Nuance. FUCKING NUANCE, LAGUSTA!

 

Can we chat about elitism and food justice?

I wrote an article for the Guardian blog this week. It’s about that weird “brain” / “kidney” thing that some teenager found in his KFC food.

I got so wrapped up in glee about the topic (free reign to hate on meat eaters!!!1!!11!!) that I forgot other factors (other than idiocy) that contribute to eating fast food.

I had a great time writing the article. I got the assignment, wrote it, and sent it off all in the same day.

This was not the best idea. I usually make it a practice to let things marinate a bit (not, obviously, blog posts.).

A few commenters called me an elitist, and, upon reflection, they have a point.

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Usually I justify being an elitist. Sarah Palin doesn’t want us to remember this, but “elite” means FUCKING SMART. It doesn’t mean you think you’re better than anyone, it means you work harder than everyone. It’s a good thing. Most of the time.

But the attitude of elitism means something different, something icky. It’s one thing to be an elite (we should all hope to be), it’s another to act elitist. Ya dig? Am I right?

In my article, I should have said something about food deserts, the corporatist food system, mega agribusiness, etc.

Here’s what I know: eating real food when you’re poor didn’t used to be harder than eating real food, but today it is, because of, well, food deserts, the corporatist food system, mega agribusiness, etc. Rice and beans’ll feed you for a week, but if you only have a convenience store nearby, how’re you going to get the rice and beans? How are you going to have a garden if you don’t have any DIRT nearby?

Ugh.

I screwed up!

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While I’m talking about the article, though, writing it made me think about something else: those bonkers kill-your-own-meat hipster fuckfaces. In my piece, I argue that if we knew the atrocities inherent in fast food, we wouldn’t eat it.

Like Fox Mulder, I deeply want to believe this.* I believe it’s true for maybe 70% of the population. I’d say 70% of us are good at heart, and, if made aware of awfulness, will take small steps to ameliorate that awfulness, as long as it didn’t impact our lifestyles too, too much (Bobby pins are obvs non-negiotiable, as I have proven.).

But what about the other 30% I think they’re those dreadful people who would tell themselves they’re being kind by not eating meat from factory farms and teaching themselves to kill their own dinner.

These people are absolutely fucking terrifying, are they not? 

It’s one thing to close your eyes to suffering. We all do it every second of every damn day. When I was getting into veganism as a teenager, my grandmother told me flat-out not to tell her how awful animals’ lives were, because she wasn’t going to stop eating meat and knew if she heard the truth she’d have to. In a terrible way, I respect this. It shows some humanity, some heart. The need to not hurt one’s heart proves one has a heart.

But whereas good sane people see the suffering animals face and it turns them into vegetarians (and the elites become vegan), the others move to Brooklyn or Portland and join a meat co-op.

There’s no hope for humanity with these fucks, I’m afraid. They make me want to blow my brains out, really, they do. They take one baby step: “animals in factory farms suffer, so I will not eat those animals” and then kind of pivot around in a circle: “The humane thing to do is murder my own animals, so they only suffer while they are unnecessarily dying.”

The mind reels.

 

(If you really want to suffer, listen, as we did at the shop last month, to the awful stupid This American Life segment** on this very topic. Fun fact! As soon as that Pile of Shit/Awful Excuse for a Human Being rabbit killer woman opened her fucking yap, I lost my shit and started wishing all KINDS of cancer on her. Maresa and Jacob (the only ones at the [closed] shop right then, and the only reason I was letting myself go so much) LOLed their asses off when she mentioned two minutes later how horrible vegans had treated her on the internet—wishing cancer on her, even!***)

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*Also? I STILL want to fuck Fox Mulder, even though he’s gross these days and everything. Who doesn’t want to fuck Fox Mulder? I know lesbians who want to fuck Fox Mulder!

**A rare misstep by the ever-fuckable Ira Glass. Boo.

***Since Obama has continued Bush’s policies of wrongful imprisonment/keeping Guantanamo open, etc, I feel the need to state I do not TRULY wish cancer on her. I was speaking metaphorically. HOWEVER. Were she to slip in the street and sprain her ankle, I would laugh most heartily and vow not to make fun of people who speak about karma ever again. Were a bus then to almost run over over while she was lying in the street, however, I would rush to help her, because, unlike her, I am not a terrible human being, though I do sometimes (right now!) play one on the internet. 

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12 Responses to “Nuance. FUCKING NUANCE, LAGUSTA!”

  1. Kaylen

    I live in a downtown area in Canada that some people think doesn’t have a grocery store, when in fact I live a very short walk from an excellent Chinese grocery store where I buy most of my produce, veggie meats, and tofu. I wonder if some American food deserts are similar – that good food exists, but you have to look beyond your usual cultural horizons.

    Reply
  2. d.bear

    I actually think the article is great. Even greater than the words FUCKING NUANCE in capital letters, which I would laugh at really hard if I didn’t happen to be really sad about something right now. Anyway, as a poor folk myself, I believe that we can be eating authentic organic vegan food affordably, but agribusiness politics run so deep. We live in a world that has abandoned the kitchen as the center of the home, a place of love and nourishment and intention. It breaks my heart, which does not have a soft spot in it for people who freak out over the wrong animal parts in their fast food nuggets.

