4

votes

Are we food "fascists" or misunderstood? (Michael Ruhlman may think the former.)

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created April 26, 2012 at 2:43 AM

I caught this post by Michael Ruhlman today:

http://ruhlman.com/2012/04/food-facism/

He seems to try to make a distinction between those with allergies versus intolerances, and those who keep their diets to themselves versus those who "proselytize," but I feel that he winds up sounding like a rather breathless critic of paleo eating, or really anyone who claims to suffer from leaky gut or other deleterious effects from various foods. (As an additional irritant, his comment about having evolved to consume hot dogs made little sense.) I often seem to take issue with Pollan in a similar vein - talented writers and foodies who have perhaps waded into too deep water for those lacking a good understanding of biochem, physiology, disease processes, etc.

At any rate, what say you? Is Ruhlman (I do love his Ratio book dearly) committing food "fascism" (and may I also say that I dislike the way that word gets tossed around) here himself? Was his advice to Heather sound? Is there a latent misunderstanding going on?

B0fe7b5a9a197cd293978150cbd9055f

(8938)

on September 07, 2013
at 01:28 AM

He got a point, but it's not very smart to use the word fascism.

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41757)

on April 26, 2012
at 08:50 PM

The letter write herself using the term 'fascist' so let's cut Ruhlman some slack. ;)

246ebf68e35743f62e5e187891b9cba0

(21420)

on April 26, 2012
at 07:56 PM

It's in my original post, the book "Charcuterie".

Medium avatar

(10611)

on April 26, 2012
at 07:18 PM

Fun article. The pix is 70% paleo at least. At the wedding dinner the sponsor shouldn't have to deal with whether the asparagus touched meat or whether the meat was grass fed. Whose party is it anyway?

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on April 26, 2012
at 07:17 PM

I'm sorry but he wrote what book that is improving the Paleo-sphere? What did I miss?

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on April 26, 2012
at 07:13 PM

So skip "Fascist" and use "Dogmatic"... +1 for nerding out in a spectacular manner!!!

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on April 26, 2012
at 07:10 PM

I don't see a question.... And I'm with JayJay I couldn't care less what some idiot on the web thinks of the food I eat. I don't make people eat what I do and don't think an unwillingness to eat food that makes me sick and fat is Fascist.

Medium avatar

(10611)

on April 26, 2012
at 07:09 PM

I think he might be referring to a connection between Grok and Aryan, and the whole master race idea.

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41757)

on April 26, 2012
at 04:44 PM

Fascist is just a polite way of saying douchebag perhaps? ;)

5759bd89db5f73cabe0a6e8f8e6e1cb9

(1467)

on April 26, 2012
at 04:24 PM

I can manage deodorants and light scents but no perfume. So yes my boyfriend doesn't have B.O. Thank the gods!

Fc6a9e07f6056d465573c8969d3a2ddd

(370)

on April 26, 2012
at 04:06 PM

In this case I think Ruhlman is using "fascist" to describe someone who strictly (and possibly blindly) follows a set of rules handed down by authoritarian Powers-That-Be. So, not quite in line with the economics definition of fascist, but in reasonable agreement with the commonly cultural definition. (Sorry, semantics nerd here.)

Fc6a9e07f6056d465573c8969d3a2ddd

(370)

on April 26, 2012
at 03:59 PM

I'm with Ruhlman on this one. I agree, fascism is a little strong, but "douchebag" certainly applies. When I read his post, I immediately thought of the douche-ier types who occasionally post on this site.

Ce41c230e8c2a4295db31aec3ef4b2ab

(32556)

on April 26, 2012
at 03:44 PM

@Korion~ tell that to my raw vegan friends...

246ebf68e35743f62e5e187891b9cba0

(21420)

on April 26, 2012
at 03:34 PM

Well, in this case (especially since the writer in question wrote a book that I personally think *improves* the paleosphere), he can provide for Paleo folks. I just think he feels dietary concerns, especially ones that can be perceived as fads by Paleo outsiders, could be frivolous.

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41757)

on April 26, 2012
at 03:28 PM

It's more analogous to a butcher getting upset with vegans demanding that he provide vegan TVP at his counter... completely understandable, since they're requesting something that he's in no place to provide.

C4f1a0c70c4e0dea507c2e346c036bbd

on April 26, 2012
at 03:04 PM

No paleo for you! And no soup!

