Specifically, 'what do you see as the food dilemmas of right now?'
I kind of answered this question by writing a short essay. I hand wrote it too, laying on the bed drinking tea and eating cake. Old school. I would just scan it in, but I'm not sure anyone would be able to read it.
I think you will find some irony in this as right now I'm eating through a tub of white chocolate rainbow buttons. But, hey, birthday buttons. ;)
What do you see as the food dilemmas of right now?Your food dilemmas depend on where you are, who you are, and what you have to eat. If you live in the 'western' wealthy world, then chances are, you eat too much, throw away too much. You might have tried one of the many fad diets out there. If you don't, you might not have enough food; you might not be able to access the glut that exists. Of course, these are huge generalisations. A full spectrum of people and their relationship to food exists. There are food dilemmas that effect those with food and those without. There are also world-wide food dilemmas that desperately need addressing, whilst we have a chance of doing something about it.
The food dilemmas of the richFad diets, over-eating, under-eating.
Fad diets are all the rage, and seem to have been for decades now. Weird Kellogg's diet, Atkins, carb counting. "Our idea of nutrition had been dominated by a dichotomy which distinguished food that was 'good for you, but not good' from food that was 'good, but not good for you." 1. I think that fad diets give some form of control back. Not necessarily a good form of control though.
The latest fad diet (in the U.K. at least) is the 5:2 diet. Eat what you want (the not good for you food) for 5 days, and eat much less (the good for you food) for the other 2. You're not supposed to eat a bad diet on those 5 days; you are still supposed to eat healthily. But, I would think that most people would not.
Confession time, I bought the (Kindle) book. I wanted to see if it might help me take control of my food intake. However, looking at how many different approaches there are to fasting diets, I'm not convinced. Also, there are a number of (cranky) people on the diet at work and look, quite frankly, that they might pass out. I get pretty cranky at the best of times when I am hungry; I'm not sure I should inflict that 'me' on others.
Fad diets look a little crazy. In a way, they are only 'necessary' because we have lost touch with the reality of food. WE EAT TOO MUCH. We know we need to eat less, but we have become unreasonable in how we do this. Take this quote from Micheal Pollan:
If this volatility strikes you as unexceptionable, you might be interested to know that there are other cultures that have been eating more or less the same way for generations, and there are peoples who still rely on archaic criteria like, oh, taste and tradition to guide them in their eating decisions. You might also be interested to know that some of the cultures that set their culinary course by the lights of pleasure and habit rather than nutritional science are actually healthier than we are -- that is, suffer a lower incidence of diet-related health troubles.2.
Taste and tradition. What's wrong with that as a diet? Going by what you know (unless you were raised on take out every night), and being rational about what you eat should see you through. And if you are not sure that about the fact that it's nuts to change your way of eating based on, what is often, a tiny amount of scientific evidence, then think about this:
Scientists theorize that as the koala, which once ate a variety of foods, evolved to eat a circumscribed diet, its brain actually shrank; food faddists take note. 3.
So, we have food - too much food, and we feel that we have so much choice so that we want to restrict that choice and become the Koala bear, then we need to become much more rational about what we eat, and when we eat it. Fad diets should be consigned to the bin of historical stupidity and we should become much more involved in what we eat. We should all become cooks, so we have that input into our input. So we can take a little more control and stop making those bad decisions.
Too much foodWe produce too much food. We buy too much food. We throw away too much food. I think we probably all do it too. We don't think about the value it has for those who don't have too much food. Who have none.
This problem is long standing, and it isn't about to go away. In 1970, over 40 years ago, Margaret Mead wrote that "today, for the first time in the history of mankind, we have the productive capacity to feed everyone in the world."4. So why don't we? Politics? Military? Greed? Markets? Practicalities? Take your pick. But the fact remains that we all (myself included) do not do anything about it. We can, we could, but we won't. We could force the issue, but we are all too busy living our lives. Getting through the day. We might promise to 'feed the world' but where is the reality in that? "You can't eat hope"5 but mostly that's just what we give, and remove. I'm mostly just making this up. I have no real clue about this topic. I just read a couple of papers, and it's getting late. (Don't you wish you could have written that in some of your university papers!)
We produce so much food and food waste. We live in a world full of surplus. We have produced food until our environment cannot cope that it's failing, but we still don't get that food to those who need it. We have "divorced [food] from its primary function of feeding people."6. We need to start getting that. We need to start taking ownership of what we eat. How, I'm not yet sure. But something does need to change. That would be my food dilemma right now.
If you read all that, and if it made any sense to you, have a cookie.
1. Mead, Margaret, "The Changing Significance of Food," in American Scientist 58.2 (1970), pp. 176-81. Reprinted in Food and Culture: A Reader, page 14
2. Pollan, Michael, "Our National Eating Disorder." New York Times Magazine. October 17, 2004.
4. Mead, page 12.
5. Mead, page 17.
6. Mead, page 17.