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Food Scold: Sanctimonious Culino-Social Gadfly

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Definition: A sanctimonious gadfly who can brook no saturated fats nor Tyson chicken breasts being eaten in his or her presence; he who leans over to give stink-eye to fellow diner feeding child Fruit Loops from Ziploc bag to note, "There's a ton of bad stuff in there, you know."

Controversy: Food scolds tend not to see themselves as food scolds, so that right there leads to some problems. Jonathan Safran Foer, author of food scold paragon Eating Animals, for instance, sees his actions as a moral imperative. However, he is a food scold. Marion Nestle, on the other hand, author of Food Politics and as close a holy crusader as one can be against the dangers of overprocessed commodity food, lards her books with data and adopts an approachable academic tone and thereby avoids food scold essence. Food scolding is defined, therefore, not so much as a set of opinions — opinions which are universally accepted as true — but in how those opinions are delivered. David Foster Wallace in Consider the Lobster? Not a food scold. Alice Waters? Food Scold.

Etymology: The earliest recorded usage of the phrase occurred in 2004 in a March 31st article entitled, "Picky Eater" by Arthur Hirsch for Baltimore's The Sun. "America's chief food scold understands that there are times when you just shut up, sit down and eat," he writes of Michael Jacobsen, the president of the Center for Science in the Public Interest. However, Jacobsen — if we are meant to believe he "understands there are times when you just shut up, sit down and eat" — is not truly a food scold.

A better usage, perhaps, can be found in a recent piece by New York Timeser Peter Wells entitled, "Cooking With Dexter: Wiggle Room," wherein, whilst discussing making Jell-O for his child Dexter, he writes, "Each time some food scold castigates lazy parents who feed their children manufactured meals, I reflexively take the parents' side, partly in defense of my mother, who has never spent an idle day."

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