This phenomenon has caused many of us to wonder what has happened. Â Years ago I couldn’t have named one person with an “alternative” diet or a “sensitivity”. Â Now, most of the people I know, including me, have a list of items they will or will not put in our mouths. Â It feels like a FWP (First World Problem) where we have the luxury of turning down food, when globally 1 in 8 are malnourished.
What has changed? Â Let’s be honest. Â The food we eat today is not the food our grandparents or even our parents ate. Â It has been altered in a variety of ways, including genetic modification and irradiation. Â It’s been bleached and waxed and dyed. Â If it’s a fruit, it’s been picked unripe. Â If it’s a meat, it’s carrying antibiotics and hormones and pesticides. Â If it’s a fish, it has trace amounts of mercury. Â We now eat more food out of a box or a bag or acartonÂ than out-of-hand fresh.
The marketing machine creates or responds to our food peculiarities. Â Some of these food trends turned out fairly poorly. Â Remember when fat free cookies were first introduced? Â Oh happy days! Â But then Pringles fat-free chips with olestra ended up with a warning label that saysÂ olestraÂ might cause abdominal cramping and loose stools. Â There’s the statistic that Americans eat the most low-fat and fat-free foods of anyone, but somehow we have the highest rate of obesity in the world!
Some diets have staying power, like gluten-free. Â According to this week’s New York Times, “the portion of households reporting purchases of gluten-free food products to Nielsen hit 11 percent last year, rising from 5 percent in 2010.” Â Even the poor Girl Scouts who unceremoniously travel from door-to-door, accompanied by their overworked mother who definitely has better things to do, is selling a gluten-free chocolate chip shortbread.
Choosing what to eat and why is getting increasingly complicated. Â For many, it’s overwhelming, so much so, that there is a level of stress involved with the multitude of choices. Â An apple is no longer just an apple. Selecting it brings up questions of whether it’s in season, if it’s grown locally and organically, and is it native toÂ itsÂ region. Â Making these choices for everything you consume is close to impossible.
References in no particular order: