A few weeks ago on my daily Comfood List patrol at work, I found a letter from an “avid Comfood reader but rare participant” with concerns that we the members of the food justice movement (I would consider myself part of that camp) are using overweight folks to their advantage. My delving deeper into the lengthy message led me to her open letter to the Food Justice Movement called, “A Message for People Committed to Food Justice and Sustainable Agriculture” where she even invoked the image of food justice people riding on fat peoples’ backs. This is sort of a funny image to invoke in a serious “concerned” message, but what the hey. She said “fat” a lot for someone trying to be P.C. :
“Foodies, I plead with you: Lay off the fat people. Science and
reason do not support the value of a weight focus. Switch the
emphasis to advocating for good food directly. Stop the demonization
and instead invite fat people to join you at the table, celebrating
the diversity they bring. Help people of all sizes feel welcome in the
White House organic garden. You can make a powerful argument for
good food based on social justice, environmental stewardship, animal
welfare, or a host of other reasons—you don’t need to do it on
the backs of fat people.”
OK. Where should I start? How about here: what are you talking about…? I find this kind of offensive? Since when was I not advocating for just food and instead hating on folks that are overweight (what you, Linda Bacon, would call “fat people”). Sorry. I lost it a little there. The point is, for me personally and for those I know in the food justice movement…the obesity thing is mostly a concern of the nutritionist/dietitian sector of us, not our, “rallying cry”. Our “rallying cry” is health: human and environmental. This, as a result, would lead to a reduction in obesity. Obesity rates, for the food justice movement, is more of a wakeup call and further evidence as to the way that processed foods and centralized agriculture has wrecked our bodies. When I cruise through Comfood (think of it as the official forum for the food justice movement), I never see obesity as a focus. Usually I see calls to action for Senators about genetically modified (GM) foods, animal welfare, farmworker rights, some job postings at organic farms, nonprofit job postings, questions someone is posing to gather information on best practices, some childhood nutrition stuff (about health not obesity), school gardens, farm to school…etc. What I am not seeing is a forum of people screaming, “everyone is fat let’s get em and ‘demonize’ them”. Ridiculous.
What I see in this open letter is not a Dr. Bacon enlightening me to see our movement in a different way or change our approach (which isn’t even what she says it is in my view), I see a Dr. Bacon trying to sell her book that conveniently has the same name as her counterproposal in that open letter.
Let me be clear. I think that there are a lot of merits in Dr. Bacon’s philosophy; in fact I think that a lot of folks in the evolutionary diet camp would agree with them as well (among them that conventional weight loss wisdom isn’t working…check out the academic article it’s pretty good. Problem is, she offended me by making the food justice movement look like a bunch of obese-haters rather than what we really are, a group of activists for human and environmental health (that sees obesity as a result of larger forces steering us away from this). I have never placed all blame or called for a rally because of people’s size (!). Get it right, Dr. Bacon. I can’t believe you posted this letter on your book’s website in PDF format? (!) Embarrassing.
I think the letter had the wrong address on it. Perhaps it should have been sent to “Let’s Move” or, “The World Fashion Industry”. Just saying. This movement has merits, and by all means, I am picking this person out. The greater problem is annoying book-selling that is plaguing our food justice and paleo worlds, detracting from the true morality of what’s at hand here. What gets under my skin is disguising marketing for moral letter, and to me that’s pretty disgusting. I love your intentions, Dr. Bacon, but you need to redirect these comments, or learn how to say “no,” to your publisher (you and so many others, let me make that clear). I know it’s hard but let’s try to keep even our marketing on par with our moral ground. It’s a challenge, but I think it’s something we can work for without stomping on a legitimate movement for the expense of squeezing a few more book sales.