Media and Fad Diets

 If you've been reading this blog long enough, you'll know I have a rather dim view of reporters. Besides a tiny number I count as friends, I've had some bad experiences where I spent a lot of time working with them, only to see the final story had major errors. Getting cut out entirely is better than that. 

So I often just ignore them. The stuff I do with food is my hobby and I don't typically see any benefit to dealing with them. But one kept emailing me about my meatshare Chicago group and so I did call him and later provided him with pictures and names of other people he could talk to about the subject. It seemed like he was on a tight deadline so I was surprised how quickly the article went up.

It's not bad, but I was disappointed to see that the paleo diet was described as a fad diet:

Kent Cowgill, a 40-year-old software engineer, falls into the latter category. Two years ago, Cowgill began experimenting with the fad diet known as the paleo diet or caveman diet, which is meant to mimic the diet of stone age hunter-gatherers by emphasizing grass-fed pasture raised meats, vegetables, fruit and excluding grains and processed foods. It was through the website that Cowgill and became acquainted with McEwen.

As annoyed as I get with the whole "paleo movement" and I myself have settled into a way of eating that doesn't have all that much to do with the original concept, when I did discover it I was so sick. To name a few, I was on anticholinergics, proton pump inhibitors, steroids, antihistimines, leukotriene receptor antagonists, and constantly on antibiotics. I didn't think I could ever travel internationally. I worried I would never find love because I was so sickly. I missed out on things. I can't forget that terrible place I was in and that learning about the "paleo diet" allowed me to make the kind of dietary changes that allow me to live a relatively normal life, though I certainly had to discover many other things before I totally got off medications. 

I told the reporter I was disappointed to hear it called a fad since it's not just for weight loss and I feel "fad" is a pejorative. The reporter said that he thought it was a fad because "t reverting to that kind of a diet in a world where we have access to foods beyond that, is what I would call a fad." OK, so I guess veganism and vegetarianism are also "fads?" Either way, it doesn't matter, it's just poor form to call someone's food choices a "fad" while writing an article about something else, unless you intend to make them look trivial. 

But I've noticed that in America at least, your food choices, if you choose to eat differently, are always somehow insulting to people. Ask for something gluten-free unless you have a gold-sticker framed certificate that says "Real Life Celiac" and you are a bad person who just follows the latest fads and have "first world problems." Never mind that non-celiac gluten sensitivity is a real (and possibly deadly) thing. You are fascist and should be ashamed of yourself (I love Ruhlman, but I don't think anyone's dietary preferences should be such a big deal). Meanwhile in Sweden, when I worked in food there, no one gave a fuck if you didn't want meat or gluten or cheese or whatever. We cooked from scratch, so it was not a big deal, not a source of frustration or judgment. Some of it comes from ignorance of confusing allergies with sensitivities and intolerances. Yes, real sensitivities and intolerances can wax and wane with health status, age, and a host of other factors. For example, when I was much more sickly, I could not tolerate much dairy, but now that my gut is healthier and I'm overall in a much better state, I tolerate quite a lot. However, the commenters on Ruhlman's blog post seem very angry that other people might not be eating things for what they perceive is the "wrong" reason. There is something very Puritan about these kind of attitudes. 

That said, I've never expected a restaurant to not use a certain ingredient and I understand some menu items simply cannot be adjusted. Also, when I had to eat a more strict diet, I would bring things like my own gluten-free soy sauce to restaurants and ask permission to use that (I was never denied). Some people do act entitled about their diets, which makes people even more unsympathetic to say the least. Like someone I know couldn't roast a goat at his wedding because his vegan aunt was so offended by the idea, even though there were several good vegan items on the menu. That's a whole different issue, but overall when someone tells me they can't eat something, I don't even bother asking why. It's none of my business and it's usually not a big deal to accommodate. 

What do you think?