Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Food Fight

Yesterday on my food blog I shared a New York Times blog post offering a list of cheap, nutritious whole foods. I found it interesting that, in the comments section of the original blog, a reader glumly noted the advent of a backlash against healthy, whole foods.

Backlash? I thought. That's a strong word. I mean, Lord knows there's some self-cariacature in the foodie world -- rich folks who really have no genuine interest in home cooking, nutrition, sustainable agriculture or anything much beyond their own sense of entitlement and desire to trend-surf buying spendy "heritage" meats and poultry and organic produce mostly because they can -- but the people I know who are interested in healthy eating and supporting small family farms are persons of modest means; very often persons with family roots on the land.

When I think of my own family background, I remember stories of my maternal grandparents, who were forced out of Detroit during the Depression -- there was no work, and the family was literally going hungry -- and wound up sharecropping here in mid-Michigan. My grandpa was a very serious gardener, and my grandmother was an equally fastidious cook and canner. Because they had to be. Because the rest of the family depended on them to be. Likewise, on Dad's side of the family -- another tribe of farmers just getting by -- food was considered a precious resource because of my paternal grandparents' experiences in "the old country." Food quality was important to them, because to treat food otherwise was to disrespect it.

But it occurs to me that whatever "backlash" there will be against the current iteration of the slow-food/local food/healthy food movement will be orchestrated by the same folks who brought us Joe the Plumber and pitbull hockey moms -- in other words, manufactured class warfare as a tool of partisan politics. And a central assumption in this warfare seems to be that mindful living is a bad thing; that thinking and learning in general, and any lifestyle choices and changes that result from doing so, are suspect activities that smack of "elitism."

Well -- that's stupid. Which seems to be the point.

I guess we can only hope that wilful ignorance and mindlessness as personal and public virtues are headed in the "out" direction in 2009 along with bouffant hair and highwater pants.

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