Is Diet the New Religion?
Did that grab ya? LOL, well, this thought grabbed me earlier this week as I skimmed through numerous food blogs for recipes, and a blog post began to unfold in my mind that I just haven't been able to shake. People have become religious about diet. People have even begun to categorize their friends and acquaintances according to how they eat: "my vegan friend," "my gluten-free friend," "my paleo friend." They seem to congregate with like-minded eaters nowadays, and I've even noticed like with a new religious convert, they want to convert you, am I right? Obviously, like with religious converts, the intentions are golden: they truly care about you, they've experienced firsthand the benefits of said religion (diet), and feel that there is no other way to believe (eat). That's all fine and dandy, until it moves into judgement or a superior attitude. It can also be presumptuous, to think that people can afford to eat the way (you) do, even if the premise is that in the long run they are saving money on medical bills by eating healthy, but tell that to a struggling working single mom with hungry teenagers. I have (and still do, admittedly, to some extent) bought into that line of thinking. Certainly with overeating I feel that way. That's a different topic altogether.
My husband works in the crop protection industry, among many brilliant minds in the fields of botany, chemistry, entomology, and a host of other branches of science. He has had to do in-depth study of the science, as well as the business side of the industry, so we have a different perspective on all things organic/non-organic, GMO/non-GMO than the general public. My husband is ethical and conscientious, yet I have been made to feel on more than one occasion that he works for the devil himself, and that it's best I keep that information to myself. But I don't want to get off on that tangent, though it does make me feel like an "infidel." Here's an interesting article for you, if you've not already seen it.
Think about it, though: food has become the new line by which we delineate ourselves. Not only food, but shopping for food. Now, I understand wanting to be informed about what we buy, about voting with our wallets, so I get that that is what's going on. But judging people based on where they shop (or whether or not they use reusable bags) is where it gets religious. What are Wal-mart shoppers, the untouchables? I avoid Wal-mart, to some extent, it's not the most pleasant of shopping experiences, but I totally get why people shop there when other grocery store chains charge as much as triple for the same item, same brand. Having said all that, I think that if public schools spent as much time educating kids on things like healthy diet and exercise as they do on sex education we'd be moving in the right direction. Isn't it about balance? There is always a yin to a yang, can you sustain that sustainability?
In my family, we make food choices that will best benefit my diabetic son, who by no fault of his own inherited an autoimmune disease. This is a huge balancing act, on my part, and I have to put a great deal of time, effort, and yes, money, into meals for my family. Do I think it's a better way to eat than the average American diet? I suspect so. Do I sometimes move into judgement when I see people that have obviously made poor choices and are suffering the consequences physically? I know so. But our way of eating is not my religion, I am not going to show up at someone's house expecting them to cook in such a way that doesn't offend me. Food is meant to be an occasion for fellowship, community, and celebration. I don't think it's meant to be the divisive thing it's become, much like religion has (which, interestingly, the origin of the word ‘religion’ lies in the Latin word ligare, to bind). Food and religion are meant to be something that bonds us with other people. When you feel like something is figuratively being shoved down your throat by someone, do you feel a sense of kinship with that person, or better still, do you even want what it is that is being shoved down your throat? A good friend of mine was telling me about having someone at her house that kept going on and on and on about gluten-free eating, and she said that by the time the person left she actually felt like eating an entire loaf of bread! Or have you ever been around an especially pious and self-righteous religious person trying to sell you their brand of God only to want to shout, "I don't believe in God, I believe in science!!!"? I can be a complete turd, I know. Hopefully you've seen Nacho Libre, and if you haven't, well, I'm judging you based on that. ;)
Over and out. Make love not war. Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die.