I’ll never forget the day I figured out I was a food snob. There I was, sitting in a graduate seminar chatting with a colleague, when she pulled out a granola bar that looked interesting.  I said, “Wow, I’ve never seen that kind before, but then again I never buy granola bars.” And when she replied, “Of course you don’t, you’re a total food snob!”, I was taken aback.  Was this an insult? After a few seconds, I thought, “Yes, yes I am a food snob!” and thanked her for her compliment.

What is a Food Snob?

What the heck is a food snob, you might ask, and why should you be proud to be one? Good question!  A food snob is someone who has an epicurean zeal for high quality, fresh and fancy food.

Here are some of the traits and behaviour patterns of a food snob:

* They prefer to buy their food from specialty shops; bread from bakeries, meat from butcher shops, and nuts and grains from bulk food stores.

* When in a suburban-style mega-grocery store, they mostly avoid the centre aisles, opting instead for fresh produce and dairy.

* They don’t buy things that come in crinkly bags or brightly coloured boxes with cartoon characters on them.

* Whatever they do buy from centre aisles has to be imported from some foreign country and in a glass bottle with a fancy label, thank you very much.

* They love to visit farmer’s markets, and pick out local produce with the eye of a jeweller choosing the finest gems.

* They also love to try new things; the more exotic and unpronounceable, the better.

* When eating out, they get excited by hole-in-the-wall restaurants that serve delicious, unusual, flavourful meals made with high-quality ingredients. What they avoid are fast food and chain restaurants.  There’s something a little bit wrong about being able to get the same meal with the same taste at opposite ends of the continent.

* They take pleasure in going food shopping, taking their time to examine each fruit carefully, ponder the various merits of different kinds of cheese, and fantasize about the meals that will result from this particular trip.

* Cooking is taken to the extremes of an Olympic sport.  Hours are regularly set aside to carefully execute new recipes that result in multi-course meals.  These are most often paired with good friends and good wine.

* They opt for cooking shows over reality TV.

* New recipes passed on by family and friends can often generate a squeal of excitement.

Benefits of Being a Food Snob

There are LOTS of benefits to being a food snob. Here are a few:

* You feel fancy. Feel free to don designer sunglasses and a silk scarf to go shopping with your straw bag (I exaggerate).

* When you buy high quality ingredients, you spend more, but you also eat less and don’t let things go to waste.  Wouldn’t you rather eat a single, hand-made decadent chocolate truffle from a specialty shop than an entire candy bar from a gas station?

* You learn to enjoy grocery shopping rather than see it as weekly (or worse, bi-monthly) excursion to a drab, concrete block of a store that also happens to sell clothing and consumer electronics.

* You support the local economy and local farmers.

* You reduce your environmental impact by trying not to buy things that are excessively packaged.

* You can feel proud to say that you don’t succumb to the advertising industry‘s dictates of what you should eat.

* You never get bored of the same old thing.

* Cooking becomes a fun, creative expression of who you are instead of a grim task to be endured.

* Fewer processed foods means a healthier, slimmer body.

* You might actually get famous if you pull a Julie & Julia (http://www NULL.julieandjulia NULL.com).

* Most importantly, REAL pleasure is taken from food, the kind where everything is slowly savoured, fully appreciated and shared with loved ones.

Not everyone can incorporate all of these suggestions at once.  But take a good, long look at how you see food: shopping for it, cooking it and eating it.  See if you can start with a few small changes, like visiting a farmer’s market on your way home once in a while to savour seasonal goodies.  I promise, being a food snob will change your life!