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Erica Wides Headshot

Is It Food or Is It Foodiness? Depends on Your Sex

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Greetings from the Foodiness fallout shelter, where we are spending the summer months, and where we work hard to help you see your way out of the Foodiness rabbit hole. It's easy to fall way down the rabbit hole to that deep, dark place where food manufacturers and marketers like to take you, so they can bamboozle you and get you to buy their candy-flavored yogurt and omega-3 orange juice...and sometimes you get stuck so far down there, in the land of the fake food doppelgangers, that you can't see your way back up, because you've lost your ability to see real food.

Like those fish who live in totally dark caves, with no sunlight ever getting in, eventually (thanks to evolution), they lost their sense of sight, and all their pigmentation. Nature shakes off what it doesn't need, and Foodiness tries to out-do nature and make you distrust or even lose your innate senses. They've capitalized quite nicely on that front. If you can't recognize real food, they can do a bait-and-switch with Foodiness and you'll never know!

They try to capitalize on your gender too, because regular, non-gender-specific Foodiness isn't enough anymore, Foodiness wants to be everything to everybody, so gender-specific Foodiness slips in to fill that fabricated void. And maybe you've fallen for it?

Foodiness marketers and makers are savvy, clever people. They know what you think you want, because they've told you to want it. And they know that women and men aren't the same; that women want their Foodiness to be functional, but non-threatening. To make them feel sexy, or nurturing, or mommy-like or invincible. Men want their Foodiness functional too, but to make them feel strong, and tough and smart, and like they're eating healthy but not just because their wives are making them do it, no, they picked out this can of men's cola all by themselves. Gender. It dictates everything! Which cars we buy, which cigarettes we'd smoke (if we still smoked), who we vote for, and most definitely, what we choose when we shop for food, or buy a meal or a snack.

And non-food marketers have known this forever, they've been selling separately to the sexes since marketing and advertising were invented. That's how we got cigarettes made for women, and hairsprays just for men and deodorant strong enough for a man but made for a woman. But beauty products and cigarettes--they basically do what they say they do. Moisturizers moisturize, whether they're pink or white, or smell like musk or magnolias. Hairspray doesn't discriminate, if there's flyaway hair to be tamed, it's on the job, no questions asked. The for-men versions serve only to assuage the masculinity of the men using the products, to make them know it's ok to use conditioner, or hair-color, or wrinkle creams or panty liners...well maybe not those. It comes down to the fragrance, and maybe the color of the product or the package. It's silly, stupid even, but not insidious. Nobody's trying to make any health claims, or nutrition claims, they're just trying to sell twice as much product. It's the American way! If you use your wife's moisturizer after shaving instead of your own, you won't grow boobs. Your testicles may shrink and fall off, but that's another story.

But gender-specific Foodiness is another can of vitamin-gummy worms entirely. It IS evil, and insidious, because Foodiness isn't for men, or for women, Foodiness is for no one. Food is for men, and women, and teeny babies and toddlers and teenagers, even if they are so awful they don't deserve it, because food is for people. Foodiness is for suckers. Especially suckers who buy into products that are marketed to them as being better for the ladies or targeted to the gents.

Foodiness works for no one. Not for any gender. Not for any people. Even Soylent Green was made from people, for people. Except for vegan people.

So now this takes us even further down the rabbit hole, to where we not only can't discern what food is anymore, but now we have to decide what gender our Foodiness product choices represent! It's like a college gender-studies professor and a marketing 101 professor got together and hatched their evil plan for world domination!

Gender Foodiness makes claims that only a sucker would buy. Like the newest one, gummy vitamins for men. I guess chewing on Barbie-pink and Shrek-green dinosaur-shaped candy spiked with synthetic vitamins was kind of emasculating for the fellas these days, so the vacuum was filled by gummy vitamins, made "just for men"! They come in a serious, manly looking container, and are colored in more muted, manly shades of navy and hunter green, a manly man's gummy vitamin, in manly man's colors. Hey, that's awesome, and you can wash them down with the man's diet cola! I guess guzzling so much regular cola that you were growing boobs wasn't acceptable anymore but drinking that girly diet soda wasn't going to cut it, so now, thank god, we have a diet soda just for men. Fat men...with boobs.

Gummy vitamins in masculine colors; the mind reels at the contradiction. Children's candy, marketed as a health product, specifically for guys. It's bad enough that everything we eat today is flavored and sweetened like candy. We're a nation of obese toddlers, waddling around clutching big sippy cups in our sticky paws and now, gumming our vitamin gummies.

Vitamins and nutrients come from food. That's their only legit source. If you are someone who cannot or is unable to ingest actual food, then vitamins MAY provide the nutrients you are missing, although I don't think so. They may in fact hinder our health instead. But taking any medication, even vitamins, should be like taking medicine; you need to feel like you are taking medicine, almost like it's a punishment, for not eating well. If you change the delivery vehicle of the vitamins, first from food form to pill form, and then pill form to candy, you are removing the adult responsibility of not only eating real food, but also being able to take meds. You put it into candy form, color it, flavor it, and make it infantilized. Don't worry that you can't eat real food like an adult, you can just keep eating soft, chewy sweet treats, like a toddler, and let us, the manufacturer, manage your nutritional needs. It's like you are surrendering your hard won adulthood and independence to a corporate behemoth that doesn't have anything like your best interest at heart. Why would you trust those guys with anything?

And new, for the ladies, there are new, fun, fiber-filled gummies! No more need to eat those pesky vegetables or fruit, just pop a chewy delicious piece of candy! While you're at it, grab a pack of calcium chews too! Just don't forget to floss...

Or, if you'd still rather "eat" your food, try a granola bar, made just for women, with almost 40 ingredients, more than half of them different forms of sugar! Marketed and branded by a fitness club chain, who must be using the bars as a marketing tool to help keep their clients fat, so they'll keep their paying their memberships. Let's pause to do a Foodiness diagram here; a women's gym chain, marketing a candy bar to women, (which they call granola) but is mostly just puffed rice and sugars, ten different kinds of sugars, with a few oats and peanuts and chocolate chips added in, and then sold as a "health" product directly to women, the gender that struggles the most with their weight. That's math I can't do.

And what's the Foodiness 411 on those instant oatmeal packets for women? If you're going to eat oatmeal, this is what you do. You go to a store that sells bulk grains. Not that hard to find these days, and you buy bulk, preferably organic, rolled oats. Or a can of steel-cut Irish oats is even better, but try to get organic. Then you cook the oats in water, or milk, add some salt, honey, and egg, raisins, nuts, miso, scallions (like me) or fruit, some chocolate, whatever! Don't eat instant oatmeal packets, they're all sugar, and the oatmeal has been pre-cooked, rolled to tissue thin, and dehydrated. It's been basically pre-digested for you. And with all the added sugar in instant oatmeal packets, you'll be spiking and crashing faster than Paula Deen at a state fair.

So whatever gender you were born to or chose to become, don't fall down the Foodiness rabbit hole of gender specificity. Stop talking about it and do it, eat the real food, don't let the marketers dictate your food choices, it's your body, you control what goes in it. I mean, the last time I checked, we still have some choice over our own bodies, don't we?