Ever feel like everyone is watching what you eat? It's because they are. What started out with the exhibitionist offerings like daily food blogs, food porn mags and cooking shows has crossed over into the voyeuristic side with behavior that, frankly, borders on stalking.
While people have long been conscious of what the person in front of them puts on the conveyor belt at the grocery store, the Internet has launched this peeping food-ism into new realms. And the 'net sees everything. There are entire websites dedicated to detailing the gustatory lives of celebrities. There are also sites that pick apart the eating habits of rank-and-file civilians. And who can forget Time magazine's beautifully illustrated feature "What the World Eats"?
Sadly, these sites, TV shows and magazine articles are not content with merely noting what people are eating but often feel the need to pass judgment on it as well. "What is that on Reese Witherspoon's fork? Is she eating a sandwich? It looks like it has mayo on it!!!" "Can't believe fatty bought a package of little Debbies! There should be a law!"
The latest target of this new trend, however, is our newly minted fave celebrities: The First Family. It isn't enough that the New York Times has already lauded Michelle Obama as the First Lady of Healthy Eating but now upping the ante is Ruth Reichl, editor of Gourmet magazine. She is calling for the Obamas to release a daily food log to the public saying she hopes "that America's families will mimic the healthy theme of their menus."
Aside from the fact of whether or not anyone cares to know what the President eats on a daily basis -- I'm sure that plenty of folks, would-be assassins included, will have a passing interest -- I'm worried as to what this obsession with every last bite will do to Malia and Sasha. Michelle Obama has already confessed that concerns about Malia's weight have lead them to eliminate juice boxes, fruit snacks and other processed foods. Which of course is the right response. No child, no matter what their weight, needs "fruit" snacks. But the real question is did the general public need to know about this private family decision? How will Malia feel knowing that already her weight is being scrutinized despite being on the cusp of the battleground that is puberty. How will Sasha feel if she wants a Scooby-Doo push pop after dinner and then sees it makes front page news? (Oh, the high fructose horror!)
A second reason I take issue with knowing the minutiae of the Obamas' meal plans is that it encourages the public to compare themselves to people who have a private chef, personal shoppers and many other luxuries that while they are well deserved for the service they are rendering our country, do not necessarily lend themselves to working class comparisons. It's already been shown that rich people are thinner, healthier and eat better regardless of all other demographic factors. So how is showing the working poor how the Obamas get "herb roasted pheasant with wild rice stuffing and winter vegetables" going to get them to make similar choices? I'm pretty sure the local 7-11 doesn't carry pheasant.
My last problem with this issue is basic privacy. I'm nobody and I freak out thinking everyone is watching what I put in my cart, on my plate and in my mouth -- not to mention what I feed my kids. With all the stress attendant to being President of the United States of America and the First Lady, why should they add this to the fishbowl they already live in? The Obamas have already proven themselves to be media darlings by being quite open with their lives -- do we need to ask this of them too? What's next, digging through the trash to find what kind of feminine hygeine products Michelle favors?
I don't need to know what the First Family eats.
What's your opinion? Am I overreacting? Is this a harmless diversion? Opportunity for a healthier America?