Enjoying Food with Julia

In case you missed it, famed television chef Julia Child would have turned 100 last week. We marked the centenary over the weekend in the Charlotte Observer, saying:

She was legendary in part for proclaiming the virtues of enjoying, rather than fearing, food. Her recipes, heavy with butter, cream and sugar, offered the common household a taste of the good life. They would also offend the nation’s growing class of government worrywarts.

Worrywarts like the puritanical Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), whom Child once chided for “[seeing] no beauty in food.” And we pointed out that there’s a new anti-pleasure force on the culinary horizon:

Former Commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration David Kessler told 60 Minutes last November that food companies are making “super palatable” foods that are “fat on fat on sugar on fat with flavor” and “hijack our brain.” Of course, that’s exactly what Child was doing on television 40 years ago, and waistlines weren’t bulging.

Yes, people like Kessler and Kelly “Twinkie Tax” Brownell think that chocolate-covered pretzels might as well be heroin-covered cocaine. Apparently, our brains light up in the brain scanner when we anticipate or eat food, so that means we should, nay, must, be shuffled off to the salad line.

Of course, this theory is bunk. Cambridge University scientists noted that “criteria for substance dependence translate poorly to food-related behaviors.” And more obviously, who is holding up a bakery for the cupcakes? Answer: Nobody.

Did a supposed “food addiction” hurt Child? Decidedly not: When she passed, she was nearly 92 years old. Moderation and common sense worked for her; will the food scolds let it work for us?

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