Saturday, 26 November 2011

Soul is the key not the enemy

Glad Byron Hunt maker of the documentary film "Soul Food Junkies" recognizes the real issue about soul food is the narrowing of what that consists rather than another intellect free round of let's pathologize people through their diets. Snooze.

Our needs shape and affect our diet. Migration from rural to urban, from where food is grown to where its less so means changes are made that may not always been the best interests of balance over convenience or what's available. The forces acting on different groups also affect our dietary leanings and requirements. We could do with being more conscious of that, but this is rarely said directly.

Apart from personal or cultural reasons we tend to eat mostly from what is around us and what we take from that tends to favour our individual requirements, so we can stop writing off eating what's around as mere indolence. That is in our nature.

Sometimes those who are used to being more adaptable get caught out by that if the environment shifts to be less forgiving of that flexibility.

We can all get stuck in some rut or other, not just convenience that comes but the balance of compromise we make over food. Who prepares it for us and what pressures of time access and frankly, interest and enthusiasm are involved. Yes interest in food, it varies amongst all, that's allowed.

Some humility is required when suggesting changes to people's overall diets, offering reassessment, recognising the struggle some have to put food on the table and what an incredible and sometimes unsung job many people do in that regard, is a much better approach. Always remembering that whilst food is necessary and quite weird and wonderful, it isn't necessarily a cure all.

There is no need to leap in with nonsense like "food addiction" merely because people are set in their ways. Our palates are trained by what we eat, that doesn't have to mean for life, but ignoring this creates an impression of pathology that isn't there.

It needs to be stated that changing a palate can be somewhat of an unknown quantity.

It's struck me that we don't actually know how used to a certain diet a body can get and how much of a wrench it is to change because its built its whole metabolic functioning around it. We go purely on expectation that we should drop it on the abstract whims of food faddists, but that is very much assumption.

We know that when what we eat goes from home made to shop bought, we can get used to it, but we pine for the former. Sometimes forever. That's not about pathology, it's the nature of our body's precision calculation. 

No modern anti sin  health campaigners can afford to lecture about that any as they've amply proven time and time again that they are prepared to sacrifice the health of people in order to advance their anti this and that causes. Their whole act is as unbalanced as they assume everyone's diet is.

That said, when I saw some of the examples in the trailer I must admit, I found some of them unedifying.

If anyone looks at what they eat and is confronted by a sea of browns, beiges and greys, it does no harm to consider the missing colours of the rainbow. That however does not necessitate lurid constructs of calling food after fecal matter, embarrassing people with ideas that they are too stupid to care about themselves, that they are willfully self destructive, their bodies ugly and distorted and so on. What do these people have inside them that they have this to unload is an interesting question. If they're so pure, wouldn't their thoughts be a bit better than that?

I dislike the Dick Gregory style "That food'll kill ya". His personal history of food is a little more interesting than the usual crude before and after scenario suggested (that's often the case). I  wonder if he and his kind even really like food at all? There's a sense that they perhaps resent the necessity of eating, that they are compelled to do it, when they should be master of all, etc.,

If you insist people should take your care of what they eat you to can take care to engage positively with their eating experience and milieu. If your attitude is itself a form of mental and therefore physical pollution, then one has to wonder whether your purification through food endeavour is required as much to clean up your own mess.

The self proclaimed righteous (non) eaters need to wake up from their compensatory uplift (for denial of their own eating pleasure) from controlling others enough to recognise they are also using that to keep themselves in line.

It's very tempting for black people to hurtle down this seemingly apolitical bypass of 'fix food fix everything'. Hurrah! That means you not affected by the way you are treated, just force the health food down and run around and all will be well. You are in full control. It's very comforting and preferable to the alternative of confronting hostile forces outside and inside yourself, it's all in your power and is thus empowering.

Soul food goes back to slavery days, when black people where given the scraps and parts of the animal those who owned them had no use for. Instead of slipping into a defeated funk, they decided to rise to the challenge of making appealing and tasty food out of unpromising material. They bought their culinary skills, know how and imagination becoming inspired to create dishes worthy of eating.

It doesn't surprise me that parts of black America are so wielded to that legacy of black people snatching triumph from the jaws of defeat. People in general are as much connected to history by food as anything else, something the philistine element of food faddists seem oblivious to.

What is required is not a lot of prissy disordered healthist indulgence, but a spirit of reviving that same triumph, that people are worthy of good food no matter what station assigned to them by a pernicious society. A desire to make the best and most balanced out of what is available and that includes using land to grow food if necessary. I mean collard greens? Why would people eat them if vegetables where not important?

Its imperative to avoid yet another yawn inducing episode of "black shame" and the unedifying sight of black people wallowing in each others purported degeneracy which is responsible for undesired outcome.

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