A recent special report in Fortune contained pretty much everything you need to know about food—except recipes (and I have an excellent one for cauliflower parmigiana I will share upon request). To contribute to this buffet, I’d like to raise an alarm about a trend that should concern anyone who likes food and considers it an important part of the daily pursuit of whatever it is we’re supposed to be doing, including happiness.
In the past several decades there have appeared, sneaking up in the gustatory underbrush, what I will call the Enemies of Food. Often garbed in the vestments of reformers and right-thinkers, sometimes armed with medical research of one form or another, they have as a group waged war on food, relentlessly working to drain the joy out of it. They have almost succeeded. And if they do, the world will be an even more sorry smorgasbord of woes.
It’s time to fight back before these adversaries of pleasure drag us all back to the Middle Ages, when people consumed a lot of tasteless, mealy grains and considered the shrubs and weeds growing by the roadside to be salad-worthy.
Who are these enemies? They can be difficult to spot through their clouds of indignations, preoccupations, and ostensibly well-meaning advice. Let me help you.
The anti-meat people: These take two stripes. The first are those who contend that our arteries will congeal and our brains contract into lumps the size of walnuts if we don’t limit our intake to a single four-ounce cube of free-range, grass-fed substance every week to 10 days. The second are those who remind us that “meat” is a euphemism employed to make us forget that untold animal suffering goes into every bite we take. Both arguments are probably true, which doesn’t make them any less annoying.
The food-as-chemicals people: Then there are those who view every plate as a petri dish of various elements on the periodic table. These people turn the art of cooking into science class. Just look at this web description of one detestable new addition to our table: “Kale is a leafy green cruciferous vegetable that is chock-full of essential vitamins A, C, and K as well as minerals like copper, potassium, iron, manganese, and phosphorus. A cup of fresh kale has only about 40 calories but packs almost three grams of protein.” Yum, huh?
The quinoa people: In addition to kale, which must be massaged and bathed in balsamic vinegar to be rendered palatable, there are a host of newly discovered grains now being foisted upon us like castor oil on a constipated child. The other day I tried to munch my way through a salad containing something called freekeh. What can I tell you? It was.
The eat-your-meals-right-here people: Breakfast, lunch, and dinner provided at the office. What a convenience, right? Wrong. It’s a way of keeping you hostage at your cobbler’s bench and limiting the duration of your midday break to 15 minutes in your little, privacy-challenged cubicle. Get out! Breathe the air, or what’s left of it! Be a person for an hour!
The no-lunch-at-all people: A lot of very cool hipsters abjure lunch entirely, apparently. It’s a way of differentiating their millennial status from the elderly boomer types who go to the trough at midday. This is just one aspect of the dehumanizing impact of Internet culture that will one day oppress all of humanity.
The no-drinks-at-lunch people: Business was never better than when people had a couple of drinks over their T-bones. Sure, they were drunk. Why do you think they made so many deals?
Those are just a few. And I’ll be honest with you: I don’t know how to fight them. All I know is we’ve got to get mad. So I want you all to get up right now and go to your favorite restaurant and pull up a chair and yell, “I’m sick of kale, and I’m not gonna take it anymore!” Unless you like that stuff for some reason. In that case, enjoy, goddamn it!
This story is from the June 1, 2015 issue of Fortune magazine.