It’s no secret that we’re in the midst of a food revolution. Its no surprise this is a long running one, more of an evolution really and its slowly picking up speed.
Revolutions can take time. This is a big one and there are a lot of attitudes and processes to undo. Bureaucracy and corporations have ruled our food in North America for generations. But why? It’s just food! Something we all need. Aren’t we all entitled to nourish ourselves within our control? Why all the layers to the essence of our survival and a necessity to life? Besides the sheer size of the population, and in the name of convenience, big business got involved with our food before we as a culture could develop good food practices, attitudes and our own rituals. Food was made mechanical. Shame that something as fresh, clean and pure as food was turned into a conveyor-belted, governed, corporatized and controlled machine.
The dark underbelly to the food industry has been exposed by documentaries like Food Inc. and authors like Michael Pollan, Marion Nestle, Kathleen Collins and others, that have taken us behind the ugly scenes and exposed us to how we are being told what to do and how to think about food. What happened while we were not looking was we were told we weren’t that good in the kitchen, we didn’t have time to cook and were offered convenience with pretty packaging and clever marketing. We were lured away from sweet, lovely, loose and free qualities of fresh food, home cooked, eaten together and served with love. Nourishing, natural good food was the target in this sordid affair. The result of the way food was handled this way early on in our evolution as a culture, has deeply effected our approach to food. It also gave permission to tamper with it in ways that can seduce us and alter how we think about it, cause us to crave it in unnatural ways and cause harm to our bodies, without our ever knowing it. Instead of being in a garden of Eden, it has us swimming in badness: bad habits, bad attitudes, bad thinking and a bad relationship with food, the innocent. Something that the world naturally provides and lives all around us for centuries has been compromised. And so have we.
The First Revolution
This process of mechanization started with the Industrial Revolution. It carried on even further away from fresh food in the 1950’s when convenience, corporations and marketers grabbed our food and ran off with it, controlling it, processing it and shaping our attitudes towards ourselves, kitchens and food itself. This all got progressively worse as the years went on and took a hold of the North American kitchen and consciousness in the worst way.
Europe vs. North America
While some European countries like England have their own reputation of bad food habits they are trying to shake, countries like France have a love affair with good food that’s existed for hundreds of years and they still do. While some of the North American ways have seeped into France, their food traditions and attitudes are largely in tact. There is a lot we can learn from their ways.
Taking Back Control
There are long established patterns of eating and cooking habits (if any cooking is happening in the home at all) that need to be reversed and other powerful forces, some unseen, that are keep dragging us backwards in this food fight. Don’t be disheartened. We can win. Break their control. How? Fall in love with good food. Don’t be afraid of fresh food. Don’t be afraid of cooking. Don’t fall for the lie that cooking takes too much time; take the time and make cooking food a priority no matter how bad you think you are at it. Don’t be seduced by the marketing and the packaging. Don’t try to control it or rationalize yourself out of the kitchen. Loosen up in the kitchen. No need to be so formal. There is time to prepare and cook food. Even a simply prepared meal is better than the Franken-food options. Make eating a celebration. Practice moderation in consumption but not in adoration of good food.
It’s time to break the shackles, loosen up and rediscover the beauty and joy of food.
With some notable upstarts championing individual efforts, some of the players in this revolution are:
It used to be just called farming, but now because of the damage to food with processing and rules this is the buzzword for what should just ‘be’ farming. I love this quote from Mary Jane Butters, an organic farming queen in the USA who said:
“I think we need to take back our language. I want to call my organic carrots ‘carrots’ and let [other farmers] call theirs a chemical carrot. And they can list all of the ingredients that they used instead of me having to be certified. The burden is on us to prove something. Let them prove that they used only 30 chemicals instead of 50 to produce an apple.”
The Slow Food Movement
Again, this was just ‘preparing and eating food’ years ago, but a buzzword has been given to food that is cooked at home and served together. If it gets more people doing it, that’s great.
Author Michael Pollan, author of ‘The Omnivore’s Dilemma’ and ‘Food Rules’, and other books and insights into the food world that are important for all of us to know. He plays a large role in sharing his research in the movie Food Inc.
Find him on Twitter @michaelpollan
Marion Nestle is a Paulette Goddard Professor in the Department of Nutrition, Food Studies, and Public Health (the department she chaired from 1988-2003) and Professor of Sociology at New York University. She gives great lectures (one of which I attended in Vancouver) and is a wealth of knowledge on the subject of food.
Find her on Twitter @marionnestle
Dividing her time between France and New York, author Mireille Guiliano the former President and CEO of Veuve Clicquot (LVMH) who is championing the effort of bringing the French way to North America is the lovely and wise Murielle, author of ‘French Women Don’t Get Fat’ a book that introduced North American women to the wonderful ways of the French at the table, in the kitchen and the benefits of ‘joie de vivre’. Her latest book the French Women Don’t Get Fat Cookbook (which she graciously sent me) is filled with beautiful and simple recipes for delicious food and a healthy helping of wisdom and good advice from the French perspective.
Find her on Twitter @French_Women
The grand master, the Paul Revere of the food Revolution Jamie Oliver. His efforts though his books, online, TV bravely facing with wit, wisdom, compassion, good sense and recipes, is taking on the beast that are some of the core of the problems with food in North America and England. He is undertaking saving cooking skills and improve school food change with his Food Revolution petition that has already amassed 596,658 signatures in the USA!
Find him on Twitter @Jamie_Oliver