Pinke: Let's call a truce and stop the food guilt
Do the food headlines insisting you should or shouldn't eat this or that make you feel guilty? When I read or hear such a claim I get uncomfortable—and frustrated. I know the U.S. has the safest, most regulated food system in the world. I know food choices are more diverse than ever for first-world countries. I know because I'm a farmer's daughter and I work in the agriculture industry.
I have friends, though, who don't know and they ask me questions because they fear food. They are suspicious. They don't know where their food comes from. They want to know the farmers and ranchers who grow and raise the food on their table.
If you're one of those people who don't know, go ahead and use social media to connect to farmers. Ask questions. Do your research. Learn about USDA, FDA, the benefits of genetically engineered crops and biotechnology. Learn about USDA Certified Organic and how fake imported organics are a threat to farmers in the U.S.
It's frustrating when my friends get caught up in a trend that attacks the livelihood of farmers who work tirelessly day-in and day-out for them.
They aren't willing to take the time to learn what's behind a hip food buzzword and what it really means.
They don't know anything about the technological advances that allow farmers to be sustainable, which means they can grow more food with fewer inputs, water and fuel.
They assume all sensationalized headlines from activist groups are true.
And they don't get to know farmers.
They buy gluten-free but have no medical diagnosis or condition that merits they cut out gluten.
It's just what their neighbor is doing.
They only eat "clean." I don't even know what that means.
One week they cut out carbs. And sugar, but then they crave a donut. The next week, they eat all the gluten, carbs and sugar their heart desires.
All the buzzwords and trends make me tired. Some nights I want to feed my kids mini corn dogs, tater tots and lukewarm frozen vegetables. Other nights I marinate meat for hours, prepare multiple side dishes and even bake a dessert. I relish in the joys of cooking and food choices. I can't deal with food guilt often thrown at me by people who pretentiously pretend to know a lot about their food but haven't dug in to get to know the truth.
I know a lot of families live on a budget. I get that. Fifteen years ago, I was a single mom living on a very tight grocery budget, which meant I bought whatever was on sale on the grocery store end-caps to feed my son and me. I also remember putting back items I wanted but couldn't afford.
Most of you reading this are food secure. You aren't worried about where your next meal will come from. There are more people around you than you realize who face food insecurity. The more you throw around your labels, buzzwords and trendy food choices, the more it shames them into food guilt.
Let's call a truce. Stop lobbing food guilt at others ... or yourself.
Celebrate food choices. Get to know a farmer or sector of agriculture that's new to you. And eat up!
Pinke is the publisher and general manager of Agweek. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or connect with her on Twitter @katpinke