A slew of articles, including this one, have reported the results of a recent study out of Canada that shows certain barbecue sauces are rich in antioxidants. Leaving aside Canadians’ questionable credentials when it comes to barbecue (moose jaw anyone?), as well as the considerable waste of taxpayer money (not mine in this case, thankfully) inherent in funding such useless research, the study does lead to an interesting question. The question is not, “Isn’t it wonderful that barbecue sauce may have some health benefits?”, but rather, “Who cares if it does?”
Who cares whether the sauce on an unabashedly not-that-healthy food has some health benefits? Our culture has grown increasingly obsessed with whether foods–from flax seed to chocolate to beer to steak–contribute to our physical health. This trend bothers me for a few reasons:
- It distracts from the obvious fact that as a culture we eat too much and exercise too little. Until we resolve those issues, everything else is fairly irrelevant.
- It implies that the pure enjoyment of food is suspect, that there must be some practical benefit in every bite we eat. This is antithetical to the enjoyment of food and, at the risk of being overly dramatic, to human nature.
- It puts an emphasis on “health” over quality. Are we supposed to eat lousy, lazy oven-cooked ribs with a mass produced, highly processed yet antioxidant-rich sauce and feel good about ourselves? And should we feel bad about eating a wood-cooked, presumably carcinogen-tainted plate of chopped pork covered in homemade but low antioxidant sauce? Nonsense.
Maybe I am overreacting, since that’s what I do when inhabiting my Porky LeSwine persona, but this sort of madness needs to stop. Eat a balanced diet, run around the yard with your kids every chance you get, and by all means enjoy your BBQ sandwich.