For a two year old, I must admit that you have a much broader appreciation of food than I did as a child. Your French Mimi often recounts my fascination with ‘grilled’ cheese sandwiches. She even had to call ahead to Chinese restaurants to see if they’d accommodate my fetish before we would go out for family meals.
I’m proud to tell you that I’m a champion at being an earnest, thoughtful, effort making, judgmental food hypocrite and, you know what, most nice people are. There are lots of arseholes out there who don’t care about where their food comes from or how it’s produced. They are such total wank wads that they don’t even make an effort, like I do, to try or, at the very least, give the impression that they are trying. They just eat what they want and are completely guilt free about it.
I sort of envy them. I’ve spent too much time with animal rights activists, animal welfare activists, human rights activists and farmers to be able to act like I don’t care. And the truth is – I Do Care! But the distance to traverse between truth, the intention and reality are a bridge that I find far too treacherous to cross.
Don’t get me wrong. I’ve served my time. I did the vegetarian thing. In fact I did it bravely, in a house full of vegans. I came home one day to find my cheese stuck to the wall with ‘murderer’ written in catsup below it on the wall. The worst part is that they were right. ‘But why?’ I hear you ask. ‘You even had cheese with vegetable rennet’, you go on to state in my defense. But getting back to that difficult thing – truth – is that most dairy products result in even more cruelty than meat production does. So, when vegetarians scowl at you with your hamburger, you can scowl back with even more venom at their cheese sandwich.
I even tried veganism. Luckily I was young because if I ate now, what I ate then, I would most certainly be dead. I mean chips are vegan and by ‘chips’ I mean, what you call french fries. Bread is vegan too. Chips and bread are cheap and filling. I was poor. Get the picture. Being vegan is fucking difficult. It’s probably the right thing to do in a lot of ways, as is Janeism, which is a religion where they even gently brush in front of themselves as they walk so that they don’t hurt any insects by inadvertently stepping on them. Any of us who claim to love animals and abhor cruelty, even and especially the vegans, if we weren’t hypocrites, that is the lifestyle we would choose. But we don’t.
I hate to burden you with this at such a tender age, but grown ups are pretty much hypocrites. All of us. Want to know what’s even worse than that? The ones that try the hardest to be well informed and make intelligent decisions are probably the biggest hypocrites, because they know better. At least the intentionally ignorant and helplessly stupid have an excuse. Oh, and by the way, ignorance in this day and age, unless you are helplessly stupid, is a lifestyle choice. But we compassionate folks, who care about people and animals and try to support local shops and use reusable shopping bags and conserve water and have rescued pets and share memes about men who kill exotic animals for fun commenting on the many ways they deserve to die…yes, us – we’re fucking hypocrites. We are your family. We are your neighbours and, one day, we might be you.
So, why are we all hypocrites? It’s hard to pin it down really. It probably varies from person to person, but my guess is that it all boils down to the fact that we are selfish. Now, it can easily be argued that being selfish is not a bad thing and is one of the traits that has allowed us to become so successful as a species, which we are. The problem is that we’ve also evolved two other important traits: logic and empathy. Some might argue that those with the most logic are the least empathetic and they may be right. So, I’ve observed a variety of hypocrites around food and will now share some of those with you:
- Guilty eater – Claims to love animals. Has close relationships with pets. Eats thoughtlessly and then to make themselves feel better make jokes about vegans and pretends saying ‘I’m a member of PETA – People Enjoying Tasty Animals’ is funny, when deep down they know it’s completely lame.
- Token effort maker – Shares ‘dogs on death row’ photos of sad looking pit bulls about to be euthanased in shelters and calling for ‘someone to do something before this lovely boy is murdered’. Only eats ‘white meat’ because it makes them feel better to believe that chickens and fish might not be as intelligent as cows and pigs. Makes sure their white meat is antibiotic and hormone free lest they become immune to antibiotics and grow male breasts. Would never eat veal because they heard something about veal crates and because somehow they think eating baby animals is worse than eating adult ones.
- C’mon I’m really trying here – I’d probably fit into this category. Eats meat. Pays over the odds to buy humanely reared meat and free range eggs. Talks about how plastics should be banned but still uses plastic bags for shopping and excuses it by saying they need it to pick up their dogs’ shit. Their dogs, by the way are fed commercial dog food made out of animals that were probably waterboarded and interrogated before dying a painful and horrible death.
- We can only do so much – Vegetarian. Doesn’t always thoroughly check ingredients though if the food looks too delicious. Makes a point of buying fair trade everything and bringing up subjects such as child slaves making chocolate at dinner parties. Wears fake fur with their leather boots. Considers fox hunting barbaric. Has a dog, leaves the poor fucker alone all day bored out of his wits. Because he’s a ‘rescue dog’ and they never got round to training him properly, they can’t really take him anywhere. They wish he wasn’t neutered as they’d really love to have puppies from him.
