Thoughts on Promoting Organic Food: Pro-Organic and Anti-Fat?
Posted on April 29, 2013
This is part one of a three-part series running this week.
Chalupa and I buy a lot of organic food. It raises our grocery bill a bit, but it’s a decision we feel pretty good about. We have friends that buy even more organic food than we do. Being friends with people who really love food means that we see a lot of shared images on Facebook about food. Recipes, ideas, warnings, statements of belief, delicious meals–we see it all.
I’d like to suggest that there are a few types of images, though, that those of us who love organic food should avoid sharing. Over the next three days, I’ll discuss these three varieties of problematic images.
Today I want to talk about the easiest one to avoid posting: images that promote fat hate or body negativity.
Fortunately, I don’t see images like this shared among my friends very often, if ever. Where I see them is in the albums of pro-organic Facebook groups. There must be some kind of rule: every food-based Facebook photo gallery must have at least one anti-fat
I’m not targeting weight loss tips here, or images that discuss which foods are low in calories–I’m just talking about the ones that make fatness out to be a disgusting attribute that everyone should be either ashamed of or afraid of.
There are three main reasons to avoid sharing these images.
- These images miss the point.
Eating organic isn’t about losing weight. It’s about avoiding GMOs and pesticides and supporting local farmers. Going organic doesn’t make someone lose weight. When people start a diet to lose weight, it’s always a fad and it pretty much never lasts. Eating organic is a series of decisions about what to buy and who to support with your money so that what you put into your body is good for you–it’s not about a fad of eating a certain way until you lose twenty pounds. When we share these images, we turn the organic movement into a fad diet, and who wants to be a part of that?
- They breed competition and exclusion within the community.
I know that the vegan community and organic community is not exactly the same, but there is a lot of overlap. How many times have I heard my vegan and vegetarian friends reference people in their communities dismissing them as “not vegan/vegetarian enough” because they’re not thin. When we make the claim that eating non-organic makes you fat, then aren’t we implying that eating organic makes you thin? And the thing is, it doesn’t. And yet, when we make claims like this, we are implying something else: that if you’re not thin, you must not be eating organic enough. That’s a pretty crappy thing to communicate. Fat people don’t have to lose weight to join the organic club, and we shouldn’t send out the idea that we do.
- They cause damage to people we care about.
Do you remember when my friend Meg wrote that incredible post about how damaging it can be to see anti-fat and body-negative images shared on social media all the time? It’s an incredible post, and I encourage you to take a look again. According to the statistics I found, 1 in ever 200 women deals with Anorexia, and 2-3 of every 100 suffers from Bulimia. It’s not just women, of course, that have eating disorders, and Anorexia and Bulimia aren’t the only two types of disordered eating. With numbers like that, anyone with more than a few hundred Facebook friends is bound to know at least a few people who are struggling with eating disorders. I’m not willing to post something that could cause trouble for those friends. My enjoyment of organic food shouldn’t lead to me posting images that could be triggering or damaging to my friends who struggle with their relationships with food and their bodies.
I don’t think that people post these images out of meanness or any sort of negative intention. I do think that the images are worth avoiding, though.
Tomorrow we’ll look at another type of pro-organic image that does more damage than good: the one that is linked to faulty or false science.