You think politics and religion get people fired up? I’ve discovered something even more apt to generate extreme views and robust “discussion,” and it has nothing to do with the economy or same-sex marriage. Yup, I’m talking about food.
It seems that everyone has decided they’re an expert. They do or do not eat [fill in soy, bacon, sugar, etc., etc.], and they’re convinced that you should, or should not, eat it as well.
I was chatting with a group of women a few days ago, and someone asked if anyone had a good cold veggie salad recipe. I offered that I make a broccoli salad that is pretty popular at pot-lucks, and started to list off the ingredients. Since we’re all on diets of one form or another, I mentioned that I often substitute turkey bacon for higher-fat “real” bacon—and a lady I did not know, sitting across the table, started screaming at me!
I realize people love their bacon, but her opinion was that turkey bacon was inedible, she had tried it and thrown it out, and that therefore, no one should ever buy that product. You’d think I had recommended we eat baby fur seals, the way she carried on!
I’ve had similar responses when it comes to anything with soy in it (GMO or organic), sugar and the various alternate sweeteners (do we really need white, pink, blue, yellow, green, and brown sugar packets at every table?), dairy (raw, homogenized, both, neither), bananas and other imported foods, dietary supplements, coffee, coconut oil, palm oil, salmon (wild or farmed), shellfish, chocolate, wheat and other grains, tea, red meat, any meat… pretty much anything you’d find at a market or health food store.
Either the person is convinced I’m hurting myself of others by eating “x” or they’re convinced I’m ruining the planet. They take offense at my preferences (which in general are the result of substantial research on my part). Then, not content to simply hold their opinion to themselves, they have to browbeat me into submission.
It’s not just food that elicits such vehemence these days. There is a growing trend, perhaps accelerated by faceless social media, that our opinions only count if we can convince others to agree with us. We are no longer willing to just discuss things politely and at low volume. Conversation becomes an argument that we’re determined to win.
Unfortunately, we may win the argument and lose the friendship. I admit I’m not eager to spend more time with the bacon lady. Is food, or politics, or—you name it—really more important than relationship?
I’m reminded of Paul’s admonition in Romans 14 where he talks about inappropriately judging one another, reminding us that our relationships with one another, and more importantly, with God, are much more important than some big issues of his day—what we eat or what holidays we celebrate. I know Paul was dealing with food offered to idols, but read that chapter with our American diet in mind. I especially appreciate verses 19-20a, 22:
Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification. Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food. … So whatever you believe about these things keep between yourself and God. (italics mine)
Just for fun, here’s the broccoli salad recipe I mentioned above:
Ingredients (all quantities are approximate)
Several heads broccoli, cut into florettes
½ red onion, slivered
¾ C pecans, cut in half and toasted
4-6 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled (turkey or otherwise)
¼ C raisins
¾ C mayonnaise (non- or low-fat is fine)
¾ C low-fat sour cream (non- or low-fat is fine)
2 Tbsp. sugar (or substitute)
2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste
Cook broccoli (either in microwave or steam on stove) until just starting to get tender, but is still a bit crunchy. Stop cooking by plunging broccoli into cold water. Drain and place in large bowl.
Add remaining ingredients and stir to mix. Top with dressing (adjust amount of dressing to sparingly coat salad), then serve immediately.
This travels well, if you leave the nuts out to add at the last minute (they get soggy otherwise). We frequently take it on picnics and camping trips. I also bring it to potlucks, where there never seems to be enough veggie dishes.