96bf58d8c6bd492dc5b8ae46203fe247

(37227)

on April 26, 2012
at 02:39 PM

I also have an intolerance for perfumes and candles. My watery eyes and sneezing stop all activity nearby so the Dr would've been sorry.

1d0497f8781845ab371b479455bfee8e

(11157)

on April 26, 2012
at 01:40 PM

Just keep your nose out of his pits ;)

B0fe7b5a9a197cd293978150cbd9055f

(8938)

on April 26, 2012
at 01:25 PM

It depends where, on this forum I find people to be pretty open about the flaws. I just don't understand it when people get offended when someone criticizes their diet. Diets are meant to be experiments, you don't do a diet because you believe in it, you do it because it works.

B0fe7b5a9a197cd293978150cbd9055f

(8938)

on April 26, 2012
at 01:24 PM

Allergy to perfume? That sucks! What if your boyfriend has BO :D? You just gotta live with it?

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41757)

on April 26, 2012
at 01:15 PM

I don't think Ruhlman is saying for people to eat things that actively make themselves sick. Rather, folks who choose "cute" dietary preferences for what they think will produce "optimal" health shouldn't be complete douchebags about their diet. I think "Heather" shouldn't worry about wasted money on a dinner if her guests choose not to eat the food, just as much as the guests with dietary preferences shouldn't worry about a single meal when they should be there to support their family/friend.

1296f5fecd084f101d7c5fbe013f07eb

(1213)

on April 26, 2012
at 11:34 AM

He is a rather famous foodie/culinary author...on par with Michael Pollan. Buddies with Anthony Bourdain, wrote with Thomas Keller...relevant because these people tend to have sway over the capital-N-Narrative and the way types of eating are perceived. Now that I've answered your question, perhaps you'll answer mine? :-)

5759bd89db5f73cabe0a6e8f8e6e1cb9

(1467)

on April 26, 2012
at 10:48 AM

How dare you! :-)

  • 1296f5fecd084f101d7c5fbe013f07eb

    asked by

    (1213)
  • Views
    1.7K
  • Last Activity
    1281D AGO
Frontpage book

Get FREE instant access to our Paleo For Beginners Guide & 15 FREE Recipes!

9 Answers

8
32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41757)

on April 26, 2012
at 11:01 AM

I think many paleo folks tend to be completely unreasonable with regard to their dietary preferences (note: not needs). Ruhlman points out that none of the guests actually have celiac or allergies, these are simply folks who choose not to eat some foods because they think these foods aren't healthy.

The problem probably isn't food fascism, it's just being a douchebag. If the guests want to be assholes at a wedding reception because of the food, well, that's a whole other problem altogether.

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41757)

on April 26, 2012
at 04:44 PM

Fascist is just a polite way of saying douchebag perhaps? ;)

Fc6a9e07f6056d465573c8969d3a2ddd

(370)

on April 26, 2012
at 03:59 PM

I'm with Ruhlman on this one. I agree, fascism is a little strong, but "douchebag" certainly applies. When I read his post, I immediately thought of the douche-ier types who occasionally post on this site.

4
11b7b7ba720a5cd43c74a0ef99a16adb

(3448)

on April 26, 2012
at 03:37 PM

Like most people today, Ruhlman is incorrectly using the word "fascist."

People simply assume that fascist and NAZI are the exact same thing--they aren't. Fascism is an economic system. The NAZIs were a political party that promoted fascism as its economic program.

As an economic system, fascism falls somewhere between modern euro-socialism and communism. It is a combination of private ownership of resources/businesses with government control. Fascism, as an economic system, was was practiced by numerous countries in the first half of the last century. The National Recovery Administration (commonly called the NRA with its blue eagle logo) under FDR is an example of an American economic policy that has been widely recognized as fascist in nature.

Prior to WWII, fascist was hardly a negative term. The 1930's London production of the Cole Porter musical "Anything Goes" changed the lyrics of "Your'e the Top" to include the line "You're the top; you're Mussolini" (note that this was not in the original Cole Porter lyrics--it was changed by the London production--but it demonstrates Mussolini and fascism were seen in a positive light at the time).

It's a pet peeve of mine that fascism has been reduced to mean "really bad person" when historically it had a much broader meaning and a specific economic meaning. Sorry if I got off base from paleo talk here.

