Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Activists' privilege and romanticizing famine foods

As a wacky foodie, I am more apt than most to spend the resources (mostly time) to make unusual ingredients taste good, though I won't go to the lengths that restaurants like Noma will. But I understand that this is a luxury, rather than a practical skill. There's a reason tasty preparations of many wild foods are so expensive to come by: they need more resources. That is why it is more expensive. Insisting upon increased reliance on such food will never be the key to lowering the price of food, to sustainability or to increasing accessibility of food for the most desperate. 

I wish that (normally affluent) activists who suggest that people with the most tenuous access to food divert their resources in this direction could see how insensitive they're being. Even the failure to realize that the time it takes to garden, let alone to forage, clean, and boil lichens for three hours, is prohibitively expensive to many people shows how out of touch they are.

That's why Pierre Desrochers is right on the money in this article:
"Although wild ingredients might be free, the attendant foraging and preparation costs are significant. What they would probably find most amazing, however, is that what they typically knew as ‘famine foods’ are now commanding a significant premium over plentiful and convenient things that actually taste good rather than ‘wild’. 
Unfortunately, for many of our remote ancestors, the absence of effective transportation, such as railroads and container ships, meant that they had no choice but to survive on a local diet and, in the process, put all their agricultural eggs into one geographical basket. This was always a recipe for disaster."
Read the whole thing here.

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