Thursday, July 17, 2008

Dowd on Obama on Food

Does food affect the potential candidacy of a president? How much influence does what a president eats have on the average American, or, does what they eat on the campaign trail define them in class or status or personality type? What does their aesthetic and body type say about them?

From "May We Mock, Barack?", Maureen Dowd, NYT:
Article HERE

John McCain’s Don Rickles routines — “Thanks for the question, you little jerk” — can fall flat. But he seems like a guy who can be teased harmlessly. If Obama offers only eat-your-arugula chiding and chilly earnestness, he becomes an otherworldly type, not the regular guy he needs to be.

He’s already in danger of seeming too prissy about food — a perception heightened when The Wall Street Journal reported that the planners for Obama’s convention have hired the first-ever Director of Greening, the environmental activist Andrea Robinson. She in turn hired an Official Carbon Adviser to “measure the greenhouse-gas emissions of every placard, every plane trip, every appetizer prepared and every coffee cup tossed.”

The “lean ‘n’ green” catering guidelines, The Journal said, bar fried food and instruct that, “on the theory that nutritious food is more vibrant, each meal should include ‘at least three of the following colors: red, green, yellow, blue/purple, and white.’ (Garnishes don’t count.) At least 70% of the ingredients should be organic or grown locally, to minimize emissions from fuel during transportation.”

Bring it on, Ozone Democrats! Because if Obama gets elected and there is nothing funny about him, it won’t be the economy that’s depressed. It will be the rest of us.

Also worth a look:

From "Obama Eats Arugula", Joan Williams, Huffington Post, Article HERE:

Remember arugula-gate, when Obama asked Iowa, "Anybody gone into Whole Foods lately? See what they charge for arugula?" This was only one of a long series of Democratic food gaffes. Howard Dean was decried as a "latte-drinking" elitist, Dukakis got into trouble with Belgian endive.

That's just the tip of the iceberg lettuce. The professional elite is singularly clueless about how food and other taken-for-granted aspects of their lifestyle serve as "class acts." Think of the class structure of coffee, from the lowly 8 oz. cup of joe at Dunkin' Donuts to the $4 venti caramel macciato. Starbucks has made it all too obvious that food is a central way we enact class status.

Sociologist Marjorie DeVault documents two distinctive food cultures in Feeding the Family. The working class respects and expects food that is plentiful and familiar (think: Red Lobster). The upper middle class treats food as a field of knowledge and values novelty (think: Alice Waters).

That's why salad greens are divisive. Obama's campaign is to recognize the ways Obama is sending out alienating signals of class privilege in an entirely unselfconscious way (rather than denying that there's a problem, see this.)


Erika said...

I especially like the picture I found, because it totally negates both articles: He's eating a burger and fries and drinking bottled water. Ha.

Anonymous said...

Great posts, especially this one – thank you! :-)