Sunday, September 14, 2008

Slow Food speaking to me

Am reading this amazing book... well, am reading it between English mysteries, novels about the American West and early explorers in Florida, and the audio version of "Guns, Germs & Steel"...anyway, there's so much food for thought here, I can't read it straight through and must put it down and "digest" some of it (hey-hey).

But for instance, the early chapters are about corn. Am astonished to re-think corn as possibly a life form that is manipulating humans to it's own benefit. Did anyone else not know that corn is the only grain that cannot reproduce itself without human assistance? And look how we have accomodated! Corn hybridized to grow in all corners of North America! Corn fed animals that were never meant to eat corn, high fructose corn syrup in everything, vehicles powered by corn alcohol! We've cooperated! What exactly does corn have in mind for us?

The late, equally provoking chapters are about his excercise in creating a truly local meal in the San Francisco area, including hunting and gathering everything to be served. Interesting musings on the hunting and urban gathering experience (polluted abolone, chanterelle competition, facing down wild pigs & property rights re cherry trees). And who knew that one could gather yeast right out of city air?

All of this and then finding out that there were 60,000 people at the Slow Foods Nation (convention) where they say the huge public vegetable garden the city has put in front of city hall and my intentions to reconnect with the Dallas Slow Food chapter are energized by reading this declaration:

We, the undersigned, believe that a healthy food system is necessary to meet the urgent challenges of our time. Behind us stands a half-century of industrial food production, underwritten by cheap fossil fuels, abundant land and water resources, and a drive to maximize the global harvest of cheap calories. Ahead lie rising energy and food costs, a changing climate, declining water supplies, a growing population, and the paradox of widespread hunger and obesity.
These realities call for a radically different approach to food and agriculture. We believe that the food system must be reorganized on a foundation of health: for our communities, for people, for animals, and for the natural world. The quality of food, and not just its quantity, ought to guide our agriculture. The ways we grow, distribute, and prepare food should celebrate our various cultures and our shared humanity, providing not only sustenance, but justice, beauty and pleasure.
Governments have a duty to protect people from malnutrition, unsafe food, and exploitation, and to protect the land and water on which we depend from degradation. Individuals, producers, and organizations have a duty to create regional systems that can provide healthy food for their communities. We all have a duty to respect and honor the laborers of the land without whom we could not survive. The changes we call for here have begun, but the time has come to accelerate the transformation of our food and agriculture and make its benefits available to all.