Food fight: Sarah Emily Duff

Sarah Emily Duff shows that in their mystification of cooking and eating, foodies are snobs, not gluttons.

From the Series

Sarah Emily Duff is a Cape Town-based historian, writer and occasional freedom-of-information activist. She blogs at “Tangerine and Cinnamon” and is interested in histories of age, the body, food and consumerism.

Is foodie-ism gluttony dressed up as ethical sophistication?

Foodie-ism is more than gluttony. While there have always been people with a more-ardent-than-normal enthusiasm for food, foodie-ism is different. The term “foodie” was coined during the early 1980s to satirise yuppies whose intensely self-conscious food worship transformed their ingredients, cooking and utensils into badges of middle-class honour. Foodie-ism is snobbery, rather than gluttony. Foodie-ism mystifies cooking and eating, elevating them to experiences that can only be appreciated properly by appropriately trained foodies, and it judges those who eat less well. Foodies, then, don’t really care that much about food and eating.

Why do we think we need added vitamins?

We take vitamin supplements because the food industry tells us to. When scientists identified vitamins and    minerals in food at the beginning of the 20th century, they observed that some diseases – like scurvy – could be treated by upping vitamin intake and that some people with compromised or delicate health – like pregnant women or the very old – benefitted from vitamin supplements. But there’s no need for otherwise healthy adults who eat good diets to take supplements. That’s why the food and nutrition industries use advertising to convince unsuspecting consumers that they need to buy “vitamin-enriched” products. They don’t.