Medium avatar

(10611)

on April 26, 2012
at 07:09 PM

I think he might be referring to a connection between Grok and Aryan, and the whole master race idea.

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41757)

on April 26, 2012
at 08:50 PM

The letter write herself using the term 'fascist' so let's cut Ruhlman some slack. ;)

Fc6a9e07f6056d465573c8969d3a2ddd

(370)

on April 26, 2012
at 04:06 PM

In this case I think Ruhlman is using "fascist" to describe someone who strictly (and possibly blindly) follows a set of rules handed down by authoritarian Powers-That-Be. So, not quite in line with the economics definition of fascist, but in reasonable agreement with the commonly cultural definition. (Sorry, semantics nerd here.)

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on April 26, 2012
at 07:13 PM

So skip "Fascist" and use "Dogmatic"... +1 for nerding out in a spectacular manner!!!

4
5759bd89db5f73cabe0a6e8f8e6e1cb9

(1467)

on April 26, 2012
at 11:04 AM

I found the comments more interesting than the article. The absolute intolerance for outside the 'norm' eating astounds me. The worst comment was from the Dr who specifically asked his staff to put on perfume for the woman who requested no perfume as she had sensitivties. As someone with an allergy to perfume, I understand how she feels and although I never ask anyone apart from my close friends not to wear strong perfume around me, it sucks to have migraines all day because of someone's Chanel no 5.

Regarding the article, I understand some of his annoyance but there is a middle ground; Those who don't burden anyone with our demands at dinners and parties. I as a paleo eater generally check menus before going to restaurants and avoid them if there are no paleo means. I try not to be that annoying person in the restaurant and stick with salads or plain veggies instead of annoying staff with my requests.

B0fe7b5a9a197cd293978150cbd9055f

(8938)

on April 26, 2012
at 01:24 PM

Allergy to perfume? That sucks! What if your boyfriend has BO :D? You just gotta live with it?

1d0497f8781845ab371b479455bfee8e

(11157)

on April 26, 2012
at 01:40 PM

Just keep your nose out of his pits ;)

96bf58d8c6bd492dc5b8ae46203fe247

(37227)

on April 26, 2012
at 02:39 PM

I also have an intolerance for perfumes and candles. My watery eyes and sneezing stop all activity nearby so the Dr would've been sorry.

5759bd89db5f73cabe0a6e8f8e6e1cb9

(1467)

on April 26, 2012
at 04:24 PM

I can manage deodorants and light scents but no perfume. So yes my boyfriend doesn't have B.O. Thank the gods!

4
3846a3b61bc9051e4baebdef62e58c52

(18635)

on April 26, 2012
at 03:57 AM

Who the hell is Michael Ruhlman....and nevermind, I don't care.

1296f5fecd084f101d7c5fbe013f07eb

(1213)

on April 26, 2012
at 11:34 AM

He is a rather famous foodie/culinary author...on par with Michael Pollan. Buddies with Anthony Bourdain, wrote with Thomas Keller...relevant because these people tend to have sway over the capital-N-Narrative and the way types of eating are perceived. Now that I've answered your question, perhaps you'll answer mine? :-)

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on April 26, 2012
at 07:10 PM

I don't see a question.... And I'm with JayJay I couldn't care less what some idiot on the web thinks of the food I eat. I don't make people eat what I do and don't think an unwillingness to eat food that makes me sick and fat is Fascist.

1
96bf58d8c6bd492dc5b8ae46203fe247

(37227)

on April 26, 2012
at 02:55 PM

I think for some people--me?--the discipline of making a lifestyle change such as a restrictive food mix requires layers and layers of intentions and affirmations. If we're casual enough about it to just go along and not make a fuss at a social event, we probably won't be able to stick with it the rest of the time either. We're a little insecure about our ability to keep the good plan going so it becomes "all-important" to avoid processed foods. I agree we develop exaggerated reactions but it comes with the strong effort to succeed with the lifestyle change.

That said, I am too introverted to make a fuss--I simply grab whatever salad/fruit is available and don't eat otherwise. Do I feel frustration or resentment? Yes, I do. Since I honestly believe avoiding processed foods is good for my health AND I may be quite hungry, depending on the circumstances, it bothers me that so many situations force me to choose between satisfying hunger and social participation. There's also the temptation of being exposed to many foods I ate and loved--my emotional reaction can come from having to see them but not give in to temptation.

