I am really repulsed by this judgy, jargonny new trend in calling food “clean”. Browsing Pinterest I saw a recipe for “Clean banana bread: with honey and applesauce instead of oil and sugar!” Prevention.com has an awards slideshow of the “100 Cleanest Packaged Foods”, which includes products like Stonyfield Greek Yogurt, about which the ad copy bleats, “it has just one ingredient. Now that’s clean”. Not a word choice I would use for a food that’s produced through bacterial fermentation.
Which is my point: it seems like a significant disconnect, the construction of Clean Food with no real concept of the realities of how your food works — and yet another way to make healthier food options into an issue of class, wealth, and morality. Calling foods that aren’t highly processed “clean” immediately renders other foods “dirty”, and the people who eat them dirty by extension.
Most of the clean items on the slideshow are pretty damn expensive, and you can only get them in certain stores; I say this as a Canadian with easy access to a car and multiple specialty groceries. Hell, I say this as a Canadian who, like many ordinary people, has already made an effort to simplify and streamline her diet to cut out more processed foods, within the confines of her budget and energy.
And all of this, of course, is before you even look at the fact that “clean eating” is touted as part of a fitness regime to help lose weight. Because being fat — like being poor, like eating foods that are part of your culture and include oil and eggs and sugar — is the same as being dirty. And clean eating will cure you of being dirty.
I mean, to me, “clean eating” means food security. It means you had access to safe water and food ingredients, somewhere adequate for food preparation, something clean to eat your meal off of. It doesn’t mean stuff that costs you way too much at Whole Foods, but will make you slim, sanitized, and superior to all those fat poor people eating their dirty food.