i’m having issues distilling the immense amount of information from last night’s panel, so here’s a quick snippet of an issue i wanted to address. i took a brief glance at Ethicurean.com before the panel last night (the group blog of the panelist Bonnie Azab Powell), and I’m intrigued by their explanation and definition of the blog title:
eth•i•cu•re•an n. (also adj.) Someone who seeks out tasty things that are also sustainable, organic, local, and/or ethical — SOLE food, for short.
i’ve been searching for a concise way to describe my personal food choices recently, and this definition encapsulates many of the considerations i try to keep in mind when deciding what to eat. the word ‘tasty’ is a key point in the definition, and i appreciate inclusion of all four of the SOLE initials (oh acronyms..so often ridiculous yet also so useful). what is organic isn’t necessarily local, what is local isn’t always ethical, etc., but it’s important to try to cover as many bases whenever possible. however, i also feel a bit pretentious and preachy describing myself as an ethicurean or someone who eats SOLE food. aron, a friend in one of the food photos last night, suggests the phrase eco-gastronome to address both the love of food but also the environmental angle, but that doesn’t really do it for me either. i’d like to just say i care about food and i care about how it becomes food, but there often seems to be a need to define yourself in just a few words.
i keep going back to the word foodie, but i know it has a lot of negative connotations for people. Bonnie used the phrase ‘consumer in a playpen’ to describe her negative associations with the word. does foodie necessarily imply a constant and hedonistic pursuit of gourmet experiences with total disregard for sustainability, animal/worker conditions, and the environment? do most people immediately associate the term with condescending food snobs throwing mad loot at $300/pound tuna with no thought for sustainable fishing and dropping serious bills on foie gras without a care for animal welfare? can it just be someone who loves and appreciates delicious food, whether it’s a dinner at french laundry or a $2 taco? there are a lot of strong feelings on this subject, but i like foodie as a word. why? it’s short. barely longer than the subject it implies a love of, and therefore seems to me the most pure and simple term centering around food (so much ending of sentences with prepositions, sorry irene. i know it’s like nails on chalkboards for you). i’d rather not describe myself as an epicure or a gourmand (or anything remotely french, employing some reverse snobbery) because those seem to imply way more of the superiority complex that people associate with the word food in the first place. foodie as a word is so simple and american, it’s like apple pie and FREEDOM.
the most important part though, is that i’d like to be a conscious foodie. are those mutually exclusive? i don’t think so. maybe the conscious eating aspect is enough to elevate the concept and the word foodie back to acceptable use within the food-loving but SOLE-considerate community. really, i just prefer to explain myself in a sentence or two – i eat real food, not processed food product. i like creative and original food, but also traditional, cultural dishes. i think food should be produced sustainably, and ideally locally and organically, but definitely not industrially. i guess that’s a mouthful though. i’d love to hear anyone else’s thoughts on the subject. what do you call yourself if you love food and eating but also try to make conscious decisions that don’t cause harm and might even be beneficial to the parties involved?