16 . 11 . 18
What the f*ck do we even eat now?
Image by Bobby Petersen.
This post has been baking for a while. I have been trying, pretty much since I started working in food, to stay out of this debate as much as possible – a) because I don’t think anyone will really ever know the answer to my question and b) it’s a question that seems to inspire a lot of confusion and, consequently, anger. But it’s time I asked it… the question that I have for you all is – what the fuck am I, (ARE WE) even supposed to eat now?
So, I have quite a good relationship with food – food, to me, equates to joy. But that doesn’t stop me from being thoroughly flummoxed by it all from time to time. You see, as a baker, I have come up against some criticism surrounding the fact that I am a carbohydrate dealer, a gluten salesman. From people in the gym. From a homeopath I once saw. From the gluten intolerant of the world. So that’s the first thing – Even though I’m not really afraid of carbs, my job to some, makes me a terrible person and makes me feel like perhaps I should really be afraid of my life choice.
To make matters worse, I have accidentally ended up declaring myself vegetarian, which for others is a more heinous crime. My conversion has been on the meat-free horizon for a while. And my reasoning? To put it simply I have just read too many things. About food production processes. About risks to the environment and health. Plus once I saw a video of a cow playing fetch and it was really cute. Thing is, I’m not very strict… I still eat it sometimes – when people cook for me, mainly, because never turning down food that someone has cooked for you and eating up everything on your plate to me is more important than not eating animals. Also, when I get drunk I love a kebab. So. I am a vegetarian. Or, trying to be at least. But since publicly renouncing meat friends and family have been nothing short of horrified, but even MORE critical of the fact that sometimes I still actually eat it. So not only am I terrible for not eating meat, I am also terrible for sometimes eating meat.
And THEN, to make matters EVEN worse, I am lactose intolerant. I never really tell anyone about it, because it’s a pain in the arse (literally) in social situations to adhere to, but lactose makes me ill. I also struggle with a chronic problem with my reproductive system. Nothing serious! But also, there’s no real cure apart from going on the pill (which I’m not that down with at the moment) or taking painkillers forever. The only thing to ever keep my condition under control is hacking my diet – no caffeine, less alcohol, not too much sugar, eating more of certain foods… But then, when I tell people of my (genuine, medically certified, bonafide) ailments, I am met with suspicion. Suspicion for those who have energy without coffee. Suspicion for those who go to a pub and only drink cranberry juice (I must also add I regularly go to the pub and drink all the beer, but just no as often as I used to). Suspicion for those who are allergic to cheese. And perhaps, perhaps people are suspicious of whether there is even anything even wrong with me at all…
So anyway, so far that’s no meat or dairy, plus everyone hates me for being a baker, plus I watch my alcohol/caffeine/sugar intake otherwise my ovaries hurt like two little eggy bitches. It’s a lot. And that’s just me – one tiny human being amongst billions, all of us carrying around their own food related shit. Plus there’s also the added guilt of being told things. Being told not eating certain foods together, or not eating foods after a certain time of day, or just eating blue food or never eating red food if it’s a full moon, but then if you don’t eat the food then some people are starving and also buying certain food supports certain communities and also eating avocados is bad because it’s funding the cocaine trade in Mexico and also don’t eat sugar, not even honey, because honey hurts bees and you also can’t eat avocados because they also hurt bees.
It’s exhausting. So what am I supposed to eat? What is anyone even supposed to eat?
I have piped up now because there is a trend on the horizon that I am noticing, and I think it is the most confusing thing of of them all and actually, potentially, quite dangerous. This new trend has come about perhaps as a retaliation of the healthy eating fad, where some skinny ladies told us all to eat vegan food and replace carbs with a bunch of natural sugars (which is still sugar FYI) and then stick carrots up our bums or something. It was dull at its best, diabetes inducing at its worst. But the movement that I see popping up now is the ‘I-don’t-care-let’s-eat-everything’ movement. Confusingly, it also seems like its been instigated by those same ladies. I think they must have got hungry. It basically preaches ‘don’t think so hard about your food’ which on the surface is great and I totally agree with. Don’t let food stress you out and eat what you can eat – eat it all! But being stressed about food and not thinking about food are two different things. Food teaches us a lot about our surroundings – what is going on in the world is often reflected in food systems. And to be honest, thinking is pretty much the only way that I personally am able to deal with all this shit food guilt and I suggest it might help you too.
I don’t really want to tell you what to do, because then this post would be hypocritical. To be honest, I don’t care what you eat and you shouldn’t really care what I eat either (I just thought you might find it a bit interesting). But educating myself to know that I am not doing myself or anyone else or the environment any harm and also educating myself to smell the bullshit touted by so-called health magazines and unqualified models and celebrities was one of the best things I’ve ever done. I ended up taking a Nutrition course, which was actually quite a lot of work and a bit pricey, but there are actually loads of resources that surround us which are easily accessible and free, so you really don’t have to do this. This is what I would ask you to do – Google stuff. Find documentaries and articles and books about what you want to learn about. Watch Netflix and listen to podcasts. Buy some books or borrow some books from the library about food. Read up about that diet that you were thinking about doing before you actually do it – read a few different things about it in fact, written by people with different opinions about it. It won’t take you long I promise, you can do it slowly, piece by piece. Then, most importantly, look into which sources your information comes from – are they reliable? Ask for help, ask your GP or your mate who’s a doctor, visit a nutritionist. Learn things and ask someone who knows things.
And then just think about it.
Don’t feel bad about it.
Don’t carry it all around on your shoulders.
But don’t not think about it.
And don’t dumb yourself down just because some skinny lady told you that it’s ok to eat all the cake. You are not too stupid to understand what you are putting into your body.
Oh and also, always be suspicious of skinny ladies telling you to eat all the cake.