To be “foodie” is to be in a somewhat defensive dance with the word. In recent years it has been reduced to the image of some Borden-emulating hipster looking for a “hole-in-the-wall”, but to be exact, when the term was first printed. New York Magazine by Gail Green in 1980, was to bring positivity and excitement to the food experience. Of course, many were sour in the word, which was unbearable from the beginning with its lovely word “-meaning”. In The Washington Post, Roberto A. Fordman noted that food addiction was a novel in the 1980’s, now it’s a way for more people to interact with food. Foods, even if the term itself is a much-debated nickname, or spit with hatred, or barely discussed, are now ubiquitous. It’s been a while since anyone around me used the word “foodie” seriously – we all have better things to argue with – but lately, I’ve been forced to reconsider.
When I first saw the police recruitment poster calling for “Foodies, Gamers, Texans, Influencers” with some Twitter Apocalypse Four Horsemen, I thought it was a joke. It was the beginning of April after all; Maybe it was the April Fools’ prank that was left for too long, or at least one of those fake commercials I had never heard of for any inter-world aspect of a TV show. But no, that seems like a legitimate advertisement for the Washington, D.C. Police Department, using subway advertisements to recruit New Yorkers to go south. In a statement, the Metropolitan Police Department is trying to “be creative and use innovative strategies to attract high quality candidates” and its ads urge anyone who embraces any of these identities to “join the next generation of DC police.” These four adjectives make it clear that the police are trying to recruit people who may not have traditionally thought of the police as a career option – people who do not consider their interests to match the work.
However, the uniqueness of “Foodie” reflects what the police do not understand about themselves. Yes, as the word spread, self-described foods, especially white foods, became guilty of all sorts of annoying behaviors – pretending to be experts on newly introduced recipes, acting as mediators of authenticity (and consequently suppressing creativity). ), Supporting toxic chefs and industry structures. But at its core, being fond of food means having a fundamental curiosity about the world, which means empathizing with other people’s experiences. It is against the police to embody true enthusiasm about food.
“Defend the police” has become a household phrase, whether or not that particular family agrees with the call to action. Many have always referred to the police as “occupying forces” targeting the most marginalized in the United States as “slave patrols” from their origins. But since George Floyd’s protests began in 2020, fewer people believe the police used force or did a better job of protecting people from crime than in previous years, and more and more are looking for stronger ways to hold officers accountable for abuse. Police departments across the country are reporting declining numbers (although data shows they are not declining). That Many) and are desperate to recruit.
The use of “food” by DC police – to signal something unconventional and unique – is an interesting use of the word, and is part of a long history of interpreting the word to satisfy one’s interest. Originally, Per Green, “Foodie” described people who were “crazy about food, taking cooking classes, competing to cook complex fine dinners, touring three-star restaurants in France”; At a time when meat was plentiful in low season meat and potatoes, people were new. It was different from being a critic, or an expert, or a glutton. Foods weren’t necessarily snobs, nor should they be particularly knowledgeable about the food they were enjoying. They considered food important as a cultural event.
The phrase grew in popularity over the decades to come, and not only the admiration of three-star restaurants, but good food everywhere. The food wanted to taste everything and learn about it at the same time. Food wants to order one of the things and sort out what your friends like, or ask the chef what they like and leave it to their food expert. “One way is defined, to be a ‘eater’ – a person who has invested himself in appreciating the various features of food culture, often trying to understand the history and cultural aspects surrounding food – has democratic and democratic aspects that are accessible,” said Matthew Sedaka. Wrote for Eater in 2016. To be fond of food is to dedicate one’s life to hobby, passion, exploration of food.
But defining another way, Sedaka writes, foods can “be used as food to express their identity; Food becomes a form of social currency. “I argue that the latter definition has won. Somewhere along the way, the meaning of foodie has changed from the person who values the food he eats to the person who likes to eat it. From recognizing the person you think is important to the person who enjoys consuming that special thing.
If foodie means a person who likes to eat different things now, surely the police will give it an easy time for potential members to use in court. Being fond of food becomes a matter of personal consumption preferences, without any connection to the wider world. It’s populist in a different sense, in which literally anyone who likes food can justify it – including the seasonality of their product, how much is paid to the person who can make their soup, or the people who think twice about their chicken history. Tikka masala lunch.
At its core, democracy is a good thing. It prioritizes the community over the elite; It’s about creating a world where we live. For food, this means caring for the land on which the ingredients are grown, the ecological effects of how things are made, the historical methods of production in need of preservation, and the people who create your food at each stage are treated fairly. The epidemic has made many people aware of the difficulties that restaurant and delivery workers face, and raises the question of how to operate restaurants. Ongoing supply chain problems are forcing many of us to look at where our food comes from, and what it costs to get it. Food workers are uniting and striking across the country, shining a light on systemic issues within the industry, and showing how everything, including food, can be better if we do not put profits above the people. Just as it is harder than ever to look at policing in America and to forgive it as a whole, it is harder to eat without thinking about everything that goes into food.
This is why real foodie-ism – the popular version mentioned above – does not match policing. A heterogeneous population is needed to build a world rich in culinary experience. This requires a society that has ample resources, shared ideas and creativity, and prioritizes mutual support. The police have nothing to do with it. Under the guise of “safety,” the police harass immigrant street vendors and throw their food, well-to-do bars and restaurants in the midst of an epidemic, throwing away the only belongings of the homeless. In a garbage truck, And is used by corporate managers as a tool to arrest people. Police prevent mutual aid organizations from feeding their communities. Police monitor and deport undocumented workers, who make up a large percentage of restaurant workers.
Personal food enthusiasts can actually be cops, and I’m sure at least one person has thought about answering the call of the subway poster on the way to the underground Korean barbecue joint. But to be food is to look at the basic human experience from a new perspective, to understand what you know and don’t know, and to let someone else’s experience guide you to a new understanding of the world. It means being open to the world in which we all thrive, share and eat. The ideal definition of foodie exists outside the police state.
Leonardo Santamaria Is an independent painter based in South Pasadena, California.