Monday, June 1, 2015

The Health Food Diner

I have been wondering and wondering what to write about this week. Honestly there are so many different topics to cover, but none of them felt “right” to me. Do you ever have those moments when something sounds good on paper, but in your gut it just doesn’t click? Me Too! Well I had a nice long blog post written out, but at the last minute I just had to do something else.

As an undergraduate I went to a liberal arts university that strongly emphasized the integration of art and literature into every subject and class that we studied. At the time, it was rather irritating! J But now, it allows me to see the world in an entirely different way. In particular, I love observing how literature reflects what is happening in society, and role of food in society is no exception.

There are many “governmental” examples of this – for example, you can tell that the US is in the Great Depression simply by the food guidelines published in that time frame.  But, we can’t overlook what writers and poets talk about in their poems. These reflections by writers/poets, allow us to imagine what is happening in the time they wrote it. In the poem below by Maya Angelou, I imagine that this is written either in the late 1970’s/early 80’s (with the first “health boom” or obsession with low fat come about) or even today! What does this poem tell you about society and the food culture at this time?

The Health-Food Diner - Poem by Maya Angelou

The Health-Food Diner
No sprouted wheat and soya shoots
And Brussels in a cake,
Carrot straw and spinach raw,
(Today, I need a steak).

Not thick brown rice and rice pilaw
Or mushrooms creamed on toast,
Turnips mashed and parsnips hashed,
(I'm dreaming of a roast).

Health-food folks around the world
Are thinned by anxious zeal,
They look for help in seafood kelp
(I count on breaded veal).

No smoking signs, raw mustard greens,
Zucchini by the ton,
Uncooked kale and bodies frail
Are sure to make me run


Loins of pork and chicken thighs
And standing rib, so prime,
Pork chops brown and fresh ground round
(I crave them all the time).

Irish stews and boiled corned beef
and hot dogs by the scores,
or any place that saves a space
For smoking carnivores.

Emily Boldrin PhD, RD


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