Everything is political these days, including our food.
Remember a few months back when right-wing social media went into conniptions over a report that, as a tool to fight climate change, President Joe Biden was planning to limit Americans’ consumption of hamburgers to one per month? The allegation was entirely false, as is most of the fearmongering that drives Fox News commentaries, talk-radio chatter and Donald Trump Jr.’s Twitter feed, but, for a day or two, the outrage over losing burgers ran as hot as a barbecue grill on the Fourth of July.
If the hamburger prohibition had been a real thing, I would have been pretty freaked out, too. Sure, I want to save the planet, but, really, what is the point of existence without a Deluxe from Dick’s Drive-in, a massive bacon burger from Red Mill or a sloppy slab of glorious meat from Giddy Up Burgers?
As any vegan will tell you, eating is a political statement. That can be true even if one is not intending to be political. For example, consider the current enthusiasm for “small plate” dining that has infected restaurants in ultra-urbane Seattle and even less sophisticated cities like Yakima. Go ahead, tell someone from Omak or Aberdeen that you happily pay $14 for a small dish of cooked cauliflower, $20 for another small plate of raw sliced beef and $30 for two lonely scallops. Besides thinking you are an idiot with too much discretionary income, that small-towner will be pretty certain you agonized over the choice between Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren in the last primary campaign, that you work at a job where your hands never get dirty and that the only hazard you face on a frequent basis is tripping over a dog leash while listening to podcasts as you run around Green Lake.
Of course, when you see that person from Omak or Aberdeen plowing into 2,000 calories in a buffet line, you will also make your own assumptions about their politics and lifestyle.
Where we eat and how we eat and what we are willing to pay for the experience says a lot about each one of us. And it may be just one more dividing line in our increasingly polarized society.
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