Friday, October 14, 2011

almost writing about privileged food movements and pastoral idylls

It's not quite Godzone, or the land of milk and honey, these days is it? Pike, the Christchurch earthquakes, Rena. Bryce Edwards has assembled a number of very interesting images commenting on the Rena crisis here.

I've been mostly focused on my own family, especially my children. Tomorrow we head away for a while, partly to visit my grandparents and partly to give the children some new experiences in parts of New Zealand we've not taken them before. We booked and paid for this trip before our sad and sudden trip to Auckland and I hope it lifts everyone's spirits.

I finished The Long Song by Andrea Levy. It was quite good, but lacked the magic of Small Island. Now I'm reading Jeanette Winterson's Lighthousekeeping. I've also started to listen to her South Bank lecture which is found on her website here.

I read today of something called Blog Action Day, which this year is to be held 16 October, which is also world food day. I've not enough to say to make a proper post, but if I did, it would be around privileged food movements and pastoral idylls. Once upon a time, a time which seems quite distant now, I read a lot about traditional foods a la Sally Fallon and the Weston Price Foundation. Isa Ritchie wrote an excellent thesis on the movement, placing it in its social and political context. Isa seems to have taken down her blog on her thesis, so I can't link to it anymore.

As a relic from the days when I regularly hung out with Sally Fallon and her maddening book, Nourishing Traditions, I get facebook updates from a blog called 'Nourished Kitchen'. Beautiful ideas, photography and a clear sense of purpose. But is this really about cooking? Or even eating, or health? If you care to procrastinate a little further, then read this sample post on healthy fats and oils. This is the language of religion. Food the 'Nourished Kitchen' way is a journey down the path less travelled, the path unsinned, the pastoral idyll where your children will grow up free of trans fats, but also, or as I sense the implication, unsullied in a wider sense by modern living. People busy gathering apples and making appleasauce perhaps do not have time to mainline heroin and get pregnant to a non-life partner.

I think that food in most, if not all of our lives, is both more and less complex. I've definitely got a sense of principles around the food I eat, make and grow. What I would like to explore but don't have the headspace to do so at the moment is the intersection between belief and food in terms of individual choices by privileged people (that'll likely be everyone reading) and how modern food movements start out with good intentions but so often eventually function as markers of privilege.

1 comment:

Heather said...

I think you're very right, that these food movements tend easily to be markers of identity and, indeed, privelege. They're also full of a bunch of beliefs that seem to me to be far more matters of faith than anything that has to do with nutritional research. However, the current 'standard diets' aren't really that good for people, although I think that what's wrong with them has more to do with too much fat and salt and not enough vegetables than anything else.

Something that has become very important to my husband and me over recent years is to live a life that everyone on the planet could live, and keep living for the foreseeable future without anything breaking down. Diets that include spending hours and hours a day cooking just aren't like that, or at least, they aren't unless they are accompanied by societal changes that mean that most people have to work many fewer hours of the day. Diets that include unfairly traded products aren't really that way either, as they rely on some people being prevented from living like you do. But the average Western diet (and lifestyle) isn't that way either - we just don't have enough planets! So I'm keen to find a way of living and eating that is *both* healthy and viable for everyone. My husband and I are more or less 'there' on food (we use just under half of our 'fair share' of global agricultural land, but we do eat more than our 'fair share' of saltwater fish), but still have a long way to go on most other areas of life.

With food, also, we're very aware that your average person on a benefit in NZ couldn't *really* eat like us. They could afford to, but only after they'd bought a pressure cooker, a slow cooker, and various other kitchen tools, and it'd be a nightmare to save up for items like that on a benefit while still eating the more expensive 'normal food' until you got there. Plus they'd need to have the headspace to learn about quite a different kind of cooking, and the patience to put up with the rebellion that trying to make one's family eat 'strange' food seems inevitably to bring, in what is already bound to be a much more stressful life than my own.

Anyway, that's what your post got me thinking about. I hope you're having a lovely break away.

--Heather :-)