The Joy Eaters

When Courtney and I first started receiving our CSA boxes, I admit that I wasted more food than I ate. I stored it improperly and it wilted in the fridge, or I didn’t know how to cook it properly and the leftovers languished, or I just plain forgot I had it and it went bad before I could figure anything out. So I started writing weekly menus based on what I knew would be in the box. I didn’t always follow them to the letter, but I found that making a plan helped me to use more, use it better, and waste less.

The next CSA program doesn’t begin until July, and I have been slacking about walking down to the market lately. It’s cold, it’s rainy, I’m sick, I can only get excited about tubers and insanely expensive winter greenhouse vegetables for so long. But I’m still writing menus, because even though I don’t have a cache of non-preservative-laden produce to use in a week, having a plan helps me stay away from dinners of garlic bread and beer three times a week.

So I spend about an hour or so on Saturday mornings scanning food sites, cooking blogs, and other recipe sources. And while I understand that winter makes the bounty of local and organic produce a little thin on the ground (and in the stores), I’ve become increasingly dismayed at the ever-shrinking amount of food being made by people who actually seem to like food. For one, it makes my planning harder. For two, it’s just really fucking depressing.

Could we, as an Internet-using populace, please stop writing recipes with “-free” in the name? I can’t go more than a few thumbnails deep without encountering this qualifier. Gluten-free. Dairy-free. Meat-free. Nut-free. Refined sugar-free.

I almost can’t wait to see whatever kind of –free is next, but also I’m getting really sick of this evidence of people turning food from a source of nourishment and pleasure into another control mechanism/exercise in deprivation.

It’s one thing if you have a genuine medical need, as in a formally diagnosed condition that makes the consumption of certain items a risky and painful act. But that’s so, so rare, and people who fake this kind of thing to validate their issues with food/need to feel special are marginalizing the people who are forced to make these difficult choices for their survival.

What in the everloving fuck happened to eating food because you like it? What happened to being excited to find, prepare, and taste new things? What happened to pleasure, fulfillment, and satisfaction? I have no idea, and I’m certainly not about to ask the author of the latest “gluten-free, vegan, paleo, refined-sugar free” dessert recipe I scowled at today. Participate in your crackpot diet if you must, but stop trussing it up in a fake allergy or lifestyle movement. Stop defining yourself by what you don’t allow yourself to consume. Stop creating a guilt complex over imagined failings of your own personal dogma. Stop being such a joyless motherfucker, is what I’m saying, and start creating some content worth caring about.

About erineph

I'm Erin. I have tattoos and more than one cat. I am an office drone, a music writer, and an erstwhile bartender. I am a cook in the bedroom and a whore in the kitchen. Things I enjoy include but are not limited to zombies, burritos, Cthulhu, Kurt Vonnegut, Keith Richards, accordions, perfumery, and wearing fat pants in the privacy of my own home.
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2 Responses to The Joy Eaters

  1. You should really direct your rage toward the “Skinny ____” recipes on Pinterest, which are no different than normal recipes except they cut the portion sizes in half, causing people to eat 2-3 servings anyway because they’re not full and hey, “it’s skinny!”

    There’s nothing wrong with wanting to eat less meat, dairy or sugar. That doesn’t mean you have a complex or a failed dogma. It means you want to be conscious of what you’re putting in your body. People feel better when they cut shit out sometimes. Maybe they want pleasure, fulfillment and satisfaction in spite of their limitations. Maybe they don’t want to be defined by their diet, and that’s why they look for recipes they can make, eat and enjoy. Do they need a doctor’s note and your permission before they post a recipe on the internet?

    For some conditions, like mine, literally the only way you can be diagnosed is to *cut it out of your diet for 60 days* and discuss it with your doctor. I did, and guess what? I was diagnosed. It’s not risky or usually painful, just uncomfortable, which is why it takes a lot more discipline. I still eat gluten in the winter because I don’t sweat like a pig in the winter, which is the only symptom I care about. That doesn’t mean I don’t feel 1,000 times better when it’s out of my system. Sometimes it’s easier to deal with headaches and joint pain so I can enjoy mac ‘n cheese and not listen to people talking about how annoyed they are by a condition they don’t understand.

    (Please do not act like you didn’t know this comment from me was coming. I love you.)

    • erineph says:

      Bullet points!

      – Yes, the Skinny recipes are awful. Truly awful, and written/consumed by truly awful people for truly awful reasons. But I don’t troll Pinterest for food, so I’ve been able to avoid them for now.

      – I was actually not expecting this.

      – The reason I was not expecting this is because you’re not a lunatic who prosthelytizes at length (does Facebook require a paleo diet now, or…?) about how everyone else is polluting the gene pool with fucking bread, or food cooked above 118F. I should also mention that you’re not being a lunatic now, either, and also I love you, too.

      – Although I was not expecting it I still appreciate it, mostly because of the above reason and also because for clarity’s sake, I should have said in the first place:

      – Obviously food allergies and other issues exist, and the yes, the only way to diagnose them is to play around with your diet in a game of wait and see. I mean, I’ve read enough Pollan to understand this. BUT!

      – … this isn’t about actual diagnosis to treat a specific issue, and it isn’t ever just one “-free” thing. Ever. Both of those are totally legit and I think nothing of them. What burns my ass is entire pages on aggregator sites with these qualifiers, and call me insensitive, but I’ve read them, and I refuse to believe that anyone who has been running a site full of “meat-free, grain-free, sugar-free, dairy-free, vegan paleo” meals for the past two years because they claim to have the secret to eating “clean” and did you know that avocados cure cancer? is making decisions that aren’t based in a nutbag dogma.

      – Speaking of nutbags, you know how you are about “moist?” I’m that way about “nut milks.” YEEEEUUGHGHHH.

      – HEYYYY, MR. KOT-TER!

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