I am really repulsed by this judgy, jingoistic new trend in calling food “clean”. Browsing Pinterest I saw a recipe for “Clean banana bread: with honey and applesauce instead of oil and sugar!” Prevention.com has an awards slideshow of the “100 Cleanest Packaged Foods”, which includes products like Stonyfield Greek Yogurt, about which the ad copy bleats, “it has just one ingredient. Now that’s clean”. Not a word choice I would use for a food that’s produced through bacterial fermentation.
Which is my point: it seems like a significant disconnect, the construction of Clean Food with no real concept of the realities of how your food works — and yet another way to make healthier food options into an issue of class, wealth, and morality. Calling foods that aren’t highly processed “clean” immediately renders other foods “dirty”, and the people who eat them dirty by extension.
Most of the clean items on the slideshow are pretty damn expensive, and you can only get them in certain stores; I say this as a Canadian with easy access to a car and multiple specialty groceries. Hell, I say this as a Canadian who, like many ordinary people, has already made an effort to simplify and streamline her diet to cut out more processed foods, within the confines of her budget and energy.
And all of this, of course, is before you even look at the fact that “clean eating” is touted as part of a fitness regime to help lose weight. Because being fat — like being poor, like eating foods that are part of your culture and include oil and eggs and sugar — is the same as being dirty. And clean eating will cure you of being dirty.
I mean, to me, “clean eating” means food security. It means you had access to safe water and food ingredients, somewhere adequate for food preparation, something clean to eat your meal off of. It doesn’t mean stuff that costs you way too much at Whole Foods, but will make you slim, sanitized, and superior to all those fat poor people eating their dirty food.
Reblogging for commentary.
Rank-ordering foods on a moral/orthdox scale is seriously problematic.
Know that constitutes healthy food? Food that provides you with nutrition in the form of accessible calories and doesn’t rip up your digestive system (subjective to individuals! Some foods are perfectly health for some people and unhealthy for others!) or cause you to have cancer (Carcinogenic ingredients should be banned at the processing level so that they’re not IN processed foods). That is healthy food. Butter pound cake with cream cheese frosting is healthy food. A chunk of flank steak smothered in whiskey and honey is healthy food. A giant bowl of chili is healthy food (with or without beans in it!). Duck fat melted into a pile of rosemary-infused mashed potatoes is healthy food. The overwhelming majority of foods that haven’t been utterly fucked with through super-refinement and chemical amendment are, by the grace of four billion years of evolution, HEALTHY FOOD.
Boiling a slice of potato in oil does not render it unhealthy.
And even when foods are unarguably unhealthy and cause the people who eat them to be ill?
EATING THEM IS NOT A MORAL CONCERN. YOU ARE NOT A BAD PERSON IF YOU EAT UNHEALTHY FOOD, REGARDLESS OF WHY YOU DO IT.
Healthiness is not a moral choice. You are allowed to make decisions in the full knowledge that they are unhealthy, because your body and your life are your own. It can get dicey if your health choices legitimately cause harm to others (I.E. cause you to neglect or abuse other people for whom you are responsible like children or elders) but if that’s off the table? YOUR CHOICES ARE YOUR OWN. And in any case whatosever:
YOU ARE NOT OBLIGATED TO BE OR STAY HEALTHY.
Sure, health is nice. Many people choose to pursue it. Longevity is nice. Many people choose to pursue that. But they are not the only legitimate choices on earth, nor are they inherently better than making other life choices that counteract or sacrifice the above.
If you tell me that eating all-butter pound cake will make me die at 50, whereas not eating that cake will allow me to live to 100, my choice becomes
A fifty-year life with cake
A hundred year life without
And know what? If I decide that fifty years of delicious cake is a worthwhile endeavor and a well-spent life, one I’d prefer to a cakeless life no matter how long? THAT’S MY CHOICE. IT IS PERFECTLY VALID.
(Note: Any civilization that is not attempting with all of its effort to ensure that every single person in it can CHOOSE healthy food if they want it is a piss-poor civilization in need of serious overhaul. Being poor should not mean being REQUIRED to eat unhealthy food to survive.)
On the same note and specifically concerning the article above, and pointing out how absurd it is?
Know what CLEAN food is?
FOOD YOU WASHED.
My home-grown organic veggies, which are super-nutritious and ‘wholesome’, grow out of a pile of composted horse shit, dead fish, and vegetation, in a soil that’s chock full of fungal mycelium and microorganisms and insects. They come into my house absolutely swimming with bacteria, fungal spores, etc. Then I spray them down with some nice 1:20 bleach solution and give them a good rinse and they become clean. That’s what clean means.