A deluded dichotomy

Being Inner Western suburbanites, sustainability is a topic discussed frequently and I think we’re all more or less across the fundamentals of why season, organic, free-range, biologically-sound food a) is better for us and b) costs more. Sadly because of b), a lot of people tend to fling their arms in the air and give up completely, because why bother if you can’t do it properly, right?

Despite whatever low-tox/health/mum bloggers are banging on about these days from their sleek newly-renovated-though-chicly-vintage home offices, you are not a bad person for not feeding your child biodynamic bananas plucked by virgins at midnight on the harvest moon.

This week, I found myself in a food industry focus group talking about food trends and the very observant and very funny food writer Michelle Cranston brought up the topic of food extremism. We’re seeing the advent of two kinds of approaches to food. On one end of the spectrum: frankenfood. You know, those cafes serving milkshakes large enough to bathe your baby in, with a jam-stuffed donut stacked on top of a hamburger, stacked on top of a pizza….perched right on top of aforementioned milkshake. It’s full-on indulgence to the extreme, and whether you hate yourself enough to want to eat that crap, it’s become popular for a reason: escapism. On the other side of the same coin, we have ‘clean eating’, dragging along with it all the organic turmeric and ginger-slathered chia seed-dusted everything you could possibly think of. Why? Control.

We’re living in dire times, to be sure. In order to cope, we flee from one extreme to the other in order to seek a little escapism in the fantastical, or the comfortable confines of correctness. What has this to do with sustainability? Well, pretty much everything. Just as you can’t eat like a saint 24/7 and not expect to find yourself at McDonalds the second you have a bad day (or get on the organic wines), you can’t live a life of indulgence and not expect to pay the consequences either.

Sustainability, in a dietary sense, is about balance. Don’t beat yourself up if your cupboard contains a few non-organic ingredients, but don’t freak out and pick up the phone and dial Domino’s as a result. A bit of this and a bit of that never hurt anyone, and in the long run, is much better for you.

Words: Melissa Leong, www.fooderati.com.au