Have you gone over the edge with the food thing? Are you no longer fun to eat with? Are you missing the point?
In a world of fast food, GMOs, pesticides, and horrific school lunches it is hard for the foodie not to be constantly on edge about what he or she or their children are eating. But that doesn’t mean that we have to be unhappy all the time or insufferable to others. That is not what eating is about! So, I have compiled a list of signs that you (or I) may be one exit from lunacy….
Disclaimer: I had no one but myself in mind when I wrote this, so don’t get paranoid if you recognize yourself! You are not under surveillance, at least not by me. All resemblance to characters fictional or real is merely coincidence.
Ten Signs that You’ve Crossed the Line from Enviro-Foodie to Enviro-Foodie-Maniac
- You are genuinely anguished when you forget to bring reusable bags to the store and run back out to the car to get them (if you can). You consider leaving the shopping cart to go home and come back. You reject the idea because driving home would increase your carbon footprint. You become distressed. Buy yet another reusable bag? Get a box? More distress.
- If you don’t have any other option than plastic bags, you slink your way home down side streets in case one of your enviro-foodie-maniac friends sees you committing the cardinal sin of using disposables.
- You bring your reading glasses to the store so you can read the labels of anything you buy that actually has a label. If you don’t bring the reading glasses, you don’t buy anything with a label.
- You stand in the aisles of the supermarket paralyzed, because you really need to buy something convenient to eat, but your conscience won’t let you take any shortcuts. You contemplate skipping the meal altogether. You put the package back on the shelf. You take it down again. You read the label. You put it back. You walk away. You come back. Repeat. This takes a long time. When it says organic, you buy it, although you know damn well that ketchup, organic or not, is still a sugary mess. Mini-cheese and cracker sandwich snack packs are still processed cheese and buttery carbs, regardless whether it says organic on the label. But you can’t help it. And it makes your head explode.
- If you forget to bring your Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch wallet guide or your Environmental Working Group Dirty Dozen pesticide-laden produce list, you are incapable of selecting fish or vegetables at the store. And if you have it, you spend inordinate amounts of time comparing the relative merits of organic apples vs. locally grown. You find this exasperating. You are embarrassed for yourself. It also takes a long time. (If you don’t know what these two guides are, skip #6)
- You have memorized your Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch wallet guide AND the EWG Dirty Dozen list because of #5.
- You can’t bring yourself to order anything off a standard menu in a restaurant because (choose all that apply):
a) You don’t know who grew it.
b) You haven’t met the animal you’re about to eat.
c) You are convinced you could make it better at home (even if you probably never will).
d) You can’t choose between satisfying a craving or satisfying a masochistic need to be food virtuous.
8. You can’t hold a conversation in a restaurant because you are too busy (choose all that apply):
a) Deciding what to eat (see #7).
b) Taking pictures of your food. And everyone else’s food.
c) Staring in appalled horror at what the servers are taking to other tables.
d) Staring in appalled horror at what your dining partners are eating.
9. Your friends and family no longer want to eat out with you because…
a) see #7
b) see #8
c) You can’t shut up about factory-farms, GMOs and pesticides while they are trying to enjoy a bacon cheeseburger with fries.
10. Your friends no longer invite you over for dinner because it’s too much of a pain in the a** to try to accommodate you, in addition to variations on #7 and #8. So you eat alone. A lot.
If you recognize yourself in these descriptions (and believe me, I couldn’t have written this if I didn’t recognize them in me!) then perhaps it is time to – not give up your principles – but lighten up a bit. Food – as I keep reminding myself – is also about joy and companionship and conversation, and if you are too busy judging the virtue of it to count your blessings, if those you hold dear are starting to get so sick and tired of it that you are always dining alone, then virtue has become a vice.
See you soon. I am on my way to sink my face into that bag of salt & vinegar potato chips (crisps) I’ve been craving for a week, to save myself from sliding irrevocably into Enviro-Foodie-Maniac Syndrome and spending the rest of my days eating organic heirloom pulses and foraged weeds in solitary confinement.
Happy 4th of July to all my U.S. readers!