Wednesday, July 8, 2009

A Delicate Balance

July's Green Mom's Carnival (yes kids, apparently we are already in July, I am as shocked as you are) is about food and how it matters and stuff.

I am sure you will see plenty of really beautiful posts about food and how it should be local and organic and slow and it's more delicious that way, and people will wax poetic about the cherry cobbler and homemade ice-cream they all had last night and there will be plenty of splashy pictures of food porn.

For the record, I really enjoy said posts. I have, in fact, been known to whine when my favorite bloggers neglect to put up pictures of delicious food porn.

But, I am also on a diet.

See, I gained about five or six pounds while studying for exams (I call it my revision gut) and while I think I still look okay, I think I'm happier and healthier when I am five or six pounds lighter. It's not a big deal, and I've actually already lost a couple pounds since exams ended, but the last few pounds are proving a little stubborn so I think a diet might be called for.

Since I've started the diet, I've started becoming more aware of the levels of food porn on the internet and the health merits of some of this food. A lot of environmentalists are also foodies and they love producing home-made slow cooked meals of delicious goodness. A lot of people talk about how organic goods are healthier for you and the environment. These things are all true. But the thing is, even a homemade chocolate chip cookie made with local, organic, fair trade ingredients? At the end of the day, it's still a chocolate chip cookie.

I'm not trying to be holier than thou. I'm not anti-cookie. I'm not Captain Health... last night I had a pizza for dinner. And in fact, I think that the majority of eco-bloggers, including the foodies, probably eat very healthy meals most of the time. It's just that the healthy meals are boring to blog about. Who wants to read your blog post about your boiled eggs and a side salad? Who wants to see your recipe for homemade lavendar ice-cream? Everyone.

Which means that while peoples LIVES are probably balanced, our blogs are perhaps less so. And again, it's not a big deal, but we environmental bloggers are mostly well aware of maldistribution of food throughout the world. We're aware of the twin problems of obesity and uner-nutrition that, ironically, go hand in hand. So it's a little odd that our blogs, mine included, don't seem to reflect this awareness that much.

I guess what I'm trying to say is ... perhaps we all should sit back a little and assess our food posts a little more. Are they balanced? Do they really reflect the meals we eat? Are they overly tilted towards dessert posts?

Because if they aren't reflective of our general eating habits, we can create a false impression. I remember reading not too long ago someone commenting on one of Crunchy's posts (though I can't remember which post or who the commenter was.) The commenter essentially mentioned that she felt increasingly alienated from eco-bloggers because a lot of the posts were about organic and local food, and then the food produced was an apple pie. She said that she felt that though she didn't use organic ingredients all the time, the food she cooked using store-bought frozen vegetables was healthier for her than the organic desserts eco-bloggers seemed to be eating all the time. Now again, I personally don't believe most food bloggers actually eat apple pie every day, but if all you blog about is dessert, it's kind of a fair point.

So to this end, I am going to go all meta-carnival on you. If you would like, write a blog post of a healthy diet-friendly meal on your blog by next Wednesday. It can be super complex, or it could be as simple as a fresh salad. I'll compile the posts and put them up on my blog next Friday. That way we can all enjoy some nice, healthy recipes for the rest of the summer.

And um, if I haven't made this super-duper clear, I am not at all against posts about cookies, pies, cakes, or what have you. I am just pro-balance-in-food-blogging. Also, you will have noticed I did not link to anyone's food posts. This is because I'm not singling anyone out. I think the food post culture is somewhat systemic in the eco-blogosphere. I too, have been extremely guilty of writing long posts about gingerbread cookies, and very few posts about healthy food. If you disagree with my assessment that food posts are somewhat unbalanced, I encourage and welcome your comments.

Look for the rest of the Green Moms' Carnival on July 13th hosted by Alline of Milkweed Mercantile. By the way, congrats to Alline on the opening of her eco-inn!!

36 comments:

Lynn from OrganicMania.com said...

Hi Ruchi,

Your post made me laugh. I guess it all depends on your perspective. Perhaps we see what we wish we did...For example, when I think of eco-foodie posts, I think of @JessTrev blogging about cooking HOMEMADE SOUP STOCK for DAYS....or @GreenMom making HOMEMADE Spaghetti Sauce while conducting conference calls...or @LaMarguerite taking a c chicken and using it over three days, blogging about what she did each day...or EnviroRambo making homemade crackers...

Perhaps we focus on what we most want...I want to learn to make more good home cooked meals (my husband does all the cooking) whereas perhaps...do you really want more cookies? :)

I do like your idea of a food challenge and will try to participate!

Mary Hunt said...

I'm on my way back to my home state of Michigan and hoping to score all the old canning jars my mother-in-law has stored. I'm planning on the day when I can put up my own food again.

Mindful Momma said...

You are right - there is no shortage of beautiful desserts in the blogosphere - I drool over them too...and long to make them but hardly ever do.

Here's a post for your healthy food carnival...some recipes I made from my favorite whole grains cookbook. http://mindfulmomma.typepad.com/mindful_momma/2008/06/happy-healthy-whole-grains.html

Yes, it's possible to drool over hard boiled eggs!!

