Should Foodies Be Fasting?

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When fasting is in the news these days, it’s usually accompanied by words like “cleanse” and “detox.” You give up microwave burritos for a while, maybe hit a few yoga classes, and emerge on the other side simultaneously skinnier and more grounded. Or something.

But this week, some people are practicing a different kind of fast: They’re hungerstriking to protest the cuts proposed in the house budget bill H.R.1, a brutal piece of legislation that would take food, medicine, and services away from the people who need it most—in order to provide tax breaks for wealthy individuals and corporations. For a side-by-side comparison of cuts to aid programs and tax breaks for rich people, check out this cool chart over at the Center for American Progress. 

The growing list of fasters includes leaders of religious organizations, NGOS, activists groups, and others. On Tuesday, Mark Bittman devoted his column to the topic. The whole thing is worth reading, but his basic point is this:

…we need to gather and insist that our collective resources be used for our collective welfare, not for the wealthiest thousand or even million Americans but for a vast majority of us in the United States and, indeed, for citizens of the world who have difficulty making ends meet. Or feeding their kids.

Bittman’s stirring words led me to wonder what might happen if a critical mass of foodies all joined the fasting movement. Now, this is not a group known for its self-restraint. In fact, recently, foodies have been accused of not just gluttony, but devious gluttony: In a recent Atlantic article B.R. Myers lambasted them for using a facade of politically correct causes (the struggling farmers! The beakless chickens!) to dress up what is really just a desire to eat lots and lots of delicious fancy food.

Foodies, (and especially food writers and bloggers), I invite you to put your morals where your mouth is, prove Myers wrong, and lay off the locally cured bacon and hand-gathered chanterelles for as long as you see fit. I’ll be fasting today, which is kind of cheating, since Bittman and others started fasting way back on Monday. But since I’ve never fasted before, I’m starting small. We’ll see how it goes. First order of business: Get someone to remove the chocolate taunting me from my desk drawer. Help!


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Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

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