Today is Earth Day, a day set aside for saving the planet, but I’m hoping this year someone will save me instead. Save me from the crusaders.
It’s not that there’s no reason for Earth Day. The Earth is still screwed, I’m sure, but it’s difficult to hear anything about, say, climate change over the loud and constant din of bullshit about GMOs, toxins and organic superiority coming from the usual hucksters and charlatans.
I feel like we’re living in a permanent state of insanity because the complexity of science is just too difficult and inconvenient. I mean, facts are sort of beside the point when you’re a crusader like Dr. Oz or the Food Babe. Or a faithful follower.
I just finished reading a book called The Gluten Lie (a review is forthcoming) and one of the most important takeaways, for me, was the comparison of people like Dr. Oz, the Food Babe aka Vani Hari and Dr. David Perlmutter (of Grain Brain fame) to religious prophets obsessed with the mythology of “paradise past.”
Religious figures like Adam and Eve are no longer plausible protagonists, so diet gurus replace them with Paleolithic, preagricultural, hard-bodied ancestors who raced playfully through the forest gathering berries and spearing wild boar, never worrying about diabetes or autism. The foods that belong to the culinary past are good. The products of modernity, by contrast — MSG, grains, high-fructose corn syrup, genetical modified organisms, fast food — these are toxic fruits of sins, the tempting offerings of a fearsome deity known as Big Food.
This week on Twitter, the Food Babe is leading a crusade against yogurt companies. Dr. Perlmutter shuts down a twitter follower who dares ask for a piece of gluten free bread. And Dr. Oz reminds us that he’s here to help us be our best selves, with the help of avocado and rainbow smoothies.
What would happen to our sinful souls without the likes of these brave crusaders? We might stop obsessing about smoothies and start thinking about something more significant. It’s easier to freak out about yogurt than it is to consider the environmental impact of a Prius battery or what’s really going on with the bees. On a personal level, we might waste less money and emotional energy on dieting and actually enjoy eating again.
Perhaps the day after Earth Day can be a Day of Silence for Crackpots and Their Followers.
We probably need a better hashtag.