Color Me Green said...

you know...it's true...not just eco bloggers but food bloggers in general. some of them bake sooo much. and i'd love to bake all the time like them to perfect my recipes but i know that in reality it would be bad for my health and my bank account (butter and chocolate are expensive!). so i don't! i'll add to the carnival if i can figure out something good to post before next wed.

Beany said...

Here's the thing...I eat healthy everyday and take pictures of my food. But then I look at the picture and it looks like shit (often literally). Who wants to look at pictures of brown stuff (brown rice, brown noodles)? Remember that radish leaf pesto picture? Super healthy (almost no oil and very little parmesan cheese). But it looked like crap

So I post pictures only when everything is colorful. Hence the unhealthy food porn pics.

Crunchy Chicken said...

Yes, I remember that comment and it certainly made me stop and think about it for a moment.

But, I don't post recipes catering to any specific diet and, as Beany mentioned, pictures taken of cooked kale, tamari and brown rice look like a bowl of inedible shit no matter how tasty it actually is. I have several recipes/photos that I planned on writing about, but the overall effect is so amazingly unappetizing that I couldn't bring myself to subject it to my readers.

And I rarely cook something I don't see pictures of first. Look honey! I'm going to make you a bowl of shit for dinner tonight! What? I got the recipe online. No, but it sounds really tasty!

At least for me, I don't look for healthy recipes online. I look for recipes that do something interesting with fresh and, dare I say it, local and organic ingredients that are in season that are paired with herbs and flavorings that pique my interest. So, that's what I tend to write about. I suspect I'm not the only one.

Ahhhh. Food porn.

But, that said, I'll participate in your food carnival. Just expect it to look like a steaming pile of, well, you know.

Green Bean said...

Oh sure, you say this just as I gear up for Foodie Fights. And I'm SOOOOO making a dessert.

I guess I'm with Beany and Crunchy on this one. I cook lots of healthy, low fat meals with local and organic ingredients (and just did on spring rolls. whew!! that was a close one!). But let's be honest. The overly complicated, deliciously fattening dessert, well, that's mighty nice too.

Condo Blues said...

Ruchi,

My husband does most of the cooking, I do most of the baking. I am the Bread Maker Queen and tend to post recipes about bread. When I post recipies I usually leave out that I used the organic or local version of a particular ingredient because I know that not everyone may have access to what I have access to. I admit, I have blogged about baking cookies,etc. because I like to bake - which is easier when you have a bread maker! I got tons of hits when I blogged about making peanut butter cupcakes from scratch because it was the first time I baked cupcakes from scratch. I guess that food porn "sells."

Rosa said...

I think pictures of brown rice, tofu, and greens are pretty :)

I think there is an expectation that people have basic cooking skills...and it's just not true. It can be hard to find cookbooks for making rice and vegetables, or "what part of this fruit is edible" or whatever, so you either just figure it out yourself or pick up foods from your friends and ask them quietly when nobody is around.

We eat greens every day this time of year and I'm not sure I could write a recipe for any of the ways we make them (except maybe my boyfriends potato arugula salad, which came from a cookbook.) We just sautee them with some other stuff, or add them to something.

Jennifer Taggart, TheSmartMama said...

Food porn. . . LOL. I love the pies, ice cream and more because I never make them. But you're right. It should be more reflective of what we really do . . .

Farmer's Daughter said...

Allow me to become defensive for a bit...

First of all, I may post whatever I choose on my blog. Perhaps it is unbalanced, but I have a lot of healthy recipes on there, too. I experiment more with baking, so those are the recipes I'm posting more now that I've already posted my healthy dinner recipes. In fact, I go back to my cookbook section more to figure out what to make for dinner than what to make for dessert. I believe my posts focus on sustainably and ethically produced meats, since we raise our own, as well as fruits and veggies, since we grow our own. But I do also post desserts. I make about one dessert each week, and I always post it, but now I'll rarely post a breakfast, lunch or dinner recipe, since most of my recipes are already online.

Let me also say that I will not allow myself to think that I'm not an environmentalist just because I love pie. I was raised on a farm, as I've said repeatedly. When I bake a pie, I channel my grandmothers and great grandmothers that I have stood alongside and baked pies with throughout my whole life. The memories and the process of baking the pie are more enjoyable for me than eating the pie.

Finally, it's taken years to come to this point, but I don't give a damn about what other people think about the food I eat. I eat based on my own values, and I don't let vegans/vegetarians comments about my meat posts bother me, because I know the meat that I eat was raised humanely and sustainably, since I helped to raise a lot of it. I eat based on my own food values, which have developed throughout my whole life, and perhaps my posts lately are unbalanced towards unhealthy. For example, the other day I posted a fried fish tutorial, but I rarely cook it, more because of the mess than because of health factors. But again, my husband caught that fish, and I wanted to share the best way in my opinion to cook fresh caught fish.

I also post a lot of preservation and canning recipes, but as we're just getting back into that season here, those posts haven't been coming as often.

