Food–It’s Not What’s For Dinner Anymore

Somehow we’ve lost an essential connection to our food. We don’t talk much about “food” these days—things like meat and potatoes, corn and beans. Instead, we get all wrapped up talking about protein and carbs, good fats, bad fats, Omega 3s and 6s. We go on about vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and supplements—lots of supplements, but little about apples and oranges.

We worship lists: the Super Foods list identifies the things we need to gorge on for “excellent” health. The Dirty Dozen identifies those things we must avoid—unless organic, of course. Often, items on the one list show up on the other.

Time-strapped as our modern, hectic lives are, we’ve also given up chewing food. It takes too long and requires too much effort. Instead we juice, we blend, we fast, we detox. Sometimes, we Supersize, which leads to another round of juicing, blending, fasting and detoxing. And yes, we do like our lattes, frappes, and venti’s, along with humongous Slurpees and Big Gulps.

We very scared of our food these days. Not since the caveman confronted the dinosaur have we been as terrified of our meal. Well we should be, too, with all the unpronounceable chemical additives and preservatives, along with the fats, transfats, hormones, and its lethal amounts of salt and sugars. Add to the mix the GMOs, the genetically modified organisms like “Frankenfish” and the “Roundup Ready” corn and soy with the pesticides genetically wired in.  It’s nice to know that should an insect start gnawing on me it would die–if I don’t die first.

We’re not the only ones having issues with food. Our food itself is having an identity crisis of its own. Take milk. For decades it’s been touted as the Calcium Queen, essential for strong, healthy bones. But calcium is so last century. The new marketing campaign touts milk as loaded with protein, and if there’s not enough protein in its natural makeup, the Coke Cola company—that bastion of health-promoting drinks—has devised a way to add even more. Afterall, protein is what sells. (Think I’m beginning to understand what’s happened to our food.)

We used to gather in celebration, feasting on Italian, Greek, Chinese or Southern-fried anything foods. Today we eat Paleo, Blood Type, Gluten-free, Vegetarian/Vegan and now, Whole Food Plant Based (WFPB) along with the mainstay—those poor, sick souls still eating the Standard American Diet (SAD).

Word of advice: better to volunteer for a root canal than agree to host dinner for a group. It’s easier picking a winning Powerball combination then putting together a dinner menu—one that won’t spark the food fight of the century. It can get so complicated you need a spreadsheet to track. Meat/no meat? Dairy/no dairy? Carbs/no carbs?

The Paleo-centric noshers salivate over a slab of meat, but tremble when confronted with dairy, which eliminates any butter, cheese, or sour cream. The vegetarians can’t get enough dairy—bring on the butter, cheese and sour cream, but skip the meat.  Mistakenly place a hunk of meat and a piece of cheese in front of a vegan, and you die (or wish you had after listening to the lecture about the animal suffering and environmental degradation you just wreaked).

If attendees follow the Blood-Type diet you’ll need to inquire as to their pedigree. An individual’s blood type relates to their ancient ancestral origins, which in turn dictates their ideal diet. For instance, blood type Bs are supposedly descended from ancient steppe dwellers in Mongolia. Goat is identified as one of their ideal protein sources. When I shared that information with my blood type B friend, it really got his goat.

Gluten sensitive attendees? Skip the wheat, barley and rye along with a host of foods that share guilt by association. Soy and oats are innocent victims, naturally gluten-free, but often tainted by equipment shared with the gluten offenders.

Plan to seat the WFPB followers in the garden and let them munch dinner, and for the SAD folks—just call in a pizza.

It’s sad that something that once brought people together now serves to separate and alienate.  Seems like we could all use a big helping of food for the soul.