabilities: long, long set of eGullet threads with tons of info and ideas.

Gardening for people with disabilities, including suggested modifications

Adaptive Cooking - many tips including ideas for shopping, ordering food, kitchen setup

No one likes to be thought of as insensitive, and I certainly don't think of myself that way. I have no agenda to put down people with disabilities or belittle their experiences. And I think that the positive result of this discussion today is that I've become more aware of the ways in which people with disabilities have not been specifically addressed in the agenda of most food organizations I'm aware of. They are certainly included philosophically along with many other populations for whom access to better food is a challenge, but there is rarely a very specific presence on PWDs in the discussion, to the same degree that there is with, say, the poor or the elderly. It would be good for the movement to be more conscious of that.

All that being said, I think there are a lot of resources available already for helping people with disabilities with the world of food and cooking - and where there are not, there is a robust young food movement of people concerned with food justice, and that movement is open to initiatives led by anyone dedicated to increasing access and knocking down barriers to accessing better food. And I also think it's worth recognizing that the challenges associated with changing the way you source and plan and cook your food are present for everyone - quite likely more so for people with disabilities, but still something that everyone who wants to eat differently has to contend with and find solutions for.
posted by Miko at 2:59 PM on March 7, 2010 [4 favorites]


Ah. I don't have a microwave, so I can't speak to how much faster that is. When I cook things on the oven/stove, it takes about the same from scratch measuring total time to cook as something premade. Boiling water, then dumping pasta in water with veggies from the freezer, then a can of diced tomatoes, doesn't seem to take longer than a prepared pasta in a bag. With prepped ingredients from the freezer or jars, prepped on the weekend, or a quick chop of a fresh veg, it comes down to maybe 25 minutes to pizza instead of 20. throwing the microwave in changes the time factor.
posted by Miko at 3:03 PM on March 7, 2010


The issue is that we all encounter people (friends, random strangers, cooking authorities, etc) moralizing at us about our food choices. Usually this is just obnoxious and rude, but for people with disabilities that affect what and how they eat, it boils down to being morally condemned for being disabled. It's an added level of suck upon the suck.

Like I said above, this is entirely true, and I have plenty of empathy for it. I myself eat a low-starch diet due to a medical condition... and yes, I do get people moralizing at me because I eat meat, even though I can't get by as a vegetarian anymore.

That said, I'm not convinced that this "suck upon the suck" (and yes, it does indeed suck) justifies the idea that we shouldn't change our national eating habits, or that we shouldn't talk about food in a moral way. As I said before, we already have a value system with regards to food, and that value system already disenfranchises millions of people. There are always people who don't get to play, and the poor and disabled are at the top of every list; "eating out is the ideal" is no less morally condemnatory than "cooking at home is the ideal" is. And with advertising the way it is, I'm afraid we simply cannot have value-neutral food. The alternative to Michael Pollan isn't a world in which nobody ever moralizes at you about food, it's an unopposed moralistic push further toward the high-profit, low-nutrition foods which created the food-less landscape of poverty in the first place.

We're not going to escape "healthy" as a moral adjective -- the question is whether it should mean nutritious meals cooked from whole ingredients, or chocolate Cheerios (with real cocoa!)

In short, I'm not "assuming that the act of acquiring and preparing food is a level playing field". Food has never been a level playing field, and it will most likely will never become a level playing field. What I am assuming is that the lack of a level playing field is not enough, in and of itself, to make the status quo inviolate, nor enough to make moral statements about food off-limits. I'm seeing a circular argument, here: we don't value good food culturally, so all the disabled and/or poor have access to is bad food... therefore we musn't value good food culturally, because all the poor and/or disabled have access to is bad food. It's a Catch-22, and worse, one which chiefly benefits the very same companies whose profit margins make frozen bean burritos with alphabet-soup ingredients easier and cheaper to get than frozen burritos made with real beans and rice.
posted by vorfeed at 3:05 PM on March 7, 2010 [3 favorites]


