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Let hipsters eat whatever they want 

The negative chatter needs to stop

While we all might crack jokes about hipsters, the negative chatter has reached a fever pitch in the last few months. High-profile publications like U.S. News and World Report and The New York Times both published anti-hipster screeds directed at their diet recently. I may not be a hipster, but I believe in their right to eat whatever they want.

First off, let's get clear on what "hipster" means. A simple definition provided by Google reads a person who follows the latest trends and fashions, especially those regarded as being outside the cultural mainstream. As I perused the many other stabs at defining hipsters, I noticed that several made them out to be the opposite of some aspect of Britney Spears, such as this excerpt from the book Hipstermattic by Matt Granfield, which also addresses the matter of what these people eat:

"While mainstream society of the 2000s (decade) had been busying itself with reality television, dance music, and locating the whereabouts of Britney Spears's underpants, an uprising was quietly and conscientiously taking place behind the scenes. Long-forgotten styles of clothing, beer, cigarettes and music were becoming popular again. Retro was cool, the environment was precious and old was the new 'new'. Kids wanted to wear Sylvia Plath's cardigans and Buddy Holly's glasses — they revelled in the irony of making something so nerdy so cool. They wanted to live sustainably and eat organic gluten-free grains ... The way to be cool wasn't to look like a television star: it was to look like as though you'd never seen television."

The U.S. News piece, by Amir Khan, entitled "The Hypocritical Diet of the Hipster," is based on the assumption that hipsters eat a lot of bacon and drink a lot of craft beer, which negates the healthy hipster habits of riding their fixed gear bikes around and eating things like Brussels sprouts. "In addition to bacon-wrapped-everything, craft beer — which tends to be higher in calories than mainstream ales and lagers — is a mainstay in a hipster diet," Khan explains.

But Khan's argument that bacon consumption makes hipsters hypocritical is based on the outdated idea that saturated fats are at the root of heart disease. The evidence supporting that is crumbling as we speak.

The Times story, by David Shaftel, is called "Brunch is for Jerks." It avoids explicit use of the H-word, but it's clear who Shaftel has in mind as he describes the annoying brunch eaters who wallow in their weekend gustatory leisure. And he quotes author Shawn Micallef, whose book The Trouble With Brunch doesn't shy away from calling out hipsters by name as part of the problem with brunch. Micallef describes, for example, "... the super hipster brunch where you want to go to the place that has the smallest number of tables and everything is artisan and local and perhaps vegan."

Shaftel, for his part, laments that:

"While Sundays were traditionally reserved for family, we now have crowds of unfettered young(ish) people with no limitations on their pursuit of weekend leisure ... Here, and many other places, friends have become family and brunch the family gathering.

"The friends aren't the problem, of course. Brunch is. Seasoned with the self-satisfaction of knowing the latest and hippest brunch boîte and the pleasure of ordering eggs Benedict made with jamón Ibérico and duck eggs, something so fundamentally conformist can seem like the height of urban sophistication."

I happen to think eggs Benedict made with jamon Iberico and duck eggs sounds pretty damn good. Like bacon and eggs, but better.

The people who make fun of hipsters, ironically, are the new hipsters, a point that a Times reader named Barbara, commenting on Shaftel's piece, summed up nicely. "Disliking something because hipsters like it is quintessential hipsterism. Genuinely liking or disliking things for their own sake is the cure. I happen to love breakfast, and so naturally I love brunch."

It seems that the war on hipsters has turned into a war on foodies. They're both sloppy, ill-conceived wars, full of contradiction and built on suspect assumptions. While Khan claims that hipsters are bonkers for bacon, others, like Micallef, suggest that hipsters are vegan. This is the kind of problem you have when you take aim at a large, diverse and ill-defined segment of the population and try to make sweeping generalizations about it.

As for Shaftel's assertion that annoying bunch eaters irredeemably taints the practice, then what, pray tell, are we supposed to do with Mom on Mother's Day? "Sorry mom, you get oatmeal, because I can't deal with hipsters."

To the people hating on the gentle hipsters, my question to you is: What have they done to you?

It's time to leave the hipsters, whomever they are, alone. There are many more pressing matters with which to concern ourselves than what other people are eating, and at what time of day, and how internally consistent that diet is. I won't blame you for fretting about global warming or the situation in the Middle East. But if you're worried about hipsters, then maybe you're the one with too much time on your hands.

It's hardly different from going to Europe and snivelling at the Europeans in their damn outdoor cafes. Or worse, it's like getting on someone's case for who they choose to love. If it's not infringing on your life, it's none of your business what they do. Go away. Get a life.

The only hopeful takeaway I can see from this recent lunacy is that perhaps, finally, the anti-hipster trend has jumped the shark.

Ari LeVaux writes Flash in the Pan, a syndicated weekly food column that has appeared in more than 50 newspapers in 21 states. Learn more at flashinthepan.net.

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