Mark Bittman got my attention and cheers when he wrote about rethinking the word “foodie.”
I do wish there were a stronger, less demeaning-sounding word than “foodie” for someone who cares about good food, but as seems so often the case, there is not…shifting the implications of “foodie” means shifting our culture to one in which eaters — that’s everyone — realize that buying into the current food “system” means exploiting animals, people and the environment, and making ourselves sick. To change that, we have to change not only the way we behave as individuals but the way we behave as a society. It’s rewarding to find the best pork bun; it’s even more rewarding to fight for a good food system at the same time. That’s what we foodies do.
He also got the attention of George Lakoff, the Berkeley linguist best known to me for his work on the importance of “framing” advocacy issues—describing them in ways that resonate emotionally.
As a linguist, I know that the “-ie” suffix is a diminutive marker. It is added to children’s names, serves a trivializing function, and otherwise indicates nonserious pursuits (Barbie, Baggie, birdie, hoodie, selfie and so on). The word “foodie” has this element of English grammar built in and cannot be rescued as a term for a serious food advocate…Preparing, cooking and enjoying food connects us to all living things, to the wonders of life, and to the very serious responsibilities of a food advocate.
Let’s hear it for the “very serious responsibilities of a food advocate.”
Foodie that I am proud to be, I do indeed take these responsibilities seriously.
You too, I hope.
Enjoy the long, hot weekend, the fireworks, and the food, of course.