Reflections on Foodie-ism

I recently read an amusing article in the City Pages titled “Foodies Under Attack” by a blogger named shefzilla. The article serves as a rebuttal to a piece written by B.R. Myers, which shed an unfavorable light on the world of foodie-ism. The response inspired me to explore my own thoughts on what a “foodie” is and what it means to be a foodie.

What is a foodie?

According to Wikipedia, the all-knowing source for random information, a foodie is “an informal term for a particular class of aficionado of food and drink.” The term was originally coined by a food journalist named Paul Levy in 1981, and has taken on a variety of meanings throughout the years.

To the general public, however, I think the term has morphed into a combination of multiple meanings, and can be thought of as one of several identities. We have people who recognize foodies as “food snobs,” who only care about the uniqueness of the ingredients, where they came from, the complicated preparation techniques used, and the specialized training of the chef involved. This is how B.R. Meyers associates the word “foodie.” Others recognize foodies as those who eat with a vigor that borderlines gluttony. The Food Network program “Man vs. Food” comes to mind as an example. Where the true definition of foodie lies is a matter of opinion and much debate, but I would like to argue that a true foodie is someone much like the following description, provided again by Wikipedia: a foodie is simply someone who “wants to learn everything about food, both the best and the ordinary, and about the science, industry, and personalities surrounding food.”

Students in this year’s farm class come from a wide variety of backgrounds, but I have an inkling that we all share the core values of a true foodie. Assuming we are all taking this class to learn, more or less, how to grow and sell fruits and vegetables in the most sustainable way, we all have an interest in experiencing the wonders of the final product, the quite literal fruits of our labors. In the process, we want to know how all these crops grow, the optimal conditions under which they will thrive, how much and what kinds of attention and care they need, and how they crops can be used best as an end product.

On the other end, we also want to know which varieties and combinations are good for the various methods of preparation and eating, and how to prepare these foods to create the most enjoyable eating experience possible. Our concern for sustainability is a huge factor in our decisions about which qualities of foods we enjoy, as we take interest in understanding how the way our food is grown affects the world around us. As we each bring our own unique contributions to this class through our various interests in food, we all come together to celebrate the true meaning of foodie-ism.

Molly Turnquist

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