• Wednesday, August 16, 2006

    An epic battle or an excuse to turn on, tune in, drop out?

    In Voting with their Forks Special Writer to the LA Times and my favorite Gastropod Regina Schrambling notes the confluence of thought in the food world, resulting in four books published in this "summer of food."

    The article draws several points from various corners of the debate about the consequences of
    our food choices, policies and daily practices. When is “organic” not better than “local”? Whose formula do we use to measure impact?

    I can see it coming into focus now....

    [It's a smoky arena. A dark place where something deep in your DNA tells you aggression has reigned supreme. Down there, I see a ring. Wait, it's a boxing ring, the mike is lowered.]

    [Ding! The fight bell rings. We're just in time. We hear the Ring announcer: ]

    "In this corner, hailing from Long Island New York, but currently with the UC Berkeley team, champion Omnivore - Mi----chael POllan!"

    "And in this corner: the evil megamart, the ones we love to hate, the challenger whose motto is "an organics plan for the common man", Wal-----Ma-a-a-rt!!"

    [Boos erupt from the crowd. One portly elder statesman type cheers. He's a little sedate, a little Academic in repose, and yet he looks earnest and familiar somehow. The announcer, now somewhat perplexed continues, as he notices a third contestant.]

    "And ...in this corner.... hailing from the epicenter of good food and political activism, the Locavores, teaming with the 100 mile dieters..."

    [Ring announcer, now totally confused, turns to the fourth corner. It's empty.]

    "And, just a moment please, Ladies and Gentleman....

    [Covering the mike, he's delivered a message from ringside.]

    "I've just been informed that there's been a slight delay in our final contestants' arrival. Unfortunately, they were held up at the door, through an honest mistake, I can assure you...

    Join me in welcoming our final contestants and former favorites: --- running to compete with big agribusiness, breathless from double shifts to keep the family farm -- they have made it to the battle--- our Dis----placed Local Farmers!

    And their teammates in this epic battle tonight, I've just been told, we have a rare appearance, ladies and gentlemen......all the way from inner-city USA, calling in sick for the third shift to join us tonight, no money for books or Holy Food prices, but they scraped together bus fare.....former favorite underdogs before geese displaced them... they changed buses three times just to make it to the ring here at Ceasar's Palace tonight. What stamina, what heart, ladies and gentlemen....they have made it!!!

    Let's hear a big round of applause for our Lower income citizens!!"

    [Bewildered, the crowd, hungry for a fight, usnure of what spectacle they are about to witness, is somewhat quiet. Some muffled discussions can be heard faintly...]


    Well kids, it's up to us to write the ending. These kind contestants have given us a great head start. Let's just keep focused on the big picture...let's not forget a time when liberals valued the fight for school lunches over the battle for duck and goose rights...

    Let's not forget to keep asking the right questions. A few suggestions humbly offered:

    - Who wins while we're salivating over this battle? The cattle industry who just got a gift from the USDA currently proposing to cut BSE testing from 1% to 1/10th of 1%?
    - Who loses when Wal-mart, that steadfast champion of the little man (you know, the ones they locked inside, with no OSHA breaks...) gets great deals on organics from Chile while our family farms fold?
    - Who will hold them accountable? Is that you, Al?
    - Whose environmental footprint is more damaging than whose?

    If only if it were the Summer of Love instead. We could just wait for something else to catch our attention, I guess. Too bad there's no war to protest or corrupt politicians to impeach...
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