Sunday, July 17, 2011

Definitions - ... And now I'm a snob

snob  (snb)
1. One who tends to patronize, rebuff, or ignore people regarded as social inferiors and imitate, admire, or seek association with people regarded as social superiors.
2. One who affects an offensive air of self-satisfied superiority in matters of taste or intellect.

It all started with a simple Facebook post,

"I don't get it. Why am I considered a food snob if I won't feed my kid crap?"

And then, dear readers, the Fit hit the Shan!!  I got words of encouragement from some and confirmation that I am indeed a snob from others.  In an attempt to keep this blog PG rated... WTF?

I was told to look in a mirror.  And so I did.  I looked at why people would think that I am a snob and realized that they need to look more closely at me.  They need to understand a few things about me before they make such a blanket, and offensive, statement.  Now my language may be faulty when I try to discuss my perspective, but a lot can get lost in translation with snippets of thoughts posted on a social networking site.

Let's first define what I mean when I use the word CRAP in regard to food.  The dictionary defines it as:

crap 1  (krp) 
1. Cheap or shoddy material.
2. Something that is of extremely poor quality.
(and of course excrement, etc.)

For me, I use the word crap in regard to processed foods, fast foods, and cola.  To tell you the truth, I don't eat any of those things because I've never really liked them.  Because of this it's really easy for me to keep it out of my daughter's diet.  It's a matter of taste, not snobbery.

You see, I've always had issues, of sorts, with food.  I ate my last McDonald's hamburger in 1984.  I just didn't like it.  At the age of fourteen I realized that, when I was having chicken for dinner, I was actually eating a chicken.  That really turned me off of meat.  Three years later I became a hardcore vegetarian; no animal stock in my soup, no fish, and at one point no cheese that had rennet in it.  (Me!  No cheese!!)  This lasted for six years, even while I was working in restaurants.  Of course I eat meat now, but I still have my aversions which end up translating themselves into choices that aren't the above mentioned crap.

The thing that is interesting to me is that my restaurant industry counterparts are not quick to call me names.  They, like I, have made a living preparing and serving food and are perhaps better able to understand my perspective.  I've been working in restaurants for twenty-two years, so I have had the sheer delight of being exposed to wonderful ingredients, intense flavor combinations, and some of the best cookery in the world.  It's because of this that I have distinct preferences to this kind of food.  I've taught myself how to replicate much of what I've eaten, I like to cook at home, and I like to share it with my friends and family.

Here's another thing that irks me: So what if I prefer Brie over Cheddar.  So what if I drink wine and don't like beer.  So what if I choose not to eat a hamburger that I don't like and maybe even wrinkle my nose at when one is offered to me.  Why on earth is that snobbish or 'fancy schmancy'?  Everyone has their own taste.  This is mine.
Looking back at the definition of snob: "One who tends to patronize, rebuff, or ignore people regarded as social inferiors".  If we are shifting this to Food Snobbism, is it implied that I feel above anyone who eats what I don't like?  NO!  A resounding and definite NO!  I do not feel above anyone or judge them for eating what I don't like (i.e. crap).  Who am I to judge?

As for the other part of the definition: (one who) imitates, admires, or seeks association with people regarded as social superiors.  In this case, you bet your ass I do.  I want to support my local farmers, I want my daughter to eat fresh green beans and strawberries that she picked from our potted garden, I want to join Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution and educate kids and parents about healthy choices, I want people like Jeremy Seifert to succeed in his Kickstarter project that intends to change American policy on identifying GMO's on food labels allowing people to choose for themselves if they want to eat it or not.
From this standpoint, if you want to call me a snob, please do.  I will follow the lead of people who are doing good work for the betterment of our kids, our land, our overall health.  Yes, I'll own it.
I am a snob!!

But don't tell me I judge people for what they are eating.  

Another truth, I suppose.  I do get frustrated when I see little kids who are terribly overweight sucking on a straw that's extended from a cup larger than their heads.  I see too often parents who want to eat in my restaurant but let their ten-year-old tell them that they can't eat there because there's no fries or burgers on the menu.  I do get a little angry that parents assume that their kids won't eat vegetables and will only feed them noodles or nuggets of some sort.

That's why I started this blog!!  I want to share with like-minded parents that it's pretty damned easy to feed their kids real food, on a budget, and in little time.  I'm not preaching from a pulpit or shouting from a soap box.  I understand that having and expressing strong opinions about anything will certainly spur people of opposite or differing points of view to speak up, and I appreciate the conversation.  However, if you don't like what I'm saying, please turn the channel. 
I'm not trying to judge or tell anyone that they are doing wrong.  What I am trying to do is impress upon people that there are other ways to feed our kids.  Convenience is... well... convenient, but the wake of convenience has ripped a giant hole in our society.  If we eat our dinners in the car, or while we are walking, or in front of the T.V., we don't talk to one another.  Our relationships dwindle, or worse, never get a chance to develop.  And, if we eat processed foods we are relinquishing control of what we consume.
I am no saint.  I am not skinny.  If something tastes good I'm likely to eat too much of it, much like most people.  I don't exercise enough and I turn on the T.V. sometimes to keep the peace.  But!!  I'm trying my best to teach my daughter about making good choices for herself and that includes exposing her to what I call 'real food', meaning fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grain breads, fresh fish, etc.   I have made a good mark in her two-and-a-half years, I'm happy to say.  She prefers yogurt and blueberries over a hamburger and fries, she picks the broccoli out of any dish and eats it before anything else, and loves things like mussels and fish

Let's look at it this way; what did kids eat before the 1950's, when convenience foods were born?  

The answer?  Fruits, vegetables, and home made meals.  Did they have to sit at the table and finish something they didn't like because it was 'good for them' or 'the only dinner they would get'?  You bet!  Let me tell you, a great way to get your kid to eat something is to actually let them get hungry.  

What did babies eat?

Table food mashed up.  REAL FOOD!!

But this is for another blog post.

Yes I feel separate from people who drink cola and eat fast food, but I'm certain that they feel the same about me, but it's because our tastes are different.  It's that simple.  I could give a rat's patoot what people eat.  But what I do care about is that our children are exposed to all foods.  If they want to stash sugar in the trunk of their car for easy access and avoid all vegetables when they are adults, they can. (I actually know a grown man who does this by the way.  Guess what, he's got diet-related health issues.)  But with the childhood obesity rate that it is and with the enormously steep uphill battle that needs to be fought in order to get American food culture back on track, I am ready to be called names.  I really, really don't like it, but I will take it like a trooper knowing that I am fighting a good fight.  

I'm choked up writing this because I have enough of a battle just being a single mom, but this really means a lot to me.  I know that I'm not alone, though, and that feeds my fire.  Between Jamie Oliver, Michelle Obama, The American Restaurant Association, and so many others, I know that I'm in good company... up here on my snobbish pedestal.

Won't you join me?

One last thing.  If I had an affinity for Mexican food as opposed to French food would I still be thought of as a snob?

Mom's Tip
If you are interested in learning more about the organizations or organizations that I have mentioned, please see the links below.

Jeremy Seifert's Kickstarter project

Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution

Kids LiveWell program
(I've got some arguments with this one, but it's a step in the right direction)

Obama Foodorama
The digital archive of record about Obama Administration food and nutrition initiatives.



Out of the Box Food said...

Great article! Love the fire and the determination about real, unprocessed food!

The Food-Minded Mama said...

Well thank you! I get a little fired up when people want to feed their kids crap. ;-)