{journal} point of view: to eat with or without?

June 15, 2015
This morning I have read a post on a French blog that I regularly read Alter Gusto. It expressed very well all the things I have been feeling about food and its new trends (I am not even talking about diet here) in the media for quite some time, without really having managed to express them. This subject is quite important to me, so I felt like sharing it by translating part of it. For those who manage to read French the original version is here (la version en français par là): Alter Gusto: Manger avec ou sans? … Et si sans était avec?
food wit or without-0023
“This is the big trend of the moment … gluten free, no sugar, no eggs, no milk, no meat, no fat, no sugar, no salt … Some magazine covers or headlines have made me shudder in the recent months. We read “poison here”, “poison there” and again “poison here” … And then we wonder: at what point in time eating has become so scary? If you want to read more about it, there is another brilliant post on this other French blog les parenthèses: les nourritures angoissantes or “scary foods”.
And it is clear that this media hype not only scares but tis stirring up feelings! I discover more and more comments on my recipes or those of other bloggers, not always polite, sometimes aggressive and often extremely intolerant, accusing us of using a particular ingredient. Recently, I was asked why spoil a raw fruit good for the body by mixing it with a dairy product made with cow’s milk? And the other day, I had to pinch myself when I read a message posted on the FB page Yummy Magazine from a vegan blogger, who explained that she was leaving the group because “your publications make me rather nauseous. Hoping spirits wake up.”  I am confused … Why subscribe to a page whose cuisine is not in agreement with one’s diet / beliefs? Or read a recipe that is not? And how total strangers think they can tell me what I should eat or cook on MY blog?

In short, all that to say that my my feelings are stirring up {and mine too – although I have not had any indelicate comment since I have recently started this blog – but I have heard and read lots of things…} against this wave of intransigence, and radicalization! and for some, loss of common sense, forgetting at the same time politeness, etiquette and good manners (which, no, is not an option on the Web, as human beings are on the other side of the screen). To the extent that I often hesitate to delete my “gluten free” section, not wanting to blend into this trend, which gives me the creeps. I do not do it, because it has been on the blog since 2008 and is intended to friends who are gluten-intolerant.
I am also scared … to see all these fears and anxieties that food brings nowadays. Even alarmed! Let’s make the effort to think a bit … because that’s where the problem lies! This media hype is like brainwashing. These messages excessively repeated as tag lines, these articles not always serious, confuse our minds and spoil our understanding. So I want to ask you, (…) : Why do we eat? In my case, to feed myself and to indulge. Sometimes the two combined, sometimes rather one or the other.
To feed oneself… to bring food to one’s body so that it can function at best … And even this “evil thing” which is the bad cholesterol! Because the brain needs it, not too much but not too little either. But sometimes when we think we do well, when we think we are being attentive to our own needs, we are not successful. Save for the cases of proven food intolerances or worse allergies, ultimately one wonders why? Do not expect me to answer that question! Have you not noticed how we are all different and do not react the same way to food? Who puts on weigh more than another … Who digest better than another … (…)
So if we are all so different, why apply a single diet? Stupidly I want to say … Because this movie star/top model says it’s better to eat like this or like that? Hello! Wake up everyone! Me, sitting comfortably in the Barbados, with nothing else to do but counting clouds, I’m sure I would digest better, would assimilate better, would be in great form and then I would have a radiant complexion, shiny hair and so on
So what’s the solution? Everyone has to find what is best for oneself. I opted for diversity and moderation. Inheritance of my education, strengthened after I discussed the topic of food allergies there about ten years, I chose not to eat “without” but eating “with”. Because there is not only one flour (wheat), sometimes I eat gluten but with buckwheat, chestnuts, almonds, hazelnuts … So “without” but “with” many other things . Sometimes curiosity pushes me to test a “without” recipe and it allows me to make a discovery, and too introduce an interesting new ingredient in my cooking by enriching rather than restricting it. At other times, I eat with gluten, the same refined flour (Oh damnation!) Because there is nothing better than a butter croissant!
Diversifying and alterning my diet has allowed me to find a balance, to discover new tastes and textures, whilst avoiding frustration, since I eat in moderation, and to sweep away any guilt. I am not afraid to eat! Everything except what I do not like … even if it is good for your health (fish).
One caveat though: I try to force myself to a diet “without” additives, preservatives, coloring etc. Oddly, this type of diet is not so acclaimed by the media … Probably because it would not make the success of the food industry. The “gluten free” market is expanding! A market that has more than doubled last year in France, with sales from 35 to 78 million Euros. (In the UK the market grew by 15% between 2013 and 2104 with sales reaching £184 millions and touching 15% of households).
Why would you be interested in my way of eating ? (who am I to tell you that?) Far from me the idea to tell you what to eat or not. Or judge you according to your beliefs, your choices and food tastes. Especially as food diversity is not always easy or feasible to implement. It involves a cost that some cannot afford. It also represents efforts and inequalities that are not just financial. I experienced that in living in a very large city, after having lived in a small mountain village, it is much more difficult and expensive to have access to local, healthy and fresh products.

The message I wanted to convey today, through this long ticket punctuated with unanswered questions, do not lie here … But instead it is more for you to take the time to think, to take into consideration all parameters, not just of accuse a certain diet of being evil. Because I find it very sad to be afraid of eating, to add oneself another stress factors to those already imposed on us by our daily lives and not to experience pleasure in food any more. And also, because I loathe radicalization, of any type, and intolerance (…).


I am lucky enough that I have no food allergies and can eat whatever I want except the things I don’t like. My diet is also quite diversified and I do pay attention to what I eat (my friends know that I love to cook and avoid the big Mc….and other fast (junk) food chains). I love my cheese and baguette (as French children, we are raised with a piece of bread in the mouth from very early days…). But most of all I love cooking a meal to share it with family and friends. I am also grateful of all the food discoveries I made during my travels and to name a few: banana bread and beetroot dip in Australia, tagine in Morocco, cookies in the US, sushis and teppanyakis in Japan, hummus and aubergine dips in Greece, etc… not to mention the quality of the local products.
Another thing I would like to add that annoys me a lot: the food industry is imposing on us to eat “beautiful” calibrated fruits and vegetables out of season and less and less local, creating waste and environment issues (but that would be too long to expand here). Apart for the purpose of a beautiful photo, do we care about the shape of a tasteless tomato or a lemon for our every day cooking?
Last but not least my next post will be about a home made rhubarb tart (with wheat flour) but with local seasonal vegetable!
Hope you enjoyed reading this (long) post and I look forward to reading your reactions.
Have a nice week!

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