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Food Links for your Friday
Image credit: Emily Schiffer for Mother Jones.
A few food-related items for your Friday.
Ta-Nehisi Coates compares his experience transitioning into affluent white circles to Romney’s offhand remarks about culture and success. It turns into a reflection on eating, judgement, and relativism. Of note to us is this passage:
Like many Americans, I was from a world where “finish your plate” was gospel. The older people there held hunger in their recent memory. For generations they had worked with their arms, backs and hands. With scarcity a constant, and manual labor the norm, “finish your plate” fit the screws of their lives. I did not worry for food. I sat at my desk staring at a computer screen for much of the day. But still I ate like a stevedore. In the old world, this culture of eating kept my forebears alive. In this new one it was slowly killing me.
The decline of the family farm and the family business explains much, as Jefferson warned us. Children of the elite not only do not feel they have to work at distasteful jobs, but have no idea how labor contributes to the viability of their own family. Something is wrong when agribusiness claims they need guest workers, but the unemployment rate among youth of all races often exceeds 20 percent. To drive through a rural central California community at 10 AM is to see hundreds of young males not at work—even as we are told there are scores of jobs that go unfilled.
I don’t think this is just an idle agrarian rant, because we see the symptoms of society’s sense of something missing almost everywhere: the fascination not just with the farmers’ markets, but with those who raise and sell produce at them; the desire of metrosexuals to outfit with pricey work clothes, heavy hiking boots, 4-wheel drive cars, snow tires, and rugged coats, as if the suburbanite is eagerly headed out to work on an oil rig, or climb on a John Deere; the growing dread that the present system cannot go on, which leads the homeowner to stock up on food and emergency staples; the explosion of gym and workout centers, not just to keep in shape, but to look as if one had the muscles of a railroad worker or lumberjack; the fear and respect for the shrinking muscular classes (as if the kitchen remodeler or Mercedes mechanic is doing something as esoteric as brain surgery and may charge too much out of spite at the more privileged clueless).
Mother Jones more optimistically reports on the encouraging relationship between urban farming and neighborhood crime rates:
Fred Daniels, a handsome, soft-spoken 29-year-old, his hair tightly braided, drove me down the alley that cuts through his block in Englewood. “It’s embarrassing,” he muttered as we counted six abandoned homes and seven vacant lots, all overgrown with waist-high grass and dandelions, all marred by debris, mostly sofas and piles of wood siding. When Daniels was a teenager, he’d use this land for shortcuts or late afternoon parties. “If I could get it,” he said, “I’d just divide it with all the people on the block. And it don’t have to be organic farming. People would actually feel a part of something.” For Daniels, who spent eight years in prison—first for attempted murder, then for possession of cocaine—his life now revolves around food. In prison, he learned to cook, and when he was released he got a job at Growing Home. He tends the beds of Asian lettuce and Swiss chard (two foods he’s come to savor), the tomatoes and beets, the carrots and spinach. He covers the arugula to keep away the flea beetles. He’s learned about genetically modified food and chemical-free farming. He takes solace in prepping the beds, turning the compost, then adding and raking in alfalfa meal and potassium. He’s now learning how to keep bees.
And Amanda eagerly awaits the arrival of Greenhorns: 50 Dispatches from the New Farmers’ Movement to her local library, reviewed here at The Hairpin:
Have you quit your life to become a farmer yet? To milk cows and harvest herbs by day, drink beer and lean against a wooden fence by night? (The rest just falls into place, I believe.) If not (or if so), there’s now a new book by and about young farmers to accompany the Greenhorns movie and movement by and about young farmers. It’s 50 “funny, sad, serious, and light-hearted” essays that “touch on everything from financing and machinery to family, community building, and social change.”
Episode Extras: “C is for Crunchy”
Hello, Wonkistan! Our latest episode seemed a little Big Thoughts-y, so we thought we’d give you some supplementary material to feed your interests and curiosity.
Click through for blogs, banter, trivia, and script extras:
- Ivan: [Does cool tinkering in the Google Doc]
- Amanda: Aww, you antitipated my move!
- Amanda: *anticipated
- Ivan: Heh, you said "tit."
- Amanda: Ahahaha, tits.
- Amanda: SPEAKING OF WHICH--
- Ivan: Tangential tit moment!
- Amanda: Tantitment, if you will.
- Ivan: ...
- Amanda: This is going on the blog.