Saturday, April 3, 2010

Broccoli is not a punishment

David Brooks is a vegot and I am sad about that.  Vegot is my word for vegetable bigot.  Let me explain.  In one of his recent columns in the New York Times he stated: "Second, the whole deficit hawk brand needs a makeover.  Those people are a bunch of schoolmarms: "You've been bad.  Eat your broccoli.  Accept a lower standard of living".

"You've been bad"?  "Eat your broccoli"?  Did he think about what he was saying?  Probably not.  He was blithely unaware of the damage he was doing, undermining a perfectly respectable and quite tasty vegetable.  Vegotry is a serious problem. It is a killer of good meals.

I like David Brooks.  I even agree with him about a third of the time.  He is cute in a nerdy kind of way.  He probably even enjoys eating broccoli in the privacy of his own home.   But his offhand remark tells me that it is time for us all to confront a threat to the health and security of our nation that might just be a bigger threat than the deficit.  We need to start talking about the insidious scourge of vegetable hate.

This problem has been with us for a long time.  Remember the famous New Yorker cartoon which shows a young boy sitting at a table with his plate in front of him?  He declares to his hovering parents: "I say it's spinach and I say to hell with it!"  Now I like humor as much and maybe more than the next person, but this kind of thing hurts us all.  Why do people who won't tell Polish jokes anymore think that defenseless turnips are fair game?

Vegetable hate is non partisan.  David Brooks is only the tip of the iceberg.  Vegots can be found everywhere.  President Barack Obama has publicly admitted that he hates beets.  (Well, maybe he didn't use the hate word but the message was clear.  He isn't going to eat those babies even if Michelle grows them in the White House garden.)

I have no magic solutions for this problem.  But the national conversation must begin.  We can change.  Yes we can.  We can move from vegetable hate to vegetable love.  We can have new sayings like "Life is short.  Eat your brussels sprouts first".   This will not happen overnight.  It will happen one meal at a time.  One family at a time.  One community supported agriculture membership at a time.  One Mom at a time saying to her family:  "Guess who's coming to dinner?  Beets."

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