Food and Guilt

Jake Houseman: Max, our Baby's going to change the world.
Max: [to Lisa] And what are you going to do, missy?
Baby: Oh Lisa's gonna decorate it.

One thing about guilt.
It's bad for digestion.

Generally, I have a talent for guilt. It often feels obscene to be posting about luxurious food stuffs on this blog. Maybe it is a case of the famous 'white guilt' but then I do think white people deserve to be guilty. They kind of suck.

Reading Nalika's post Hand to Mouth Eating#3 brought up a few more of those inescapable food-related guilt pangs.

I think somebody should outline an ethical guidelines for eating. Maybe this could be something like karma credits in Buddhism.
Maybe you don't have a 'nest egg' saved up, maybe you don't have health insurance, maybe you're stealing creme eggs on the reg. These stressors would be like credits for a bonus round.
"Don't get caught"
If you have a huge student loan, no savings to speak of and get down to loose change at least once a month, this gives you the potential for an extra ball to play with, or alternatively, one serving of Hokkaido scallops and caviar.

Does someone get automatic mega karma points (imagine a flashing pinball game screen) for living in the developing world? Do you get minus points for every ten grand you earn per year? Perhaps there should be a sliding scale with purchasing power parity: i.e. if you are the equivalent of a millionaire compared to what the poorest people in your country earn, your social debt increases.

Should poor people be absolved from caring about the planet? Is ecological thinking a luxury?

Does every choice in the 'free world' come with a burden of guilt?
If I take a vitamin supplement, is it automatically a bourgeois sin, because an Ecuadorian might not have the choice to do so?
Game over, next player.

I was telling my friend Hanna about my guilty thoughts, like maybe I should be working as a nurse in the Ruhr area, like maybe at some point I have to take some social responsibility in Germany even though I still feel a negligible feeling of connection to society in general here. She said "You just have to do what you feel naturally driven to do and have some useful talent for, and do it ethically and somehow you will end up having a positive impact on the world."

I guess I sort of agree with her, as long as your natural talent isn't exploiting Polish workers to pick white asparagus or sell mulled Glühwein in the Christmas Markets. Beyond that, I guess I can vote in the NZ elections, read the Mental Detox, try not to throw out half a pot of rice and freeze it instead for next week's chahan, send money to my mother, donate to charities, and just keep dreaming about a retirement fund.

Does all of this make me more hypocritical than the guy who eats a solid block of corn syrup for breakfast, drives an old gas-guzzling pick up truck and eats GE potatoes for dinner because they're the cheapest and therefore the most democratic.

This week I might spend ten euros on a fancy piece of cheese, next week I might have the IRD department banging on the door. Oh well, at least I don't care about fancy cars.

Johnny: Last month I'm eating Jujubes to keep alive, and this month women are stuffing diamonds in my pocket, I'm bouncing on shit and quick as that [clicks his fingers] I could be down there again.


    wow, you weren't raised Catholic were you?

    I think it's useful to think about these issues from time to time, but you still need to live in this world

    as thisislame said, chillax and eat a tofu burger or something

    So long as you aren't defiling any fundamental human rights or core moral tenets, the rest is just fodder for the mind...but you need junk food for your brain too now and again

    like mums in movies always say "just do your best"

    if it's any consulation, I think the "stuff white people like" website is hilarous especially this post

    I'm not meaning to carry forward that old debate but what I like about the website in general is that it pokes fun at white guilt and how much white people tend to over estimate their culpability on a personal level. You can't be an apologist for everything and if you were you would be boring.

    at the end of the day you can't tie yourself in knots too much because you (and I speak for nearly everyone here) are just not that important. You just have to make do and get on with it like everyone else in the world....but I'm sure that you are

    But re: ethical guidelines for we really need anymore rules or being told how to eat?

    All I know is that there are a lot more people better off than me, and a lot more people even still that are worse off. I believe that rather than feeling guilty, I should feel extremely grateful and thankful.


    :-) thanks for the wisdom!
    i think i must have been catholic in another life. every now and then i go through 'guilt storms'.
    Also about trivial stuff like not making it to a nightclub when i said i would go!! hah.

    the white people website post is funny!

    i'm off to cook a tofu burger.


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    I guess anybody feels at least a little bit guilty with indulgence.

    Even a Malawian might think, say he is invited to a chicken and nshima meal, he may be feeling guilty for his kins back home who are eating nshima with only pumpkin leaves.

    But things are more complicated than the dichotomized picture that the have's indulge and the have-not's cannot afford to indulge. (ah, another example what social sciences do to you, that one end up building a habit of thinking things are not as simple as it appears...)

    Sometimes one's in a position for unwilling indulgence. Sometimes there are only cakes when bread ran out. Or a fisherman is so tired of eating the fresh daily catch and considers hamburgers to be indulging, when a city dweller drools thinking about fresh seafood. One man's bread may be another's cake. And economists would say that's why there's a trade.

    Also, one may feel guilty on personal scale as well as on social scale.

    If my everyday meal is plain rice and miso soup with pickles, I might feel guilty for indulgence if I add a piece of grilled mackerel. I feel personally guilty because I am overspending.

    The sense of guilt occurred to K'jam when she saw my blogpost about Malawian hand-to-mouth food. She might have had the famous "white guilt" because the simple starch-garnish combination meal made the 10-Euro cheese to appear as quite an indulgence. I guess "white" guilt is not necessarily white but is coming from the socio-economical gap.

    Even though I feel that the just-picked veggies served at dinner at a farmer's house in the northern uplands of Thailand is such a luxury, it may be anything but boring everyday food to them, and it broke my heart when they saw a gourmet TV program and said "rich people can eat anything." I'd tell them overindulgence causes all the disease and the quality of food may not be as fresh as their just-picked vegetables.

    Personally, I deal with it in a similar way Maytel suggests. While I cannot even out all the inequalities in the world, on a personal level I can just be so thankful instead of only feeling guilty.


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