Okay, so stepping out of being defensive :) I think that our society is obsessed with food, to an unhealthy degree. And I am aware of the disproportionate distribution of food throughout the world. But I don't feel guilty that I have healthy food to eat. I feel fortunate to have a family that values food production, which is why it's such a big part of my blog. And if people don't like that, well the don't have to read what I write. Again, I deal with environmental issues every day, and my blog is a hobby that is fun for me, so I don't do a lot of the heavy science stuff I do every day. Again, I do it because I enjoy it, and I enjoy pie :)

ruchi said...

Ok Abbie, again, as I tried to stress over and over again in my post, my post wasn't directed at anyone in particular. Of course you can post whatever you want on your blog. It's your blog. And I never said there was anything un-environmentalist about pie. And for the record, your pies look amazing.

Post what you want ... I just said I thought that in general the blogosphere could post a few more healthy recipes. But just because I think that doesn't mean you have to change anything you do.

Fake Plastic Fish said...

I dare you to find any rich desserts on my blog. :-)

ruchi said...

Well, Beth, we all know your obsession for delicious chocolate sauce!! ;)

Fake Plastic Fish said...

The fudge sauce doesn't count. I didn't make it myself. And the one chocolate syrup recipe I did post is 100% fat free and not really all that exciting. I like to look at food porn, not create it.

Robj98168 said...

All this talk about food and porn,
You all are making me *blush*

Farmer's Daughter said...

Don't worry, Ruchi, I wasn't offended by your post. I just felt that I needed to speak my peace "In Defense of... Pie."

Anyway, I agree that eating healthy is important, it's just not as exciting as pie, in my opinion, haha!

Oldnovice said...

The commenter essentially mentioned that she felt increasingly alienated from eco-bloggers because a lot of the posts were about organic and local food, and then the food produced was an apple pie. She said that she felt that though she didn't use organic ingredients all the time, the food she cooked using store-bought frozen vegetables was healthier for her than the organic desserts eco-bloggers seemed to be eating all the time.

That was me. Difference between my life and that of many of y'all is: We're in our 60s. It's not like the pie goes to our hips. The pie goes straight to our hearts, arteries, [the important places these days for us]. I'm trying to keep us alive for maybe another 30 years and that means I've got to think about pie (or lack of pie) NOW! MOST of y'all have another 20 years before you need to think about pie.

I'll definitely contribute something more positive for this carnival, having some pretty colorful pictures of meals from the garden combined with stuff that's been in our freezer for a few years.

I apologize to anyone whose feelings were hurt by my post.

Farmer's Daughter said...

Here's my contribution to your healthy food carnival! I really enjoyed this... almost as much as baking a pie :)

http://farmersdaughterct.wordpress.com/2009/07/11/cucumber-yogurt-dip/

Robj98168 said...

Well way to go ruchi- now abby is posting cucmber dip... I want pie, dammit!LOL instead I posted a recipe of Kousa Mahshi, or syrian stuffed squash.

Robj98168 said...

oops bettre link up:
http://robj98168.blogspot.com/2009/07/kousa-mahshi.html

ScienceMama said...

My post is up!

JessTrev said...

Wow! In Defense of Pie no less. I am so glad I got here late so I could read all the comments. I am spending zero time in my house cause we are trying to sell it (ie, no homemade stock bubbling here these days) so looking at *anything* homemade is really food porn to me right now. Great idea, though. I've never thought about this from either a global perspective or even from a health perspective. I tend to post recipes I've had to figure out or MacGyver in some way. And that often involves kid stuff that I'm omitting dyes or preservatives from. But as Lynn pointed out, I also posted about making stock cause it, too, was something I learned -- like eating edible flowers. Very much looking fwd to your roundup! (You also have me musing about Ellyn Satter's work about empowering children to eat healthily -- she suggests de-emphasizing dessert altogether by having it right there with the rest of the kid's dinner, so it's not verboten and treasured).

Lisa Sharp said...

I started baking when I was 2 years old. My mom went to nursing school so I stayed with my grandma and we baked. It's a hobby and something I love. It's not great for my pants size though.

I am however learning to love to cook as well and I'm trying new things. I have found fresh organic veggies and fruit just smell so much better that I'm more willing to try things. And this is coming from someone that is well known for being picky. :)

Oldnovice said...

Here's MY entry for your healthy challenge.

Anna (Green Talk) said...

Ruchi, you won't find a dessert post on my site but I do have a few organic chocolate ones. I often look for vegan recipes and pics on other sites. So this would be an amazing carnival for me to look at.

Can someone post a vegan turnip green recipe other than a little salt, garlic, and oil recipe?

Lynn from OrganicMania.com said...

Just came back to check out the carnival date and saw I missed it! Sorry!

Katy Farber said...

"Food porn" too funny. You'll never really see a dessert post on Non-Toxic Kids because I don't really bake, except for my girl's birthdays (and that usually comes from a box).

Thanks for the post!

alessandra said...

Yesterday I made some good sugarless zucchini chocolate squares, if you are interested, the recipe is here
http://ales-randomtips.blogspot.com/

Katie @ Kitchen Stewardship said...

Good points, for sure. I strive to make all healthy foods (with a few desserts here and there). Consider this an official invite to visit KitchenStewardship.com and see what you think!

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