Friday, October 14, 2005

Who am I?

I have been in the food industry for longer than I want to admit. When attending gatherings people always ask you what you do for a living. Of course we discuss the aspects of the job with friends and colleagues. You become known as one those food people. If the aspects of my employment had included professional cooking it could have easily been a culinary artist. However, that term, usually represents a small population of the culinary world.

In recent years that title: a food person has been reduced to a new term: foodie. Is anyone else bothered by this term? Foodie. Please, understand me. There is nothing wrong with being a foodie. I love food, I love the aspects of food production, farming, harvesting, processing, purveying, preparing, all of those things! But, I cringe when I hear the word foodie. Why? It coul be because the first time I truly heard the word used, it was used to describe someone I respected. She had gone to college, decided she wanted to become a chef. Went to France, attended and graduated from Le Cordon Bleu with honors. She worked as a chef for some time and then took over as a grocery buyer for a large corporation with a "new" approach to retail grocery. We were at an intro meeting. They introduced the president of this new operation, included a bit about his resume - MBA graduate of xxx univ; VP of Sales had 25 years experience and had broken all kinds of business models as a proof of his saavy, new marketing director - MBA from Harvard, seafood director college degree number one seafood guy in the world and then introduced the new grocery buyer. She's a foodie! Oh, and by the way, she also graduated from cooking school. (no wonder she was angry most of the time) Foodie didn't even come close to describing her passion for food. She would go out and see the food growing she was going to buy. How it was packaged, processed, what ingredients were in the food they were selling. She raised the level of awareness of organic, fresh, natural, and even better quality canned or frozen foods for the entire community. She lived food. Foodie seemed too cutesy a term to describe what really happens behind the scenes in this the food industry.

It's not that I am gratified by a title. Titles really mean nothing too me. Experience does. Believe me, if you have 30+ years experience doing something you love, whether it be sweeping floors or growing grapes or any number of occupations, as long as you love it I respect you. I respect you if you have one years experience doing something you love. The people that bug me are people who choose to do something becuase it will make them lots of money, even if they hate it. Do you know what that does to one's psyche? But hey, we're into titles, they're short and describe some aspect of where your focus is. They're simple and allow a few words to describe what industry you've chosen.

Okay back to the term foodie. I propose we change it. Not a lot. Just a little. Food is an art form. People that have a passion about what they create are bunched into a big group called artists. Artists, can we call ourselves artists? Probably not, because, somebody may call us and ask us to paint something. Or sculpt something, or mold something. Or, gasp!, create something! Isn't that what we do? So lets take the term artist and merge it with the word foodie. We become foodists. Join me friends - we can change the world - we can become foodists! If you want to continue to use the term foodie, great! I'll be the lone foodist for now!
Foodist button
If you'd like to join me in this quest, you have permission to copy the button. Or you can grab it off my flickr page.