by Tara Morgan
On March 18, food writer Ian Brown published the piece “Foodies: Are food crazies getting their just desserts?” in The Globe and Mail. In it, he used the story of a snobby dinner companion sending back an under-salted dish as an example of epicurean elitism.
A friend of mine sent back the duck confit we ordered the other night in a restaurant in Toronto. He told the maitre d’ it wasn’t salty enough. He’s a serious and discerning foodie, and I admired his send-back cojones even as I cringed with embarrassment … I understand his right as a paying customer to return the brine-challenged duck. But it felt like too much privilege by half, and one more glaring example of self-indulgent foodism.
Brown’s piece was, at its core, a response to two recent articles that have been heralded as a long-overdue backlash against foodies, locavores and others of their ilk: B. R. Myers’ recent ramble, “The Moral Case Against Foodies,” published in The Atlantic and The Economist’s special report on feeding the world, which argues that organic farming is incapable of sustaining the world’s projected 2050 population of 9 billion people.
On March 25, recent BW profilee Mark Schatzker—author of Steak: One Man's Search for the World's Tastiest Piece of Beef—officially came out as Brown’s duck con-fussy dinner companion. He had the following to say for himself:
For anyone still inclined to favour repression over confrontation at restaurants, I have this to say: It’s not healthy. The price of saying, “Yes, thank you, everything is just fine” to the waiter is simmering bitterness.
Even foodie messiah Michael Pollan has weighed in on the debate that foodies are a class of privileged elite, stating the following in an interview with Ian Brown in The Globe and Mail:
A great many social movements in this country have begun with elites, with people who have the time and the resources to devote to them. You go back to abolition, women’s suffrage, the environmental movement. That’s not unusual. And to damn a political and social movement because the people who started it are well-to-do seems to me not all that damning. If the food movement is still dominated by the elite in 20 years, I think that will be damning.
Do you have something to add to this debate? Join Janie Burns of Meadowlark Farm on Friday, April 1, to discuss “Eating Local: Elitist Fad or Road to Recovery?” The lecture will take place at the Boise First Presbyterian Church at noon and attendees are encouraged to bring a sack lunch.