Those of you who know me well, know this about me: I champion the little guy, the artisan producer, the farmer, the lover of the land. Many of you share the same sentiment. As a matter of fact, this subject is the basis on which of many of our friendships were founded. This is the reason for my career choice, or at least the subject matter that solidified its longevity. That it pains me to see the culture of food changing is also no secret. It’s a constant truth, that I would work harder, pay more, for a smaller amount of something true and pure.
Every now and then someone illustrates this subject matter in a way that clearly presents the dichotomy between old world and new … between brand building and the farmer.
Dan Barber’s (chef and co-owner of Blue Hill, in New York and Westchester) lecture at Taste (http://www.taste3.com/) in Napa is inspiration for me to write down my feelings. Full links to the lecture and other notable media are included at the end of the article. Please click the link to his poignant speech.
Nature provides the human species with a diet that has sustained us for thousands of years. When we learned to cultivate, we did so in a manner that preserved the integrity of the resources in use. Thinking of food as a product and a means to further capitalistic growth is an entirely different mentality. The advent of modern day industrialized agriculture, coupled with the ever-growing presence of the chemical companies and the GMO patent holders (which are quite-frighteningly often one in the same), has changed the culture of food. The macro level of sustenance delivery has brought a host of ramifications, that we’ve only begun to unearth, let alone understand.
When we talk about the love of food, and the little guy, and the slow meal, we evoke the beauty of how complex and thought-provoking a simple sliver of mackerel, a whole roasted young fava bean, or a sweet plum can be when presented in a pure and natural state. Everything we need is provided for us, yet we are determined as a modern civilization to manipulate our natural environment to meet what we perceive to be our modern “needs.” Breaking bread with your neighbor, taking a three hour lunch, stopping to look around and enjoy the simple things, when did we forget the importance of these? These are the things that have always been there… the things that were provided for us. It’s nature humbly presented. It’s ALL WE NEED. And, if we treat it with passion, it’s all we should want.
“…take more, sell more, waste more…”
People actually say that the farmers’ market is pretentious. Conversely, It is my unwavering belief that Wal-Mart selling produce is pretentious. That humans think we can do it better than nature is to me… condescending, arrogant, and “insulting of history.” The farmer is the artist, putting his work on the line and saying “what is it worth to you?”
It’s important that we know the degrees of separation between us and what we consume. Food is the subject, but the attitude is pervasive in all aspects of our society: Produce more, Consume more, Waste more, and (in the name of capitalism) Repeat. I can’t, however, think of anything more relevant than food. Food shouldn’t be a weapon. Food… is love. We should stop “insulting history.”
Talks Dan Barber: A surprising parable of foie gras.
The World According to Monsanto: A documentary that you won’t see on American television. The gigantic biotech (and chemical) corporation Monsanto is threatening to destroy the agricultural biodiversity which has served mankind for thousands of years.
…..What everyone should know……
Mondovino: A documentary on the impact of globalization on the wine regions.
King Corn: A feature documentary about two friends, one acre of corn, and the subsidized crop that drives our fast-food nation.
Life and Debt: A feature-length documentary which addresses the impact of the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank and current globalization policies on a developing country such as Jamaica.