Some of you people think you have it pretty tough but I bet you've never had to prepare a souffl� whilst being thrown around a sharp kitchen by a gorilla that is on fire. The souffl� turned into rarebit. Happily the gorilla was Welsh. Then it died and we just sort of nudged it into the corner and piled garbage bags on top of it for a few weeks. Ever since then I can't hear the word "meringue" without thinking about Lickysmack, the flaming Welsh gorilla. Godspeed, Licky. Godspeed.
posted by turgid dahlia at 3:10 PM on March 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


Heh. It might be interesting for folks to read this blogger's other posts on the topic of food - they're below this most recent one. She sounds like she basically endorses the ideas behind changing the food system for the better. Who in earth is the enemy in the post?
posted by Miko at 3:11 PM on March 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


The post is not about brainstorming solutions; it's a request that able-bodied people stop assuming that the act of acquiring and preparing food is a level playing field.

I really don't see how this post or any of the comments is like that. As I said earlier, perhaps the trouble is that you can't possibly enumerate enough exceptions to satisfy every possible disability? You can't walk to the store, you can't pay bc yr disability has rendered you unable, you get the spins if you stand up for more than 10 minutes, smells make you faint, you're allergic to a wide variety of common ingredients, whatever. I'm not being flip, here. They're all eye-opening, and tragic. I've personally seen in this thread things I've never heard of, and have opened my eyes to how hard life is to some people. The point is that nobody is criticizing you for this, and anyone who does really deserves to have their words ignored, bc they're so ignorant they're not worth your time. Further, I have personally emailed Pollan, probably the pre-eminant food politics guy, to see if he wants to address it.

So if you're offended bc you feel like you're being criticized, you are really not. It's just that your disability is one that people did not take into consideration, and are now aware of for the future, and possibly inspired enough by to take novel situation into consideration. If you're offended, maybe it's bc some of us had no idea how bad things can be. And if you're still pissed, I don't know that we can help you. It is literally impossible to drill down far enough to make it into your individual kitchen at one individual mealtime. In your case, go to town. Eat nothing but frozen, prepared meals, bc if I were in your shoes, I'm prepared to all but guarantee that I would too. Make another post about it, and rage all you want.

In fact, it strikes me that the CSA model is one that would really be a boon to disabled people - a ready supply of fresh veggies that would eliminate the need to go to the market and walk around the market pushing a cart, etc. It would be awesome to see communities and CSAs working in concert with care providers to put distribution together.

Totally, and I'm surprised this hasn't come up sooner. The CSA model also has a personal element, where the local grower knows you and is much more likely to take your considerations into mind.

But no matter what, if you are completely unable to do anything other than pop some stuff into the microwave, this whole issue isn't for you. The politics of food are nothing you need to worry about, survival is. No one, not even the most strident over-the-top vegan, will ever stand at the entrance to a homeless shelter and say that they shouldn't be serving meat, that the people in line should better go hungry than eat meat.
posted by nevercalm at 3:48 PM on March 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


There are some really genius chefs I know. They aren't the kind of chefs that went to culinary school or fancy restaurants. No, these chefs work at food pantries and at places like Georgia's House, which is a living community for the chronically homeless. I met them at a CSA conference and they work on turning the pitiful donations of fresh vegetables they get into meals. They make a huge difference for all kinds of people who would normally have no access to freshly cooked meals because they don't have kitchens or they are disabled. We need more people like them and we need more food pantries that do more than hand people a bag of dried beans.
posted by melissam at 7:41 PM on March 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


If Pollan wrote a book on art appreciation, would blind people be offended if one of his rules were "Look, really look at visual art. Stare at it."

The instructions of "Cook" are not intended for anyone with smell sensitivity or gastro problems. They are meant for the able-bodied people who have no good reason not to. Getting offended at such a thing is as silly as someone in a wheelchair getting offended at an excerise book that recommended running for better health. But they don't, because that would be silly -- they just take up sledge (if they can) instead. (By the way -- where are the Paralympic posts?)

The original post felt like someone going to town on a straw punching bag.
posted by jb at 5:58 AM on March 8, 2010 [2 favorites]


Do you really think this is an unreasonable amount of time?

I feel like we're talking at cross-purposes here.

