I’m currently reading Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. Someone asked me the other day what I would recommend reading first: the Kingsolver book, or one of Pollan’s books. After some thought, I recommended Pollan’s books first, specifically The Omnivore’s Dilemma. While I’ll admit the slightest possibility that my recommendation was influenced by my own reading order of these books, I think it also logically works: Omnivore tells you what’s wrong with the way we eat; In Defense of Food tells you how to fix that; and AVM further tells you how to eat, to an extreme.
The Kingsolver book is very inspiring — for example, after reading her section on making cheese, I ordered rennet and cheesecloth because I couldn’t go another month of life without making homemade mozzarella (since I’m technically reading this book for Book Club, I’m also planning to use this as my contribution to our required book-appropriate-snack material). But it has its slight annoyances too — she’s a touch arrogant with all her localized-farm-ness, and even though she tries to mitigate this with some self-deprecating humor (wait… did I just describe myself?), it doesn’t quite do the trick. I’m only halfway through, but thus far I’d recommend it heartily, with the tiniest disclaimer that if you live in a place where you can’t grow a garden, you might end up frustrated.
Here’s a passage I enjoyed, that sums up the fact that our thinking about food goes hand-in-hand with our thinking on just about everything else in life:
The main barrier standing between ourselves and a local-food culture is not price, but attitude. The most difficult requirements are patience and a pinch of restraint — virtues that are hardly the property of the wealthy. These virtues seem to find precious little shelter, in fact, in any modern quarter of this nation founded by Puritans. Furthermore, we apply them selectively: browbeating our teenagers with the message that they should wait for sex, for example… “Blah blah blah,” hears the teenager: words issuing from a mouth that can’t even wait for the right time to eat tomatoes, but instead consumes tasteless ones all winter to satisfy a craving for everything now. We’re raising our children on the definition of promiscuity if we feed them a casual, indiscriminate mingling of foods from every season plucked from the supermarket, ignoring how our sustenance is cheapened by wholesale desires.
The words ring true, but I am still left wondering how far to go with a seasonal mantra. I’ve thought of myself, in recent years, as being a “seasonal” cook and eater. But as I type, my peripheral vision captures a bowl of bananas and apples, and across the kitchen a few grapefruit (from our last veggie box) seem to be saying, “really? a grapefruit in June?” I can obsess over things; if I carry this thinking out to its full, logical, Kingsolveresque conclusion, I could become a real food Nazi. And I’m not sure that would be fun, for me or my family.
Meantime, in other news: I need to move this blog. When I started it, two years ago, I made a conscious decision to self-host, and run it with a downloaded version of WordPress. The reasons had to do with wanting freedom over design and content. Funny thing, though: the design hasn’t changed in two years. And ironically, I want to change some of the content, but have no idea how. So I’m going to move to a blogger site, which will hopefully be more user-friendly on both my and your ends. The problem has been the transfer: there was no easy way to move all the 140 posts I’ve written, so I’ve been having to copy/paste/re-edit every single post, by hand. It’s taking for-freaking-ever. But the end is in sight, and then I’ll just need to do that last thing: actually redesign the header.
Oh, and the other casualty (outside of my writing of late and my spare time) is the blog’s name. Turns out several people out there had the idea that “Thought for Food” was a good name for a blog. Since I want the blog’s name to be consistent with the address (novel idea), a change was necessary.
I’ll post the link when it moves. But don’t hold your breath. These things can be unpredictable.