Your exotification of India, and simultaneous painting of the nation as full of people who can only afford cheap food is offensive. As an Indian-American, I’m appalled and disgusted by your frequent “appeals to India” in your new book “The Food Babe Way.” There is so much this-is-how-my-ancestors did it, this-is-how-all-Indians live and eat rhetoric. This is no better than a ploy to make your “way” seem exotic, Eastern, and therefore good. For example in chapter four you state,
“For thousands of years, my ancestors in India had one cow that they shared with the rest of the villagers.”
Oh, how charming. Gag me with a finger (Indians don’t use spoons, don’t you know? /s.) Vani, you’re generalizing and fallaciously homogenizing a vast country populated by over a billion diverse people. You go on to blather,
“Indian immigrants and other immigrants from raw-milk-producing countries are being duped by the US dairy industry and don’t even know it. I’d really like to see my family recipes passed down from generation to generation, but I’m not sure we can do this safely for our future children and grandchildren unless we can all get access to real raw milk.”
Are you really trying to tell me that Indian recipes call only for raw milk? Purely anecdotal here, but my mom makes perfectly delicious and authentic Indian dishes with regular, pasteurized American yogurt, milk, and buttermilk and no, she doesn’t buy organic milk. But I’m sure your sad little lament about not being able to pass your family’s traditions to your descendants is really moving to the average, unsuspecting American.
You repeatedly make these “appeals to India.” Here, you either grossly exaggerate or lie about your father:
“My dad has always liked fast food because it’s cheap, and that’s why he fed us at fast food restaurants when we were kids…Growing up in India, he was brought up to believe that food’s sole purpose was to keep you alive, and you never wasted food. Buying food cheap was the only way to get it. After moving to the United States, he mostly subsisted on fast food because it was a good buy. Sadly, this reasoning meant that my dad never paid attention to the nutritional value of good food. Over time, he developed type 2 diabetes.”
-Food Babe Way, Chapter 5
Guess what? Not everyone in “growing up in India” is brought up the same way. Not everyone who grew up in India is naïve enough to think it’s a good idea to subsist on fast food because “it’s a good buy.” A typical Indian diet isn’t significantly more expensive to cook than buying fast food every meal. Indians non-vegetarians only eat meat once or twice a week, and consume a diet high in vegetables and lentils. I assure you, my mom fed her whole family a nutritious Indian meal every night on a low grocery budget.
Here’s where your story doesn’t add up. In your Experience Life interview, you state:
“Actually, my dad wanted us to fit into the American lifestyle, so my brother and I were never required to eat the Indian food my mom cooked. She would cook one meal for herself and my dad — gourmet, Indian, from scratch, full of spices and vegetables from her garden — which to me looked weird and gross. And for us kids, she relied on processed foods: microwavable Salisbury steak, mozzarella sticks, chicken tenders, and all that stuff that came in a box from the frozen section. McDonald’s and Burger King and Wendy’s. Really, we were allowed to eat whatever we wanted, to fit in with the world around us.”
So what was it, did your dad subsist primarily on fast food, or eat homemade, fresh Indian meals? It seems to me that you weren’t quite honest one of these two times. If I’m wrong, please explain how.
Additionally, you clearly have no idea about the complexity of type 2 diabetes, especially among the Indian population. Would you know what I mean if I said that the genotype of type 2 diabetes is believed by scientists to be different from that of the western population despite similar phenotype/clinical presentation? That non-overweight Indians are more prone to developing type 2 diabetes despite healthy diets and active lifestyles than their western counterparts? I think not. But I digress. I can’t imagine what other drivel the rest of your book spouts about India. I’ve only read five chapters of Food Babe Way, and I’m not sure how much more I can take…..
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Featured image © 2015 Kavin Senapathy