July 18: a symptom of the condition it purports to address

The ongoing fad for clean and healthy food is a symptom of the condition it purports to address. The preciousness of the ingredients; the fastidiousness of the procedures; the ignorance of the cultural circumstances that most people live in: these are part of the problem. Aubergine, asparagus and artichoke (the A vegetable triumvirate) trump carrot, cabbage and cauliflower, but you’ll be paying four times as much for them, and, over and above the economic argument, most households have a tradition of the C vegetable (it’s the culture, stupid!). Hummus, for some reason mostly to do with convenience, is the king of the British fridge. It sits in splendour on the second shelf (the prestige shelf) and although in itself is mostly good for you, its reputation as a virtuous snack means that it is over-consumed. Prissy cooks, bully cooks, snobby cooks, entitled cooks and celebrities doing a bit of cooking all get their half hour of prime time, just enough time to make us under-eat or over-eat, to make us feel guilty or poor or unglamorous or ignorant or cowed. It’s rampant denial or rampant indulgence so that contemporary pathology now lives itself out primarily through the stomach. Denial is the new king of the iron throne (I refuse to mention gluten again because at this rate they will put it on my tombstone). Food is a sorry indicator of an infelicitous modern trend, namely, that health, mental or physical, comes by not doing rather than doing.


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