Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Holier Than Thou?

In my former life as a film student, people would always ask me about my taste in movies. My favorite film, director, decade, style, national cinema, were all questions I dreaded but expected to hear. Over time I no longer enjoyed seeing movies with friends, who would, after screenings, defer to my opinion and ask what they had failed to appreciate. “Did you like it? Was it art?” my friend Amanda would ask, only half jokingly. I resented that my view suddenly bore more weight, that I was somehow better equipped to determine the quality of a film. And yet, that was exactly the case. I was better equipped! I understood the nuance, had studied the form. I had to face it, I'd become a film snob, refusing to see certain movies (Charlie’s Angels) and loving others that eluded mainstream taste (Mulholland Drive, The Believer).

Mounting evidence suggests that years later I may have inadvertently transferred this snootiness, this I-know-better-than-you-ness, toward my growing interest in and study of food and nutrition so that I have now become a food snob and never are my flaws more apparent than when I'm back in my hometown as I am now. I sense it when I visit my parents and my mother takes me on a tour of the kitchen highlighting the locally grown organic items (kohlrabi?!) purchased at the Queens farmer's market, and admittedly, I am pleased. I sense it when planning a trip with childhood friends and one of the texts me from Costco asking if I only eat organic fruit. No, I say, I try to atleast eat organic berries, but in reality I buy mostly, or pretty much only, organic fruit. When I notice that an apple sticker number does not start with a "9" which would indicate organic, I feel a twinge of it too. While getting a pedicure - something I never consider doing in Seattle, but somehow seems necessary in New York where I'm ashamed of my starkly naked toes flashing themselves in flip flops - and the Food Network is featured on the television and I have chest pains watching Paula Deen bake a fried green tomato cake that sounds healthy enough until she starts the batter with 2 sticks of butter, 1 cup of sugar and 3 whole eggs then moves on to the icing made of yet a third full stick of butter. When I reconsider buying sushi because the fish was likely farmed. When I step into Whole Foods in New York and cannot bring myself to purchase the organic Rainier cherries from Washington state because that seems wrong - like I should have just brought some with me from Seattle (which, incidentally I did). When, without asking, my mother prepares me organic kosher chicken for Shabbat but serves regular chicken to the rest of my family. That's when I start to wonder, am I being a total snob or a conscientious consumer? Have I fallen into my own trap, taking this whole food thing too seriously or should I be proud of the ripple effect its beginning to have on the people around me?

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