I spent last week in Melbourne which, you could make the argument, is Australia’s food capital.
I certainly did my best to sample a fair bit of the local fare while I was there.
A compulsory menu item (it seems to me) in every café in Melbourne is avocado on toast. Not just plain old avocado on toast, though. It’s avo on toast taken to a whole new level. ‘Smashed’ avocado on toast; usually with feta; always with garnishes like chilli, dukkah, spices, flavoured oils, tomatoes and various other extras. The version pictured is one I tried which includes goat's cheese and beetroot chips.
Smashed avocado on toast hit the news in Australia last week in a strange way. It started with a kerfuffle caused by a media commentator, Bernard Salt, who wrote a column in the Australian newspaper bemoaning the state of hipster cafes. But one of his issues was the young people he observed dining there. He suggested that if millennials stopped paying $22 a pop for smashed avocado and feta on toast they would be able to afford to buy houses.
This, as you might expect, erupted into a social media storm.
People pointed out how unreasonable this assumption was. House prices in Sydney are comparable to Auckland with Melbourne’s only a little lower, so it would take something like 100 years of saving that $22 to have a house deposit; millennials are already shut out of the housing market, etc.
What I thought was interesting about this is what a good example it is of how we judge other people – in this case on how they spend their money. But you could equally apply this to how we judge others on how and what they eat. It’s human nature, but it’s not very fair.
I dislike the element of moral judgement that has attached itself to food lately. Have you noticed?
We judge people on how they fill their trolleys; on how they feed their kids. In certain circles you’ll be made to feel like a pariah if you dare to put sugar in your coffee. Heaven help you if you give your child something sweet like a biscuit or a lolly.
Then there’s the pressure and implied judgement on social media, where we are told we can’t be truly good people unless we are drinking green smoothies and eating sugar-free bliss balls in our workout gear. It’s rife among 20-something women, and is perhaps correlates with more than one sufferer’s disordered eating.
But you know what: how we choose to eat – just as how we choose to spend – is totally our own business.
If millennials choose to spend their money on smashed avocado on toast, good for them. There are worse breakfast choices. If someone chooses to give their child a biscuit, that’s their business. You don’t know what the rest of the family’s diet is like. And if green smoothies and bliss balls are your favourite things to eat, that’s OK, too. If we were all a bit less judgey about food all round, we might all feel less anxious about it.
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