I’ve been interested in the history of food, where it comes from, how old it is, how it migrated to where it is now. In the last week I’ve learned so much about the foods we eat, and why we eat them.
The books I’m digesting right now are:
Food: The Struggle to Sustain the human community
Kitchen Literacy: How We Lost Knowledge of Where Food Comes from and Why We Need to Get It Back, by Ann Vileisis.
Near a Thousand Tables : A History of Food, by Philip Fernandez-Armesto
I’ve learned that the industrialization of food, the making of processed foods, took over 30 years, and lots of advertisers to sell it to home-makers and immigrants. We are still struggling with the lack of nutrition in pre-made foods. There is a push to go organic, and fresh, to shop local not global, and to make of your table a bounty of fresh, appealing foods.
I struggle with this. Working as I do, I don’t often get to cook how I want at home. And recently, I developed more severe foot problems. I’ve taken a couple months off work to heal them. It is frustrating, but is better than ending up crippled down the road. It also means that I’m still not cooking how I want to in my home.
As a chef, I work for a large hotel that utilizes a large corporation for its food stock. We are far removed from supporting the local farmers. Instead we support industrialized farming and the factory farming of animals. There is a certain convenience about this, yet I’m beginning to find that it is not in alignment in my beliefs about food and what we should put in our bodies.
I’m in a dilemma and at a crossroads in my career. I will continue where I’m at, but I don’t know for how long. I will continue my research of where our food comes from. It means scouring hundreds of books. There is no one website, no one book on food that can give us the entire history of what we eat and why. Almost every cookbook I encounter has stories, has something about the food it is presenting. Which means with all the thousands of cookbooks, there are that many stories to be told about food.
There is truth in the folklore of the medicinal and healing properties of food. And I hope someday to maybe provide a comprehensive guide to that folklore and the food we consume. Looking at the future of food, McDonalds, Campbells, and other major producers of fast and convenient food will become the folklore of how food was corrupted, and we will go back to how nature intended us to feast; wholesome, fresh, and with an eye to the seasons, not convenience.