26 posts tagged food
‘You have to think of a different kind of menu,’ says Alice [Waters, owner of Chez Panisse and organic Slow Food guru]. ‘You eat dried fruit and nuts. You make pasta sauces out of canned tomatoes … you’re eating different kinds of grains—farro with root vegetables … Turnips of every color and shape! Carrots that are white and red and orange and pink! … Cabbages!’
Basically, you can eat like a fucking Russian peasant, is what she’s saying. I don’t know if that’s what they want to hear in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan or Buffalo. And what about the healthy, pure, wholesome, and organic foods that Alice says I should be buying—particularly if I have children? If I’m making an even average wage as, say, a sole-providing police officer or middle manager? Regular milk is about four bucks a gallon. Organic is about twice that. Supermarket grapes are about four bucks a bunch. Organic are six. More to the point, what if I’m one of the vast numbers of working poor, getting by in the service sector? What should I do? How can I afford that?
Asked this question very directly, Alice advises blithely that one should ‘Make a sacrifice on the cell phone or a third pair of Nike shoes.’ It’s an unfortunate choice of words. And a telling one, I think. You know, those poor people—always with their Nikes and their cell phones. If only they’d listen to Alice. She’d lead them to the promised land for sure.
What else should we be doing? Alice says we should immediately spend 27 billion dollars to ensure every schoolchild in America gets a healthy, organic lunch. More recently she added to this number the suggestion that fresh flowers on every lunchroom table might also be a worthwhile idea. This is, after all, ‘more important than crime in the streets. This is not like homeland security—this is actually the ultimate homeland security. This is more important than anything else.’
Which is where Alice really loses me—because, well, for me, as a New Yorker, however quaint the concept, homeland security is still about keeping suicidal mass murderers from flying planes into our fucking buildings. And organic school lunches might be more important to you than crime in the streets in Berkeley—but in the underfunded school systems of West Baltimore, I suspect they feel differently. A healthy lunch is all fine and good—but no use at all to Little Timmy if he gets shot to death on the way to school. In fact, 27 billion for organic food for Timmy seems a back-assward priority right now—as, so far, we’ve failed miserably to even teach him to read. What kind of dreams can a well-fed boy have if he doesn’t even have the tools to articulate them? How can he build a world for himself if he doesn’t know how to ask for—much less how to get—the things he wants and needs? I, for one, would be very satisfied if Timmy gets a relatively balanced slab of fresh but nonorganic meatloaf with a side of competently frozen broccoli—along with reading skills and a chance at a future. Once literate, well read, and equipped with the tools to actually make his way in the world, he’ll be far better prepared to afford Chez Panisse.
As of this writing, not too far from Berkeley, just across the bridge, in San Francisco’s Mission District, they line up every Tuesday for the $1.99 special at Popeye’s Fried Chicken. They don’t stand in the street waiting for forty-five minutes to an hour because it’s particularly healthy chicken, or organic chicken, or conscientiously raised chicken. They do it because it’s three fucking pieces for a dollar ninety-nine. Unless we respect that reality, Alice? We’re lost.”
“Livestock consumes up to 70% of the antibiotics consumed in the United States.”