Thursday, February 18, 2010

On "Guilt"

I have before me the new "Fearless Flyer" from Trader Joe's. For those of you without a Trader Joe's nearby, it's a supermarket that features "natural" (typically organic, but not always) foods. Some of it is good, but it's all processed packaged food just the same - they do have a produce section, but it's generally a pretty shoddy one compared to the quality of the rest of the goods they offer, and I've never understood why they feel compelled to package the produce the way they do - I mean, what is the point of shrink-wrapping a potato in plastic?

They do offer very inexpensive, high-quality booze there, plus the famed Charles Shaw wines (Two-Buck Chuck or Three-Buck Chuck, depending on your area), which I use very successfully as cooking wines.

Anyway, they send out this newsletter every so often with a description of their featured products. It's amusingly written and I leaf through it whenever I get it in the mail. This time I noticed a particular emphasis on the word "guilt" - as in "Reduced Guilt Organic White Corn Tortilla Chips" and other "Reduced Guilt Fare."

It got me thinking. Why do we as a society invest so much of our eating with guilt? Is it a vestige of our Protestant beginnings? Anthony Bourdain once observed, "Food is the new porn," and I believe he was on to something. Food now occupies the prurient back room that sex (which is now, for the most part, more guiltless than tortilla chips) once occupied.

It doesn't have to be that way. I much prefer Michael Pollan's philosophy: "Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants." There's room for just about everything in there - everything, that is, that humans evolved to eat, which does not include the chemicals and refining packaged as edibles by Corporate America.

So cast off that guilt. Eat butter, eat good stuff, eat to enjoy. Relish everything you put into your mouth, just as you relish what you'd put into other parts of your body! Life's too short to do otherwise.

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