I am concerned about the whole global food system, from open-source seed, to keeping farmers on the land as autonomous scientists and entrepreneurs, to overprocessing and waste, excessive shipping distances, the brutality of “global market prices” and the Free Trade Agreements who enforce them, toxic additives, food imperialism, health, tradition and culture, and deliciousness.
I support farmers who are stewards and husbanders, artisans who add value by hand and in small batches, merchants who are committed to the highest possible quality, and participants at every part of the food system who are comprehensively and systematically ethical. I believe we need many new economic institutions, such as Community Support Agriculture, Slow Food, and Food Hubs.
But why? Not only because of deliciousness.
The action and logistics of this world accumulate and destroy. Increasingly, Life and expression are mere inputs. We are in a mighty struggle for meaning against the contempt that is commodification. Our intentions, decisions, and actions are the battleground between humanity and our machines. The economic logics we have created are as ruthless as any robots.
What is our humanity? For what do we fight? Meaning. And what’s that?
Our divine creativity, the emotions of connection, and the cosmologies of our faiths from which we take purpose and confidence.
Food is a focal point for the struggle of meaning against machine. Food’s meaning comes from context, the very context which commodification destroys or conceals.
- the farm / family
- the variety / heirloom / land race
- season / terroir
- the farming method
- the ecology
- the inspiration of the quality of the ingredients
- the traditional usefulness of the food / preparation / storage / community
- the evolution of recipes
- the evolution of the chef
- innovation in preparation / distilling flavour
- the personal meaning to the person who cooked it for me
- or the love they expressed by cooking for me
Why does context matter? Because that’s where the meaning is. Why does meaning matter? It’s a persistent human concern. And it links the mundane, animal dimensions of our existence to their social implications.