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Just Another Blog Post

August 17, 2010

Here is some interesting reading from Michael Pollan, but I’m not sure he is saying anything that his audience doesn’t already know. Granted people need to be reminded, constantly, about seemingly obvious happenings in their daily lives. The arguments and movements and ideals that he is reviewing appear to be mere regurgitations of what people have been saying in past “foodie” literature and film. I’m not seeing where progress is happening other than the fact that more and more people are involving themselves in the movement, whether wholeheartedly or not..

Do read the full article. There are some interesting points, but also some contentious ones as well.

Some sections of interest to me:

“Though seldom articulated as such, the attempt to redefine, or escape, the traditional role of consumer has become an important aspiration of the food movement. In various ways it seeks to put the relationship between consumers and producers on a new, more neighborly footing, enriching the kinds of information exchanged in the transaction, and encouraging us to regard our food dollars as “votes” for a different kind of agriculture and, by implication, economy. The modern marketplace would have us decide what to buy strictly on the basis of price and self-interest; the food movement implicitly proposes that we enlarge our understanding of both those terms, suggesting that not just “good value” but ethical and political values should inform our buying decisions…”

This statement seems to sum up what it was I had initially set out to see with my own eyes this summer during my farmers’ market tour: the interaction between consumer and producer. In general, I do believe there was a neighborly interaction, but at certain points the neighborly element was shared more visibly between the producers, some exchanging a box of apples for fresh eggs and cheese, and at other times there were certain vendors who openly criticized their fellow producers for either not growing their produce locally enough or not growing it at all, having purchased it from a farmer to sell at the market. These are issues that need to be discussed in terms of regulation, but when regulation is brought up, I can’t help but feel like some of the communal feel may waiver. Maybe this is a hysterical thought. I will have another post at some time to provide a more encompassing view of my observations regarding this matter, I hope.

“Where many social movements tend to splinter as time goes on, breaking into various factions representing divergent concerns or tactics, the food movement starts out splintered. Among the many threads of advocacy that can be lumped together under that rubric we can include school lunch reform; the campaign for animal rights and welfare; the campaign against genetically modified crops; the rise of organic and locally produced food; efforts to combat obesity and type 2 diabetes; “food sovereignty” (the principle that nations should be allowed to decide their agricultural policies rather than submit to free trade regimes); farm bill reform; food safety regulation; farmland preservation; student organizing around food issues on campus; efforts to promote urban agriculture and ensure that communities have access to healthy food; initiatives to create gardens and cooking classes in schools; farm worker rights; nutrition labeling; feedlot pollution; and the various efforts to regulate food ingredients and marketing, especially to kids.”

The movement(s) of the 1960s splintered and eventually fell apart, but at the same time, it accomplished quite a few good things: school lunch programs, increasingly equal rights, etc., so I wonder how, or if, a movement that is so splintered and encompassing of so many different aims can unify. Does the food movement need to unify? Do the vegans need to embrace the organic livestock growers, and so on?

I’m finished with these weak thoughts. Off to write some poems about martians and stories without time or place.

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