Are Self-Righteous Foodies Self-Defeating?

Here’s a lovely, thoughtful piece from NYT food blogger Peter Meehan: Grass Fed | A Few Beefs

The piece consists of 3 anecdotes. In each, Meehan — himself a serious foodie — is either subjected to, or sees someone else subjected to, over-the-top self-righteousness of someone who has appointed himself as a member of the Food Intelligentsia. One anecdote is about arcane terminology. The other is about coffee snobbery. The third is about relentless localism.

Meehan’s conclusion:

And I’m left to wonder: Is all this righteousness going in the right direction? Or will the snake eventually eat its own tail? What originally drew me to so many of these better-practice/better-flavor foodstuffs was the joy, the passion behind them. What I’m worried about is that as the food thing gets trendier and trendier, at some point the know-it-alls will scare off the casually interested. Maybe even their fellow foot soldiers. Is that sustainable?

It’s a great question. Anecdotes like the ones Meehan recounts make it even more tempting to see high-end foodie-ism as having more to do with status-seeking than it has to do with actually believing in a particular set of values. (For more on that line of thinking, see my interview with Andrew Potter, the author of The Authenticity Hoax, here: Interview: Andrew Potter and The Authenticity Hoax)

About Chris MacDonald

I'm a philosopher who teaches at Ryerson University's Ted Rogers School of Management in Toronto, Canada. Most of my scholarly research is on business ethics and healthcare ethics.
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