Food: the New Sex?

Mindful Eating, Mindless Sex

By Charles Colson

Imagine inviting some new neighbors to a dinner party. The first couple tells you they’d love to come. But, they warn, they think it’s immoral to eat animals, so please—vegetarian options only.

The second couple also wants to come, but—they’re almost embarrassed to mention it—they only eat locally grown food. No strawberries from Chili, or shrimp from Asia. Importing food from faraway countries damages the environment, they explain.

Couple number three also wants to attend—but, they ask, you aren’t serving genetically enhanced vegetables, are you, or meat produced by industrialized breeding practices?

At this point, you might be tempted to cancel the party and go out for a cheeseburger, followed up by a banana split—made with bananas from Ecuador. But you might wonder, as you bite into that greasy hunk of beef, just why it is that people have become so moralistic about food. Especially when so many are immoral in other areas—like their sex lives.

One person who has wondered about this is Mary Eberstadt, a research fellow at the Hoover Institution. In her article “Is Food the New Sex?,” Eberstadt notes that food is cheap and plentiful in the West. The same can be said for sex. Technology has tamed many of the dangers associated with sex, like pregnancy and disease. Moreover, social and religious strictures have all but disappeared.

Which leads to an interesting question: What would happen, Eberstadt wondered, when, “for the first time in history . . . [people] are more or less free to have all the sex and food they want?” Would they pursue both food and sex with equal ardor?

Oddly enough, they don’t. Instead, many engage in a sexual free-for-all—but put stringent moral strictures on anything to do with food. A modern young woman might think nothing of living with several different men, and having abortions when she gets pregnant. But she would not dream of eating anything from a factory farm. That would be immoral. . . (continue reading)


  1. Kim

    My 17yo son has noticed this from working with other high schoolers. Another area they are very moral about is the environment. He actually gets yelled at for using a piece of paper to write down notes on pizza orders. Guess we shouldn’t be too surprised in this crazy world we live in.

  2. Christie Martin

    This article draws a startling conclusion: when there is no moral code available to us, we’ll simply make one up. Since food, like procreation, is essential to cultural survival, the idea that people are substituting sexual mores with food mores does not come as a surprise. God, in His infinite wisdom, used food as a way to train the Israelites to habits of self-denial and holiness through the dietary codes of the Old Testament. Culturally, we seem to be starting the same trend. Cultural forces are powerful. What disturbs me is this, if there is no guiding principal behind these new mores developing, who is going to come along with the harness?

  3. Karen Williams

    Further…smoking seen as a moral evil while Communism is a nifty philosphical place to perch. Thanks for posting this Pat.

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