Why Do We Celebrate Gluttony?


This week in Lyon, France, 22 scientists poured over 800 studies and declared processed meats, including various types of cured, preserved and smoked meats, a leading cause of cancer. Great news. People seem to be reacting well to this release. Perhaps a stamp of approval legitimizing the decisions we do or don't already make?

For most though in North America and Western Europe this will likely translate into more moderation within already moderate moderation.

A public revelatory outburst was understandable when asbestos, cigarettes and thalidomide made the list of public enemies, but is it required that millions of dollars be spent by governing bodies to enlighten us of this such fact?

"Bacon's a food group" tout fast food chains, tv cooking shows and certain high profile chefs. Cookbooks celebrate ridiculously high-calorie foods. "Novelty food" has become a term in our vernacular. Sure it's funny. But it's not.

Celebrating gluttony has increasingly become our norm. It easy to justify the consumption of near anything when we think, and eat, as a group. Combine this with the existing social mantras of "healthy eating is expensive”, “good ingredients are hard to find”, and “I don't have time to make better decisions" and you've created a perfect dietary storm.

How many times has the request for "dressing on the side" or "salad instead of fries please" left you with feeling slightly odd and a tad self-conscious - like you've just asked the server for a soup-bowl-size side of mayo?

When we wrap our consumption of crappy food in a self-told celebratory narrative; "a treat", an "I deserve it" moment, it leaves less of a guilty aftertaste. That's fine some of the time. But moderation has no moderator.

The World Health Organization's formal announcement lends huge credibility to many government outlets and educational institutions looking to effect policy, perception and education. But deep down didn't we already know, don't we know every time a food enters our mouths and tickles our taste buds the difference between how it’s making us feel and the price we may be paying?