I recently stopped in a coffee shop for lunch. As I was paying for my repast, the earnest young man behind the counter told me all the food was prepared on the premises and said proudly, “It’s all food you can feel good about eating.”

Uh oh. Had I been neglecting to feel bad about what I eat? Was I missing an opportunity to feel guilty or to diminish my self-esteem for following my own gustatory groove? The next time I’m savoring a meal, will I blow the chance to double my pleasure by failing to beat myself up over my own enjoyment?

The young man surely meant well and intended no slight. But that kind of unwitting happy-making may not have been the boost for his brand he imagined. It suggests we may finally have lost ALL of our marbles, kids.

To feel good about eating, we apparently have to eat fresh, locally sourced, organic foods only. If we do, we’ll live forever, of course. There’ll be room for all of us around the campfire. And we’ll be strictly forbidden from reading things like this and this.

We will, though, have to overlook the fact that the science we now deem bad made it possible to feed mass populations and free entire societies from what used to be considered plagues. And we’ll have to ignore the fact that mass-farming techniques made it possible to produce more food at less cost.

Oh, we’ll also have to forget that the same folks who have their knickers in a twist over GMOs, processed and frozen foods, and anything else we shouldn’t feel good about eating are the same folks who decry diminishing global food supplies and escalating global food prices. But nobody said it would be easy. Heck, even Kermit knows it’s not easy being green.

I’m all for healthy dietary choices and supporting local merchants. But I’m also for practicality. So, what if we just relaxed? What if we separated ideology from ingestion and left each other to our own preferences? What if we assumed the other guy knows what he’s doing and feels good about it? What if we don’t assume he needs to hear what we think we should tell him? What if we just enjoy our tofu and bean sprouts in silence and let the other guy enjoy his Big Mac in peace?

If we managed to do those things — if we steered clear of such prandial proselytizing and left each other to our own pantophagous preferences — maybe we’d manage to enjoy ourselves a little more and worry a little less.

Dude. Are you gonna eat those fries?

David Ward [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons