How To Get Our Culture Back On Track
Thank goodness that, one family at a time, we are as a culture gradually hopping off the crazy train of irresponsible food production and consequent dietary mistakes, potentially reversing the damage that industrialized agriculture and processed food have done to our minds, bodies, and souls. The track we should be on lies in plain sight, yet still too few Americans are able to hop on board. Time may not be on our side when we talk about climate change or many of the other environmental hazards that lie ahead for our population, but there is time to act now and make measurable change in the way we treat our crops, livestock, wild foods, and the environment that sustains them. I believe with all my heart that my children’s children will live in a world with different values, having witnessed the damage shortsighted thinking will have wrought on our fragile food system.
As long as I can grip a whisk or type coherent sentences, I will continue to be a part of this Good Food Revolution, in part because it is a tastier place to be, but also because I believe positive change is happening now, all around the world, to correct what has been broken. I am optimistic that we are moving the dial, if painstakingly slowly, in the direction of enlightenment.
We have stopped what Wendell Berry calls “exploiters” from turning the last wild stock of sockeye salmon into a remote mining enterprise.
We have raised awareness of the critical decline in wild fish stocks, and have seen more and more people selecting sustainable fish species for dinner.
We have seen an explosion in so-called farm-to-table restaurant business models, the majority of which are actively changing the public perception of local food and its importance.
We have begun to question chemical inputs and unnatural genetics in our food by demanding transparency in food packaging and labeling.
But those steps are just the beginning. We have to reboot our thinking and begin shopping for ingredients rather than boxes and cans. We have to meet our farmers, fishermen, and food producers so we have a better understanding of how a holistic agrarian system can feed not only our people, but our economy and our heritage. In my fantasy world, real food is everyone’s birthright. Currently, most everyone has access to “food” made from genetically altered plants and animals, packaged and promoted to appeal to our most urgent need for convenience, but few people have access to real, whole ingredients devoid of chemical and biological inputs.
We have to recognize that food is more than sustenance. It is community, relationships, culture, and heritage. And it is central to our lives. Therefore, we need to give it as much thought as any other aspect of living. I hope this book has lent some weight to this conviction, and that our greater community will continue to strive for growth and enlightenment, one delicious bite at a time.
This excerpt is from Evan Mallett’s book Black Trumpet: A Chef’s Journey Through Eight NewEngland Seasons (Chelsea Green Publishing, 2016) and is printed with permission from the publisher.