    A couple of years or so ago there was some program on NPR about Chez Panisse, and it was said that the dishwashers and other lower paid staff would throw out their take-home food from the restaurant and get fast food instead. I’m still trying to wrap my mind around this, which is disturbing on many different levels. Was it even true?….

    Also, fresh coconut water. *sigh* Thank you.

    Reply
    • lagusta

      It’s funny you should mention Chez Panisse, because they are my go-to example of misguided elitism. I once heard Alice Waters on Leonard Lopate (the NYC NPR morning program [well, my morning: 12-2 pm]) talking about how everyone could afford farmer’s market produce if they didn’t buy stuff like big screen TVs and cable. WTF!! No mention of governmental subsidies to big ag, no mention of wage inequalities, no nothing. Ugh. My Alice affection died that day, and I’ve never been able to stomach her since.

      Cheer up, sweetheart! Sorry you’re sad. It happens.

      Reply
      • d.bear

        Right, I agree with you about Chez Panisse and Ms. Waters (If you REALLY want to get mad, read the bio http://www.thomasmcnamee.com/alice_waters_and_chez_panisse__the_romantic__impractical__often_eccentric__ultim_57793.htm) and I intensely dislike NPR. One of the points I was inexpertly trying to make is that things are so profoundly screwed up that poor people in this country are too often addicted to horrible instant junk food with fake ingredients, and often prefer it to real food. This is not something that gets talked about enough. I’m a poor person, (Not hipster-with-rich-parents poor, but really poor) so I’m not being elitist.

        The Alice Waters that one might love in “Dirt – The Movie” is not the whole picture of her, and I have tried cherry picking the good things out and isolating them (Not unlike what we do with Martha Stewart) but ultimately I don’t celebrate her. I want her to see the light. I want Chez Panisse to be a vegan restaurant. (Panisse is, ironically, a delightful vegan treat, after all!) But of course it will never happen.

        But the point is that there’s more to organic than a bunch of people with more money than they can reasonably handle insisting that all their green juice ingredients be free of pesticide residues or else their cleanses will be ruined. The point is that pesticides, synthetic fertilizers and GMOs hurt the planet and the people who work and live in and around the places where this stuff is manufactured and used. The point is that I thought your Guardian article was well written, concise and highly readable just as it was. The topic was, after all, the freaky nugget and the hypocrisy of people who eat animal parts getting upset by this sort of thing. It’s good that it opened up all this other conversation/argument, but there was no fault on your part in the nuance department.

        Thanks for telling me to cheer up and for calling me sweetheart. You’re a good person, so I’m sure you meant it sincerely. Please delete this whole thing after you read it. I clearly don’t have enough education to know what I’m talking about.

      • lagusta

        Why are you still putting yourself down, my friend? I certainly won’t delete it! It’s so perfect. It’s my favorite comment of yours of all time. Thank you for it.

  3. Ray Mourinho

    Your Guardian article was a breath of fresh air, I shall definitely be looking out for anything you write in future!

    The cries of elitism etc. come with the territory, the Guardian’s comment section is infested with ‘fake-left’ types who troll any article on fast food/meat eating and trot out the same exaggerated false-equivalencies (“SNOB! HOW CAN YOU BE VEGAN WHEN FARM WORKERS CAN’T AFFORD TO DINE OUT EVERY NIGHT?!!!”) to justify their illogic.

    Reply
  4. Dave Liepmann (@daveliepmann)

    The objection to CAFOs is that these factor-farm cow/pig operations are outrageously cruel, not the simple fact that they cause the animal to suffer, full stop. There is both a qualitative and quantitative difference between putting an animal into an alien, de-ing (like dehumanizing, but for fill-in-the-blank animal) environment and having it suffer enormously for its entire life, and caring for an animal, loving it, letting it live peacefully in a way that contributes to soil quality, and then killing it with minimal pain. I want to say that the distinction is–ahem–nuance, but in fact it’s not a subtle or slight distinction at all. It’s the difference between Auschwitz and euthanasia.

    It’s not mind-reeling at all to say “eating animal products is better for my health, and can be done in a way that is sustainable and avoids cruelty, therefore I’d prefer that over both factory farms and veganism.” Though, to be fair, it wouldn’t be hard to convince a person making such an argument to practice vegetarianism. The vegan argument against milk, eggs, and oysters is drastically, wildly more far-fetched than the argument against killing cows and pigs for food. To assist you in your proselytizing another step: it wouldn’t be too much of a stretch to convince someone who recognizes the cruelty of CAFOs to be vegetarian instead of eat factory meat, in those instances when pastured meat is unavailable.

    Reply
  5. Ann

    “Those bonkers kill-your-own-meat hipster fuckfaces”–couldn’t have said it better; in fact, have never known quite how to respond, partly b/c my blood was boiling so. Thank you.

    Reply

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