Does Food Snobbery Hurt Those In Need?

Just because you are doing something good doesn’t mean that everyone else is doing something bad.

Food Snobbery

I’ve seen a lot of chatter on websites and even had some “real life” discussions with people about the concept of “food snobbery.” At first I didn’t even realize what they were talking about, but the more I read and listened, the more interested I became.

I’ve always associated snobbery with social position, appearance, ethnicity, wealth, etc. but not with food. The more I thought about it though, the more I felt like there probably is such a thing as food snobbery.

I found an article on the Coloradoan, which was written a few years ago. It referenced a survey conducted by the U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance that seemed to indicate that “food sources” are now a status symbol, with higher income families feeling more knowledgeable about food and lower-income families feeling less knowledgeable about food and feeling like they do not have the money or time to understand more about healthy food.

There is a perception that ordinary grocery store foods are considered less worthy of our food dollars and that only foods found in speciality shops are truly healthy for us. In a lot of ways that is true because it is rather difficult to find non-GMO foods, organic foods, and an abundance of choices at ordinary grocery stores. However, for a lot of people in America, shopping a regular grocery store, or gasp – Wal-Mart, is their reality.

Grocery Stores and Food Snobbery

It’s my reality.

Food snobbery does nothing to help us solve obesity but instead places unnecessary barriers to people who either can’t afford to shop at Whole Foods (or a similar store) or who do not even have that choice. When I was in New York for the Sabra blogger event a while ago, the group was talking about food (of course) and someone asked where I shopped. I said, “Wal-Mart, Sam’s Club, and Kroger.” They just looked at me in disbelief. Not in a snobby way, but just surprised.

I went on to explain that in our town, that’s all we have. Period. I, as a 150 pound loser and weight loss blogger, have to shop at the stores I have available because I can’t drive 90 miles to the nearest Whole Foods nor could I even afford to do all my grocery shopping there.

Instead, I do my best to buy healthy foods at my local grocery store, have a garden where we grow a lot of our own vegetables in the summer, and shop the farmer’s market in our town when it is open. I do my best.

Diane Carbonell's garden

Do I think that non-GMO, organic food should be more accessible and affordable to me and everyone else in America? Absolutely yes. But until that happens, I wish we could lose the tendency to look down our noses at people who must shop in a “regular” grocery store and help educate people on how to make the best choices possible.

I’ve talked to a lot of people who tend to throw up their hands and say, “Well, I’ve been doing a lot of reading and I just can’t afford $4.00 a pound for organic apples or $4.00 a pound for hormone-free chicken.” They feel defeated and go back to eating Hamburger Helper because it is what they know and what they feel as though they can afford.

Food snobbery often hurts people who can ill afford to be hurt. The underprivileged, the people who do not understand nutrition, and the children of parents who have never been taught how to shop for and prepare healthy food all suffer.

Education on food and nutrition help, being a food advocate helps, and every little bit you can do for your family helps. We all deserve healthy food free from chemical interventions no matter our social status or hometown. And because we all deserve it, we should not look down on people who either do not understand what a healthy diet is or genuinely have to make do with the foods they have available in their location.

Food snobbery helps no one. I’d encourage you to share your knowledge of healthy eating with people in your life who do not understand what that even means, join or support groups who fight for transparent labeling of our foods, and contact your local, state, and national representatives and tell them that you care about the food you feed your family.

What do you think about the tendency toward food snobbery? Does it help the conversation or hurt? Diane

7 thoughts on “Does Food Snobbery Hurt Those In Need?

  1. Lori says:

    Amen! I could not agree more. Sometimes I find organic chicken marked down because it is near the end date. I buy meat from farms when I can. Those are generally unique circumstances. I shop at Aldi’s BJ’s, our local grocery store Wegmans. Doing the best I can. Making informed choices when I can. I love to shop at the Farmers market and can and freeze the fruits and vegetables I find their. I simply cna not afford all organic either. It irks me when I find a recipe on a blog that goes something like this… Himalayan salt, organic chicken, organic this and organic that. Yes you are so right, its not fair to the underprivileged. There are definitely healthy choices at a regular supermarket!

  2. Kathy says:

    Diane,
    I read this post with much interest. I truly believe food snoberry does exist and needs to be addressed as you done so eloquently here. For over 2 years I’ve been following healthy lifestyle advocate Papa Joe Aviance and his message is very similar. He lost an amazing amount of weight 250lbs with simple tools: WALKING and shopping at the local 99 Cents Store. No fancy gym, no upscale market. Health can be achieved, its just about making an effort with that we have available and ridding ourselves of excuses. While there is great validity to gluten-free, organic, non-GMO groceries, its just not a reality in many people’s lifestyles. Thank you for helping to spread the word that health is achievable for all.

  3. Diana says:

    Agreed! I shop at Wal-mart because they have the cheapest prices. I do a lot of farmer’s markets during the summer for produce. I will, however, spend most of my money on meat. I get it from local butcher shops where you know the farmer! I also will buy it in bulk when I can to save per pound.
    We’re all in this world together…..underneath it all, we’re all the same, just wanting what’s healthy for us and our family however we can.

    Great post!

  4. L says:

    I don’t think any type of snobbery helps to promote health, but I think sharing experiences with good food and nutrition are very helpful. I didn’t learn about good eating in school or at home. I had to go to the internet to get my education on these things.

    I appreciate those individuals who encourage us to eat better and who blog about what works for them.

  5. Lee says:

    What a terrific post. I couldn’t agree more. My view: it doesn’t matter where you get healthy food, as long as you get it. We should be supporting people to eat real food, and if they’re doing the best they can, then that’s okay by me 🙂

  6. Janis says:

    It amazes me how what’s considered food snobbery has switched back and forth during the past decades. When my grandparents and great-grandparents came here from Italy, many of whom didn’t read or write Italian or English, they were looked down on for cooking the healthy, light Mediterranean diet that’s now considered chic and snobbish. Well-meaning Anglo women would go on crusades through the Italian neighborhoods teaching the “ignorant” immigrants to cook with butter instead of olive oil. Thankfully, the “ignorant” immigrants ignored them. 🙂

    When my mom was raising little kids, she used to get looked down on for peeling potatoes and steaming broccoli, and not using boxed dried mashed potatoes and hamburger helper. Now, it’s the other way around. Oy …

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