A bit of food talk

Hello my homies. To start with, has any of you experienced the horror of a beetroot burger served at 19.30 that has been kept warm during the course of the whole day?I decided to write this blog inspired by the recent pilot, an expansion in our Mensa offer, which now includes more vegetarian dishes and warm meals, where my encounter with the beetroot burger took place. Next to that, we witnessed recent protest against Meatless Monday at the University of Wageningen and the rise in general usage of the words like: healthy, organic, eco, natural, all-natural, virgin, enriched, super food, straight from the vulva, cruelty free, harmonizing ingredients, alternative, wholesome… I even found a website that advises businesses on what “green words” to use in order to better market their products.

The basic idea here is that the way we TALK about the food shapes the way we THINK about the food. The way we talk about our food matters a lot, and finding out the right meaning of the advertisements such as: “enriched with vitamin B” matters more than ever. Don’t get me wrong, I am not prophesying some New Age crap, I am simply referring to the perks of good old etymology and understanding the mechanisms of language construction.

Today, the word healthy, in food discourse, has replaced the word nutritious. In my knowledge, food cannot be healthy, it can be nutritious. Our bodies can be positively affected by choosing nutritious food. The famous chia beans-kale smoothie can never be referred to as being healthy, simply because it would make us sick if we would rely on it as a main food.

The clash continues. Now, not only do the brands promote their products as healthy, we can also see the cute institutional attempts to go with the trend. In this situation, there is a third factor included: a struggle for a more sustainable food production. In all this mess, the University of Wageningen has attempted to introduce Meatless Monday as a way to show their dedication to sustainability. But this same goal could easily be switched with the talk about how meat consumption is not as healthy as vegetarian alternatives and that’s what made students angry.

What interests me here is this simple confusion of the words ‘healthy’ and ‘nutritious’. The callouts with which we are advised to live healthy, eat healthy etc. are not supported by the actual concern for our well-being and learning how to choose nutritious products. They are only promoting a way of shopping where people end up buying low fat milk, thinking that they are making a healthy decision while failing to notice that the same fat is replaced by nutrients like sugar, an excessive consumption of which can lead to severe health issues.

What we need to do here, is to employ the ancient old technique: to explore. It might seem hard, but it is the only way to escape the global confusion of what is good for our bodies. To actually read the labels and understand what processed, refined and enriched actually mean, is already a big step towards the understanding of the mechanisms of food industry and how to choose better nutrients for ourselves. Bon appetite!

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