Vintage HandPicked: Don’t Be That Food Person

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Brie Aronson

Brie Aronson › Brie Aronson came to Polyface from southern California. During college, she was diagnosed with food allergies ...

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Let’s start with this: I can’t change anybody. Neither can you, but neither of us should be that ‘food person’.

(Thank goodness!)

I learn this lesson over and over again, in a thousand different ways. Most recently, it’s been sneaking up on me in the kitchen. Chances are you may be finding yourself in a myriad of food situations over the next few weeks. You may be tempted, like I am, to act like it’s your first time home after starting college. You want to tell your parents about Pavlov and his dogs, because (you think) for sure and for certain they’ve never heard of his experiments. Or you’ll feel the need to enlighten guests about the actual causes of World War I, which you are positive they’ve never heard of.

Visiting my family and friends this last week has taught me a few things, as it always does. I’ve been forced to ask myself:

Have I become that girl? The one that is preaching about good food a little too loudly?

Some of my eating choices are necessary, based on my physician’s advice. Some of my eating choices are philosophical, because I think animals should be raised in a certain way. Some of my eating choices are temporary, because of the nutritional research I’ve been doing. I enjoy talking about these things. Many people do not. I recall a conversation about factory-raised eggs between my sister and me last Christmas that left us not speaking to each other for an entire day.

Several times a day I find myself wanting to say, “How was this pork raised?” or “Nightshades have been known to cause inflammation!” and “Did you know that when you buy junk food, you are mostly paying for packaging?” Ultimately, my drive to share this information is because it’s absolutely changed my life, and I just want others to see the power it has, too. But food is a very personal topic, and discussing it has the potential to flatline a conversation in an instant.

Remember, people are smart–just as smart as you. They can tell when you are selling something, and they can tell when you are using shame to change their behavior (you should eat this, you should not eat that.) Instead, I suggest we invite people into a conversation about food. After all, it’s an element of life that brings us together–let’s not turn it into something that drives us apart.

Food is a very personal topic, and discussing it has the potential to flat line a conversation in an instant.

This holiday season, let’s cook and serve food we believe in to those we love. And let’s not say a single word about it. Let the conversation unfold by leading your guests’ taste buds in a new direction. It’s a deliciously subversive action, and I think it’s a better way to express your food movement ideals to your loved ones. I’ve noticed that it’s the times that I show rather than tell, that people actually want to listen to what I have to say.

As we celebrate this season, may we eat gratefully, whatever is on the plate in front of us; and may we have opportunities to cook with the kind of love and ingredients that create meaningful conversations.

How do you invite people into conversations about food without turning them off?

Photo Credit: Tomiko Peirano