I have been pointing out, using my own experiences, that not everyone can spend an hour a day on food. You're still assuming the privileges of time, money, and health; you're telling someone who has shared her own experiences with food choice while chronically ill that no, it's actually quite easy to eat well, and spending an hour a day on food--something that I do now, willingly--isn't unreasonable.

I'm sorry, but you're missing the point. The article in the original link is about people who have disabilities that limit their food choices. We're not talking about people for whom cooking is as easy as it is for you. That's why I shared my experiences as both a chronically ill person who had limited choice, and to someone who has much more choice now. Having been in both situations makes the differences clear to me.

To answer your question: No, I don't think that an hour a day is an unreasonable amount of time to spend on food. I also recognize that many people can't and that telling them "no, it's easy if you do x, y, z" is condescending and obscures the real problem, which is that our society is structured in such a way that nutritious food is a privilege. I'll add to that that even relatively privileged folks can be in a situation where an hour spent cooking cuts into other obligations (or even just the downtime required by sanity), due to the limited time that they have at home.
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 7:25 PM on March 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


I also recognize that many people can't and that telling them "no, it's easy if you do x, y, z" is condescending and obscures the real problem,

You're absolutely right! So it's a good thing no one is telling them that.

our society is structured in such a way that nutritious food is a privilege.


You're absolutely right! That's why it's a good thing we have this movement working toward change in the food system, a movement that is focused on doing something unique in history -- making the privilege of eating clean good-quality healthful and nutritious food available to everyone. How fortunate we are to live in a time where people are finally talking about that.

even relatively privileged folks can be in a situation where an hour spent cooking cuts into other obligations (or even just the downtime required by sanity), due to the limited time that they have at home.

That's about personal choices. Lots more people have the ability to cook and eat well than do so. Some people don't want to change their use of the "downtime required by sanity," (in itself, a first-world recent-history luxury). So be it - how people choose to spend their time and use their resources really is up to them. Now, I don't want to hear they "can't" cook and eat better, because if they have that much of this privilege, that's just plain B.S. They could if they wanted to, and it would require changing some things about their lives. But it's definitely a reality that some don't want to.
posted by Miko at 8:22 PM on March 8, 2010


Q: What about those who don't have "more time and energy" to devote to cooking, natural (unprocessed foods), etc?.

A: It has to come out of somewhere else. If you want to eat differently, the time and energy comes out of some other activity.

I think the point many people are trying to make here is that you can't PLAN the time you spend on other things, that a lot of decisions are made based on how you are feeling in this moment. And making food by yourself would likely be a much lower priority than just EATING. Unlike able-bodied people, time isn't as structured.
posted by divabat at 2:41 PM on March 9, 2010


I agree with the original post for this topic completely. Some people just don't stop long enough to think about or realise how hard preparing food, feeding yourself or even organising your dietary intake every day can be for those that have difficulties with different foods. And that doesn't even start to cover the difficulties of trying to feed other family members or friends with differing eating habits and allergies too...

I have three low impact allergies - wheat, citrus and chilli. Eating any of these foods in any more than a small amount each (however I never eat citrus at all if I can help it) invariably lands me a visit to my bathroom... Individually, the allergies are not that difficult to "manage" or so I have been told by the dietician I saw late last year. But if you put them together into one cooking pot (namely me) it's a whole different ball game.

For example, if you take "going out for dinner" scenario into account, then it's almost a complete nightmare for someone with food allergies... and it doesn't matter where you go - a restaurant, for take away, a friend's house or even to your parents for Sunday roast. People still do not completely understand - and that's people who have your "best interests at heart"... (I say that last part because I know my parents do really try, I'm not so ungrateful to acknowledge and to appreciate their constant efforts - particularly my Mum's... (Thanks Mum xxoo))

I find that in trying to tell someone how it feels to have allergies - even low impact ones - is easiest when I just say 'I'm gluten free - but I can't eat citrus fruits or chilli either it gives me stomach aches...'. But on the same note I've also found that most allergy free people don't really grasp what a allergy actually is - or what they can do - to a person beyond saying that you can't eat or drink something...

However, these are just my personal reflections and opinions about my own particular set of food allergies. I don't mean to cause any offence by stating them - and if I have, then please accept my apologies.
posted by librariangems at 9:30 PM on March 18, 2010


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