**The Giving Table Book Club is currently reading The American Way of Eating by Tracie McMillan. It's easy to join, simply visit our discussion group over on Goodreads!
In case you haven't read this section yet, I'll give you a brief overview. Author Tracie McMillan has rented a room in a Mexican neighborhood in Detroit to work in the produce section at a nearby Walmart. While relaxing on the porch one afternoon, the daughter of the woman she rented a room from, Martina, comes home with a dilemma. At the radio station where she works, Martina got into an argument with a colleague about the word foodie.
Martina's colleague spoke with foodies on the radio, and when the show concluded, Martina asked him what the term meant. "It's someone who's really, really into food, and grows their own, and then does things like make preserves and pickles and cans their food." Martina thought this description sounded a lot like her mother, who grows vegetables in her backyard and cooks daily, but her colleague disagreed. It made me wonder.
Was the term foodie just coined for a generation of people who didn't grow up making their own food and for whom cooking wasn't engrained in their culture?
Martina's colleague was right in the contemporary sense. Some of today's foodies entered into a relationship with food as adults, and although food was certainly a part of their childhood, it wasn't a ritual the way they might make it for themselves now. They may cook for themselves, but also love eating out, often photographing every meal with their smart phones and posting them online almost instantly. However, Martina's colleague failed to recognize the legacy of cooking that most cultures possess. Generations of mothers, grandmothers and great grandmothers certainly fit the Dictionary.com definition of a foodie, "a person keenly interested in food, especially eating and cooking," yet today's culture marginalizes anyone without a camera phone, or who has been living a foodie lifestyle without feeling compelled to name it as such. As it turns out, foodies have always been among us.
In an ideal world, we wouldn't need the word foodie to differentiate between those who are interested in food and those who are not. As more people return to the kitchen, shop at local farmers' markets, and fight for a better food system, we're becoming a society full of food-focused indivuduals, so maybe the term foodie will just be a phase after all.
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