- Unrighteously smug – Vegan. Shares PETA memes without an ounce of irony. Thinks all farmers and hunters are murderers and worse than pedophiles. Chain smokes. Loves all the most expensive imported vegan specialty products. Doesn’t know a thing about child slavery nor do they care. Has a beagle that was liberated from a laboratory that lives in the bathroom as it’s too scared to come out but their pet psychic is helping them with that issue. On the phone. While giving them reiki.
- Almost not hypocrites – Vegan, most of the time. Does not pretend not to know about human and animal rights issues around the world. Marches in gay pride marches. Volunteers at the homeless shelter. Rides a bicycle. Smokes weed. Is mostly depressed.
So, KK, there you have it. The wisdom your Badass Auntie is going to share with you today is that you’ll never be perfect, but you have a ton of advantages that most children in the world don’t have. You’re smart, healthy and live in a relatively wealthy country with parents who aren’t likely to sell you to sex traffickers. So, be bloody grateful and make an effort. Making an effort is the most important part of being a decent human being. The rest, my dear, is biology and luck of circumstances. Oh, and if you’re hungry, fucking eat. I was hungry for nearly 20 years when I was a vegetarian.
Much love from your Badass Auntie
You are still pure and guilt free. You are one of the so-called ‘innocent’. The only food you’ve had so far comes from your Mom’s tit and you don’t know anything. It’s bliss, isn’t it? You’ll find that as you go through life, people will ask you what they believe are deeply meaningful questions, such as ‘If you were starving, would you eat a person?’ Please know now, that the answer is ‘yes’. Want to know what’s even worse? You’d probably be the easiest to catch, so it might be wise to never go on a plane with me that crosses high mountains with lots of snow, cliffs and crevices because, apparently, that’s a location where I might be most in need of eating you.
I would eat pretty much anything if I were starving, though I learned this week that my tastes are somewhat odd when it comes to things that I would try and why. I had three separate conversations with different people about food. The first was about eating insects and whether or not we, as humans, should embrace eating more insects. Some people in the world do so knowingly and eagerly but many others do so non consensually.
So, to help with your education and to make sure that you are not one of those eating insect parts unknowingly, I did a bit of research for you. These are just examples that come from the FDA apparently, according to the source of all useful information – Wikipedia. Other countries may be better or worse. If every you are in a trivia game, you may find this information useful. If you are vegan, you should know about this.
In canned corn, insect parts, particularly larvae that total up to 12mm are allowed in every 24 pounds of product. There must be some sort of insect inspector who actually pulls out these insect parts and puts them together like a puzzle just so that they can be measured. In your fruit juice up to 5 fly eggs and 1 maggot are allowed for ever 250mls. That’s not a lot of juice. Wheat is even more insect ridden with up to 150 insect fragments allowed per 100 grams. But herbs are truly where you’d have to question your dietary habits if you cared deeply about ingesting animals. Thyme allows 925 insect fragments per 10 grams. I’m sorry, but I’m sure 925 insect fragments would probably make up about 5 grams.
After gathering that data, I suppose it’s a moot point whether or not we should start eating insects. It seems we already are. The second conversation I had was with someone I know who loves to travel and eat. She had just consumed what she described as ‘a full English Breakfast in liquid form’. One day, as long as you are not a vegan or a vegetarian, I will make you a full English breakfast. They are truly unique in the world in terms of the quantity of cholesterol consumed in one serving.
Such a meal would normally consist of bacon and sausage (you’ll notice that in the USA they are tight arses in restaurants and only offer you bacon or sausage – not in the UK), two eggs, sunny side up, baked beans, fried mushrooms, grilled tomato and fried bread – the bread can be toasted but only perhaps if you’ve recently had heart surgery. I promise though, that when I make it I will use free range eggs, locally, humanely reared meat and organic vegetables. There’s nothing I can do, apparently, about the insects in your bread. I promise never to make you consume this meal in liquid form and I sincerely hope that I am never forced to either. Yes I’d eat insects. Yes I’d even eat you. No, I will not eat a full English breakfast in liquid form. That’s just disgusting.
My last conversation was with a friend over lunch, who was explaining that she finds it a little bit frightening to be adventurous with her food. My response was that if I like the chef and trust them, then I assume they aren’t going to serve me something that’s disgusting. So, I can take risks. And this, my lovely little niece, brings me to today’s wisdom from your Badass Auntie. As a species, we’re very lucky to be able to get pleasure from a number of sensations. Two of the greatest, in my opinion, are eating and shitting and you need to do one very well to enjoy the other. So, be adventurous with your eating habits. Be wild. Do be thoughtful and try not to eat rare rainforest animals or creatures that have to be flayed alive to make them taste good, but try new things and then, let your arsehole be your biggest food critic.
When things come out nice and lovely, you’ll know that you made your body happy. If things don’t come out so well, come out too quickly, aren’t formed perfectly or burn, then those foods may have to come off your list – unless, of course, they are so good when consumed that it’s worth the risk of public humiliation or, possibly having to throw away your knickers in the bin of a public toilet (I speak from experience here, but I’m still not sure how one can get shit under the seat of the toilet. Things to ponder.). Some things are worth it. For now, be grateful. Someone is cleaning your shit for you so it doesn’t matter.
Much love from your Badass Auntie