Shut the F Up About Food Porn Already

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The phrase “food porn” hasn’t always been a part of our vernacular. Chances are if someone uses this descriptive phrase now, you’ll know exactly what he or she is talking about.

Rather than portray sex as fantasy in a heightened and a visually stimulating way (don’t worry, we still have plenty of that), food porn has taken over our television and computer screens. These adorning love (or lust) letters to the basic substances that give us life are nearly impossible to get away from. Even if you don’t actively partake, you have probably been blasted with cooking-show advertising or been forced into a conversation about some new fad diet, cutting out an ingredient wholesale or what some celebrity chef has been whipping up in the kitchen.

While America and England are famous for their celebrity chefs, we’re not particularly well known for our healthy-eating habits. Even so, cooking programs seem to be spawning progeny like gerbils humping after snorting a teaspoon’s worth of atomized Viagra — although paradoxically actual home-cooked meals are vanishing from the culinary scene.

Just for a taste, here’s a brief sampling of some of the most famous cooking shows currently running or in syndication: “A Cook’s Tour,” “America’s Best Bites,” “American Grilled,” “Best in Chow,” “Brunch at Bobby’s,” “Celebrity Dish,” “Cupcake Wars,” “Carnival Eats,” “David Rocco’s Dolce Vita,” “Dinner at Tiffani’s,” “Easy Chinese,” “From Spain With Love,” “Hungry Girl,” “Iron Chef America,” “Man Fire Food,” “MasterChef,” “Spice Goddess,” “Top Chef” … plus hundreds of more. Too many to list here.

With nonstop content churned out by Cooking Channel and Food Network, we’re fed a stream of hunger-inducing programming ranging from no-carb cooking to carb-exclusive cooking and everything in between. If you want to learn about Korean barbeque, or perhaps how to run a food truck, you can find a show dedicated to just that.

While it’s hardly an original idea to point out that all of this viewing of “food porn” takes time away from actual cooking, it’s interesting to note that in a nation where people prefer to heat things up rather than cook (apologies if you do create culinary masterpieces in the kitchen), food programming has taken such a killer hold. An OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development) study from a few years back sheds some light on our deeper, insecure relationship with food.

The study, which looked at its 34 members (developed countries), found that people living in the United States spend less time cooking than all of the other countries, while on average we eat the fastest and, of course, are the fattest. Watch an hour of cooking on television, nuke a meal in the microwave in three minutes, then eat it in four.

The take away here is that we cook less and less, yet we’re obsessed with watching other people do it on TV. It seems that we yearn for a true food culture, and good food, but don’t know where to look, so we look everywhere. Health gurus and food experts are constantly telling us what to eat and what to avoid, and then 10 seconds later are revising their advice. No gluten? No carbs? Some carbs? All meat? No meat? No deep-sea fish? Only nuts? Avoid nuts? Almond milk? Almond milk is a scam? Aghhhh!

Is it any wonder that in the land of plenty, where you can eat any food you desire, food porn has helped create a kind of food “schizophrenia,” where people are so often confused about what and how to eat? Now excuse me, I’m off to eat my vegetarian pizza kale and hummus taco with a side of sprouts and chocolate-covered coffee beans smothered in chili sauce.

Carl Pettit is a contributing journalist for TheBlot Magazine

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