Kitchen Literacy illustrates that our relationship with food has undergone radical changes in the past 150 years. Nothing is static... which means that everything can always change. Indeed, we are seeing lots of new changes taking place in the food system. By joining community gardens, shopping at farmers' markets, enrolling in CSAs or food box programs, people are starting to alter how they consume food or connect to it.
In this second instalment of Kitchen Literacy, Ann Vileisis focuses on the industrialization of the food system. From that point forward, mechanization and food sciences come to radically alter our relationship to food. The food stories that were so integral to the pre-industrial era are slowly forgotten and replaced by stories of loyalty to brand names, which, through advertising, promise us a life filled with love, joy and convenience - as long as we shop at the supermarket, of course...
I often wonder how we can create a healthy and equitable food system that feeds not only our body but our health, our relationships with one another and our environment. What will spur this food revolution? Some say it can't be done, we are too far gone. I disagree. In fact, this moving quote from novelist Arundhati Roy resonates with me:
Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing.
I used the expression 'food sovereignty' in my post on Growing Food Justice and Equity. What does it mean? It may be useful to give a little more context to this term which is still not widely known or understood.
"Poetry calls us to pause. There is so much we overlook, while the abundance around us continues to shimmer, on its own.” Naomi Shihab Nye
It all started rather innocuously. Pawlick wanted to make a very simple salad. He bought four attractive-looking tomatoes at the supermarket and discovered, once home, that they were too hard to slice. So he decided to place them on the counter, to let them ripen. They didn't. After several days, out of curiosity, he picked one tomato up, took it outside and threw it against a fence, to see how it would fare. "It bounced off, undamaged, like a not-very-springy, red tennis ball." (p.2) Why was it so? Pawlick was hooked on finding out how the answer.
Our dominant relationship to food seems to be as consumers. In our busy lives, there is little time for gathering food, cooking from scratch and thoughtfully reflecting on where our food comes from. The challenge with this approach is that it significantly undermines our capacity to establish a healthy food system, one based on taking care of the land, valuing those who grow our food and ensuring that everyone is able to eat nutritious food.
Food to a large extent is what holds society together and eating is closely linked to deep spiritual experiences.
Consuming Passions: The Anthropology of Eating
British architect Carolyn Stell is fascinated by food. Her passion led her to explore the relationships between cities and their food in a study titled Hungry City: How Food Shapes Our Lives. In it, Stell traces how ancient food routes have shaped our world and particularly our cities. These connections can be found in the name of streets in cities such as London, Rome or Paris.