It has given me a better understanding of what it's like to be a recovering alcoholic trying to live a "normal" life.

1
246ebf68e35743f62e5e187891b9cba0

(21420)

on April 26, 2012
at 02:17 PM

I like Ruhlman, in fact I just got the book him and another chef wrote on Charcuterie yesterday and was pouring through it, drooling.

His opinion is much like a few other celeb chefs I follow, such as Alton Brown who made some disparaging comments on the increasing number of foodies with a newfound "Gluten Intolerance". It's hard to explain to someone that literally makes a living based on eating and experiencing everything in the world, that you eat a specific way that excludes that.

Kinda like a cobbler that gets upset at the barefoot movement... (well, not quite), a tailor that hates nudists (maybe), or a Butcher that hates vegans (spot on).

I just let it roll off my shoulders. I don't really care. There is a place for Paleo foodies in this world and even though he expresses disdain for the culture, he is still a part of it... whether he likes it or not.

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41757)

on April 26, 2012
at 03:28 PM

It's more analogous to a butcher getting upset with vegans demanding that he provide vegan TVP at his counter... completely understandable, since they're requesting something that he's in no place to provide.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on April 26, 2012
at 07:17 PM

I'm sorry but he wrote what book that is improving the Paleo-sphere? What did I miss?

246ebf68e35743f62e5e187891b9cba0

(21420)

on April 26, 2012
at 03:34 PM

Well, in this case (especially since the writer in question wrote a book that I personally think *improves* the paleosphere), he can provide for Paleo folks. I just think he feels dietary concerns, especially ones that can be perceived as fads by Paleo outsiders, could be frivolous.

246ebf68e35743f62e5e187891b9cba0

(21420)

on April 26, 2012
at 07:56 PM

It's in my original post, the book "Charcuterie".

1
7841848bd0c27c64353c583fb7971242

(7275)

on April 26, 2012
at 12:17 PM

I have yet to meet someone who gives their food a second thought who isn't struggling with some health problem, be it struggling with their body fat, gluten sensitivity, blood sugar regulation, psychological problems, or any number of other things that are actually quite serious if left untreated over a lifespan. I wonder about the in-laws in the article: how does the letter writer (Heather, I think) know they don't have celiac disease? Since it's a whole family into paleo, that makes me suspect some genetic issue, like celiac disease, or the MTHFR variant, and maybe they just haven't gotten tested yet, or did, but it came back negative and their doctors won't pursue things further. (I like to warn all my friends who suspect celiac disease of the high false negative rate.)

So yeah, I just don't see that many people worrying about what they eat who don't have cause to: just sometimes, the causes aren't apparent.

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41757)

on April 26, 2012
at 01:15 PM

I don't think Ruhlman is saying for people to eat things that actively make themselves sick. Rather, folks who choose "cute" dietary preferences for what they think will produce "optimal" health shouldn't be complete douchebags about their diet. I think "Heather" shouldn't worry about wasted money on a dinner if her guests choose not to eat the food, just as much as the guests with dietary preferences shouldn't worry about a single meal when they should be there to support their family/friend.

1
01adafcb4dd4147c6af543f61eee60a8

on April 26, 2012
at 09:27 AM

I agree with some things he says,my exerience on here and other paleo forums is that there is an almost cult like feeling. Paleo is a good base for a healthy eating lifestyle but it has too many flaws yet when anyone dares to point these out, they are jumped on and hounded out of the discussion.

Ce41c230e8c2a4295db31aec3ef4b2ab

(32556)

on April 26, 2012
at 03:44 PM

@Korion~ tell that to my raw vegan friends...

5759bd89db5f73cabe0a6e8f8e6e1cb9

(1467)

on April 26, 2012
at 10:48 AM

How dare you! :-)

B0fe7b5a9a197cd293978150cbd9055f

(8938)

on April 26, 2012
at 01:25 PM

It depends where, on this forum I find people to be pretty open about the flaws. I just don't understand it when people get offended when someone criticizes their diet. Diets are meant to be experiments, you don't do a diet because you believe in it, you do it because it works.

0
Ba09704971e33481f5716c4790648966

(1794)

on April 26, 2012
at 05:25 PM

'Paleo' isn't fascism.

YET!

Answer Question


Get FREE instant access to our
Paleo For Beginners Guide & 15 FREE Recipes!