“So what exactly are toxins?”
The unexpected question posed by a younger member of our conversation group worked like a hose splashing cold water…our animated discussion came to a ten second awkward pause. Then my friend who had been extolling the virtues of green tea and how it helps remove toxins from the body, regained her composure and continued explaining that they were “very harmful substances that get created in the body and can make you sick”
The interlocutor was not to be dissuaded so easily. Doggedly she continued, “But why should the body need help in getting rid of harmful compounds it doesn’t want? That’s the function of the kidneys and liver isn’t it?” She had a point there! Nevertheless, others pitched in to explain how with age you need such ‘cleanses’ and the conversation veered to even more “modern-food-moralism” concepts like ‘free radicals’ and ‘anti-oxidants’ and of course everyone’s favourite ‘natural and organic’!!
I remember reading in an online article from New York magazine that food has become the focus of an “enormous amount of modern moralism…for as religion declines among the elite urbanites, a new scripture–‘sprouting and enzymes and whatnot’–is swirling into the void.” But my favourite is this quote by the Slate journalist Katy Walden, who says, “food and weight are not matters of morality. ‘Thin’ is not ‘good,’ carbs are not ‘bad’, and in a world of pressing political and social ills, your dinner plate should not be the ground zero of your ethical renewal.”
Perhaps much of these lifestyle and beauty trends are more common among the high-earning sections of society. My mother-in-law called them “raees zadon ke chonchle”~quirky-fads of the whimsical rich~her logic being that those who work hard to earn two square meals don’t have time for dieting and other such fads. It’s also an inescapable irony of life that just about the time when your income gets to a point where food prices don’t matter anymore, the calories begin to matter!! And then each meal becomes ‘a drama of discipline, deprivation and control’…a drama that plays out daily on my plate!!
Meanwhile as i gear up to try a new detox method for ‘cleansing toxins’ (and hopefully some weight as well!!) i wish we could go back to those simpler times when food was either tasty or insipid and i didn’t have the Livestrong ‘My Plate’ calorie tracker app to obsess over!