Here is a bit of conventional wisdom: Each of us is an expert on what we like and picky eaters are not at fault for their fussy attitude. If I hate sushi, I haven’t made a mistake or committed a crime. I can’t help it; I like what I like.
But that bit of conventional wisdom is wrong. Here are ten reasons why you shouldn’t be a picky eater.
1. We are not experts on what we like. Our tastes change constantly and in surprising, unpredictable ways. Remember hating asparagus as a kid or never liking sardines until having them grilled on the beach in Sicily? We often dislike something because our experience with it is limited or because its presentation was unflattering.
2. Picky eaters are well on their way to a life of blandness and tedium unless they compensate in some other way. The world of flavor is large and diverse and promises a different experience each day. Life is just more interesting when you eat widely.
3. Omnivores have ready access and the motivation to learn about the tastes, habits, and ways of life of other cultures. Food is a window into other cultures, one that is often just down the street. Picky eaters sacrifice this opportunity,
4. Curiosity about food can stimulate your desire to travel.
5. Omnivores are open-minded about food and being open-minded is a good habit to develop in general because you discover more value in the world. Being open-minded about food can help develop that habit in other areas of life.
6. Picky eaters experience less pleasure, are less curious and will have less self-knowledge than omnivores unless these deficiencies can be made up for in some other way.
7. Picky eaters are dogmatic and inflexible about food. It is in general a bad idea to approach any aspect of life by emulating Professor Umbrage on a bad day.
8. Picky eaters harm themselves because they don’t develop their capacities for sensation to the fullest. We are designed to get pleasure from diverse foods. Picky eating is like being willfully color-blind.
9. Picky eaters inconvenience others and are often disrespectful and thankless since they cannot fully endorse a gift of good food when served something they don’t like.
10. Picky eaters miss out on shared experiences they would otherwise enjoy.
Of course, some people are off the hook for refusing to try some foods. Vegetarians and vegans have moral objections to eating certain foods that are worthy of rerspect, and these objections would have to be weighed against the virtues of being omnivorous. People with health issues cannot be expected to sacrifice their health. And if you think of food as fuel only and get no pleasure from it, then you lack the motivation for food adventures.
Everybody else should stop whining and eat.