Food is such a subjective thing. What one person may like, another my loathe. Take ranch dressing for example. Millions of people love it, and I’m one of them. Now, I prefer Caesar or green goddess dressing on a salad, but I really enjoy some ranch with french fries (especially from Zaxby’s) or with chicken.
But I get that plenty of other folks don’t like ranch dressing, which is perfectly fine with me. At the same time, while I may not always understand why others enjoy what I don’t care for, I’m certainly not going to hold it against them. But then again, I’m not a smug leftist.
Earlier this week, the Washington Post featured an article by a writer named Ben Adler. The Post bio tells us that Adler “covers environmental politics and policy, with a focus on climate change, energy and urban planning.” So you can see from the start where he’s coming from, both politically and culturally.
Adler has decided to go after the real problem that is plaguing America. And that problem? Ranch dressing, of course (particularly the fact that the condiment has become hip for foodies). For starters, ranch dressing is bad because it’s too pedestrian and kitchy to be hip.
It’s the kind of topping serious chefs correctly disdained for decades as extravagant and trashy. But now, animated by a kind of faddish philistinism, professional food connoisseurs are giving it another look. Today’s hip chefs revel in finding ways to profit from glorified junk food, from cronuts to little $8 jars of artisanal bacon mayonnaise, and the food critics cheer them on, as if this were a worthy endeavor.
So Adler hates ranch dressing. But here’s the thing: it’s not enough for him to simply not eat it. He wants to express his disdain for those who choose to enjoy it:
Since 1992, ranch dressing has been America’s most popular salad dressing, and it currently has twice the market share of its nearest competitor, blue cheese dressing, which is basically a better, more flavorful version of ranch. So Americans have bad taste, as is their right.
Thank you, Ben Adler, for giving me—and millions of others—permission to be a Philistine in your eyes. But there’s more. Adler tells us that ranch lovers aren’t just people of poor taste; they’re also, as he says, “using it wrong.”
Many people don’t appreciate vegetables and feel compelled to slather everything in processed fat. Fine. But why would anyone use it on french fries? Because deep-fried food isn’t greasy and caloric enough? And putting it on pizza — a horrifying, common practice — is insane because pizza is already dripping with mozzarella. It’s completely redundant, wildly unhealthy and disrespectful to any halfway decent pizza, the chef who made it and to the Italian people who gave it to us.
Please, Mr. Adler, since you’re so much more culturally advanced than us knuckle-dragging ranch eaters, tell us how to eat it and what to eat it with.
But here’s the kicker. Remember Adler’s bio from the beginning of this piece—he’s a writer who specializes in environmental issues (so imagine what a joy he is even when he’s not hating on your condiments). And for him, ranch is bad because it’s bad for the environment. No seriously. He writes:
Finally, our vulgar extravagance is going to destroy the planet and starve the global poor. Like meat, dairy produces more local and climate pollution than most plant-based foods. Dairy cows also require more land, water and other resources than grains and vegetables. Unless we moderate our habits, we will run out of resources to feed the Earth’s 7 billion-and-growing population and cause massive climate disruption. Here’s an easy way to cut back: Don’t slather milk products on foods already awash in them.
Adler seems to ignore the fact that organic dairy farmers are leading the way in decreasing pollution and emissions, while even traditional dairy farms are working to lower their impact on the environment. But none of that matters when alarmism is the lingua franca of environmentalism.
Finally, as is typical for an environmental writer, Adler can’t resist the opportunity to lecture both consumers and restauranteurs on what a culinary experience should be:
Socially responsible eating isn’t knowing the name of the heritage breed of pig your ribs came from. It’s actually minimizing your impact on the planet.
How about, in exchange for feeding tastemakers willing to line up and pay handsomely, chefs serve something that won’t kill their clientele or do gratuitous harm to the planet?
Yes, we need to eat better as a society, and yes, culinary artists should be more creative, but this is simply another prime example of a smug leftist who thinks he knows better than everyone else and sees fit to tell us all what he thinks we should do. Well, guess what, Ben Adler: I’m not going to let you take away my ranch dressing.