As Salon Food asks, why do Americans eat such faddy foods? Is it that we’re an amalgam of different cultures and thus devoid of a single culinary identity?
First generation immigrants are often eager to stay true to the food traditions they brought from their homelands. But by the time their children grow up, those ethnic foods are abandoned for more generic eating patterns — a mishmash of the cuisines that make up America’s cultural milieu. Eventually, this makes them more susceptible to new cuisines and flavors.
Or does it have more to do with our fiercely capitalist nature? Has our treating of food as a marketable commodity caused it to lose its importance, descending into frivolity?
America … has one of the highest wage levels in the world, and the average person is most likely to spend that money on food. And so, food becomes akin to clothing — a manufactured commodity, a symbol of affluence and hipness.
The piece also explores our weakness for faddy diets and health claims, from the Paleolithic diet to the cookie diet. Apparently, we’re so highly flaky and impressionable thanks to our pesky secularism, a predisposition to favoring science over tradition. Boy, are we ever screwed up.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on August 2, 2010