This is an absolutely spectacular piece on food snobbery and intersections with disability, fatness, and class.
Oh thank dog for this article. This article is perfect.
Let me excerpt a couple favorite bits that sort of encapsulate my feeling on this subject.
As Michelle Allison explains, “The problem is that I’ve met very few people who make personal choices of the “real food” persuasion without also pressuring those around them… without also proclaiming that the foods most people rely on to survive are inherently inferior… without also implying that the reason the rest of us are fat, or poor, or don’t have shiny hair, or don’t walk around perpetually bathed in magical sunbeams of happiness, is entirely because we eat the terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad food — the food that is not Real”.
Yes. It is not that I have any problem with people choosing to be vegan, or eating raw, or eating like cavemen. It’s this part. This part is not okay.
A woman on Twitter recently accused me “subsidising capitalism” when I expressed dismay at having to go to a supermarket because my local vegetarian co-operative is inaccessible. I asked her what I should do instead and she said I should campaign for accessible local shops. And in the meantime, what? I don’t eat?
It is this kind of unwillingness to look at the bigger picture that leads many people to feel that ‘good’, ‘real’ or ‘clean’ food campaigns are elitist and exclusive. Whether looking at food shops or places to eat out, it is a sad truth that many of the least physically-accessible locations are those that are independent and “ethical”, while the multi-nationals we all love to hate are the ones with level access, wide open aisles, priority parking spaces and accessible toilets. Non-disabled allies need to join disabled activists in proactively challenging the idea that a business can be considered to be ethical if it does not allow disabled customers to use it.
and the idea that any one diet is appropriate for everybody is simply not true:
The reality is, even foods we tend to recognize as universally wholesome and healthy are not actually appropriate for everyone. Bodies differ and circumstances also differ. For example, our universally beloved super food, dark leafy greens, are considered a food to avoid (along with a bunch of other “healthy” foods like whole grains, legumes, and many fruits and vegetables) for people with kidney disease who require a low potassium diet.
Eating more sodium instead of less sodium can actually be a critical thing for people who experience hypotension — when I was working in the hospital, we actually had to stop purchasing a popular brand of bouillon for this purpose when they lowered the sodium in their product in an attempt to provide a healthier option to consumers. Well, it wasn’t healthier for our patients on tube feeds, some of whom required a sodium boost between feedings — in fact it was quite dangerous
her conclusion is basically perfect:
It is evident that the problem with “unhealthy” food is inherently structural within a discriminatory society. It is not a coincidence that so many more poor people, disabled people, and people of colour eat less balanced diets with more packaged food and less fresh produce, and it is not that these people are all careless and feckless and don’t care what they put in their bodies. This is a wider issue of structural inequality that cannot be addressed on an individual level. It is not just a matter of “personal responsibility”.
Food snobbery, whether it manifests in lecturing, chiding, self-importance or dismissive comments, ignores the entirety of those circumstances to focus on one single thing: you should not be eating that.
We need to look seriously at how messages from food evangelists, piled on top of all the other crap we are told about what we eat on an ongoing basis, are affecting the what we consume and how we judge other people.