The Place of Food

If you want to push my buttons, it's to put the topic of food under the 'Lifestyle" category. Food is no more of a lifestyle choice than our biological excretions.

At the very beginning, food is simply a means of gaining nutrition andenergy, and is therefore biological. From that point, it becomes a commodity, bringing it under the 'Economic' umbrella. As we are biologically omnivores, it means that we are not dealing with one commodity, but thousands.  The selection of food from those thousands of options rely upon its accessibility, putting it under, at first, the geographical umbrella, and then back to the economic, as we seek different types of food not readily available in our immediate region.

At the macro-level, because one metric of economics is currency, this lends itself to the political. Once you establish the political, it establishes the need for the historical, in order to better understand the context of the current era.

At the micro-level, the economics of food can confer status (i.e. those with more money can afford types of food that those lacking money cannot). It is this that helps drive the cultural. Only at that point does the word 'lifestyle' become applicable. 

It gets more complicated at this point, as the word 'lifestyle' can connote intent. But in reality, everyone has their own food 'lifestyle', even if one does not consciously choose one.  The act of deliberately choosing a food 'lifestyle' is a privilege conferred by the state of one's finances or associated class status.

Let me be clear, 'privilege' is not something one needs to address, but neither is it undeniable. Today, as of this writing, I have the ability to purchase a ticket to Alinea and a round trip ticket to Chicago, without undue financial burden. That matters to some degree. Or rather, my ability to do that, and the inability for others to do that, matters. That difference shapes our relationship to food.


Is food a 'lifestyle'? But it is so much more than that. By focusing solely on the lifestyle aspect, it does a great disservice to the topic and how food relates to us as individuals, how it relates to our immediate environment,  how it relates to the country in which we live, and how it does so to the world at large.