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Video blog, a.k.a. “I told you so”

If it’s not clear by now, the theme of this blog can be summarized in one short sentence: food is…

By Kate Allen , in The Masticator , on January 30, 2009

If it’s not clear by now, the theme of this blog can be summarized in one short sentence: food is always more than caloric sustenance, and never just about taste. What food is can’t be summarized in a short sentence. Well, actually it sort of can. Food is every conceivable thing other than those two (non-existent) extremes. I think I’ve managed to cover about six of those things in this blog.

But why trust me? Trust the internet. These four videos represent four other positions on the gastro-epistemological spectrum. Some are hilarious, some are sobering, all are from Youtube. Did entertainment exist before that thing?

This first one is the longest, but maybe the most entertaining. My only point is the one I made two posts ago. Food makes people cohere. Families, regions, nations: food is a glue that binds identities. Why do you think Southern Italians call Northern Italians polentoni, polenta-eaters? (Northern Italians call Southern Italians Terroni, dirt-eaters.) The very fact that you will understand what’s happening in this video and laugh at it (and also maybe cry) proves that point.

This second video, a clip from one of my very favourite TV shows, proves an opposite but related point. Every week on Wife Swap, two mothers of families that represent ideological extremes (Evangelical/Atheist, White Suburban/Black Urban, Feminist/Pageant-obsessed) switch homes and are asked to tend their counterpart’s family for two weeks. The fascinating part is how often the two groups break apart along food-related fissures. The producers like to match up image-crazed health-nuts with over-weight burger-nuts, and I have a clear memory of the completely justified look of horror on one obese mother’s face as she was asked to sit down to her third dinner of salad in as many days. A family’s diet says everything about their worldview, and this video is an extreme example of that point.

Disclaimer: Some people find this video amusing, but I find it sad and eminently unfunny. Also, whoever posted it made the title something mean and wrong and unfair, but it also happens to prove my point.

The third video is a point that I haven’t been harping on because it’s in the news so often. We all know industrialized food has a Homer-Simpson-esque-stranglehold on American and Canadian consumers. But what’s so insidious about multinational food corporations is their ability to shift message in order to match the latest nutritional “advice.” Carbohydrates make you fat? No problem, eat our cheesy meat wrap! Trans-fats were a boo-boo? Relax, we’re replacing them all with processed corn-based emulsifers! Don’t worry. Just keep eating.

And, last but not least, a Brief Introduction to the World Food Crisis. Leave it to the Japanese to somehow make this video cute.