Guardian long read on "Clean Eating"

This is an interesting look at the “clean” eating fad from a British POV.

I was struck by the use of of the phrase “post-truth culture” in this context, which I’ve only seen in reference to the Donald Trump age here in the US. People will believe anything you tell them, so long as it’s what they want to hear and you can feign authority. Bee Wilson’s account of her “debate” with Madeleine Shaw on stage before an audience of Shaw supporters came across as an instructive parable.


My father like his salted Meats and Sweets. He always cooked his own food. And said going out to eat is what’s going to kill you. That’s his philosophy. Lived to be 92.


We have long imported American language (and culture).

In regard to your second sentence, our (bitter) experience comes from our Brexit referendum where many people disregarded the genuine experts (with whom their instinct did not agree) in favour of the Leave politicians who promised how easy and successful it was all going to be (which supported those folks instincts). As you indicate, you have to have both the authority and have people wanting to agree with you.

And yet two of the most famous literary expressions of this idea are from English authors.

Lewis Carroll:

‘When I use a word,’ Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, ‘it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.’
‘The question is,’ said Alice, ‘whether you can make words mean so many different things.’
‘The question is,’ said Humpty Dumpty, ‘which is to be master — that’s all.’

And my beloved George Orwell:

The Ministry of Peace concerns itself with war, the Ministry of Truth with lies, the Ministry of Love with torture and the Ministry of Plenty with starvation. These contradictions are not accidental , nor do they result from from ordinary hypocrisy: they are deliberate exercises in doublethink.

Diet-as-spriritual/religious practice has a long history in the United States obviously, going back to Sylvester Graham and earlier. For that matter it has a long history, period - ayurveda, kosher, halal - and the US is a very religious country.

In this century Americans have continued to be more interested in self-treatment than Europeans are because so many of us don’t have access to conventional medical care. The term “orthorexia nervosa” was first introduced BTW by the American doctor Steven Bratman in 1997 (his book Health Food Junkies is both funny and disturbing).

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Diet fads seem to be more common in cultures where there isn’t a very strong traditional diet, like here in America. An Italian grandma will probably smack you on the head and tell you to get a grip if you tell her you are avoiding the long list of food that may be deemed ‘unclean’ by these new diets but perfectly sustain and nourish the stomachs and the souls of multiple generations.

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“Food is a pretty good prism through which to view humanity.”

― Jonathan Gold

Market stall in Lima
Credit: TXMX 2