As a teenager I decided to become a vegetarian. I had developed a dislike for the flavor and texture of animal products, it was not an intentional political statement or act of teenage rebellion. I have shifted between vegetarian, omnivore and vegan ever since. I consider myself to be a life-long learner of nutrition because education on the subject is sadly lacking in our modern world. Over the years I have taken wellness courses and college-level nutrition classes. I have come to understand the basics of how a human body processes food. It is not rocket science, but it is a lot more work than most are willing to undertake.
The advent of social media, Instagram in particular, has given rise to the foodie. Although not yet an officially recognized word, Urban Dictionary defines it as “a dumbed-down term used by corporate marketing forces to infantilize and increase consumerism in an increasingly simple-minded American magazine reading audience.” I whole-heartedly agree with that definition. Foodies take pictures of their food, sometimes called food porn, and write love stories to accompany their gastronome portraiture.
I mostly ignore foodies and in doing so miss most of the food fads that ebb and wane. As the New Year turned, I awoke to a fragrant pot of slow-cooked steel oats, which happens to be a current food fad that I was oblivious to because I have prepared this breakfast for years. This piqued my curiosity, and I began to do a little digging on the topic of food fads. Immediately I stumbled upon locavore, Oxford Dictionary’s 2007 Word of the Year runner-up. It took second place to carbon footprint, which is probably why I missed it.
What exactly is a locavore? As a fan of etymology, I quickly figured out what it meant, but I want to provide you with the Oxford definition, “a person whose diet consists only or principally of locally grown or produced food.” Foodie and locavore are North American in origin, likely because these words are born out of First World Problems. As I reviewed articles on the subject, I thought of the first time I heard the word pescetarian. I was visiting San Francisco and a foodie pal and his wife took me to lunch at a hip, local place, which is pretty much every restaurant within city limits. He mentioned that they were pescetarians, exactly what that entailed and the health benefits associated with it. It made me giggle, which annoyed him, but I survived the meal and learned something new. Win win.
In the weeks leading up to this article, I have spent many hours in the local foodie preferred markets, and I have noticed a few other food fads and trends. One is a protein drink with chia seeds, which suspend in the liquid like small, gelatinous globs. This drink is not very appealing in presentation and certainly not appetizing, but my own doctor made reference to these wonder seeds, so I bought some. These little black seeds sat in a bag on the counter until I felt like moving them into a glass jar to join the other seeds and grains in my cabinets. If you only knew the amount of time I have spent sorting and labeling beans and grains and seeds and nutritional yeast.
About a week ago I was prepping a pot of oats to cook overnight and decided to throw in some chia seeds. Once I had the seeds in my hand, felt their texture, threw them into the pot and saw how they swirled about in the water, I was suddenly overcome with a memory from childhood, in particular, a Christmas Eve during the era when K-Tel As-Seen-On-TV records were huge gifts for kids my age. Novelty items wrapped in pretty paper, gifts no one really needed, but hey, the economy was coming out of a recession, so buy, buy, buy! I believe it was my mother who had been gifted with a Chia Pet. For those not familiar with this brand, it is feat of American ingenuity.
These terracotta figurines were first marketed by Joe Pedott and produced by the San Francisco-based marketing company Joseph Enterprises, Incorporated in 1977. Pedott had spotted the figurines at a tradeshow in Chicago that same year. The 1982 release of the first Chia Pet ram figurine gave rise to the catchphrase many Americans my age instantly recognize and can sing-along to: “Ch-ch-ch-chia!” The product line has grown since its humble beginnings as a novelty item, and perhaps you have stumbled upon the Barak Obama edition that was on the shelves not that long ago.
Ever the learner, I quickly confirmed that chia seeds were indeed the same seeds packaged and included with every Chia Pet ever sold. The texture and consistency of these seeds floating in the protein drink, and then my pot of oats had been the trigger for me to make the connection. This may have been obvious to some, but not to me. Silly, I know, but what can I say? The nutritional benefit of these seeds has somehow been negated by their inclusion in a cheesy, As-Seen-On-TV marketing campaign from days of yore. Never would have imagined in a thousand years that Chia Pet baby-batter would be a foodie fad in the 21st century.
Until next time, kiddies…
dixē.flatlin3 is a pistol-packing mama from the American Wild West. Having survived more travails than Christian in the Pilgrim’s Progress, she decided to get mean and take it to the world. Honing her acid-sharp wit on MySpace, Facebook, and later Twitter, she became known for compacting volumes worth of vitriolic social commentary into one-liners, which she would throw off with the abandon of a Vegas stripper. She is a long-time contributor to Paraphilia Magazine and also runs its Twitter account. With Dixē Ex Machina she shares her insights into the vagaries of social media, technology, business, and 21st century communications: the good points, the bad points, and suppositions as to where it all might be headed.