The Great Hog-Eating Confederacy
Early Southerners ate a rather limited and unvarying diet. At table the famished guest seldom found more than bacon, corn pone, and coffee sweetened with molasses. Pioneering sociologist Harriet Martineau complained that “little else than pork, under all manner of disguises” sustained her during her visit to the American SouthFor the most part, slaves observed the same diet as poor white farmers. Though many kept gardens, and thus supplemented their rations of pork and corn with a wide variety of vegetables, they had otherwise little opportunity to augment their diet.. Another traveler griped that that he had “never fallen in with any cooking so villainous.” A steady assault of “rusty salt pork, boiled or fried … and musty corn meal dodgers” brought his stomach to surrender. Rarely did “a vegetable of any description” make it on his plate, and “no milk, butter, eggs, or the semblance of a condiment” did he once see.Christine Baumgarthuber is a writer for The New Inquiry and runs the blog The Austerity Kitchen. [more inside]
I explained that, for a variety of reasons — including feeding my boys the most nutritious food available, supporting local farmers, and reducing the carbon miles our food inflicted on the environment — I tried to buy our food locally and organically. She looked at me as if I’d just told her I believed in Santa Claus and, with a poorly disguised smirk, said, "Honey, those days are over."In 2009, Michelle Gienow came close to having to feed her family sustainable, organic, local, and ethically produced (SOLE) food on a food stamp budget. She documented her budget calculations in the pages of the City Paper, Baltimore's alternative weekly. This year Ms. Gienow's financial situation really did call for financial assistance — and she found that her calculations were too optimistic.
Sara White, Canadian blogger who recently moved to Rome, shares some thoughts about old world food cultures versus the American approach to cooking. One of the most interesting things to me about her post is the discussion about how having no limitations (many Americans can just waltz into a large supermarket and get almost anything from almost anywhere) can negatively impact culinary creativity.
Noma's Chef Rene Redzepi, whose dishes include Vintage Carrot and Chamomile; The Sea; and Asparagus and Spruce, on the science of deliciousness and the importance of using local ingredients. [more inside]
Slow Food Nation '08 was a four-day conference with a panel of food luminaries (Michael Pollan, Alice Waters, Eric Schlosser, ..) to discuss the future of food in America. Sessions included The World Food Crisis (1:13), Climate Change and Food (1:20), Building a new food system (1:22), and more (streaming video, MP3 download, transcripts).
2008: The International Year of the Potato. Why now? Because the potato is delicious previously, easy to grow, and fun for all ages. [more inside]
Beginning with Slow Food in 1986, the idea of rejecting the "cult of speed" has gradually spread from a focus on food into other fields. In his book In Praise of Slow, Carl Honore explores the spread of the worldwide Slow movement, urging greater attention to all aspects of daily life, human relationships, and the quality of experience. Meanwhile, on the web, witness the spread of Slow. Slow down your stuff with Slow Home, Slow Travel, Slow Fashion, Slow Art, Slow Craft, Slow Design. Relax with some Slow Reading; check out a Slow Read from a Slow Library. Plan for Slow Cities governed by Slow Leadership. Use Slow Schooling, Slow Research, and the Slow University to explore Slow Science and Slow Math. Bank with Slow Money [PDF]. Explore the world with Slow Travel, using Slow Fuel for Slow Transportation. What's the rush? Come on. Take it easy.
How Much Fossil Fuel Does Your Dinner Burn? Ingredients for the average American meal travel well over 1500 miles to reach your plate. Our food might be inexpensive, but it's costing the planet a lot (and doesn't taste so hot either, since it's bred to withstand shipping and have long shelf life rather than to taste good). So what happens when people reject the large-scale industrial food system? One recent development in the growing localism movement is the 100-Mile Diet, originated by a Canadian couple who spent a full year eating only foods grown or raised within 100 miles of their home. They'll even give you a road map to having a 100-Mile Thanksgiving. For other variations on the eat-local idea, check out ideas like the Eat Local Challenge, Slow Food, and Locavores encourage you to rediscover your place on earth, build community, and enjoy the Local Harvest.