"It's a privilege to want less."
July 2, 2014 7:10 AM Subscribe
The last decade has seen an explosion of interest in farmer's markets, healthful cooking, and dismantling the industrial food system, spurred in large part by Michael Pollan's 2006 book The Omnivore's Dilemma. But the "food movement" of today tends to be dominated by affluent urbanites, and messages from Brooklyn and San Francisco often don't reach--or resonate with--the majority of places in between.Guernica contributor Meara Sharma interviews food journalists Jane Black and Brent Cunningham about the juxtaposition of American working-class culture, Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution, and the idealized pastoral leanings of the modern-day food movement: Servings of Small Change.
On deeply-ingrained associations between food and class:
Barring very, very poor people, I actually think class-wise, fast food went from being modern and aspirational to the standard and just what you like. That's the dirty secret at the heart of the food movement. There's this idea that if everybody could have a roasted pasture-raised chicken and a fresh-picked peach, then they would eat it, and they would like it, and that's what they want. But that is absolutely not true. Given a choice between Alice Waters's roasted chicken and a McDonald's chicken sandwich, many people would choose the McDonald's chicken sandwich every time. Because they like it.And the often-invisible luxury of choice:
Not wanting the quantity, and wanting the quality, is usually because you don't ever have to worry that there's not enough. It's a privilege to want less. It's a luxury to worry about how the animal was raised.
And that, I think, is what is lost in this whole national discussion about food. Because it's led by people who don't have to worry. It's not that people aren't aware of that, but it's totally different to really understand it—and to craft messages and strategies that account for it. We had that experience a number of times in Huntington [West Virginia]. You're sitting with people, and they're really poor, and their lives, because they are poor, are very chaotic. Somebody's brother is in jail, somebody is on drugs, somebody is working the night shift at the gas station, the kid has ADHD. And you're sitting there going, Have you thought about whole grains? It sounds, to them, like somebody saying, Oh, my private jet broke down.
Previous work by Jane Black:
- Can Food Network Chefs Help Solve the Obesity Crisis?
- What Paula Deen didn't bring to the table
- Is Universal Access to Good, Healthy Food Really a Problem?
- Shopping for healthful food on a limited budget
Want to help feed people? Here are a few suggestions:
- Volunteer to teach low-income children, adults, and families in your community how to shop for and prepare nutritious, delicious, inexpensive meals through Cooking Matters! Not feeling very creative? The Kitchn has some recipe suggestions for you.
- Donate shelf-stable goods to your local food pantry! Check out this "most wanted" poster [PDF] for ideas. Spoiler alert: 100% fruit juice? Peanut butter? Whole grain cereal, pasta, and rice? Low-sodium canned vegetables, soups, and stews? Yes, please.
- If you're a gardener, share your extra homegrown produce with a local food pantry through Ample Harvest! Fresh fruits and vegetables are highly prized in food pantries.
- Throw money at it! No Kid Hungry, Feeding America, or your local food pantry would be happy to take your donations.
This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments