I was skimming an angry post about this book by the real food blogger Food Renegade and reading the comments below the post prompted me to write this post. There was such strongly-defended food obsession revealed in readers' comments that I had to stop and question my own health food compulsions and the purpose of my own blog and my life's passion on food. Would I, too, be promoting a food dogma that deems industrial foods as 'evil' and unsuccessfully masks/mitigates intense fear of the world? I don't want to be scared of food and I don't want you to be, either. These days the internet is full of 'real food' or 'traditional food' bloggers. They've got some awesome recipes and advice. However, if they don't remind you that enjoyment and relaxation is the most essential part of eating, be wary.
You want to talk traditional food? Food has traditionally been eaten to keep people alive. It has been eaten to give us enough energy to do what we need to do. It has been prepared in ways to connect individuals and communities. Optimal health is new. It's a luxury. Our bodies, products of sloppy and delightful evolution, are not optimal. They will not function optimally, regardless of the purity of that which you put into it. You will get sick. This fact, like our ultimate mortality, must be accepted if life is to be embraced fully.
Food has gotten too complicated. When I was a teenager, I was trying to lose weight so I did some research and chose anorexia. Luckily, that didn't stick. In hindsight, what I really chose was orthorexia, because I spent the next five years 'in recovery from anorexia' pursuing all kinds of healthy diets, each with their own specific rules and complicated choreograph. Being a creature with little tolerance for rigidness, I quickly grew bored with the raw food diet's excessive vegetable chopping and the gluten-free diet's lack of bread and butter at restaurants. I just wanted to eat, and I wanted to feel okay about it.
What I've learned since I started my journey with orthorexia and as I climb out, and what I attempt to share with you here, is the simple fact that good food tastes good and it's not complicated or energy-intensive. Today I eat bread, I eat meat. I eat the food that I crave. With the food that I do choose to eat satisfying me, I don't crave junk food so I have no need to resist. When I do crave it, I eat it with minimal guilt. I don't want to make the mistake of offering you a 'fool-proof steps' to the right diet. I'm worried that the "simple answers to today's food disorientation" that I tout is not readily accessible without all the knowledge and ingrained food rules present my head. I hope that I can make good food more accessible to you. I don't want to help you live a long life or cure you of your asthma/allergies/colds. I want you to eat ethically-sourced food that tastes good to you and makes you smile. I want that food to add pleasure to your daily life, not be a chore. I want you to eat a doughnut if you want it, and I want you to joyfully eat chocolate pecan pie with your family on Christmas Day without asking a single question about its ingredients.
Food for sustenance, food for pleasure, food for energy, food for health. I don't have optimal health. You won't either. We're going to be conscious of our food, but we won't be ruled by it.