on food, farmers, and family...and community and democracy...


last saturday i had the pleasure of hanging out with mo
at her farmer's market booth.
it was interesting to watch people and talk with people there.
i wondered at how so many different people
could be gathered together in the same place
for the same reason: good, fresh food.
conservatives & liberals, urbanites & ruralites, etc.
all together, getting along.
shouldn't there be a lesson in this somewhere?

anyway, been reading kingsolver's lovely book, and i had to share:
"consider how americans might respond to a proposal that agriculture was to become a mandatory subject in all schools, alongside reading and mathematics. a fair number of parents would get hot under the collar to see their kids' attention being pulled away from the essentials of grammar, the all-important trigonometry, to make room for down-on-the-farm stuff. the baby boom psyche embraces a powerful presumption that education is a key to moving away from manual labor, and's good enough for us that somebody, somewhere, kknows food production well enough to serve the rest of us with all we need ot eat, each day of our lives. if that is true, why isn't it good enough for someone else to know multiplication and the contents of the Bill of Rights? Is the story of bread, from tilled ground to our table, less relevant to our lives than the history of the thirteen colonies? couldn't one make a caase for the relevance of a subject that informs choices we make daily--as in, what's for dinner? isn't ignorance of our food sources causing problems as diverse as overdependence on petroleum, and an epidemic of diet-related diseases?" (page 9)

"No cashier held a gun to our heads and made us supersize it, true enough. But humans have a built-in weakness for fats and sugar. We evolved in lean environments where it was a big plus for survival to gorge on calorie-dense foods whenever we found them. Whether or not they understand the biology, food marketers know the weakness and have exploited it without mercy. Obesity is generally viewed as a failure of personal resolve, with no acknowledgment of the genuine conspiracy in this historical scheme. People actually did sit in strategy meetings discussing ways to get all those surplus calories into people who neither needed nor wished to consume them. Children have been targeted especially; food companies pay over $10 billion a year selling food brands to kids, and it isn't broccoli they're pushing. Overweight children are a demographic in many ways similar to minors addicted to cigarettes, with one notable exception: their parents are usually their suppliers. We all subsidize the cheap calories with our tax dollars, the strategists make fortunes, and the overweight consumers get blamed for the violation. The perfect crime." (page 15).

"the main barrier standing between ourselves and a local-food culture is not price, but attitude. the most difficult requirements are patience and a pinch of restraint--virtues that are hardly the property of the wealthy. these virtues seem to find precious little shelter, in fact, in any modern quarter of this nation founded by Puritans. furthermore, we apply them selectively: browbeating our teenagers with the message that they should wait for sex, for example. only if they wait to experience intercourse under the ideal circumstances (the story goes), will they know its true value. 'blah blah blah,' hears the teenager: words issuing from a mouth that can't even wiat for the right time to eat tomatoes, but instead consumes tasteless ones all winter to satisfy a craving for everything now. we're raising children on the definition of promiscuity if we feed them a casual, indiscriminate mingling of foods from every season plucked from the supermarket, ignoring how our sustenance is cheapened by wholesale desires." (page 31)

"tod murphy's [owner of the Farmers Diner Smokehouse in Vermont] background was farming. the greatest economic challenge he and his farming neighbors faced was finding a market for their good products. opening this diner seemed to him like a red-blooded american kind of project. thomas jefferson, tod points out, presumed on the basis of colonial experience that farming and democracy are intimately connected. cultivation of land meets the needs of the farmer, the neighbors, and the community, and keeps people independent from domineering centralized powers. 'in jefferson's time,' he says, 'that was the king. in ours, it's multinational coporations.' tod didn't think he needed to rewrite the Declaration of Independence, just a good business plan. he found investors and opened the Farmers Diner, whose slogan is 'think locally, act neighborly.'" (page 150)

photos by me. salt lake farmer's market, september 2009.


Melissa and Brent Thatcher said...

we missed it today because we were in Park City. Next weekend! It's always worth it, you're right.