On the Language of Eating "Clean"

I found the following to be an interesting explanation on some of the implications of using the word "clean" as a description of food choices:

“When you tell someone their food is dirty, even by implication, you **** all over their own body autonomy, issues of class and access, cultural food traditions, their own tastes and needs, and issues of health. When you tell someone their food is dirty, even with the best of intentions because you want them to make what you see as better choices, you are butting right up against their ability to keep themselves alive.
The “clean” food messaging just tells other people their food isn’t good enough without making any effort to actually fix the myriad of issues wrong with our food system in the U.S. — eating “clean” doesn’t address big corporate farming or subsidies or even the increasingly corporate topic of school lunches. It’s a way of framing a personal choice that automatically casts judgment on other people.

That’s the problem — not any individual’s personal choice to eat “clean.” So maybe, instead of using “clean” as a way to talk about how someone eats, we can actually just say, hey, “I’m eating organic, local produce and it’s awesome,” if we really need to talk about eating that way. Maybe we can just stop insisting our personal choices would be the best choices for everyone everywhere. Maybe that’s how we can sit down and share a meal and listen to each other.”
— Marianne Kirby - “There’s No Such Thing As Clean Food”


  • When I hear "eating clean" I think of spraying copious amounts of Windex and Lysol on to my food then wiping it down :laugh: I used to be an "eating clean" snob. Now I just eat whatever fits my macros. I do enjoy eating whole foods 80% of the time though and fill the other 20% with whatever fits my needs or crave.
  • WendyTerry420
    WendyTerry420 Posts: 13,274 Member
  • diannethegeek
    diannethegeek Posts: 14,776 Member

    I'm just here to add this to my stash of .gifs and to completely agree with the OP.

    ...and maybe to bump the topic a little... :flowerforyou:
  • darkangel45422
    darkangel45422 Posts: 234 Member
    I think 'clean' is just a short form way of saying organic, natural, etc. Sometimes it gets hard to describe exactly what you subscribe to, and why use a whole paragraph when one word says it all?

    Honestly, I think the OP's article was being overly touchy; if I say I'm eating clean, that is NOT casting judgment on anyone else's diet. Clean is a perfectly fine word for it - its food that's free, and thus clean of, pesticides, antibiotics, additives, etc. If I take a can of chemicals and spray your plate with it, you'd say it's dirty - not clean. So what's the problem with calling it clean eating when you're just avoiding unhealthy things.

    It's also a little ridiculous to blame people who eat clean for the state of our food systems today. Is it their fault that Big Agra sprays chemicals all over most food, or that schools serve reheated plastic? Not at all, and you'll probably find that most people who eat clean are probably the biggest advocates for changing our food culture. So it's a little silly for the article to suggest that people who eat clean are somehow making things worse.
  • Cherimoose
    Cherimoose Posts: 5,210 Member
    “When you tell someone their food is dirty, even by implication, you **** all over their own body autonomy, issues of class and access, cultural food traditions, their own tastes and needs, and issues of health.

    The same could be said about any kind of advice, whether it's to eat smaller portions, exercise more, eat organic, etc. The author seems to have more of an issue with moralizing in general rather than whether the advice to "eat clean" is good advice (for those who request advice).

    If someone asks me how to eat, i'm more likely to say "eat clean most of the time" than to eat organic, because it's a lot more realistic and affordable for most people.
  • aschroeder2749
    aschroeder2749 Posts: 172 Member
    I think this is yet another example of being overly PC.
  • ThickMcRunFast
    ThickMcRunFast Posts: 22,511 Member
    Ordinarily I would never think that someone's choice of eating plan could turn into a discussion of class warfare.

    And then I saw someone on here actually say that you shouldn't give fast food to a homeless person because it would compound their problems. Talk about a lack of perspective.

    I think 'clean' eaters, paleo people, IIFYMs, IF-ers, vegans, vegetarians, and everyone else can get snotty about it. It says more about a person than it does about way of eating.