10/29/2012 11:48 am ET

Foodie Backlash Has Come Swiftly, Was Inevitable

In recent months, it seems as if the foodie choir has reached a fever pitch. Beyond the fact that your mom's manicurist probably has a food blog, there's also been plenty of comparisons of food as the new fashion, or food as the new rock.

Back in 2006, David Camp published the book "The United States Of Arugula," which poked fun at the increased focus on high-end food as a lifestyle -- shopping at Whole Foods, buying only free-range chickens, etc. Kamp may have predicted a bleak future for the anti-foodie, but he was maybe even a bit ahead of his time. "Comfort Me With Offal," a new book by Twitter mash-up persona Ruth Bourdain, takes food obsessiveness to an even more ridiculous height. It pokes fun of everything from celebrity chef fandom to excessive locavore-ness.

In addition to books, there have been several recent articles that discuss the overexposure of all this food rhapsodizing. In March, New York magazine published a piece about foodie-ism as youth culture. The article, aptly titled "When Did Young People Start Spending 25% of Their Paychecks on Pickled Lamb’s Tongues?" focused on an uber-foodie who obsessed over restaurants both on- and off-the-beaten path. Her tunnel vision toward food felt exhausting to read.

In September, the Guardian published an opinion piece, "Let's Start The Foodie Backlash." In the article, writer Steven Poole compares purchasing food to scoring drugs:

You hear talk of taking a "hit" of a dish or its sauce, as though from a spliff or bong; and a food-obsessive in hunter-gatherer mode is thrilled to "score" a few chanterelle mushrooms.

He continues his fairly justified rant:

If you can't watch cooking on TV or in front of your face, you can at least read about it. Vast swaths of the internet have been taken over by food bloggers who post photographs of what they have eaten from an edgy street stall or at an aspirational restaurant, and compose endlessly scrollable pseudo-erotic paeans to its stimulating effects.

Most recently, essayist William Deresiewicz wrote a piece for the New York Times about how food has replaced art as high culture. Deresiewicz writes:

I used to think, back when all the foodie stuff was gathering steam (this would have been about 1994, when everyone was eating arugula and going on about, I don’t know, first-press organic broccoli rabe) that our newfound taste for food would lead, in time, to a taste for art.

Instead, he argues, food has not led to a taste for art but has instead replaced it. He offers several examples and then ends with this worrisome line:

Yes, food centers life in France and Italy, too, but not to the disadvantage of art, which still occupies the supreme place in both cultures. Here in America, we are in danger of confusing our palates with our souls.

Are these writers onto something? Has foodie culture gone too far? Let us know in the comments.

Photo by Flickr user: Pink Sherbet Photography



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