When the world’s falling apart, is food really that important?
June 15, 2020

It’s been troubling me for a while so I’m going to have to get it out.

Sorry, I know it’s not what you come here for. You come for pretty pictures of food and clumsy attempts at describing beautiful meals, lascivious pen portraits of sensual moments often induced by gluttony and excess, and all the fun frippery that comes with this hobby food blog.

I’ve always known it’s a bit of fun. Of course, there are important issues around food and I’ve often tried to use this pastime of mine for good, such as championing independent businesses or helping find new places and new experiences.

But ultimately if we’re honest this blog is a self-indulgent bit of fun that satisfies my own love of food and joy in writing. The bonus by-product is that a lot of people love food and sharing experiences, which means one or two people actually read it and enjoy it. Who knows why. Perhaps you use this kind of stuff as escapism from some of the uglier stuff in life. I know I do.

The problem is, that ugliness is bigger and scarier than it’s been for a long time – in my lifetime at least. I’m not going to rehash the many conversations I’ve had away from the online world over the past few weeks, but there’s one thing we can all agree on. The world is falling apart. It’s terrifying, depressing and sad all wrapped up in one and is getting worse by the day.

Which leads me to the conclusion I’ve reached – cemented by a few days away from posting pictures of my dinner, reading about other people’s joyous takeaway deliveries of fine food and the endless game-playing that is the life of a ‘food blogger’, however much we all pretend we’re so much above that.

That is – when the world’s falling apart before our very eyes, when so much is so wrong, how important is food?

I don’t mean eating it. Obviously it’s important. We’d die if we didn’t. But all the other stuff – the restaurants, the dreaming of food, the discussions about it, pictures, blogs, reviews and everything else in between.

I’m sure in the past I would have argued that food is about community, heritage, culture, collaboration, unity and a million other positive words, ideals and optimistic yet trite phrases. Perhaps it is. But at the moment I can’t see that.

Why, when we face questions of division and inequality on so many levels, not to mention the small issue of a global pandemic – would food be at all important? Try as I might, I am struggling to see how a list of the restaurants I want to visit when we can, or a picture of my breakfast, or any of the other blog posts I’ve half-written then trashed over the past few weeks can be anything other than self-indulgent, ignorant, shallow and to miss the seismic change all around me.

I don’t speak for all people who write on this subject, and I certainly don’t judge those who are made of sterner stuff than me and can keep their pecker up despite everything that’s going on out there. In fact, I’m definitely up for someone somewhere reminding me why food is important right now, why sharing stories around food matters, and why writing about it may well be positive.

I just can’t for the life of me see it.

2 thoughts on “When the world’s falling apart, is food really that important?

  1. Strange and scary times we are living in Ellen but whatever is important to you then it’s important for your health and well being that you do whatever it takes.
    Stay strong and never doubt yourself, your an amazing foodie and blogger.
    Take care and stay safe xx

  2. I have had days of feeling like you do Ellen, we are living through crazy times, however food can be a positive for us. There have been some amazing inspiring examples of restaurants and hotels supporting food redistribution to the poorest people in our society. I hope they can survive this time to reopen again soon. At times like this, let’s look at how we can do things differently. How can we eat in a more sustainable way and reduce waste, eat less meat and dairy, eat less factory farmed, convenience food. Eat more quality food and find ways to make good food accessible to more people. Share healthy recipe tips with everyone. Educate people about storage to prolong life of food eg your fridge should be set at 4 degrees and you can freeze eggs. Use less single use plastics in food packaging. People eat what they buy / have food served banquet style and if they don’t eat it all, take it home / donate to a food bank. Perhaps we need to refocus from how often and where we eat out to how we eat and how it affects other people , animals and the planet. Let’s make sure children in this country don’t go hungry – I was so inspired that a young footballer can speak out about this and make such a difference. Let’s still have compassion for others and still love food. I have loved having come done with me and great British bake offs with my family 🙂 Food is a key part of our lives we enjoy and brings some happiness to our lives right now. Keep smiling Ellen, when we come back, we’ll come back better, if we set our minds to make the changes.

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