Colleen over at The Pretty Pear has asked some thoughtful questions about the products and food we purchase and how they may affect the fat acceptance movement:
If one is anti-diet, is it wrong (for the lack of a better word, because wrongness is pretty subjective) for that person to eat foods that are diet foods? I would say “diet foods” but I mean actual diet foods, like the cereals and the microwavable meals which shall not be named because Google will be all over it.
Here’s the thing – I don’t diet but there are some diet foods that I buy because they’re convenient and I actually enjoy them. There are a few of those microwavable meals that are pretty damn tasty and the special (ahem!) cereal has the space age dried fruit that I happen to like. But by purchasing these foods, am I just giving money to, and in turn supporting, the companies that are trying to get money from people who diet, which I disagree with?
That seems pretty cut and dry, of course I am! But how far does that go? What if something is labeled “low fat” but isn’t specifically a diet food? If they took the time to label it as low fat, are they trying to imply that it will help you lose weight? Am I doing a disservice to the Fat Acceptance movement by eating foods labeled as low fat?
My first reaction was to say ‘if it’s what you like, eat it’.
But, yes, there is the bigger picture.
Like Colleen, I don’t want to support the diet industry in any way. And I choose not to sign up with the latest diet company, buy diet books or take diet drugs. But I do, as I confessed in the Shapely Prose comments the other day, drink Diet Coke. So is that hypocrisy?
Truthfully, I have to answer yes.
At the same time, though, I acknowledge that we live in a capitalistic and consumer-driven culture. It is difficult, if not impossible, to live entirely inline with my values; limit plastic bags, limit petro-chemical consumption including packaging, no sweatshop produced products, buy ethically and organically produced Australian produce, no genetically modified foods, buy as few processed foods as possible. If I adhered to all of those restrictions all the time, I wouldn’t be buying much. Catch 22.
We do try to avoid purchasing packaged foods; but we do do it. We do try and limit plastic bags, but I am always forgetting to take my green bags to the supermarket. We used to not have a car, but we have one now due to John’s illness, and that needs to be filled with petrol. Just about every product we buy is in plastic or in some other petro-chemical container. If there are no organic, Australian grown beans, well, I will most likely get the chemically sprayed, probably imported ones. Do I really know that every piece of clothing I buy is non-sweatshop? Are the edamame I just ate at the Japanese restaurant gen-mod free? Who knows. I make dodgy purchases all the time, as do most other people.
Unless you make extreme adjustments in the way you live (dropping out of mainstream culture to live an ecologically sound, carbon and petro-chemical footprint free, self-sustaining life), it is nearly impossible in our culture today to avoid purchasing ethically ‘gray’ products.
And similarly, I think it’s the same with diet products.
Let’s start with the ideal of not buying diet foods. Well and good. No Lean Cuisine. No Diet Coke. DONE.
Or is it? As Colleen asks, should we then avoid any product marked ‘low cal’ or ‘low fat’ or that hints oh, so delicately that it will help us lose weight? Hell, that’s 90% of the foods on the shelf these days. Pretty much everything except chocolate and chips. And fruit, veg and meat should be safe from diet crapola, right?
Maybe, though we go even further and avoid buying any product from companies who manufacture diet foods or low-cal foods. Or from companies with owned by or with connections to diet companies or pharmaceutical companies?
And if we do that, perhaps we even avoid supermarkets who stock diet products? But where does that leave us to purchase our food from at all? Maybe a few local co-ops?
I’m taking the hypothetical to the extreme, but I think you can see my point. We live in a culture saturated at every level with DIET, DIET, DIET. The weightloss market is so lucrative, just about every company on the face of the earth has dipped a toe in to it or even just dived straight in.
Call my conclusions self-serving if you will, but I really can’t see how it is possible to avoid all purchases that support the diet industry in one way or another.