My Tuscana mamma was occasionally irritated by United Statesians because “they’re allergic to everything.” Ironically she herself couldn’t do dairy and my body, meat. Yet, I understood her point as there are “fad” allergies/diseases, and people in the U.S. often lead the way in trendy disorders.
I think my mamma’s impatience emerged because, besides the patently obvious difference between Tuscan food and “American” food in: flavor, quality, wholesomeness and beauty, the way North Americans approach food is completely different. Many to most are afraid of it. Not really an Italian problem, that one.
I’m not talking about pesticides, hormones, additives, GMOs or any other adulterations; those should be feared by the majority but they’re not. Instead, untold North Americans are phobic about fat, calories, gluten, carbs, salt, ad nauseum. Many worry over their lack of control with food itself. In other words, unlike most cultures around the world, they aren’t friends with their foods.
Meals are meant to nourish, to be enjoyed, not really to be used for loneliness, anger, boredom, “scienced-out” to trick our taste buds into overeating or to be given in the form of supplements for “health.”
But back to food allergies. And food fads. Eggs good/bad/good. Oat bran good! Carbs bad. Fruit yes/no. Salt destructive. Omega 3! Probiotics! Protein! Coffee stunts growth, green tea: lose weight. Cupcakes! Bacon!!
Ten years ago I knew one person with celiac disease, no one was “gluten intolerant.” Today, a plethora of the developed world claims to be gluten sensitive and it’s not because medical detection is better. Faddish? Could be. 25% of people think they’re allergic to certain foods but only 2% of adults actually are. Or just maybe it’s the type of wheat. These days it’s a VERY different animal.
Unless you’re eating organic heritage varieties of flour as I do—I’m lucky enough to live with a man who loves to bake bread—you’re probably getting a crossbred, hybridized dwarf wheat that has much higher levels of amylopectin A, a “super starch” that raises blood sugar substantially, along with a “super gluten” that contains twice as many chromosomes as Einkorn, a natural flour that many gluten sensitive people can eat.
That dwarf “super wheat” produces a large variety of gluten proteins causing inflammation, obesity and diabetes and it contains polypeptides called gluteomorphins which trigger an opiate-like response in the brain. And like any addiction, you’ll not feel satisfied and want more and more. Guess what wheat you’re eating when you ingest most restaurant or store-bought bread, pizza, pies, tortillas, pasta, cereal, crackers, etc. no matter how “gourmet?”
I know we’re a communal species and want a communal experience. Trends in health are probably better shared than celebrity gossip, diet crazes or society-anxiety but maybe if we loved our food, participated in producing it, bought from local growers/providers, preserved it, regularly sat down to family meals and actually cooked food instead of frequently dining out or pouring “cuisine” out of a box or bag, we might discover that sustainable nourishment is not out to get us.