As this class quickly draws to a close, I'm realizing that one of the biggest components of the food movement that I'm still grappling with in a big way is its trendiness. A good friend of mine shared a hilarious article from the satirical website "Betches Love This," referring to a select breed of elite women who cast themselves as "betches" (defined by Urban Dictionary here and the source site itself here) on the basis of their wealth, constant acknowledgement of their material goods, and elite preferences and habits. This particular article related to these self-proclaimed "betches" and their affinity for the ever-popular Whole Foods chain, for reasons not directly related to the quality or activist ambitions behind the food, but rather simply for the high prices of their food products that give them an elite status. The author writes, "Betches love Whole Foods for the obvious reason that it is so f***ing elitist...the fact that our bag of grapes is certified organic gives us the right to be certified superior."
This page pokes fun at the trendy foods of the contemporary food movement's most avid followers, ranging from kale to flax seeds to soy. I find it fascinating that this site is simultaneously poking fun of these conceited elitist consumers the same way I find myself doing so, but also providing a justification that I can, sadly, actually believe. I can definitely testify that I've come across these types of people--not necessarily those who walk around preaching about how "bougie" they are, but who cling to the prestige that shopping at a store like Whole Foods supposedly gives them. Take a good friend of mine, for example, who is a standard yoga-doing, tea-sipping, Anthropologie-shopping, Southern California-bred foodie. If you ask her what she's eating, the answer you get will never be "chicken and snap peas," but rather "organic chicken and organic snap peas." It's like she's expecting me to say "ooh, ahh" in response to this deliberately added descriptor, but it really just makes me roll my eyes.
I came into this class thinking that the reason I opted for Shaw's or even Trader Joe's (which, I might add, is definitely high up on my foodie list but not nearly at the Whole Foods level) on my Sunday shopping trips instead of Whole Foods was because it was too expensive and I am healthy enough (read: never get sick) that I didn't feel like I needed to buy everything organic. From this class, I've learned that while some people live and eat organic and trendy smart/health foods for reasons relating to food justice/activism or substantial personal knowledge relating to nutritional value of such higher quality food, there are so many others out there who do it just for the status, like my friend. I've realized that these latter people make me nuts. Now that I've taken this course and exposed myself to the world of food activism, I've told my elitist, Whole Foods-shopping, organic label-clinging friends that I actively opt out of participating in that superior grocery shopping habit because I don't want to be associated with those, betches included, who make such decisions as consumers on the basis of status and not on the basis of true principles. I told my self-proclaimed 'foodie' friend about issues of food deserts, justice, and sovereignty that we've discussed in class, and she had no knowledge of such contemporary problems, which made me even more infuriated. After all, the very people we proclaim to be fighting for in the world of food justice couldn't afford to buy your organic this and that at Whole Foods anyway, right?
(An alternative perspective)
I originally gave this blog the cliché title of "I Am What I Eat," and I now support that statement and its application to my status as a consumer more than ever. I still haven't developed my own complete stance on organic food in relation to its adoption as a status marker, but you probably won't catch me at Whole Foods anytime soon (unless it's for their hand-ground peanut butter, because you can't beat that, bougie or not).