Mar. 3rd, 2011

lemon_says: (censored)
I was talking to another mom a few days ago, and she said something about her kids' favorite restaurant. I said, "Well, if you ask Anya, since she only gets it like once a month she'd probably say Chick-fil-A--"

She cut me off. "Oh, WE don't eat fast food. Ugh, how can you?" She proceeded to be further shocked and horrified that I let my kids have Chick-fil-A every few weeks.

Now, I'm not saying she's not telling the truth as she knows it, but I can tell you that McDonald's is a few blocks from my house and I have very recently seen her children and husband exiting said McDonald's, happy meals clutched in their greasy little hands. She might not eat it, no, but her kids do. Does that make me smug? No, not at all. Actually, I feel a little sorry for her, mostly because it's not just about fast food. ETA: I don't give a rat's ass if you eat it or not. My point is you shouldn't care if I do.

It is exhausting, once you cross that line from "we try not to eat a lot of packaged food" to "WE only eat organic foods lovingly tended by hormone-free monks above the altitude at which the nutrients are affected by air pollution." Once you emphasize the "we" in "we don't eat that," you've crossed the line, my friends. You might polish your medal proudly and not notice that people don't invite you over anymore because they know there's nothing in the house that your kids are allowed to eat and you're casting sidelong glances at the Doritos peeking out of the cabinet.

I'm tired, people. I'm tired of scrutinizing every single label to make sure that ConAgra or Monsanto or Nestle weren't involved in the production of my food. I grow weary of high fructose corn syrup, and the addition of soy to everything. I'm tired of rumors that Chick-fil-A, the one fast food I will personally buy the kids (note I said personally; I harbor no delusion that they don't occasionally score a Happy Meal from my parents or a harried father), hates gay people. I'm tired of being expected to check if my organic free-range eggs are actually laid by happy chickens. Does it matter if I write on my weekly menu, "grass-fed, hormone-free beef patties on whole-grain bread with heirloom tomatoes and hydroponic lettuce," or couldn't I pretty much cover that with "burgers"? No, I have to make clear that this is political food; I have carefully considered each ingredient as if our lives depended on it.

I'm tired of food being political. I get tired of seeing mothers apologize when their kids have packaged peanut butter crackers for a park snack, or hearing one explaining why she let the kids have pizza just this once. It's not supposed to be this much of an effort. Somehow making good food decisions turned into a contest, didn't it?

It really sucks all the joy out of food, doesn't it? There is a place of flexibility, a middle ground where you can eat as organically as you can afford, and yet not hyperventilate if you are on a road trip and have to go to the Waffle House. Besides, I like the Waffle House. Sometimes I go there because I want to. Come with me. Try a chicken melt. Don't be ashamed. It's food. There's nothing to be smug about.


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