Urban Adaptation

Sustainable urban living, rural dreams, and daily change for a homemade life.

Local food and public perception

with one comment

“It is easier to change a man’s religion than to change his diet.”   – Margaret Mead

I’ve been thinking a lot about food recently – sourcing it, growing it, eating it – and this article at Salon couldn’t have come at a better time.  An examination not just of how food is accessed in an immigrant community, but the social pressures and even shame that go along with it, it speaks to different elements of the current food system at large, and the expectations of us as consumers within it.

First, it deals with the shame that can surround not food itself, but the processes of raising and getting food that are outside the mainstream.  No matter how useful, sustainable, healthy, or financially viable they are, in many areas there are still limits – some formal, but many not – not only on what we eat, but how we get our food.  Processed and packaged in a grocery store is fine.  Growing on a balcony is not so much.  Even if they’re not voiced, there are sometimes social exprectation, and certainly always social norms, around what it is that people eat and why.

At the same time, it also begins to look at the benefits of local foods, and the ways in which families made use of what was available to them in terms of space and resources to access what they needed.  Despite what seem to be some less than ideal circumstances, food was obtained in a variety of productive and even creative ways.  Sharing meat.  Planting vegetables in available lots.  Using grass clippings as fertilizer and mulch.

But there’s also an element of community here – bartering, helping others, and working together to provide. Maybe it’s just where I am right now, but I don’t see a lot of this on any level, even with something as fundamental as food.  Everyone goes to the grocery store and gets what they need to bring home and cook alone.  Even the borrowed egg or cup of sugar from days of yore, as it were, seems to be a thing of the past.

There’s also a loss of identity when people lose their ability to produce and eat food in ways to which they’re accustomed, which is what struck me most here.  While the people here lost of way of living to which they were accustomed, I wonder if there’s a fundamental need to produce.  I suspect that even with those of us who haven’t known a lifestyle that included raising or producing food in some way, shape, or form have lost something by not being more connected with what we eat and where it comes from.

These are just some of the reasons I want to and am trying to move more into being responsible for my food, either by growing what I can, or making sure that I’m aware and responsible for what I eat.  I don’t have all the solutions yet – although there are some great ideas in the article – but I think it’s incredibly important that it’s something that we start getting back to, even if on a small scale, whether or not it’s a life with which we’re already familiar.

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Written by Jenn

January 14, 2011 at 12:12 am

One Response

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  1. Hi Jenn
    I agree, and am happy to say that after several years without a garden I’m busy planning mine:) I think there is (another) return to growing food as a lifestyle/necessity here in the U.K. now, for all sorts of reasons. Will that come with a stigma? Will it be trendy? We’ll see. Actually I read the Salon article last weekend, and the comments that came with it – oh my! And very thought-provoking it was too.
    Hope you’re having a good week:)
    xxx

    pamela

    January 18, 2011 at 8:21 am


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