I hate many of the conversations we have about food. Much of what I despise is pushed by huge corporations and food lobbies that have vested interests in fattening us up with low-nutrition, high-profit slop. Taco Bell’s “I’m Full” campaign from the late aughts is a prime example of how giant corporations push cheap food designed to make you feel full. Of course fast food is more or less evil. It’s an easy target. In fact, fast food is such an easy target, I probably won’t ever mention it again. It’s been covered by the likes of Morgan Spurlock, Michael Pollan, Marion Nestle, and Eric Schlosser. Somehow fast food corporations continue to prosper, so there is still work to be done, but it’s going to take more than a blog. Resistance to giant gruel-shoveling corporations is only the most basic, implied aim of No Satiation. But make no mistake: This site is not against corporations; it’s against crappy food.
Equally distasteful are conversations about fad diets (no carb, slow carb, South Beach, low fat, etc.). I get where those conversations come from. We need a diet lobby as powerful as the fast food lobby so they can kind of cancel each other out. We are an obese nation. But this is not a blog about health foods or dieting. A balanced diet of good food is healthy. Everyone has to make adjustments for their own lifestyle and their own health, but there is no one-size-fits-all diet.
No Recipes, No Reviews
I’ve worked on cookbooks. I’ve followed recipes. I’ve shared them. I have nothing against recipes, but a recipe blog does not seem like a project with much substance. Cookbooks are cool artifacts, but there are a lot of them out there, from the non-profit, fund-raiser-type book to Modernist Cuisine: The Art and Science of Cooking. Trees and glue aside, I don’t think the production of more cookbooks is a bad thing, but the world doesn’t need another throwaway website for recipes. Ditto for food reviews. I’ve done food reviews for an alt weekly. It was a great gig. I won’t describe it as the lowest form of writing in the world, but the genre of the food review has gotten stale. In terms of tone, the register seems to range form snarky to twee. Plus, the web is awash in opinions. I’m pretty sure you don’t need my perspective to decide if you should try the trendy new taquería.
(I Can’t Get No) Satiation
No Satiation is about examining the unending quest to be satisfied with our meals, our food systems, our selves, and our lives. Satisfying as it can be, cramming cheeseburgers in our food holes is probably not the best way to satiate ourselves. (Although, sometimes it is quite a pleasure.) This quest for satisfaction is interesting because it is complex and fleeting. Satisfaction is complex because our brains, our bodies, and our social situations often trick us into making certain food choices. Add layers of familial and cultural mores and political and economic variables and you get a subject that is remarkable dynamic and interesting.
Foodways, These Days
Foodways is the study of the social, cultural, and economic significance of what we eat. It comes from the social sciences, in particular, anthropology. I should be upfront about this: I’m not a trained anthropologist. I’m kind of a dilettante. What makes foodways, these days, different from foodways during the heyday of institutionalized anthropology is that media distribution channels are wide open, and the tools and techniques are widely accessible. Gathering and sharing recipes, videos, oral histories, and stories is easier than ever. You don’t have to be a trained anthropologist to adopt a foodways perspective.
Food, Not Foodies
I know I’m not alone in hating the term “foodies.” It’s not just because I have a knee-jerk reaction to being reduced with such a diminutive term. What I hate is the implication that consumption of food is somehow cute. Sure—thanks to cake balls and chefs who practice foamed up versions of molecular gastronomy—much of food culture has become cute. I love cake pops just as much as the next guy, but I love them because they are an appropriate serving size of cake, not because they are served on a stick. (Okay, I love that they are served on stick, too. But I don’t love them because they are cute.) To say “food is not cute” is to suggest that the choices we make on a micro level (say, whether to buy organic or conventional bananas) have global implications. If we think about the big implications behind the little choices, than perhaps we can move from preciousness to perceptiveness.
Even the worst aspects of superficial foodie culture (“What?! You have never tried the ostrich egg crepes from the hip new trailer?”) suggest something significant. They highlight the uneven distribution of healthy food. Food-as-leisure-activity often comes from a perspective of privilege detached from worldwide food insecurity. There is nothing wrong with a sumptuous meal. I’d be a hypocrite to state otherwise. But if food is your leisure activity, then you should at least think about who feels hunger and who feels sated. When I say “hunger,” I’m not just referring to WFP-style campaigns against hunger. I mean all hunger, from the physical to the metaphorical. We should all strive first to allay each others’ physical hunger. Metaphorical hungers are trickier; we often try to feed metaphorical hungers with actual food. But perhaps we can, through sharing, allay each others’ metaphorical hungers, too.
It’s easy to confuse the feeling of being sated with the feeling of being logy. If there is one thing I want to cram down your word hole, it is this: hunger is our default state. We come into this world hungry. Being hungry (and I don’t mean literally starving) is not bad. If we can recognize that satiation is always fleeting, perhaps we won’t fall for every food fad packed with promises. Celebrate that moment when you come to the table with others, when you are all hungry. That moment of anticipation, just before the food is served, is part of the experience.