Monday, March 03, 2014
Enough of all the guff about fooooooeud
I so agree with this quote from the author Lionel Shriver:
"Every other show is about cooking [or] about fat. This is completely out of control. The book review sections are shrinking into non-existence but the cooking sections are multiplying."
The quote came from this piece by Paul Barclay for Big Ideas on the ABC's Radio National, about Lionel Shriver's latest book:
Today the obsession is about feeding the gut, with little interest in feeding the mind. Plating-up, not reading-up. Burgers not books. Binging not reading. I'd like to organize a book-burning. I'd delight in watching the cook-book section from my local bookshop go up in flames. That would make more room in the store for the real books; books that are designed to be read from cover to cover, books that are for reading and thought and knowledge, not glorified instruction-manuals for feeding your face. I do have a few treasured cook-books on my shelf at home which have been passed on by family, and I'd never burn those, but the food-faddism of the 2010's has gone too far and has done too much damage to people's lives. I'm over it.
One aspect of the current obsession with food and fat and bodies that I think wasn't touched upon in the article/radio story linked to above is the way that the food and body obsession is segregated and polarized by gender. I find this aspect of the fad even more disturbing, because neither of the gender stereotype's lifestyles are healthy or balanced. Women are told by all that they love sugary drinks such as fruit juices and alcopops and sugary foods such as cakes and chocolate, while regular exercise is not an expectation, and predictably many women and also many men bloat up way beyond any kind of obesity that was seen forty years ago (I was there, so I know). The very rare few people who were regarded as obese back in the 1970s wouldn't attract a stare these days, and folks who are now massive were just pudgy in their 70-80s youths and childhoods, or were even skinny back then. What has happened? It simply cannot be genetic. Obesity and diabetes are now common in men and women, but it appears that they might have gotten that way by quite different pathways. Women are told that it is the feminine way to live on sugar, chocolate, coffee, salads and over-priced little plastic tubs of yoghurt, living like dysfunctional vegetarians, while men are sold cookbooks that are primarily about meat and fatty savoury foods, and are told to go bond with other men over barbecues. All that dietary protein can go towards building up muscle-mass, if they do manual labour regularly or go to the gym regularly, but not all do, so in many cases the fat and protein all goes to the waistline, which after a while dangles very obscenely below the bottom of their shirts. These men come to acquire a smell about them like preserved smallgoods, and God only knows how often their body moves a motion or what state their colons are in, on a diet bereft of all fibre or plant matter. Colon cancer, here we come!
I blame a combination of common human stupidity and gendered-marketing for this appalling mess. I go out to my local shoppng centre, and I often see a morbidly obese person spilling out the sides of a wheelchair, with just a bandaged stump for a leg on one side, which is covered in bandages. Diabetes-induced gangrene, I wonder? If I feel repulsed at this sight, am I the one with the problem? I don't think so.