Thinking About Food in Trump’s America

I’m still finding it pretty impossible to concentrate on anything other than the election. To be honest, I woke up on Wednesday morning thinking, “why on earth am I writing a book about learning to eat? It should be about paid family leave! Or rape culture!” Or any of the five million other problems that are about to get even more toxic.

But before my agent and editor get too nervous, let me say that I’m still excited to be writing this book. If we’re going to have a President who refers to women who gain weight as ”eating machines,” then it’s important to keep trying to untangle health and nutrition from misogynistic beauty standards. If we’re going to have a Republican Congress who wants to cut funding for food stamps and decimate school lunch programs, then we also need to understand, more than ever, what it’s like to grow up hungry. The choices we make around food are often our most overt and consistent political statement. Shared meals and food traditions unite our families and cultures, but food is also divisive. Ask any vegetarian — and also ask any overweight person who has had their restaurant order picked apart by “well-meaning” dining companions, or any busy mom who has felt the sanctimonious sneer of liberal judgment after buying her kids a Happy Meal. From where I’m sitting, liberals (myself included) lost this election by not taking the threat of Trump seriously, and worse, by not trying hard enough to understand and address the fears of his supporters, even when we disagree with them.

I want to understand now. And in my experience, asking people about what they eat is a good first step towards understanding who they are and how they think.

At the same time, we also need to get ready to fight to protect reproductive rights, health care, environmental policy, gun control, and oh, just about everything. On that front, I’m starting with donations to the National Women’s Law Center, the Southern Poverty Law Center and Emily’s List. For more ideas, check out Jezebel’s comprehensive list of pro-woman, pro-immigrant, pro-earth and anti-bigot organizations that also need your help. 

PS. Back in the world of regularly scheduled programming: I am still looking for parents of picky eaters to interview! If you fall into one of these categories, please fill out this survey

*Your child (aged 4 and up) is a picky eater and simultaneously overweight, or at risk for obesity. 
*Your child (aged 4 and up) is a picky eater and you or your spouse have a history of disordered eating.
*Your child (aged 4 and up)  is a picky eater and you also struggle to afford enough food to feed your family. 

Thanks so much! 

[Photo via USDA of sorting operations at the Capitol Area Food Bank in Washington, D.C.]

Filed under Government Watch, Happenings, On Eating and Writing

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    The Eating Insinct: Food Culture, Body Image, and Guilt in America by Virginia Sole Smith

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