Friday, October 22, 2021

#2491: Amanda Chantal Bacon

As has often been noted, diet and dietary advice have attained a peculiar status in modern Western societies. Instead of what it should be – a matter of non-mysterious and boring advice for meeting relatively well-defined needs – it has become something more akin to a thoroughly commodified pseudo-religious practice, complete with rituals, distinctions between the “clean” and the “unclean”, systems of creed resembling theology more than science, promises of salvation, detailed and minutely described codes of conduct, sins and absolutions, declarations of faith, evangelism, rituals of penitence and, of course, prophets. 


Such as Amanda Chantal Bacon, “founder and owner of Moon Juice – the Los Angeles destination that serves beautifying herbal powder blends, tonics, and treats to A-list fans like Gwyneth Paltrow and Shailene Woodley”. Yes, name-dropping Gwyneth Paltrow sort of gives the game away. And if you want an example of “diet as a pseudo-religious practice”, Bacon’s eating habits for a typical day would be an excellent one. Bacon doesn’t do food because it tastes good and nourishes, but because it containssuper endocrine, brain, immunity, and libido- boosting powers, none of which makes any sense whatsoever if you happened to confuse what she is saying with anything connected to reality. And no, you don’t remotely need alkalizers, nor will a “morning chi drink”, “activated cashews” (whatever that means – they’re $25 a handful in Bacon’s store), “a shot of pressed turmeric root” or “three tablespoons of bee pollen” do anything beneficial to anything, except work as a strong marker of class, one that might create some envy among those who can’t afford to spend four-figure sums on rarefied nonsense products but want the lifestyle associated with it – which is, of course, the whole damn point of it all, don’t you think?


And of course it’s all about wellness, the self-centered, vague and fuzzy alternative to medicine marketed primarily by appeals to empowerment rather than evidence. And of course, there is a feeling of wellness associated with engaging in activities that effectively exclude people who have to take economy into consideration when shopping food, and the game is as transparent as similar exclusionary behavior was in high school.


Bacon’s herbal blends have no medicinal qualities, of course. That obviously doesn’t mean that she hasn’t seen the marketing opportunities of the coronavirus pandemic: In addition to silly and strangely nonsensical rituals (like “dry brushing to stimulate lymph flow”) and recommending high doses of Vitamin C (which – this really doesn’t need to be said – has absolutely zero beneficial effect on anything related to Covid), she recommends taking “SuperYou® [note the appeal to empowerment] daily to keep calm – elevated cortisol directly affects the immune system” – it most certainly do not, and at the very least not in a way you would like – and adding “Power Dust® and Spirit Dust® to my morning tonics – these adaptogenic blends are particularly supportive of the immune system” (they are, of course, not, but the claim is medically meaningless and as such not legally actionable). Mostly, though, the products – the result of Bacon’s “plant-based alchemy”, as it has aptly been called  are really expensive in her online shop. In that sense they are definitely empowering, we suppose.


The Moon Juice brand is indeed frequently recommended by Goop, and it is, in fact, a favorite of Hollywood celebrities. It is very much worth pointing out, as the New York Times Magazine did in a profile of Bacon, that many of the alternative-medicine ingredients in her products are soldwith very different branding, obviously – in Alex Jones’s Infowars store. The audience probably overlaps, too, e.g. for Bacon’s Brain Dust®, a nootropic allegedly boosting your cognitive powers and memory, aimed at boomers with lots of money and, well, cognitive problems (there is admittedly some default cleverness in the marketing here).


Diagnosis: Religious fundamentalism for a new age, and the preachers of the religions look nothing like the fire-and-brimstone monsters of the past – Bacon’s hippie-guru gimmick is a case in point. But the claims are strikingly similar – including the conspiracy theories, the anti-science and the appeals to an inner, empowered self that is able to continue to pursue nonsense even in the face of mockery and opposition from skeptics, scientists and other powers with nefarious motives.

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